Posts tagged “PlaystationVita

On My #E3 Radar: CounterSpy

TPS-logobanner

8715705908_7b7424baee_b

While perusing the World Wide Web a month or so ago, I came across a couple of screenshots for a game that reminded me of those vibrant movie posters of the 1950s and 1960s. Posters and art with silhouetted figures surrounded by grainy, cracked backgrounds. Just like those posters, the images in those screenshots let your imagination run wild on what this game could be.

8714585145_18a9ccca9b_c

The game in question is called Counterspy, an upcoming title from San Francisco based Devs Dynamighty. This espionage tale mashes classic action side-scrolling with a gorgeous art style reminiscent of old school James Bond movies. The distinct Cold War Era visual style fleshes out the world in which you play the role of a super spy trying to save the world from mass destruction.

In an interview on the Playstation Blog; Lead Designer, David Nottingham gives us the back-story:

As an elite member of C.O.U.N.T.E.R., your goal is to infiltrate, sabotage, and strike at the heart of two opposing Super Powers embroiled in a frenetic Arms Race that threatens the existence of humanity. You are countering the insane plans of these Cold War foes, raiding their seemingly impregnable bases and undermining their mad military machinations, all before they can launch their ever more ridiculous weapons of mass destruction against each other.

I for one love to see games like this on the market and when it comes out you will be able to pick it up on PS3, PS Vita or Mobile devices. To get a peek at the game in action check out a gameplay video courtesy of Gamespot below:

Advertisements

The Sound Shapers – Old_PopTarts

The “SoundShapers” is a series of articles and interviews that spotlight a different member of the Sound Shapes community weekly. Check out other posts here.

 This week’s shaper is a mainstay of the community and has made some pretty cool levels. I was attracted to some of his creations because I really like symmetrical levels. Many of this shaper’s levels are great because they are, in the words of Tart himself: short, sweet and to the point. They offer a challenge to both novice and veteran players and show that he has firm grasp of the platforming genre.

 This week’s Shaper is Old_PopTarts

Pop_Tarts_logo_old

My two favorite levels from Tarts were “Escape from Guantanamo Bay” and “Say CHEESE!!”(1sl).

“Escape from Guantanamo Bay” – was really fun to play because of how the red elements are placed in the level. The “kick box” enemies were placed in such a way that it reminded me of the game “Plinko” from “The Price is Right” TV show. You have to time out both your jump to avoid the boxes and where you land on the safe areas. It was a small part of the level but stuck with me after playing it.

2012-12-20-010302

“Say CHEESE!!” – is a level that resembles what you would see through a camera’s viewfinder. You can see this from the level’s community screenshot but it looks even cooler when you play it. The level is pretty straightforward: dodge all the red dotted lines on the periphery while trying to gauge your jumps on and off the circular treadmill. It’s simplistic in its design, but challenging to finish. It took me more time than I thought it would to complete, but I felt like I accomplished something once I was done.

2012-12-20-010329

After playing Tart’s levels I reached out to him for a quick interview:

