Various Nonsensicals

Creation of a Making: Fight for Fireball, for Family

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The following mass of words ordered in a way that vaguely resembles coherent thought concerns the LittleBigPlanet Vita level, Fight for Fireball, for Family. If you have not played it and would like to do so, it is a good idea to get that done before reading this.

Go ahead. I’ll wait.


In the time I have spent with this blog, not once have I made a post related to LittleBigPlanet. There hasn’t been an opportunity for it. I don’t have a knowledge set that would be useful to create my own tutorial. I don’t create quickly enough to warrant a regularly updated project creation series. Most of the levels I work on never reach completion anyway.

Though, in that vein, there is one thing I can do. I could discuss levels that I have already finished. Yeah, that sounds like an idea. And since I am clearly not at all commentaried out after my previous entry, why shouldn’t I take care of that now?

Given the recently passing season, I think I’ll discuss my entry for Vita Christmas Countdown 2 from 2013. My level, titled with awesomely amazing alliterative aptitude, Fight for Fireball, for Family was the Day 3 entry in the event. A level among a collection by multiple creators, together forming one cohesive series.

It is also the only level of my creation that I hated upon release.

So what is the level about? Well, there is an overarching story for VCC2 wherein Santa’s reindeer have gone missing. Each level features the player rescuing or otherwise locating the reindeer in some way. In Fight for Fireball, the player finds Prancer, whose leg has been injured, rendering him unable to fly. The player tries to help, but is stopped by two elf children who had previously found Prancer and are now protecting him. These elves ran away from the North Pole, got lost, and have lived alone in the woods for some time. However, they do not know that Prancer is Prancer and therefore should be with Santa. Thinking him to be just another stray reindeer, they adopted him into their family. The two refuse to allow the player to take him, that is, unless the player beats them in a competition.

I probably use the term “player” more than I should because the level is largely a movie, only with a bit of gameplay filling in for the second act. Now, I’m not anti-cutscene by any means, but that still isn’t the format I was hoping to end up completing. Though, in hindsight, I shouldn’t be surprised given how I went about creating it.

As the group hadn’t established the overarching story yet, I started with the basics. The first thing I worked on was a collection of character models. I had no idea what my level was going to be, but I knew it would involve a story and stories need characters.

When it came to visual design, I decided to make the characters out of handmade cardboard stills. Sackbots were available at the time, but I shied away from using them here. The main reason was because I’m not particularly good at making sackbot costumes. Any want I might have had to learn was always whisked away to be replaced by frustration at how stickers didn’t cover what I wanted or how I would probably have to buy otherwise useless DLC costume packs if I wanted more options to work with. To this day I am not good at it.

Another reason to go with handmade models was just for aesthetic purposes. I plain thought the physical models looked better than sackbots. That isn’t to say that handmade characters always look better than Sackfolk. In this instance though, I think I made the right call.

There was, however, one reason for me to consider using bots. While I wasn’t very good at decorating them, I wasn’t too bad at making them move. Animation is not easy and I definitely didn’t know if I could pull it off with my own creations. Sure, I could get some movement going, but it wouldn’t look good.

My solution was to hide the movement entirely. Rather than spend who knows how long getting limbs and expression to correctly change from one position to another, I would simple make two models, one of the starting position and one of the ending, and then skip the steps between. I could switch them while a character was out of frame, or use cuts to black in order to make the transitions. As for scenes without cuts, that would just involve lots and lots of camera movement. I would be doing that as a cheap way to make the scenes more dynamic anyway. It was definitely something I wanted to try.

So I made my characters. I started with one base design and then formed various poses from there.

This is Brother, so named because I couldn’t think of a name. His was the first design I came up with. It’s a pretty basic look for a Christmas elf. Nothing too original. The idea was to keep things relatively simple so that it would be easy to adjust the character later. Of these, the eyebrows were something I dropped early on. Those things just didn’t look right.

Then there is Sister. She is the primary design from Brother mixed with a bit of Schulz’s Peanuts, particularly Lucy and Sally.

