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Media Molecule's Alex Evans

The co-founder of the LittleBigPlanet developer updates us on what the team is working on

One of the most anticipated titles of 2008 was Media Molecule's LittleBigPlanet - a key strut in the PlayStation 3's release schedule in the build-up to Christmas. But now the game has been out there for a while, what is the team up to?

GamesIndustry.biz caught up with co-founder Alex Evans at this year's Nordic Game Conference to find out some of the plans on the horizon.

GamesIndustry.biz A number of key industry figures have said to me that they considered LittleBigPlanet to be possibly the most important title released in 2008 - not based on sales, but because of what it represented for user-generated content. What are your thoughts on that?
Alex Evans

Well, that's amazing. I remember when we first revealed it at a GDC, we got Peter Molyneux in as an old friend to play it, to see what he thought, and his reaction was: "It's too ambitious," which was an enormous compliment, coming from him...

To hear things like that, that it's important, it's really good. Post-release it was really interesting because we'd never run a community before, and the industry is changing really fast. The way you do post-release, the way you do add-ons and the way you maintain your community... the MMO guys have got it down, I think - we could learn from them.

I was actually talking to the Sony guys a lot after release, saying that I'd love to look at the way we treat LBP as an MMO. It's not an MMO at all, and so people were a bit confused, asking me if it was going to become an MMO... I said that almost every game has to be supported with that kind of service mentality, so lots of stuff that I'm working on personally at the moment is geared to that mentality.

The way we've structured the team - because everybody at Media Molecule is still doing LBP - we very consciously decided to stick to a focus. Within that we've divided it up, and we've got all these different features cooking, and we decide very late how they get released and what channel they're released through.

What I love about the way LBP was received by the industry - but also the players - is that you can jump into it at different levels. You can just play it, and enjoy that side of it, or you can look at it as a platform for expressing yourself.

We haven't succeeded everywhere, but we've definitely tried to do a lot.

GamesIndustry.biz Looking back it was a very tough time to release a game - and the release itself was also troubled with the soundtrack issue, maybe the Woolworth's distribution issue too. What would you have changed, of those things you could have controlled, for that release?
Alex Evans

The music thing was interesting, a double-edged sword, because in the end it actually got us some coverage we might not otherwise have received. Also interesting, the reaction was positively received - it was only a minority of people who complained, and ironically Middle Eastern Gamer around that time gave us 10 out of 10 for soundtrack, which I'll always be very amused by...

But the thing is, Sony reacted very responsibly, so I probably wouldn't do that differently - other than not license something wrong in the first place.

GamesIndustry.biz Although, what are the chances...?
Alex Evans

Plus it came at a time when there was a glut of games, which was really amazing for gamers - if they could afford it - but in terms of us eking out space in the market LBP is definitely an evergreen title.

I think it came out at the right time, because I didn't want it to come out any later. We stayed in the charts a lot longer than a lot of games would, and that's a really good thing.

As part of the original deal with Sony, it's in the contract that we want to have an ongoing support model for the game, so the release was like the big bang, with retail behind it and everything else, but our whole mindset from the beginning was that's how you see the audience - you have to keep plugging away. By that argument, the sooner you get it out, the better.

If I did it differently, I'd probably take out all of the other amazing game developers in the world, so there was less in the pipe...

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