Toy Story 3 could change the way you think about games based on movies. Now, I know you’ve heard this before. But what game developer Avalanche Software and the animation geniuses are cooking up for isn’t just a checkbox on a merchandising sheet. The Toy Story 3 video game fulfills one of the movies’ most important yet most undernourished concepts, which is the idea of a world that exists in a kid’s imagination. The game takes a moment from the opening minutes of the movie and extrapolates it into the crux of the play experience. That scene–where Woody chases Mr. & Mrs. Potato Head on horseback during a daring train robbery–is another example of the unfettered imagination of the Toy Story movies’ main character Andy. The action keeps getting crazier and more infectiously nonsensical until everything ends with a nuclear plastic monkey bomb that ends the scene. This Andy kid knows how to play. And the ethos of that scene–which the Pixar folk call “epic play”–birthed Toybox Mode, the core experience of the Toy Story 3 game.
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The open-world concept grew from a simple question on the part of filmmakers and developers: “What if we stayed in that world?” The answer comes in the form of a small western toy town that somewhat mimics the template of games like Grand Theft Auto IV and Saints Row, without all the cussing and ultraviolence. In Toybox Mode, players take on the role of Woody, who keeps the peace in this cute plastic town. As they complete missions and tasks, they can add new toys, buildings and playsets to the toy-town. Just like when you were a kid, you can collect these virtual playthings and create a unique sandbox where they interact in unpredictable ways. So, really, Toy Story 3’s build-as-you-go aesthetic isn’t merely transposing the movie’s story into playable format. It’s taking a side path that more fully explores what the idea of playing means. When I went to Pixar a few weeks ago to get a glimpse of the movie and play parts of the game, members of the Pixar production team and developers from Avalanche sat down to talk about crafting the movie and the game so they’d be in sync. The videos that follow feature clips from those interviews and give a good insight as to how the process worked.
The video above features clips from those interviews and give a good insight as to how the process worked.
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