To promote Sony's upcoming Little Big Planet release on the PSP November 17th, Sony Computer Entertainment America and the Acadamy of Art University School of Game Design organized a 24-hour Game Jam Session where groups of game design students designed Little Big Planet levels within 24 hours.
Last night's event at Roe Restaurant in San Francisco revealed the day-long level creations to guests and judges. Pushing past the learning curve of the level creation tools and the 24-hour time restriction, the students managed to construct large and enjoyable levels centered around popular Bay Area icons such as the Golden Gate Bridge and Koit Tower.
Overall, every level in the contest was very well constructed and thought out. One of my favorites was the Golden Gate level, with its creepy electrified taxis that try to slowly run you over. It was quite as lengthy as the actual Golden Gate Bridge, and perhaps almost as unforgiving, but it was a great challenge. Eric, one of the members of Team Golden Gate, told me that in retrospect the difficulty was perhaps a bit too high. But the level displayed a good use of level depth that Little Big Planet's known for.
In the end, however, it was Team Cable Car (Doanna, Desiree, and Nathan, pictured above from left to right) that wowed the judges with their cable-car racing level, littered with many familiar San Francisco sights as your cable car whizzed on by. One decoration I particularly liked was the clever abstract design of the Fisherman's Wharf sign, using a flame graphic from one of the stickers as the basis for the crab claws. For being the contest winners, they each received a PSPGo, a copy of Little Big Planet for the PSP, and their level available for download when the game launches. As for all the other teams, everyone else also received an early copy of the game as a consolation prize.
After seeing all the wonderful San-Francisco-themed levels created in such a short time span, I'm inspired to go back to my copy of Little Big Planet on the PS3 and revisit many of my abandoned level creations, including the one level I completed. After all, as the students displayed that night, Little Big Planet's only limit is your imagination.