Jovial Jedi in search of the farce
Interview conducted by jwwphotos
First off, I have to admit I am a huge fan of julesyjules. About a year ago he was asking for some help in testing one of his levels and I think I broke my arm in doing the " MEEEEE MEEEE PLEASE PICK ME!!!" all while attempting to keep some shred of dignity. My plan didn't really work as I still looked like a silly fan boy, but when I saw the friend's request as well as the key to that level show up in my in-box, my heart leapt into hyperspace quite a few times. So when the task came to be able to celebrate his charm, humor and expertise in the craft of creating LBP levels by doing a spotlight in his honor, it was one I could not pass up.
In the vast universe of LBP, julesyjules is a different kind of creator. He isn't one of those techy, flashy, whiz-bang logic guys or one of the super detailed set building types. What he has excelled at is portraying a fun, adventure-packed story based on a iconic movie from a long long time ago and far far away. He does this with such charm and hilarity as well as delivering quite a bit of clever and tasty bits of platforming. The end result generates an amazingly unique experience filled with wonder and joy. He quite simply challenges your controller prowess with a smile plastered on your face all the way to the scoreboard. Let's see what we can find out about him!
CRAAAASH!!! "Heeeey!! We made it!"
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.
Jack,Sack & the Beanstalk
STAR WARS: Episode IV: A New Hope: Chapter One: err...Etc!
STAR WARS: Episode IV: Escape From the Death Star: err ...Etc!
STAR WARS: Episo(zzzzzzzzzz)
STAR WARS Etc ; )
Now, tell me... of these levels, which is your favorite? And why?
Probably 'Escape' because it has my favourite pun - "That's no moon, it's a Sponge Station!!" - which sums up the tone of the entire series in one sentence really. Plus, it has the Garbage Crusher which is probably my favourite little chunk of gameplay translated from the film. No smoke and mirrors or anything - just you and a load of crap!
How long have you been playing LBP?
I got my hands on the beta and barely anything else has got a look in since. If there's such a thing as a 'game rut' then I'm definitely in it. I peek over the top occasionally but always go back down to where it's comfy and warm. : )
What was the first full level you ever built? And what was it like?
In the beta. It was called 'Twinkly Fair' and was even worse than it sounds. It was a funfair level but there wasn't all that much fun at the fair to be honest. It was Disneyland on a 50p budget.[/COLOR]
What creators and levels (if any) have inspired you to create?
Where do you even start??! OK, well for the sake of brevity I'll just name a few - Geosautus, Kiminski, Poms and mrsupercomputer. These guys are consistently brilliant at creating levels that mesh an interesting environment and theme with great gameplay, balancing the fun with the aesthetics. I could go on, way, way on, there are so many creators that have done something brilliant and made their mark on the game.
I started making the series because I was really wanting to play some Star Wars levels that really embraced the plot of the films but couldn't find any, so I guess I was sort of inspired by their absence...
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.
Umm, lemme think.... a movie that has inspired me....nope, I'm drawing a blank here...!
What are some of your favorite video games (excluding LBP) - new and old?
Mario, Ico, Resident Evil, Sands of Time, Halo. I'm just about to get stuck into Galaxy 2. My favourite old school game is a Pac-man-esque thing called 'Pengo' and I'm harbouring a hope that someone out there re-makes it in some fashion for LBP2.
If you could list your favorite things about LittleBigPlanet, what would they be?
Aside from the doll's head you mean? There's always something new to play and get inspired by. When we first got the game, I don't think anyone would have predicted how varied and interesting the levels were going to get - it didn't dry up after 6 months, creators just got better and better and pushed in different directions. I've done everything in this game from being Jesus for a day to uncovering a conspiracy at a Coca Cola factory. Fantastic!
It's so much more than just a game isn't it. The fact I can sit in my little flat in London with a cup of tea, beavering away on some random Star Wars tribute level and a month later someone sitting in Japan, drinking HIS tea, loads it into his PS3 and plays what I've made. I still find that completely awesome.
And your least favorite thing(s)?
Hmph. Probably the Cool Page set-up (yeh I know, stifle the yawn if you can). It doesn't bother me personally in regards to my own stuff, but it's a shame that some poor kid out there who invested a load of time and effort over an original level and gets completely overlooked in favour of a unending barrage of knock-offs. It just goes against the grain of what the game is supposed to be encouraging. You can't blame people for taking advantage of the system though, no-ones forcing anybody to play anything. I just wish it was representing the diversity and brilliance of the game a little better.
The wobble bolt ranks up there too. What a pain that thing is. And pistons that droop and don't stay stiff even though you ask them too...Nobody likes those.
