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Music Adaptation in Little Big Planet

Posted by wbarobinson

Earlier this summer, my partner was charged by her professor to creatively represent an analysis of the sonata form. Jokingly, I recommended that she create a video game, whose virtual space would metaphorically reflect her analysis of Mozart’s Sonata 13.

Time goes by, I begin my research on Little Big Planet and forget about her project until she complains to me that she has yet to produce anything and the deadline is in 4 days. It was then that I said we should make the video game using the Creator tool in LBP. I explained that I had gone through the tutorials and that I could build it with her, while admitting that I had no idea how long it would take. Our adventure involved late nights, transporting the PS3 to another zip code, attempting to attach it to a 40 year old CRT screen, and eventually inviting the TA to come over to my mother’s house to play our creation in her basement.

In total, it took about 7 hours with the tool, not including time spent learning how to use it, transporting it, play testing it, and explaining what we were doing while her family watched in excitement and confusion.

Months have gone by and while I was once proud of the calibre of the work, now I see a mess. The world’s best amateur LBP levels designers do not forgo the use of 66% of the available planes, they do not allow players to accidentally break their levels, they do however use lighting, decoration, and intrigue. Of course, our level was not your standard level, but with the standard 150 more hours of work, it could make an impression.

If you want to play the level, you can search for Sonata 13 by DangerRobinson on LBP. In it you will find none of the music from Sonata 13, save for the last three notes which play just as you walk to the score screen. Those features of the music which you will find are its ascents, descents, explosions, uplifts, rewards and more technical terms which come with colour coding.

Be warned, the level is rife with music theory, none of which I understand. It does not explain the gameplay decisions made, those are meant to be interpreted with the score at hand. If there is a lesson, it is perhaps that games have potential to produce adaptations of more media than simply film and television. While there have been some music games (see Vib-Ribbon), I have yet to hear of much else in terms of spacial gameplay representations of audio, but I certainly hope to see much more.