Hey all! I thought I'd write an in-depth post about how each main Console I created came to be.
GameExpo Classic & GameWave Classic (2011)
So, first of all, we have the GameExpo Classic - or, as it was then known, the GameExpo. I remember working on the last update for the JukeBox XI with robbit10 at some point in 2011. The JukeBox XI is a music player, with a revolutionary Cartridge structure that continues to be the foundation for Cartridge structures today, such as in the MusicPlayer v1.2 and the NeXT v2.5.1. There were two different forms of Cartridge - a Music Cartridge (self-explanatory) and a Software Cartridge. This allowed for any logic to be activated - something which would make a return with Quadratum.
It was during development of this update when I proposed an alternative Cartridge type - a Game Cartridge. This Cartridge wouldn't allow mutliple games, just one, and would activate a retractable screen from behind the JukeBox XI. It would rotate anti-clockwise into place, to the right of the JukeBox XI's control panel. I imagined it being made out of the Neon border, with a purple rim. The Game Cartridge itself wouldn't have a microchip like the other Cartridges, but instead, a Controlinator. For better or for worse, robbit10 rejected the idea. But I wasn't finished with it. I wanted to show her what she was missing. So, I begun experimenting!
For some reason, at first, I strayed from the idea completely, and started creating boxes with SackBots inside. This was completely ripped-off the idea of Cube World, of which I had loads of as a kid and loved. Players would have to look after them, play with them, etc. The big 'wow' factor was that, if you put two of them next to eachother, they'd be able to interact. Theoretically they'd be able to go into eachother's box and communicate, etc. Alas, my logic experience at the time was no where near advanced enough, and I instead very quickly created the original GameExpo Alpha.
To prove to robbit10 that the concept could work, I created both a Music and a Game Cartridge for GameExpo. I never intended to do anything with GameExpo - it was merely a proposition to robbit10 to hopefully convince her to put my original concept into JukeBox XI, which was fairly popular at the time. Robbit10 again rejected the idea for the JukeBox XI, but helped with the GameExpo by creating an intro/outro tune. Because the GameExpo was intended as a concept for a future revision to JukeBox XI and used similar logic, we agreed that the Music Cartridge would not be released publicly. I did, however, put Next and Previous controls on the OG console for personal usage of these Cartridges (again, I didn't think it would take off).
So, on June 25, 2011, I published the GameExpo. I advertised it as a way to download and play games offline, just in case there was another PlayStation Network outage like there was earlier that year. It didn't take off immediately, but I was pretty proud of it. I would frequently work on it, releasing little updates etc. Me, lionfish-swarm29, Mariofan24 and Chunky104 would come together to try to make seasonal skins for the console, which resulted in the Halloween and Christmas skins, which were actually created about the same time. After the LittleBigPlanet 2 Move Pack DLC, I even created a version of the GameExpo with Movinators instead of Controlinators, and called it the GameWave. The GameWave wasn't as successful, but it was a nice addition to the GameExpo family - at that point re-branded to 'GameMake'.
I remember some time around 2011, robbit10 was creating a 'hang-out' level in LittleBigPlanet 2. I saw there was an arcade section, and thought that this'd be the perfect opportunity to finally utilise the GameExpo in a level! However, the logic took up too much of the thermo, so I created a 'GameExpo Arcade'. It removed most of the logic, but had three games built-in, and a menu! She thought that it was too clunky and out of place, which - to be fair - it was. So, I created a revised, smaller, one-game version. She rejected it yet again though - which was a blow to me at the time (though looking back, was definitely the right decision). Surprisingly, though never released, both of these versions still exist within the T-Games Legacy Archives! Empty shells of these consoles are also on display in the level series Tremors, during Episode 5.
GameExpo II, GameWave II & SoundWave II (2011)
It was when I had just finished working on a new Download Play feature for GameExpo (then titled 'GameExchange') that ZeusInTraining would join me to propose a new update to the console, refreshing the visuals. He got out from his Popit what would essentially remain unchanged to become GameExpo II v1.0. Needless to say, I loved the new design, and thought that this, along with the new Download Play feature, would be a perfect excuse for a GameExpo II. So that's exactly what happened.
