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Some quick behind the scenes Toy Box summit snapshots I took while everyone was showing off their Toy Boxes.
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Morning all. Over the weekend I had the privilege of meeting and hanging out with some of the most creative people in the universe. Avalanche Software hosted the first Toy Box Summit. Incredible artists from around the world converged on our little city and we celebrated all things Toy Box. It was a weekend of a million smiles and even a few tears of joy as the artists shared with us who they are and what they are capable of doing.
I took a moment yesterday to pause and watch all of the attendees playing the Toy Box and my eye was drawn to a small boy playing off in the corner by himself. He wasn’t competing and he had nothing to play for, but he was playing in the Toy Box and it was beautiful. He had stacked up houses and was flying through them. It’s such a small thing but I couldn’t help but make the link between what he was doing and the extraordinary creativity that the older artists were displaying.
At its heart the Toy Box is about imaginative play, and imaginative play is the heart of creativity and innovation. Proof of that was amply displayed throughout the summit. Thank you to all of the artists who came. You inspired me and showed me that Disney Magic is alive and well in the digital domain. You are an amazing group and I will forever cherish the experience we shared together.
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justin-wonderland said: Must be pretty close to shipping the game, so congrats on that! Any plans to upload some Toy Box 2.0 videos as you did last year? :)
Hi Justin. I will definitely be creating Toy Box 2.0 videos along with the five Toy Box artists Avalanche hired from the community. In fact, this evening I started setting things up to begin recording. Watch for them to start showing up at the Disney Infinity channel on youtube in the not too distant future.
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Perhaps the best Toy Box TV segment of all time? I was lucky enough to be able to help out on this video. I make a ghostly cameo. Can you spot me? The community team has shaped up to be an incredibly talented and fun group. You get a pretty good sense of their personalities from the video.
For those of you wondering about the castle, it was created by the incredibly talented Boston Madsen, one of the modeler/texture artists on the Toy Box team. She created it for fun and other than being a centerpiece to the decor in the artists’ area, it has no direct tie to Infinity. But it sure is neat:).
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I just got home from a hectic and crazy day. In case you missed it, we announced Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes 2.0 edition. For me the most exciting part of the event was John Blackburn announcing that we are hiring a team of Toy Box artists to work with us at Avalanche Software. (I get to work directly with them!) We are going to see if we can push the boundaries of what user-generated content can become and help forge the future of the Toy Box; think of it as the ultimate Toy Box Challenge. We are looking for the very best people, (I’m talking to you, and you, and you.) As John mentioned we have already hired CrazyByNick and we are starting to interview other talented artists and designers. I haven’t ever seen an opportunity quite like this and I think it’s going to be a blast! If you love creating games, and you are good at it, don’t let the opportunity slip by. You can get more information and apply here. If you have any questions feel free to send me a message.
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iliam said: Hi Chad, The DI 2.0 Marvel Super Heroes announcement was amazing today. One question I had and I'm sure I will think of more, but it was mentioned that specific logic toys would be possible to create story moments, e.g. fade in/out. Will their be other toys like camera controls(for a cut scene), and text overlays? Thank you, and congrats on the announcement.
Thank you iliam. I’m glad you enjoyed the announcement. Indeed, there are a variety of new logic toys and enhancements that we are creating to improve the experience of creating stories in the Toy Box. There are two new camera types and all of the cameras have fancy new features including screen fades. Text is coming too, with specifics TBA.
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I just finished watching Grounded: The Making the Last of Us. If you have played the game and you haven’t seen the film put whatever you are doing down and click play. Not only is it one of the most insightful depictions of the game making process ever created, but it shows the depth of thought possessed by the best designers, artist, and programmers developing games. It eloquently shows the most important aspect of game creation- the emotions that you want to feel as a player should drive every decision that goes into creating a game. Bravo Naughty Dog and Level 5!
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Evening everyone. Last year I received a handful of Disney Inventor Awards. (Three are pictured here and I’m waiting to receive another one or two.) They were given for design work I did on Disney Infinity that resulted in patents for Disney. I’m particularly proud of the award that is shown top center. I received it for conceiving and designing the logic and creativitoy system in the Toy Box.