What’s the worst thing that’s happened while creating?
The so called '160 bug'. I don't know what worse though, having my level completely freak out on me or the horrific realization that I may have actually spent 160 hours doing it!
The bug isn't worth complaining about in and of itself, loads of us have had to deal with it, but unfortunately it affected a level that had already had pretty much pushed me to the frazzled ends of my patience and that was just the really big untasty cherry on top.
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?
2 years into the game and I'm fairly blunt about what I consider my strengths and weaknesses as a creator. I look at something like Grantos' backtracking design skills or comph's logic skills and start dribbling, my brain just doesn't work like that when I'm in create, so I've tended to generally push myself in the aspects of create I enjoy most rather than get too workman-like about it all, and try and force it too much. Not to advocate staying in your comfort zone, but if it's not fun to build, I can't get excited by it, and I think you get your best ideas when you're hyped. A good example are the AT-AT's that feature in a couple of the levels. It's only when it came to doing the Hoth level that it occurred to me that I had bitten off way more than I could chew, but it's such an iconic part of Star Wars that it kinda HAD to make an appearance. I spent days trying to get a walking AT and it was utterly hopeless, so I got in touch with Dog-Egg, who's brilliant at making mech's and he let me use his. There are probably hardcore creators out there crying 'Shame! Shame on you!' who wouldn't think of not doing everything themselves, but I just couldn't have done it justice otherwise. There's also an unfinished Yoda Death Scene level hanging around on my moon that never found it's way into the Return of the Jedi sections, thanks to the 'failed to load' bug. Not even The Force can resurrect that one...!
If you worked for Media Molecule, what would your first order of business be? This could be anything from adding materials or tools to eradicating H4H.
I've think they've answered nearly all our prayers in the sequel. If anything, I'm hoping for a more constant supply of DLC. That would be great, it re-energizes the create community whenever one gets released, so a small pack of goodies on a more regular basis would be cool.
For me one of them most endearing qualities of your levels is the top notch humor. Have you always been a quick wit and what are some of your influences towards these great lines that ooze from all those levels? ..or is it all English folk are that darn funny?
The typical English sense of humour, that's usually self-deprecation and being able to find the funny in the mundane. Either that or fart jokes. There's a couple of British comedians (French & Saunders - go Google their Alien & Lord of the Rings sketches!) who have done a load of movie parodies - with them it's usually about taking a cinematic experience and seeing it through the perspective of the boring day to day practicalities. That vein of humour is very funny to me, and totally lends itself to blending that fantastical iconic movie-world of Star Wars with the Blue Peter sponge and cardboard realities of the LBP universe. Actually, in the first few levels there were only a couple of LBP in-jokes, the humour was more general. It wasn't until I got round to introducing Yoda that I realized how far I could mesh the LBP sensibilities with the Star Wars mythos, the jokes practically started writing themselves!
The comedy/dialogue is as an important a part of the levels as the gameplay and visuals for me, so if it looks and plays nice but doesn't make me smirk at least a few times, it goes back on the moon under 'unfinished'.
You always seem to come up with some very fun and imaginative platforming bits that integrate well into the storyline and well dosed in your wonderful humor. How is it you come up with these ideas? Do you fiddle around in workshops, sketch out small bits on paper, or does it just come to you and then do it in LBP?
The movies obviously always inspire the gameplay as much as possible, and that's the really fun stuff, translating the more memorable moments that happen on-screen into something that will work in LBP. The two Darth boss fights on Cloud City are based directly around the actions performed in the film, and elaborated on to hopefully make them into a fun gameplay mechanic. If there's no 'big' moments to re-create, the it just comes down to trying to find the right type of gameplay that feels appropriate to the tone and setting of the film. Cloud City & the Death Star for example are man-made, so lots of switch and level mechanical based stuff. Endor & Dagobah are natural environments, so it's more physics based swingy/bouncy stuff for those. I'm recreating places that are already familiar to the player, so it also hopefully helps to subtly maintain the immersion.
I'm always trying to keeping the player consistently engaged too, especially when levels like these could easily turn into a nice-but-ultimately-boring walkthrough of the plot, so I try and squish in as much fun and distraction as I can think of. I learnt that lesson early with the first chapter. It was ok, but if you'd never seen Star Wars, there really wasn't much to get your teeth into. It got completely overhauled so it could stand on its own two feet in terms of playability. Actually, I'm still amazed when players who've never seen the films actually enjoy the levels, they must seem like complete and utter nonsense, lol.
