Good news, everyone! The results for the first contest of Project Lighthouse public beta are in, and we have a lot of great levels to share with you all! It took us quite a while to get all the details squared away, but we are finally ready to share the results and move on to getting our exclusive prize crown out there. So, let's get right to the results of this special LittleBigPlanet contest: Reconnected 2!
Table of Contents
The First Creative Contest of Public Beta
Let's review a little. Reconnected 2 is the first creative contest of Project Lighthouse public beta. Taking place on the LBP Union's custom server, Beacon, the goal of Reconnected 2 is to demonstrate that the creative inspiration of our community transcends the darkness. Even when faced with tremendous challenges, like when the official servers shut down, we can come together and create something that can bring us all back together again.
We are also surrounded by pessimism in our world. When faced with seemingly insurmountable challenges, like server shutdowns, climate change, pandemics, humanity has the power to come together and create something to tackle those problems: technology. Maybe someday clean, awe-inspiring fusion energy will power our world and change our lives for the better. Perhaps someday, a space elevator, much like the custom servers we've built together, will take us to the infinite limits of our imaginations.
That's the spirit that brought Project Lighthouse into being. We often represent it as a space elevator, a lighthouse, but the Beacon community had their own take on the story. Let's explore those stories together.
Notes on Judging and Results
Before we dive in, here are some notes related to contest rules and criteria that we should get out of the way.
Firstly, we wrote in the announcement post for Reconnected 2 that there would be one winner per game and three runners up for each game. However, for some games there weren't enough submissions for this to be possible, or only enough submissions so that everyone who participated would get a runner up prize. This is a result of us overestimating the number of submissions we would receive.
We highly value quality of these submissions over technicalities of what we said in the previous post. Therefore, some submissions were excluded from runner up prizes, as we want to encourage a high standard of quality for creations on Beacon.
That being said, we appreciate all of the submissions for Reconnected 2. If you didn't appear as a runner up, that's okay!
We too will continue to improve the way we run events and perform judging. We hope you'll understand our choices in the results below.
Results of Reconnected 2: Overview
Here is an overview of the results of LBP Reconnected 2!
LittleBigPlanet 1: Blow Over
The winner of the LittleBigPlanet 1 category for Reconnected 2 is Blow Over by Mr_Man_Guy35. The level depicts a whimsical representation of New York City during a period of smog (perhaps referring to the recent smoke blowing in from Canadian forest fires.)
The level is rather short, featuring some platforming sections reminiscent of the Metropolis story theme from the game.
Thanks to the help of the player, you're able to rescue the city and the vulgar-mouthed, Mets-loving cardboard-cutout character who sends you on your quest. The solution to the smog? A giant fan to blow it all away! Our only question is, where did it blow off to?
We think there is room for improvement in this level. The visual design can be improved, and we think that there might have been room for the level to take itself more seriously. It's very short as well, and leaves a little to be desired, but it accomplishes its mission at being memorable, commentative on a relatable issue, and puts the player and the community in the driver's seat to solve that problem with something we can create.
Runner Up: Yukan Island
A close runner up in the LittleBigPlanet 1 category for Reconnected 2 is Yukan Island by chi_chi154_2. This is perhaps one of the most ambitious levels submitted for Reconnected, and competes in technical complexity with even the LBP2 and 3 submissions.
Yukan island is a rare crafting-based LBP1 level. By collecting materials throughout the level and processing them into coins, you can purchase materials needed to progress. This gives the level a metroidvania feel, resulting in you revisiting certain areas you've been to before with new tools.
The concept is unique and a breath of fresh air for LBP1 levels, but unfortunately suffers from a few issues. Namely, communication and clunkiness. The crafting system has some nuance that isn't explained in detail. It requires a lot of trial and error to progress, and actually completing the level can take hours. There's also nothing more infuriating than accidentally dropping your pickaxe down the hole you use for crafting.
However, with careful persistence, and perhaps some cooperation from friends, Yukan Island and its mountain can be overcome. This combined with its novel crafting system help it relate more closely with the theme of Reconnected 2. However, we think there's more that could be done to align it more closely with that theme.
