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Disney Epic Mickey 2 – A Game for Everyone, to the Power of Two

Warren Spector's Avatar + Posted by Warren Spector on Nov 20, 2012 // Creative Director, Disney Interactive/Junction Point Studios

In November 2010, Disney Interactive released Disney Epic Mickey, a game my studio created featuring Mickey Mouse in his first videogame appearance after many years away from the interactive screen. The opportunity to work with a character as well-known as Mickey would have been incentive enough for us, but Disney offered us something else – the chance to bring Walt Disney’s first cartoon star, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, back to the world after 80-some years.

The Junction Point team jumped at this chance to play a part in Disney’s history, creating a world and a story that honored the past while resolutely looking toward the future. We started by creating a world called Wasteland, repository for all of Disney’s forgotten creative efforts — characters cut from films, rides retired from theme parks, toys and licensed ephemera from years gone by — and then dropped Oswald there, as the first forgotten character. We had Mickey Mouse, one of the most decidedly UN-forgotten characters in our world inadvertently create a disaster and a monster that imperiled Wasteland. We trapped Mickey in Wasteland and charged him with saving the world and redeeming his “brother,” Oswald.

How, you ask, does any of this look toward the future? What I’ve just described seems like a simple, classic narrative set in a dark, but exclusively, nostalgic world…

Well, the “future” part comes, first, from the medium Junction Point works in, video games, then from the goals we set for ourselves and finally in the approach we took to achieve those goals.

Video games are, without question, in my mind, the medium of this century in much the same way movies were the art form that defined the last. Walt Disney was always at the bleeding edge of innovation in his day, adopting sound, color, stereo, robotics, television and more before most of his peers and competitors saw their potential. In bringing Disney’s creations to games, we felt a part of his constant striving to adapt to changing times. In that alone, we at Junction Point felt we were pretty forward-looking. But we knew we had to go further, as Disney himself surely would have.

Disney's Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two for PS3Disney's Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two for PS3

Our game had to offer players something other games didn’t, couldn’t or wouldn’t – something entirely new. For us, that something was Paint and Thinner. More precisely, we wanted to use those things – Paint, to allow Mickey/the player to draw and create things in the game world, and Thinner, to allow Mickey/the player to erase and remove things from the world. All game challenges would be solvable through creation or destruction, and the choice would be the player’s, always.

This idea, that players would get to decide how to interact with the game world, how to solve game problems, has been making inroads in video games for years now, but never in the context of Platforming or Action-Adventure games, and Disney Epic Mickey games fall squarely in those genres. For lovers of these game styles, the opportunity to decide how to achieve their goals, how to deal with enemies, how to define the word “hero” for themselves through their minute-to-minute playstyle choices would, we hoped, be pretty revolutionary. In a sense, by dynamically changing the world, each player could tell his or her own story.

But even beyond that, beyond the genre mash-ups and game mechanics, the Junction Point team set itself a goal that would really set us apart from the pack in the world of games: Rather than targeting a specific audience (“core gamers” or “teen boys” or “tween girls” or “adult non-gamers” or anything like that), we wanted to make a game with the same sort of broad appeal as Disney and Pixar classic films. In other words, we wanted to make Disney Epic Mickey something we grandiosely called “a game for everyone.”

There’s some evidence that we did just that. Look at who played the first Disney Epic Mickey game and you see an audience that’s about half over 18 and half under 18, and split about evenly between males and females. Pretty cool, but here we are, two years later, releasing Disney Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two, and the obvious question is, how do you top that? How do you follow up a game for everyone? Well, read on…

Disney's Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two for PS3

Obviously, we wanted to learn from our experience on the first game.

  • Players told us they wished the camera system had been better. And while I’ll defend to the death the camera team’s work, we knew we could do better. For the new game, we made a ton of code changes to the camera system and even constructed levels differently to be more camera-friendly.
  • We gave every character a voice in DEM2 – a far cry from the first game, where none of the characters spoke. And just think about this: A video game has given voice to characters like Oswald, Gus the Gremlin and more who never had voices before. A video game designed to honor Disney’s past has forever changed Disney’s future!
  • We made sure that every choice you make as you play DEM2 really matters. Many choices are irreversible and even the ones you can reverse require effort on your part to undo. Your play style really matters this time around, even more than it did before.

In addition to learning from our experience on the first game, we had to offer players something new – several “somethings,” actually.

We started with the obvious stuff – new lands and levels to explore, and some new forgotten characters. We crafted an all-new story that had some serious meat on its bones. In Disney Epic Mickey, we didn’t settle for “save the kidnapped princess” or “kill the monster to save the world.” We created a story framework that asked players to think about how important family and friends were to them and we asked them to answer that question, to define heroism, for themselves through their actions. In Disney Epic Mickey 2, we built a story around a different question – is everyone redeemable or is there evil in the world so profound it’s beyond redemption? We did this by bringing back the Mad Doctor, a villain in the first game, but now claiming he wants to help save Wasteland from new danger. Do you believe him…?

