Meet A Tarsian: Sebastian, Creator

Today begins the first instalment of a (hopefully) long and popular series of staff interviews. Since he has sadly had to leave us and return to his studies, we thought it only fair that we take a peek inside the mind of Mr Sebastian Larsson.

First of all, can you tell these fine ladies and gentlemen a little bit about yourself?

Hi, my name is Sebastian, I am sixteen years old and have been a serious LittleBigPlanet™ addict for the last two years!

I spend most of my free time creating in LittleBigPlanet™. It’s such a great place to unleash your ideas and creativity. Before LittleBigPlanet™ came and filled my life with Sackboys and fluff, I liked to do a bit of drawing too, but ever since the first LittleBigPlanet™ hit the stores, I have barely had any time for my old interests!

Tell us a little bit about how you got started with LBP? Was it love at first sight? Is there room for any other games in your life right now?

Ahhh, my first meeting with LittleBigPlanet™. I read a preview of it sometime in 2008 and I had absolutely no idea what it was. Then when I watched a video I was absolutely super-mega-woop-hooked! The idea of creating anything was, for me, revolutionary. I spent weeks annoying the sack out of my friends, hyping this game that would turn my grades upside down.

I remember making my dad drive to the store that was somehow releasing it a day earlier. There was such anticipation before putting the disc in my PS3, and then watching that intro narrated by Stephen Fry. Then I sat up and raged at the Create mode until my dad made me go to bed. It was wonderful, simply wonderful.

I do have time for other games though! I am just about to beat Demon’s Souls and I totally bought (and loved) Portal 2. Then we’ve got Skyrim coming up on 11/11/11. I’m also going to mash through the new Batman game, the new Rayman game and probably a few Zelda games.
But yeah, I usually go through about four main titles every year, the rest of the time is spent creating in LBP2. It’s great to do something else for a bit of inspiration.

So you’ve sacrificed your school summer holidays for the the greater LBP good? How have you found your time at Tarsier? They didn’t treat you too badly did they?

Honestly I have had a fantastic time here. I had no idea what to expect before I came, but everyone was really friendly, helpful and supportive. It’s also interesting to see how all of the folk here are normal gamer people. They’re just a bunch of nerds teaming up to follow their vision and make something fun and enjoyable. Just like me really, but with more education and less hair!

To LittleBigPlanet™ regulars, you’re probably better known by your PSN ID. Have you found any big differences between working as a one man show and working in a game development studio?

Oh yes, yes indeed. When I create on my own I usually have a vague idea for a story and some small gameplay ideas. Then I create the gameplay motifs, scenery and cut-scenes as I go along. It’s a lot of fun working that way, but the thermometer tends to become all sad and overheated. When you have to ditch gameplay pieces that you have decorated nicely but just don’t feel fun, it can be a painful experience!

At Tarsier it’s a bit more professional. Here the designers create the motifs in basic cardboard, and then we look at each other’s stuff and give feedback. Lastly, we put them together in an order that creates a nice flow throughout the level, then we decorate it and then finally we add cutscenes.

It was pretty hard adapting to this new way of creating in the first few weeks (I found myself secretly adding visual effects to the gameplay pieces, such as small glowing dots and confetti. But I only did this in the evenings when nobody was looking!) In the end, though, I found this method worked better, since you have so much more control over your gameplay and flow. Sure it can feel a bit frustrating when you want to do everything at once, but it’s way more efficient if you want to end up with something amazing.

It must be pretty sweet getting paid to make games though right?

YES! This is pretty much my dream job and I’m loving it to bits.

As someone who’s worked with LBP as both a developer and a Community creator, you’re kind of in competition with yourself to see who can come up with the coolest stuff. Who’s winning?

It’s very close, but I think the ‘community me’ is just ahead! I have the freedom to create pretty much anything I want in my personal projects, so the possibilities are endless. I can also do the really crazy stuff that the main LBP story mode couldn’t contain, simply because it’s too random.

So, is this something you’d like to do for a career? If so, what kind of games would you like to make?

Yeah, that’s the plan right now! I know it’s sort of a hard path to take but there’s nothing wrong with trying! I have absolutely no idea what I’m going to create in the future to be honest. I’d like to introduce completely new experiences and ideas to the world, but don’t we all! The main goal right now is to learn as much as possible outside of LBP, so that I can create games in some form, and then hopefully get cracking. To be honest I’m pretty happy as long as I’m having fun, and I’m having fun right now so I guess I’m on the right track!

And how do you think the new features of the PlayStation Vita® is going to change things for creators?

The touch allows you to activate things without putting your sacky in a control seat or even moving him, making menu activation a whole bunch easier and a lot more fun. I also think that creating is going to become a bit faster with these new touch elements and, unlike the move pack, everyone in the community can enjoy the wonders of touch!

Finally, do you have anything to say to the millions of people who have yet to play LBP Vita? Should they be getting a little bit excited?

I definitely think they should! The touch is working great and adds a whole bunch of gameplay opportunities. You will be able to create masterpieces on the go and the create mode has been improved and customized with the new fancy touch controls. I am really liking this game and can’t wait for the final experience!