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DICE 2010: Disney Execs Talk  Epic Mickey , Inspiration From  Kingdom Hearts
DICE 2010: Disney Execs Talk Epic Mickey, Inspiration From Kingdom Hearts
February 17, 2010 | By Simon Carless

February 17, 2010 | By Simon Carless
More: Console/PC

In an interview following his DICE 2010 opening keynote, Disney exec Steve Wadsworth and colleague Graham Hopper discussed Epic Mickey's currently Wii-exclusive state and what Kingdom Hearts has taught the Mouse about video game franchises.

As part of the Gamasutra-attended group interview, Wadsworth -- who heads up the Disney Interactive Media Group, including the firm's online game (Club Penguin) and console game (Split/Second) areas, was asked about the decision to make the Warren Spector-helmed Epic Mickey into a Wii-exclusive title.

Longtime Disney game exec Graham Hopper, also present at the interview, explained the company's thinking, noting that since "the key mechanic [in Epic Mickey] is an ink and paint mechanic", it seemed "completely intuitive to people" to play the title using a Wiimote.

But with both Xbox 360's Natal and the PlayStation 3's motion controller debuting this year, might it not have made sense to use those?

Hopper commented that Epic Mickey has been in development for quite some time, suggesting: "If we started it 6 months ago we would have potentially thought differently about it."

But as Wadsworth had earlier noted: "We have a very large audience base that has Wiis in their home", making Nintendo's platform a natural choice. However, he cautioned on the much-awaited Junction Point-developed title: "That's not to say that we won't go to other platforms [in the future]."

In comments elsewhere in the wide-ranging Q&A, the Kingdom Hearts franchise with Square Enix was discussed, with the Disney duo refusing to be drawn on questions about whether Kingdom Hearts III was planned -- but noting that overall: "The franchise is alive - it's doing well".

Hopper pointed to major Japanese chart success for the new PSP title Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep. He said that the franchise had actually provided some key learnings for Disney as a company, and for Epic Mickey specifically.

He noted that "taking Disney characters and applying them in a whole different way that's surprising to people", particularly in the way the Tetsuya Nomura-led Kingdom Hearts franchise mixed together settings and character worlds from many Disney creations.

In fact, Hopper commented, it was "so radical" for Disney that Kingdom Hearts got made at all, since mixing Disney's properties and characters together so completely had led some to internally worry it might be "an abomination", while still in development.

Yet the final product from Square Enix showed that character universe mixing "worked really well", and consumers were not at all bothered by the conceit of multiple Disney worlds coinciding -- learnings that will be apparently applied to Epic Mickey's universe as well.

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Chris Melby
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I'm really looking forward to this game. I haven't been this interested in any Disney game since Mickey's Castle of Illusion -- which I really enjoyed. I'm also really glad to see a game of this caliber coming to the Wii.

My friend and his kids are really into Kingdom Hearts, I just never really gave it a chance, but since Warren is heading up this new Mickey game, I'll be buying my copy day one

Eric Feliu
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"But with both Xbox 360's Natal and the PlayStation 3's motion controller debuting this year, might it not have made sense to use those?"

The simple answer to that question is these control schemes are not even known quantities yet. If only a small percentage of users purchase these add-on devices it does not make sense to develop a game that depends on those to be playable. The Wiimote is an integral part of the Wii and there is a huge install base for that controller. For the interviewer to ask such a question shows an indcredible amount of ignorance of the gaming business in my opinion.

Mark Venturelli
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Eric, no need to troll on Simon. Betting on a tie-in for a new hardware can boost sales if done right.

Maurício Gomes
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Actually the question made all sense to me. I would even asked it myself.

Also installed base, is more of a number trap than something that should be major force deciding stuff, if we only installed base mattered, all games would be tabletop games, since we have billions of tables.

Simon Carless
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Also, good news, it was a group interview and I didn't ask that question myself. :) I will say that I think Disney must be considering those platforms now, since Wadsworth definitely left the door open at least in theory for a later version or conversion.

Sean Parton
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Probably the largest reason they're not immediately making Epic Mickey multi-platform using the Wand/Natal is that they also haven't planned for multiple resolutions for their art. Their pipeline is probably optimized for single-console (and the weakest of the current gen, to boot). If they changed their mind now, it'd take way longer for any version of the game to come out.

But yes, if Wand/Natal both end up looking good, it's quite likely he'll jump onto those boats as well. With the art style they seem to be going towards, the higher res versions would look rather stunning.

Roberto Alfonso
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Doubt they will upgrade Epic Mickey to those new controllers. The art alone would be extremely expensive. However, if the controllers catch up, and EM is not a failure, they may create a new game in HD directly, with a downport to Wii.

Joshua Sterns
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For a company as large and resourceful as Disney it's never to late to ramp up their video game production.

Eric Feliu
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@Mark and Mauricio

Really? You think devices that are not even on the market are relevent in the discussion of a game that will be released soon? Neither the PS3 wand or Project Natal will be released until around the end of 2010 and Epic Mickey is scheduled for September 2010 release. I don't see how the developers can do justice to the control mechanics in their game if the controller has yet to be finalized myself. I guess they could make a pretty game with lackluster controls, but I doubt that is going to sell well. The Wii has a tried and true motion controller. Seems silly to ask about including support for something that is not even available if you ask me.

Leon T
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@ Sean- I think I read in a different interview that this game started out as an PC/360/PS3 game but Disney asked that it become a Wii only game.

"The game was originally in development for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. Development on the Wii started in 2008, when the idea of addressing a Wii port of the game was raised; Specter replied that a straight Wii port would not be viable, remarking that many of the "design ideas just won't work on the Wii, we need to give the Wii its dues". Graham Hopper of Disney Interactive then suggested dropping the development of the aforementioned platforms completely, and instead releasing it solely on the Wii.["

Sean Parton
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@Leon Terry: Interesting. I guess they decided to jump ship due to where they figure their target market mostly lies?..

Though related, do you have a source for that? It doesn't seem to appear here or in the linked article.

Leon T
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@ Sean

The source is ONM .