Kareem and I returned to Parsons at around 10am on the Sunday. As we ventured past the sleeping bags, sprawled comatose bodies and precariously placed pizza boxes (there’s a level idea for someone!) it was clear from speaking to those students who were still working away, with their puffy eyes and tiredness-induced laughing fits, that something special had happened in the wee small hours. Even Team Smiley, who’s PS3 Test kit had a faulty Blu-Ray drive which forced them to use a 2 month old, buggy, installable version of the game, and who were forced to start from scratch 11 hours in to the competition due to a corrupted save game, had managed to have a lot of fun building a visually striking, playable level.
All of the teams, without exception, had managed to create something quite spectacular considering the limitations imposed on them. This made the judging process a rather hair-tearing experience to the extent that we were forced to create some new runners up categories to make room for those levels which deserved to win a prize even if they didn’t quite fit in to our prescribed judging criteria.
The winners were:
Most Persistent - Team Smiley - as already mentioned, despite numerous hitches and being told to go home to get some sleep, this team persevered and triumphed.
Best Use of Tools - The Sleepwalkers - these guys created a great level based around the strong and consistent theme of food (primarily eggs!) featuring great gameplay ideas and a fun look/vibe
Most Innovative - Team Makeshift & Team Awesome - we were really impressed with Team Makeshift’s cunning use of glass as a physical challenge/barrier that doubled as a tantalising window revealing where you had to get to in order to progress through the level. Team Awesome had a unique looking level which made great use of sprite lights and moving objects to bring their theme of “scientific experimentation” to life.
Most Personal - The Pretty Pretty Princesses - these ladies created a whole level based around the idea that their Sackfolk were dirty and needed a right good clean! To start the experience you put a coin into the giant washing machine’s slot then enter its floaty world of soap suds and clothing (featuring images of the team) before trying to escape out the other end with your sack person looking whiter than your average whites.
Most Fun - The Bloody Clowns - the floating rocket car level created by these clowns was an absolute riot, especially when playing with four players. In fact, I don’t think the level was completable without having a driver who was prepared to sacrifice their life in order to turn off the engines momentarily whilst driving upside down?!
Most Beautiful - Team Rocket - this level had two contrasting sections of a pretty overworld and a dark, deadly underworld. It looked great, making good use of lighting to set the mood, played well and they even had a crack at adding a narrative to help sell the whole experience.
Best of Jam - Team Sportsmanship - the lofty goal of Team Sportsmanship was to create a Shadow of the Colossus-inspired giant, roaming monster which Sackboy had to scale by travelling through its body. Not only did they manage to pull this ambitious idea off, but they did so with aplomb, creating a bunch of custom textures to stylise their creation, giving it a unique look and feel.
You can see a montage of footage from many of these levels here, and the final level is embeded above.
Kareem and I were blown away with the innovation, talent, good humour and camaraderie demonstrated by the students at Parsons. You’ll be able to check their levels out when you get your hands on the game next month. Enjoy! :)