LittleBigPlanet made a huge splash in the gaming industry with it’s seemingly limitless level-creating tools and groundbreaking community support. Even hardcore Xbox 360 fans took notice of this title which most people would consider awesome. Kodu (previously known as Boku) is Microsoft’s stab at giving gamers the tools to create games on a 3D playing field and it plans to launch on the Xbox 360 and PC. Gamesindustry.biz had an interview with Matthew MacLaurin, the Principal Program Manager in the creative Systems Group at Microsoft Research.
LBP was the first game created primarily to utilize such an amazing set of creation tools and allow the user complete control over level design. User-generated seems to be the new buzzword lately with games that are here or coming. Essentially, the PC market has had this feature forever with the modding community, but now the love is spreading to the console market in a huge way.
Q: What do you think of the LBP comparisons?
Matt MacLaurin: It’s just a deeper indication that there is a new wave hitting the industry and we all have some catching up to do. I’m a big music fan, with very diverse tastes, and one thing I noticed is that when you start to listen to other genres - like jazz or reggae - your first impression is that everything in that genre all sounds the same. Reggae all has that backwards bass line. Rock always has a backbeat. Jazz always has that spangalang thing on the cymbal. When you’re new to the genre, that’s all you hear. When you develop an ear for it, the differences leap out.
This is why my wife can’t tell the difference between Halo 3 and Gears of War - or between Mario and Sonic, for that matter, yet insiders will go on for hours about the how the way aiming works in this first-person shooter is a ‘revolution’ when compared to that nearly identical other first-person shooter.
More fundamentally, Kodu is all about programming - a legitimately new programming language that is being patented and studied by some of the top language theorists in the world. LittleBigPlanet is a super-cool level-editor that by-and-large avoids programming, as far as I understand.
So, yeah, you can reposition objects and hit ‘play’ in both. Beyond that, they’re about as similar as pinball and cross-country skiing. In the end, the more tools, the better.
In the past, Microsoft has been known to be a bit stingy on the ability to share user generated content simply because of fears that a giant penis, giant vagina, etc. game would erupt and ruin the gamer’s experience and kill their parental control abilities. Gamesindustry.biz discussed how this time would be different and he didn’t exactly get a straight answer.
Q: How do you handle games created with Kodu - are they shared via the Community Games channel (with peer-review) or within the Kodu package?
Matt MacLaurin: All we can say about that right now is that we’ve built a few different pathways for that and are working on picking the right one. We think sharing is really important.
Sharing is and will always be important to this genre, and we here at Xboxic hope that it’ll be as open and free as possible. But guys, try to keep the male genitalia to a minimum.