TSP: Give a little background on yourself and why you decided to play Sound Shapes.
TART: State-side born in a town called Peoria in Illinois. You may have heard “If it plays in Peoria, it’ll play anywhere.” I’ve been a gamer since the first Nintendo system all the way to the Vita. I’ve always been into platformers and who doesn’t love music? A game that mashes them both intrigued me. I’m familiar with Jonathon Mak from the game Everyday Shooter so this game definitely caught my eye. It’s a very interesting concept and works very well in action. It’s a gem that I hope everyone has a chance to play!!
TSP: How do you plan out your levels? (Music first or art?)
TART: I like plan out my music first and get the basic layout of each screen before I start to shape my level. I find it’s much easier to start with symmetrical shapes for the whole screen and tweak from there. If you rush and just place notes randomly, there’s a chance your level won’t be as polished. You can have a whole song done but as you progress you replace certain sounds with entities from the game to compliment or replace without compromising the integrity of your song.
TSP: Do you make your levels on the PS3 or Vita?
TART: I had an unwanted visitor in my home back in May, so unfortunately I don’t have access to a PS3 at this moment. Soo I do all my Shaping on the PS Vita, which is extremely intuitive and very well thought out. I favor the touchscreen/pad in tandem. It really makes shaping and positioning a breeze.
TSP: What are your favorite levels that you’ve made and why?
TART: I would say my favorite level I’ve made is “Escape from Guantanamo Bay”. It was my first fully fledged level, albeit short, sweet and to the point, I believe it’s a well rounded level. I’m currently working on my next Sound Shapes level and it’s a bit more ambitious than “Escape from Guantanamo Bay” and I am having a blast making it. I really can’t wait to release it and see what others think of it!!
TSP: What is your favorite level you’ve played and why?
TART: Picking a favorite level I’ve played is an extremely tough choice. There are many works I am fond of by creators such as: Daftbomb, TheBeejAbides and TonyTough among countless others. Favorite levels from each would be “Cheer-up Buttercup” by Daftbomb, and “A Nightmare on Church Street” by TonyTough each respectively and in no particular order. If I missed you I am terribly sorry!!
TSP: Any tips or tricks that you’ve learned?
TART: Save and save often! I’ve heard of hours lost on projects due to nasty bug that is to be resolved soon. I have fortunately not had this issue (knock on wood.) I am still learning as I go, so I may not be that helpful. I gladly pass that on to Daftbomb and his instructional levels for just this! I will point out that you must take your time and try not to rush if you want your level to be polished and fun.
TSP: What would you like see added to the game in future updates that would make your creations even better?
TART: It has been mentioned before, but I would love an option to set the tempo for screens individually to set the right tone and send the right message. I would also love to see new Sound Shapes entities and new color palettes. An option to cue strings of levels and play them back to back would also be welcome. I would have loved to have a “ghost” mode as well but have been told Queasy Games would need a fully deterministic engine to do so :/

I would like to first thank Queasy Games and John Mak for this lovely gem. Everyone who even remotely likes platformers and music should give this game a go. I would also like to thank Kahlief for this opportunity to share my thoughts. Lastly I would like to thank the all the creators for giving me tons of content to obsess over! A special shout-out to Redespair, MilkManiac, DUSTINISGOOD and BeejAbides for setting such high bars on speed-runs and look forward to meeting you all on the Sticky Ball courts. ^_^

Big thanks goes out to Tarts for being a part of the series and sharing his thoughts on his work. A huge congrats also goes out to the SoundShapes crew for winning “Best handheld and Song in a Game” at this year’s VGA’s. Two really dope DLC launches this month wrap up a pretty amazing year for us as Shapers and there is more to come.  I can’t wait to see what new levels come about from all these goodies. As for us at the Spawnpoint, we are wrapping up our #SoundShapers series next week and we hope to see you there.


The Sound Shapers – Anoy337

The “SoundShapers” is a series of articles and interviews that spotlight a different member of the Sound Shapes community weekly. Check out other posts here.

The outstanding thing about the Sound Shapes community is that levels will bubble up through various means. Between chatter amongst the heavy hitters on PSN or the different filters on the Sound Shapes community website there are dozens of ways for players to find great content. While digging through my “following” list I saw that many of folk’s favorite levels were from this week’s shaper Anoy337.

Some of his stand-out levels that I have played include:

“Fatal Progress” – Levels like this are special because they take the usual platforming conventions and flip them on their heads. Usually you try to avoid things that can kill you, but in FP you embrace death by jumping into the red hearts on every screen. It also makes the save points (usually a good thing) into a total annoyance to run into. Hitting some of them will have you re-spawn in a part of the level that takes you away from your goal. It makes this level really challenging and almost Vita-chucking. The payoff is well worth it if you can keep pushing.

“Breakdown” – Breakdown sets you up to believe that it won’t be a pain in the arse, but you soon see that it’s devious, treacherous and beautiful. You can see that going into making this level Anoy had a plan, and it was to push players to think before you leap. Besides the actual plaforming, there are a couple of screens that are really gorgeous to look at.

“Bonus Round_01” – So far this is my favorite Anoy level. It plays like a side-scrolling version of the classic game “Mousetrap”. I really appreciate craftsmanship and this one-screen level is chock full of it. What makes it cool is that you have to open gates all around the screen through quick movement, precision jumping, and sequencing. It’s extremely well thought out and is challenging and fun to play.

After playing his levels I had to ask him some questions about his method.

