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Exploring Infinity 3.0’s Toy Box Game-Changers

by Jeff Cork on May 14, 2015 at 09:00 AM

We’ve been rolling out a ton of Disney Infinity 3.0 features since our cover reveal, and they’ve focused on the Star Wars playsets, the people who design the characters, and more. The playsets are certainly a big part of the Disney Infinity series – especially when you have Star Wars in your corner – but they’re not the only thing it has to offer. In addition a pair of new Toy Box games, Toy Box Takeover and Speedway, the Toy Box itself is getting some big new features, refinements, and even a whole new way of playing. We spoke to some of the expert creators at Avalanche Software to learn more about what’s ahead in 3.0.

Avalanche Software had a community in mind from the very start of Disney Infinity. Building in the free-form Toy Box is fun in itself, but without the ability to share creations with the rest of the world, the mode would have fizzled out long ago. Fortunately, players have been able to upload their own Toy Boxes and download those that other players have shared. 

Avalanche discovered that creative players were coming up with things that the studio hadn’t considered. With Disney Infinity 2.0, the developers decided to hire some of Infinity’s top creators and bring them into their Salt Lake City offices. There, they generate weekly creations, experiment with the tools, and give the development team suggestions on what these builders would like to see in the future.

During our Avalanche visit, we got to see what’s new in the Toy Box. We also picked the brains of some of these Toy Box masters to learn how some of the new tools and features will make life easier for novice builders and experts alike.

A New Harvest
As we highlighted in our cover story, farming is the most obvious addition to Disney Infinity 3.0’s Toy Box. Avalanche has been refining the fighting and driving systems, but they don’t want the game to be simply about those two facets. With 3.0, the studio introduces more content for the so-called nurturing players, who may not want to smack faces around all day long.

The farming system lets players cultivate and harvest crops, either solo or with the help of one of many sidekick buddies. In addition to making life more efficient, there’s a reason the buddies are linked to this activity: They eat food. Feed your companion a freshly picked tomato, an ear of corn, or even one of Pumba’s grubs (?!?), and your sidekick gains experience in one of several areas. That means the sidekicks become better helpers, as well as stronger companions in the new Toy Box Takeover dungeon-crawler game.

Toy Machine
Disney Infinity constantly gives players new sidekicks, enemies, track pieces, landscaping items, logic toys, blocks, and more Toy Box accoutrements. It’s a great incentive to keep playing, but it also can be overwhelming. When you’re bombarded with new building pieces and elements, it can be tough to appreciate what you have and what’s cool about what you just unlocked. The new Dispenser toy has been designed to address just that predicament.

This new device – similar to an oversized gumball machine – is loaded with toy-filled capsules. Stand on its button, and a capsule pops out, containing a random Toy Box item that you’ve already unlocked. When you chuck it onto the ground, its contents are revealed. Perhaps you’ll get something from Infinity 1.0 that you’ve long forgotten about. Or maybe it’s a vehicle that you never drove. Every new Toy Box world starts out with one of these dispensers in it, to encourage players to check it out. This is a clever way to breathe new life into existing content.


This is the new Toy Box hub, which teaches players the fundamentals of building, platforming, driving, and more

Charting Your Course
Farming and the dispenser are exciting additions to the game, but they’re not designed for players who spend hours crafting levels and intricately designed worlds in the Toy Box. The new path tool, on the other hand, is exactly that. It allows creators to add entirely new gameplay to their Toy Boxes, and add in elements and effects that were only previously possible through the use of kludgy workarounds.

The concept is simple: Players draw a path, dot by dot, in their world. As each dot is added, the path attaches to those behind it. When it’s finished, creators can use it as an A.I. path. It sounds simple (and conceptually it is), but it has some big implications for the series. Players can use it to create actual paths for A.I. drivers to navigate, or to create rail shooters. Before, user-created cutscenes were a simple back-and-forth affair. "It can feel kind of static sometimes, " says Jose Abalos, one of Avalanche’s community hires. Now, the camera can swoop by on a path, adding a cinematic flair. It can also be locked onto a 2D plane, allowing for actual side-scrolling platform games. 

Paths can be of varying widths, and they can be used to trigger effects such as fireworks. They’re a more elegant way of moving NPC characters around. Before, characters could teleport step by step as players (or objects) triggered switches, which technically simulated movement. Infinity 2.0 introduced the windmill tool, which basically blasted NPCs around with blasts of air – again, not exactly an optimal solution. Hopefully, this gentler technique opens the gateway for more realistic movement and, in return, better Toy Box creations. 

Proximity detector
This one’s a bit obscure, but Infinity 3.0 has a new proximity toy that gives creators much more gameplay flexibility. Players can assign the toy to a character, and they then have several invisible concentric circles radiating from their bodies. Each section can trigger a different response, too. Cross one of the outer rings, for instance, and a townsperson can tell you to back off. Get closer into its user-defined comfort zone, and it can be configured to run away from you. Or, put it on an object and have sound effects play when you get too close. It sounds like a simple toy, but it has a lot of potential.

Putting It All Together
Let’s put these new tools to use in a hypothetical Toy Box scenario. Your mission is to track down a bank thief and catch him before he enters his safe house. 

Just for fun, you switch to Iron Man – or at least you try to. The creator of this particular Toy Box has flagged it for non-flying characters only; you’re going to have to sit this one out, Mr. Stark. After picking Mickey Mouse, one of the new faces in 3.0, you’re ready. The game starts with a nice flyover above the city, which is designed using some of the new Disneyland Main Street pieces. The thief is standing next to Scrooge McDuck’s vault, which is presumably several coins lighter. He’s hard to miss – the stripes and bandit mask are an immediate tipoff. 

Mickey dashes toward the suspect, pausing to dodge several cars that are heading his way. You get within touching distance of the thief, but the scoundrel isn’t having any of it. “Don’t even think about it!” he says in a word balloon, before hopping his way across a complicated obstacle course above the streets. You’re about to nab him, but unfortunately you miss a jump across a spinning platform and fall to the ground. Looking up, you see him make the final few leaps before he nears a building and disappears. A sad tune – created using the new music toy – accompanies your loss. Looks like you’re going to have to try again.

 

These are just a few of the new additions to the Toy Box. Keep visiting our hub for more Disney Infinity 3.0 information, and start thinking about any questions that you might have. We’re planning a special-edition podcast at the end of the month, and we’ll be posting info on where you can submit them in a week or so.