My countdown of my own personal picks of 2008's best continues with perhaps the most adorable game of the year at number nine.
9. LittleBigPlanet (PS3)
When I interviewed Media Molecule for the Official PlayStation magazine earlier this year, I asked whether they envisaged a time when a game could be released on console that relied solely on user-generated content. It seemed a reasonable question given how impressive LittleBigPlanet's editing suite appeared and how little we knew at the time about the levels the developers themselves had designed for the final game.
Here's how they answered:
"This is an intriguing notion and it might not be too far off. Of course, it's hard to make a good game 'engine' without making content for it at the same time. You need to be continually verifying that the engine empowers the creators in the way that you imagine. And then the content that is made changes your design decisions for the game engine. So this forms a really important cyclical process. But there's no strong reason why the creators in this cycle couldn't be users rather than developers. Perhaps the distinction between users and developers will become a little less rigid. Hopefully LBP will explore this question further as it evolves over time."
In retrospect, having now played the released game and sampled many user-created levels, the necessity of Media Molecule's own content is clear. Without it, LBP would be a curious experiment in potential. Realistically, it's still early days for the community - after all, it takes years for the very best PC mods to come out - and there's no reason to think the user-created content has peaked in terms of either quality or quantity. LittleBigPlanet is an excellent platformer in its own right. While its creation tools are far too complex for the majority of players to ever design something worthwhile to share, it's in the way the dedicated few have done the most unexpected things that reveals the game's true potential.