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Jim Molinets回顾迪士尼新角色Swampy的创造过程

发布时间:2012-12-20 13:48:42 Tags:,,,,

作者:Eli Cymet

小时候,一部新的迪士尼电影上映便意味着,我既能在电影院中体验魔幻感受,也能在电子游戏中经历惊险刺激的挑战。这便是游戏公司所掀起的“文艺复兴”,像《一千零一夜》和《狮子王》等电影改编的游戏都能有效地吸引玩家的注意。但是这种改编的魅力却很难维持较长时间。

20世纪90年代末,Disney Animated Studio的内容执行发生了明显的转变(不管是细节上还是财政上)。2001年,随着《亚特兰帝斯:失落的帝国》的上映,该公司的质量标准开始产生动摇,虽然这部电影仍然扣人心弦,但与《小美人鱼》等作品进行比较时却不免黯然失色。同时,游戏的发行也让人有种胡编乱凑的感觉。还记得面向早前的PlayStation所发行的《星际宝贝》吗?我对它也没什么印象;不过Metacritic(游戏邦注:专门收集对于电影,电视节目,音乐专辑和游戏的评论网站)并没有忽略它,并且只给予54%的评级。

Lilo_and_Stitch_PlayStation(from gamezebo)

Lilo_and_Stitch_PlayStation(from gamezebo)

随着千禧年的到来,我们也迎来了各种转变。迪士尼的动画内容仍在继续挣扎着,他们开始购买外部内容而进行开发。电子游戏不断发展着,并开始从人们的起居室转向手机上——甚至不再需要大量电影的引导,Disney Interactive自己的IP也只能默默地待在像Club Penguin等网站或社区中。直到2011年9月,当《小鳄鱼爱洗澡》跃上App Store排行榜榜首的位置时,这种情况才开始发生改变。由Disney Mobile所创造的这款游戏是围绕着名为Swampy的短尾鄂展开,玩家的任务便是为这只小鳄鱼收集肥皂水,让它洗澡。这款游戏真的掀起了巨大的热潮,并让这只可爱的短尾鄂成为了迪士尼旗下深受欢迎的新成员。

如今,该公司又在网页上推出有关Swampy的新故事,力图进一步延续这只小鳄鱼所掀起的热潮。Swampy是迪士尼乐园度假村中“Typhoon Lagoon”主题公园(游戏邦注:位于美国佛罗里达州奥兰多市)的商店“迎宾”角色。在过去十年,我们所看到并玩到的角色质量都非常高——堪称经典,而Swampy则是首个从游戏中走出来的角色。似乎迪士尼又迎来了新的春天,但是Disney Mobile的总裁兼总经理Jim Molinets却表示他们面临了巨大的压力。

Molinets在回想Swampy的创造时说道:“我认为我们所面对的第一个挑战便是所有人的期待。在创造迪士尼角色时我们始终需要面对一道质量标准。”尽管这只亲切的短尾鄂有可能成为该公司未来游戏IP的吉祥物,但是面对质量标准也意味着难以摆脱过去。“我们投入了大量时间去研究动画片中的各种角色,并咨询角色设计师,同时还去了解相关历史,并思考我们该如何去呈现角色,如何在应用中传达情感并将其融入角色开发中。”

Wheres_My_Water_Comic(from gamezebo)

Wheres_My_Water_Comic(from gamezebo)

情感?角色?当95%的《小鳄鱼爱洗澡》是基于手指碰触体验时,所有的这些考虑是否就不再重要了?这便是Molinets所抵制的。

他说道:“我知道这听起来可能很奇怪,但这真的是创造迪士尼角色和迪士尼游戏过程中的重要组成部分。故事中总是存在着一些关键点能够确保整体的魅力。即使你不曾考虑过将所有内容呈献给观众,故事中肯定也存在一些信息能够告诉观众Swampy是谁,他是怎样的,他是如何生活的,他的目的是什么,他的愿望是什么等等。”在解答这些问题的过程中,Molinets也表示,他们相信这只短尾鄂一定不会辜负迪士尼的厚望。

