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E3 revealed how serious Disney Interactive is getting about social gaming

E3 revealed how serious Disney Interactive is getting about social gaming

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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.


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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 casual gaming.


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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.


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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."


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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.


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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.


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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.


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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.


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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.


Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

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


Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

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'.

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