Covering all the angles
Interview conducted by amazingflyingpoo
Variety is the spice of life. More than that, variety is the spice of LBP. Creating is all about inventing new worlds, crafting new adventures, and taking players to places they have never been before. Few creators are as good at this as Spark151, and even fewer can crank out the levels as quickly as he can.
Really, Spark151 is a perfect storm of LBP. He can whip up environments so quickly and so well, he often puts several in every level he publishes. So what gives? Does he have a secret army of Sackbots constructing levels for him in a cloth-and-cardboard sweatshop somewhere? Let's investigate a bit further and find out the secret behind this prolific PSP'er.
Spark151 doesn't have skeletons in his closet, he has them in his PSP.
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.
Metroid: Sackboy and Samus
Metroid: Sack & Space Pirates
Scenic of the Leaves
Visiting the Canyons
Flat Down Journey
Autumn Maple Leaves
Halloween Hallow Ship
Sparky Caves (PS3)
My most played level is R.I.P Sack with 10,493 plays. Second is Visiting the Canyons with 8,316.
My most Hearted level is Visiting the Canyons with 1,061. Second is R.I.P. Sack with 1,058. (Heh, switched around?)
Third most Hearted and Played is Article 5 with 7,594 plays and 1,042 Hearts.
Now, tell me... of these levels, which is your favorite? And why?
Of all of all my levels, my favorite is "Autumn Maple Leaves". My favorite level doesn't always stay the same though. Each new level I build seems to become my favorite. It keeps changing because with every level I build I learn something new. "Autumn Maple Leaves" has a very good use in the autumn scenery. The characters were something I improved on. They were very detailed, and they consumed a lot of thermometer, although I managed to squeeze everything I wanted into the level. I'm glad it turned out to become luminous, at least in my opinion.
How long have you been playing LBP?
I have been playing LBP for so long that I can't remember. Except, I officially started playing it very often when it came out on PSP around a year ago. In other words, I've been playing this game for about 2 or 3 years, but only really started playing a lot in the last year
What was the first full level you ever built? And what was it like?
My first full level was on PS3. It was very embarrassing. In fact, I took it down from the community moon. One of my very good friends reminded me that I did H4H. XD That is so lame of me. That's not even me anymore. My first level I built was called "Monster Hunter Forest & Hills". I thought I was pro status when I built that. The problem is that I only relied on the Brush Tool. Unlike PSP, you can draw without a grid, so the level didn't look all blocky, but it did look horrible. I had a blast building the level back then.
What creators and levels (if any) have inspired you to create?
I only had 2 authors inspire me in creating. They are tsr13 (Taffey) and amazingflyingpoo. Without the two of you, I would have quit this site long ago and I wouldn't be one of the most known authors on PSP. The two of you gave me such meaningful feedback that helped me improve. It encouraged me a lot, and not only have I improved in creating on PSP, but I changed on this site as well. I guess I was one of those people who just stop by on a thread and say "That's cool", but now I give a detailed feedback, which hopefully helps others as well... Unless I'm useless. XP
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.
Well, for some awkward reason, I like the feeling of being looked up to and hearing "I wanna be just like him." I like to inspire people from anything I do whether it is in hacking a game (Yeah, I hacked on the Wii, not anymore though), advice to friends and family, and creating in LBP. I like to be looked up to. Every time I finish a level on LBP PSP, I always feel pleased to hear what people have to say. I have to say thank you to everybody for being so supportive. I for some odd reason also seemed to enjoy the scenery of any earthly landscape. Most people are into art and stuff, but I like how complex the earth can be sometimes and that's why I create some levels based on scenery. I focus on the landscape more often than other things.
What are some of your favorite video games (excluding LBP) - new and old?
I liked many of the old games such as Zelda: Ocarina of Time and Majora's Mask. I still play the Zelda series to date. I enjoyed some modern games such as Monster Hunter and Halo. My favorite game is Monster Hunter since it involves so much strategy. It used to be hard, but the games became easier and easier as more games of the series were made. However, it doesn't change the basic structure of the game being fun and requiring skill. I'm not the best, but I'm getting there. It has to be my most played game. I looked at the hours I've played, and I think it beats my LBP time. Maybe...
