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Disney Interactive has embraced the social gaming concept in
a big way, and they were eager to show off their newest games at E3 this
week. Following the success of Gardens
of Time, a Facebook game from their Playdom studio that beat out Cityville last
year as Facebook's Most Popular Game of 2011, they stepped up the
Disneyfication with Disney's Animal Kingdom Explorers, a very similarly-played
game of garden/zoo-building and finding hidden objects while cooperating with
other players in community.
Copyright Disney Enterprises,
Inc. All rights reserved
The Disney Difference in AKE is that if you look at scenes
in the game, like the Harambe train station, they are actual scenes from
Disney's Animal Kingdom Theme Park in Florida.
The developers hope that this makes a stronger tie to the world of
Disney and attracts Disney fans on Facebook to try their hand at a little
An all-original title is the successful "Where's My Water?"
an addictive, physics-based game that enables users to divert water so that the
original character Swampy can take a shower. The game, developed by Creature
Feep for Disney Mobile, is playable on iPad, iPod, Android and Facebook, and
encompasses over 200 levels of play.
I had a chance to speak to one of the developers for
Creature Feep, Jason Pecho (rhymes with echo) says that they wanted to
brainstorm an original mobile game, and came up with this water physics
game. They wanted to make it as
accessible as possible (including adding symbols to pieces that were simply
colored, so that people who were color-blind could differentiate between
them). "We try to play test with as many
different people as possible. It's
impossible to take everybody into account, but we do the best we can."
Doing the best they can includes not making a re-skinning
(adapting a game to fit a character or story) just a reskinning. When they were asked to create a version that
would feature Phineas and Ferb's Perry the Platypus, instead of simply giving
Swampy a beak, they went into the infrastructure of the game code and created a
new dimension to the game: temperature. Where Swampy's version features
physics, with Perry's version the water can freeze or melt as well. Changing the states of water in the game
makes the use of Perry's gadgets more believable.
I asked if he'd noticed a change in the demographics of
gamers since he started developing games in college. He most definitely had -
even his parents play games on their iPad - the pool of gamers, he noted, is
really starting to grow, and casual/mobile gaming is a huge part of that. "Our goal is to make quality games that
people will enjoy." He explained.
Temple Run wasn't an original Disney game - the popular iPad
game utilizes touchscreen technology to make a "nonstop runner" - the main
character runs from angry temple monkeys.
Disney approached them to add Merida, the main character in Pixar's
"Brave," to the mix, and once again, Disney plussed the project. Working with the original code, they added in
several other touches to help Merida as she attempts to escape from an angry
bear - including archery, explains developer Aric McGhee.
One thing that differentiates Disney's social games from the
majority of the others is the lack of exclusive content to people who pay cash
for items in the game. A player can "grind" to earn different rewards - in
Temple Run: "Brave" it's coins to buy upgrades such as invisibility or even
invincibility; in Animal Kingdom it's expansions for your zoo. If you don't spend money, you can get the
exact same things as people who do - there's no "velvet rope" in these games.
Fix It Felix, Jr, is the hero of an upcoming game that I
tried out on an iPad at the Disney Interactive booth. An intrepid repairman fixes windows in a
building while Wreck-it Ralph, the villain, throws bricks at him, as mallards
fly precariously near. This, of course,
is the game featured in the upcoming film Wreck-it Ralph, described as "Roger Rabbit
for the video game generation." From the preview we saw at the booth,
I'd say that's a very good description.
Speaking of which, the
Fix-It Felix, Jr. arcade cabinet at the Disney Interactive booth had a sign
taped over the screen:
ATTENTION GAMERS AND COLLECTORS
We are looking for any working version of the classic Fix-it
Felix, Jr. arcade game.
Only 105 cabinets were produced in 1982.
Please contact us at FelixArcade@disneyanimation.com if you
have any information
Before you go tearing apart your garage or hunting down pawn
shops and abandoned arcades, think about the circumstances surrounding this particular
notice. That's all I'm sayin'.