TSP: Give a little background on yourself and why you decided to play Sound Shapes.
Anoy337: Hi all, my name is Lee and I’m a tattoo artist by profession. I’m mostly drawing on people but pretty much whatever spare time I have usually gets donated to video games. Among the many I enjoy is the gem that is Sound Shapes. The ability to use such an amazing platform to freely create your own “songs” is what won my heart.
TSP: How do you plan out your levels? (Music first or art?)
Anoy: To be honest I try not to have a standard approach to making the song but rather choosing my underlying concept first and then approaching it in whichever way is more practical for concept of song. Sometimes however I take a more loose approach and sort of try to let the song just make itself, if that makes any sense.
TSP: Do you make your levels on the PS3 or Vita?
Anoy: I use my lovely little lady, the PS Vita. Sometimes I play on my PS3 but I have made all my levels on my PS Vita thus far. I prefer the touch screen over cursor.
TSP: What are your favorite levels that you’ve made and why?
Anoy: Well this is a tricky one because I have lost many a level before doing online backups and some of them are amongst my favourites. My top published level would have to be “FATAL PROGRESS”. I could maybe have done more with the music but I love how it can make you fear save points if you play it too long, which is usually evident when you play a normal level afterwards. Also I felt making the only thing that could kill you in the level a heart seems to help you embrace death easier.
TSP: What is the favorite level you’ve played and why?
Anoy: There are so many amazing songs and creators out there it would be unfair to choose only one. A stage I enjoyed very much recently though was the “Shape Invaders Song” by Gasssst. It had some innovative game play ideas and a really nice style also. But with guys like Daftbomb, Beejabides, TT, Jool, Gezouten, Earlee and all the many other amazing Sound Shapers working hard, it’s guaranteed another winner song will be uploaded probably while you are reading this interview. Thanks again for making this possible Queasy Games and Sony.
TSP: Any tips or tricks that you’ve learned?
Anoy: Mmmmmmmmm…don’t use elevators the other way around, no matter how tempted. I recently learned that shapes isn’t enough for a good level; sound is also very important. Think about the player objectively when making your song and know who you’re trying to make the song for, even if it’s just for yourself. Most importantly don’t over complicate panels and try to spread out the songs; I struggle a lot with this one.
TSP: What would you like see added to the game in future updates that would make your creations even better?
Anoy: I heard something about a curve pack 🙂 which was my only wish at first, but recently when getting into the sound side I find that a volume adjustment on individual game objects seems like something that could be very useful. I’m not too sure however on how the programming behind it would work so it might not even be possible. Other than that, maybe some weapons to fight back against the reds in Sound Shapes 2.

Anoy also gave us some shout outs:
I would like to thank Kahlief ‘kahjah’ and The Spawn Point Blog for this opportunity. You guys are doing an awesome job. Thanks also to all Sound Shapers for working hard at making dope levels and a very special thanks to all the queasies @Queasygames for making this amazing medium its truly the canvas of our time. You guys rule.

Thanks again to Anoy337 for sharing his great work with the community and taking time to chat with us at The Spawn Point Blog. We hope that you all are enjoying the #SoundShapers series and Sound Shapes. Check back here next week to see our interview with DUSTINISGOOD.


The Sound Shapers – Gezouten

After Sound Shapes was released there were many creators who put their creative stamp on the community. Some did this by utilizing the objects and sounds given in new and interesting ways. Some of them attached themselves to particular themes and ran wild. In the first initial months the “ESC” (escape) level theme devised from community favorite Daftbomb bubbled up to the surface. The ESC theme is one where the user has to find a way out of the level via some hidden exit. This week’s shaper was one of the first to really make his name by using the ESC theme to create awesome levels.

This week’s shaper is Gezouten or as I like to call him GEZOOOOTEN!

One of my favorite Gez levels has to be his Halloween themed “Unhappy Trees”. I’m always amazed at how quickly the shapers come up with levels and really good ones at that. I believe the HLWN theme was announced on a Wednesday and this level was up before the weekend. The brown and orange color palette mixed in with the spooky soundtrack really plays into the theme and carries you along the story of all the abused trees you find in the forest. It was great to see Gez get in touch with his storyteller side and pull off such a memorable level in such a short amount of time.

