Media Molecule's David Smith talks LittleBigPlanet

Check out what went down in Wednesday's live chat.

LittleBigPlanet is one of the PS3's hottest prospects for 2008 and Media Molecule co-founder and technical director David Smith has very kindly agreed to answer your questions about it!

Just sign up for a Eurogamer account and you can input questions on this page from 3.30pm onwards. We will then pick out the best and put them to Dave.

The best thing though is that you don't even need to refresh the page to see the answers. Just stay here and they will be automatically added when he finishes responding. So don't hold back! We'll try and get through as many as possible.

Our live coverage of this event has finished



Moderator: Hi guys! We're minutes away from starting. Dave is already with us and pumped about answering your questions, so if you haven't submitted one already, what are you waiting for?


Moderator: And we're off! First things first, David, tell us a bit about your role at Media Molecule and how you came to be involved with the company.

David Smith: So I'm one of two technical directors at Media Molecule. One of the initial group of 5 directors that started the company. So I do a lot of programming. But then I'm also the co-lead designer along with Mark, so I switch hats a lot. Me, Alex, Mark and Kareem all used to work together at Lionhead so when we were looking for something new to do, it was an obvious choice to work together again.


Carlo asks: When's it out? [We had this about a dozen times so thought we'd get it out of the way early!]

David Smith: October. I'd be more precise if I could be.


Deucalion asks: You must know by now if there will be a beta trial or not. So will it happen (perhaps using Sony's European beta trialists) and when?

David Smith: Yes. A beta trial is really important for us to make a game like this. We already have trials in progress! It should gradually grow to include more people.


tisan asks: I know there's a lot of people out there wanting to start work on their LBP ideas. When can we expect you be releasing details on the more technical aspects of content creation soon? e.g. image specifications for custom textures?

David Smith: A good point. We should already have some information out there, but perhaps we can make a pack of information to go out to the community. But really it's all fairly easy and common sense. There aren't any weird restrictions. We've tried really hard to make the level creation very straight forward and technical.


Now that we have Trophies on the PS3 what sort of wacky tasks can we expect to be tearing our hair out over? Personally, I'm looking out for 'Rocket sack - launch your sackboy into the heavens!'

David Smith: We've been having a lot of fun working out what trophies most fit our game. Because we have this catchphrase of 'Play, Create, Share', the trophies (and indeed some of the other scoring systems) reflect this. One of the trophies is close to what you've suggested - for somehow making your sackperson be thrown at some huge velocity. You'll probably need to make a machine using the create tools.


What is the most inventive thing you have seen anyone create using the game?

David Smith: A computer. Well, not a hugely complicated computer but it's definitely a computer. I think it was actually one of our programmers who made an adding machine in the game. It all works off little balls bouncing around and flicking physical switches. But then our level designers amaze me daily with the things they make. Giant robots. Vehicles. Lots of exciting vehicles.

I'm sure the community will come up with even whackier stuff. But for those that don't, they can just take all the things that we've made (or from the other people in the community who are good enough to share their inventions).


Deucalion asks: We know the game is physics based, but are the physics 2 or 3 dimensional? I mean, I've watched the trailers and seen people create a tank and put wheels on the side facing the player. But is it necessary to place wheels on the "backside" too in order to make the tank move?

David Smith: We generally talk about our game as being 2.5D. We tried 3D, but it turns out that it's very hard to make fun physical games in true 3D. Everything moves about in ways that are hard to predict, so you end up just fixing everything down and then you lose all the fun of physics. But then we tried doing pure 2D, and that is too constraining. It's hard to make a lot of the fun toys and vehicles in our game in a true 2D world. So we ended up with the 2.5D 'middle way' which has worked out really well. It means you don't need to worry about things falling in or out of the screen. So in the case of the tank, you don't have to have wheels on both sides. But it will probably look cooler if you do! It's entirely up to you.