If you could list your favorite things about LittleBigPlanet PSP, what would they be?
My favorite things about LBP PSP is the use of the Static/Dynamic setting and the corner editor. I like not using Dark Matter, it helps instead of hiding some Dark Matter in certain areas. This saves me a lot of time. The corner editor is easier to use. You can create a lot of points on one line and edit them later. Unlike PS3, you have to edit a corner to keep it. It helps me be more precise sometimes. Don't get me wrong, PS3 has a better editor, but there are things that PSP does better.
And your least favorite thing(s)?
Everything. XD I'm kidding. I only have a problem with one thing because I basically know how to work ways around the bugs. My most hated thing is that bug with the Turbo! pack materials. It makes me disappointed to have so many awesome materials, but not being able to use them. It's like having a delicious cake just sitting in your kitchen, but not being able to eat it. I hope the bug gets fixed soon because I'd probably have more ideas for different types of levels.
What’s the worst thing that’s happened while creating?
The worst thing I have experienced while creating was the loss of one of my levels. I learned a valuable lesson out of it: To back up my data often. I did remake two of my levels that I lost, but I gave up on two others. I lost 4 levels total. It's not a problem because it was easier to build since I knew exactly what I was building. I backed up my profile weekly and I back up my levels every 30 minutes of creating. It saves me whenever I come across a corrupt level or profile. I'm not annoyed about it, but I was back when it happened.
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've had a few levels in the works that I gave up on. I built a level based on Greek Myths, and I gave up on it for the fact that I had a corrupt profile. I also had another level that I just gave up on because I didn't think I could pull it off. It was back when I still was learning new switches. The level was called "Visiting the Wilderness" I think I can build it now, but I don't think I will bother because I have other levels to build instead. On another note, I try not to abandon a level, but it has happened.
If you worked for Cambridge Studios, what would your first order of business be? This could be anything from adding materials or tools to fixing some of the nasty glitches in the game.
If I worked for Cambridge Studios, I wouldn't know what to do exactly. Though, I would want to fix that Turbo! pack material bug. If I found a way to fix it, I swear, I would throw a party for the whole team. Fixing that bug would mean a lot to me and others as well. I'm glad AceCreator is trying his best to figure out the problem. I'm not exactly sure what caused the bug, but that would mean a lot to me if it was fixed. Another thing I would want would be a tetherless jetpack. There is a glitch to technically have one, but the jetpack just being there ruins the image. Having the real thing would help me add more improtant and new obstacles. That is basically all I would want to implement.
Is it hot in here or is it just me?
Thanks for accepting our bribe for praising us openly. Now tell me, do we owe you $100 total or was it $100 each for me and Taffey?
Wait, $100??? I thought I clearly stated it was $150 each. It was originally $100 each, but remember when I decided to raise it to $150? Really?? You don't remember?? I was creating in LBP PSP one day, and I decided to create a level advertising congratulating you (amazingflyingpoo) and Taffey. It wasn't the level that caused the raise in price, but the fact I tripped and broke my finger. Now I can't play PSP. Though, if I had $300, I could fix my finger and finish the level for you guys.
Then again, I recently deleted the level on purpose accident. Though, I would like $300 still. I'll continue to advertise and congratulate you guys.
"Of all of the authors I know on both PSP and PS3, no one is able to create high quality levels as fast as you can. What is your secret and how do you manage to keep the quality up while creating so quickly?
That first sentence is a lie. I've seen someone do better AND faster than me. *coughAli* Anyway, I usually plan out a few things before building a level such as building characters before I build the level itself. No, I do not build concept art or plan out sketches, I just have a mind packed with ideas flowing and ready to build. I also have to say that the statement me building levels quickly is also due to the fact that I made many levels during late winter 2009 to early spring 2010. During those times I had a lot of time. Also, me getting LBP PSP with a mind packed with a lot of ideas just made me want to create. As you can see, I kind of rushed through the levels, yet I took my time on visuals. (How does that work? :O) Doesn't matter because I don't think my old levels are as great as when I look at them now. Then again, people still seem to like my old levels.
