Join Jesse Schell, the creator of Toontown Online, as he picks 10 community-submitted questions to be answered by none other than the man himself for ToonFest at OMG!Con 2015. The winners received a Toontown Prize Pack!
Check out the Toontown blog for more details: https://www.toontownrewritten.com/news/item/266/omgcon-update-jesse-schell-talks-toonfest
After founding Toontown, Jesse Schell left Walt Disney Imagineering to become a professor of Entertainment Technology at Carnegie Mellon University and create his own game studio, Schell Games. Jesse continues to follow Toontown and its fans today in hopes of officially bringing it back, and is an active supporter of Toontown Rewritten. You may have even seen him running around town on his red rabbit, Jaymo!
---!Con 2015 - Jesse Schellivision
Published on Jun 13, 2015 by Toontown Rewritten
- At ---!Con 2015
- Jesse Schell: Hello, ToonFest!
- I hope you guys are ready because I'm here to answer some of your questions.
- A lot of you sent in questions, I'm gonna-- I've picked out ten here that I think are, I don't know, particularly interesting to talk about, so I'm just gonna go for it and talk about it, so... without further ado, here it goes!
- Question 1
- Leaf Side:
- What is the inspiration for Toontown and its art direction?
- Jesse Schell: Ok. Question number one comes in from Leaf Side and the question is, "What is the inspiration for Toontown and for its art direction?"
- So now, Toontown had an awful lot of inspirations--we were inspired by things like old Bugs Bunny cartoons and certainly by the Roger Rabbit movie, but one thing you might not think about is that Toontown was inspired by... uh, the Carl Barks Duckburg.
|(music changes to the music from Trolley Tracks)|
- Um, ya know, Carl Barks was the guy who made up the idea of Duckburg--the whole town where Donald and his friends lived, ya know, he made up Uncle Scrooge, and he made up Gyro Gearloose, and we loved that idea of it being a real world--that's what was so cool about Duckburg, and a lot of us had grown up reading the Uncle Scrooge comics, and so that was interesting and familiar, um, to us and so, uh, an awful lot came from there, but really, it was a- it was a big mix of influences.
|(music changes to the music used in the Maze Game, Catching Game, Ring Game, and Toon Tag.)|
- Oh, but I should also tell you the story of where Toontown originally came from--Toontown didn't start as Toontown.
- Toontown originally was a demonstration of multiplayer gameplay called "Toon Tag" that we ended up installing at EPCOT Center.
- Um, I had, uh, just built it with some other people at the VR Studio to show that, you know, multiplayer gameplay could be fun with Disney characters and, um, the Disney Online really liked it so we put it in EPCOT Center, and it was there for a number of years, and that really helped give 'em confidence that maybe uh, Toontown would be a good idea.
- The Toon Tag, uh... minigame, you know, Toon Tag, the Trolley Game is--is a direct result of, uh, of that.
- Ok, second question... from Professor Brainiac.
- Question 2
- Professor Brainiac:
- There were some rumors going around about a new playground called "Funny Farms." Was this just a rumor or an idea that got scrapped? If it wasn't a rumor, how far into the planning did you go before Funny Farms was scrapped?
- Jesse Schell: "There were some rumors going around about a new Playground called "Funny Farms". Was this a rumor, or an idea that got scrapped, or... or what was it? If it wasn't a rumor, how far into planning did we go before it got scrapped?"
|(music changes to the music used in the Gag Shop after a Trolley Game.)|
- Early on, we had a plan to do, I think eight Neighborhoods? Eight, maybe nine?
- I can't find those old notes--I've been digging around for them.
- And over time, we realized, "You know, we don't really need that many, we don't quite need that many Neighborhoods," and the number got kinda cut back and cut back.
- One of the early ideas was Funny Farm.
- We weren't quite sure who's Neighborhood it was going to be. There was some talk that maybe we would have farmer Goofy there, but maybe there's some--there are some old cartoons with farmer Donald, maybe it was going to be Donald's Neighborhood, but I think we talked the most about it being Goofy's Neighborhood.
- The problem we had with the Funny Farm idea, was the idea of city streets that were all barns and farm buildings--it just didn't feel farm-like enough!
|(music changes to the music used in rural races in Goofy Speedway.)||music goes here|
- You needed big open fields for it to be a farm, and that just wasn't working with the whole street system that we had, so the more we thought about it, the weirder it seemed, and eventually we decided, uh, that we weren't going to do it.
- Question 3
- Mister Fluffy McMuffin:
- You were in the staff at one point in Disney's Toontown's lifetime. Do you prefer to be "behind-the-wheel" of Toontown? Or do you enjoy bring the player and experiencing Toontown as a toon rather than a developer/staff member?