“Revenge of the Mad Faces” is a cool level to look at but even better to listen to. Once the drum loop hits it really gets excited to get to the next screen. I have a real affection for tight drum loops and funky kicks and “Mad Faces” totally has them. The reconstructed faces look really cool and the level can be surprisingly difficult in spots. It’s a great mix of art, music and platforming.

Lastly “Gezawesome” Vol1 takes you to this trancy kind of techno place. Its music feels like a Deus Ex level with its pulsating synth notes. Imagery of being miniaturized and placed within a music lovers dream is what makes this level so cool. The attention to detail with things so symmetrically placed must have taken him a long time to create and the payoff at the end is totally worth it.

We spoke with Gez about some of his favorite levels and how he makes them.

TSP: Give a little background on yourself and why you decided to play Sound Shapes.
GEZ: Playing Sound Shapes was a coincidence, I finished some games on the PS Vita and was searching In the PS store for something different. I remembered that I saw some games with music Involved. When I saw the description of Sound Shapes In the PSN-store I knew this could be THE game for me. Why? Because I create music and logos for fun since I was a kid.
TSP: How do you plan out your levels? (Music first or art?)
GEZ: Most of the time when I start creating a level, I have a basic idea of what I would like to create, but mostly the finished level is something totally different. For example: “UFO – ESC,” I wanted to make a level where you entered a UFO and saved the world from the aliens. I got stuck in designing it and had some other idea’s for some levels so first I worked on the “Another Problem”- level. When I returned to “UFO – ESC”, the “ESC (escape)” idea was launched and suddenly I saw it in a totally different way. Other times I just create the sound and then the ideas for the graphics come “Revenge of the Mad Faces” was one of those levels.
TSP: Do you make your levels on the PS3 or Vita?
GEZ: I played the PS3 version a few times, but never created anything on it. And the feeling on the PSVita is really great. The only problem is that I get so addicted, when I get some spare time the Vita is in my hands.
TSP: What are your favorite levels that you’ve made and why?
GEZ: “Another Problem” and all the other ESC-levels. Daftbomb came up with his brilliant “Problem” level theme and it inspired me so much! When I played his level I couldn’t keep the smile from my face. I needed a lot of time to finish his level and after all it wasn’t that hard. So I contacted Daftbomb to ask what he would think of making a series of ESC-levels, it would be a successor to the 1SL series. I used to play a lot of escape games some years ago and loved to make some of my own. I must say, most of my ESC levels, I start designing it as a normal level, but in the process I always get ESC ideas and in the end I created another ESC.
“Another Problem” was designed with the intention to make a level including optical illusions. The original level was bigger, but I deleted a part to keep the level small, to make sure the ESC part wasn’t too hard. After publishing the level, I added some hints in the level because in the first publication it was too hard to find the exit. Now when I make an ESC level I always try to give away the solution in hints or in the thumbnail. The thumbnail of “Another Problem” almost tells exactly what to do and in the level there are a few other hints. When you put those together, the answer is easy to find!
“AMIGA PP Hammer Tribute” was a level I made because I was wondering for years why no one republishes those fantastic AMIGA classics. Even after 20 years they are still great. (PP hammer, Push Over, Gods: perfect games for a handheld:  c’mon SONY!) It’s a pretty hard level to get trough, but hey, it’s a game!!
“Revenge of the Mad Faces”. I made a soundtrack, the “Mad Faces” and “Revenge” came later. As the creators of Sound Shapes said, “You’d be angry, too, if someone was jumping all over your face.” It’s not an easy level, but not impossible. It starts off as an easy level, but when you are half way through the level, the mad faces are getting really mad!
“Unhappy Trees-HLWN” was my first story-based level. The Halloween theme-a-week was launched and I totally had no Idea what to do with it. I first made a Halloween soundtrack and wanted a forest as setting. While I was making the forest I got an Idea of what the story could be. So I made a sentence that told the basic story and worked on one screen without knowing what the next would be. It has a lot of humor in it, when you look at the details.
TSP: What are your favorite levels you’ve played and why?
GEZ: There are so many fantastic levels. I love all the levels from Daftbomb, TT, TheBeejAbides, Anoy337, jool2306, gassst and Earl-leegraves.
“Escape Suburbia” – ESC (TheBeejAbIdes) – When you first play this level, you get confused more than once. This is what an ESC level should be. It has great challenges and nice graphics. Beej knows how to make great graphical, musical, story-based levels.
“Fatal progress” (Anoy337) – Damn that was hard. My top time was 49 minutes, but it was worth my time. There was one screen almost at the end of the level that I had to replay so many times, but it was too good to stop.  It’s sad that people give up so easy on harder levels, because there are many great levels not finished because of that.
TSP: Any tips or tricks that you’ve learned?
-Look what others do, you learn a lot from them and don’t be afraid to ask for advice.
-Make a nice thumbnail for your level. If you are looking for a random level, you will always pick the ones with a nice thumbnail.
-Make sure that your level is “boxed in.” It’s never nice to play someone’s level and fall into empty unedited places.
-Play Daftbomb’s tutorial levels; they are the way to success!