While many elements, such as the primary color scheme, were the same, I worked to largely differentiate their look in other ways. Besides the fact that Sister is shorter and wearing a dress, changes like ear shape, rounder eyes, and a larger mouth in proportion to her face were meant to express differences in their character. The eye color in particular is one that I’m really glad I changed, adding light blue to her while Brother maintains only black and white.

There was originally going to be a third character. I got as far as an initial design for him. He was a big, somewhat gorillaish elf that was also with the children. He got cut for multiple reasons. First was that I did not like the way he looked, plain and simple. I was happy with what I came up with for Brother and Sister, but with his, I just couldn’t get around it.

This third elf also didn’t fit well with the story as it developed. He was a hanger on, existing only because three gameplay types seemed better than two. Considering how I couldn’t even pull one gameplay type at the end, this made less and less sense as time went on. At one point, I was considering challenges of strength, speed, and wit. I don’t remember how much had been decided on with the narrative when he was dropped, but at that point he had definitely already fallen behind in relevance. I didn’t want to force him in for the sake of it.

There was, of course, one other character that I needed to create. A reindeer had to be involved at some point.

The first thing I did was look up images of cartoon reindeer. Like most people, I already have a mental picture of what they look like, but when it came to actually creating one, I wanted something to work with. I used “cartoon” in particular because they tend to be easier to replicate than actual photos and the like. I don’t know if this is the image I used exactly, but if it isn’t, then there was another pretty darn close one that I used to create my version.

This reindeer ended up being Prancer. With that decided, I needed something to easily identify him visually. This resulted in the medallion he wears in the final version. First, I used the Vita camera to take a picture of the letter P in Old English. Then I simply cut and corner edited a simplified version out of it (I would later use the same method to make the title text). I combined the letter with a wreath I had already created to form the pendant Prancer wears around his neck.

Speaking of that wreath, character weren’t the only thing I was busy making in the proverbial workshop. In the time that it took to develop the story and the plan for gameplay, I made a collection of Christmas themed objects that I could use to decorate the level.

My personal favorite from this collection is definitely the bells, though I like pretty much all of the things I made here. They’re simple, but satisfying. Some of them were made before I got started on the level proper. Others came after.

From there, it was a matter of making the level come together.

The opening was pretty much a breeze to form thanks to free text from notes. The only bit of crediting I had to create myself was the title, which I did just like the medallion, taking a picture of the text using the vita camera and then cutting around it to make the object.

I suppose I should discuss that title, Fight for Fireball, for Family. Fireball is the name the elf children give to Prancer. It is also the name of a certain “friend” to the title character of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, the Rankin/Bass Christmas special. The name doesn’t have a deeper meaning beyond the reference. The children didn’t know who Prancer actually was and they needed to call him something. Why they wouldn’t have picked up on the capital P hanging around his neck is beyond me. Kids are dumb sometimes.

Then there is the Fight, two fors, and the Family parts. Of course, alliteration was the main goal, but the choices of words actually do have some significance to the plot. Brother and Sister have run away from home, leaving their friends and family behind. Fireball is their first companion in quite an unspecified amount of time. They incorporate him into their family and are willing to fight (or at least challenge) the player to protect and keep him with them. They’re lonely little tykes and don’t want to lose him.

As for the comma? That’s just punctuation. Significant punctuation!

Regarding other matters with this intro, there was something I hadn’t considered when I decided to create the level using pseudo-animation. Sound design was going to be a lot more important than usual. That isn’t to say good audio isn’t always important, but it would really stand out in this style. It’s unfortunate then that sound design is one of my many weaknesses when it comes to creation. I wouldn’t say I’m completely terrible at it, but I’m definitely not a wielder of prodigious skill either. I can’t create music. I don’t have an immediate ear or mind for repurposing sounds easily. It could have been a real problem. Things like the crunch of snow beneath the elves feet, or an effect to simulate Prancer taking flight all had to be carefully handled due to the lack of visuals to compensate. All things considered, I think I went above my average with this one. I like how the music works in places. Some of the sound effects came out about as good as I could hope for. It’s not the worst, I think.