- Jesse Schell: Ok, question three, Mister Fluffy McMuffin asks "You were in the staff at one point in Disney's Toontown's lifetime." Yup, I was--I was definitely there at the beginning and led it all the way to launch. "Do you prefer to be behind the wheel of Toontown, or do you enjoy being a player and experiencing it rather than a developer or staff member?"
- You know, really, I enjoy them both, but most of all, I really do love making worlds.
- Making Toontown was absolutely amazing and my buildi--doing that at Disney was great, and following up with it at Schell Games where we made things like Parties, uh, was just an incredible experience.
- The thing I love most is remaking games and making worlds, so, that's really--if I had to pick, that would definitely be, uh, what I would pick.
- Question 4
- Anthropomorphic Cat:
- You mentioned in the past on Twitter that you're trying to get TTO, can you give us more information on that topic?
|(music changes to... some Toon Party music.)||music goes here|
- Jesse Schell: Ok, number four from Anthropomorphic Cat.
- He says--ok, this is a question everybody wants to know--"You mentioned in the past on Twitter that you're trying to get Toontown Online. Can you give us more information on that topic?"
- Ok, it's simple. Uh... Ok, it's simple but it's complicated.
- [rolls eyes]
- But it IS simple.
- Uh... I would love to find a way to reopen Toontown.
- I chat with Disney about this now and then.
- We're trying to find ways to do it.
- The problem is, right now, the market for it doesn't make a lot of sense--people aren't paying money for web games like they used to on a subscription basis.
- Everyone would like to see it go mobile, but man it's hard to make money off mobile games! And--so, what we're all waiting around for is a business model that's gonna make sense.
- What I think might happen, is that subscriptions on mobile might start to work. Because adding ongoing content into Toontown and really keeping it running, AND keeping the hackers out, AND making it a great experience--it's not a cheap endeavor, and--and if you don't do it on a subscription basis, I don't know how else to do it.
|(music changes to the ToonFest 2014 theme.)|
- But, it's something I really wanna do--I continue to be passionate about it, we're all thinking about it, we ha--we have meetings and we talk about it, I chat with Disney about it now and then--as soon as we find a way that like, looks like, "Ya know what, this is gonna work!", then it'll happen.
- And I think part of the key is, if we see one other RPG that goes out and works off a subscription basis and it's working, that's gonna be the path to follow. Um, but right now, we don't quite see it, but we're all holding out hope that we're going to find a way.
- I'm certainly not going to give up hope on this, uh, Toontown means way too much to me, and I'm very patient--I can wait. We'll find a way one day.
- You be patient too, and you hang in there
|(music changes to the music used in the streets in The Brrrgh.)||music goes here|
- You just keep showing the love and keeping the faith.
- Ok, question five from Tropical Storm...
- Question 5
- Tropical Storm:
- Were there ever any planned projects for Toontown that never made it into the game? If so, can you share any information on those project(s)?
- Jesse Schell: "Were there ever any planned projects for Toontown that never made it into the game? If so, can you share any information on these projects?" One of the ones that never made it into the game... uh, in the--in the initial plans--in the old old notes--we planned to--after you'd beaten the--all of the four VPs, you would, uh, get--I think you were gonna get pieces of a pie chart, I think was how it works--and once you had the whole pie chart put together, then you could go and you would go and fight the CEO and you would have this big CEO battle and then you would conquer and you would like totally win the game.
- The thing that was weird was, we didn't--nobody really liked the idea of totally winning the game.
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- It seemed weird 'cause that's not what Toontown is about, and so, we kinda set that aside and then kinda decided "Myeeehh, maybe we're just not going to quite do that".
- Anyway, uh, that was definitely--but it was part of the original plan--it was something we talked about a long time.
- Next question from Sir Samuel:
- Question 6
- Sir Samuel:
- If you could choose any animal to be playable on Toontown, which would it be, and why? :)
- Jesse Schell: "If you could choose any animal to be playable on Toontown, which would it be and why?" Personally, I would pick... [hand flourish] the Cow, because Moo!... cows are funny! Cows are amazing--Clarabelle the Cow is--is uh really funny and amazing. Uh, I--I think there would--it would have been the most fun to have Cows that would say "Moo moo moo, moo moo moo moo".
- Um, but that wasn't what was voted in, so it--it didn't--it didn't happen, but maybe one day!!!... [taps side of nose] it'll--it'll happen.
- Ok, question seven from Peanut:
- Question 7
- You said in an interview that you wanted to do a Toon vs. Toon arena. How would that have worked?
- Jesse Schell: "You said in an interview you wanted to do a Toon vs. Toon arena. How would that have worked?"
- Ok, so we though about this quite a bit. The idea was it would be a place you'd go, probably a place IN the playground. And, uh you could get a team vs a team, up to four Toons vs four Toons, and then they would have, uh, you know a battle with each other just like you'd have a Cog battle.
- The reason we never did this...
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