TSP: What would you like see added to the game in future updates that would make your creations even better?

-Layers: put objects In front or background.
-Suicide button: When you get stuck, return to previous checkpoint. It’s frustrating when you are almost at the end of a level you get stuck and have to restart the level.
-Probably very expensive: Why not make an app for android/iPhone, where you can play (some) community levels? It could be good advertising.
-Multiplayer levels, it would be nice to play together, and could create a new wave of levels. And why not be able to pass levels to another user, so you can work together on one level, or make your own version of somebody’s creation.

I again want to thank Gez and EVERYONE who had decided to be a part of this project. People have been really excited to hear the stories and inspirations that have birthed all this great content.

If you have any thoughts, questions or comments, leave them below and if you have the game get out there and start creating.


The SoundShapers – Tony Tough

The “SoundShapers” is a series of articles and interviews that spotlight a different member of the Sound Shapes community weekly. Check out other posts here.

In this day and age there aren’t many emotionally evocative and poignant stories told in gaming; very few spark the imagination or tug at your heartstrings. Without sounding too hyperbolic, I believe the levels that TonyTough has crafted are some of the most beautiful art I’ve had the pleasure to experience in a long time. He has figured out ways to tell new and interesting stories, and re-imagined classics as well.

“Red” – I first became aware of Tony via his level “Red”. I was struck initially by its screenshot, a worried depiction of Red Riding Hood. I did a double take because I hadn’t really seen anyone make lifelike portraits or images in Sound Shapes before seeing Red. So I jumped in and was treated to an awesome show of craftsmanship, ingenuity, and cleverness. While playing the age-old tale I observed objects being used in ways I hadn’t thought of before and narrative pushed out in a storybook format. It really gave me a new understanding of how the game could be used to tell stories and provided a little insight into how Tony’s mind worked. With its number of plays (###) and likes (###) you can see why it is a community favorite.

“The Ninja (part 1)” – I had expectations of awesomeness going in. Tony again stepped his game up and did some really smart things with perspective that I hadn’t seen before. By making things smaller on the 2D plane it gave them the appearance of being a background element. It gave a faux foreground and background to this level, fleshing it out even more and adding depth to each panel. The story of a ninja warrior getting revenge against a rival family because of a death isn’t new but Tony’s telling was fresh because he figured out how to implement ANIMATION within the Sound Shapes engine, by making a flipbook in his levels. My jaw totally hit the ground. A stick-figured ninja flipping through the air and stabbing his adversary sounds simple but I don’t even want to know how he brainstormed that out. It shows both how innovative he is and how flexible the engine was. It opened up a whole new way players could think about building their levels.

“Nightmare on Church Street” – I bypassed this level at first, but after reading our interview and how glowingly Tony talked of it, I had to take a run through. Funny enough after playing it, it became my favorite. Being a huge horror movie fan, this level spoke to me. Moving from a dark cemetery to a haunted house sets up most of the platforming, but use of certain elements that form beds, pianos, and chandeliers is what impressed me so much. Even with the well done callbacks to horror greats like Freddy Kruger, Psycho, and The Ring, the real standout of this level is the music. It’s thematically on point but also has just enough pulsating beats to keep it funky.

At the time of this writing, a couple of absolute plays have come from Tony: “Walk in the Park”, and his Halloween Themed level “Trick or Treat”. I might discuss these more in-depth at a later date but I will say that “Walk in the Park” was a visual and auditory delight. It evoked the same feelings I had when I played Journey for the first time. “Trick or Treat” has a special animation in it that still boggles my mind — I won’t spoil it for you but you must play it.