I'm not satisfied with the beta answer. Will specific beta players be selected or will it be available to us lesser critters?

David Smith: The beta is starting off in a very controlled way, but will hopefully open up to lots more people. We aren't at a stage yet to know what direction we need to go with this. Personally, I'd love the beta to have as many people as possible, but we need to wait and see.


After seeing the Sporn debacle following the Spore Creature Creator, are you worried about what people might come up with in LittleBigPlanet?

David Smith: We've spent a lot of time working out how to avoid these problems. In a game like LBP, there's obviously many ways that you could make objectionable content or annoy other players. So to combat this, we've made it really simple to grief report any item/level/player just by hitting a button at any time and following a simple series of operations.


In one of your interviews you stated that water was not currently in the game, but could be included if that's what gamers wanted. The response on forums seemed to be an overwhelming 'yes, we want it', so are you now planning on including it?

David Smith: But you guys haven't played the game yet! It'll be really interesting to see whether you're still saying that once the game is in your hands and your building all these crazy and wonderful creations. I think water would be really fun to have, but there might be other things that the community want more. We're hoping to support the community as much as possible. So yes. If you're still wanting water in the game, and we can think of a nice way to add it to the game, it's something that would be very high on our list of priorities.


A boring one I'm afraid! Does the game run at 60fps or 30fps? 720P or 1080p?

David Smith: 30fps at 720. The game uses a lot of filmic techniques like depth of field and motion blur, so this fits the game pretty well.


Moderator adds: While we're on the tech subject, will LBP have a mandatory PS3 install? And how big will it be?

David Smith: We haven't finalised the details on this, so I can't answer I'm afraid.

The game is designed to be fairly lightweight, to make the sharing of new content easier. Our levels squidge down into really tiny files, which means that when the community makes new ones, they'll download quickly. The HD install is perhaps around a gig. Perhaps more or less. It's not finalised yet. [Smiles]


Will there be a limited edition pack with a toy Sackboy? Really want one!

David Smith: The toy that Thomas's (one of our artists) Mum made was something of an inspiration to us (and lots of other people it would appear!). Your prayers may be answered. I would love to say more but I can't.


I've got some crazy ideas for mechanical contraptions using those powered joints and hinges. Are we able to save these creations so that in the future we can simply drop them into the game?

David Smith: Oh yes! That's really important. I'm not sure I could be bothered to make a cool new contraption, if I couldn't easily make copies of it. You can just select a simple sort of 'camera tool'. Take a picture of your invention and it simply adds the object to your inventory. You can create as many as you like (until the game runs out of memory).

You can even give your inventions away to your friends and the rest of the community. This forms the really important 'share' part of the game. Without this sharing feature, the community wouldn't be nearly as groovy.


ShiftyGeezer asks: Will there be independent camera controls and video capture? I think creating virtual 'theatre plays' would be great, but it would want some camera controls and an ability to export video.

David Smith: We have a big wish list of things that we'd like to add after the initial launch of the game. Making videos of theatre plays and stunts is definitely on the list. Whether we add the feature or not is partially up to you guys. How much do you want it? Tell us!


Can you describe how your personal sackboy looks?

David Smith: Oh. The shame of it. My sackboy is rather hideous. We have so many wonderful artists and designers and Media Molecule, that I just can't compete with their snazzy outfits. My usual approach is to press the 'randomise costume' button that does pretty much what you might imagine. Then I adjust the details to make it especially hideous. Then cover it with stickers and decorations so it's barely even recognisable as a sackperson. Perhaps I should love my sackperson a little more.


Can you change the gravity?

David Smith: No. It's definitely something that we're thinking of adding later on though. Technically, it would be pretty easy. As it stands, we have a special material in the game which floats in the air and can make 'spacey' sorts of levels. But it's not quite the same thing.


What can you tell us about VOIP and PS Eye support? With most PS3 games, when it comes to VOIP, they're erratic at best...