LittleBigPlanet 2: The Dark and the Light
The winner of #Reconnected2 for LittleBigPlanet 2 is the Dark and the Light by 92Dexter11. This level has lore! Its creative interpretation of the LittleBigPlanet server shutdown crisis makes it one of the most original and closely aligned levels to the contest's theme.
The level involves you restoring light to LittleBigPlanet so that everyone can see each other again, highly reminiscent of the same experience we all shared during the LittleBigPlanet server shutdown crisis in 2021.
The Dark and the Light also has a unique gameplay mechanic where your custom, shadowy character must stay in the light to survive. Going into the darkness for too long will cause you to perish.
We won't spoil the ending, but the level ends with a very familiar and symbolic image, perhaps hitting the nail on the head a bit too much, but it accomplishes its mission nonetheless!
Runner Up: Anomaly Base
LBP2 is no stranger to arcade levels. Anomaly Base by Twinatical is a classic arcade game-themed level with its own sprites. Well, mostly its own sprites. The level does seem to use recolored Mario textures, but it does take some creative liberties in its presentation.
It's a short level, but one that's still technically challenging and entertaining. Anomaly Base puts you on a mission to restore a city on an alien planet to its former glory by turning the power back on.
The theme is pretty simple and gets the point across, but more could be done to evoke a feeling in the player like what we all felt during the server shutdowns, or a feeling that we can come together to achieve something greater than ourselves. Regardless, Anomaly Base is fun to play and we recommend you add it to your queued level list for the next time you hop on LBP2.
LittleBigPlanet Vita: Getting Rid of the Final Remains
The winning submission for Reconnected 2 on LBP Vita is Getting Rid of the Final Remains by Palolito_cl. Being a handheld title, it can be hard to make high quality levels. However, this level definitely stands out as not only visually appealing, but it also isn't too short like many other Vita levels.
The level has you turn the power on to get the Beacon servers online for everyone to play again. It's a bit of a literal interpretation of the contest's theme, maybe a bit too literal for our tastes. However, the level makes up for this in its gameplay and visual design.
Granted, the visual design and gameplay can be improved. The level is detailed and uses a good balance in variety of materials and designs, but it still appears a little messy. A bit of clean up, polish, and attention to small details can make a huge difference.
Meanwhile, the gameplay is both the level's greatest strength and greatest weakness. Getting Rid of the Final Remains is hard. Perhaps not as controller-chuckingly difficult as a 'Hard' level championed by experienced speed runners, but enough that it will take a considerable amount of effort to complete. Hard levels can be fun, but they aren't necessarily the best genre for a wider audience like Reconnected 2.
Runner Up: Tea Time in Carnivalia
Published as a series of linked levels, we judged this submission as if it were one single level. Tea Time in Carnivalia by AliPlayzOFICCIAL is a short story that takes the player through sketches based off of the LBP Vita story mode. On your way through these themes, you meet the Vita story mode characters on your way to a tea party celebrating the Beacon LBP custom server.
Each theme is very short, but it captures the basic vibe of each story mode theme. The theme meets the criteria, but a more original take on the theme may have made this series more interesting. Although it was an ambitious task to feature every story mode theme, doing so left a lot to be desired in the length of each level.
Still, going through and recreating each of the Vita story level themes is an ambitious challenge, and although it could have been executed well here, we still recommend you swing by to enjoy each of the Tea Time levels and appreciate the time and effort it took to create the whole work.
LittleBigPlanet 3: The Great Server Outage of 2050
The winner of Reconnected 2 for LittleBigPlanet 3 on PS3 is the Great Server Outage of 2050 by Bruce1947 takes a familiar and crippling problem, a server shutdown, and extends it into the far future, predicting that a similar fate will befall Beacon. As any of you who frequent our status page know, our LittleBigPlanet custom server, Beacon, breaks occasionally. Usually this is due to error from our developers during updates and the issues are quickly remedied. So, that future isn't that far away at all. Oops!
