23 Nov 2017

LittleBigPlanet Community Corner - DebonaireToast

We return to Community Corner today with costume creator extraordinaire DebonaireToast in tow to chat about just what inspired her to dive into Create Mode and what drives her ongoing passion to create costumes for giveaways and to voice characters in LittleBigPlanet movies.

Hello! Before we get started, please do introduce yourself to everybody…

Hello! I’m the Toastess with the Mostess!

Well… Quite…
Thank you for joining us, DebonaireToast.

So let’s start things the way that we normally do!
How long have you been playing LittleBigPlanet?

A lady never tells her age, but uh... Since the original LittleBigPlanet.

Say no more! It’s crazy to think that some of us more “experienced” players began our journey on LittleBigPlanet over *coughs* years ago…

What are your favourite things about creating in LittleBigPlanet?

That anyone can find a way to be creative – any type of thinker can find a niche to work within. There are musicians, screenwriters, scenery designers, costume creators, sticker artists, mini-game makers, action and adventure creators, gadgeteers,  “game within a game within a game” creators, and even big-hearted softies that just wanna be encouraging to others through sharing kind words.

What inspired you to dive into Create Mode?

The costume selections  in the first LittleBigPlanet were limited, what can I say?
I was inspired by the whimsical style and just wanted to look unique. Beyond that, initially I wanted to recreate games or movie scenes that I liked from other kinds of games outside of LittleBigPlanet.

DebonaireToast's first costume giveaway featured some great custom costumes to wear.

Can you tell us a little about the first level that you created?

For some reason, I only cracked open Create Mode in earnest in LittleBigPlanet 2.
The first levels that I created were an Alice: Madness Returns platformer and a costume giveaway.

The costume level was first.  It started because I wanted a way to store old costumes when my Popit was full. I never realized how popular my costume creations would become though.

These costumes were created solely for me, and they had styles that I thought were kind of unrelatable to others. Eventually, I had LOTS of costume levels and so that’s what I became known for.

It’s the one area of creating that I can do all by myself. The playable levels that I design are all way out of my league with logic, so they take longer, and I have to rely on small teams of other creators to complete them.

That’s what I loved about the “Alice” platformer.
We got to build friendships while building the level.

The Chesire Cat here looks very different to how we remember him...

Do you have any favourite levels amongst your creations? What is it about them that you like?

My favourite level absolutely has to be “Whack-a-Zombie”, created in LittleBigPlanet 2. In that, the goal was to create a combination of a zombie costume give-way and a zombie themed mini-game.

I love that we were able to cram so much into one level! It was such a big deal for me, getting the music right, the introduction right, making sure people could get some zombie costumes that didn’t require any DLC to wear, along with the other zombie costumes.

My second favourite is my Haunted Mansion level set. Part 1 sets the scene, and there’s a “mausoleum” with costume prizes. There are also some costumed-character Sackbots, you can get their costumes too.

Part 2 has some costume Sackbots too, but it was mostly about the spooky house itself. If you look closely, you can see some game-cam shots of my real sketchbook drawings.

That level was such a big undertaking for me! Again, I had lots of help with both of these. The value of creating as a team cannot be understated.

Things go so much quicker, I learn about how to make things work, or we just have so much fun together that it makes things SEEM like they went faster! I truly appreciate the talent that other creators bring. I wouldn’t have a single level published if not for my co-creators.

We will not be held responsible for any itchiness, flakiness or general skin loss encountered whilst wearing these costumes.

So it’s fair to say that you’re perhaps best known for your costume creations but is there anything else that you like to create in LittleBigPlanet?

Well, I make sets, stickers, logos, realistic scenery. I’ve collaborated a bit with music creators too.

My favourite thing is voice acting. Something about bringing voice to a character and setting the right tone to a scripted line just really appeals to my sense of the dramatic.

While I get stage fright in real life, being able to do retakes and deliver lines in my own living room in my PJ’s makes everything OK.

There was one time when I think the only lines that I was given were screams though. That one I was worried my neighbours would call the cops.

Give me a good villain, an absurdist comedic role, or just background narrator… I love it. Voice acting is the best.

Heading outside of Create Mode for a moment, do you have a favourite level type that you particularly enjoy playing in LittleBigPlanet?

Of course, I’m partial to the visual-heavy exploring platformers, and the social “hang out” levels because they inspire my creations.

I like realism and how certain creators can bend the rules of what seems possible to make the sack-stuffs and various DLC kits into what LOOKS almost like reality.

The levels that I replay though, the ones that really get me going?
Mini-games and pinball. For some reason, I am all over that “Bloody Zombie Massacre” stuff by SolidNInja2020. Levels that really feel competitive for high scores, but you can also play co-op with friends or Dive-Ins are my favourites.

