Hello everyone! I talked with one of Tarsier’s level designers, Holguin86, with a small talk about his experience at Tarsier. Er … here’s the interview:
The LBP series is known for it’s unique personality. How do you think the story characters from LBPV contribute to the LBP persona? How do they change it?
The story characters from LBPV are unlike any characters you’ve seen before in a LittleBigPlanet game. They still fit really well into the LBP atmosphere and bring the story to life, but their personalities are even more eccentric and out-of-this-world than before! They also have deep backstories and mysterious pasts, so be prepared to find out more about them as the story progresses.
How do you think LBPV changes the LBP franchise?
LBPV is a game changer because now you can create pretty much any genre of game, anywhere. If you’re like me, you’ll have random ideas all throughout the day, or you’ll see something that might look good in the game. With the Vita there you can capture that idea (or a photo!) before you forget it. And even better, you can more easily show your friends what you’re creating, allowing you to share even more of what you make in the game. And with the Vita being portable, LBPV lends itself really nicely to app-style games, especially with the new tools such as the Memoriser, so people can pick up and play bitesize parts of your level on the go and come back to it later. This is a huge change on what was made in previous LBP games, as game saves simply weren’t possible before.
Any new power ups?
There aren’t any new powerups in the traditional sense, but I’d have to say that the touch functionality of the Vita is a powerup in itself. Not only does it power up the player as they can do all sorts of crazy things with it that couldn’t be done before, but it also empowers creators as creating with touch is super fast and really intuitive, and so many more gameplay mechanics are now possible with touch.
What’s it like working with the other level designers?
It was awesome to work with other people who were just as passionate as I was. It’s always nice to get a second or third opinion on what you’ve made as well, as well as to give feedback on what others have made. It felt like a real team effort, especially the nights we’d stay up all night and survive off crisps and Coke to get the job done.
You’re 17 years old, what’s it like living on your own with a roommate in a foreign country?
At first it was a bit scary. I learned very quickly that the minor chores a teenager does around the house are just a patch on what you have to do when you live away from home. I did my best to pick up on some Swedish while I was out there as well, as it made things like shopping much easier. As for the roommate, well you couldn’t meet a nicer bloke! Hallm3 had already been there a few months when I got there and he was a great help when I was adapting to Swedish life. We got on really well and it was great to have company when I wasn’t at work.
Is there anything you regret not doing?
I regret not exploring Malmo as much as I could have done. We went pretty far and wide but there were plenty of things I didn’t see. Hopefully I’ll go back one day and do some more exploring, as it’s a really nice city.
Is creating levels for Tarsier any different than creating a level you’d publish in the community? If so, how?
There is quite a big difference. When you create for yourself you can work to your own agenda and use your own ideas. When you create as part of a project you can’t just go off on a tangent and do your own thing; you have to keep your stuff consistent with others’ work. This has good and bad sides to it – you might be full of ideas but none of them will work in the situation you need them for, but it challenges you to think more creatively and come up with a solution that works in the bigger picture.
How long does it generally take to finish a level?
I wouldn’t know as I wasn’t there for the whole of the project, but believe me, a lot more time and work goes into making a story mode level than making a community level.
What process do you have to go through to create a level for Story Mode?
Gameplay ideas are usually created separately at first. It’s easier then to see which bits work well together, and you can see then which mechanics are best and are worth carrying through the whole level. Then they’re put together like a jigsaw puzzle. Lots of different people then pass over the level many times to improve it bit by bit on many aspects until it is at final quality.
What inspires your creativity? How do you come up with the different gameplay/visual effects in a level?
Doing an image search is very helpful most of the time, to give you an idea of shapes and atmosphere. Other games are also inspiring, not just platformers either. Other people’s work is also a starting point, as there’s usually an idea in there you haven’t thought of that you can roll with and make more material from.
When you create story levels, who comes up with the gameplay for each level? Do you all decide together or is it up to a sole creator of the level?
It varies – sometimes one person may have a lot of really good ideas for a level and makes most of the gameplay pieces, other times everyone chips in and makes a bit and it’s put together.