With LittleBigPlanet released this week and receiving critical success, the whole gaming industry is looking enviously as MediaMolecule’s Sackboy brings game developing to the masses. This is one idea that everyone wish they had on their system and is rightly a time for PS3 owners to find a 360 owner, stick their tongue out and chant ner ner na ner ner.
But, user-created gaming content isn’t going to be exclusively on the PS3 platform forever, there is bound to be a competitor product inspired by LBP appearing somewhere down the line, well some people may have heard of XNA. A suite of software and resources offered by Microsoft, which unfortunately degenerates in to a bewildering array of techno-jargon, but as far as the 360 is concerned it is basically a Visual C# based development tool called XNA Game Studio 3.0. This software enables anyone with the technical know-how to design full 3D games for the PC, 360 & Zune (if that’s still going I’m not to sure!) it will then be possible for premium subscribers of the XNA Creators Club (yes another subscription on top of Live) to publish games for the Xbox Live Marketplace Community games channel launching soon along with the New Xbox Experience (NXE) on 18/11
What has all this nonsense and gobbledygook got to do with MediaMolecule’s masterpiece, well coincidently (during LBP’s release week) more details have come to light about Boku and it now appears to be a cut down version of the XNA Studio, it has already been nicknamed Visual C# for kids (catchy I know) release dates and prices are unknown, but it offers menu and icon driven full 3D game design which is potentially greater in ambition than the level design in LBP.
However as we have seen with the exceptional creativity shown in early LBP levels such as LittleBigGradius, LittleBigCalculator and hundreds of others, although LBP may only be a level creation tool, already the first few days have shown there is no limit to what is possible in Sackboy’s world, and to me the level creation is that big in scope it is game creation.
Looking at the video of Boku it appears it’s not really a game at all, just a series of icon driven menus and tools to create with, also the Xbox Community games created aren’t free to download either, so it means forking out for a live subscription, then a Creators Club subscription and then a charge for the games (us PS3 owners really do have it good) the graphics are simple although the 3D environment will leave lots of room for experimentation
Without a game built around experience it may prove difficult for Boku to gain mass market appeal as LBP has already done, and as we all know there is lots of DLC still to come with LBP such as online Create which will re-invigorate that game further down the line.
I’m amazed at the shear amount of creativity I have seen in one play session on LBP, and I’m sure it will be a very long time before the experience of downloading others creations and sharing your own is surpassed elsewhere.