So word on the street is that there are people in the industry that watch my videos. I’m still pretty skeptical of this claim but since I seem to do a decent job of representing the gaming audience, at least compared to mainstream games media, I thought would use this as a chance to bridge the gap between the content producers, that’s you, and the audience that gives you money to feed your family.
And while I don’t like boasting, I think I need to make the point to anyone in the industry, that I physically represented a passionate, driven section of your audience because the gaming media is keeping you isolated from them. I even got bomb threats because I was willing to speak up. So yeah, I’m that serious about it. I would do it again too.
With all that out of the way, welcome to the Action Points broadcast channel. And in this first episode I’m pitching you ideas to improve the Disney Infinity series.
I guess you can say it’s a “Working Concept”
Hey Disney Interactive. Good job with the release of Disney Infinity 3.0. You guys had a ridiculously short turn around but got most of the job done. You’re doing some delayed release content with the Marvel Battlegrounds play set which is a really smart move. It works well for your series and helps avoid consumer fatigue. I highly suggest you guys do this for as long as you can until you need to implement new functionality that the current game engine doesn’t support.
You wouldn’t want to end up like Ubisoft with a new Assassin’s Creed every year. It just becomes meaningless. I know it sounds like a profitable idea but it’s much smarter if you focus on spacing out the title releases with additional content developed like expansion packs of the old days. Otherwise your audience is more likely to get tired of your titles. Parents are already aware of the cost that comes with the toys-to-life game model.
And while 3.0 feels more like a game with the emphasis on combat, farming, sidekicks and the use of “forward-flight vehicles” that can do aerial maneuvers this may be a little too late. You guys have been reporting repeated losses and only recently begun to see profit after shifting your focus from console games to mobile.
You’re going to start feeling the squeeze of LEGO Dimensions and while Disney does own a lot of impressive intellectual properties you cannot compete with LEGO. LEGO can be everything and anything it seems. Disney isn’t everything, unless you guys buy LEGO. You guys aren’t planning to buy LEGO are you? Besides the market has become saturated with toys-to-life products given that Skylanders has been at this a while and Nintendo is now killing with their amiibos.
So what’s a billion dollar global corporation to do with its game division when faced with such strong competition?
Make a better game. Do it better than your competition can.
And lucky you guys, I’m going to tell you how.
A lot of the recent Disney Infinity games have relied on recent films with a trickling of classic characters. If you want Disney Infinity to sell stop doing that. I know this might seem like a good idea to advertise the new films, but there’s no existing audience interest that draws them into the financial investment that Infinity can be.
In fact, let me just show you this to make my point.
If you’re determined to keep this strategy just maintain these cross promotions as characters but don’t get your hopes up.
Start making playsets based on older films and intellectual properties. There is lots of stuff to work with and people are already familiar with these characters and films. More importantly to you, the people who would be genuinely interested in these older properties have the income to buy all the stuff you want to sell. Most likely they even have children that they will want to share this with.
According to Capcom, DuckTales :Remastered “over performed” which I’m pretty sure means it was profitable for you guys. Then again Disney XD is going to reboot the series so I’m sure you already know the value of DuckTales. So while I previously discouraged it, this is one of the times it works well with your goals of using Infinity to cross promote.
First playset follows Scrooge McDuck, Launchpad McQuack and other characters on an adventure through Duckburg. Plenty of source material to pull from and past Infinity games have tried to offer up a city for the players to explore, so make sure Duckburg feels like a living city to really involve the player. As for non-playable characters you can use as mission givers and to progress the story you’ve got Huey, Dewey and Louie, Duckworth, Missus Beakley, Webbigail and even Gyro Gearloose.
Scrooge could bounce on his cane like we’ve seen him do in past games but as a sort of super jump and swing it for melee combat.
The setting for another playset could be Saint Canard. For those not familiar with that name, that’s the fictional city that Darkwing Duck protects. Darkwing has been a favorite in fan polls and I know for a fact that there are people on the development side that have been pulling for Darkwing as a playable character. In Saint Canard the player fights crime and the agents of F.O.W.L. as either Darkwing Duck or Launchpad McQuack, but as you noticed Launchpad was in the DuckTales playset that would mean he’s a starting crossover character. No need to stop there, designers could also implement Gizmo Duck, who appeared in both series and even Donald Duck who easily fits into both. Encourage the player to use their other figures without a need for unlocking them to play. There’s plenty of side characters to use as mission givers but there’s also the peacekeeping organization SHUSH that Darkwing worked with in the show.