I released GameExpo II (and GameWave II) on November 9, 2011 - the same day that the aforementioned Christmas Skins for GameExpo would be released. It was on this day that I also started referring to the original GameExpo as 'GameExpo Classic' to avoid confusion between the console and the line, and to point out that the original console was now outdated.
I absolutely loved GameExpo II. For a long while, it was my favourite LittleBigPlanet console. In hindsight, the screen was the weakest part. GameExpo II claimed to be backwards compatible with GameExpo Classic games but any of those games that used the rear section of the screen wouldn't be visible on the GameExpo II due to the fact that the screen was in the thick layer. This was done because I was annoyed at how the GameExpo Classic's screen would clip into the thin layer of levels when you placed it down, but it resuted in what I believe to be an inferior screen. Also - why wasn't it black? Why did I settle on dark grey? Not even a black sticker? I guess I'll never know.
One little artefact that did make it through to GameExpo II was the 'Next' option. Again, I made private Music Cartridges, but this was still useless for Games. However - GameExpo II would eventually bring with it the PowerPoint Cartridge! This would essentially work like Image Files on the NeXT or Photo Apps on the Quadratum. This officially meant that GameExpo II was my first publicly released Media console, though I would never advertise or regard it as such. If I recall correctly, I wanted to announce upcoming T-Games projects on these PowerPoint Cartridges and release them every once in a while, but I never did.
Speaking of the private Music Cartridges - you may note that just a 'Next' option is very limited for such a Cartridge - so I created the 'SoundWave II'. At that point, there was no 'SoundWave' - I'd just named it 'II' to match the GameExpo II. It wasn't going to be publicly released, anyway. It featued basic controls: Next, Previous and Shuffle.
GameExpo II also recieved what would perhaps be called a 'Pro' version today - the GameExpo II Clear. This version was created out of glass, featured new start-up and shut-down jingles, and was ever so slightly faster at booting up a Cartridge. That was the extent of this edition, but it proved popular until it was discontinued.
Another cool feature that GameExpo II has but remains unused, was the fact that the Sidebar (where all the user controls are located) can self-destruct independently from the Console. This ability was added in update v1.5.1, and then later slightly adjusted in v1.8.1. I did this because I saw that many people were customizing their GameExpo IIs with stickers, materials, etc., and I thought - how annoying must it be that I'm releasing these updates? Now these custom consoles are outdated. I felt bad that people would have to either: 1) attempt to re-create their custom designs for every update 2) remain outdated, or 3) ditch their custom design completely just to be up-to-date. So this Sidebar feature would hopefully minimise the damage dealt by upgrading - allowing owners of custom consoles to keep the main body of their designs. It would be an automatic process: a new side panel would be placed by the user, the old one would delete itself, and the new one would slot into place on the GameExpo II. All the User would have to do was then glue it to the Console. It worked! I believe it may still work. But it went un-used because it didn't do anything for updates that would tweak parts of the console not on the sidebar - such as the Cartridge slot, or the screen. Then again, there were only four more updates to GameExpo II after v1.8.1 and only one actually edited items outside of the Sidebar, so I have no idea why it went unused.
After GameExpo II's discontinuation at some point in 2012, it returned on August 21, 2012 as 'GameExpo II Lite'. Because the screen only used the thin layer I thought - what's the point in having any thick layer at all? So I flattened a GameExpo II down. It was horrendous. You could not place it in an ordinary level if your back-most layer was thin, as it would clip right through and expose the background. This struggle was, actually, intended. It was my plan to drive people away from GameExpo to focus on my newer projects...
Quadratum & Quadratum Musica (2012)
Robbit10 saw how people loved the GameExpo II, and wanted to collaborate on a Media console that would combine the likes of the JukeBox XI and the GameExpo II. The irony wasn't lost on me that robbit10 was proposing that the JukeBox XI merge with an item was originally created as a proposed feature to the JukeBox XI (that she rejected), but I accepted the offer anyway.
We really wanted the console to have a cool name. I don't remember any other names that we proposed, but I remember proposing 'Quadratum Natus', which means 'Square Eyes' in Latin - a myth which claims that if you watch too much TV you'll get 'square eyes' - thus inferring that people wouldn't be able to 'look away' from the console. We agreed that the name was clunky and decided to ditch the 'Natus', resulting in 'Quadratum' - or 'Square'. 'Square' isn't as cool on its own, I don't really know what could be inferred from that. 'Quadratum' sounds pretty cool, though...
