I worked with Media Molecule for five years designing the UI for the LittleBigPlanet series of games. The first two sold over seven million copies and have an average Metacritic score of 94%.
The games take the player into a hand-crafted universe where as well as playing they can create their own worlds and share them online with the rest of the LittleBigPlanet community.
From the outset LittleBigPlanet2’s interface was designed to work in 16 different languages straight from the disc. Around half of all LBP players use 4:3 aspect ratio TVs, so the interface can scale down to meet their needs.
Navigation can be cumbersome with a console controller. To get from the top to the bottom of the screen the player must move move through all options in between. While text size is useful for clarity, it’s button proximity that dictates what gets accessed and how often.
So where the cursor defaults to is central. If the player blindly mashes the go button they should always end up somewhere interesting. In fact this ethos permeates the whole interface, subtly nudging the player toward levels and making sure any deviations into more technical territory are considered decisions.
Popit is the primary creative tool in LittleBigPlanet. It is a little personal menu that players can access at anytime. It can be used simply to change Sackboy’s outfit, to ask for help, to fine tune the artificial intelligence on on a robot or even to write a piece of music.
The interface is based on a few simple principles:
- We always use the same buttons to confirm, cancel or to request more information
- Carefully considered hierarchies push players towards broad and exciting features
- And there’s a standardised set of patterns for interacting with more complex data such as setting an item’s name or choosing a value between 0 and 100.
The downloadable LBP Move Pack retrofitted the existing LittleBigPlanet game to work with the Sony Move controller. My favourite part of the pack was the paint tool we developed.
It was designed completely around the ergonomic experience of holding and moving the Move controller. Having designed for both mouse and console controllers in the past the Move was a surprising third system rather than the expected amalgamation of the previous two.