The guys at Studio Cambridge have been very busy since LittleBigPlanet PSP launched. Below you will find a couple of developer diaries giving some insight into what they’ve been working on.
‘Turbo! Pack’ Development Diary 1: ‘Short Circuit’ – Jon Torrens, Designer
Here at the Cambridge Studio, we’ve been playing a lot of community levels, and we’ve been really impressed with a lot of them. In fact we’ve been so inspired, that we decided to create something special that we hope will, in turn, inspire the community: the ‘Turbo! Pack’.
We want the ‘Turbo! Pack’ to be full of cool vehicles, with some action-packed levels to use them in. Currently we’re working on a race level, where you get to drive a Monster Truck and a Racing Car.
Lots of creators like to make a rocket car of some description, but there are a couple of problems with super fast vehicles in LittleBigPlanet:
- Sooner or later you’re going to hit the edge of the level.
- There’s no penalty for going too fast.
Just moving very fast is all very well, but we wanted to have circuits, like a real race track. At first we tried a vertically scrolling track, with emitted track sections, like a shoot-em-up. But no cornering was required. Our solution? Stick the car to the track’s surface using rockets (which we have seen done in a community level), and move the car round the edge of a central object, a little bit like driving along the surface of a really small planet. Go too fast and you’ll detach and crash.
Then we realised that as well as race cars, we like souped-up hot rods, so we made one of those. But this time, we wanted a different way to stop the player just going flat out, so we made it so that the hot rod’s engine can overheat if you rev it constantly. When you hear the warning sound, you need to step off the gas, or you’ll find yourself going nowhere fast.
Speed, efficiency, and a nice flat surface are fine for race cars, but we all wanted to drive a behemoth, and thus was born the Monster Truck.
We wanted to use motor bolts instead of rockets for the Monster Truck, but motor bolts make wheels start turning very quickly, very suddenly – which meant this bad boy tended to fall over, because its centre of gravity was so high. What we needed was gradual acceleration, and the mechanism we made for this is pretty simple: grabbing the accelerator sponge contracts a piston, with a magnetic key on the end. Its magnetic key switch is set to speed, and connected to the wheel motor bolts. The closer the magnetic key gets to its switch, the faster the wheels go; the piston takes a couple of seconds to contract, so time the wheels take to reach their top speed is a couple of seconds (and not a couple of hundredths of a second). Problem solved. The Monster Truck’s still a bit unstable, but it can roll over all kinds of rough terrain.
And that’s how we made our first three cool vehicles. You can find some of them (and their individual parts) in prize bubbles scattered throughout the level. Complete ‘Short Circuit’, and you’ll get the Red Racing Car and the Hotrod. But for the Blue Racing Car and the Monster Truck, you’ll need to collect all the prize bubbles in the level.
‘Turbo! Pack’ Development Diary 2: ‘Short Circuit’ – Laura Dilloway, Artist
We’re all really excited by the new theme we’re developing for the ‘Turbo! Pack’. It’s been through a few iterations because you’ve given us so many ideas that we had to find a theme that would encompass them all, but we think we’ve finally cracked it. We wanted something completely different from the story levels, so for Sackboy’s new adventures you’ll be leaping and bounding through a particularly well-stocked kid’s bedroom. Ever built a race track out of books and rulers and anything else you could find to hand? Constructed cardboard box forts and staged extensive battles with your toy soldiers? Well that’s exactly what we’ve done! We hope you’ll be as inspired by all the new possibilities as we have been.
The race level was a bit of a funny one in terms of art, partly because some of it is pretty abstract and it was hard to keep it within the new theme, and partly because there’s just so much of it! Jon mapped out the level very comprehensively when he designed it, so transforming it into the new theme was fairly easy to visualise. The only problem was the memory thermometer! There are four distinct sections that have each been dressed in a slightly different way, and it was a struggle trying to make each area look cool and interesting with a limited number of materials and stickers (and without sacrificing any of the level design). Optimisation was really important on this level, right down to completely streamlining all the logic!
Working on the vehicles for this pack was really great fun, and this level gives you three awesome new cars. To make all our vehicles extra special we’ve created them using 3D objects. “That’s cheating” we hear you cry! Well maybe a little. But we’ve also provided you with every single vehicle and every single component part of that vehicle so that you can build your very own crazy contraptions. Hot rod engine with a racing car chassis and monster truck wheels? No problem.
Next time, see how we made something more constructive…