Weekly Little Big Planet: mind the gap

, | Features

It’s not that I’m over LBP, but for the next few weeks or so we’ll be tooling around in a new community, the RedLynx community that is designing tracks for the Xbox Live game Trials Evolution. This game is my current addiction and I was pleased to find that it somewhat mirrors LBP in allowing its community to tinker with creating tracks and racing them. My favorite thing about LBP is the way its design community is structured, and while Trials Evolution is not remotely close to that level of robustness and accessibility, it’s fresh and doesn’t involve burlap. Sometimes you need a break from burlap.

So we start with my first track suggestion, Bridge Race.

After the jump, unabridged

You’ll note there’s no link to the track I’m talking about up there. I mentioned that this Trials Evolution community isn’t at the level of the LBP design community, that it’s not remotely close. I’m not sure why this is, but I mean to stumble around and figure it out. It may be as simple as the fact that Media Molecule, the design company behind LittleBigPlanet, has had two games and four years plus to figure out how to do this properly. The LBP community levels are laid out beautifully when you go through your sackboy’s pod and into that world. There are Cool Levels, which I generally find wanting, Mm Picks, which are generally better, and then lists of most popular and liked levels over the past week and month. Also, helpfully, there’s a text search feature. Trials Evolution has a number of similar category breakdowns for its community tracks, including a section of RedLynx Picks, but no text search.

I knew the first level I wanted to highlight had the word ‘bridge’ in it as I’d played it against friends at Shoot Club, but as there is no way to search the word ‘bridge’ I had to start scrolling. After a few minutes of this I went into the search feature, remembered we’d limited our search to Supercross tracks with a difficulty of Easy, and I started scrolling again. Ding…Bridge Race.

So, again, I can’t link to the level. If you want to play any of the levels I suggest, as far as I can tell you’ll need to search for the Gamertag of the designer and get to his levels this way. Hopefully as the next weeks play out I’ll figure out a better, more economical way to do this, but for now you’ll either follow the search string I suggest above, or search for the Gamertag Abtus252 to find the track in Trials Evolution, which idea I got by finding a post of his here. If there are those of you out there playing this game who have a better method, please please share it with me.

The other advantage of the LBP community is the ease of sharing. LittleBigPlanet is incredibly generous with how much freedom it gives its designers and players, and I suppose I should kick a little credit Sony’s way for this. Taking screenshots and uploading them is so simple a dingus can do it. Take a snapshot; go to your pod; upload the snapshot to your LBP profile page. If you don’t want to futz about with uploading from your pod you can always transfer the image to the hard drive of your PS3, pop in a thumb drive and retrieve it that way. Here’s an image of me doing that very thing:

Far as I can tell, and please keep in mind I’ve only been messing around with this game for a week or so and am not as familiar with the capabilities of Xbox Live, there is no simple way to grab a screenshot from these community-designed tracks, which is why you get the cool image at the top (grabbed from this event btw, scroll down for the video) and the random picture of a bridge. You can rate the tracks and view the leaderboards of others that have played the tracks. You can apparently race against their ghosts as well. But sharing the tracks and what you love about them…not so easy. Again, hopefully I’ll figure this out and/or RedLynx will build in more sharing capability. Here’s hoping Trials Evolution is popular enough to allow for that.

The track then. Bridge Race is an easy track. I got to play it against three other guys while sitting on my buddy Tom’s couch and it was easily the best track of the night. Simple, exciting, and quick, with none of the pitfalls that plagued some of the other tracks we played. One such track, something promising about trains (might have been called Train Race), had us flummoxed from the get-go as we had to get our bikes over a huge pile of logs. This was hilarious to watch, but as none of us knows how to bunny-hop in Trials Evolution we ultimately had to skip it. Another one called Ascension–and yes, that’s why we played it, because “With a name like Ascension it’s got to be good!”–was so relentlessly vertical guys were dropping controllers in disgust and leaving the room in search of beer. Figuring out the proper level of frustration to build into your level is a fine line to walk, and difficult for an amateur designer. I’ve played plenty of levels in LBP that were just too hard, but almost always with good reason. Difficulty should not feel like a glitch.

Bridge Race doesn’t try to mess around with your frustration levels, so it may not hold your attention if you’re an advanced rider, but for the sheer joy of jumping it’s pretty darn good. If you’re sitting in a friend’s living room with a few other guys of varying abilities, it’s perfect.

Bridge Race was designed by Abtus252.