I love all your Star Wars characters. All of them are way beyond cute into hysterical caricatures of the real deal and I always have to stop and pose with them when there is a group shot available. How long did it take you to perfect these marvelous creatures. Did any of them pose any special issues? Just amazes me how funny, quirky and perfect they are as such small sized characters. Any favorites?
Heh, thanks. Probably Chewbacca and Darth, because they're instantly recognizable. The Jawas I also like, just a blob of brown sponge and a triangle of black, but they still manage to have a bit of personality. Personally, I find it really tough to do realistic characters in LBP, so I went down the 'less is more' cartoony road. It's similar to animation, some of my favourite cartoon and LBP characters are really simply designed, but with just a couple of nuances you can design great characters in broad strokes. Actually, that ethos extends to designing pretty much anything in I do in LBP. I always prefer to set a limit on the amount of crazy detailing I do in exchange for a longer level.
Like so many of us that have been creating this long, you have gotten better and better in level design, lighting, mood err... Etc! and incorporating the story into them. Even though you claim you are rubbish at logic and especially bosses, you have come up with some really nifty bits and delivered some really imaginative and fun boss type sequences. Is it perseverance that keeps you at it and which was more painful, doing the logic or recovering from the 160 hour glitch in Sky City?
Cloud City, what a palaver. I went through many, many iterations trying to get the boss-fights working how I wanted, which was probably why I got caught out by the glitch. The logic behind those is an absolute carnage, if I was to go in now and re-do it, I wouldn't know where to even start. It gets things from A to B to C but on a long haul red-eye via Q and Z. The laughable thing is, it probably isn't even that complex, just my fuddled way of doing things, I tend to take the Jackson Pollock approach to logic. I'm in total awe of the tech-heads of LBP, but I just la-la-la and put it down to a left/right brain thing. I know the basics, but that knowledge somehow always equals less than the sum of its parts. Show me a switch set-up and I'll understand it, but I'm just a dunce at putting the appropriate 2 + 2 together to get there on my own, it's never an instinctive thing. The 160 bug and complex logic are about even on the 'bangmyheadonawall' scale, I'm just happier making jokes and nice trees.
I think it was incredibly funny to toss the doughnut boxes into Jabba's palace to somewhat explain his weight problem. Could you talk about how you came up with that because as I recall from early testing that bit did not exist at first.
Jabba's Palace is basically my attempt at Star Wars meets Metal Gear Solid, but I'd finished it and it was just wasn't funny enough, it felt like too straight an adaptation without adding any twist of it's own to keep it fresh. I'd initially avoided any reference to Jabba's weight because I thought it too obvious and cheap to make some 'fat' jokes, but then I remembered the cardboard box in MGS and thought if I made it into a visual gag, it would be a subtler reference AND I'd be able to parody two franchises at once. Couldn't say no really!
Some might not think this first off, but you are quite a brilliant stickerest and lighting specialist. What were some of your inspirations and how long do you tinker with these elements when decorating a level. Especially in your later works like Jabba's Palace,it really is amazing some of what you pull off and pretty much lag free. Could you talk about some of what you go through? No is not an answer here.
Heh. I never really bothered too much with spotlights and lighting until the GLT came along, and it suddenly got me interested. When you're attempting to make something look cinematic, the GLT is a godsend. Good lighting can make a massive difference to the ambiance of a level obviously, so it's really worth the experimentation and effort. I've done one level almost entirely in white, and one in black, and they've brought their own lighting problems which I find good fun to try and solve.
The start of the Jabba level, well it's there's a load of LED stars put way back in the background using the layer glitch, and the foreground has a sunrise like effect from three massive spotlights running across the screen. Part of that was inspired by the 'silhouette look' which I love, but also I knew that level was going to be humoungous, so I needed to cut a few corners somewhere along the way and silhouetting a section was a great way to go easy on the thermo but still look fairly decent. Take out the nice lighting there and that entire first section is yellow sponge, basic rock and absolutely nothing else. It ain't pretty!
I generally use the setting on the GLT thats about four notches along and makes the contrasts and colours very deep, which to me looks the most cinematic and rich, but also tends to bury a lot of the details in the shadows if you're not careful, so there's a myriad of overhead spotlights, on different layers and strengths to give some depth and bring out what ever's necessary/looks cool. I usually avoid LED's for any scene setting, I find 'em a bit harsh on the look of the materials.
As for lag, if I ever get it, then the lighting and visuals immediately take a back seat and I dump the necessary amount of spotlights or whatever. We all make certain trade-offs when making a level, and different creators prioritize different things. I love good lighting but I love a smooth frame rate a lot more.
