The unveiling of LittleBigPlanet Karting wasn't surprising. Even though the series is known for 2D platforming, its focus on user-created content makes sense in the karting genre. Even more natural is the selection of United Front Games (developers of ModNation Racers) to collaborate with Media Molecule to develop this new title. We spoke to United Front senior producer James Grieve about the studio's approach to Sackboy's world and how the prior experience with ModNation is helping with development.
How did the LBP Karting project begin?
It was a couple of years back at E3 when a few of us from the team first met Siobhan (Reddy, Studio Director at Media Molecule). We were demoing our game at the time, and immediately hit it off. At the time, LBP had not quite shipped, but as two groups both focused on creating games based around User Generated Content, we obviously had a lot to talk about.
Fast forward a couple of years, and Sony internally was looking at how they could expand the LittleBigPlanet brand. Obviously moving on to new platforms was a great fit, but they also looked further afield. Karting was a natural match given that both genres are family oriented and fun for all types of players. Given UFG's experience in both the Karting and User Generated Content spaces, everything quickly fell into place quite naturally. We couldn't be more excited to have this opportunity and couldn't be more appreciative of how warmly we've been welcomed into the growing LBP family.
Could you explain the collaborative development process between United Front and Media Molecule?
Media Molecule has been a great partner to UFG and has been integral to the process of creating LittleBigPlanet Karting. Obviously, Sackboy is one of the most iconic characters in recent memory so being asked to fill his very large shoes was a huge compliment. From our initial kickoff meetings in Guildford onwards, Media Molecule has always had great feedback for us. In particular, our art director Greg [Juby] and Media Molecule's art director Kareem [Ettourney] both soon established a great rapport, and that relationship was critical in reinterpreting LBP's look and feel in a 3D world.
ModNation Racers had intuitive and streamlined creation tools. Is the same tech being used for LBPK? Where are the areas where you’re hoping to improve?
LittleBigPlanet Karting shares a lot in common with both the toolsets of MNR and that of LBP. From MNR, as you mention, we have brought the streamlined construction tools for creating track geometry and populating a 3D world. From LBP, we've introduced the power of their gameplay creation tools into our 3D world. Creators will have access to tons of familiar gadgets from LBP and also a unique set of new gadgets specifically designed for creating and tuning amazing karting experiences.
Many people compared ModNation to LBP before the announcement. Now that both are in the Kart racing genre, what are the key points that distinguish LBPK from ModNation?
LittleBigPlanet Karting is set in Craftworld and will carry through all of the signature visual style, charm and humor of the LBP series. Along with this, LBP has been known for truly opening the doors to players creating their own unique gameplay experiences. We hope that bringing this unique creation power to the karting world will revolutionize the genre, much like LBP did for platforming.
Is any connectivity to previous LBP titles (like carrying over costumes) in the plans?
We're currently looking into what's possible here and will definitely be sure to share as soon as we have any news.
The reveal trailer showed some minigame-like activities near the end. Are these included, or are they player-created modes?
We're glad you picked up on that - the games you saw there are great examples of the types of levels you will find in our single player experience. Of course, being an LBP game, all the tools for creating those levels will be available for creators to use as well.
Is the multiplayer component in LBPK online, local, or both?
LittleBigPlanet Karting will support both local and online play. Our local multiplayer supports 2-4 split screen, while our online play supports up to 8 players in a level. We love multiplayer so much, you can even go online with a local friend for some split-screen online gaming. All this across the huge range of UFG and community levels.
Does this new project mean that ModNation doesn’t have a future on PS3?
The team here is entirely focused on LittleBigPlanet Karting at the moment. Currently we do not have any plans for another MNR title.