Warren Spector Explains Why Epic Mickey’s A Musical

Now it's time for a song about pointing!

I must admit to an odd fascination with Epic Mickey 2. I mean, it’s a videogame musical. Who does that? And now, Me Of 12 Years Ago will feel an ominous tingling slither down his spine as Present Me says, “the creator of Deus Ex, that’s who.” But then, Warren Spector’s kind of a legend, so I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt on this one. Plus, it is – if nothing else – a fascinating idea. And, according to Spector, our in-game choices will even shape Epic Mickey’s soundtrack. The real question, though, is how much?

Unfortunately, Spector isn’t really clear on precisely which sorts of choices will shape the music or to what extent. I really, really hope he isn’t just describing a typical dynamic soundtrack, which is the sort of thing that rises and falls based on combat/whatever-else intensity in just about every shooter and action game ever.

Regardless, Spector’s been talking all kinds of fighting words about this one, so I hope to see it deliver. Also, when was the last time we had a good Disney game? As in, with Mickey and company, and on PC. Has that ever happened?


  1. televizor says:

    Maybe the game turns out to be great and yeah, it’s got a great designer working on it.
    Doesn’t change the fact that I’d rather have him work on something serious, though and PEGI 12.

    • Terragot says:

      I don’t think that it’s because it’s not serious, but that the development team have to fight against the IP holders for creative control. I imagine Disney shoot down a hell of a lot of ideas that these guys come up with.

      • Bauul says:

        I was at a Q&A with him in London the other week – he was asked if Disney shot down lots of his ideas and he was very clear: they didn’t at all.

        Apparently the only thing he was flat-out told he couldn’t do was show Mickey’s teeth.

        However, it’s worth remembering Spector is a massive Disney fan: he naturally isn’t inclined to do anything that would fly in the face of the Disney mythology.

        • televizor says:

          I don’t get it. Does he have bad teeth? Or fangs?
          Do mice have fangs?
          What the fuck is Mickey, then?
          My inner child is scared.

          • El_Emmental says:

            In the Disney universe, animal characters only show their teeth for comical purpose (Dingo, Pluto) or to show their evilness.

            In real life, an animal (humans included) showing its teeth is often a sign of aggressiveness (you use your teeth to bite). Meanwhile, babies don’t have teeth and very young kids haven’t acquired the reflex of smiling with teeth yet (when they do it’s exaggerated).

            Also, teeth would have to be as rounded as possible, to fit with the very rounded character design of “good” characters, otherwise it would break the “friendly – cute – non-threatening” Disney style.

    • Jason Moyer says:

      I’d rather see him working on something like this since it’s unlike any other games I can think of offhand, and Eidos Montreal has demonstrated that Deus Ex is in good hands now.

      • The Random One says:

        I’d rather see him working on something he likes and satisfies him as a creative person.

        It’s always hard to tell thorough the hype-speak, but this one does appear to be it.

      • Contrafibularity says:

        Eidos Montreal did what now?

  2. DaftPunk says:

    I don’t care i want to play this,looks cute :D

  3. Sheng-ji says:

    When I reached a certain age – still young enough to want to watch disney – but before the teenage years, (I love watching disney again now) I used to cringe at the songs. I used to skip past the songs in the hobbit and lord of the rings etc. Now, I love them, I watched the sword in the stone recently and I loved it!!!

    • The Random One says:

      I’ve always hated the musical parts and still do. They break the flow somewhat fierce for me. I do like some of the songs but on their own.

      Curiously, I didn’t have that problem with Nightmare Before Christmas, because it came across for me as an actual musical as opposed to a regular cartoon that stops itself to sing. But if you ask me to objectively explain what the difference was I can’t say.

      • Sheng-ji says:

        I agree that nightmare before christmas and things like corpse bride are clearly musicals. I wonder if the difference is less to do with the actual song and more to do with the reason for the songs. In musicals, the songs advance the story, but in disney et al, it’s more to highlight a particular emotion or feeling.

        Just an off the top of my head theory.

  4. thesundaybest says:

    Did anyone go to the talk he gave at Disney’s office in London? I signed up for it but didn’t make it down there. Curious about what he said.

    • Bauul says:

      I made it down there: it was reasonably interesting, although having never played the first lots of the comparisons he made were lost on me.