Quadratum was released on March 1, 2012, and was the first console to publicly support both Music and Games, as well as Photos, Cutscenes and 'Other'. The Cutscene App I always thought was a bit odd - I never saw any use for it. If people really wanted a camera, they could put it in the 'Other' App, but alas - robbit10 insisted, so it stayed.
It was the plan that we would both release it on our Earths, but she never did. In fact, after I released the Quadratum, she had little input at all. She refused for the Quadratum to be a T-Games collaboration, but after release, only T-Games members were working on it. lionfish-swarm29, Mariofan24 and Chunky104 would return to create skins, I created Quadratum Musica by myself, and Crusher1007 would start on the infamous v1.5 update. Robbit10 was totally unco-operative, and I had had enough with her and the Console. The v1.4 update (the 'Music update') was the point that I started to get frustrated with the system. I wanted to add 'Play Styles', but the way the console had been created didn't really allow for that. I remember I had to do a lot of work to get it to work, as well as support older Cartridges. The System was a mish-mash of mine and robbit10's logic styles, and I hated it. This update was the only time after launch that I met with robbit10 to show her the Quadratum Musica, which would release along side the Music Update. I can't remember the feedback, but I remember the meeting was brief.
Eventually, due to robbit10's lack of input or interest, I branded the Quadratum as T-Games and as 'adopted by GameEx'. In reality it was more like 'stolen by GameEx', but at that point I didn't care.
It was a struggle for me and Crusher1007 to be online at the same time, so development on v1.5 was slow, and considering how much I started despising the Console - I immediately cancelled all development on it. It would later be released with the unfinished features removed but, in the mean time, I started work on NeXT.
NeXT & NeXT MP3 (2012)
I don't remember how the conversation went, but I remember talking with ZeusInTraining on Steam about wanting to create a new media Console. At this point, we referred to it as the GameExpo III. We were talking about potential revolutionary new features, which was when we came up with 'Preview Mode'. This mode is infamous now for its lack of developer support, but at the time, for me and Zeus, it appeared to be revolutionary. The problem with Quadratum is that Cartridges could contain all of these Apps, but the User would have no way to know what other Apps are on the Console without activating them - and, if in Play Mode, having to somehow wire up the Controlinator to the 'Next' option. Preview mode was to be the solution for that: a Menu system - a File Explorer - for the contents of NeXT Folders. Without actually activating each file, users could cycle through the contents of the Folder with the left stick, and select which file to play with the X button.
As stated, though, developers hated Preview Mode and rarely actually used it. Upon release, Folders would immediately launch into Preview mode, but in v1.3 it was pushed to the side. Folders would launch into Play mode, and Preview Mode would only be accessible if the User held down all of the shoulder and trigger buttons for three seconds... like anyone in their right mind would actually do that. It would later be completely removed in v2.1. I still maintain that Preview Mode was good in concept but not in practice.
Anyway, once me and Zeus came up with that concept, I got myself, lionfish-swarm29, Chunky104 and Mariofan24 in a level together and challenged each of us to come up with a new console design. Eventually lionfish-swarm29's design was chosen (although extremely modified) to become the original NeXT.
I then used this design to inspire the look of the NeXT MP3 - which was literally a Quadratum Musica with the tags edited to be compatible with NeXT. Efficient! The NeXT MP3 would later be re-named to NeXT Audio as I thought it sounded prettier.
Looking back, those original Consoles were ugly. How didn't I notice that the screen wasn't symmetrical? I don't know. But the v1.4 update that changed the design was definitely the best choice for the console.
The NeXT has stood the test of time amazingly well. I have never struggled to impliment new features into NeXT, unlike with Quadratum where every update seemed to be a wrestle with the logic. To this day it remains a breeze to develop for. And for an eight year old Console with a relatively small screen (albeit with twenty-five updates since launch), it still holds up well to modern LittleBigPlanet consoles - and remains compatible with the original Folders released for the Console back in 2012.
