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Small team is secret to LittleBig success, says Media Molecule

Expanding 30-strong outfit would 'water down' talent, but limited headcount blamed for online co-op missing launch

It's one of the biggest games of 2008 – but Media Molecule co-founder Mark Healey believes keeping the LittleBigPlanet team small has been vital to its creation, producing an environment where every individual contribution “really matters”.

Healey further revealed that while limited resources were to blame for the absence of the much-touted online Create mode from the final product, significant expansion of his team would involve "watering down" its ability.

"We're always conscious of wanting to have a small team," Healey told in an exclusive interview. "I've worked from just myself in my bedroom to being in a room with 200 people, and every range in between you can imagine. In my experience, about 30 people was when I had the most fun."

He added: "We've always had it in our mind that we didn't want to grow beyond that and it's worked out well because people genuinely put a lot of love, heart and soul into the game because their contribution really matters. Everyone can look at that game and see themselves in it. Everyone's really integrated into it."

It emerged last week that the PlayStation 3-exclusive sandbox title would be shipping without online co-operative play – a key feature – which would be added in later via a downloadable update.

Healey blamed this on the "reality of quality control" at a studio of "only 30 people." He explained: "We could have released the online Create on day one, but we've not had time to fully test it and make sure it's a flawless experience, so I would rather it was a few days late than it was on time and broken. Obviously it's not ideal, but that's just the reality of having to meet schedules."

Despite the company's close ties with Sony, whose executives have ensured the game has come to be seen as the most important PlayStation 3 release to date, Healey insisted there was "nothing on the horizon" regarding an acquisition of the independent studio.

And he hinted that Media Molecule could develop for other platforms, adding: "We have signed an exclusive deal with Sony for at least a period of time and we're very happy with that; but the future's the future, so who knows."

Media Molecule's studio, based in Guildford, just outside London, is operating at capacity, with the team currently working on downloadable content for future release. Healey revealed that the developer would "hopefully be able to afford a new office soon."

LittleBigPlanet releases in Europe on October 24.

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Johnny Minkley: Johnny Minkley is a veteran games writer and broadcaster, former editor of Eurogamer TV, VP of gaming charity SpecialEffect, and hopeless social media addict.
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