Do you draw many inspirations from outside LittleBigPlanet when creating your own levels?

LittleBigPlanet is an escapist dream for me, so... in some ways, I create what I wish the world were like.

For instance, I LOVE WATER PARKS! Pools, water slides, everything designed around moving water around or swimming in it. So much so, the imagery invades my dreams and things get wild, fast.

Some of the first levels that I published were water parks. LittleBigPlanet has such fun water physics, I wish more creators would play with that. Some day, I hope I’ll make a new water park in LittleBigPlanet 3. Keeping fingers crossed for any interested co-creators to collaborate with!

In other ways, I am very glad LittleBigPlanet is often NOT realistic because I like to get lost in the absurdity. I’m inspired by that too.

This Haunted Mansion would be rather cosy, if it just wasn't... Well... You know... Haunted...

Are there any special creators or levels that have inspired you to create that you would like to talk about?

There was a time in 2011 when I was very discouraged about the LittleBigPlanet community in general. I saw a lot of very negativity, mean-spirited reviews and some creators that would publish levels to attack another player for reasons that never seemed clear.

I wondered “Why are kids so mean, when the game is a blank slate? They could create whatever they want, and they choose to be really profoundly negative. What if they didn’t? Why do kids think it is cool to be hateful? What would make them think it is cool to be nicer?”

Then by chance, I played some levels by CSGEERIV. I was looking for other “steampunk” fans. After playing some awesomely crafted hangouts, I noticed that he had a “Motivational Brass Statue Garden” level. I was really curious!

Sounds interesting! Can you tell us a little more about this Motivational Brass Statue Garden that inspired you?

The garden was so beautifully crafted. He made Sackboy-inspired statues that represented ideas he wanted to convey. He asked questions like I did. He gave encouragement too, it was about always believing in oneself.

Keep creating despite the critics. Don’t be mean, be kind and help one another.

It was all very simple, I thought... But I found myself with actual tears in my eyes.
FINALLY, I found a creator who understood this “blank slate” and “mindfulness” thing!

I was just so floored. He just nailed everything that I wanted to see change in LittleBigPlanet. I sent him a Friend Request and told all my closest LittleBigPlanet buddies that I had a big idea.

In short, his level was the inspiration to start “Greenskeepers”.  My thought was to create a copyable, motivational treehouse that would be non-DLC so that everyone could make their own inspirational hangout and just chill with their friends.

The centerpiece of the Brass Garden is a great symbol of working together to build a beautiful world.

Sounds like Greenskeepers was a massive undertaking but quite the passion project for you! Can you tell us a bit more about it?

I honestly don’t know that the team shared my vision, and the team itself did not last for more than a week or two, which is about how long it took to make the copyable level. The team ended up putting their frustrations into it instead of the encouragement that I was talking about.

When they released the level, they dissolved the team and left me to sort out by myself. It was kind of a mess. From there on, I learned to not let others take charge of projects that I conceived because something important is lost when people don’t share the same vision.

That’s not to say that I regret it, aside from the way it started, I’ve never been more satisfied with how a project in-game or in real life turned out. I wanted to spread mindfulness philosophy, in a way that would be easily understood by all, kids OR adults.

The GreenChat levels that followed were where I crossed the line between in-game and reality the most, and I loved what I was able to do through the Greenskeepers project. I was able to get kids and their parents talking together about the topics that I brought up, and it was a real character-building exercise for all of us.

Are you a creative person outside of LittleBigPlanet? What do you create outside of the game?

Always have been! Mostly I am a photographer, but I also am a traditional artist, graphic designer, and I’m crafty as heck.

I also dabble in theatre and modelling for local artists for paintings and costumey stuff. A lot of my art involves groups of people.

Creating for me is OFTEN very social, so LittleBigPlanet really appeals to me!

Do you have any upcoming levels or projects that wish to share with us now?

Yes! I’ve been collaborating with Rangers-1 for a long time now, as voice actor, costume designer, logo and set designer… Well… Sometimes! He’s very good at sets on his own!

We’ve got a project that’s in very early stages of development, based on The Addams Family!

I love all things “spoopy”, any time of year, so I HAD to make the costumes of my all-time favourite TV family. We got together and decided there had to be a little big movie.

There’s also his upcoming “Fables” project on which I have voiced a character and designed most the costumes, along with the continuation of his “Batman: Justice League” where I get to voice my favourite comic book character, Catwoman.

You have to admire the brave painter that stuck around and continued to paint this very scared Sackgirl... Most would have just run away from the scary thing!

Do you have any LittleBigPlanet community members that you would like us to chat to in a future Community Corner interview or have any questions that you have always wanted to ask your favourite creators? Just let us know on Twitter @LittleBigPlanet or message us on Facebook!