NeXT Ubique & NeXT Shadow (2012)
Some point after the NeXT's launch I met with robbit10. She was increasingly inactive on LittleBigPlanet, but had also begun to work on her own system. I do not recall if the system had a name, but it was a strip of four controllinators, which would emit games without the need of a screen - allowing for games the size of levels.
Holy moly, I thought. This is the future. I need to get on this. So I got the NeXT MP3's engine, a NeXT Folder, modified the tags, added Controllinators and made the NeXT Ubique. That's right, the NeXT Ubique is essentially a glorified Quadratum Musica.
Continuing my love for the use of Latin - 'Ubique' means 'Everywhere' - and not 'unique', like most people thought it did - though this is almost definitely my own fault because I would say 'Ubique is Unique' quite a lot. I think I remember the name 'NeXT Infinity' being a contender? Something like that. I'm pretty sure I didn't go through with it because I didn't want people to think that this new NeXT was superior to the OG NeXT - just an alternative.
I never gave the NeXT Ubique much attention myself (my baby was always the OG NeXT), but I know the community loved it, so I would release updates once in a while.
Furthermore, towards the end of 2011, SP_Sour released the NeXBOX. It was essentially an uber-lightweight NeXT. I loved this concept, and asked him if I could release an official lighteight NeXT to which he agreed. Thus, the NeXT Shadow was born.
There isn't much more to it other than that. It's a NeXT with 90% of the features ripped out, and given away as shareable so that users could modify it as they pleased. Eventually I re-named it to be the NeXT S, as I thought that 'S' was more descriptive of its simplified nature than 'Shadow'. The thought behind the naming of 'Shadow' was that the console was merely a 'shadow' of the original. It kinda works, tbf.
Both the NeXT Ubique and the NeXT Shadow were released together on November 9, 2012 (the first anniversary of GameExpo II).
GameExpo III (2013)
Even though I had created (and was still actively working on) what I thought to be a much more superior console - the NeXT - people were still asking for a GameExpo III. I don't really know why - nostalgia, I guess? I guess maybe people thought that I could just come up with a new revolutionary idea whenever I wanted to, and release a new console (as if I wouldn't immediately add that feature to the NeXT).
I wanted GameExpo to be in the past, but it was clear that the community didn't want that, so what did I do?
I got a GameExpo II v2.0 (not a v2.1 because that had Quadratum logic in it, and we know how much I hated that), I got a NeXT v1.6, and I copied and pasted NeXT logic onto the GameExpo II board. Easy, I thought.
I released an Alpha, and then a Beta, to which I realsied that some of the NeXT logic was compeltely unchanged (and therefore incompatible) and immediately rectified it. Then I waited for GameExpo's anniversary that year to release it. People were initially hyped for GameExpo III, but eventually unimpressed when they realised what the console actually was. A watered down NeXT compatible with GameExpo cartridges. Nevertheless, it proved to be the most adopted GameExpo and several games were released for it.
It was during 2013 that Kowan was starting to get on my nerves. He had copied the NeXT and created the 'LittleBigConsole', and was continuing to pirate T-Games property. So, when he came out with Jukebox, I decided to hit back with SoundWave.
I got the orignal SoundWave II from 2011, and gave it a make-over and compatibility with the GameExpo III (take that, robbit10! GameExpo kinda had Music Cartridges now!) and released it. It was perfect, because it looked very similar to the Jukebox - even though it was actually based on the original SoundWave II design from almost 2 years prior. Like the Jukebox, it was missing the Shuffle option. So, when Kowan added it to the Jukebox, I added it to the SoundWave. I also tried rubbing it in his face by releasing six different varients.
Kowan then made a complaint to me. Yes, he made a complaint to me because the SoundWave was too similar to the JukeBox. 'Now you know what it feels like', I thought. I politely reasoned with him that 'oh, it's just a coincidence', and continued releasing the SoundWave.
Eventually, SoundWave was discontinued in February 2014 to clear up level space for the upcoming individual NeXT Audio and NeXT Ubique levels that I would publish. This meant that there was now to be a big space in the NeXT Hub, and it wasn't going to be wasted..
NeXT Basic (2014)
I'd noticed that people were intimidated by the complexity of the NeXT, which is why many were gravitating towards the GameExpo III. As a result, I created NeXT Basic. Heavily inspired by the GameExpo II design, and using new dedicated Folders (also inspired by the GameExpo II design), I released NeXT Basic.
