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  • Creator Spotlight 33 - shookie_monster



    shookie_monster

    Hail to the King, Baby!
    Interview conducted by biorogue

    Shookie, the King of Community Spotlights! You know, while a lot of us would love to get just one spotlight, this dude has racked up twenty-eight. TWENTY-EIGHT! That's a "2" and an "8" people. Whoa! This is no small feat I assure you and each spotlight was very much well deserved.
    Before we get into the particulars about this creator and what makes him tick and such, I first want to tell you about my first introduction to Shookie.
    It was a cold December morning when I was born in...Ok, that may be a little too far back. Let's skip ahead to 2008 when I first got LBP. I had no internet at the time, so while I loved the game, I couldn't fully experience it because of the lack of online capabilities. It would be almost a full year before I got online and when I did, I immediately fired up LBP too see what the community had to offer. The very 1st community level I played was Shookie's "The Honey Hive." I was instantly a fan. Later on I would join LittleBigNetwork where I would meet Shookie for real...so to speak. I was such a fan-boy that I was giggling like a little school girl and telling my family that I had just spoken with THE Shookie! Of course they had no clue what I was talking about, but I didn't care. And then one day he asked me if I'd like to help test one of his upcoming levels. Are you kidding me? I almost fell out my chair!
    It's been a number of years and I'm honored to call him friend and I'm still very much a Shookie fan-boy. Shookie is a platform artist with a keen eye for gameplay and his levels always have a very high fun factor. So let's dispense with this long intro and get on with the show shall we.

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    A "sticky" situation




    All right, this one isn’t really a question, but if you would be so kind, please list the levels you’ve published to date and any statistics you’d like to share with us, i.e. plays, hearts, how many rocket animals per level, etc. Whatever you feel like sharing.

    LBP1 (SX_shookie99)
    http://lbp.me/u/SX_Shookie99
    Ship to Island to Temple to Treasure
    Castle Crawler 1, 2, and 3
    The Honey Hive
    The Honey Hive 2
    The Honey Hive 3 (in 2 parts)
    Mega Man vs. Cog Man
    Honey Hive Redux
    The Mysterious Mines of Misfortune (moderated for unknown reasons)
    The Mysterious Mines of Misfortune 2 (basically a remake of part one, not currently published)
    The Unknown Depths of the Cavernous Catacombs (currently unpublished)

    LBP2 (SX_shookie99)
    Honey Factory Fiasco
    The Calamitous Clock
    Darkening Dreams
    None of Your Bees Nest
    Eastern Gate to the Forsaken Desert
    The Calamitous Clock: The Guardian of Time
    The Weary Warehouse
    Jack o Lantern Junction
    The Stone Bridge
    The Hollows of Thornwood Thicket
    The Nectar Sector (MM pick)
    The Goo Refinery (MM pick)
    Fissure
    One Stop Soda Pop Shop

    LBP2 (Shookiemonster99)
    http://lbp.me/u/Shookiemonster99
    The Underground Grotto of Tortola
    The Amulet of Ra part 1 and 2

    LBP2 (Shookie_monster)
    http://lbp.me/u/shookie_monster
    Two Much of a Goo Thing (MM pick)
    Operation Steamjunk part 1 and 2
    Muppet Mayhem
    My Companion Bomb
    I Love My Companion Bomb
    The Calamitous Clock Exodus with sub level the North Tower (a deleted MM pick)
    Honeycomb Canyons
    I Love My Pumpkin (MM pick)
    Forlorn Valley of the Fallen

    Now, tell me... of these levels, which is your favorite? And why?
    Easily Darkening Dreams. I think this is due to the fact that I put gameplay secondary and really tried hard to evoke emotion through the use of a poetic dialogue, relating it to two of my favorite games (Ico and Shadow of the Colossus), and at the end when the stone golem gives up his power and dies doing so.

    How long have you been playing LBP?
    I bought LBP1 shortly after release but I shelved it due to my addiction to Team Fortress 2. Got burned out and decided to play it and I have barely played any games since then.

    What was the first full level you ever built? And what was it like?
    It was called World 1-1 and it was terrible. The entire level was built using objects built by the developers and I had no clue what I was doing.

