Where Next For LittleBigPlanet?

Over two years ago, in August 2007, I asked Media Molecule to describe LittleBigPlanet in precisely five words as part of one of TheSixthAxis’ shortest ever feature runs – the wickedly entitled ‘5 Questions‘.  We got one done, before our readership (basically just myself and Michael at that point) decided it was a naff idea – I reckon we were two years ahead of our time, but there you go.  Regardless, Mm’s Alex, Mark and Dave all took the time out of their increasingly busy days to answer.

“Off-its-tits communal jamming,” said Alex.  Playing, Creating, Sharing… Done well,” was Mark’s reply and Dave freestyled a bit with Play, Create, Share with JOY.”  They were right, of course – LittleBigPlanet’s big pull was the core concepts of that powerful three pronged approach: Play, Create and Share.  And, yeah, off its tits communal jamming.  And we wonder why people don’t get the British.  Back then LittleBigPlanet was one LittleBigSecret, but that was all to change.

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At the time of writing this blog we’d covered 18 pages of stories relating to LittleBigPlanet, but it was the car crash that was the 17th of October, 2008, that will always be remembered as the day LittleBigPlanet got delayed.  I was there, right as it happened, desperately trying to get answers as one man’s keen ear for detail started the derailment of the launch.  Still, with a hasty product recall under way (and a patch for the first batch) at least the game got some free PR.

The rest is history – the game was a critical success, it amassed legions of fans, many of which created some of utterly amazing levels in the game (including our very own Andy Torr with ‘TSA Towers’) and the notion that video game consoles could offer just as much flexibility in the creation side of things was well and truly implanted into our minds – enough that Sony will eventually follow LittleBigPlanet with ModNation Racers, a game built on similar principles and sharing the Play, Create, Share mantra.

But what next for LittleBigPlanet?  Well, we all know water is currently being beta tested right now and the almost constant flow of new costumes, sticker sets and even music doesn’t show any signs of abating, but surely this isn’t all we’re going to get?  With LittleBigPlanet PSP under the umbrella of a different studio entirely just what is it that Media Molecule are working on next?  Well, one train of thought is a web-based portal for browsing LBP’s levels from the comfort of your PC.

This won’t be the first time fans have been able to do this, mind – Sackbook, an independent online LBP browser was cut down in its prime when Sony made the previously public information private, although the way the Sackbook guys got the photos, level names etc from the servers was akin to the way PS3 Trophy sites used to grab the data before it all went HTTPS (secure servers). Evans hinted that they were working on a similar project in-house in May 2009 that would allow you to queue up new levels from a PC, but that still hasn’t surfaced.

In addition, there was meant to be some kind of public API that would allow other websites, like Sackbook, to pull live data from the LittleBigPlanet servers and integrate them into their sites.  This would be great for fansites that like to comment on new levels and authors, and would provide a much neater way to manage the huge amount of new stuff that’s worth playing in the game.  Likewise, a decent API with a queueing system would allow you to filter out the fluff and just find the really good, well designed levels.

But we’re now at the one year anniversary of the game’s retail release.  Anyone expecting some major from Mm will be disappointed to know that the chance for some limelight has pretty much been and gone without fanfare, leaving some to speculate that there’s nothing coming next for LittleBigPlanet after all.  This won’t be the case, I’m sure – Sony won’t let their new mascot die a slow death and with the PSP version presumably taking up plenty of resources right now perhaps the next big announcement will be at some point next year.

Regardless, LittleBigPlanet has shown the world that the simplest ideas, when executed to perfection, are always the best.  Whether the game will see a fully fledged sequel or just the torrent of DLC that we’re growing used to now is anyone’s guess, but after ‘water’ what else can Media Molecule really do with the engine they’ve got – is there really any room to grow without starting from scratch?  Focus on what made the game so great in the first place, that off-its-tits communal jamming, and they won’t go far wrong.

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