I also photographed the Disney Employee Recognition award that I received a couple of years ago. I posted about it previously, but at the time Infinity hadn’t been announced so I wasn’t able to say why I received it. The inscription on the award reads-
As part of the Avalanche team working on Disney Infinity, Chad leads and acts with enthusiasm. Chad had a vision for the Toy Box that extended beyond common ground and a drive that allowed him to in essence, change the game. His efforts provided an experience so compelling that the Toy Box is now the centerpiece of the Disney Infinity experience.
It’s kind of funny to me how things change. When I received the award I don’t think anyone had any idea how significant Disney Infinity would be and I certainly didn’t know how, with the help of a lot of people, my little prototype would develop into the centerpiece of the game that helped return Disney Interactive to profitability. It’s a huge honor and blessing to be a part of and I will forever treasure these mementos of my contribution.
On the photography side these shots were a significant challenge to take. By the time I was done I think I used nine light stands, three monolights, two speedlights, five or six flags, and a whole lot of trial and error. I snapped a behind the scenes shot of the setup. If anyone is interested in it let me know and I’ll post it.
Nooooo!!!! They shot this in my secret alley, one of the few places in SLC that actually feels authentically urban. I’ve been shooting here for twenty years. Many a wall texture in Twisted Metal came from this alley. Something tells me it’s never going to be the same.
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Hi everyone. As most people who know me are aware, I’m very passionate about the idea of teaching people, particularly children, how to harness creativity and logic skills. Recently I’ve been reading about academic thought on the subject of teaching these specific skills. Various articles are creeping into mainstream media, (ted.org, wired.com, etc.,) covering the best methods for teaching and in particular I’ve been paying attention to thought relating to teaching children about programming. The consensus seems to be that academia would like to see programming concepts taught at a much younger age. I’m not going to get into that side much. But thinking about this coaxed me out of my cocoon to share some thoughts and I would like to make a request as well.
In Disney Infinity, the entire Creativitoys system inside the Toy Box is our effort to help children learn programming concepts and apply them in a creative way. My belief when I set out to design the logic system was that there is probably no better way to teach children programming concepts than in a mainstream video game. I felt we could essentially sneak in teaching programming concepts in a fun and transparent way.
In Infinity, the, “language,” portion of programming is a magic wand and it works it’s programming magic simply by pointing at various objects and connecting them to each other. In programming terms each object you connect with the magic wand represents a function, operator, or other type of logic controller. By connecting them you create programs, and it scales to handle pretty shockingly complex functionality. It has proven to be a very effective interface or language to teach just about anyone, including children as young as five, to program.
The process of developing the system combined with parsing user data gave us a mountain of insight into the subject of teaching children programming. One of the most shocking observations was that pretty much anyone can program. The easy part of the problem is actually learning the language side. And it doesn’t really matter how old a person is. Within 15 minutes or so I’m pretty confident I can get almost anyone to make their own, “programs,” in Infinity. The takeaway was teaching someone the language of programming isn’t particularly hard if the language isn’t abstract or overtly technical.
By far the most difficult thing to do is to help an individual turn that language understanding into something creative or useful. While it is easy to learn the core functionality it’s very difficult to transition into understanding the potential applications for that understanding. In Infinity I’ve watched countless people connect a trigger plate to a confetti cannon, step on the plate and watch the fireworks. This is a program, but it’s not particularly useful or innovative. However, I haven’t seen too many people do something like this. Why?
This phenomenon where understanding and usefulness don’t necessarily correlate actually parallels both traditional language learning and usage as well as traditional programming. Everyone learns to speak and write but how many of us innovate with it? I think the pinnacle of many individual’s creative writing skills are probably making a shopping list. And how many professional programmers actively engage in writing innovative code to create compelling and valuable applications? What are a legion of students who understand the concepts of programming going to do with it? Will they do more than the average person does with any other primary school taught skill?
So, to me the great challenge is how can educators, parents, and *gasp* video game creators, take a pupil, (or, “player,” as we call them,) by the hand and lead them from understanding programming principles to creatively applying them to create art, solve problems, or simply innovate? And, can we make this process more engaging and, dare I say, fun? Moving towards a better way of doing this is at the core of my responsibilities on our current project. I would love to open a dialog with Infinity players, parents, kids, and academics on how to better accomplish this. If you or someone you know with an expertise in this would be willing to volunteer some insight I would love to start a dialog.
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