Sr. Tough also gave us some insight into how he goes about making his levels and other thoughts on the game.

TSP: Give a little background on yourself and why you decided to play Sound Shapes.
TT: I am a manager of a healthcare consulting company focusing on online application/website design. I have an engineering degree and have always had a passion for music and graphics, which is the reason that I have always loved computer games even now over the age of 40. 🙂
I have always loved sequencers and own a Korg and play mostly by ear. Sound Shapes was a perfect fit for me, for my love of music and 2D platforming. I actually was in the early stages of developing a similar game when I heard Sound Shapes was going to come out and they went above and beyond the game I wanted to develop.
TSP: How do you plan out your levels? (Music first or art?)
TT: I always start off with a song. I want to make great music first. Once that is done, I think of a theme that goes with the song and start to develop the graphics and artwork around the song.
TSP: Do you make your levels on the PS3 or Vita?
TT: Vita only. Having a family, it is hard to get in front of the TV, so most of the stuff I do is late night or lunch hour at work.
TSP: What are your favorite levels that you’ve made and why?
TT: My favorite levels I have made are my story levels. I like to engross the player with a story so they are excited to see what is next. I typically like to throw some curve ball in my story so that there is some sort of surprise either in the story itself (“RED”, and my latest level “NINJA”), or in the way you exit the level (“The Egg and the Beanstalk” and “Nightmare on Church Street”). Each of them has a reason why I love them. I have a very specific style I used when designed these levels in that I like to make them look 3D even though we are in 2D platforming world. This way the level itself is like a puzzle, thus making it uncertain in what can you step on and sometimes tricking the visual sense due to the 3D look. I haven’t seen many have a similar style. A good example of that is in my “Egg and the Beanstalk” level. When going down Church Street, sometimes you are not sure what you can jump on and what you will fall through. It was the first one I created and has a special meaning to me. Not to mention the surprise ending I made which was hiding the exit, which wasn’t seen too much when the game first came out.
My other favorite is “Nightmare on Church Street” (which I tried to make as if the beanstalk level continued to the right of the beanstalk). I love this level for its graphics, its eerie theme, its adventure to solve its way out of the level, and the music I chose for it. The “NINJA” level I just created is a very cool concept I thought of when I made my “Descent” level. I used this approach to make Animation appear on the screen. Very cool concept and I haven’t seen it done before in Sound Shapes. It reminded me of being a kid when I used to use those stapled flip books and draw animation one page at a time.
TSP: What is your favorite level you’ve played and why?
TT: My favorite level initially was probably “And I to fire” by jordanbuster. Reason being, it was that level that gave me a lot of inspiration to do my levels in such a way as to trick the end user with some sort of surprise. It also had an amazing sound track. But to be honest, I really don’t have favorite levels; I have favorite artists that I constantly look out for. The community for Sound Shapes is unlike any other I have experienced, such a great group of people all wanting and willing to help each other. I have to give credit to Daftbomb as he is a true inspiration amongst all Sound Shapers, not only in the levels he creates, but the willingness to help others. He really made this experience great for me personally because he pulled together a group of great artists and AMAZINGLY SKILLED PLAYERS such as TheBeejAbides, Gezouten, Gannon767, DigitalJ88, Jool2306, Sunset Panther, Old_Poptarts, MidguardDragon, Vengeful Torture ,gasssst, Milkmaniac and many others which I’m going based on memory and sorry if I left any out. I list them here so other users out there can find some great levels via their username
TSP: Any tips or tricks that you’ve learned?
TT: Yes many tricks I’ve learned. But here is my humble advice.
1) As I mentioned, I always build a great song first, many screens long keeping a theme in mind sometimes.
2) I love using very very low bass. I do this by hitting the Start button, using MINOR scale and bring down the Octave to -6 usually. I also use VERY SLOW tempo. This is a very good tip because I seem to be able to fit ”more song” into a loop. Especially since I can use the Sound Shapes drum objects which can record more beats per frame then the standard sequencer loop which only can hold 16 notes.
3) I like to use the sound shapes flowers (a lot) to add notes to a screen before the user even collects coins. The nice thing about the flowers is that you can make very long sequences. Like 32 notes’ worth before they repeat. Maybe even more. And they give the environment a nice sound even if the user doesn’t select coins.
Flowers and other Sound Shape objects can be hidden by Black and White Sound Shapes, use that to your advantage. A nice technique for what I call 2-for-1 (or even 4-for-1) use is placing an object such as a flower near the edge of your screen. Any adjacent screens that the flower flows into (even by extending its stem) will also play that object’s sound. So you in essence can have the same note (or group of notes) play on multiple screens as long as they spill over into that screen. It can save you some entities if you max out the number of entities on your screen (more on that later).
4) I like to add a lot of checkpoints and not frustrate my end player. Yeah, I’ll make it tough to find the exit using clues; but the playing itself, I don’t want to piss people off. It’s about having fun and solving a mystery or enjoying the story with my levels.
5) Lots of detail with the background images. Using a background color so that the background images pop, such as the purple background.
6) Never use any sound shapes tools that yell words or sayings or are very loud. It usually just annoys everyone.
7) Close all gaps and areas around all screens so a player can’t slip out of the game and lose the moment.
8) After I build my level, I go back to my song and cut and paste my screen of notes about one screen above my graphics I want it in. Then I can simply hit L1 and select all the notes and drag and drop them down to the correct spot without having to figure out how to create the song again.
9) Use the Multiple select option (L1) button on Vita and hold it down while selecting stuff to be able to copy and paste multiple items at a time.
ADVANCED TIPS
