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The world of Tearaway (left) was gradually grown out of Rex Crowle’s innovative ideas for making use of the Vita’s back touch controls

“The idea of really wanting to make a tool that people could make games using was really important to everybody. But it was particularly important to Mark, who grew up as a Commodore 64 child. It was his entry point into the games industry, and he’d seen that as something that he would really like to be able to build. And that had inspired Alex and Kareem as well.”

Reddy goes on to describe the process of merging together ideas as like writing a piece of music, with developers bringing their creative thoughts to an informall meeting to talk through how the ideas might work. If they resonate with others, then they become part of a real thing, and can form the basis of the next game.

“It’s an ethereal thing. There is no exact science to it other than starting with some ideas and then trying to fi nd the best way to manifest those so that we can see them, and then we can feel them and then we can play them. It’s not a linear thing, you don’t have the idea and then you see it and it’s great. “It’s more often you have the idea, you see it, you bring a bunch of ideas together, and then you look at it and you’re like, oh okay, that’s what that looks like, so what we need to do now is tweak this.”

UNTETHERING CREATIVITY Though the core concept of LittleBigPlanet stayed the same – enabling players to create their own worlds – some of the applications and designs changed before the game was fi nished.

Examples include how players could create or interact with objects. Originally users had physical tools, such as physical paint brushes and a decoration stick to hang decorations on a wall.

“We loved that, it had a real playfulness to it and it was really great,” says Reddy, before admitting: “What we realised when we implemented it was it wasn’t fl owing enough. To build a complex level would have been really diffi cult. “So that’s kind of one of those examples where we implemented the idea and then were like, okay, that’s cool, but we’ll move over here.” The ideas for Tearaway meanwhile began with the studio itching to work on a handheld device, with lead creator Rex Crowle expressing early on the idea of using the back touch of the Vita to eff ectively ‘poke’ a player’s fi ngers through. Despite the simple idea however, it wasn’t clear early on what kind of game this could be used in, or how central such a mechanic would be for a game.

“It probably took us a while to get to the point where we had the game that made the best use of that idea,” says Reddy. “That was the thing we all really wanted to see. When he said it we were all like, that’s so cool.

“And then we tried out a whole bunch of

diff erent ideas of ways of interacting with the Vita, and then fi nally settled upon Tearaway.”

She adds: “But it took us a while, how do we best make that experience? Are you always using the back touch? Are you only using it sometimes? Are you using other things? Is there a character in there? And by the end we realised, yes, we needed another character in there, you couldn’t be using the back touch all the time, it was brilliant to use all the features, and we can introduce that idea of you as the character.”

I don’t think the exploration is

that strange. That’s what anybody with new IP goes through.

Siobhan Reddy, Media Molecule

Given the seemingly complex nature of the creative process, and the changes on the way, when asked if ideas start off completely diff erently to the end result, Reddy says that isn’t the case at all. She explains that you can see the relationship between the start and end points of each project it has made, and the studio has never had anything turn out completely diff erent to the core idea. “It’s often, when you just say a word, or you’re just saying that you want to make a Commodore 64 for this generation, it’s so easy to say, but to fi gure out what the logistics of actually making that are means that you end up often having to explore a whole bunch of diff erent things,” she states. “I don’t think the exploration is that strange. That’s probably what anybody coming up with new IP goes through to a certain extent.”

Despite having a hugely creative senior team, that includes Tearaway creative lead Rex Crowle, Reddy says everyone at the studio, even junior staff , are allowed to join in on the creative journey for new IP and contribute their own ideas to the pot. Moving forward to new games, Reddy remains tight-lipped on whether the studio will be returning to Tearaway, but teases: “We love Tearaway”.

For now though, Media Molecule is embarking on another new IP for the PS4, for which it gave a brief glimpse of during the console’s announcement last year, and will undoubtedly be applying that “rambling” creative process that has proven so successful in the past. ¢

AUGUST 2014 | 41

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