Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Disney Exec John Lasseter Goes To Infinity And Beyond (Q&A)

John Lasseter,  has been working closely with Disney Interactive and developer Avalanche Studios to ensure that this new line of toys and games will make its own mark this June. Disney Infinity will offer two ways to play – much like the Toy Story 3 game that Avalanche also created. There’s the story-driven “Play Set” featuring characters from movies like Pirates of the Caribbean, TRON, The Incredibles, Monsters University and Cars, and the “Toy Box” mode, which lets players mix and match characters across platforms.

See Video... http://youtu.be/mkVwJT1Fd7s

What are some similarities between the way game developers and CG animators work to bring entertainment to life with technology?

We work very closely with Avalanche Studios in developing a number of games, especially Disney Infinity. It’s interesting the parallels of what they do for developing an interactive experience like a video game, compared to what we do at Pixar and The Walt Disney Animation Studios in developing a story. We all have to develop the personality of the characters, how they look, how they’re going to move, and so on. We develop the world as to what’s around every corner. We also develop the story. The story is really what happens next.

It is very much the same, but ours is a real linear storytelling, where we are in control of where the story goes. In their world, it’s really the user that’s in control of where the story goes. That’s where it differentiates, when they have to deal with this big world with a branching structure of the story. I think that’s where it’s different, but everything else before that is very similar. I was surprised at how similar it really is.

How did you see these similarities work on the big screen with the Oscar-nominated Wreck-It Ralph movie, set in a game world and featuring new and classic game characters?

Wreck-It Ralph was so exciting to go into the video game world and pull the essence of these games through the different eras. We go to the 1980s 8-Bit video game world. If you’re used to that game…if that world was alive, what would that world be like? It was really fun to create that and celebrate that 8-Bit world.

The same goes for the world of Sugar Rush, which is a Kart racing game set in a world where it’s all candy and desserts. Those games are later on, so they are much bigger worlds. With a modern, first-person shooter game, that’s extremely realistic like Hero’s Duty, it was really fun to dig into those kinds of games and how they are. They’re just so complex and detailed.

We tried to study each of those eras of games, and pull from what makes those types of games, those types of environments, and that type of gameplay unique and decide how those characters and those worlds would be in this world. If they were alive, how would they be?

That’s where a lot of the inspiration for Wreck-It Ralph, the worlds that we visit and create, and the characters it came from is really studying the unique and different types of gameplay.

What type of background do you have when it comes to playing games when you were younger?

I don’t want to really say how old I am, but I’m actually 56. I was born in 1957, so when I was a kid, there wasn’t anything called a video game. When Pong came out, it was awesome. The thing that I loved about the games is the way that you could interact with it. The more that you could just directly interact with the game, the more fun it was.

I think that as I had children, I have five sons, and they got into video games and were the prime ages through the development of video games. It was so much fun seeing them play the games and seeing it through their eyes.

I remember when they were really young and I was a young animator; Donkey Kong, Dig Dug, and that era of games came out and they were cartoony and had fantastic animation and stuff. The gameplay was funny and fun. The storytelling was fun. That’s what really got me excited about good video games, is that extension of it.

See Video... http://youtu.be/Jo7IQMV_nEs

What are your thoughts on how gaming has evolved?

As we played with the family, taking the Mario Worlds, Mario Karts, Super Smash Bros., and the mash-up of all those things, the boys have really gotten into the first-person shooter games, the quest games, and on and on. It was really great. It’s been so exciting to see the tremendous advancement of how great video games look.

Now, I don’t play; I just sit back and watch my sons play, because they’re so good at it. They’ve grown up with it. It’s just so entertaining for me. My wife always says, “John, you’re directing again,” because I go, “Go over there!” “No! Go that way…” It’s really incredible, but my sons will say, “Dad, get out of here. It’s our game!”

Through your own kids playing games, do you see that gaming plays a big role in the entertainment industry today?

Yes. I love creating stories and movies. I make films with great characters that are really entertaining people. It’s really exciting to have video games in the interactive world to be an extension of that, because it just makes it so we can expand our worlds and what we can do with our characters. That’s what’s exciting, and I’m so excited about Disney Infinity.

See Video... http://youtu.be/2pHLRA065gQ

Read More... http://www.forbes.com/sites/johngaudiosi/2013/02/26/disney-exec-john-lasseter-goes-to-infinity-and-beyond-qa/?partner=yahootix

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