Master of the Minigame
Interview conducted by jwwPhotos
From the sea of amazing creators, one radiates with a green glow of an atomic experiment gone a bit wrong. Well.. at least his name does! Regardless, Nuclearfish is a flash of brilliance whether it is his levels, his incredible mini-games, or his leadership of the ever popular Contraption Challenge. His amazing graphic skills and attention to detail is truly phenomenal, even though attempting to take it all in like the elegance of Clockworx, or all the amazing animation in The Liquidizer can land you at the scoreboard all too suddenly! So while we have the chance, lets pause and see what we can find out about this masterful creator!
Clockworx - Just try to pause for a pic in this!!
All right, this one isnít really a question, but if you would be so kind, please list the levels youíve published to date and any statistics youíd like to share with us, i.e. plays, hearts, how many rocket animals per level, etc. Whatever you feel like sharing.
Once Upon a Sackmas Time Ė A Christmassy level full of Chrismassy stuff. One of my only full length levels.
Paint Rate Monitor Ė A trophy help level I made because I fail at pressing buttons quickly.
The Spiralizer Ė A survival challenge in a spinning maze. Became quite popular after Mm put it on the news page within LBP (and apparently itís still there for some people... not that Iím complaining...)
Stickeristix Ė A sticker survival challenge. Removed this one a few weeks ago because I donít like it.
The Tumblerizer Ė Sequel (can survivals have a sequel? I guess so...) to the Spiralizer and included on the GOTY disc. Yay!
Clockworx Ė A bouncy survival challenge in a clock.
Sacky Potter and the Philosopher's Sponge Ė My second full length level based on a franchise of books and films you might have heard of. Thereís also a costume tutorial level that goes with it.
Deflectorball Ė A multiplayer minigame based on something from Crash Bash on the PS1.
The Liquidizer Ė Third in the trilogy of spinning maze survivals, with added water. And a shark.
Now, tell me... of these levels, which is your favorite? And why?
Definitely Clockworx. It didnít exactly take long to make, but somehow I got the gameplay just right. I had so much fun playing it that it was almost in danger of never being finished! Every time I went on LBP intending to work on it some more, Iíd select Play mode instead of Create and suddenly find myself wondering where the last 2 hours had gone!
How long have you been playing LBP?
Since the first beta 2 years ago. That evening when Eurogamer had all those codes to give away, I was refreshing the web page trying to get one for hours...... good times.
What was the first full level you ever built? And what was it like?
I made a couple of levels back in the beta, including a rubbish race level and a very bad version of the Spiralizer. I started a few levels when the full game released but always lost interest or had new ideas before I got very far with anything.
The first proper level I made Ė and finished - was 'Once Upon a Sackmas Time'. It was the week before Christmas 2008 and I'd just got a replacement PS3 after my 60gb launch model got the YLOD. Iím a really slow creator, so for some reason I set myself a challenge to make a whole level in under a week and publish it in time for Christmas Day. How I managed it I'll never know, but I got it finished Christmas Eve (which was also the day after the MGS pack was released, so the Paintinator boss fight at the end was rather rushed!)
What creators and levels (if any) have inspired you to create?
I donít really play a lot of levels (Iím too busy making them!) so thereís probably a load of really good stuff Iíve never seen. I like any levels with highly detailed visuals or other mind-blowing stuff, but perhaps most of all I like creators who mainly focus on simple gameplay ideas and making them perfect. CaptainCowboyHat for his classic platforming in the OH NO!!! THE PRINCESS!!! levels; Splapp-me-do for his Tree Fortress levels and, more recently, Sackro Machines in the LBP2 beta; jackofcourse for, well, all his levels, particularly the great co-op in Industrial Assistance; and many others who I canít actually remember right now. Making something look awesome is one thing, but making it fun to play is whatís really important.
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.
Pretty much everything I ever see or hear inspires me in some way. Being a big fan of the Harry Potter books (and on a slightly lesser note, the films) inspired me to make Sacky Potter. Clockworx was sort of inspired by my watch (it looks exactly the same, even the cogs and stuff in the background). And I get a lot of inspiration from small indie games, such as ones you can find on the App store for the iPhone/iPad. Itís a fantastic place to see original ideas you donít really find anywhere else, and you can borrow a lot from those games when making LBP levels.
What are some of your favorite video games (excluding LBP) - new and old?
Iíve always been a fan of racing games, so Crash Team Racing, Burnout 2 & 3, Burnout Paradise, ModNation Racers, GRID, DiRT 2, F1 2010, Need for Speed, Motorstorm and soon, GT5. I donít play much of other genres, but thereís a few exceptions like Uncharted 2, Ratchet & Clank and Warhawk.