    What creators and levels (if any) have inspired you to create?
    The first creator that comes to my mind is POMS. Spice and Co. was the very first community level I ever played that was really good. Other creators inspire me in different ways, too many to name really, but some inspire me just solely on the way they decorate their levels (Luos_83 and Bonner123) while others inspire me based on their awesome mechanics and gameplay (
    The_Hog_Flu,
    Z1091990, L1ghtmare, Jakeputz to name a few, there are countless others)

    Aside from drawing inspiration from other creators and levels, is there anything in the world outside of LittleBigPlanet that inspires you? This could be a hobby, profession, or even a particular movie or type of music. Pretty much it can be anything in your personal life that has contributed to your experiences as well as inspired you as a creator.
    Architecture of all kinds, castles, etc.
    Nature
    My Faith

    What are some of your favorite video games (excluding LBP) - new and old?
    Any old school mario games
    Zelda Ocarina of Time
    Team Fortress 2
    Ico
    Shadow of the Colossus
    Final Fantasy IX, X
    Kingdom Hearts 1 and 2

    If you could list your favorite things about LittleBigPlanet, what would they be?
    The online community (the forums) along with all the wonderful and nice people I have met.

    And your least favorite thing(s)?
    The insane amount of time it takes to make a level, which leads to lack of sleep. Also having thousands of people playing your creation without giving any care in the world to the work you put in it.

    What’s the worst thing that’s happened while creating?
    My first PS3 burned up...twice. Had to wait 6 months to get a new one.

    On a sort of similar subject, have there ever been any great ideas you had that failed or for any other reason you never implemented?
    I used to draw ideas down on paper a whole lot but it seemed like most of the time they never worked out quite right. Now I usually just think about certain concepts and write myself a little note so I remember. If there is a section that will require a lot of thought I will draw that up on paper. All of my levels on my new account are basically built out of my head without any thing down on paper.

    If there was anything you could change about the game, what would it be? This could be anything from adding materials or tools to eradicating H4H.
    I would get rid of the cool pages entirely. Just get rid of them. Those levels can be found using the search function. Also, a way to get the top ten trending levels to show up in-game under community and not just on lbp.me.

    --------------------------



    So peaceful, yet at the same time almost haunting


    You mentioned earlier that some of your inspiration comes from architecture. How do you feel architecture lends itself to gameplay as well as visuals? How do you balance the two?
    It is extremely difficult to balance design and gameplay. I always try to make sure that the gameplay does not feel out of place with the theme and the design. I've see so many levels where the gameplay elements felt out of place as if they were made in a separate level then thrown into the level. But every once in a while it is nice to break away from that mold and just focus on fun platforming elements regardless of theme and design, but even this seems hard for me to do as well. I try my best to make the whole experience cohesive in every way that I can.

    Well I for one think you're doing a fine job at it, especially with this new type of "bomb survival" level that you've invented. You have four in the bank now and they all add new gameplay features while staying true to the basic concept. How in the world did you come up with this diabolical idea and maybe explain the concept for those "too cool" to ever play a bomb survival level and miss out on this wonderful twist?
    My initial plan was to build a level where the player had to carry a box all the way through the level and use the box as a means of progression. However, I realized this would be very difficult to pull off considering the player could leave the cube behind and need it later but not be able to get back to it. And I was also toying around with ideas to make a bomb survival unlike any ever seen, and the outcome was to combine the two ideas into one.

    The concept is that you carry a bomb all the way through the level. The bomb can not hit any object and if the player dies the game is over. You are also on a time constraint as you need to reach each checkpoint to reset a one minute timer. If the timer runs out your bomb will explode and it ends the game. I used this concept in 4 levels, though in one level it is a pumpkin instead of a bomb and in the fourth installment you must carry the bomb while using the jetpack. I really wanted to do an I Love Santa level where you carry Santa Claus through his workshop, but there is not enough time for me to get it finished and to be honest, I may not make any more of these style levels (maybe...).