Bruce1947 uses a bit of imagination to think about what the LBP Union might look like in 30 years. It turns out that the LBPU looks a little bit like Star Trek.
Although the designs here aren't that similar to official LBPU structures and styles, the level uses a lot of historical images from the Union's past. By doing so, this level commentates on the idea that history repeats itself. Beacon will encounter more problems over time just as the official servers did, and we will have to work together to fix those problems to keep the community connected.
The focus of this level is on its puzzle sections, which play somewhat similarly to the hacking sections of Spider-Man for PS4 where you need to line up some tubes to complete a circuit. There's an unlockable bonus level which includes only these puzzles. Aside from this, the rest of the level is primarily exploratory.
The level is visually appealing, but it tends toward preferring one singular chrome material. Perhaps this was an attempt at optimization? As Bruce says in a comment, "the thermometer did not want this level to happen." We will find out more in a future interview!
Speaking of optimization, this level contains a lot of stuff, and there is a lot of framerate loss, especially in the puzzle sections. Dealing with this issue is no easy task, and every level is different, but it does affect the gameplay experience. Despite this, solving each puzzle is still fun and the lag doesn't make the experience impossible or terribly unpleasant.
Runner Up: The Return of LBP
Knistis_'s level, The Return of LBP, features an interesting gameplay element that mimics the Vita or Move controller cursors, allowing you to control select objects on your screen. The level is once again about bringing back the LBP servers and is fairly literal in its interpretation.
In a callback to the LBP3 introduction, your normal gameplay is interrupted by the server outage, showing a character with a controller behind the screen.
Controlling the cursor in the level is fairly simple, but some sections are extremely difficult to play while multitasking platforming and moving the cursor. Still, it's nice to see a feature typically restricted to Vita and Cross Controller levels being made more accessible to players. We'd be interested in seeing more levels with this mechanic!
With decently thought-out platforming and a lighthearted theme, definitely add this one to your LBP3 queue!
Runner Up: The Lighthouse of Imagisphere
This is one of those levels where we wished that it was a bit more finished. The Lighthouse of Imagisphere by p10radzio2008s3 is another ambitious level that probably needed a lot more bug testing, but you can see the potential and the vision that was sought after in the product you see here.
I've used a neutral voice in this blog post so far, but given that the level features me as a character, I will say I personally am a little uncomfortable being a character in a contest level, but it's easy to look past.
The 3D layout of LBP3 is taken advantage of throughout the level pretty well. There's a great scene where you use bounce pads to launch yourself into orbit through the space elevator.
However, this submission is a bit broken. At some points it can become unplayable to the point where you get stuck and have to start the entire level over from the very beginning.
There's a lot of imagination going on here, interesting designs, and gameplay. Importantly, the level has that optimistic and exciting feel about the future that we really like. It would be interesting to see the finished product someday if it's ever refined!
LBP Reconnected 2: Credits
Here are all the awesome people who made Reconnected 2 possible!
potato farm: Reconnected Crown design
Slipsy: Reconnected Crown model
Skylerdagirl: Reconnected Crown compatibility and importing
Everyone at the LBP Union team who helped with promotion and support!
What Happens Next!
Thank you to all who participated in Reconnected 2 and congratulations to the winners! Let's talk about what has happened and what happens next.
Firstly, all winners and runner ups have received a team pick and their extra level slots on Beacon. Next, we will be contacting the direct winners of each game to distribute their Reconnected crowns. We will also be writing a new blog post coming soon about the making of each Reconnected-winning level. This will also be a great chance for the winners to show off their fancy new crowns!
We will also be announcing, coming soon, how you'll be able to pick up an exclusive Reconnected Crown sticker in recognition of all the creations submitted for Reconnected! Keep an eye on our social channels for more info on this.
Once again, thank you for taking part in this celebration of the return of the LittleBigPlanet servers for LBP PS3 and Vita. None of this would be possible without your passion, inspiration, and vision for the future!