The lights are on
When we launched our magazine redesign last year, we kicked things off in an epic way with a gorgeous wraparound cover featuring Mickey Mouse holding a paintbrush and standing strong in a dark and twisted world. Junction Point's project, Epic Mickey, is just days from launch so if you're looking to get your fix to tide you over to release, check out our interview with Warren Spector. We talk digicomics, third-party Wii development, other cartoon franchises Spector would like to explore, and more.
At San Diego Comic-Con earlier this year, digicomics and a graphic novel for Epic Mickey were announced to provide additional backstory (penned by Marvel's Peter David). What you can do with this form of literature that games can’t do quite as well?
Games are really good about showing players what’s happening in front of their face. We can’t exactly cut away. Any time we cut to another location or what other characters are doing we get ourselves in trouble because we’re removing the player from center stage. The comics are parallel action — you can show what Oswald is doing while mickey is doing something else in another location. You can't do that in games. We don’t do very well at getting inside a character’s head, and we don’t want to, we want the player to be the space between Mickey’s ears. In a comic book we can have an internal monologue, we can say "here’s what mickey feels about this," "here’s what Oswald thinks about this," there’s just two of the examples. They’re completely different media. Peter David is a master of his medium and watching him work was unbelievable so we’re able to tell the same story in very different ways which is really cool. I’m just a total fan geek. He wrote the hulk for 10 years for crying out loud.
Typically the games that look most impressive from a graphical standpoint on Wii hardware are first-party titles. Epic Mickey, however, looks fantastic. What's your secret?
Disney’s all about quality and Walt, the man, was all about quality, nothing else mattered to him. I've modeled my life after two people: Walt Disney and David O. Selznick. I just hate settling so when we started this project I told the team many things, but one of them is someday we’re going to be at E3, there’s going to be 2500 games out there, and 2499 are going to be blue world, or gray world, or brown world this year, and I want people to look at our game and in five seconds know this is not like the other ones. And the other thing from a graphical standpoint is I want all the other developers out there, players especially, to say, "Holy cow I didn’t know you can do that on the Wii." All it takes is talent and being unwilling to settle. That hardware is more powerful than people give it credit for. You have to be clever, creative, talented, and be willing to put in the time and money to get it right.
You've obviously invested a lot of your time into this project. After a long work week, do you ever dream in cartoons?
I've been dreaming in cartoons since I was a baby. It's funny you should ask, I know when I'm getting to the end of a project – this is my 20th game — and every one of them, at one point you just start living in the game. You’re there at the office, 10 to 15 hours a day, six to seven days a week, and you’re so immersed in it that I know I'm getting to the end of the project when im dreaming in the perspective of the game. In first person games it's okay, and even when in third person you can live with it, but when I was doing Ultima games and I was looking at the world as this sort of 64 pixel-tall guy and that was my dream world that was just freaky.
Any other cartoons you'd like to explore for a future game?
I would really like to do a Duck Tales game. I love the Duck Tales TV show, but even more people who love them need to go back and rediscover Carl Barks, who is the greatest comic book writer and artist of all time, ever, anywhere in the world. Carl Barks is number one and about half of the Duck Tales stories were based on Carl Barks' comic books. I want to do a Duck Tales game real bad. I don’t know if Disney will let me do it. And the Gremlins, too.
I am glad someone as talented as him supports the wii. The wii really is fantastic (and i do own a ps3 and 360 but the wii is my favorite) and the good games that are on the wii is fantastic. I think most developers think they can get away with subpar graphical work because they can excuse their laziness on the schema that the wii just has bad graphics but nintendo suda 51 and a few others have proven the wii is capable of great graphics when the developer takes the time to really learn the technology.
its about time i get excited for a wii game
Gremlins game please. And any Duck Tales game must have a moon level. Thank you.
i havent been this excited for a Wii game since Brawl
It must be destiny. Earlier, me and my friend just randomly brought up DuckTales in our conversation because we were talking about the good old days. Suddenly, I go to GameInformer and this shows up in the headlines.
I wish we could get more talented people to do stuff for the Wii, it seems like the only real talent that has backed it up (third-party anyways) is the greats like Suda 51 and, obviously, Warren Spector. It's a shame really.
And I am really looking forward to Epic Mickey :)
Epic Mickey will be great along side of Donkey Kong Country Returns!
Can't wait for this, I notice the only third party developers that can work on the Wii are SEGA, Suda 51, and any Disney gaming developers that doesn't work on crappy Camp Rock, Hannah Montana, and Jonas crap. They can make both the graphics and the gameplay work perfectly for the Wii instead of just making awesome graphics but still being a boring game. I have all three systems plus the DS and PSP, but I've notice that I've been playing my Wii the most.
Ooooh, a new DuckTales game...that would be awesome.
And Gremlins need a true representation in the game world...it's been too long since we've had a game with either franchise.
this game does look really good and i hope he gets approved for a ducktales game cuz that would be way 2 awesome!
I think after Epic Mickey Disney will let you do whatever the hell you want. And the Duck Tales would be a great place to go, as long as you eventually make it to Chip and Dale: Rescue Rangers as well.
I just hope Disney Interactive keeps up the great, original games from their studios like Propaganda, Junction Point, Wideload and Black Rock. Seeing Pirates of the Caribbean: Armada of the Damned get canned was awful, and we know Disney was disappointed by Split/Second's performance (Fellow gamers - what the hell? That was the coolest racer of the year, by far). Guilty Party, despite being well reviewed, died at retail (thanks for not advertising it anywhere btw, Disney. What the eff commercials do you feed to children on Disney Channel and ABC/ABC Family anyways? ***). If Epic Mickey doesn't move...probably at least 800k units, it'll likely be considered a failure and then we're GUARANTEED to never get good games like those mentioned above ever again. They'll just turn into a cheap, licensed game factory again.
Disney needs to stick with games like these. They need to foster creative, talented studios like these. They need to get better at supporting them though, and leverage the rest of this giant company to advertise these games to the right audience (i.e. Propaganda and Black Rock's games get ads on ESPN, Junction Point and Wideload get ads on ABC Family and Disney Channel). Hell, advertising them well period would be a nice improvement - and I've seen ads for Mickey and Tron: Evolution, so that's encouraging. But seriously Disney, support these efforts. Listen to Warren Spector. Make a push into video games.
A good one.
And let Junction Point do Duck Tales! Or Quack Shot. Hell, let Avalanche in Salt Lake City do a non-licensed game for once; they're pretty talented too. They shouldn't ONLY be used when you need to make a movie tie-in game.