So the opening credits were the prologue showing Brother and Sister finding Prancer and determining that he is injured. Time jumps to the present after the title. From the first shot showcasing the player, the scene moves over a few feet to the player walking through the woods. And by walking, I mean very slowly shuffling at the most leisurely pace imaginable for someone on a quest to save Christmas. This was partially because a faster walking speed makes sackfolk look like they are running, but mostly it was because the set for this scene is really small. A brisk walk would allow a Sackperson to fall off of the edge in no time at all.

Perceptive readers who look at that shot might notice that there are two sackbots standing in wait for their cues. Actually, it takes four sackbots to get the player from the opening shot of them looking at nothing in a dramatic fashion to them flying backwards into a tree after being slapped by an elf. This is because sackbots are stupid.

It’s easy to say that a sackbot is as smart as the creator makes them. After all, there are plenty of logic tools to create endless options for bot control. But no matter the ability of the creator, no matter the tools at their disposal, every once in a while, there is a bot who just can’t quite figure out how to move to a back layer and walk past a tree without screwing up. Such was the case here. Any attempt to get the same bot to simply take the few steps needed to get them in range of being smacked backward resulted in it getting stuck at some point, moving back and forth between layers in confusion, or just stopping completely as if it forgot how to walk and needs Jack Frost to sing a song about it.

Changes to terrain and timing were of little help, so I eventually resigned myself to also having to emit the sackbots whenever I needed them to take more than a few steps. In this case, one to look, one to walk, one to be excited, and one to have excitement shattered after getting its butt kicked by an overprotective adolescent. It might not seem like much, but it was little things like this which made the setup for the level more complicated than should have been necessary. Not that it is the most terribly dense logic setup I have ever worked on. For instance, here is a look at the main sequencer that runs this scene until the gameplay portion starts.

It’s not too bad in the grand scheme of things. All of the camera controls sit on top, followed by cues for dialogue, sound effects, emitters for characters as they need new poses and expressions, lighting, and music. The problem is that the sequencers, while covering most of what is going on at any given time, do not tell the whole story. Every emitter has the potential to hold a sackbot or character model which holds its own set of logic that has to work independently of the sequencer, yet still remain in sync with it. Anyone who has worked heavily with emitted objects knows what a pain that could easily become.

Some of the basic things one can find on those objects are the actual Magic Mouths. The sackbot gets a little more complicated in this regard because the player does not actually speak. I’ve never been the biggest fan of when levels have the player acting as themselves, yet there is a voice and a set of dialogue that they have no control over. It’s fine when the player is assuming the role of a custom character for the story, but when I am supposed to believe it is myself that is involved, having things I wouldn’t say said in a manner that I wouldn’t say them takes me out of the moment a little. To get around this, the sackbot communicates using expressions, movement, and emitted objects. It technically doesn’t solve the problem entirely, but I feel this technique at least makes the experience a step removed and thus slightly more workable.

But the custom characters have no need of such constraints in their vocalizations, so they talk freely, which was much easier to accomplish.

Boy do they talk. And why not? They have so many interesting things to say.

If that line seems familiar, it is because that is a direct reference to Disney’s The Lion King. And just like any bad reference, it really doesn’t make sense in context. Sure, the player could be a poacher, but slobbering and mangy? That definitely doesn’t translate as well to non-hyena characters.

Not to worry though, Brother and Sister don’t spend all of their speaking time making cheap quotes. They also explain their motive to protect the injured reindeer, as well as give a bit of backstory on why they left the North Pole.

It’s Christmas, so why not give the freak with the glowing red nose another bit of influence over the level? I like to think Brother and Sister have absolutely no relation to the nitwit elf of the film. The fact that Brother was being pressured to be a dentist would just be a huge coincidence for my amusement.

Speaking of things happening for my amusement. I kind of love this next shot.