Molinets说道:“我们决定创造出像米老鼠那样经典的迪士尼角色。”如今,米老鼠的知名度还是远远超过了Swampy。“米老鼠是一个讨人喜欢的角色,吸引了无数人的喜欢。当我们透过故事去看这个角色时,总是会有‘哇,他真是一点也没变’的想法,即如今我们仍然能从这个角色身上感受到巨大的乐趣。”

Swampy_Web_Series(from gamezebo)

Swampy_Web_Series(from gamezebo)

我因此想到了自己的童年,那时候的我们总是深深地沉迷于迪士尼的魔幻世界中。但是今天的孩子们却转向了游戏世界,所以在当今时代中,Swampy的影响力似乎比米老鼠更广。那么迪士尼是否会因为孩子们不再因为其创始角色联想到迪士尼而不安?或者他们对于角色的看法是否会完全发生改变?

Molinets继续说道:“一开始,我们并未遇到任何特殊的问题或看到任何机遇,但说真的,事实就摆在眼前。”在此他列举了一个好友的亲身经历:“他带着自己4岁的女儿登上了迪士尼游轮。当《小鳄鱼爱洗澡》刚发行时,这个小女孩才3岁,所以到现在她已经玩了1年半的游戏。对于她来说,在迪士尼游轮上没看到Swampy是件非常奇怪的事。所以她便问爸爸,‘既然他是迪士尼的角色,为什么我在船上没看到他?’我便立刻领悟过来,是水和船让这个小女孩联想到Swampy!这是个多有意义的设定。”

“不过这也让我们感到非常惊讶。因为我们从未想过‘我们真的在创造一个迪士尼角色并通过互动媒体向用户传达迪士尼理念。’而现在,这却成为了我们的一大核心内容。我们曾与迪士尼首席执行官Bob Iger进行交谈,他也表示‘你们已经从迪士尼宝库中挑选了一些重要内容,而现在是时候归还了。’”

例如《无敌破坏王》便是其中的重要内容。这部电影改编自经典的街机游戏,围绕着一个不断想要证明自己能够成为英雄的恶棍展开。它的上映似乎意味着迪士尼希望再次回归经典的游戏质量。幸运的是,这部电影取得了不错的成绩。它不仅在烂番茄网站(游戏邦注:以提供电影和电子游戏的相关评论,资讯和新闻为主)获得了大量的评价,我还发现它能同时带给今天的孩子以及过去的玩家强烈的情感共鸣。除此之外,为了配合这部电影,Disney Mobile开始往游戏中添加更多经典元素,从而确保游戏能够有效地自立。

本文为游戏邦/gamerboom.com编译,拒绝任何不保留版权的转载,如需转载请联系:游戏邦

Filling the vault: Disney Mobile’s Jim Molinets and the journey of games as IP

By Eli Cymet

When I was younger, a new Disney movie meant two dependable things — a magical (if altogether too expensive) time at the theaters, and a surprisingly robust videogame. It was the company’s Renaissance, and fairytale mega-hits like Aladdin and Lion King spawned clever, well-received playable titles that were often just as absorbing. But rebirth doesn’t last forever.

As the sun set on the 1990s, so too was there a marked shift in performance – both critically and financially – of Disney Animated Studio’s content. With Atlantis: The Lost Empire in 2001, the company began a period of rockily received features, that, while still heartfelt, paled in the public’s eyes in comparison to works like The Little Mermaid. Similarly, the games that were launched felt more like cobbled-together tie-ins. Remember Lilo & Stitch for the original PlayStation? Neither do I; but Metacritic does, rating it 54%.

As the millennium came of age, something uncharacteristic happened. Disney’s animated content was outright floundering, and they started buying things almost as rapidly as they were making them. Videogames had exploded in their popularity – making their way from the living room to people’s phones – and without the strong library of films to guide them, Disney Interactive’s own IP stood in the shadow of newly-owned franchises like Club Penguin. A shadow that arguably lingered until September 2011, when a game named Where’s My Water? hit the App Store. Created by Disney Mobile, it introduced the world to Swampy the alligator, and his addictive, endearing quest for bath suds. It was a total hit…and a totally new Disney character.