Just don’t forget to add in Darkwing’s jet, the Thunderquack! It could easily use the forward flight mechanics that the Star Wars fighters use.
As for how Darkwing plays, he used martial arts in the show that would easily lend itself to combos and melee attacks. His gas gun fits well as a ranged attack that perhaps stuns or confuses enemies. If he were to have any super powers that past characters had, he would likely have an athletic jump and a sort of Spider sense to alert him.
Think about that, how great would it be to run through Duckburg as Darkwing Duck and fight off the Beagle Boys or outwit someone like Crackerjack as Scrooge in some sort of awesome pogo stick battle.
These ideas are just the tip of the iceberg and there’s so much that can be done to break the mold for what players have come to expect of Disney Infinity.
How about another Playset though? It sounds like you guys are looking to make Mabel Pines a playable character so I highly recommend making Dipper playable and let the player explore all of Gravity Falls. Piece together clues from the journals, get missions from Grunkle Stan and Ford, Wendy, Soos and any of the other townies. Make sure you have models for all the towns people though otherwise Gravity Falls just won’t feel the same if it’s under populated and missing some of those familiar faces.
These three playsets all have a distinctive city feeling; Duckburg feels like Northern California, St. Canard like New York and a Gravity Falls a sleepy Pacific Northwest town.
It seems Gravity Falls will be ending soon and if there’s any plans to preserve Hirsch’s vision for the series, it may be better to just stop at making Mabel and Dipper playable characters. I’ve suggested Darkwing Duck though and it’s long been over, so it’s really a call on whether it feels like a revisit or inappropriate extension.
For these playsets or any based on your well known films and intellectual properties, a good way to determine which work best is to consider which ones have fitting source material that can be made into an engaging game and then size it up by its level of popularity.
Another point worth mentioning is that if you do market to this older audience you now have a player base that will have an easier time tackling the logic toys in the Toy Box. The toy box creators in your competitions were typically older anyway. Though you guys should make an effort to really streamline the Toy Box. You have the path creator which is better than the marching orders but there’s still more to do like perfecting scalable toys so you can implement selection bounding boxes and other levels of nuanced user functionality. If you don’t want to implement comprehensive creativi-toy tutorials, making the settings menus clearer and easier to understand will allow end user to have a much quicker time working with them.
The easier your tools are to create game modes with the more user generated content you’ll have to create replayability. Which means less work on your developers. So think of it is an investment by budgeting more development time to improve on those tools.
On the matter of characters, I highly suggest you guys expand the move sets for older characters from Infinity 1.0 and 2.0. When you compare a Toy Story character, who can only do a shoulder charge and throw the Pixar ball to the more recent characters who have special attacks, combos and abilities it makes the old characters feel really uneven. Buzz Lightyear and Syndrome are two characters would benefit from an update since they can be made flying characters. Who knows, doing that may create value in those characters and you can second edition figures that work the same but perhaps have a different pose that collectors might like.
If all else fails you guys can mine your classic Disney films for playsets and go the route I think you’re already planning to, and add Kingdom Hearts to Disney Infinity. People found the unlockable Keyblade in 3.0. If the inclusion of Star Wars items in Disney Infinity 1.0 and 2.0 are any indication, Kingdom Hearts shouldn’t be far behind.
The classic films are a stockpile of good will and memories for the audience and having Sora as the ultimate, starting play set cross over character will combine your Kingdom Hearts audience with the stalwart Disney fans. You already have a limited edition Kingdom Hearts costume for the Mickey figure, so just go ahead and make one for Donald and add in Goofy and give him his stylish Kingdom Hearts outfit. If anything, please just add Goofy.
Anyway… I think there’s enough here to at least occupy your water cooler discussions or give you designers a chuckle.
Until next time.
DISCLOSURE: I previously worked at Disney Interactive as a tester. The views and opinions expressed in this video are not representative of Disney or any other individuals but myself.
Working out ideas for the next Disney Infinity game.
‘DuckTales’ Reboot Coming to Disney XD in 2017