The Average Gamer

Keeping It Clean – Interview with Filipe Pina Part 2

Here’s the second part of our interview with Seed Studios Producer Filipe Pina, wherein I babble a bit about Little Big Planet’s rubbish rating system and Filipe talks about his hopes for the RTS mapping community. Check out part of the interview where we talked about the challenges facing a new games development studio .

Talking of Little Big Planet – you’ve clearly emphasised the custom user-created content. As I’m sure you’re well aware, one of the big problems with LBP is you can’t publicise what you’ve created as a gamer, and the rating system doesn’t work. What have you guys done to solve those problems?

FP: Okay, the rating system doesn’t work? We have ratings for 12+… you’re talking about?

You know they have that tag thing – and you’ll go into a level and it will be tagged “Braaaaains” but there are no brains in it. No zombies or anything. The users just shove in any old tag because they want to get to the next screen. Or you get the trophy-whore levels where all you do is collect stuff. It’s not a real level but it gets highly rated because people want to pick up stuff.

FP: Oh, okay, so I understand. We have this system. Where you’re in the media area of the game, you have the upload/download area. You have a basic HTML browser and you can login and upload. When you upload it gets listed like when a YouTube video gets listed. You can put on comments and you can rate it. So the most rated levels will be on top, the less ones on the bottom. We also divide them by single-player, multi-player, co-op, so you can choose when you go and download a new level. And you can flag it, if this is bad content. So when it’s bad content and you flag it, it gets moved out for us to see what it is.

So you guys will be moderating?

FP: Of course. Every level you create you cannot share without first uploading to our server. So every level that you make has an individual id created by our server so we know where the level is and who made it. So we can delete content remotely to prevent that. We have six languages and filters for bad language for all those six languages, which are huge. French, the bad language filter is huge.

So would you be banning those or just putting them in an over-18 tag?

FP: No, we delete them. You can’t write bad words in the game.

I’m sure it said “bastard” earlier.

FP: Yeah, but our game is 12+. Bastard fits into 12+.

When you try to write a cutscene with “shit” it gets deleted automatically. Not deleted – asterisks. And we have a very big list – like I was saying, the French list is huge. They have lots of bad words. So we have all those systems – a bad language system implemented. We moderate the content. Each level will have a unique ID so you cannot play online with a level that has not passed our system. So if we are quick and our users also help us flag all the levels, we will always have safe content for 12+. That was important for us. All of the design was important. Even the story and campaign next to this, not user friendly only being fun but also if you have parents and you want to show the game, it doens’t have any kind of dirty words. It could be even, “bastard” was something that in Portuguese is nothing offensive. The guys that translated it put it in there. And yeah, i think it’s the only, er…

It’s probably the worst word allowed…

FP: Yeah, it’s the worst word. We try to really [keep it appropriate]. You don’t have gore or limbs and heads chopping off. We don’t want… this is not the type of game for that. It’s a colourful game, a happy game.

While still slashing things…

FP: You are.

Aesgir, one of the Under Siege story characters

And then they just sort of fall over. *feeble sigh of death*

FP: Yeah, there’s not like, gushes of blood and all that.

In terms of publicising levels – you said you go into a web browser, so anyone on their PC can go into-?

FP: No. It’s only accessible by PlayStation 3. Maybe later we can implement the feature. We have our own website for the game. Or maybe you can look at it; I don’t know if that’s possible or not. We first focused on getting this [game] in the market and then we can add features maybe later for that. Things like maybe browsing the levels on a PC would be fun.

I think so. [As a level builder] you can get bloggers to link to it – you can build a whole community around “These are good levels”

FP: That was an idea but I think it was more work on top of more work so we just started seeing where we should stop.

We’re all very anxious to see what will happen, If there will be thousands of levels? Hundreds? Millions? I don’t think millions will happen that soon.

Is there a big RTS mapping community?

FP: On the PC there is. On the PC it’s strong and big and powerful. We’re not expecting a night-and-day change from RTS “Oh, now I’ll go to console and play” but what we expect is to create a new community for RTS-style maps and levels on the console. We have already in our forums guys who are saying “Oh, I’m definitely jumping because what’s happening on the PC is too complicated. It’s a pain to get the content out there for other people to try it. ”

So this way it’s streamlined and easy.

It’s all the in the game.

FP: Yeah, and I don’t know if you saw the logic system? It’s extremely complex – if you want to go there and do something really complex, you can. We’re hoping you will have maybe different levels of… different kinds of level like easy and simple ones, complex ones, different types of games like you were saying, maybe you can do an RPG. That would be cool. So we’ll see. I don’t know what will happen. That, I think, is also the fun of it – you don’t know what people will do with your stuff and I think that’s really interesting and exciting. It’s for us to just sit and see and play the games made with our engine from other users. I will definitely be at my home seeing what’s going on. Maybe even better levels than ours because as we progressed after the level editor was built we kept on improving everything. So there were some tools for the editor just popped up at the end of development – more complex tools. There are tools that we did not use to build anything in the game, so maybe other stuff will show up. That would be a good thing.

Under Siege will be released on the PlayStation Network soon for £11.99.