1) You can download a previously published file off of the sound shapes server by hitting TRIANGLE just prior to playing it online. You can only download levels you create. Note: if you download your level from the server, you will NOT see it in your editor. To see it, simply “pretend” to create a new level in your editor, then exit out and you will see the original level you downloaded in your list of levels.
2) ONE OF THE BIGGEST TIPS I CAN GIVE AND ONE I HAVE SHARED WITH AS MANY PEOPLE AS I CAN IS SAVE FILE MANAGEMENT.
I realize it’s not regarding level design but important nonetheless… Early on I lost a ton of work because I got a corrupt save file. Doesn’t matter how many times you back it up, if your file becomes corrupt. YOU LOSE EVERYTHING. (Every level you have stored on your Vita that you created gets wiped out. FYI: I never use the PS3 for Sound Shapes so I’m not sure if it happens there). So basically you have to play the tutorial from scratch. That kind of everything. SO to prevent disaster. (I had to redo my entire Area 51 level over, ugg.) You will find that this happens usually as you tend to MAXIMIZE the number of entities in your level. (Not the screen, but the whole level).
So to help minimize your risk, I do the following:
a) when you are done with the campaign and getting the editing tools, make sure you SYNC UP with the Sound Shapes server. This way you can sync up again if your save file becomes corrupt and get your edit tools back without having to play all the campaign over again.
b) If you are working on a level. PUBLISH IT OFTEN. This way, if you crash your save file, you can go to the server and re-download it back to your editor as stated in #11 above. But realize if you publish a corrupt level (which you can), if you download it and shut down Sound Shapes, when it boots back up, your save file will be corrupt again. SOOOO, my advice to you is, if your file is corrupt and you need to modify it, you can download it, modify it, publish it, and THEN DELETE IT off your local system!! This way your other levels don’t get lost.
So what I do, to prevent people from playing my Published (but not yet finished) levels which you probably have seen me do if you follow me on Sound Shapes, is simply create a side room with nothing more than an un-escapable start above the finish. This way, you can publish your level for preventative backup and at the same time, keep others from playing it prematurely. I typically will call the unfinished level “new level coming soon” so people don’t bother wasting their time playing it.
As you work on your level in the editor. you can frequently hit the PLAY/TEST PLAY Button while you are developing. It will go to your side room and play it, then you hit the GREEN UPLOAD Arrow to up load it to the server without having to quit out and upload it. IT’S A GREAT TIME SAVER. When you are ready to really publish it, Move your start and finish where they are supposed to go, COPY IT, PUBLISH IT and then delete the one on the server.
13) Just recently with my “Ninja” level, I learned a trick to keep your “ball” going down really fast using a thin lane and the alien object that pulls you very fast. Play my ninja level to see what I mean and focus on how I make the animation go faster using this approach. I also use Bubbles in the beginning of this technique to force the user “up” to hit the alien object to get them started.
TSPWhat would you like see added to the game in future updates that would make your creations even better.
TT: These ideas were actually a list I had sent to a Sound Shapes programmer recently and he said many of these ideas would not work due to their engine restriction, but here is the list regardless.
EDITOR
1) Just like the L1 button on vita allows you to multi-select, why not an R1 Button squeeze to allow you to Box select. Select 2 points on the screen and everything inside it and touching the box is selected.
2) Once many items are selected, allow a group rotate and a group mirror option. So this way if you wanted a symmetric level, you can draw half, BOX SELECT IT, then GROUP MIRROR IT. Shouldn’t be that hard to implement.
3) Option to turn off back touch on Vita. Many times this causes issues and I’d rather just use the controls to move/rotate, scale etc.
Add comments to a user level INSIDE the vita, without having to do it on the website.
4) Adding a text object for those that want to provide instructions / story / hints to their levels as a user plays it.
I know Daftbomb likes to see how creative people are with text, but in my case where I like to tell a story, these line segments to type text takes up a lot of memory and entities I’d rather use elsewhere in the level.
5) LBP related: a level link object in your level to continue to another level of yours so you can do bigger levels/adventures.
6) I know you have a standard with red in the back, the black objects, then white objects, but it would be helpful to have an option such as move to front or move to back etc for these objects.
8) If not #7, maybe an option to CUT using another object. Just to display a donut, as an example, is not easy because instead of just drawing one big circle and cutting out the inside with another, you have to instead build a torus with a bunch of triangles. UGH.
SONG RELATED
1) This is hard to explain, but allow a user to create a song that spans more than 16 blocks. Say 64 blocks. Maybe call it a pattern or a sample. This is similar to the sound patterns you already allow them to put down, you know, those notes that are really “sound samples”, e.g., the ones that look like a white circle with two arrows inside them.
You will then have the ability to create your own song patterns and save it down to be used on any of your songs. Many times I want to create a longer sequence of notes. Since I can’t, I end up using the flower objects which ignore the sequencer (well sort of) and allow longer sequences.
2) A way to save these so-called patterns so they can be imported into your other songs, this way you can build a library of beats, samples, etc.
3) A way to export a group of shapes (maybe those you just box selected) and export them as a group of objects to be used on other levels, again building a library of shapes as well.
4) Maybe having a way to send users these saved group of objects/sounds so they can use them.
NON-EDITOR RELATED
1) Maybe add a password/lock to non-finished published levels (maybe put in a new area called collaborate. Then another user/friend can join in and help build upon your level or simply play it/test it/review it before you make it public.
2) The ability to have another person join you in playing a level.
3) Have an area for greatest hits on your website for levels that use to be great but are not seen anymore.
4) Have an area for “Most Loved” based on likes.
5) Have an option to “Like” a level but not make it a favorite so you can distinguish between the two.

