What could go wrong for LittleBigPlanet?
I’m sure LittleBigPlanet is on many people’s most wanted list. It’s right at the top of mine. I can’t wait to get my grubby little hands on it! I’m gonna make a monster truck and a robot and a plane and and and! But before I let my imagination run away with me, I thought I’d try playing devils advocate. Prepare to explore my worst nightmare, what if LittleBigPlanet fails…
How!? Blasphemy! You cry. Well let’s just have a look at what could go wrong.
Let’s start with the most obvious possibility, the dreaded penis level! If Spore is anything to go by, give users the freedom to create and phalluses are sure to follow. So what, if any, protection is there to stop juveniles spoiling our fun? I asked Alex Evans of Media Molecule. “Mature content and other ‘inappropriate’ material shouldn’t be too much of an issue as long as people are finding what they want. Google doesn’t rely only on filtering to improve the quality of their searches, they just make sure that users find good quality results for what they are looking for.”
So if you want your booby level you may just be able to keep it. Alex also added that “a lot of the models can be directly lifted from the web. There will be moderators keeping an eye on everything but users will also be able to flag inappropriate things.”
It isn’t just boobies that could get in the way of the good content. What about a stream of crap? It might not even be crap, but something worse, mediocrity! Everyone will create a level, something personal and special to them. Impressing their friends with their creative talents and skill with the Popit. They will all enjoy it, but with the sentimental context removed the wider audience can only judge it by its likely average design, and the servers will be filling up rapidly with hundreds of fairly average levels to play.
That is of course if they even get played! With the imminent barrage of day one user-content, one must wonder how on earth it will get sorted. Bungie certainly found similar problems with regards to Halo 3’s Forge mode, especially when most content is reliant on a post-play rating system. If your voice is drowned out by the noise how will anyone manage to find your amazing level? What if I can only find crap!? Again Alex has reassured us: “We’ve tried to strip back some of the menus and screens so that if you want to just jump into a good level you don’t have to jump through lots of hoops. Players shouldn’t have to spend hours looking for something fun to play.”
What if I am wrong about people even creating much content? Maybe people only want to play or what they will create will not be published! The tools while simple to slap stickers about may prove too complex for the average person to make interesting things. Selling LBP to the wider audience could be confusing, I find it hard enough explaining to the people I know what it is. Cute adverts may help sales early on, but I think word of mouth will be what makes or breaks it.
I’m sure the guys at Media Molecule have thought about each of these problems and more. I also expect they also have found adequate solutions. Maybe I worry too much. I just want LBP to be amazing…more than that I want it now!