Interview: LBP2 community managers, James Spafford and Tom Kiss

By Joe Anderson, Monday, 10 May 2010 14:00 GMT

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“Community” and “LittleBigPlanet” are as intrinsically symbiotic as “wanking” and “self-hate”. It should come as no surprise, then, that community has been a key upgrade area for Media Molecule in LittleBigPlanet 2, with the developer saying at the game’s reveal in London last week that LBP’s site is going to play a big part in the sequel’s social experience.

We took the opportunity to speak to James Spafford and Tom Kiss, LittleBigPlanet’s community managers, about their plans and how littlebigplanet.me will work with LBP2.

Get that below. Hit this for impressions from the event, this for screens and this for another four Media Molecule interviews recorded on the day.

Can you give us a bit more detail regarding the LittleBigPlanet.me website?

James Spafford: The idea was to better enable people to find content. We have 2 million levels out there and no easy way of sifting through and finding them. LBP.me will allow users to log onto the web and browse through the levels.

There are plenty of users out there making all this cool stuff and there is no easy way for them to publicise it. They go on the forums and advertise their levels, so we wanted to make it easier for them to do this.

Tom Kiss: Every player will have their own unique URL on the site, and then every level will have its own unique URL as well. Just having them on the web is going to make it so much easier for people to share those levels.

The main feature will be to allow anyone anywhere to add those levels to their playlist. So, if you re at work and you have some suggestions you simply go on the page, add it to your queue: when you get home it’s ready to play.

We’re also allowing users to embed widgets into their websites to help promote levels. That’s really exciting, because it will help people to share their levels even more.

The idea is to get the data out all across the web to allow users to share with as wide an audience as possible.

Would it be possible to implement this idea into things like FirstPlay, which often shows the best LBP levels, giving users the ability to add levels from there?

James Spafford: That’s something we may look into. We do pick our own top levels, as does the community, so you’ll be able to add these levels straight to your queue.

Tom Kiss: One of the new features we have is QR Codes. These are digital barcodes which you can print and take with you. You can hand them to your friend, they hold them up to the PSEye and then they’ll be taken straight into the level.

Can you see a future where people will create apps for iPhone, allowing people to add levels without even accessing the net?

Tom Kiss: Yeah, there’s definitely potential there. People will probably create things like this, allowing for people to get levels even when they’re on the move.

How big is the Official LittleBigPlanet Community? How many members do you have?

James Spafford: There are tens of thousands now; usually you see spikes around the Christmas period, like when we sell the new DLC packs. I think it is because there are so many new experiences all the time.

Tom Kiss: The new features in LBP 2 such as the microchips will have people sharing even more. People can create these and then give them away in their levels to other users. You’ll no doubt see some pretty amazing inventions using just this feature.

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