We've hired four people from the LBP community" reveals Alex Evans, co-founder of UK studio Media Molecule and creator of LittleBigPlanet. Including one lucky soul who dodged death to get a job on LBP2.
Enter John Beech, or 'johnee' to his PSN friends. Two years ago John was a builder with absolutely no qualifications to speak of. But now? He's a full time designer at Media Molecule working on LittleBigPlanet 2, one of the most anticipated titles on PlayStation 3. This is his story.
It's quite interesting really," begins John. "I used to be a builder, just a construction worker. And then LittleBigPlanet came out." John Beech is 27 years old.
By his own admission he'll try everything once - including randomly asking Media Molecule for a job - just for the hell of it. Oh and he's got a talent for designing LittleBigPlanet levels.
It would be this hobby that changed his life forever. "I've always been a gamer and I'd been really looking forward to LittleBigPlanet coming out. I managed to get a copy for myself and started making levels in my free time."
LITTLE BIG ACCIDENTS
John began creating levels. Things evolved quickly. He had a talent for it and a gift for manipulating LBP's tools in innovative ways - when and if he could find the time between a demanding job and a stubborn girlfriend.
"My girlfriend wasn't a particularly big fan of LBP" says John, "I was only allowed to play it a couple of hours a day if I was lucky - and I had to put a quilt over my head and the TV so she could go to sleep!"
John continued to create, but LittleBigPlanet remained a hobby project - until a life-changing incident at work inspired him to pursue something a little more, ahem, concrete.
"So I created a few things, and that was fine but then I had a particularly bad day at work. I got trapped in a trench that collapsed on me - it nearly killed me!"
John had been working on a factory extension. After noticing that a small area of a foundation had collapsed, he jumped down to fix it up.
"We'd dug some fittings for the foundations. It's actually like two trenches that were two and a half metres deep, but barely wider than my shoulders, and when you're in them, you're in them - you can't reach the top.
We were having the concrete delivered that morning to fill them up, and when we'd got there a tiny part of it had collapsed and fallen in, so I jumped in to get it out because the concrete was arriving in half an hour.
"The guys that used to work with me were like 'don't do it John.' I was like, 'Nah it's alright. I'll be fine.' So I was digging it away and then suddenly one entire half of the trench instantly collapsed.
I managed to jump as it happened, but it pinned me down and the concrete wall it was supporting slipped and hit me straight in the back. By all rights it would have chopped me in half, if it wasn't for a tiny alcove about the size of my waist that I somehow managed to slip into.
Immediately everyone came running out of the factory and ten minutes later it took about 20 people to get me out, with everyone pushing pulling and straining.
As I was being pulled out into the ambulance I still managed to scream, 'cancel the concrete.' So yeah, I was lucky. The paramedics were amazed I survived."
Bizarrely enough, only a couple of nights before, John had mustered up the courage to start publishing some of his latest LittleBigPlanet creations.
He came home from the hospital that day, after one of the most intense experiences of his life, to find that hundreds of people had been checking out his work. The verdict was unanimous: John's levels were more intricate, more innovative, more fun, than any other levels in the LBP universe.