    Ha! I love that! Two ideas into one! I wanted to ask you about another level of yours, one that holds a special place in MY heart because it was the very first community level I played and the one that cemented my addiction to community levels in LBP. Now, I know you don't like to talk about them, but I just wanted a quick background on one of my favorite levels, The Honey Hive. Incidentally, this was your first spotlighted level too, so what were your thoughts/feelings on that as well?
    Well, it all started back in LBP1 as I was building a series of levels called Shadowland. In one section of the level I wanted it to be inside of a big tree and then have the player fight off a bee or two. I used some honeycombs as decor. Honestly it all turned out fairly poorly, but it did make me realize the full potential of creating an entire bee themed level. I created the honey pot cannon first and the rest was history. I created the whole level around the honey pot mechanic because at the time I really liked the platforming involved with those mechanics. The biggest issue was thermo and it did not allow me to add bees or any story, which were the two biggest complaints, which in turn, led to sequels. I am not much of a very good story teller and in all honesty, I should have steered away from story and just stuck to the platforming. These levels really did not reach their full potential I think until I started from scratch in LBP2 up until The Nectar Sector. I actually don't mind talking about these levels because they are really fun to make and fun to play and I have always loved the theme, despite being stung by over 40 real bees all at once at the age of 4.

    Forty stings! Yikes! That would have done me in as I'm allergic to the beasts. You were talking about the platforming aspects of these levels and in my "professional" opinion, I find you a platform specialist. You also have a variety of other styles under your belt where it's more visuals and story telling (which I think you sell yourself short on) over platforming, e.g. Darkening Dreams and Eastern Gate to the Forsaken Desert . How did some of these come about?
    Two of my favorite games on ps2 were Ico and Shadow of the Colossus. I wanted to create something that took place in that same universe as a way to pay homage to those games. I have switched up the gameplay in them somewhat. The Stone Bridge was more visual whereas The Hollows of Thornwood Thicket mixed it up a bit with platforming. Eastern Gate and Forlorn Valley were designed specifically for the puzzle solving with very mild gameplay. As far as the rhyming dialogue, I wanted the levels to be set apart from others that might be similar. I've always been a fan of poetry and by doing so it allows the players who actually read speech bubbles to interpret the story in their own way.

    Gah! Stupid me! I completely forgot about the puzzling aspect of those! And it was one of my favorite things about them too. Do you think we'll see a return of this style of level or is there a style or genre that you haven't done yet but you are thinking about or wanting to do?
    I am planning a sequel to Forlorn Valley of the Fallen called One Wind Blows in the Whispering Woods which will mix puzzle solving and plat forming. As far as other genres I still want to follow up Fissure with another silhouette level. Also, I am planning a two player coop level of some sorts, whether it's a two play goo level, companion bomb level, or maybe even a Jetpack level...just not sure yet.

    Oh my goodness, you got me smiling like a mule eating briars! You know, another one of your series that I absolutely love is the story line involving the nefarious group, The Dark Three United. I get the feeling that we haven't heard the last of them, are there any plans to continue the story? Please say yes!
    And for the Dark Three storyline, yes there is more to come at some point. I really hate that Mysterious Mines and the Catacombs levels are not published. I think I may be able to get them off my old hard drive. The next level could just be one huge boss battle with the two Mechs at the end of Steamjunk 2. Not sure if I want it to be an all out fight or a survival type level. After that I am not sure where to head with the story. Hopefully I can get around to it on LBP3.....

    And now... a lighthearted question: Why don't they call mustaches Mouthbrows?
    If a mustache were a mouthbrow I suppose sticking your tongue out would replace giving someone the evil eye.

    Finally, is there anything you, as a creator, would like to add to this? Or any other experiences you’d like to share? If not, I’d like to ask one more question of you: If you could give any bit of advice to new creators out there who are thinking about entering the wonderful world of creating, what would it be?
    I love this game. It has allowed me to meet people and make new friends and to bring out my creative side. I remember playing Timesplitters and making my own multiplayer maps and wishing I could make my own games. I started playing lbp one year after release to break away from my Team Fortress 2 addiction...only to find a new one. Only problem is lack of sleep. I have young kids and I don't create when they are up.

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    Pop Pop, Fizz Fizz!



    So there you have it. A little more insight into the man who has so many spotlights they're practically coming out of his ears! Shookie has thrilled and delighted us, and with those "Companion Bomb" levels, maybe even frustrated us, but in the end, he delivers the fun. That there is what it's all about. I always have a blast playing his levels and always impatiently await his next creation. Here's to Shookie, and to hoping that he never stops creating and that he earns many many more spotlights.

