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Environment Tutorial

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Environment Tutorial
by ali985


PSN: Alismuffin

LEVEL: Environment Tutorial

There are countless methods of creating an atmosphere in LittleBigPlanet PSP. Some good, others bad. The part where most creators go wrong with is the utilisation of every single layer. In our little bundle of portable creating fun, otherwise known as LBP PSP, you are kindly given five layers. Yes thats right! Two thick layers plus three thin layers equals five! Now when you create your wonderful little scenery it's very important, if not crucial, that you use your layers to your advantage. If you were to mimick my method of creating a layerful and exciting environment you would do it in a few time consuming(don't worry it's worth it!!) steps.


STEP ONE: Research


Yes I know. Research is boring and you'd much rather just get in there and make your level spectacular! But unfortunately, unless you're the master of the universe, you're going to need reference images, or at least an idea of what your scene will consist of. So google up a batch of pictures!
In your research consider objects, plantlife, colours, textures, animals, mood, sounds and shapes. In my example I have chosen a desert environment. Below are a couple of my references.



STEP TWO: Planning Out


Oh the wonders of an empty canvas. The beauty, the perfection! Ok no. Not at all. An empty canvas is like an empty room. Theres nothing to do! Nothing to watch, look or play with, except for yourself(no not like that). So you need to start planning out your level. Start with basic construction out of squares, rectangles and rectangular squares. Oh joy!! How wonderfully... BORING. But never fear!! This does not represent the final atmosphere. Take a look at my example below if you're stuck.



Notice I already chose my background image. This is so as I can work along with that as a reference too. Experiment with different backgrounds and at different heights. You'll notice lighting will change when you alternate. Look at how I've used layers. I've used all the layers except for the front one. This is so as I can work with the main playing area first and then add the finishing touches with a foreground.

Note: You can either do your entire level like this and then progress to the next step OR do your level in sections. I prefer the latter.


PART THREE: Corner Editing


Since alot of people seem to have missed the corner editing tutorial, ill give a quick run down. Your corner edit tool is located in your tools in your popit. You can move corners and create new corners by simply clicking on a side. The corner editing stage should take you ages. Experiment, change, add delete. If this stage takes less than 20mins your doing it wrong. Do not over corner edit. You dont want too much information reaching the dear little sackboys brains and rendering them stunned. No not a good stunned. Compare the picture below to the picture in step two. This one is far more interesting!



Don't forget that different parts of your scene will require different corner editing. For example a hill will be more smooth than lets say.. a hedge. Now when making a cave or a secret passage that contains a plethora of sneakily placed bubbles, bear in mind that when the player can not see their sack, they cannot jump obstacles. To provide players with the best experience possible, create simple ramps instead of stairs when they are going to be unseen.

STEP FOUR: Material Madness

Wow! What a wonderful wooden world. But we dont want wood!! We want something that says "Hey look at me! I actually blend in here and I look awesome too". So go get out your old pal mr. popit and borrow the ever useful material changer. Okay now choose some nice materials and test them out. DO NOT SETTLE WITH THE FIRST CHANGE. Experiment till its perfect!! Seriously if sackboy isn't satisfied he will explode. Anyways, use varying materials and mix and match. Add one material as the background colour and another for midground. This part has no set rules so just do what you want but i reccomend NOT using only one colour.



Now I'm not sure if you noticed, but I used the corner editor to change a bit of my slab of environment. You see sometimes whilst working on a level you have a brainstorm. When it hits, DO NOT PUT UP YOUR UMBRELLA!! Embrace the divine gift! Accept it, love it and, most importantly, implement it into your creation. I added a castle ruins to give the player a sense that this environment has a historical significance.

STEP FIVE: Forground

Foreground objects are non interractable usually and thus the front thin layer should be reserved for scenery. Plants, buildings hills etc fit perfectly here but make sure that they do not cover crucial areas of the scene and they should certainly not dominate sackboys attention. Whilst adding forground objects you may have one of those wonderful ideas and place some more scenery in other planes. A tip to the awesome: Copy your object you want multiple of and change its size and maybe even its shape. This will keep your level looking unique and realistic.




Now our lovely little level landscape is really beginning to take shape. Sackboy, however, won\'t be satisfied with just this. Our little bundle of burlap wants, and very rightfully too, the very best!

STEP SIX: STICKERS!!!

Oh my! Would you look at that. We have SO many stickers and so little time! Well don't just stand there! Put on your artists beret and start stickering!! Stickers are very, very good at boosting the visuals of a level. If used correctly that is. Do NOT overdo it! The more stickers on doesnt necassarily mean the better. Use only appropriate stickers and throw them on where they best fit.



Remember some stickers have ingenious usages as making materials seem different. You have holes, ripped cardboard etc. Use these to your advantage! Actually there isn't much else to say about stickers other than... EXPERIMENT!

STEP SEVEN: Finishing touches

Sackboy can now run through your level with his eyes most definately satisfied. But what about his poor ears? They're missing out on all the fun! So go ring up Mr. Popit and borrow a few of his sound effects and a theme song of your choice from his tools. Now it's no use just throwing them all over the place and overwhelming the delicate ear drums of our little piece of sack. You should instead place them strategically. You will probably know that there are 4 different ways of activating sound effect s: Player Proximity, Switch, Impact, Destruction

Use proximity for sound effects such as animal noises and environmental noises. e.g. if you have a waterfall in your level, attach a watery sound effect that is activated by player proximity. Make the proximity bubble span the entire area that the waterfall is visible in. Switch activated sound effects are sound effects activated, or deactivated, by a switch. So obviously it wouldn't be appropriate to activate an environmental sound with a switch . Instead make these sounds mechanical. For example if you are pulling the switch to open a door, a creak or mechanism engage would be perfect. Impact and destruction activated sounds are very rarely used in alot of levels. They are great things though and can really boost a players experience. For example if your dear little sack was carefully gliding over ice, an appropriate impact sound effect would be an ice crack. This way when the sack slides over no sound will be activated. Yet as soon as the daring sack bounds in the air and lands on the ice the crack sound will activate. This is similar to destruction activated switches as well except that, obviously, the object will dissappear. This would suit creatures deaths.



Okay, Bubble time!! Arrange bubbles all over your level to give your environment a gameplay factor. Don't forget to glue them so they don't fall and clutter!

Got a bit of your level you wanna show off a bit more? Camera Zones are a sacks best friend when it comes to this. Place them carefully though. You may end up confusing the player. Only use them when needed, never just for the sake of it. Below are some camera angle examples.





CONCLUSION

Well thats it! you're now done creating your (hopefully)masterpiece. Just remember a few main points about environment creation:

-Use references
-Utilise all layers fully
-Corner editing should take forever
-Use multi materials
-Sound effects and camera zones should not be over used

Special Thanks goes to Taffey for supplying me with excellent screenshots!
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Comments

  1. eagerneph's Avatar
    Thanks for the tips man!