I also played a lot of RollerCoaster Tycoon 3 on the PC before LBP was released. As a game it was nowhere near as good as the classic RCT1, but it had a huge community who were always finding new ways to customize the game in every possible way, with custom scenery, custom rides, and custom-who-knows-what these days. Iíve always enjoyed games where you can just let your imagination go wild creating stuff. Which I suppose is why I play LBP!
If you could list your favorite things about LittleBigPlanet, what would they be?
Basically the whole game and the community! Iíve got people on my friends list who never leave create mode and spend all day making masterpieces for the rest of us to play, and then thereís those who donít even know how to make a rocket cheetah but still get together with their friends just to play and have fun in levels other people have created. If you spend a long time making something you can guarantee thereíll be someone there to play it. Other games with a create mode of any kind just donít seem to have that right balance Ė thereís either few good creations, or nobody to play or download them. (MNR, Iím looking at you!)
And your least favorite thing(s)?
Itís not really a problem the game itself, but with some of the people who play it. People who you mistakenly add as a friend only for them to constantly spam you with messages: "letz make a lvl together!!!" "y wont u let me join??" "i wont touch anything" "PLZZZ!!!" "ANSWER ME!!!!"... and that's only within 2 minutes. When I'm not even playing LBP.
I also HATE tiny scoreboards. And tiny checkpoints. And anything tiny or invisible that shouldnít be. It just bugs me for some reason.
Whatís the worst thing thatís happened while creating?
The 160 hour bug on Sacky Potter. I was just about to start making the boss when it hit and I had to move everything to a new level, bit by bit (it was too big to capture in one go). My second PS3 getting a YLOD a few days before a beta version of my GOTY level had to be submitted was kind of bad too, but luckily I had that all backed up!
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 have a whole Moon full of stuff just sitting there, waiting to be used or finished. There are intros to other Sacky Potter levels, an entire cast of cardboard LOST characters, a weird time-freezing puzzle level that never quite went anywhere and a few beginnings of levels and survival challenges that I hope to do something with one day. But all of that will probably be left lying in the dust when LBP2 is released; I have too many fresh ideas to try out!
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'd add the ability to customize the Popit menu. Custom categories, arrange by most used, last used, used in this level page... the list goes on. Hearting objects is only useful until you've hearted too many objects that the Hearted menu becomes cluttered as well.
Oh, and Iíd probably bake some cakes or something. Thatís what the Molecules do all day, right?
The stairs take flight in Sacky Potter!
When I think Nuclearfish.. well besides a glowing fish of some sort, I think of all your amazing survival challenges and mini games which are all amazingly fun and contain some marvelous graphics. You also have some pretty incredible levels as well, but you seem to enjoy creating survival / mini games more. Could you please share your thoughts on that?
I guess itís just what Iím good at making. Iíve always wanted to make an epic level series of some sort but itís just never happened. The great thing about survivals and mini games is you can focus all your attention to just one or two small areas rather than trying to spread the awesomeness throughout a whole level. I admire the people that can do that, but I just canít. Survivals are fairly quick to make so you can spend the extra time tweaking the gameplay, trying to balance it and make it perfect. As long as my levels are fun to play and have that Ďone more goí appeal, Iím happy.
Just curious, but do you find the logic a bit more complicated and involved on a survival challenge then a full out level or do you find that it works out about the same, except the logic is more concentrated at one spot?
Definitely more complicated. A normal level you can usually get away without doing much logic, just the simple AND and OR stuff with some timers, and maybe some more complex stuff spread out across the level. But with a survival, you end up with a mass of logic all in one place and it can get really messy. You keep adding extra bits here and there until you have no idea what controls what. I canít even remember what half the logic in my levels does anymore!
Sacky Potter and the Philosopher's Sponge was quite a wonderful adventure that really showed off another side of your graphics and level creating prowess. Besides being a huge fan of Harry Potter, how did you decide on creating this charming level which is quite the departure from your normal mini game or survival challenge? Could you also talk about the difference and adventure for you on creating a full level?
I think the real question is ďHow did I not decide to create it sooner?Ē All of the Harry Potter levels that existed before that were a bit rubbish, so I wanted to make something that did it justice.
The main difference with doing a full level is it takes me a LOT longer. Like, six months longer. With survivals the first thing I usually think of is the gameplay idea, and I build around that. But with Sacky Potter all I had was a story and theme, and because itís based off the books/movies I couldnít stray too far from that. So deciding on the gameplay was a big challenge. A room full of flying keys, a three-headed dog that falls asleep when you play music, a game of chess... all these things I knew I had to include to stay true to the story, but finding a way of making the gameplay fun took a very long time. Some of those areas went through several redesigns before I was happy.
I did have plans to make a level for each book, and even briefly started the second one, but I decided to focus on smaller levels from then on. A full level is too much hard work, and I doubt Iíd ever get another finished anyway!