As a huge Metroid fan, I was very excited to try out your level Metroid: Sackboy and Samus. I didn't know exactly what to expect, but after playing it I knew immediately that you had an incredible grasp on how an exploration level should work and that you're very good with corner editing.
Since this level was pretty early in the PSP lifecycle, did you experience many technical issues when creating it? Also, did you base the play style solely on Metroid or did you have inspiration from other adventure games or levels on LBP?
It's good to hear that some people like my "Metroid: Sackboy and Samus" still. I was planning to take the level down, but it's impossible to take down your first level that goes big. I also don't want other Metroid lovers to be disappointed, so the Metroid levels will stay there forever.
The corner editor is my favorite tool, and working on the level in general was not as tough. This level had a few technical issues, including the "shifting bug", which now I know how to avoid. Believe it or not, I didn't know that permanent switches existed when I built this level. I didn't know you could build so much with switches, as I mainly built this level using lame grab switches and key switches to activate dissolve doors. How lame of me, right? XD I didn't run into big technical issues, but back when I made the level, I recognized the small issues as big issues. I guess it's just me being a newbie.
My Metroid levels were only inspired by Nintendo’s Metroid games. I had no other inspiration besides the fact I like a world with many unique environments. That's how Metroid evolved into the Journey series...
R.I.P. Sack was the first PSP level that I ever played which had a sort of "escort" feel to it due to the fact that you needed to find ways to take a casket through the level with you. The level also stood out because of its dark and ominous feel. What led you to make a morbidly themed level like R.I.P.?
To be honest, I don't know why I made a level with a morbid vibe. Am I considered crazy now? 0_0 Nah, I remember now, it's because of "The Wedding" pack that came out. The Wedding was one of my favorite places on LBP PS3. I just liked it so much that I had to make such a haunting level. As you can see, the intro is pretty plain, and I admit to myself, it's kind of lame for an intro. Though, it leads to the underworld dimension which is very amazing in stickerwork wise. I playback this level and still say, "Wow... I made this back then...?" Most creators on the PSP side do not create a deathly level or even a level based on horror. I guess my level stands out for this reason. The title itself just stands out because you don't see a lot of spooky levels. As you can see, I liked "R.I.P. Sack" so much that I had to make another spooky level: "Halloween Hallow Ship".
Let's give you a break from talking about your levels and bring up a recent stroy that is very near and dear to all PSP Creators. What does the announcement of no more DLC for PSP mean for you? And what do you think that it means for LBP PSP in general?
What does the announcement of no more DLC for LBP PSP mean to me? To be honest, it's quite a downer and does not sound good at all. Of course I'm willing to accept the fact, but that won't change my emotion torwards it. I've always been so anxious and excited for a new level pack or music pack (Or a pack with a song in it). Though, after reading the announcement, I'm disappointed. The music choice, in my opinion, is not great. It has a lot of good songs, but it has a lot of bad songs as well... As for a level pack, just seeing Turbo! pack alone in the "Purchased Levels" just bugs me mentally. Kind of like an OCD... We need at least one more level pack. Though, I'm okay with no more DLC. LBP PSP has a variety of stickers and materials. I can build so many different levels. On the other hand, music will be redundant. Hopefully Turbo! pack is fixed too rather than ditched. I hate not using certain materials. It limits my choices. X[ As for no more DLC in LBP PSP in general, I'm sure a big controversy will be started, but it won't kill us. Hence, we should be glad we got a lot of DLC anyways. Though, I do wish they could've made more music and I think the PS3 songs don't count either. =_=
Ok, that was enough of a break from level questions. Let's get to what some consider your best work: Your Journey series (Solid Journey, Flat Down Journey, and Journey Overworld). You developed an interesting plot with these levels and managed to mix it with the character models and atmosphere that you were already excellent at. I'm not saying that your levels weren't amazing before the Journey series, but I am just saying that it really felt like you put all the pieces together when those levels were made.
Was the Journey series something that your have always wanted to build? Did you realize it was going to be such an awesome meld of all your amazing talents when you started?
