But I Digress 1: Tribute, or not to Tribute?
by, 09-10-2011 at 02:50 PM (309 Views)
Today's Question: should I build Tribute levels (i.e., a level that mimics an existing game, movie, or other IP)?
Short Answer: for yourself or your friends, sure! For others? That depends...
Yes, it's true that a lot of talented creators have gotten a lot of well-deserved recognition for faithfully reproducing, say, all of Super Mario level 1-1 using LBP materials and love.
Pins, Ribbons, spotlights, and recognition all provide lovely tingly approval sensations...and unlike other sack-folk, I submit that it's perfectly natural to want some or all of those bits of approval for yourself. (Perhaps unlike other sackfolk, I further submit that disappointment, rejection, hard work and trolling are the necessary price we pay for living in a universe that produces Good Things, and we shouldn't be so afraid of those negative outcomes. But I Digress.)
Yes, it's also true that we should always do what we love first in this game - after all, most of us aren't getting paid for this. (It always pains me that the assumption in "getting paid for this" is that it's reasonable to hate one's job, as long as it pays...But I Digress.) Some of us like Call of Duty So Darned Much that, when it comes time to make a level of our own, that's the first thing we think of.
So let me say it plain: if that's what you want to do, go on with your bad self! I am obviously about to show you what I feel is the other side of the coin...but to a certain degree, who cares what I think?
The soul of originality is, ultimately, Enlightened Theft.
The word "Enlightened" is the kicker, though.
Let's kick out an example: CaptainCowboyHat's "OH NO! THE PRINCESS!" series. This is Theft if I ever saw it. And I'm sure you don't need me to tell you which Italian plumber he robbed.
What makes this theft enlightened? Let's move beyond the simple fact he didn't name his levels "SUPER MARIO LBP". The enlightenment comes from WHAT he stole.
Mario works because of its clean art style, and its GAMEPLAY. Super Mario World remains one of the most simple-yet-innovative gameplay designs ever made, decades after its initial release. If you're gonna copy something, you may as well copy this...and CCH does this in spades.
Most important to "enlightenment," CCH does not copy the BAD things from Mario:
- CCH starts his series by pointing out that "save the princess" is a pretty tired objective
- CCH does not repeat obstacles players have already seen in Mario games
- CCH displays better writing and grammar than the simple I'M SORRY, BUT THE PRINCESS IS IN ANOTHER CASTLE.
So let's close this out: there is nothing inherently wrong with building ANY kind of level that entertains you. But if you're doing a tribute level just for the recognition it might bring you, realize that really good copies are very, very difficult to make. And if you can engage in somewhat more enlightened theft, you can produce something that will (hopefully and eventually) make you more easily stand out in a crowd.