Little Big Egil Planet – more video - October 14, 2008

Filed under: Gaming,Sketches

Click for wallpaper size

Click on the image above for wallpaper size

The game LittleBigPlanet is on its way.. I started a while ago as an experiment to take most of my original characters in my paintings and “transform” them into the sack boy characters from the game.

So, here is a not-yet-very-serious thesis: As an “academic” point of view, LittleBigPlanet is not much more than a new level- and character design tool made “consumerable”. The way the game developers have promoted their game using the tools seems both intuitive and effective (and fun?). I saw a video clip from a PS3 conference where the team behind the game had made a world map that worked as a presentation for statistical facts, charts etc. using the very same tools that are available in the game.

I play with the idea of using the tools in the game to create a virtual gallery to promote artwork and/or create levels and characters, whom in this interactive way, delivers the artistic concepts and stories within it – like a game, duh. One of the really interesting aspects of LittleBigPlanet is it’s a lot like an online casino – you’re never quite sure what’ll happen, but the result is always entertaining and motivates you to do more. The ability to, in a few minutes, turn a blank canvas into a battlefield for the great fight between the courageous Sackboy and the evil dragon is nothing short of revolutionary. Sure, World of Goo makes its own brush strokes towards creative thinking with physics, but where else can you construct a Ferrari purely out of wood and felt? The brilliance is mainly in the online store – artistic inspiration comes in many forms, but I’d be lying if I said it didn’t originate from inspiration by other great artists.

Obviously this is what the game is meant for – but art as an expression finds new ways all the time… This may be a more nailed down example where user generated content is made using games as mediums. For another example, check out Machinima who creates video shorts and episodes by recording in-game graphics in well recognized game titles like Halo, Half-life and Gears of War .. Anyways, I think a lot of the games in the future will be more concerned about realizing dreams and ideas for gamers rather than pushing pre-written material on them. Of course it is a great challenge to do this in a way that would be .. creatively inspiring by the fact that people spend money on this kind of entertainment. But this isn’t new. Ever heard of LEGO?

Speaking of LEGO. Lego must be one of the most clever toys designed for younger children. The perfected design of bricks suggests affordances of how and where they fit together. Their cylinders and holes  suggests the major construction rule. Except for some specialized parts with cultural contraints (swords, hats, female hair etc), these rules are the only things being set, and the creative possibilities and complexities are almost endless – see Legoland, Lego Star Wars, The Brick Testament and a couple of million stop-motion Lego clips on youTube.

What I come to think of is that Little Big Planet reminds me of Lego for it’s part about creating. But Little Big Planet and other games triggers more brain activity by understanding fun and semi-realistic constraints like the laws of physics. You get the chance as a kid to experiment creating simple mechanics and environments in a world with gravity, material mass and kinetic energy. (Ok, I admit there are physical laws in the real world too, but they seem to be more important in the gameplay of LBP than with regular Lego).

That said, you also got the big thing about sharing your creations. The makers of the game can’t say enough about the opportunity to share the creations with everyone over the Internet. This is an interesting part because the huge potential in creative and technical influence will speed up learning a lot. If you give this game to a 5 year old child you will probably have a mastermind in construction engineering and design at the age of 15. In addition to this, ten years of experience working on projects globally using advanced communication technology!

The pictures included are sort of tests to see what my characters would look like in the LBP environment.. It also puts my characters to a test to see if they are strong enough to be recognizable in new contexts!

The characters in the painting refer to the following artworks (from left):

Also, I am including a work in progress video clip of the above painting. I made the painting digitally in Photoshop using a Wacom drawing tablet.