Brother proposes a competition to decide Fireball/Prancer’s fate, an idea Sackthing readily agrees with. Sister, however, remains skeptical. Understandably so. Either the reindeer is Santa’s or it isn’t. A random competition proves nothing. Sure, Brother is confident in his ability to defeat the player in any test of skill, wit, or chance, but it is still a huge risk to take. When the little girl is the voice of reason, Brother might not have much ground to be looking all smug and excited about his brilliant idea. Even Prancer is looking at him like he knows how ridiculous the whole enterprise is. Of course, Prancer always looks like that and doesn’t move for the whole scene. His neck has got to be killing him at this point.

Regardless, the challenge is allowed to go forward. Finally, after about four and a half minutes of level time, the player enters and is able to actually play.

The entrance to the play area was actually among the first things I made. The trees and rocky, snow covered terrain were established near the beginning, though other elements came later.

Something I like in games are little extras like secret dialogue for certain events. You know, kind of like Easter eggs. So I put in a bit for if the player decides to approach Fireball before the race. Sister pops out of the ground and denies access.

There’s a bit more dialogue if the player sticks around, but I kept it simple overall. I just wished the camera angle didn’t cause the speech bubble to block her face. At least it distracts from the fact that Fireball is missing his pendant in this part.

Then there was the challenge itself. This was simplified dramatically from what I had originally planned. In a perfect world, this portion would have been in two parts. One was a challenge against Sister, who plays a game of hide and seek.

The second challenge was closer to what actually came about. It would have been a have been a race, but a much more expansive one than what actually ended up in the finished product. The player would have platformed their way up the mountain while Brother appeared every once in a while to indicate that he was ahead. I even had this gag planned where he just rises up as if getting right into the camera and winks at the player directly through it. Then Brother runs into a tree or otherwise makes a mistake, falls behind, and loses to the player in the end.

Needless to say, none of that happened.

Well, there was a platforming segment, but not much of one. When push came to shove, I just couldn’t come up with good ideas. Pushing walls in here, pushing them back there. Some grab wheels, and candy cane collectables. I deeply regret those candy canes in particular. They really don’t serve much of a purpose. They’re there just for the sake of having them.

I do like the last challenge that made it in.

The idea with this part was to push the towers in with the front touch pad, allowing the top parts to drop and make a path from the grab wheel to the snowman. Then the player has to lift those platforms back up with the front touchpad, and then, while still holding the platforms clear, use the back touchpad to push the towers back out to hold the platforms in place. This allows the player to go one level higher. The execution wasn’t perfect, but considering how few ideas I was actually able to come up with, I am glad I was able to bring this one about.

Unfortunately, I ran out of time and had to admit to myself that, even if decent gameplay ideas did spring forth from my mind, there was no way I would have time to capitalize on them. So I threw in the towel and replaced any hope of gameplay with a joke.

Oh that joke. Because admitting that something is **** always retroactively makes it not ****.

If there’s one thing I can say about the ending that differs from the introduction, it is that the last cinematic was much more rushed. Poses were reused or kept the same longer than I would have liked. Fixes were neglected. All kinds of things like that. That wasn’t any good considering the real emotional meat came in this segment. But it did result in some interesting shots due to me not investing in a lot of editing.

My…that face is…yeah…It was supposed to be some variation on sad, with Brother feeling for Sister not wanting to let Fireball go, but at the same time being aware of the responsibility he has not to renege on his deal with the player. The result is that hilarity of a face.

Still, it’s not my least favorite model in this level (we’ll get to that), so why don’t we just move on.

To me, it is entirely natural for Sister to continue to cling to Fireball, even knowing that she and her Brother had agreed to a deal that was handled entirely fairly. It all boils down to one set of dialogue.

“But it’s not fair. Fireball was going to be a part of our family. Now we’ll be all alone again.”

