Back in August, we posted the results of our biggest creative contest yet: LBP Reconnected 2! We received many awesome submissions across LittleBigPlanet 1, 2, 3, and Vita that aspired for an optimistic future and celebrated the return of online connectivity. We unveiled a brand new, custom Reconnected prize crown for the contest, treading new ground and opening up so many possibilities for the future of LBP on PS3, Vita, and RPCS3.
Let’s go behind the scenes and meet the winners of Reconnected 2! We’ll see their crowns, their levels, and all the hard work they put into their contest submissions.
I was inspired by the Canadian wildfires earlier this summer causing severe air quality pollution in New York and elsewhere around the time of the contest. I was also inspired by the construction site levels from the Metropolis in LBP1, that’s probably obvious.
When the servers went down in 2021, I was kinda disappointed but not too surprised. The servers had been up for nearly 12 years, so I figured it was only a matter of time. It gave me an excuse to back away from LBP and gaming in general for a bit while I sorted out some personal stuff and got caught up with school.
One of the hardest parts about making Blow Over was getting the intro scroll to work right. I also like to listen to music while I work, and it took me a minute to find a good playlist to listen to while working on it. Aside from that, the level was pretty easy to make, and I think I finished it in about five hours.
If I could go back and change anything, I would have made it longer. I saw some feedback on the level saying that it probably should have been more serious, especially with the dialog. However, I definitely wouldn’t have changed it. I make levels I enjoy, and I enjoy dumb New York accent NPCs.
Presentation is everything, Your level can be horrible, but if it has amazing visuals you can make up for it. If your level is funny, people will be more inclined to like it too.
I was inspired by an indie game called ‘Closure‘ where the only platforms you can stand on are ones that are in the light. I thought the concept was really cool, and I’ve wanted to make an LBP level using light as a game mechanic for a while. Early versions of the level kept running into problems, so I shelved the project. When I read the criteria for the contest, I realized that the dark and light idea would be a great theme, so I set about frantically trying to cobble together a solution that would work.
The most challenging part was definitely getting the darkness logic to work. There’s no easy way to get something to constantly follow a specific player. The original concept for the level didn’t utilize sackbots at all, but this lead to problems getting the darkness to work correctly with multipel players. I didn’t want to restrict the level to being single player only, so I had to come up with a solution involving sackbots instead.
Fortunately, this gave me more freedom towork with logic-wise, and also enabled the palyer to be a cool shadow sackbot. I felt this better fit the aesthetic and lore of the level.
In the level, there’s a three-pronged swirly symbol that appears called a ‘triskelion’. This is an ancient symbol used by a number of cultures and has a variety of meanings. One of its meanings is that it symbolizes ‘life, death, and rebirth’. I thought this symbolism was meaningful for the level, since the LBP servers effectively lived, died, and are being reborn.
I haven’t played LBP for a while, so I wasn’t there for the server shutdown in 2021, but I used to play LBP1 and LBP2 all the time when I was younger. I never made any levesl that were all that great back then, but my older brother made a ton of really great levels on his old PS3. It was devastating to me when I found out that they’re all gone now. There’s a ton of amazing content made by so many people that’s lost forever, it’s upsetting.
This entire event feels like a microcosm for the way things are like in the current day. So many things are uploaded to the Internet with the assumption that they’ll be there forever, but that’s not necessarily true. If the servers stop hosting the content, then it’s gone. It’s frightenining ot me, and makes me wonder what the Internet will look like in the years to come. What content from today will remain, if anything? The only conclusion I can draw is that nothing lasts forever, and that change is inevitable.
When I was making the level, my brother suggested that I add creatures that lurk silently in the shadows and would charge forward when the player gets close. The player would have to lure them into the light to make them vulnerable. I never got around to implementing it because I wasn’t able to come up with a design I was happy with. The level was also already getting very complex.
When making the level, I didn’t want the level to feel too long. I didn’t want players to get bored and quit before the ending. Making the level relatively short was an intentional choice, it wasn’t just because of the thermometer. I cut out a few sections that I felt were too long and uninteresting. I thin the result was that the level is just the right length. When creating, I always used to keep creating until I couldn’t anymore. That led to very long, often boring levels. Creating The Dark and the Light taught me that short and sweet is often better when it comes to level design.
Hi! I’m Palolito_cl, and I created Getting Rid of the Final Remains on LBP Vita for Reconnected 2! I haven’t really gotten a picture of my Reconnected crown yet since it’s not available on LBP Vita due to limitations of modding, but I enjoy the crown on LBP2 and 3 for PS3.
The server shutdown in 2021 was an unexpected blow for me. I didn’t think that it would happen so suddenly. I literally shed a tear! Fortunately, thanks to archived levels and Beacon, I was able to continue playing other people’s creations and sharing my own!
My original idea was to make a mini adventure, where the player would help trigger the creation of Beacon servers by LBP Union. I procrastinated for so long that I decided to cut it down to something a lot simpler: “Getting Rid of the Final Remains”. I hope to use the scrapped ideas for future projects.
The level itself wasn’t that difficult, but I think the deadline was the toughest part. I was in a hurry throughout the last week to create the level because I didn’t want to start it until there was almost no time.
I got some feedback from some friends like Sackboydjso, such as using more varied decorations to achieve a better atmosphere, using more dynamic camera angles and more visual indicators like bubbles to improve the gameplay and balance the difficulty. Personally, I don’t feel that it’s a difficult level. However, based on user feedback, I made an update to the level after the contest was over that added better cameras and better score bubble placement to help a bit.
