Spexar: A Gaming Dream-Team?

By Alec Meer on July 14th, 2008 at 2:54 pm.

WARRRRRRRRRRRRR-EEEEEEN

Interesting timing, this. I was chatting to a journo-chum yesterday about how disappointingly tedious the Wall-E game was, and how odd and sad it was that a film studio as accomplished as Pixar would be happy to let such turgid nonsense be officially associated with them. Why do Pixar not start an in-house development studio of their own for these titles? Surely shared in-house digital assets would make the art and graphics a bit easier, and they’d be able to ensure these were proud counterparts to their celluloid output rather than let themselves undermined with shoddy cash-ins. The phrase I used was, I believe, “Pixar could be the Blizzard of kids’ games if they wanted.”

Suddenly, it sounds like this very particular dream may come true. WARR-EN to the rescue…

We don’t know what Deus Ex/Thief/System Shock figurehead Warren Spector’s next project it is, beyond that it’s Disney related, but he’s just cunningly let slip that “My team and I have been working hard on our own and (get ready for the cool factor to go way up) in collaboration with folks from Disney Feature Animation and Pixar.” Wow-ee! “If I say anymore, I’ll get in trouble, so let’s just leave it at that.” Dammit! The filthy, filthy tease.

But God, what a prospect. Spector’s tantalising involvement could suggest Pixar/Disney are thinking as seriously as they really should about their spin-off games. Or it could be some World of Pixar dream-project. Or it could be a new IP entirely. Either way, Spector + Pixar? Ooh, do want. Clearly, it won’t be Deus Ex, but it could be something just as exciting in its own way- licensed titles that actually give a damn.

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32 Comments »

  1. Rook says:

    I can’t help but feel this is like wishing that Michelangelo spent more time working on colouring in books (because they’d be really good colouring in books), and less time with that paint brush and that chapel.

  2. roskelld says:

    Initially you think, what a waste of talent putting Spector’s team on producing franchised focused shovelware.

    But then you have to think about why that is, and it’s exactly as you’ve stated. The idea of games based on movie licences is only feels bad due to the sheer amount of tosh on the market.
    There’s no reason why video games based on movies shouldn’t be great. There are examples out there, and strangely most of the best ones have not had to suffer the day-in-day release nightmare scenario.

    I’ve had the (mis)fortune to work on a movie licence game. My biggest gripe was that the production didn’t start at the same time (or before) the movie did, meaning we had to take an almost no risk route to get the game finished before the movie hit the box office. This meant a lack of prototyping and originality, and an end product that would only really sell off the back of it’s name and not it’s own merits.

    There’s still a risk of jumping in early on a licence deal, the movie could get canned early in development, meaning less chance of the game getting finished. The movie could also turn out to be a shocker and drive down the sales of the game.

  3. JulianP says:

    Warren has previously stated that there is no reason why it wouldn’t be possible to be creative and original when working on an already established IP/license and that he’s now putting his money where his mouth is. Can’t wait. :)

  4. Vivian says:

    Am I the only person here who thinks warren is a hack?

  5. MaW says:

    Movie tie-in games would probably be in general a lot better if they didn’t just re-enact the movie (because movie plots and video game plots need to be different due to a thing called ‘player involvement’), and if they weren’t released on the same day as the movie (or before, as I’ve already seen Wall-E in shops in the UK a week before the movie’s out) no matter what the consequences for actually finishing the thing and giving it that final shine and polish.

    Which, as any programmer knows, is what takes all the time.

    And also, as any programmer knows, is the bit the management never remember.

  6. AbyssUK says:

    The game of WALL-E should have been awesome… the film is utter class and was just crying out for a half decent game.

    Boat = missed

    Hopefully the great Warren will turn the tide.

  7. Kieron Gillen says:

    In terms of more stuff on this, I’d direct you back towards the original interview RPS did with Spector which covers a lot of the stuff and what he wants to do and similar. It includes him me asking if it’s him putting his money where his mouth is, in terms of his previous statements Re: Licence games shouldn’t be shit.

    I don’t think Alec is on the right track here – Pixar and Disney animation are just close together now post-merger. Any Disney-related games thing would almost certainly draw on Pixar’s talents. It doesn’t imply that it’ll be a Pixar game.

    He’s talked about it being something iconic. Pixars stuff isn’t iconic, yet – or if it is, it’ll be a Toy Story game.

    KG

  8. Mooey Poo says:

    Shouldn’t Pixar really be making LucasArts games?

  9. Mooey Poo says:

    Also, will it be a game where you can give a child some candy to get some information from him, then stab said child to death and get the candy back? I hope so.

  10. Noc says:

    And, more importantly, he talked about it being something iconic that people are going to hate.

    I’m banking on a Beauty and the Beast MMO.