      He’s a really nice guy though, very switched on, and clearly adores the subject material. Apparently his real love in the world is cinema history, so getting to delve through the Disney archives and make a game out of it just ticks all his boxes.

      I played a bit of the game too – the platforming stuff is fine, but the camera let it down, it was quite clumsy: turning around using the camera control takes about 30 seconds (as it’s primarily there to control the target recital which is free roaming around the screen, not move the camera), instead you have to physically turn the player character around, and then press a button to center the camera. Felt really unintuitive.

      That said, fighting a massive mechanical Pete’s Dragon was kind of cool.

      • Arglebargle says:

        Dead on Bauul. Getting to work with all Disney’s huge backlog of material has to be an utter blast for him. Warren’s a huge movie afficianado, from the fan, scholar and ‘I just want to direct’ angles. He was, for a year or so, the curator of the Selznick collection at the University of Texas. He was also able to satisfactorilly explain to me why I liked only one Jerry Lewis movie. (Who’s Minding the Store)

        If he can pull off any sort of real interactive musical, I will kowtow three times to his genius!

  5. baby snot says:

    2:37 is that Disney character supposed to look like Tron Guy?

    • RaveTurned says:

      Tron is Disney IP, so… probably?

      • MadTinkerer says:

        Specifically, Pete appeared in that costume in Kingdom Hearts 2, so I suspect it’s a subtle reference.

        • c-Row says:

          There’s also a concept drawing in the Epic Mickey artbook, so I guess they already wanted to include it in the first game but decided not to.

  6. Hatsworth says:

    Would rather we got Dreamrift’s 3DS game, even though it looks a bit slow.

  7. Gwilym says:

    Dialogue trees where your options are paraphrased into verses would be very easy to implement, and I’m really hoping that’s what Warren is talking about here. I don’t care about Mickey Mouse, but if this turns out to be a genuine interactive musical then I’ll have no choice but to buy it. It’s a concept that excites me so, so much.

    I’ve been wanting to do a videogame musical for ages, and I simply can’t believe it hasn’t been done yet. It seems such an obvious genre to exist! PaRappa the Rapper made me think we were on the verge of it coming into existence, but that turned out to be a false alarm.

    It’s just so ridiculously ripe with potential, in every way. Moving in first-person through a scene of singing and dancing would be brilliant, and that’s the simplest, dumbest example. Once you bring in actual interactivity, you get all kinds of possibilities. Narrative songs that branch, duets as battles of wills, singing things into or out of existence… character creation in song form! Even the idea of choreography that adjusts to your behaviour is exciting to me, and I don’t know a thing about dance.

    I’ve grabbed Game Maker to see if I can put together something in that, but I’m getting the impression that I won’t have the level of control over audio playback that I’d need to make it truly worthwhile (but I do have some neat ideas that I’m fairly confident will work).

  8. Brigand says:

    Is it only Ireland where a “Mickey” is slang for a penis? Or am I just really immature?

  9. circadianwolf says:

    “I mean, it’s a videogame musical. Who does that?”

    Deirdra Kiai.

  10. Paul says:

    This is nice and all, but I really want Spector to make another immersive emergent sim game. That was the original promise of Junction Point….and I am still waiting.

  11. Shooop says:

    Old Disney movies were musicals of sorts, so why not make a game like that? I think it’s a long overdue idea.

  12. Uninteresting Curse File Implement says:

    I still remember the area in Epic Mickey where I finally decided to put it down and never touch it again.
    How is it that we still have platformer games and, what’s even worse, platforming sections in non-platforming games like Dark Souls, in goddamn 2010-s? With all the things videogames can do now, how have we not outgrown this concept yet? Does any person at all enjoy making their way back up painstakingly for minutes after inexplicably hitting some ledge with their toes and plummeting all the way down over and over and over?

    P.S. don’t bring up Psychonauts, that game was good DESPITE its platforming, not because of it.

    • JackShandy says:

      I guess you’re counting Sen’s Fortress as a platforming section?

      • Uninteresting Curse File Implement says:

        I actually didn’t have any trouble in Sen’s Fortress at all. It’s Blighttown that made me shake my fists in rage. Terrible framerate in that level, strange geometry glitches and the fact that running, rolling, dodging and jumping are all bound to one button caused me a lot of grief.