When you started doing the Star Wars series did you have any idea that doing such an iconic series and successfully putting your own fun and wacky spin on it, that it would become as iconic in LBP almost making you synonymous with Star Wars err... Etc!? ..and along those lines where do you go from here once you finish?
Iconic?? Oh shush. I'm just really happy people have enjoyed them so much, I've had some amazing feedback here and over PSN. It's a great reward, knowing there are people (other Star Wars geeks especially!) who have laughed their way through to the scoreboard. Once (if??) the series is finished, yep, something completely and totally different. Definitely NOT the prequels! I'm interested in doing something where things don't have to make any sense whatsoever....just a spewing of my imagination, where I can chuck in a flying banana or an elephant with a top hat on and they need no reason for being there.
We are all quite jealous of all of you that got to attend the Mm Jam this year. Happy for you, but still jealous! What were some of the most memorable parts of that experience? Anyone that you got to meet that stood out in your mind? Anything else that you would like to share or people you would like to make fun of? lol!
I think just meeting all the other guys was the most memorable part for me. It was unexpected and a lot of fun to meet these guys whose levels I've played and loved, they're a great bunch. I didn't get to stick around for the whole weekend, but it was a pleasure just to be there, home of All Things Sponge. With the jam, I didn't really get to grips with the new mechanics fast enough to really get stuck into to it, most of the guys were flying or at least a few feet up from the get-go whereas I just ended up faffing around on the landing strip. I made a nice duck for Jaeyden.
Same theme as last question. What are some of your favorite things that you got to play with in LBP2 that you are excited to see show up on your console at home once it comes out officially?
Pretty much everything I saw was impressive. As far as traditional LBP goes, the grapple hook was great, no more sponges on strings! I played one of the story levels, set in a tower, and it's filled with moving grapples and jump-pads and you can really whizz around the entire level at quite a speed, its fantastic fun.
At the other end of the scale, some of the cinematics MM have put together for the Story mode were SO polished, they literally looked like like professional mini-movies. With the voice recording function, I really think this area is where we are going to see some truly amazing stuff once it's out there and creators like Teebonesy and Enochroot have got their hands on it.
And then there's the great unknown, all the levels that embrace the new mechanics and do something completely unlike anything we've seen in LBP before. In some respects, it really does tear up the rule book we've all become accustomed to...
And now... a lighthearted question: So do you really love Wedge?
Ha, poor Wedge, always getting the short end of the stick. He's the unsung hero of Star Wars, Luke gets all the glory. He helped destroy 2 Death Stars and still no-one cares. I'd be really flippin' annoyed if I was Wedge!
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?
Actually I'd really like to thank all the folks at LBPC, I've had an absolute ton of support, help and constructive feedback from people on the site and I seriously doubt that I'd have kept my enthusiasm up for the whole series if I hadn't found this place!
Err, just make sure you have plenty of free time before embarking on a series....??! ; )
"So... any you guys know George Lucas?"
A quick reminder that a Creator Rewind is when the creator did not have the time or could not commit to doing a one on one Closeup. They instead ship us some levels so we can take a look behind the scenes and do a trailer of sorts.
xkappax, Teebonesy, and jwwPhotos are on a mission to pick up some of julesyjules' levels at the local Star Wars convention. Little do they realize that someone else has a more sinister plan.
Edit: If you are having a problem viewing this video or if it says it's blocked in your region, please try this link instead: http://blip.tv/file/4004492
It was an absolute joy to interview julesyjules and help create this video for him. Not only is he a wonderful, funny, and clever creator, but he is such a really great guy and a good friend. I sincerely hope after reading his answers you can see what a genuine down to earth person he is even though his last several levels have been set in a galaxy far, far away. After the conclusion of this amazing series and regardless of what or where his next levels take us, I have a good feeling that the joy we will experience will still raise our spirits beyond the stars.
Congrats other j, this one's for you.
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 in two weeks!
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Creator Spotlight 20 - julesyjules
Last edited by Aya042; 08-14-2010 at 06:15 PM. Reason: added alt video link
4wheel, Alec, Mr_T-Shirt, comphermc, Doopz479, Dragonvarsity, Emogotsaone, Fishrock123, HappyGreenCactus, Holguin86, huntedstorm, IceMaiden, iGotFancyPants, Jaeyden, Jedibrad, Jedi_1993, Joruto, koneko, Leather-Monkey, mistervista,
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- Join Date
- Mar 2010
- California, USA
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The force is always with you Julesyjules. The "Star Wars err ect." is my favorite level series inspired by the Star Wars movies as you have great visions of the visuals that fits well in the movies, the gameplay that's challenging and fun, and the humor that made us laugh out loud. Congratulations Jules you really deserve a spotlight. Still looking forward to see the epic final chapter. Awesome interview and video too.
