On Thursday 3rd November, at around 4pm, Mm towers filled with the sound of old friends greeting each other. Hugs were given, babies were cooed over, the sound of high fives hung in the air whilst the music from LittleBigPlanet played through the speakers. In the background, if you listened very carefully, you may just have heard the sound of a live stream schedule rustling, off "stage" instruction being given and some slightly nervous tittering as the clock counted down to 5pm. It was time for our very special 10th Anniversary LBParty Live Stream!
This year saw Media Molecule turn 10 years old and to celebrate we wanted to take you back, right back to the very beginning when some incredible talent came together over a bathroom shop in the centre of sleepy Guildford and started making a game that would encourage the world to play, create and share… but we couldn’t do that on our own, oh no! We invited Molecules back from the early days, ones that were there in the very beginning laying the foundations of what Media Molecule is today. We had so many extraordinary special guests telling so many behind the scenes stories that we *nearly* found ourselves overwhelmed with joyous emotion, but we pulled ourselves together so we could give all of you an overview of what became one of our most favourite live streams yet!
Like all good stories, we started at the beginning telling the tale of how our early founders came together to make a game about creativity. (In couch order) Chris Lee, Siobhan Reddy, Mags Hardwick, Alex Evans, Dave Smith, Kareem Ettouney and Mark Healey began our celebrations with a trip down memory lane, sharing their earliest tales from the beginning of Mm, whilst simultaneously playing through the first level in LBP! We then had a quick couch change to introduce Victor Agren to the stream where he delved into the world of Rag Doll Kung Fu with Mark, discussing the important role this game played in bringing our founders together, and how we came to meet Victor along the way. Here's a closer look at the trailer for Rag Doll Kung Fu, which we showed during the livestream:
Whilst Rag Doll Kung Fu was being made, our other Technical Director David Smith was elsewhere making a simple physics game involving a little orange character (Flathead!) racing through a blue level. This wonderful little game sowed the very early seeds for Sackboy and LittleBigPlanet and went on to evolve into Yellowhead - the demo that Mark, Dave, Alex and Kareem used when they pitched to PlayStation back in December 2005. See more exclusive footage of Yellowhead below:
Once we had the physics covered, it was then time to develop the world of Yellowhead further! It was at this point that Francis Pang and Anton Kirczenow joined the company, and also joined the couch, to talk all about programming and animation and how they turned the flat, 2D character of Yellowhead into the Sackboy we know and love today. Be sure to keep watching at this point because we also show you some never-before-seen gameplay which goes back to pre-GDC times where you'll get to see a super early iteration of the Create tools!
Thanks to the power of the internet, we were able to magically beam in Rex Crowle at this point to have a quick chin wag and hear his favorite memories from making LBP. Rex is currently over in San Francisco at the moment for Day of the Devs showcasing his fantastic new Kickstarter-backed game Knights & Bikes which he's making with fellow Mm alumni Moo Yu! We catch up with Moo later on in the stream so stay tuned folks!
Next, it was time to take a closer look at a very monumental moment in the history of LBP - our announcement at the Game Developers Conference in 2007! Along with our Directors, Mags and Chris, we were also joined on the couch by Pete Smith and Leo Cubbin to recall their biggest memories from this significant time (including an interesting story of how the name for LittleBigPlanet came about) and how they all prepared to unveil LBP to the world! Big thanks to Leo for bringing along these wonderful photos to share with us <3
My biggest memory of the GDC announce was, the night before the big announce going into the hotel room in San Francisco and typing in to Google 'LittleBigPlanet' just got nothing, absolutely nothing and then the night after the announce typing in 'LittleBigPlanet' and got 3 millions hit and it was like oh my god!– Leo Cubbin
It was all change once again on the couch at this point as we brought in a mix of Molecules past and present to talk about designing levels, making sounds, programming gameplay and IT! We were joined here by Paul Davis, Mark Stephenson, Daniel Leaver, Kenny Young, Victor Agren, Matt Willis and Moo Yu who all played through the Serpent Shrine level in LBP whilst reminiscing about level design and how they all went about building the variety of worlds found in the game's story mode. Sadly Kengo Kurimoto, who was a big part of the LBP story, couldn't join us for the livestream but he did write something lovely for us to share on the stream. Thanks Kengo, we love you! <3
Once our game was made and we had released it to the world, the next question was... How do you make good DLC? And the answer was to hire awesome people such as Fireproof Games to help you! Barry Meade and Dave Rack kindly joined us next on the couch to share stories from their time making backgrounds and DLC items (such as the Metal Gear Solid pack) for LBP and how their eye for detail really shone through in everything they made for us. Here's some fantastic screenshots that Dave Rack brought along showing their MGS DLC development and more!
Up next we took a quick break to have a chat with Luke Petre who was our Tools Programmer (and fellow cat herder with Siobhan!) on LittleBigPlanet. Here we discuss how having different personalities on a team can really help to keep things moving; Luke had just come from shipping Resistance: Fall of Man, a launch title on the PS3, and so it was great to have his experience on board to help us get LBP out to the world!
Of course our games would be nothing without good QA! You need good QA to get a game out and we would've been lost had it not been for the unending talents and support of Testology and Costa! Listen as Costa recounts the story of how he became 'Tester number 1' at Mm after working at Sony and how they all worked together to become the best QA team IN THE WORLD helping us ship LBP 1 and 2 with very few bugs!
At this point we decided to call on an old friend who has travelled many miles since his Molecule days. James Spafford, our former Community Manager, is now residing in sunny San Fran where he uses his incredible Community skills for Double Fine. Spaff gave a BIG shout out to our wonderful community and spoke a little about how he came to be at The Molecule in the first place. He also shared his favourite Molecule moments during his time with us and gave an insight into what he’s doing now. It was so very wonderful to see his face in the office – even if it was via an iPad! Whilst all of this was going on John Beech, Steve Belcher, Mark and Victor played some LBP levels that were created by community members and recommended to us over Twitter. Hear some LBP level critique from the experts!
Next up we welcomed even more community heroes! Jack and Adam from Sackinima, one of our awesome fan sites, took some time out to come and celebrate with us. See employees past and present gather around the sofa to answer hard hitting questions from J&A such as ‘what did you do before Mm?’ (which genuinely lead to some surprising answers!) and ‘who is your favourite character from LBP that ISN’T SackBoy?’. Christophe, another Mm hire from the community (have we mentioned we really love our community?!), called in from Paris to join us briefly before we wheeled in the largest cake we could order and sang happy birthday to The Molecule. Massive thanks to Butter & Cream Cakes for their delicious '10' birthday cake! <3
Phew. What a live stream! What a treat to see so many old friends and have so many of you contact us via Social Media to get involved! A massive thank you to everyone who sent us party decorations as well. We've loved opening them all and we'll be doing a special community spotlight very soon to showcase each decoration in all it's glory and to say a big heartfelt thank you to their creators :)
And we can't forget our super special commemorative LBP pin! Send us your PSN ID to firstname.lastname@example.org and your profile shall be royally awarded with this exclusive, shiny pin! Be quick though, they're only available for 1 week after the livestream and entries close on Thursday 10th November!
We genuinely couldn’t have made it this far without all of you, so let us take another opportunity to thank you for being with us for 10 years, for supporting us, telling your friends about us and generally being the best fans we could ever wish for. We hope you enjoyed our LBParty!