Well, the gameplay style I'm trying to go for in the Journey series is an open world type with many different environments. That was my first priority in creating on LBP. I wouldn't say that I always wanted to build the Journey series from the start. My first level series to be set in different environments is my "Hidden Planet" series. That was my first series for me doing an open world environment, but I failed miserably. Infact, I took down the whole series. This series was strange because I built the 3rd and 4th level first. Then I built the 1st and 2nd, and the last level... well, umm last. (5 total) After finishing the series, I felt like doing another open world. (I bet you can guess) The Metroid level was built next with an open world feeling. This is the level that boosted up my fame as well. Then after finishing the series, I had a grip for creating. So I thought I was able to pull off a series with an open world environment by now. Then I made my first Journey level. Originally, the level was going to be set like my Metroid level, no story. As you can see, my first level is somewhat plain. Then I started to form a story to the 2nd level. At that point, I quit creating, and planned out the whole story on my notebook. At that point, I planned everything. I knew what to build for the story of part 3 of my Journey series. I also know the story for part 4 and 5. I make slight changes to the story as I create. I'm still heading for an open world environment. Considering "Journey" will have fun gameplay with an interesting story, this ought to be my best work yet!
For our last question, let's mix things up and toss a bunch of short questions at you all at once to learn as much as we can...
Which level of yours was the fastest to build?
The fastest level I have ever built on LBP PSP was "Scenic of the Leaves' for many reasons. First off, I already had a few concepts in my mind and since I started to get a handle on creating, I actually had many ideas in mind and "Scenic of the Leaves" was one of the many I built. As I went on, I chose a scenic route. I only used about half of the thermometer for this level, making it one of the shortest I've made. The obstacles were easy to come up with considering it was one of my first few levels. It only took 4-5 days to make. The piston bug occurred since that update, so I had to fix that. Imagine if that bug would never happen, I'd have that level published so quick. O_o
Which levels was the longest to build?
The level that took the longest for me to build was my PS3 level called "Sparky Caves" which took more than half a year for me to publish. On the PSP, the level that consumed the most time to build was "Journey Overworld". After the publish of "Flat Down Journey", I went straight onto "Journey Overworld". After two months of creating the level, I decided to restart the entire level because I had a feeling I could rebuild the level again, but waaay better, which I did in my opinion. So as I finished 1/4th of the level, I went to build a new level (Autumn Maple Leaves), then I came back to this and finished the rest of it. Then I built a new level (Halloween Hallow Ship). Then after 3-4 months since restarting the entire level, I finally published it. This level took quite long to think of, build, and plan a story. That's the longest time I've consumed on a PSP level.
Which was the hardest to build (and left you wondering if you would ever figure it out)?
Honestly, this question is easy enough to answer without me being here. "Halloween Hallow Ship" was the most complicated level I've ever built on PSP. My main goal for this level was to create doing my best in mechanics, corner editing, and stickering. Thermometer was not a concern in this level. There were too many switches for the intro so that every time I entered create mode, I was lost in where I last left off. This caused me to waste time to find out where I was at. There are switches all over this level, it's ridiculous. I stressed out of course, this level was a pain, but it was all worth the effort. The introduction has a set of switches, the boss has a set of switches, then there is a set of switches for the octopus fight. This was the hardest level I have ever built in LBP PSP.
Which are you most disappointed with (ignoring the Metroid levels)?
XD HAHAH! Once I read ignoring the Metroid Levels, my first reaction was "Those levels rocked!" Well at least better than "Scenic of the Leaves" in my opinion. Which leads me to my most disappointing levels ever. "Scenic of the Leaves" was an amazing level at the time, but when I look back at it now, it's my least favorite level. I mean, even my Metroid levels had amazing characters to make up for the play through. All "Scenic of the Leaves" had was nice scenery. It was also one of my shortest levels ever, filling half the thermo. It's ironic too because this level helped in fame wise besides Metroid. Though, I don't like it as much. I even considering republishing with better work done, but I became too lazy. Anyway, this is my level that I am disappointed with.
Oops, I assumed that those were your least favorite since you have mentioned that you considered deleting them. *ahem* Well, moving on...Which PSP story level do you like the most?