Last edited by JustinArt; 08-14-2010 at 12:14 AM.
The star wars series is one of the only things that can get me to actually play LBP no matter what. Yeah. <_>
Awesome series, so... yes
This statement is true.
Oh. My. God.
I laughed the entire time watching that video.Bah, I'll make a new signature when I feel like it.
- Join Date
- Jun 2009
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Congrats on the well-deserved spotlight, Jules. And thanks spotlight team for the video... they are always a blast. Nice job, Chimp, on the intro and credits... very professionally done.
- Join Date
- May 2009
- location, location.
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I have always loved Julseyjules levels. The 'Star Wars ect...' series, is amongst the most well known series, if not the most on LBP.
Wonderful creator, and seems to be a nice guy too.
Congrats Julsey! And great job once again CS team!
EDIT: The editing for the video is top notch! I take my hat off to whomever slaved over that!
Last edited by A_Morton; 08-14-2010 at 01:56 PM.
- Join Date
- Oct 2009
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When it comes to julesyjules I'm definitely "Star Wars Struck". I've been a Star Wars fan since the first movie came out in the 70's, which would make me a 30 year + Star Wars geek! I even got to see it in a real drive-in theater when it was first released! But Julesy's levels have always touched me in an even more special way...cause you get to play along your favorite characters and fly in your favorite Millennium Falcons! I have been a fan since I played his first Star Wars...errr level. He really has taken something so iconic and made it relevant and iconic all over again. His humor is wonderful and has me in stitches with every speech bubble (some things actually made me laugh so hard I cried...I'm thinking Yoda at the end of Dagobah). He's also a really nice guy. This is definitely a Rewind I looked forward to. Congrats, julesyjules!
The spotlight was a wonderful read and let's you get to know julesyjules and his humor. The fly through in Jaba's Palace was beautiful and the music was haunting...very good choice. The cantina scene was hysterical. Great spotlight all around! May the force be with you, julesyjules!
zomg! Best video ever!
Total home run with this one guys & gal! What an epic interview with a legendary creator. Congratulations julsey! On a strictly personal note, how much would it take to bribe you into making a Star Trek level series? lol
sig by chuck_18mp illustration by TheZimInvader
Chroma Stone Chronicles Veriddian's Gem | Pyrra's Gem | Cerrulean's Gem | Irridia's Gem | Abyssia's Lair
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Fire and Ice
Sackrificed MM Picked! lbp.me link for Sackrificed
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Don't mess with Morgana or you get the wand
Yay! Amazing interview, amazing video, amazing creator and an amazing spotlight team, what do you want more?
Congrats julesyjulesI'm the 5218 member that joined this awesome forum!
- Join Date
- Aug 2009
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A well deserved spotlight for one of my favorite creators Amazing video btw
Currently working on:
Man I love the star wars music. Fills me full of excitement. :D bom bom bom bom bom, bom bom bom bom bom...
I went on a mission and played all of julesyjules' Star Wars levels the other week.
What I love about them is that in addition to looking nice, they have so much great gameplay packed into them.
My favourite being Cloud City. Some cool stuff in there.
Not to mention the humor. The levels are always funny. Everytime I loaded one up, I knew I would get a laugh out of it.
Definitely one of my favourite creators and my favourite level series on LBP.
The vid: Funny stuff. Loving the way those credits move.
Super dooper awesome spotlight. This great part of LBPC turns my overly critical scowl frown upside down into a laser beam of rainbow happiness that rains down candy, fireworks and puppy dogs.
Last edited by midnight_heist; 08-14-2010 at 12:18 AM.
Bad design 101
An ingame commentary about the good and bad design choices in my first level: "Platforming 101" ... Learn as you play!
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- Dec 2008
- Salisbury, MA
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wow, 20th anniversary already. jules was always cool. i should play all these again with my cousin tonight. star wars were some of the few lvls that have enough content, continuity, and consistency with a great theme to keep a players attention. it's really well done as a platformer in that way.
- Join Date
- Jul 2010
- Some place called America
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I never knew about this creator before. Thanks to the spotlight, I now know why JulesyJules is one of those rare diamonds of LBP. Congratulations to you and a job well-done to the CS team.
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- Jun 2010
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- May 2009
- Indiana, USA
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Thanks everyone!! So glad you enjoyed this one. We really put quite a bit into this as we do all of the Creator Spotlights. This one finally getting published really makes my day as I wanted so badly to share what we had been working on deep in our secret spotlight laboratories, actually since the beginning of June! lol