I very quickly decided to do something that took the term ‘reconnected’ very literally. At first, the idea was to have you carry a plug throughout a level that could be used as both a grabbling hook and to activate certain obstacles. This idea was quickly thrown out when i realized there was no way to make a cable that dynamic.
The idea however stuck around and evolved into the pipe puzzle idea. At first the idea was for the segments to be level pieces that would create a randomized level you’d have to play through after finishing the puzzle. This was somewhat inspired by the Sky Keep dungeon in Skyward Sword, which has you move rooms in the temple around in real time through a slide puzzle. This was cut when I realized I was 20 days into working on this level and had just gotten the pipe puzzle to function properly.
My four direct inspirations were:
Dr. Who and the Infinity Clock is the game that inspired the pipe gameplay.
The film Logan’s Run contributed to the look and feel of the level.
Blade Runner is my all time favorite movie, and I referenced it a lot throughout the level.
The various LBP Union hubs out there like Keystone Park, the headquarters levels, and others.
The server shutdown in 2021 made me a lot more sad than I expected it would. At the time, I hadn’t played the games in a while since my PS3’s disc drive died. Before that, I was on LBP games nearly daily since 2009/2010. It was a big part of the formative years in my life. I made a lot of friends in there and seeing it all gone genuinely hurt in the same way that a house fire burning old photo albums/tapes might. Seeing such a massive collection of blood, sweat and tears by a massive community just disappear was a little terrifying and more than everything just very unfortunate. It would’ve been one thing if it had just naturally shut down after years and years of operation, but the circumstances surrounding its shutdown made it extra painful.
The Pipe System
The Main “Pipe” mechanic was the most challenging part of my level. Those pipes took about 70 of the 130 hours spent on this level and an absurd amount of different approaches and bug fixing to finally get things to function as they should. This was partially due to buggy LBP3 mechanics and also due to the challenging logic issue of getting a signal from point A to point B in a modular contraption. It also needs to change its layout with one button press and be activated from every side without also creating an activation loop with previous pieces.
A very early test I built used a joystick rotator instead of 4 gyroscopes. This caused a slightly clunky gamefeel. It also used markers to detect the signal.
This very first iteration of the final version of the segment. This already used four gyroscopes for rotation which felt much better, but still used markers. I still had not noticed the massive issues this would cause later…
Here’s another iteration that was built sometime after I noticed several giant issues markers caused. It used a ball that, when touching a wall, would split and go into every possible direction and repeat this process at every corner. This concept worked, however it was extremely unreliable and caused the framerate to drop significantly.
There were several ideas I had that relied on things physically making it through the maze. Sackbots, wheeled creatures that would trace the walls of the maze using the classic rocket engine rollercoaster technique, a ball on a string, and a massive horde of circles swirling around the maze filling it up like liquid. However, all of these proved too unreliable and slow.
Eventually, I went back to the idea of using markers.
Segments staying active despite the source signal being inactive was a major issue. I was only able to fix it with an idea by masonman101 to reset the activation status of the segments every time a change is made. Now, every time you rotate a piece every marker resets which solved the issue of two pieces activating each other without being connected to the root signal, which allowed me to finally put them all together.
Debug level selection and final level contraption.
Screenshot of the level selection logic. The controllinator logic unfortunately had to be hooked up individually for all 24 segments as it had to be unique for every single one.
Dealing with Limited Space
The level’s size was a constant struggle and the only reason the level was split into three parts. The point of making the segments modular and spending so much time on this system was to allow me to have as many in-level-levels as I want in one single level. This would’ve worked out had it not been for the level storage limit, as the main contraption took up about 60% of it.
This is why the level is basically entirely one chrome material. changing so much as a single costume piece would push it over the limit and prevent me from publishing it. This wasn’t just a problem towards the end, but, thanks to the tube segments, persisted throughout my entire time working on the story part of the level. However, it allowed me to get a bit more ambitious with the actual story. Originally it was only going to be two rooms!
Creating Everything from Scratch
I was unsure if using community objects and logic was allowed in a contest so I created every piece of logic in this level from scratch. Creating non-clunky 3D movement was a real struggle, and using 2 wave generators to create a sort of stick deadzone fixed various animation glitches.
If I could have done anything differently, I would have used a slightly less bright material and reduced the scale of the segments significantly. The only reason they are so wide is to accommodate level pieces like powerups, springboards, sponge parts etc. which as previously stated is a concept I later cut, but at that point it was too late in the contest to change them without losing time that I desperately needed to finish the connecting bits in between levels. I would also spend a little more time polishing the “cutscenes”. They felt very clunky compared to the other submissions.
I learned a couple of other cool things too!
The physics chip is an extremely useful tool!
Your costume affects the thermometer!
For big levels, saving the level with your sackboy in his birthday suit can be a life saver! LittleBigPlanet has a size limit for levels!
Using the highlight option in your tools bag is incredibly useful for optimization!
The wave generator can be used to move any object in between layers!
Tempering my ambitions was critical in getting this level done in 30 days, and the extension then allowed me to add extra fun stuff like the 3D skateboard and the standalone puzzle level.
Thank You, Reconnected 2 Contestants!
LBP Reconnected 2 was a blast, and we can’t wait to do it again next year! If you see our contestants around in the community, please be sure to thank them for all the hard work they’ve put in for this contest. Also, thank you for your support and continued passion for the LittleBigPlanet community!