FINAL COMMENTS

——————————

One last thing I want to say is a huge thank you for Jon Mak and Queasy Games. They go above and beyond what many game companies do and I respect them for that. A great example of this is seeing your level played on Friday Night game night (via twitter) by the creators of the game, which is nothing short of awesomeness. A huge high five to them for doing so. They not only provided a great game, but they share their enthusiasm to their players and it makes it so much more personal. The fact that I haven’t even bought Little Big Planet for the VIta is a huge testament for how great Sound Shapes is. The other great thing about the game is the different people I have “met” from all over the world. Where else can I share an idea or hear about how someone enjoyed my level all the way from Belgium, Italy, London, Canada, across the USA, etc. Simply amazing. Not to mention that a name like TonyTough from NJ/USA is actually mentioned by others in the community. That’s pretty cool. A final thanks to Kahlief Adams for taking the time to write up this article and to showcase some of the work I created. He really is putting a lot of effort into this.

______

When I started this series I figured I would just write a couple of articles and show off some really cool levels from people I admire. To get a thanks in return is the topping on the cake. Thanks so much to TonyTough for being a part of our #SoundShapers series and, more importantly, pushing the community and our imaginations forward with his awesome work.

Check out our series here and on the Sound Shapes blog. Today is Halloween so check out the spookspired levels folks have made. The guys over at Queasy will be showcasing some of their favorites over at twitch.tv/soundshapes. Pop on by and you might see your own being played.

We will see you all next week when we profile community member: Jool2306