It was fine, I suppose, but it didn't really serve much of a purpose. I was beginning to make the OG NeXT more user-friendly anyway, and the NeXT S was already light-weight and stripped-down in terms of advanced features. Plus, the Folder slot was an awkward size when it came to playing the games on other NeXT devices.
I recently discontinued the console in LittleBigPlanet 3 for this reason, though it remains available in the LittleBigPlanet 2 hub.
MusicPlayer (2014, 2019)
After the NeXT Basic, my love for consoles started to die down. In June of 2014 I began experimenting with level design (which would later result in Traffic Panic!), before becoming inactive on LittleBigPlanet. My excitement came back when LittleBigPlanet 3 was announced.
I remember drawing sketches for what would be a brand-new console endeavor in LittleBigPlanet. An open-source engine, like Android, that anyone could use and modify for their own consoles - but all games would be compatible! Revolutionary, I thought. I future proofed this engine so much, and worked tirelessly on pen and paper until the game was released. I remember making a version of MusicPlayer in the LittleBigPlanet 3 beta with a display for the current track.
Eventually, MusicPlayer, what was to be the first of these open-sourced consoles, was released on December 24th, 2014. It was the first console in LittleBigPlanet 3. It was subsequently re-issued on December 28th, 2014 due to a PlayStation Network outage that diminished the initial exposure of the console.
The player proved to be successful, but the key to the open-sourced engine relied in its tag system. After releasing what would be the MediaPlayer, I was going to publicly release how this tag system worked. However, I began working on the console's engine even more - not wanting to release the open-source engine publicly until I was sure that no more core updates would need to be done.
This update process eventually turned into a collaboration with BicoastalClock, who helped transform MusicPlayer completely. We would meet up every once in a while and collaborate on the console in bursts at a time. Eventually, in late 2018, it was looking like we would soon be able to release the v1.2 update. Funnily enough, before the release of v1.2, we had already completed v1.3. We felt that v1.2 was more user-friendly, though, so we wanted to release that first in the hopes of gaining a Team Pick - before then releasing the more advanced v1.3.
The thing was, the 'Play Next' feature on v1.3 required a lot of complex logic in the MusicPlayer Cartridge - and we didn't want users to have to update all of their v1.2 Cartridges. So, we wanted to get the logic on v1.3 perfected before we released v1.2, so that the Cartridges that released with v1.2 would be compatible with v1.3. Comprende?
MusicPlayer v1.2 was released on January 9th, 2019, and has since become the mot popular console in LittleBigPlanet history. It remains the only Team Picked console - something that would have seemed impossible to Console fans back in 2012. In fact, I remember begging StevenI to check out the NeXT in hopes that it would get Team Picked.
It released alongside the MusicStore, which was a massive feat of collaboration in itself. We got 10 community members to submit Playlists to the store - some with exclusive content - as well as some soundtracks to Trixel Creative projects themselves - and we even managed to get StevenI to submit his favourite LBP tracks for a Playlist! How crazy is that?? We also got Mark Hall - another developer for LittleBigPlanet 3 (and collaborator for Return to Carnivalia) to submit his favourite tracks for a Playlist also!
Because of all the modifications to the engine, it would now prove tricky to release the open-source version as originally planned. The compatibility is there though, so we'll see.
The Continuation (2020+)
I don't see myself creating a new leading Console in LittleBigPlanet 3 any time soon. I see MusicPlayer as complete, and development on NeXT has somewhat continued, bringing it into the new decade, slowly. I created three main updates for NeXT in December of 2018 (v2.3, v2.4 and v2.5), but only managed to release the first two before focussing solely on MusicPlayer's re-launch in January 2019 and then shooting off to America without my PS4 for 6 months. It wasn't until last month (April 2020) that I managed to finalise v2.5 and release it. At this point in time, I have further released a v2.5r2 and v2.5.1, as well as a new 'NeXT King' skin celebrating the 9th anniversary of T-Games. This means that NeXT has now been supported for almost 8 years - the longest for any LittleBigPlanet console. I'm still looking into releasing Quadratum Ludio and the GameExpo Play!, but we'll have to see.
And with that, I bring this article to a close. I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I did writing it!