LittleBigPlanet's level design: How easy is it?

If you’re anything like us, your first few hours with the level-design features will likely be spent dicking around aimlessly, trying to create rocket-powered vehicles and elaborate courses for them to roar through. Don’t feel bad, though – the time you spend building and testing these toys will teach you a lot about how to manipulate the game’s physics, how best to use its building materials and simple machinery and how to design levels that actually work.

So here’s an idea of what to expect. Your first, blank level will look a little something like this:

Above: Looks pretty empty…

The first thing you’ll probably want to do – again, if you’re like us – is make a giant series of rollercoaster-like ramps to launch a vehicle through, so it’s best to start up high. We chose wood from the game’s menu of 12 building materials (each of which have unique properties), picked a square cursor shape, made it huge by resizing it with the right stick and began rubber-stamping our track into existence.

You’ve got three layers of depth that your Sackboy (or Sackgirl) can move between more or less freely, and those three layers offer more freedom than you might think to create elaborate structures – something we’ll touch on in a little bit. For now, let’s keep it simple.

Above: ‘Simple.’ We probably should mention that you’ve got a LOT of room in which to spread out your creations

Now, the sharp corners laid down by the square cursor aren’t really friendly to anything with a rigid body and at least two wheels, so you’ll probably want to curve the edges with a semicircular building cursor:

Above: Create a curve by deleting a chunk of material…

Above: …and then use the flat side to even things out

Once the ramp’s ready, you can dip into your Popit menu and grab a skateboard, which is your easiest and quickest – but by no means only – option for a Sackboy vehicle. Like everything else in the game, you can resize it to your liking, but don’t be disappointed if your early results are underwhelming.

Above: Dead stops like this are disappointing

Here’s where the real experimentation begins. Without completely remaking the ramp, we aren’t going to get much speed from our skateboard. So a simpler, more fun solution presents itself: remake the skateboard. We prefer ours with rocket engines.

This simple jet sled was made by gluing a cardboard block to the skateboard (as easy as putting one next to the other and holding down a button), jamming a couple jets on the back (throttled up to full power, naturally) and then adding a switch to turn them on and off (the wires are just there to let you know what’s connected to what, and don’t show up in Play mode). The results, unfortunately, weren’t quite what we had in mind, and it took a lot of tinkering before we could get the skateboard to do anything other than this:

Don’t think adding more rockets will help, either. Believe us, we’ve tried:

Above: The words you’re looking for are ‘daaaaamn, son!”

… and gotten similar results:


For the full process of building a simple, failed skateboard ramp (presented at 4x speed in order to reduce boredom), check out the video below:

Mikel Reparaz
After graduating from college in 2000 with a BA in journalism, I worked for five years as a copy editor, page designer and videogame-review columnist at a couple of mid-sized newspapers you've never heard of. My column eventually got me a freelancing gig with GMR magazine, which folded a few months later. I was hired on full-time by GamesRadar in late 2005, and have since been paid actual money to write silly articles about lovable blobs.