Something not readily apparent with the elf children is personal concern about the fact that they were lost and unable to return home if they wanted. Brother had a reason to leave and Sister just naturally followed. I like to think that, at first, Brother, without meaning to, used her as a sounding board that reassured him of his decision being good. This is because she would not have overtly shown regret, so long as they were together.

But homesickness is not always overt. Sister has shown some evidence of it before. In the case of this level, it was her who was amazed at simply the sight of a Prancer. “It’s been so long since we’ve seen a reindeer.” She may be happy with her brother, but there were still many things that she sacrificed and misses about their life at the North Pole.

Because she had given that life up, she clings evermore to her new one. More specifically, her relationship with Brother and, later, Fireball. She doesn’t do so consciously, but because they are what she has, it happens nonetheless. When Brother and Sackthing strike their deal, Sister goes along with it, but she is clearly skeptical and worried. There is a lot at stake for her. A huge chunk of her life is being wagered. She has to take the fact that it will work out on trust. She had followed Brother up to that point. If she couldn’t trust him to protect Fireball, if he wasn’t right about that, then that would put into question whether or not they were right to run away.

For his part, Brother had done a hell of a lot of growing up since they got lost. It seemed like such a good idea at the time. Run away. Strike out on his own. Escape his problems. And if Sister wanted to join him, why not? If he could take care of himself, he could certainly care for her.

But things weren’t as simple for Brother as a present tied in a neat bow. While I didn’t have them starving or anything (physically, I like to think the two of them were doing alright), on an emotional level, their new life was taking its toll.

Brother gets them lost. Right from the start, he is failing. Sister would have followed him without hesitation, knowing for a fact that he knew what he was doing. Her confidence would have given him confidence. But something like that is easy to lose.

That would have been the first blow, but it wouldn’t have shattered Brother. His ego would have been damaged progressively as a result though. That first blunder would have opened him up to doubt. Then that doubt would have led him to focus in on any cracks in the facade of Sister’s happiness. Happiness on which his own was ultimately tied to. Comments like how long it had been since they had seen a reindeer would have rung loud and clear as a reminder of what he was causing her to lose. If asked, she would have said that she was perfectly happy in her new life with Brother. But over time, he was growing to realize that, were it not for him, she would have had better.

Not only that, but he wants to go home too. Given the opportunity at a later time, he jumps for it near instantaneously. He has found that he’s not as cut out for looking out for himself, much less his sister, as he thought. Brother has friends and family he misses. Things that he might have been looking forward to that he would never have a chance for. He ran away because he didn’t want to be a dentist. He wanted to make toys. Well, he’s not a dentist, but he still can’t make toys for Christmas.

There’s nothing Brother can do about that, so he tries to accommodate Sister as best he can, to make things as good as he can knowing that, whether Sister understood it or not, would never be enough to make up for what he caused them to lose. That is part of the reason why Brother was as aggressive about protecting Fireball as he was. Sure, Brother would want to help the reindeer anyway. But there was that extra drive because, for the first time since they got lost, Sister had something in her life that was better than what he had been able to provide.

That makes the player’s victory in the challenge all the more a blow to him. Brother failed once again. Sister put her trust in him to keep the player from taking Fireball, and he had been unable to prevent the player from winning. At the same time, Brother knows that he cannot go back on his deal. It was played fairly. The only one to blame for everything was himself. To attempt to keep Fireball from the player, or to vilify him for taking away the reindeer would have been Brother avoiding responsibility yet again. It was something he had learned he shouldn’t do.

It’s no wonder Brother makes a ridiculous face then.

But as tough as having his view of himself shattered might have been for Brother, one could argue that it was equally matched if not eclipsed by what Sister was going through. He was having some self-esteem issues. Some sessions in therapy and finishing off puberty would probably get him going on the right track. But Sister had this underlying loss beneath the surface that not even she knew about. Then she receives evidence that her Brother wasn’t everything she thought he was. In the same stroke, she was at risk to lose the last great thing in her life. She couldn’t lose Fireball. She wasn’t equipped to deal with it in a rational manner of recognized responsible choices.

