By Jeriaska . July 24, 2008 . 2:17pm
The original idea behind LittleBigPlanet, the largely user-generated platforming title from Media Molecule, was to give musicians a chance to jam with each other online over the Playstation Network. As it turned out, using the Playstation 3 as a conduit for collaborative improvisation and rehearsal was a trickier problem than expected. Luckily, a whole lot of new concepts arose out of the experiment, including the collaborative gameplay features that now figure as the title's central focus.
There still are interactive elements to the music in LittleBigPlanet. At E3, Sony Computer Entertainment producer Leo Cubbins offered us a first look at the the interactive music tracks found in the game. He demonstrated that you can plunk down a box on the floor of the gaming level you are generating and attach a boom box to the front. After that you can adjust the trigger radius, so that as you get closer in proximity to the speakers the volume increases. There is also a mixer (shown in the screenshot below) with options to adjust the bass, drums and other instruments.
The trigger radius control allows players to place tracks strategically at various locations in their stages to create a musical transition that unfolds as players wind their way through the level's various areas. Conceivably you could have moody music playing in a difficult part of the stage, which gives way to a light and bouncy tune as the challenges are overcome. Alternatively, you could have jungle-themed music playing in an area dense with foliage that fades into and urban groove once the underbrush is cleared and building facades fill the view.
Due to licensing issues, there are no plans at this time for players to be able to import their own songs into the game. LittleBigPlanet comes with a collection of tracks, each from different artists, including The Go Team, DJ Krush, Cafe Tacuba, and Daniel Pemberton. At the moment you cannot adjust the settings on these particular songs, though later on agreements might be made with the artists for versions that you could mix. In the above screenshot you can see there are different categories for music, interactive music and sound effects, which will determine how much control players are allowed over manipulating the song.
The early stages of Media Molecule's upcoming title were influenced by listening to Brighton-based band The Go Team, featured in many of the trailers. The developers, whose previous title was a
rhythm action fighting/ party game called Rag Doll Kung-Fu, say they want to continue collaborating with like-minded musicians. Most of the group performs, says Cubbins, a drummer himself. Mark Healey plays guitar and a bit of tabla, Alex Evans knows a couple string instruments, they even have an awesome rock guitarist on the team. "We keep threatening to jam together," he says.
Media Molecule will have a little more downtime to rehearse when LittleBigPlanet goes on sale this October.
Images courtesy of Sony Computer Entertainment