We made the surprisingly controversial call to use songs to communicate critical story elements and to allow characters to reveal their emotions. That’s pretty standard in theater, on film and, recently, on television, but it’s pretty radical in games – and with our traditional, non-interactive approach, we’re not taking too many chances this time around. (Keep your eyes open for some serious interactive musical comedy craziness in the future! I have wacky plans…)

Disney's Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two for PS3Disney's Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two for PS3

But there are two new things in DEM2 that really raise the bar over the first game.

First, we added Oswald AI, so instead of just being a character you see in cinematic story moments, everybody’s new (or soon to be) favorite Disney rabbit is there with Mickey – with the player – every step of the way. And the really cool thing is that, at any point, a second player – a friend or family member- can pick up a controller and take control of Oswald. Co-op play puts you in control of Oswald’s helicopter ears… his detachable “boomarmarang” and his electrical remote control. Working together in 2-player mode, Mickey and Oswald can go places and do and collect things that aren’t possible in single player. And two players negotiating to tell a story together is a unique experience, I’ll tell you!

Finally, where the first Disney Epic Mickey game was available on only one platform (which we won’t name here!), DEM2 is available to PlayStation 3 fans. All of the game’s assets – character models, maps, textures, visual effects, and so on – were created specifically for HD and (I’m prejudiced!) I think the game looks terrific on PS3. And while we support the DualShock 3, the PlayStation Move controller offers PS3 owners an “exclusive” on the combination of HD graphics and gestural controls. And on top of that, when we had the hosts of ABC Television’s Good Morning America try the PS3 game on the air before the game launched, they discovered a new play mode with the Move even the team didn’t think of – a four player mode, with one player handling Mickey’s movement and a second handling Paint/Thinner use, while two other players split movement and abilities for Oswald! That was awesome – the ultimate expression of players creating their own experiences, telling their own stories through play.

That’s what Disney Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two is all about. Each and every player tells his or her own story, crafts his or her own unique experience, does what he or she thinks is fun and cool and appropriate when faced with challenges the Junction Point team set up. Games are – or should be – about you showing how clever and creative you are, not how clever and creative we are at Junction Point. So what are you waiting for? Get creative. Start playing! And be sure to grab a friend or enlist a family member – Mickey and Oswald are better together than they are alone, and you will be too!

note: Warren will be online soon to leave comments replies

//Add Your Own

37 Comments

1

+ Megadrixfire_24 on November 20th, 2012 at 2:29 pm said:

Cool! update the store NOW.


2

+ supvic on November 20th, 2012 at 2:31 pm said:

Early updates are non-existent now. Ever since the new PSN store was introduced (which is the worst thing that’s ever happened to PSN) the store updates SO late now. Revert to the old store, for all our sakes.


3

+ Betorro on November 20th, 2012 at 2:32 pm said:

UPDATE THE STORE ALREADY!!!


4

+ MaKTaiL on November 20th, 2012 at 2:34 pm said:

Good. Now UPDATE THE STORE!


5

+ blinkstar17 on November 20th, 2012 at 2:34 pm said:

The new store is very unreliable. This is the second late update week. At this rate I won’t be playing Hitman, Persona, Sine Mora and the 2nd Borderlands DLC until tomorrow. Not much use for same day digital releases if they don’t get pushed until late evening. I honestly don’t understand why Tuesday updates can’t happen at midnight when there’s an entire week to prepare.


6

+ LordMaim on November 20th, 2012 at 2:38 pm said:

I don’t mind later updates, but the new design is not very intuitive and makes it much harder to navigate.


7

+ Firecrest on November 20th, 2012 at 2:39 pm said:

^ Glad the community never fails to stay on topic. But I digress…

I was cautiously optimistic for Epic Mickey 2 after being let down by the first game. The omission of online co-op from EM2 was a bit disappointing, but I was able to overlook that. Now, with all the negative reviews pouring in, it seems like I probably won’t be picking this up anytime soon.


8

+ fester420 on November 20th, 2012 at 2:39 pm said:

I need my Walking Dead fix, Ps All-stars is fun but I can only play one game for so long


9

+ thedarkluis on November 20th, 2012 at 2:43 pm said:

hey is their any thanks giving sale this week on psn cause i already own some of the games from the 9bundle thing


10

+ Inuboykendo1000 on November 20th, 2012 at 2:43 pm said:

I’ll be getting the game eventually when it comes down in price, based on what reviews say.


11

+ Alxpowrs on November 20th, 2012 at 2:49 pm said:

Great!. Now update the store please TT.TT


12

+ mikeyvittelli on November 20th, 2012 at 2:50 pm said:

Thats great. NOW UPDATE THE STORE.


13

+ LordMaim on November 20th, 2012 at 2:51 pm said:

@7: If there was an Official Store Redesign Feedback thread, I’d comment on that.


14

+ Betorro on November 20th, 2012 at 2:53 pm said:

oh nice… NOW UPDATE THE STORE.


