10) Use layers effectively
LittleBigPlanet might look two dimensional but don't forget there are three distinct planes to take advantage of. If you only build on one layer things can get boring so use the full depth of the playing area. Just dropping in a few columns to make the player move in and out of the screen can add loads of variety. Even better you could place emitters to fire flaming rocks across all three layers at different intervals to create a simple 3D hazard.
It's also worth remembering that sackboys can't jump down from the front layer which is useful to restrict movement on purpose. Another handy trick is to build all your scenery out of the thinner, plywood like sheets of material rather than blocks. Players can't stand on it so they won't be able to accidentally reach areas they're not meant to.
11) Check your checkpoints
Remember that game where you died and had to replay a massive chunk of it all over again? Sucked didn't it? So don't do it in your stuff. Whack checkpoints everywhere. Especially after any lethal hazards or intentionally difficult bits. You need some space between checkpoints to create a challenge but as a rule of thumb never have them more than a screen's width apart. Checkpoints should reward players and keep them moving forwards rather than punishing them with a journey back to the start. And no one's going to complain about having too many.
12) Be prepared/Assume the worst
This covers just about everything from bad feedback to unexpected mistakes. Firstly, if you do publish a level and get criticised don't declare war. Take a breath, look at what's been said and see what you can do about it. If you are building things for other people to play then you have to listen to them.
Also, be prepared to do some major fixes and repairs. People will get stuck, fall behind the scenery or in some way you never expected, bugger things up. All you can do is learn, adapt and move on from your mistakes. That way you won't repeat them.
13) Always use Pause Mode when building
Tap up on the D-pad and you'll freeze everything. You can still build but it's a bit like being Hiro Nakamura because everything hangs in the air unless you move it. It's vital when constructing machines and other complicated objects because nothing moves. Hazards, lifts and motorised vehicles will all stay put while you work. The physics engine is also shut down so nothing will fall over or roll away. Try not to go too long without un-pausing, though, just to check everything is working and that you haven't made any mistakes that only show up when it all starts moving.
14) Make your published level stand out
In case you hadn't noticed there are a few people playing LittleBigPlanet. So how do you make your finished level stand out from the multitude? Well give it a good name for starters. “Mike's Level” isn't going to attract anyone. “The Apocalyptic Badger Pit” on the other hand at least piques your interest. Keep descriptions short and to the point - you need to catch people's interest in the first sentence or they'll stop reading.
Also avoid using in-game stickers when making a badge as it'll look generic. Use the camera option in the Sticker bag to take a good, representative image of the action and use that instead. Put up some Photo Booths (from the Tools bag) as well and they'll take pictures automatically of the best bits which then appear in the description box.
Jan 19, 2009
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