It's easy to forget while obsessing over all of the recent Star Wars video game news, that Lucasfilm has a rich vault of movies, games and television shows that don't involve the story of a Rebel Alliance. And none of them seem off the table for future inclusion in Disney Infinity.
Disney Interactive launched toys-to-life game Disney Infinity with a slew of its own properties and then brought in Marvel superheroes for the launch of Disney Infinity 2.0. The launch of 3.0 will include Star Wars, but Lucasfilm has plenty more where that came from.
I asked Ada Duan, vice president of business and franchise management at Lucasfilm, what other properties the studio might be considering for Disney Infinity.
"Are you thinking about Howard the Duck?" she said to laughter from Disney Interactive studio vice president and general manager John Blackburn and Disney Interactive vice president of production John Vignocchi. "In terms of Star Wars content, there's definitely more Star Wars coming out. What these guys have been saying is that Disney Infinity is a platform for all the IP across the company, Star Wars being part of that. You'll see more. As more movies and TV shows come out and there's evaluation of what we can support, I think Infinity is going to support all the IP across the company. As Lucas comes out with more IP and more Star Wars."
Blackburn added that Disney Infinity's studios are always pitching ideas to Duan, who job is to look after the interactive division of Lucasfilm and work with gaming partners on all Star Wars and Lucasfilm properties.
It was Duan, Blackburn pointed out, that helped get Tim Schafer and his team at Double Fine Productions the ability to work on Day of the Tentacle.
And even those old adventure games aren't off the table, Vignocchi said.
"I'll be like, please, can we do Secret of Monkey Island?" he said. "And she'll say, ‘Can we talk about how relevant this is? There are so many other things we could do.'"
Duan acknowledged that, for now, the company is "looking forward."
"We have so much new content coming out," she said. "It's natural that we're going to want things to be supported coming up. It's not out of the question [that we'd approve something from the archives], but I feel like there's so much new that that's probably going to be the focus."
Ultimately the decision to push something from a older property versus a new property into Disney Infinity is driven by fan feedback, Vignocchi said.
"We're listening to the fans," he said. "We do the Facebook fan stuff all the time. We do these informal polls, and they wind up in the senior executive meetings with guys throwing stuff around and yelling at each other. ‘OK, this is what the fan poll said we should be doing, these characters.' That's how I lost Darkwing Duck to Olaf this year.
"That would have been awesome, right?"
All of the decision making in terms of properties and new versus old takes a backseat to a much more important conversation: How characters can service the gameplay of Disney Infinity. Take for instance how the Star Wars characters were picked for the upcoming Disney Infinity 3.0.
"We have these conversations," Duan said. "There are definitely the hero characters, the characters who are the main characters, but I also feel like it's a question of which characters will service the gameplay."
This is the criteria the team generally uses Vignocchi said: How relevant is it to people? How popular is the character? What's the gameplay going to be?
In the first Disney Infinity, the team made sure every new character or playset brought a new form of play to the experience. But now it's more about bringing a diversity of play to the game.
"In 2.0 we didn't bring enough diversity," Vignocchi said. "We had a huge amount of diversity in the move sets of the superheroes, but there wasn't enough diversity in the play sets, the gameplay we had. This time around we wanted to make sure the play sets bring much more diversity for that.
"Right now, the number of enemies, different combat types — In the Twilight of the Republic, it's very much a lightsaber and Force combat gameplay. In the [episodes] four-through-six stuff against the Empire, we do town-building for defending your base on Hoth. There's the flight down the trench on the Death Star."
With Marvel, Blackburn said, the focus was on making all of the superheroes feel unique. With Star Wars they took a different tack.
"There was this conscious focus on lightsabers and how lightsabers feel and act," he said. "Star Wars needs to feel incredible, but it also needs to be a system that will upgrade for all hand-based weapons. Something you haven't seen yet that I think is a lot of fun, you can take Carl's cane from Up, and now all of the characters — not just the Jedi, but the characters from Inside Out, from Marvel — they'll actually be able to take advantage of the combat system you see with the lightsabers."
The combat for Disney Infinity's Jack Sparrow, for instance, is massively improved.
That sort of approach doesn't just make the new characters more fun, it improves the play of the original characters in the game. The same is true of vehicles. Because Star Wars will bring X-Wings, Y-Wings, TIE Fighters, Star Destroyers, Landspeeders and speeder bikes to the mix, the team had to go in and completely rework all driving controls.
"Now all the old vehicles we had in the toy box, those now behave and feel better than they ever did before," Blackburn said. "The team at Studio Gobo focused very much on all the aerial vehicles as well."