15

+ Motherboop on November 20th, 2012 at 2:54 pm said:

Epic Mickey 2 would have likely been accepted with arms wide open by the Playstation community if we would have had a chance to play the first game. It’s beyond me why an hd version was never brought to PS3, as it would have been the “killer app” for Playstation Move.


16

+ holicek on November 20th, 2012 at 3:03 pm said:

New store design is TRASH.


17

+ BlooodyCow on November 20th, 2012 at 3:05 pm said:

This game should have just been DLC for the Wii version. this game fail in so many areas compare to the first game. Levels are smaller, less content, horrible story, etc….To me, playing the demo, this feels more like a $60 add-on for the original game. There was so much that could have been improve from the first game, but instead everyone dipped in quality.


18

+ XxDG3K_ALL_DAYxX on November 20th, 2012 at 3:08 pm said:

GUYS THE STORE IS ALREADY UPDATED GO SEARCH IT.


19

+ Ryumoau on November 20th, 2012 at 3:08 pm said:

Tried the demo of this game and wasn’t impressed.


20

+ BlooodyCow on November 20th, 2012 at 3:09 pm said:

this game is a perfect example on how not to make a squeal.


21

+ Megadrixfire_24 on November 20th, 2012 at 3:10 pm said:

Thanks @18.


22

+ PhillyTheCat on November 20th, 2012 at 3:15 pm said:

I went to watch the video and a GTA V video played instead….that was very funny.
This game looks cool…I mean come on guys, its Mickey!
Y’all are being brutal with these ratings lol


23

+ XxDG3K_ALL_DAYxX on November 20th, 2012 at 3:16 pm said:

No problem ^_^ @21


24

+ plaztiksyke on November 20th, 2012 at 3:20 pm said:

I *really* liked the demo — the lighting and art were just awesome. Also, the Move controls were pretty great — very much like The Unfinished Swan.

That being said, I really don’t like coming into a series without playing the previous game. When will the first Epic Mickey come to PS3?


25

+ Darth_Raww on November 20th, 2012 at 3:31 pm said:

Why no word on a PS3/Move version of the first game? It would’ve made an AMAZING pre-order incentive or bundle exclusive to the PS3.


26

+ angelspawn77 on November 20th, 2012 at 3:32 pm said:

Cool, cool, now update the store please!!!!!!!


27

+ oo7PorscheMGS on November 20th, 2012 at 3:44 pm said:

Just wanted to say THANKS to Warren Spector and your team + disney for bringing Mickey to gaming, no game is perfect but Mickey Mouse sure is perfect in the eyes of my nephews.. and maybe mine too ;) So I’ll definitely pick this up for my nephews sometime. Hope you guys continue to improve on the game and keep Mickey alive in gaming… I love the 2D levels too, more stuff like that would be nice for future games or DLC packs / mini level packs.. especially because 2D is a little easier for the younger kids, I think that would sell the best… Thanks again.


28

+ Sarges24 on November 20th, 2012 at 5:25 pm said:

I’m mixed… the original looked incredible. still sad it’s not on PS3. I was excited to see EM2 announced for PS3 but the more I watch the less interested I’ve become. Please bring us [OR] Epic Mickey. I’ll wait till there’s a deal on the sequel. it doesn’t look nearly as captivating or interesting as the original. Complaints aside, it is great to see the game on PS3 at least.


29

+ Neil on November 20th, 2012 at 6:40 pm said:

Great dev post from Warren Spector.


30

+ tusunami on November 20th, 2012 at 6:54 pm said:

Seems like a great co-op game, must investigate further.


31

+ saskamazon on November 20th, 2012 at 9:31 pm said:

thanks for the love & devotion poured into the wonderful world of Mickey ! my son has played the demo 4x now … it’s on his Christmas wishlist & he is in hopeful anticipation …. we own the original Epic Mickey as well, & in spite of some camera angle issues – great game …. really looking fwd to playing this with him …. sure wish reviewers would see the magic …

what an amazing release week !


32

+ Elvick_ on November 20th, 2012 at 11:24 pm said:

Still annoyed there wasn’t a remaster of the first game.


33

+ Radim_cz_eu on November 21st, 2012 at 7:04 am said:

Warren … what the hell ? You are a living legend – after briliant games like Ultima, Wing Commander, System Shock, Thief or Deus Ex – now you are doing this ? For real ? Mickey for kids ? No offense – but you are wasting your talent man. Can’t believe that …


34

+ Elvick_ on November 21st, 2012 at 7:36 am said:

@33: Take your hateraid and flush it. Mickey is boss.


35

+ destruction1983 on November 21st, 2012 at 11:26 am said:

looks better than the first one =D


36

+ megatronbrzl on November 22nd, 2012 at 2:49 am said:

punk


37

+ KILLABCLAY on November 25th, 2012 at 2:00 pm said:

Keep getting error every time I try to confirm purchase WTF


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