My favorite PSP level ever is "The Introduction" This is when you laugh. People are excited about their favorite platformer level, but my favorite is so plain. I do have a reason for liking this level though. I played "The Introduction" over 10 times unlike any other level. Every time I play "The Introduction", I remember good times in LBP PS3. The introduction on PS3 was just as plain, but nice. XD I don't know, I guess I'm just weird to even like this level at all. "The Introduction" has a fun dynamic feel, but at the same time, it's very plain. Let's stick to saying I'm just weird. XP
If you could sell your creator hearts, how much would you sell them for?
If I could sell my creator hearts, it would be for Zero (Place your currency here) Yeah, I said it. The tough part is actually giving these away. It's free, but it can only be free to whom I give them to. Whether it's a very good friend in real life, or just a close sibling. Other than that, no one else can receive these hearts. I guess I might as well keep them forever. These hearts aren't so special to me, but I can only give them to people for free who I think they belongs to. Good luck trying to get these for free! :P
A jack-o'-lantern, falling leaves, The Coolest Guy, and mushrooms... but somehow it all makes sense together.
It's that magical time of year again. Snow covers the ground, lights twinkle... and there's a wild holiday party going on at jww's place! Ah, who doesn't love a good party? Taffey and amazingflyingpoo, that's who.
For those of you with fancy iPads and iPhones, here's the direct link to the video:
Spark151 has shown us time and again that he has everything it takes to publish a top-notch level. What he hasn't shown us, however, is how he accomplishes this so fast. Our only option at this point is to theorize, and our best guess is that he owns a time machine. I'd say I was looking forward to Spark151's next level, but by the time I get done writing this sentence it has probably already been published. Time to hit the Community Moon!
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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PSP Creator Spotlight 3 - Spark151
>er, 4wheel, anoken, ConverseFox, CyberSora, darcyh, DizzyZebra, Dragonvarsity, famouscustard, Fastbro, GreatWhite000, himoks, Holguin86,
jeffcu28•, jimydog000, jkarow, Leather-Monkey, Lockstitch, moonwire•, Mr_T-Shirt, mutant_red_peas, napero7, nosemomkey, Pattington_Bear, Plasmavore, Random, Spark151, Taffey, The-Questor, unXpectiD, VelcroJonze
- Join Date
- Nov 2008
- In Space...still...
- Blog Entries
Reading these PSP spotlights is still great fun for me even though I'm a PS3'er, thanks to AFP, and congratualations to Spark!
- Join Date
- May 2009
- location, location.
- Blog Entries
Man, reading about and watching these awesome PSP levels is great! Thanks spotlight team for bringing us PS3'ers a glipse of what the PSP guys have to offer!Oh, hai.
Congratulations to a much-deserving Spark151 and a BIG thank you to the small army of people who made this one possible. poo, jww, Countess, Leather, Dayne, Aya... you're all awesome!
- Join Date
- Feb 2010
- North Lincolnshire
- Blog Entries
- Join Date
- Jun 2010
- Not over there...
- Blog Entries
But who cares, you made this one extra awesome!
Im looking forward to what spark does next
whatever it may be...Cleaning up...
- Join Date
- May 2010
- Where you ask?
- Blog Entries
When I saw this I got so happy!!
Way to go brother. You constantly put out unique, beautiful, great playing levels. You were one of my early heroes here at lbpcentral, and I still look up to you. I am so glad they did a creator spotlight on you. This has made my day.
Thanks so much for crafting these little pieces of heaven for my psp.
And a great big thank you to the creator spotlight team. You guy's are the best!
wow congratulation, for the I truth I have no idea who this guy is or his levels because I don't have a psp but his creations and levels look incredible! I wish I had a level that has at least 1,000 plays
Oh well congratulation and thank you spotlight team for the psp!
- Join Date
- Nov 2009
- SOMEWHERE SIR!!!!
- Blog Entries
Good job Spark,
Your one of my favorite creators.
- Join Date
- Feb 2009
- Ohio, USA
- Blog Entries
Ah, a great Spotlight for a great creator! I wanna be just like him!
*Contains immense rage that VelcroJonze wasn't the next spotlight and is happy for Spark's sake*
Another great spotlight! Curious - I once downloaded a Spark151 level that contained a sequence much like the Bunker's wheel. Now I know its story.Bah, I'll make a new signature when I feel like it.