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Talking Infinity with Disney Interactive


It’s cliche, but “To Infinity and Beyond” is how I view the quality of Disney Infinity - the open-world, action / adventure game from Disney Interactive.  Whether or not you are playing the game with a Buzz Lightyear or Sully the Monster Figure, to play the game is to experience an almost limitless game world where you can play as various Disney / Pixar characters.

As opposed to previous Disney videogame titles, the quality is apparent in not only the gameplay, but also with the high-definition graphics and flawless character design and rendering.

But let’s put aside how I feel about the game for a moment.  From what I’ve seen with other people playing the game - and that includes gamers and non-gamers alike - I believe that the game is an enjoyable experience because, how I've previously stated about the true “Value” of the game, it's something that people of all ages can do ‘together’.

The game pulls from various Disney properties that we all know and love (Frozen, Tangled, Wreck-It Ralph, etc.), and the freedom that the game provides to players just sweetens the pot even more.

On the other hand, when it comes to what kind of future the game has, I reached out to Mr. Mathew Solie - Disney Infinity Producer and this is what he had to say:

"‘Disney Infinity’ is intended to be a platform for us to continue to add content based on new films and popular IPs for years to come.  The ‘Frozen’ Toy Box Pack featuring Anna and Elsa is a great example of the ‘Disney Infinity’ strategy coming to life."

To elaborate on this further, Solie commented on how Infinity differs from how previous Disney video games were developed:

"In the past, Disney might have developed a standalone video game for the movie characters, but by adding them to the ‘Disney Infinity’ platform, we were able to offer a new ‘Frozen’ video game experience to Disney fans, without asking them to purchase an entirely new video game."

So Infinity is not only about saving time and money for both the developers and the community supporting the game, it's also about providing an ever-growing platform for future titles to be included in.

Uh, cough-cough, Marvel, cough-cough, Star Wars.  Hey, I can dream.  Can't I?

But as I joke about these two massive properties that are now owned by Disney, Solie did provide a glimpse into just how important the ‘Community’ is when it comes to how characters and Play Sets are chosen to be developed into playable additions to the franchise:

"The beauty of ‘Disney Infinity’ is that everything is on the table and we really are relying on our fans to tell (us) what they want in future updates.  We read the message boards and comments, so please keep that up.  It does influence our choices."

More and more, developers are listening to the Community in order to tailor their games because (a) it enables them to make games that they know will sell and (b) it builds a devoted player base around the game before - during beta testing - and after the game is launched.

But even with their ears to proverbial rail in regards to tailoring the game to the demands of the Community, I asked Solie what is the deciding factor for developing different Disney properties into the franchise:

"When looking at the choice of making Toy Box figures or a full-fledged Play Set, a lot has to do with does it fit the overall game.  If you look at all the Play Sets (published to date) you’ll notice each brings different gameplay styles to the overall experience.  ‘Cars’ brought a racing element, ‘The Incredibles’ has that fun combat dynamic, and all of those elements are then unlockable within the Toy Box."

As with any game, to truly lead the player through the main story / campaign, developers present them with one mechanic at a time - like jumping.  So when the gamer runs up to an obstacle, the fact that they've learned how to 'jump' now enables them to get past that obstacle.

The same kind of dynamic applies with how Disney is releasing characters and Play Sets.  They provide characters that can walk, run, jump and attack, but then they provide environments, tools and toys that take those core mechanics and encourage the player to make the world of Infinity their own.

For example, playing as the Mickey Mouse Sorcerer's Apprentice, I can cast magical spells and either walk or run from place to place.  But after playing in the Toy Story and Cars Play Sets, I know how to drive cars in the game, as well as, use different tools, like the Buzz Lightyear jetpack to either fly anywhere or climb up to heights that I wouldn't otherwise be able to do.

Near the end of our discussion, I asked Solie to elaborate on creating worlds inside the Toy Box - the section of the game where any number of Disney characters can play together to create unique experiences and environments.  Having done some creating myself, I wondered about the lack of a ‘Snapping’ feature when it came to placing blocks of all sizes together in order to expand the landscape of the game:

"In the console version, we wanted to give the player as much flexibility as possible when building Toy Boxes.  We wanted to make sure we weren’t limiting the player in any way so they could make their best possible creation.  We have seen feedback where players have wanted this (Snapping) feature implemented, and we are listening to what the players want.  However, in the PC and iOS/Win 8 versions, we have implemented a Snap feature to make it easier to build, especially with the touch interfaces."

So as Solie mentioned earlier, the crew at Disney Interactive really is listening to the Community when it comes to the functionality of the game.  As for whether the Community is vocal enough to bring Thor, Spider-Man, Yoda and Darth Vader to the franchise, we will all just have to continue to make our voices heard so that one day we can use The Force to defend Asgard all while playing as Mike Wazowski from Monsters University. ;)

Disney Infinity is now available for current gen platforms, PC and iOS devices.

Thank you for reading.  And a special thank you to the great folks at Disney Interactive for taking the time to do this interview, as well as, for supplying all of the ‘concept-to-toy’ images!

Find Brooks on Twitter for more articles on the Interactive Entertainment and Personal Technology industries.
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About BPWeaverone of us since 1:09 PM on 11.26.2013

Brooks is a writer, gamer and overall creativity enthusiast. He's been gaming since the early 1980s when the Atari was cool and Bruce Springsteen was first called "The Boss".

When the original Nintendo was released, if he wasn't playing it at home he was at friend's house playing two-player games until dinner time - and sometimes even later. Throughout it all, he just loved to play great games.

Over the years he has enjoyed watching the evolution of the gaming industry. The NES, Super Nintendo, PlayStation, Xbox, Steam - the games have gotten bigger and more diverse, but they've always and will always be fantastic, creative representations of those that develop them.

Lately, Brooks has been writing more and more about the industry. Interviewing developers (indie to triple-A) from all over the world, he has even been featured by Ubisoft and Massive Entertainment for an article or two.

Right now, he's enjoying the games that are concluding the current generation of gaming while the next generation comes into focus.