So it’s interesting to me then that she would be the one to make the most rational argument on how to deal with the situation out of the three.

I like to think that Sackthing would just be accustomed to the whole questing thing without having to worry about the consequences, so I just tacked that on to the player character. For the overarching story, Christmas needed saving, and to do that, Sackthing needed that reindeer. Nothing else mattered in the grand scheme of things. As for Brother, he was so busy trying to do what he thought was his responsibility to make his Sister happy, but did it in a way that was irresponsible, maybe even harmful. Of course they should have just asked Fireball. Alternatively, since he can’t talk and tell them that his name is actually Prancer and that he is indeed one of Santa’s reindeer, they could have just waited for his leg to heal so that he could fly and prove it anyway.

That’s the biggest problem with the story at a base level. Ultimately, the player has no real effect on events because, even if the player lost or never showed up to begin with, everything would have been resolved on its own. That’s why this bit was so important.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Here, let’s back up a bit.

Prancer proves that he was a freeloading jerk all along and recovers. I actually like how this shot came out, but I still feel the same about Brother’s line at this point as when I first tweeted about it years ago. When you end up writing, “It’s a Christmas miracle” as dialogue, something, somewhere, went terribly wrong.

Still, it’s not as bad as (drum roll) my least favorite model in this entire level!

That shot is…just the worst. As I said, I was really rushing at this point and couldn’t be bothered to change stuff that in retrospect, I really should have. As for the flying shot that follows, I don’t think it is the worst ever. I mean, there’s nothing special about it, so I’m not going to show it here, but it is an improvement over that at least.

So the elves come to realize that the player was right and that Prancer is Prancer, not Fireball.

This shot accomplished something I needed, mainly to show that Prancer did appreciate the children and grew to like them as well. It would have been easy to just reuse his standing shot here. After all, I was reusing models and otherwise cutting corners all over the place, but this was the only opportunity to show that Prancer would actually care about the kids. Hopefully it at least came off as a cute little shot.

So Sackthing suggests they return home using the power of emitted silhouettes. Those things were a pain in the butt to make happen. As I may have mentioned, besides the sequencer attached to each scene, most of the models had their own logic that had to function as well. Oftentimes, particularly with the Sackbots, that logic involved emitting other things. For whatever reason, the sequence of Sackthing suggesting that Prancer take Brother and Sister home just did not want to play out, and I’m incredibly lucky that I got it to work at all.

The difficulties with emitted emitters did cause me to give up on some fixes, such as the audible destruction of Sisters face when she is off-screen (though visually, everything works fine), and other such details. It just wasn’t worth it, especially as time grew ever shorter and the thermometer filled more.

So they take his advice, fly off, and the player is free to continue the adventure in the next level.

Ultimately, the project was a success. LBPC was down for a while, but we as a group were able to release our levels and make the event happen. That was the end of that.

I know a lot of people don’t like to revisit the things they have created after release. They see all of the flaws, all of the could have, should have, and would have beens, and all of the same things that they had been working on for so long that they know it inside out anyway.

I’m different in this regard. I always revisit my work. I can’t help it. I think it has to do with the fact that this thing that was once in my head is now a reality, so I need to visit the real version of it in order to properly experience it anymore.

Whatever the reason, while I do tend to take future looks at my work, one thing that isn’t different about me is my eventual dislike of the product that I made. It could be a year after release, or it could be a minute. At some point, I will look at a thing and point out to myself what didn’t work or how the entire thing was probably a pointless endeavor and therefore inherently flawed right from the get-go. I generally still stand by the thing, or at least I try to, but I hope to not make something like that again. For everything.

This level was an exception. As I said near the beginning of this now monstrous post, I hated Fight for Fireball. My dislike for it didn’t come after I made it public to the world. It existed as I was coming to complete it, before it had even ended. Left to my own devices, this would never have seen the light of day. But this wasn’t a solo project that I could abandon. There was a group of people who expected me to have something to show for a day in the Vita Christmas Countdown. I had to have something.