    Well, that's all, folks! We hope you have enjoyed this installment of the Creator Spotlight. For past spotlights, please visit this link. See you next time!
    Comments 23 Comments
    1. biorogue's Avatar
      biorogue -
      This was a long time coming. A well deserved Spotlight. Congrats Shookie and a big apology to all of you out there who read my atrocious writing
    1. shookie99's Avatar
      shookie99 -
      Thank you lbpc! I was humbled and honored! And who better than my good friend bio doing the interview. You did great bro. And thanks!
    1. aratiatia's Avatar
      aratiatia -
      Good reading! Thanks for the journalistic expertise, biorogue, and thanks to shookie for sharing your insights.
    1. Smurfetta5683's Avatar
      Smurfetta5683 -
      Congrats Shookie on getting picked for this spotlight!!! I enjoyed this whole interview thoroughly as I am also a massively huge Shookie fan!
    1. shropshirelass's Avatar
      Very cool interview! Thanks to you both. I've had a lot of fun over the years playing Shookie's levels - amazing to see the number of levels on that list too. Just phenomenal!
    1. FreeAim's Avatar
      FreeAim -
      Ah yes! "Two Much of a Goo Thing" and "Operation Steampunk parts 1 and 2" are some of the greatest pieces of creation to come out this year (not flawless, but certainly fantastic). Judging by those alone, I'd say this spotlight was well deserved.
    1. Jauw's Avatar
      Jauw -
      Oooh this was awesome! Great read about a very talented creator!
    1. Townzee's Avatar
      Townzee -
      Great choice, would have been my first creator pick Well done!
    1. shookie99's Avatar
      shookie99 -
      Thanks for all the kind words! Very much appreciated!
    1. jwwphotos's Avatar
      jwwphotos -
      Congrats shookie! Such an honor to Spotlight you! Fascinating answers to all the questions!


      ..and to my esteemed colleague Bio. Awesome job mate! Thanks for volunteering on this one!
    1. avundcv's Avatar
      avundcv -
      Congrats! Yay!
    1. peoriaspitfire's Avatar
      Awesome! Shookie, you are still one of my all-time favorite creators even though I’ll sometimes awake from deep sweat in the middle of the night in total panic thinking I’ve just dropped the bomb!
    1. julesyjules's Avatar
      julesyjules -
      Thanks for this, always good to read!
    1. JustinArt's Avatar
      JustinArt -
      Congrats, Shookie. You always make amazing platforming levels with neat visuals and clever gameplay. Good interview, too.
    1. OmieR's Avatar
      OmieR -
      Great interview, awesome creator, a good friend! Congrats shookie, well deserved spotlight!
    1. weirdybeardy's Avatar
      weirdybeardy -
      A fabulous insight into the brain of one of the LBP greats.
    1. shookie99's Avatar
      shookie99 -
      Again...thanks for all the nice comments!
    1. poms's Avatar
      poms -
      Great and very deserved spotlight. Thanks for mentioning me, and proud if I ever inspired you to create my friend.
      As usual, great interview by JWW
    1. jwwphotos's Avatar
      jwwphotos -
      Quote Originally Posted by poms View Post
      Great and very deserved spotlight. Thanks for mentioning me, and proud if I ever inspired you to create my friend.
      As usual, great interview by JWW
      Hi Poms!! Nice to see you again!

      I just managed the process, Biorogue did the interview! ..and it was a really good one at that!
    1. JakePutz's Avatar
      JakePutz -
      I really enjoyed reading this, I love to hear the stories of how creators got hooked on this amazing game. There is no other gaming experience like LBP in my opinion- especially if you get sucked into the creative side. I know what Shookie means about sleep deprivation, as a father I did all my level creating after 10pm, when the little one was off to bed. Man, you get on a roll with a good idea for your level, and next thing you know it's 3:00am, and you have to be up in three hours! Good times.
      Anyway- great Spotlight, and thanks so much for the mention! I was so surprised and flattered to see my name in there I did a triple-take! I still can't believe it!