Tuesday, March 08, 2011

LBP2: Hansel & Gretelbot Project

©2011 Wexfordian, Comphermc, Morgana25, rtm223, Hilightnotes, xkappax, Catiers, GruntosUK,
CENTURION24, Jaeyden, Cuzfeeshe and steve_big_guns? 
or is it ©2011 SOE/PlayStation???

As part of my ongoing study of LittleBigPlanet (1 & 2), I've been watching a very cool, player-made (Media Molecule driven) initiative unfold over the past few weeks, entitled The Hansel & Gretelbot Project. As described on the official UK PlayStation blog:

Hansel & Gretelbot is the creation of 12 community members, names you may well recognise:
WexfordianComphermcMorgana25rtm223HilightnotesxkappaxCatiersGruntosUK,CENTURION24JaeydenCuzfeeshe and steve_big_guns.

A few months ago the Community Molecule set them a challenge – could they create a full game experience? Their own complete LBP Theme, using the new LBP2 tools to develop all original story, mini-games, bosses, cutscenes, music, and voices.
The team was gathered, designs were drawn up, themes were picked and building began...


The game/levels were launched in late-February as a free download (just like any other player-made level (at least so far)), and I've got to say I'm pretty impressed. The game levels themselves are, well, admittedly a bit buggy at times, but the collaborative aspects, the narrative and the overall creativity more than make up for it. The game pack includes cut-scenes, voice-overs ("acting"!), and a nice diversity in terms of the gameplay. What's particularly interesting about this project, though, is what it represents in terms of Media Molecule's relationship with its emerging "star" player/designers. Add to this a consideration of the ways in which those "beta levels" for LBP2 were released during the months leading up to the game's official launch (with plenty of press coverage at every step along the way) - which really blurred the line between player-made and employee-made - and the result is some pretty fascinating, and potentially quite important, developments in terms of the changing relationships between play/production/consumption/labour taking place within the gaming culture (and industry).

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