So I kept working on it, which did not help matters at all. I was creating not because I actually wanted to, but because I was forcing myself to do so. I even had a schedule going so that I could guarantee finishing on time. Not helping matters was the fact that the not completely functional touch controls of LBPV made it a pain in the *** to create on it even when I wanted to. It is no accident that I never made another legitimate level on the platform again.

So I created. I made a level that lacked any meaningful gameplay, resulting in a movie that I didn’t want it to be at all. The fact that the sorry excuse for gameplay fills in for the second act of the story makes it not even work as a movie, because that whole act was then incredibly weak. It’s not as it the other two thirds that were purely cutscenes were exactly Citizen Kane either though. Nothing about it worked.

Then I released it, and the response was actually pretty positive. I’m grateful for that, as it really helped with the feeling that I would just drag the group down. At the time though, there was always some dissonance thanks to a part of my brain that never believed a word of it. “It’s not actually good.” Commenters are just being nice.” All kinds of stuff like that, not in exact terms, but just general feelings. I didn’t think it was actually good, so I couldn’t believe anyone else sincerely thought so either. Having all semblance of praise damaged by myself is never all that pleasant.

I do want to mention that the negative aspects of my experience working on the Vita Christmas Countdown had nothing to do with the event itself or the people I was working with. Those were great! They were great! Being a part of this ambitious project, working with fun people, coming up with ideas and seeing how everyone ran with them, all of that was fantastic. I am glad to have been a part of it. All of the problems that occurred were due solely to my own insecurity and, frankly, my lack of talent in level design. Regardless, after this event, while I was incredibly proud of having accomplished creating a level at all, I still was not happy with the product itself. So I swore off of group and timed creation afterward. It would be less stress for me since I would only have to worry about myself being satisfied with the quality of my creation. Likewise, future groups would have access to far better creators if I just didn’t participate. It was a win-win, problem solved.

I really did dislike the level that much. It didn’t matter how fun the experience actually ended up being.

But if the story ended there, then this post would not exist (and I’ll probably eventually quip that this post shouldn’t exist sometime after I release it). The normal process for my attitude concerning my creations is usually downward sloping. I start with a cheer of, “Yay! I made this thing!” and drop from there. Sometimes I dip into the territory of groaning, “Oh god! I made this thing!” However, equilibrium usually establishes a shaky hold around the vicinity of a plain, “Yep. I made this thing. It has these issues, it has these strengths, however big or small. Either way, this exists because of me.”

Fight for Fireball, for Family was different. It started from the bottom, but still eventually reached that shaky equilibrium via an upward climb. I wouldn’t even say I’ve merely made peace with it. I think I legitimately like it. Of course those same flaws are still there, but they weigh less heavily now than they did in the days when I first made it, especially with all of the replaying I went through almost obsessively. I’m not sure what changed. Maybe the positivity got through. Maybe it was simple distance.

Regardless of the cause, it has actually reached the point where I think it is safe to say that this is the best level I have ever created in LittleBigPlanet. True, that isn’t exactly the highest bar anyone has ever set, but it isn’t nothing either. And I’m still happy others seem to like it too. It got an honorable mention for the LBPC Spotlight Showcase. For what it’s worth, it also won an award for “Wonderful Cinematic Experience” in Sackinima’s Best in Show (I said for what it’s worth). And, at the time of writing this, it has recently broken 100 hearts on LittleBigPlanet Vita. For that many people to play it, much less decide to go out of their way to heart it, is huge. I’m surprised it still gets a little bit of traffic to this day, though I shouldn’t be since it is associated with a team picked, holiday themed level with the names of better creators attached to it.

It the end, I am definitely proud, not just of the experience of creating, but in the creation itself. I thought to make this post because I have made Fight for Fireball, for Family a personal tradition to play for the holidays. I think I can grant myself a little bit of conceit in that regard.

It was a stressful and circuitous journey that has now actually come full circle, as the process of making this post has caused me to hate this level again!


A little.


Such is life.