  11. cyrenic says:

    A Toy Story MMO would actually make a lot of sense. The character creator could be almost spore-esque in scope (though not quite because they’d limit the phallic creation abilities and they’d make it a bit simpler).

    Toy Story 3 is slated for a Summer 2010 release, so that’d be about the development time for an MMO (or something similarly in depth). Seems pretty likely that’s what he’s working on the more I think about it.

  12. iainl says:

    World Of Disney Princesses.

  13. gaijin says:

    nah, there are small girls who like beauty and the beast. Pocohontas, on the other hand…

  14. Kieron Gillen says:

    Iconic to him, I suspect.

    KG

  15. Rook says:

    What’s wrong with Beaty and the Beast? Belle is so lovely.

  16. Babs says:

    Beauty and the Beast MMO?

    “Do…my…quest
    Do my quest
    Put your grinding to the test!”

    Oh the horror.

  17. Leelad says:

    I want to see that film so bad. Looks fantastically cute.

  18. thesombrerokid says:

    he also said it would be surprising and unexpected so i too k that to mean something forgotton from disneys past.

  19. Bobby says:

    Regarding the sharing of assets, it’s actually been standard for some years already in the animation industry. But when the animation and game companies are not subsidiaries ofthe same entity there’s legal limits on what can be shared, plus in the end it’s still up to the game dev to see how to better downgrade the models for in-game use. Like, sure, those models may look nifty in their movies, but once you remove all the nifty shaders, reduce their polygon counts to on millionth of the originals and don’t have any of those nifty special animation controllers, half of them you probably don’t even know about because they’re secret in the first place, it’s another thing entirely.

    They also share model data with the toy industry, by the way.

  20. Simon Parkin says:

    Beauty and the Beast MMO: World of Boarcraft

  21. BonSequitur says:

    It’s not an MMO – Warren is a single-player guy. And I think I read somewhere that it is ninja-related.

  22. MetalCircus says:

    I was so disapointed to hear Spector had sort of defected to Disney. I read interviews that it’s what he wanted to do and that he loves Disney. But I don’t. I hate the bastard, and I hate his happy, shiny bastard cartoon offspring. And he was a racist. Grr.

    Maybe the games will be good but I had become so used to, ahem, “grown-up” games that he was so good at.

  23. MisterBritish says:

    Warren is producing ‘Ninja Gold’ but I think that is a separate project.

  24. Lorem says:

    I’m pretty sure that ‘Ninja Gold’ game was canned when he moved to Disney. I can’t really believe that in 4 years he’s announced absolutely nothing…

  25. Escape To Danger says:

    Iconic? They’re finally doing a platformer with that jumping desk lamp.

    I don’t think the cost:benefit for making good licenced Pixar games hold up. Kids/non-gamer parents don’t care, and even excellent kid-friendly games like Mario platformers only really manage to sell to many gamers because the kiddiness is countered by pedigree/nostalgia.

  26. kadayi says:

    @Vivian

    “Am I the only person here who thinks warren is a hack?”

    I don’t think it’s enough to simply label someone a hack, you have to explain your position as well. Personally I do think he overplays himself at times, but System Shock, Deus Ex and Thief are all bona fide classics, and when he puts his ego aside I think he often has a fair take on gaming. Anyhows I’m curious to hear your position though.

    As for Wall-E, the look of the future Robot was lead by Johnathan Ive the design Guru behind much of Apples hardware output, which I can’t help but feel is non too subtle ‘White is good’ subtext to the whole media circus that is the movie.

  27. N'Al says:

    @ Escape to Danger:

    And shrooms, lots of shrooms.

  28. The Guy says:

    KG is right, it’s not going to be a Pixar game. If it was a Pixar game, they’d just say Pixar, but since it’s Disney/Pixar I’m thinking it’s going to be a game based on a Disney property that already exists or something entirely new.

  29. Jim says:

    @Rook
    The Sistine Chapel ceiling was a commission.

  30. Tricky says:

    Where can I get the full version of that image you guys used as the blog post bumper? I loved the movie.

  31. Stromko says:

    I actually loved the movie too, the game (from what I can gather from the demo) was absolute shit and was actually depressing after the fairly high-concept and very likeable movie that I’d just got back from.

    If only Warren had gotten onboard sooner and given us something halfway between Kingdom Hearts and System Shock.. but oh well.

    I really question whether Disney is ready to properly support gaming though. There’s a lot more money to be made, but so far whenever their properties are put into a game it’s like they’ve been stuck in a pit to later be murdered and sewn together into a woman-suit to be donned by a depraved and talentless game designer in a secluded woodland shack. (Okay I was going way too far on that Silence of the Lamb reference, long story short, they’ve helped secure the idiom of licensed game = complete crap).

  32. Spamguy says:

    When’s the last time a great movie ended up being translated into a great game. I can’t think of one off the top of my head. The movie was great, but I certainly did not expect the game to capture the same feel.