Monday, January 31, 2011

A musical level creation: before and after LBP2

While everyone out there created unique and personal levels when the first Little Big Planet game came out more than 2 years ago, I spent a solid 2 weeks composing my musical tribute to Chrono Trigger. The game's musical tools took a backseat to all the other creation tools established, giving players the "bare bones" in what they could utilize. Limited instrument selection, one-note emitters, and roughly about 2 octaves worth of notes caused many people like me a large amount of grief in composing our favorite melodies.

But what I thought to be a challenging and near-impossible task became one of my most proud achievements in the first game - to create a musical melody to the ending music of Chrono Trigger - To Far Away Times. With only a few edits to the original song and a single different note to accommodate for the higher-octave note, I published my piano-only tribute to the LBP community.

The game's constraints, however, populated my level to such a degree that I could barely fit anything else in it. Decorations were practically non-existent, with the exception of a couple of stars and the earth, and I offered my pixel-rendition of one of the sprites used in the ending sequence as a prize bubble.

As if to answer the struggles of musical composers from the first game, Little Big Planet 2 gave players a midi sequencer, giving players a large group of instruments to use, all fully-scaled. Even better still, the midi-sequencer has its own limit, meaning that you can fully max out your midi sequencer without having to deal with space issues in your main level for creation.

Today, I'm adding the finishing touches to yet another 2 weeks worth of meticulous assembly and scrutinizing detail in my first published level in Little Big Planet 2, again for the same musical tribute. And the difference in construction vastly improved. To give you a sense of this, here's a quick list comparisons between both 2-week projects in LBP1 and LBP2

LBP1 level - (Entire level ETA 2.5 weeks; 2 weeks for song, half week for graphics and decorations)

  • Only instrument used was piano, used sheet music and ear as reference.
  • Scales were ranged to 2-3 octaves, hard to hit really high or low notes.
  • One note per speaker, so chords were 3-4 times the work.
  • Most of song made the cut, some parts were cut due to level constraints.
  • Entire music components made with physical materials, which filled up the level fast.
  • Had barely enough room left to add a pixel creation as a prize at the end.
  • Decorations were sparse, and vehicle was a plain box to propel switch that triggered song.
LBP2 level - (Entire level ETA 2 weeks; 1 week for song, 1 week for graphics and camera work)

  • Composed of 7 different instruments that closely matched the song.
  • Full-scale octaves, so every high and low note was covered.
  • Song was completed in its entirety - nothing was cut.
  • Midi-sequencer had own capacity limit, completely separate from the main level capacity limit.
  • Not only were all graphical components able to fit the level, but all necessary camera work and coordination were configured and setup in the sequencer.
  • Entire level is a cut scene, requires no user interaction to enjoy.
Just from the pictures alone, you can see how much cleaner the format is. Everything is laid out and labeled accordingly, and it's so easy to manage. The final product, when it's done, will speak volumes.
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