In my opinion, Clockworx is just one of the most stately and beautiful survival challenges ever. I think I died 5 times just standing there admiring your amazing graphics. Your others are equally grand, but this one has such a wondrous wooden charm. Could you share some of your inspiration on how this all came about?
Iím not really sure where the idea came from... I was randomly creating stuff with BasketSnake in the Online Create beta, and I made a little bounce pad thingy. Bouncing around for a bit seemed like a fun idea. We started duplicating them and arranging them in squares and other shapes, and then I put them in a circle and stuck a motor bolt on it, and I realised it might be a fun minigame. So I went back to main game to remake it and the ideas kept coming. What if it spins faster? What if bounce pads randomly disappear? What if some of them are on fire? That worked well because you can jump further off the fire ones, but obviously you donít want to hit two in quick succession. And then points were emitted each time you bounce, which made it ridiculously fun trying to get points combos, so itís a survival challenge purely about skill rather than luck.
I donít really know why I decided to make it in a clock, that came way after the basic gameplay was done. But it gave an excuse to have some moving cogs and stuff going on in the background, and a constant ticking clock that gets faster and faster makes the level that extra little bit exciting! The whole thing only took a few days to make, which was great because it didnít give me time to get bored of it and move on to something else.
Since we've touched a bit on your graphics prowess, are you artistically/graphically inclined outside of LBP as well or is this something you discovered mostly in LBP?
Yeah, Iím currently at Uni studying Computer Games Modelling and Animation. I love making 3D stuff, particularly environments and Unreal Tournament maps, that sort of thing. Itís just a shame that I canít do any of my Uni work in LBP... although a few months after the game was released I did do a machinima project using it. It involved zombies in a Tesco store, and a sackboy who desperately wanted to eat some bacon. I donít think it ever made it onto YouTube, which is probably a good thing, it was terrible!
It must have been an amazing day when you got the call from Sony/Mm to work on the GOTY edition. Could you share some your thoughts that day as well as what it was like to work on this wonderful project, especially getting a shot at working for Mm?
Well, at first I wasnít sure whether to believe it or not. It seemed a bit too good to be true. I got an email from SCEE (despite what a lot of people think, Mm werenít really involved) asking if Iíd like to make a level, but I donít think it was until the GOTY edition was actually announced that we found out what it was for. So not only could we not tell anyone about it, but we didnít even know why we were making it!
Anywho, at the time I only had a couple of levels published, and I figured they picked me because of the Spiralizer so it made sense to build a new and better version of that. And so the Tumblerizer was born... I ran into a few issues along the way, including the aforementioned YLOD and almost having to remake it all after I discovered the wonders of Creator Pack 1, which was released not long before the level had to be submitted. But, it got finished in the end. It certainly makes a change having to work to a deadline rather than building it in your own time.
The Contraption Challenge is a huge success since it's first appearance in May of 2009 and has recently earned you a crown for your leadership in this contest. First off, Congrats!! I'm really curious on how it all started and how Mm got involved with promotion etc. Also, what has it been like running a contest where so many cool and amazing contraptions have been invented by such a wide array of creators?!
May 2009?!? Wow, didnít realize it had been that long... a year and a half of hard work and scheming just to a get a crown...
Sorry, what was the question?
Oh. Yes. MusterBuster (EN community team leader on the EU PS forums) and I were throwing a few ideas around, we wanted to make a community event for LBP but werenít sure what. Most competitions were to make full levels, but Iíve always thought that if you have enough time to make a whole level, youíre going to make what you want rather than something for a contest. So we decided to focus on making smaller things that could be made in just a couple of hours. Thereís a TV show here in the UK called Scrapheap Challenge (think US may have had something similar?) where teams have to build vehicles and machines from stuff they can find in a scrapyard, so we basically just stole that idea!
Itís changed quite a lot since it first started. The earlier challenges had the winning contraption featured in a sort of showcase level. Mm got involved with a couple and picked winners. At about the sixth one I started posting it here too, which got some of the more well known creators involved. And these last few challenges have really been a big success, with mentions on the EU Blog, the LBP website, and prizes for the winners. And of course, none of this success would probably have happened if it werenít for Chimpanzee putting together the awesome finalist videos!
Itís been great seeing all the incredible things people have made too. Some of them (TeeBaGís Supersaurus, rtm223ís TechnoLegs and Asbestos101ís Crouching Boat, Hidden Car) really blew me away. I canít wait to see what people do with all the crazy new tools of LBP2, Iíve been running a couple of small challenges in the beta, revisiting some of the previous ones such as the Flying Machine and Transporter, and already some of the stuff Iíve seen is much better than what was possible in LBP1.