David Smith: Well, I can tell you we have VOIP. It's really useful when you're making a level with a friend who happens to be in a different country. It fits really nicely into the game. There's some more cool stuff about this that I'm not going to go into right now. We are using the camera for some of the creative features of the game. It's a pretty powerful way of getting new content into the LBP world.


Will there be 3D model imports, for creation of things like hats and baskets of chilis, or will all player-created content have to use the in-game 2.5D tools?

David Smith: Currently, the objects that players make are made purely with the in-game tools. The good news, is that this lets you make really attractive and varied objects without needing any technical experience. When we first started making levels for the game, we used lots of custom meshes but as we grew more experienced with the tools (and improved them!) we discovered that most of what we want is easier to make with the in-game tools, and looks better as well!


Has anyone made a Rube Goldberg level yet? I think that is what I'm most looking forward to doing on idle evenings!

David Smith: Rube Goldberg's name has been mentioned more than once or twice around the office. I know that Mark finds his crazy contraptions quite inspirational. We have plenty of madcap inventions that would rival Goldbergs inventions, but I'm not sure we currently have a true Rube Goldberg level yet. Well, I'm sure that the community will make plenty of them if we don't do it first!


How will copyrighted material work? For example if I create a DC Comics sackboy group will I end up on the run from ubergeek squads? [Or perhaps lawyers - Ed]

David Smith: If you share content that contains copyright material, then it will be subject to the same grief reporting procedure that we have for other naughty content.


Do you make use of the controller's motion sensor? If so - how?

David Smith: Our main use of the motion sensor is for injecting a little more personality into the game. It forms an important part of the games 'acting' feature that lets you look around, point at things and change your facial expression. This is especially cool once you've completed a level with your friends and the camera zooms in on the best player. This moment of fame is a very good opportunity to make up a silly dance.


Will we be seeing YouTube video support within the game?

David Smith: That would be nice wouldn't it? [Smiles] Let's see.


Have you decided if you will release a limited demo before the game ships, or will there be (in a common trend sadly) a demo after retail ships?

David Smith: We're currently totally focused on the beta trial. We're not at a point where we can make a final decision on a demo. It depends on how the trials go.


Moderator asks: What kind of influence did Phil Harrison have on you guys while he was at Sony, and have you missed him since he left for Atari?

David Smith: It was really good to work with Phil. He really understood the game, and his enthusiasm quickly spread to the rest of Sony. I hope he's doing well.


A friend of mine who works at Media Molecule hinted that there would be "really awesome licensed music" in the game. Can you elaborate yet, or is that still under wraps?

David Smith: Regarding the question about music. I have a response from Kenny, our marvellous sound magician.
I can confirm that we've licensed music by The Go! Team and Battles as featured in some of our trailers. The game has lots of other awesome licensed music which is not just a feature of LittleBigPlanet's Story mode, but is available to you to use in create mode (assuming you have collected a given track's music object). Even more exciting is the interactive music system which allows you to musically score your levels as you see fit by placing down interactive music objects at key points in your level where you want the music to change.


What's the limit on the complexity of a level? Is there a count of objects, or is it purely down to memory restriction? Halo 3's Forge used a token-based budget, which seems like an intuitive approach - anything similar in LBP?

David Smith: There are various restrictions based on clever numbers and details that the player doesn't really need to understand. We boil it down to a simple thermometer that gives you a sense of how much more stuff you can create. We've tried to make it so that you can make pretty complicated levels without worrying too much about the limits.


Will the in-game music feature from 2.40 be implemented into LittleBigPlanet?

David Smith: We haven't finalised our decision on that.


Moderator: Dave's got to go now I'm afraid! However, there's always time for one more question. I think you know what it is...


Moderator: Would you rather be invisible or have lasers for eyes?

David Smith: Wow. That's a pretty searching question. I think invisibility trumps laser eyes. If I was invisible, then lasers would pass right through without hurting me, but I could still sneak up on a person with laser eyes. Yeah, invisibility would rock.

