Disney Interactive knew they had something on their hands when they were entering the toys-to-life category with Disney Infinity, but the results surprised even them. Whether it’s the amount of adults playing, the nearly even number of boys and girls, or the enormous response to the content creation Toy Box mode, Disney fans shocked the developers at Disney Interactive’s Avalanche Software.
And so, they decided to give back to those fans. With the first ever Toy Box Summit, select creators who have one submission competitions and been active in the community were brought to Salt Lake City, Utah for a weekend-long event. There, Toy Box experts from around the world got to meet in person for the first time, interact with each other and Avalanche team members, participate in panels – oh, and play with the new version of the game over a month before anyone else.
But before the competition where these top creators dove into the Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes (2.0 Edition) content and new Toy Box tools, two panels were held, letting Avalanche and Disney Interactive break down what’s new and what might be the most exciting parts of the September launch.
After a brief introduction by the Disney Infinity community manager, John Blackburn and John Vignocchi thanked the fans who attended as Toy Box Summit representatives for coming, as well as the fans watching the live stream.
There were 231 submissions from the group represented here. The Toy Box Artists come from all over the world, with at least four European countries represented as well as several from across the United States. A sizzle reel of Toy Box creations from the artists in attendance ran, showing their skills with the first version of the game. These artists will be the first to create Toy Boxes for Disney Infinity 2.0 Edition, and the creations they come up with over the weekend are going to be available at launch of the new game.
“The Toy Box mode is all about you becoming the Disney storyteller,” Vignocchi said. “Disney is all about making memories. When it comes to Disney Interactive, we’re all about making those memories at home.”
The development team was “surprised and humbled” by what people have come up with, and also by the community that has been built around Toy Box.
Over 500,000 Toy Boxes have been submitted, and 13 million downloaded.
The people playing Disney Infinity are Boys, Girls, and Adults – “It has become something for everyone.”
Disney Infinity 2.0 is coming September 23, 2014. The Marvel Superheroes are front-and-center in the launch. The Avengers, Spider-Man, and Guardians of the Galaxy playsets will come out, and new Disney characters as well. Donald Duck, Stitch (who had 3 times as many votes as any other character), Merida, Tinker Bell, Aladdin and Jasmine, and more will appear in the new version.
But the event was, of course, about the all-new Toy Box. “We took all of your feedback to heart,” said Vignocchi. They counted down the 10 most requested features.
Number 10 was “make it easier for me to build,” and the new procedural building will help people get a strong base. 9 was similar, “I want to save time when building” and there are several ways to do that. 8: Help me create real games. “We’ve added templates – we want to empower everyone to be game creators,” so the new templates will have all the rule sets ready-made. 7: Let me inside! Yes, there are interiors this time. 6: Let me save more toy boxes. “We were a little surprised that 100 wasn’t enough,” said Blackburn. They can now save 300 to your own system, and mark 100,000 as your cloud database.
Addressing #5, you can now share directly with friends, without having to have Disney approval of the creation. #4 was a request for more toys and vehicles, and there are both Disney and Marvel inspired ones coming. #3 was a request for more adventures, more structured gameplay. “We wanted to make it so that every character can participate inside games.” There are Toy Box Games that will be included with playsets, including a dungeon crawler and a tower defense game at launch.
#2 was a Toy Box starter pack with Disney characters – “We’ll have more details about that next week,” but there will be a Disney-based starter pack, centered around the Toy Box. Finally, #1 was simply to get fans out to Avalanche – a request honored over the weekend.
After showing the intro sequence to Disney Infinity 2.0, a panel was held with the Toy Box team, the people behind creating the characters, the Toy Box, and everything inside of it.
The first thing the team does when they’re introducing new characters is think how they can, simply, make the characters fun. Of course, with characters like Spider-Man who can websling and wallcrawl, they had to create completely new design elements.
For Disney characters like Donald Duck, they draw inspiration directly from classic films and shorts. Skill trees are being introduced in 2.0, and as you level up you can unlock new moves and skill sets. The characters from 1.0 will actually have new abilities as well.
To accurately create the elements, the art team goes frame-by-frame with Disney films. “We are super huge Disney geeks too!” They will constantly go back and forth while they’re creating new designs, set pieces, interiors, objects, and anything else that goes into the game. Similarly, they’ve worked with people like Brian Michael Bendis and Joe Quesada at Marvel to make sure the Marvel characters are accurate.
A character can take about a month to two months just to get a rough version into the game. The real, complete version is more like six months.
One of the new implementations in the game are Costume discs, which came right from Marvel. They allow several variations of the Marvel characters (and include boosts, as well). They’ll also be applied to some Disney characters, like a Sandy Claws costume for Jack Skellington in 2.0.
As for the future, the team teased Water-based playsets, namedropping Dori from Finding Nemo and Ariel from The Little Mermaid. They also teased Lucasfilm characters coming into the game, asking if fans would like an Indiana Jones playset, for example.
Five Toy Box Artists were hired by Avalanche as “Community Toy Box Team.” They’ll be making Toy Boxes and the earlier mentioned Toy Box games. They came to the Toy Box Summit to train players in the new features, the upgrades to 1.0 tools, and the all new “Creativi-toys.”
The “Game Changers” in 2.0 are things the Community Toy Box Team wants to make sure creators keep in mind when they’re starting a new Toy Box. “Flyers are your friends,” “To interior or not to interior, that is the question,” “Scalable, collision-free Barrier Blocks,” “Sky Changer,” “Platforming Toys and Rails get new theme options,” “Townspeople accept logic now,” “New Activations,” “Camera Angles,” “Items have new generation,” “Collectibles,” “Friend generators,” “Enemy generators;” basically, there are a lot of new features in the Toy Box creation.
There’s much more to come from the first Disney Infinity Toy Box Summit, with hands-on impressions, interviews, and more.