And now... a lighthearted question: Not many know this, but I think one of the most adorable and hysterical levels in the Water Beta was your "Kitty got Wet". It involved quite an amazing crane to grab and then dump kitty in the water. Ummmm what do you have to say for yourself!?!?! lol
All I have to say is this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=geO8wkVg3ig
Finally, is there anything you, as a creator, would like to add to this? Or any other experiences youíd like to share? If not, Iíd 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?
Iíll leave you with ĎNuclearfishís Fail-safe Guide to Making an Awesome Survival Challengeí:
- Make sure you can start the challenge within 5 seconds of entering the level.
- Keep the gameplay simple.
- If it needs explaining in more than a few lines of magic mouth dialogue, itís too complicated.
- Have the scoreboard visible at the start. If you want people to take time getting a high score, make sure everyone will see it!
- Give the level a name with Ďxí or Ďzí in the title.
- Make sure you use spinning circles.
- Donít include any bombs or sharks. Unless it's for cameo purposes.
The only time you have a chance to stop and look around in The Liquidizer!
The gang goes on a cruise in a nuclear sub which is a perfect recipe for delicious soup and a complete disaster. The good news is we get to visit with Nuclearfish before it all comes to a tragic ending.
For those of you with shiny iPads and iPhones, here's the direct link to the video:
It was a real treat to conduct this interview as well as spend some time with Nuclearfish in doing his closeup! I trust you are like me and cannot wait to see what he brings us in the future, though I had the pleasure of a sneak peek at a few of his upcoming ideas and was sworn to secrecy. I was literally blown away!! Saying his levels are a must play is an understatement, but for any of you that have not played his levels.. why are you still reading this? GO PLAY THEM NOW!!!
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 23 - Nuclearfish
Last edited by Aya042; 10-22-2010 at 08:59 PM.
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- Join Date
- Jun 2010
- Australia, NSW, Sydney
- Blog Entries
You repeated the "Now, tell me... of these levels, which is your favorite? And why?" part twice in a row m8.
- Join Date
- Feb 2010
- North Lincolnshire
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I might not have done a lot this time around, but I can safely say this has been TONS of fun! NuclearFish is one of my favourite creators, and I'm sure many of you will agree with me!
If you spot any mistakes, feel free to shoot me! Otherwise, you can all praise the rest of the team! Teebonsey, Jwwphotos, xkappax, CountessZ and Chimpanzee!
EDIT: Well done Silverleon!
Wow... that was a quick find =S
Is it just my browser being silly or have you written "Now, tell me... of these levels, which is your favorite? And why?" twice?
Never mind; The spotlight looks as awesome as ever! Yay! İ get to watch a new video now!
It is still my dream to get spotlighted someday... Well, i must improve my levels first Currently working on new ones.F4F Participant.
I have LBP2 now. I will be fiddling with the create mode so im unlikely to publish anything yet.
Oh and im working on the sequel to "An Average Adventure: 1st Discovery". I'm also planning to fix some annoying issues of the level.
Wow, thanks, Aya, for getting this online so quickly!
I am so happy to finally see this one online! Guys, if you had any idea what we went through with this spotlight, ... man... you wouldn't believe it. Thom and I were on a bit of a hiatus during this one, and I just want to thank everyone who got this thing put together, mainly Dayne, April, Cog, Chimp and last but CERTAINLY not least, jwwphotos... who kept powering through on this one regardless of anything that happened.
I can't wait to watch this video and see what you guys have done with this one. I'm proud to be a part of this awesome team.
Finally, a big huge thanks to Nuclearfish for being patient with us and for being awesome. Congrats on the spotlight! ^__^
Last edited by xkappax; 10-22-2010 at 10:23 PM.
- Join Date
- Jun 2010
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wow another magnificent creator spotlight, strange that nuclearfish never got a earlier spotlight. Well congratulations man and thanks you spotlighting team for creating another incredible spotlight XD
- Join Date
- Nov 2009
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Brilliant interview Jwwphotos, and congratulations Nuclearfish! The creator close-up was funny as always, and I hope you'll have afford to pay the speeding ticket!
- Join Date
- Aug 2009
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Congrats Nuke! Well deserved! Was hoping to see more mention of Burnout though!
A great creator closeup too! Funny per usually! Got any more soup left?
Awesome spotlight as alway guys, as hilariously awesome as the previous ones. (if not better.
I'm always amazed on how much work and effort you put into the script, acting and scenario building for each spotlight, just show how much dedication you guys have to this! :d
Wow! For once I finish reading this less than 5 pages late. Awesome interview and video,...and I expect somewhere...in the depths of the sea...in an ancient haunted submarine...a long dead sackperson is still making potato stew...
Great spotlight guys! Thanks!
- Join Date
- Mar 2010
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Excellent spotlight, never played a Nuclearfish level but now I really want to! Loved the video, great job as always guys!