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Disney Infinity designers – possibility of Captain EO figure, best-selling characters, lots more

Posted on March 1, 2016 by (@NE_Brian) in News, Wii U

Today, GamesBeat published a new interview with Disney Infinity vice president of production John Vignocchi and Avalanche Software founder John Blackburn about the toys-to-life game. There were a bunch of topics discussed, including the possibility of a Captain EO (Michael Jackson film shown at Disney theme parks) figure, the best-selling characters, why a 4.0 release isn’t happening this year, and more.

We’ve picked out some excerpts from the interview below. You can find a ton more on GamesBeat here.

On us seeing more figures representing older, more classic movies or properties…

Vignocchi: You definitely will. There’s obviously the Peter Pan figure, which we’ll get into in a future version of Disney Infinity Next. But inside this particular inaugural episode we’re doing, toward the end we’ll reveal that in support of Jon Favreau’s new live action version of The Jungle Book, prior to the release of the film, we’ll be releasing a classic animated version of Baloo. That will be compatible with Disney Infinity 3.0 and our Toybox mode. We’ll go into the development of that character, show some of his special moves, just some of the overall thoughts the development team had behind bringing this classic animated character to Disney Infinity.

If you’ve been involved in our community or know everything that’s happening around it, you know that we have huge fans of classic Disney animation. Going with this particular strategy of celebrating the release of the film, but kind of hyping it with a classic animated character, was the right strategy to appease our fans. And at the same time we’re able to draft off this great new film coming out.

On who decides what character become figures, Play Sets, etc…

Vignocchi: It’s a combination of people. It’s a combination of the properties, the stakeholders, characters and content that they’re excited about and want to put out there and support in different ways. It’s reactions to things that fans are asking for. On behalf of the product development team, it’s what characters are the most fun to play in the game. It’s a mix of all that. There’s probably 10 of us that sit in a room and argue about every three months over what new characters are coming.

The joke now is that I’ve wanted Darkwing Duck for so long. “I’d rather see Darkwing Duck than that character!” One day I’ll get him. The team is what makes a decision about what characters are added, but certainly we take input from our partners in theatrical and TV animation and parks and resorts. Across the entire company, everyone comes together.

It’s been a lot different. Now we take way more meetings with people coming to us saying, we’re working on a new film and we’d love these new characters to be in Disney Infinity. Before, we’d go to the different property holders and ask as politely as we could if we could integrate their properties into Disney Infinity. It’s become a thing.

On whether we’ll see more content from theme parks…

Blackburn: We’ve worked a lot of with the team at the parks to figure out what the best way to do that would be. We’ve had some set pieces from the Toybox. We’ve talked about which characters might make the most sense. The real thought, just right now, is that yes, we’re always looking for opportunities there. As far as what we’re talking about today, we’re not announcing any of that stuff. But we’re working with those guys on some stuff for the future.

On Captain EO…

Blackburn: That one’s a challenge for all the approvals. A lot of times, when we’re working on these things, the stakeholders have rights as to whether or not we can do things and we need to make sure we’re happy with what we do. It happens that Captain EO is the most complicated one that we’ll ever run into.

Vignocchi: I’m working on it! It’s like, George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, [Francis Ford] Coppola, and then the Jackson estate. We’ll make it there one day.

On why there isn’t a new Disney Infinity this year…

Blackburn: There are multiple reasons, but I think the biggest one that’s easy to understand is, we have all the major improvements to the software and big gameplay mechanics for the engine — those were all put in as we added Marvel and then the Lucas properties over the course of the years.

Each one of those, we were adding so much stuff, both in the Toybox and the gameplay engine. We felt like it all warranted new releases. Now what we’re doing is leveraging a lot of those things and focusing primarily on the new content that’s going to be coming, as opposed to these huge new gameplay mechanics.

On which figures have sold the best…

Blackburn: We’ve got an ongoing joke here. It’s green dudes. Mike Wazowski was the best-selling on Infinity 1, Hulk on Infinity 2, and now Yoda on Infinity 3.

On another fan vote to pick a character…

Blackburn: We loved that. It’s a great way to interact with the community, giving them a voice. We had a lot of fun doing it. They took the vote very seriously. So absolutely.

On whether we’ll still see improvements like ones made to combat and driving last year…

Blackburn: Absolutely. As we look at this — there will be a time when there’s going to be big new upgrades we want to do, and we’ll want to drop those in a large new release. But right now we felt like the content that was coming out in 2016 really lent itself toward us doing some upgrades to current systems, like the combat system we’ve put into Marvel Battlegrounds. It wasn’t a new system, but we tweaked all the moves to work for a brawler-style gameplay mechanic, as opposed to a brand new combat system like all the juggling and stuff we did last year.

I do think that there will be those things in the future. We’re still eyeing what targets those will be. But for right now, in the content we release this next year, we felt like we could leverage the stuff we already put in the engine.

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