I’m a big fan of the LittleBigPlanet games. Even though they appear more suited for a younger audience, there truly is something for everyone. So it only makes sense to bring a game like that to the PS Vita, right? Enter Tarsier Studios.
We recently had the chance to interview Mattias Nygren of Tarsier Studios about LittleBigPlanet PS Vita.
Thank you for joining us, Mattias. Please tell us a bit about yourself. Who is Mattias Nygren?
Mattias: I am the Executive Producer and CEO at Tarsier Studios, which is located in Sweden.
Were there any guidelines you had to follow while working with the LittleBigPlanet IP or were you given free reign?
Mattias: We were given free reign while developing LittleBigPlanet PS Vita. However, having worked with the franchise for quite some time by helping Media Molecule with Sackboy’s costumes, as well as from being fans ourselves, we knew the importance of keeping the integrity of the LittleBigPlanet universe intact.
How was the game creation process with Media Molecule?
Mattias: Media Molecule were actually responsible for getting us the gig as they recommended us to SCEE for having a great understanding of the game and franchise. As Media Molecule handed over the responsibility for the next game in the series they asked us to keep them in the loop and show our progress whenever convenient, but never to wait for permission for anything. So, we’ve taken a couple of trips to Guildford for feedback and to pick their brains but also, on their own request, not involved them too much as they would then surely drop everything and rush to the rescue of their “baby” if given half a chance .
Mattias: There are always challenges in creating any game but our greatest challenges were surely on the technical side. Luckily our partner Double Eleven in the UK, who have been responsible for the technical development, have not only had great experience on working on handheld platforms but also have some out-of-this-world coders who’ve met every new challenge head-on. They have made the impossible possible and brought everything we wanted from the games on the PlayStation 3 over and on to the PlayStation Vita as well as adding new tools to support all new PS Vita functionality and more.
I see that the wonderful artists at Tarsier Studios create the DLC costumes for the LittleBigPlanet games. How was the transition of going from creating costumes to making a LittleBigPlanet game?
Mattias: It’s been the biggest project we’ve done so far and our studio has had to grow and develop accordingly. We’ve had the opportunity to hire some great people to complement the existing experience and skills in the company and we now have every discipline necessary for an efficient production represented within the company.
We knew from the start that we would need a lot of help (!) and some of the greatest experts on LBP, second only to Media Molecule themselves, were to be found in the LittleBigPlanet community. Some have been with us for part of the project and some are now part of our permanent staff.
On top of all new great people in the company, we have also had the pleasure to work with some of the same companies that have been contributing to the franchise since the first games and just like we used to concentrate on costumes, they all have their own specialties and expertise.
The carnival setting really works for LittleBigPlanet. What other settings would you have gone with if Carnivalia fell through?
Mattias: Many settings can be found to work for one LittleBigPlanet level or world once you have found the LittleBigPlanet twist or angle of it, which is no easy task in itself. But, the real challenge though is to find a set of diverse worlds with their own rules and quirks and visual identities that can all fit in an overall context or setting. We had many worlds that would stand on their own but no overall setting or theme that ever felt as strong as Carnivalia.
Except…perhaps one. But who knows, maybe we’ll visit there one day .
LittleBigPlanet, for many, is a must-have for the PS3. Do you think LittleBigPlanet PS Vita will be the same way for the Vita? Can you see this game selling consoles?
Mattias: If it wasn’t for the many voices already saying that this supposedly is “the game that PS Vita owners have been waiting for” or “for those who’ve been looking for an excuse to buy a PS Vita – you can stop looking” we would never, being Swedish and all, dare to wish for this to be true.
But, with the reception the game has gotten so far I would be lying if I let on anything else than sharing our hopes and, ever so humbly, answered “God, I hope so!” and “Yes!” to your two questions . Maybe the best reasons being that you will see all Vita specific functionality really shine in LittleBigPlanet PS Vita and that you are really not buying one game, you are buying and endless stream of content thanks to the awesome LittleBigPlanet Community!
Mattias: I really like what we’ve been able to do with the Story Mode experience. LittleBigPlanet games have always been very gameplay-driven but I think we have been able to create a very special atmosphere in the platform adventure thanks to a great match between story & dialogue, music & voice-acting and art & cutscene direction.
Even though I’m not a Creator myself, my favorite addition to the Create mode is the Memorizer as I expect people to create all sorts of small as well as great gaming experiences with this tool.
If we were to open up your consoles of choice now, what game would we find?
Mattias: As my fiancée and myself were blessed with twins during the LBP PS Vita production, I haven’t quite been able to catch up on my gaming. You would, after blowing off a thin layer of dust gathered since the last time I played, find Enslaved: Odyssey to the West. A great example (I think) of where a beautiful world married with a strong narrative and interesting characters creates a very special atmosphere.
Does Tarsier Studios already have their next project planned?
Mattias: Yes, we are already working hard on a couple of projects that look very promising.
Any last words for our readers?
Mattias: So far there have been over 7 million levels created in LittleBigPlanet, which I’ve been informed together reaches half-way to the moon. We hope you’ll give LittleBigPlanet PS Vita a chance and that you’ll help us reach the rest of the way!
Is LittleBigPlanet PS Vita for you? You can check out our review here.