First Looks// GameGlobe

Posted 10 Sep 2012 17:56 by
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We are now living in the world of ?Game 3.0?. I know this, because Phil Harrison said so back in 2007 when introducing LittleBigPlanet to the world. And who wants to doubt Phil Harrison? Five years on, what do we have to show for this bold, new, user-generated content frontier? Well, turns out things haven?t really gone much further than Media Molecule?s innovative platformer, to be honest.

But Square Enix thinks it?s onto something with browser-based service GameGlobe. Think of it as ?YouTube for Gamers?, in a nutshell. With GameGlobe, players build their own 3D platforming environments - on a screen that acts a lot like a YouTube video player - using a colourful UI and a combination of keyboard and mouse commands. Creations are then shared with friends and strangers alike using a unique URL that leads right to your custom level.

Naturally, you won?t be controlling Sackboy as you craft your masterpiece, but the customisable world and the characters within it wouldn?t be completely out of place in the charismatic PS3 classic. Bright primary colours and cartoony protagonists makes GameGlobe appear accessible to casual players, while the sophistication of the tools on offer will no doubt impress core UGC aficionados.

When you first load up GameGlobe, you?ll be darting about in (quite literally) a sandbox in the guise of a baseball cap-wearing kid. This character can double-jump and perform a range of attacks to take out enemies. Of course, initially, there are no such enemies or obstacles to speak of. It?s up to you to create them. And that?s where the bold horizontal menu at the top of the screen comes in.

From there, you can choose whether to create structures, manipulate land mass or ?paint? textures on the scenery around you. Morphing the 3D world is as easy as picking a shape from a list, moving the mouse around the landscape and clicking either the left button to create or the right button to remove pieces of land. Simple shapes such as spheres and cubes are available alongside more complex designs - a ?mountain? shape, for example - which can be great for quick and efficient level-building.

Once you have a basic form for your world, you can choose from a number of themes and styles to place props, lay down enemies and traps, and to provide the atmosphere that you want. Every structure has its own texture map, but you can alter this by selecting an effect (such as grass, brick or sand) and spraying it onto the level around your Bart Simpson wannabe.

What?s really cool about the creation mode in GameGlobe is that some of the objects are stackable. So instead of placing two Victorian-style houses next to each other in regimental fashion, you can plonk one on top of the other and create something of a custom crooked house. Other props can be slapped onto said house to transform it into other kinds of buildings, like a windmill.

Creating interactive objects (say, to build a switch that opens a door), you simply place the appropriate items into the game world and draw a line to ?plug? them together. It?s a similar approach to LittleBigPlanet, with the added bonus of working with a mouse. Placing level end markers, background music and other triggers will be a familiar process to anyone who?s gotten to know Sackboy as well.

GameGlobe is currently in a Closed Beta state, but I was shown a vast number of levels that really showed a great deal of creativity in the growing community. Warped and wonderful platform stages, multiple levels linked to one another exploring an interactive narrative, and even movies are being built by the early access crowd.

The impressive demo I saw was proof that the user-generated content market is far from dead - and if GameGlobe plays its community cards right, could actually breathe new life into it.

With content creation in LittleBigPlanet quite a daunting prospect even today, it?s incredibly promising to see a 3D game attempt this, and make the process feel even more accessible than Media Molecule?s pioneering platformer. Keep an eye on this, if you love to create.
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