Latest comments

Log in to comment on this livetext.
    craigy 13 years ago
    Lasers for eyes! Always lasers for eyes.
    Netweb 13 years ago
    Special Edition with sackboy...?
    Water, other liquids?
    Blu-Ray or Store?

    Lovingit07 13 years ago
    'you can save your contraptions untill the game memory runs out' much memory does it have? Does each player have a certain amount of memory each, does it use the HDD.

    Anyone know?
    Krelle 13 years ago
    Goddamnit EG.
    How do you expect anyone to believe the "controversial scores" is anything but page hit-bate when you turn an interview into..7? news articles? Its laughable.

    Since the re-design, things been going dooooownwards. Your on the level of IGN when it comes to credibility now.
    Yeah, im pissed. This was THE gaming site a few years ago. I still keep reading it, thou. God knows why. The Eurogamers-community keeps this read-worthy i suppose.

    Just crossed my mind. Has to be the "new approach" since the shift in management. Well played EG.
    Deucalion 13 years ago
    Moderator: Thank you very much for posting some of my questions :o)
    Painyboi 13 years ago
    Thanks for answering my question David! and thanks Eurogamer! :)
    ShiftyGeezer 13 years ago
    Thanks for that Eurogamer. Informative answers!
    afgavinstan 13 years ago
    BOOSH! One Q asked, one A given. And I'd say I'm new-ish around here. And they made an article out of it! Best day EVAR!!!1!!!1!1!!
    Phily50 13 years ago
    /waits for each question to be turned into an article on the main page


    /tips hat

    thank you sir :)
    Bertie 13 years ago
    /waits for each question to be turned into an article on the main page

    mkreku 13 years ago
    One out of three questions! Too bad it was the least interesting one.. I wanted to know the vertical and horizontal limitations on the levels we can create!! Will it be possible to make one long-ass rollercoaster ride for the sack-people? Or one really tall level if you want to build a magic beanstalk level? ANSWER MEEE
    will. 13 years ago
    Can't wait for this game... Having happy little panic attacks... Joy! :D
    seasidebaz 13 years ago
    Main Page News:

    Dave would rather be invisible
    Phily50 13 years ago
    /waits for each question to be turned into an article on the main page
    seasidebaz 13 years ago

    Yes. Only a couple of years old :(
    Carlo 13 years ago
    "Take a picture of your invention and it simply adds the object to your inventory"

    Coolest fucking idea EVAR!
    Salvia 13 years ago
    "Why are all the 100k'ers getting their questions in? *spits*"

    You're new here aren't you?
    johnnybrn 13 years ago
    My question has been answered and I'm relatively new to the forums.

    Maybe your questions were crap?

    Im joking I'm joking
    TheNinkyNonk 13 years ago
    El_MUERkO 13 years ago
    what happened to the 'left right, up down' question, i is confused :(
    JediMasterMalik 13 years ago
    I see a point, and it's being missed.
    TheNinkyNonk 13 years ago
    I'm just not convinced by this. I see cute, I see friendly, I don't see game.
    JediMasterMalik 13 years ago
    The questions and answers are mixed up.

    And the creator sets the start and finish point, as an answer to Physically_Insane
    Carlo 13 years ago
    \o/ My question got asked!
    will. 13 years ago
    This not having to do anything, the page will refresh automatically isn't true. I have to refresh to see the new content.
    Psychotext 13 years ago
    Looks like a conspiracy to me...
    seasidebaz 13 years ago
    Why are all the 100k'ers getting their questions in? *spits*
    Bertie 13 years ago
    Do the toys wear sacks because they're unattractive?
    KayJay 13 years ago
    Ignore, erm Ignore and er Ignore. Crickey that was easy.
    HoriZon 13 years ago
    Shouldn't this of been out a year ago ?
    Physically_Insane 13 years ago