Today, the company released the second episode in a web series that breathes life into Swampy’s backstory. Between now and then, he’s appeared as a “meet and greet” character in a merchandise-laden takeover of Disney World Resort’s Typhoon Lagoon water park in Orlando, Florida. For the first time in over a decade, the quality of the what you’re watching and playing seems high – classic, even. And for the first time ever, it started with the game. With the spring seemingly back in their step, Disney Mobile’s Vice President and General Manager Jim Molinets reflects on the pressure of getting here.

“I think the first challenge is that we have an obligation to live up to such high expectations,” remembers Molinets of Swampy’s origins. “There’s a quality bar that has to be met in crafting a Disney character.”  And while the well-meaning gator may just be the mascot for the future of the company’s gaming IP, meeting this bar meant looking to the past. “We spent a lot of time looking at characters from feature animation, working with character artists from feature animation; delving into the history and seeing how we [could] be expressive, how we [could] actually create emotion and character development in an application.”

Emotion? Character? When 95% of Where’s My Water? is finger-physics gameplay, don’t all those considerations ultimately go unnoticed, I ask? That, Molinets counters, is the point.

“I know that sounds strange, but that’s really part of the core construct of creating a Disney character and a Disney franchise. They do have those backbone pieces which make the story compelling. Even when you’re not considering telling everything to the [viewer], there has to be that information around…who [is] Swampy? What is he like, how does he live, what are his goals, what are his aspirations?” In attempting to answer these questions, Molinets says the Glendale, California team went all in on the bet that their scaly creation could bear the weight of Walt’s legacy on his shoulders.

“We decided [it had to be] classic Disney – to go back to who Mickey Mouse was,” says Molinets. I can almost hear the words emerge more hesitantly. This is one animal whose reputation most definitely precedes him. “He’s this sort of originally mischievous character with universal appeal associated with his ability to get himself into situations, and to get himself out of situations. When looked at it from a storytelling  perspective, we [thought], ‘wow, this hasn’t changed at all’ – the fun that we could have with that type of character is still is as strong today as ever it has been.”

Suddenly, I think of  my own childhood — of my discovery of Disney magic. Today’s kids are so very steeped in gaming, in online media; given his genesis, this is arguably more Swampy’s turf than it is Mickey’s. Is the company uncomfortable with the idea that children may not associate Disney with its founding character? Or that the concept of that character may be changing entirely?

“When I first started [here], I never [saw] that particular issue or opportunity happening, but it certainly is,” says Molinets. Here, a personal anecdote about a friend speaks volumes. “[He] went on a Disney cruise with his four year old daughter; at the time that the game released she was three, and she’s been essentially playing it for a year and a half now. For her it was strange not to see Swampy on the Disney cruise; she said, ‘well he’s a Disney character dad, why isn’t he on the boat?’ And I get it! Water, boat? Makes perfect sense.”

“That caught us by surprise. We never really looked at it and said, ‘we’re really creating a Disney character and introducing the idea of Disney to people through interactive media.’ Now,  that’s one of our core DNAs…straight from the top. We’ve had conversations with [Disney CEO] Bob Iger where he’s said, ‘you’ve done really well picking stuff from the Disney vault, but it’s time to put stuff back in it.’

Stuff like Wreck-It Ralph. Released today, the movie follows a prototypical arcade game villain on his quest to prove he can be a hero. Seemingly a poignant reflection of Disney’s journey back to classic quality. And fortunately, a poignant film as well. It currently sits at 84% among 88 critical opinions on ratings aggregate site Rotten Tomatoes, and I find that it has emotional oomph for both today’s children, and yesterday’s. Better still, the app Disney Mobile paired with it condenses some of gaming’s most classic sensory joys into a charming package that stands on its own feet. (source:gamezebo)


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