Disney wanted to commission an expansive online experience to support Mickey and Friends across TV shows like “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse” and “Mickey and the Roadsters” for their junior audience (ages 2-5), that would deliver gentle gameplay and story driven exploration.
Strong themes of dressing up and embodying a role such a “Firefighter”, “Chef” or an“Astronaut” and going on adventures across a host of different landscapes, were to be at the heart of the experience.
We proposed an experience that was to be strongly character-driven with a clear focus on role-playing, that immerses the user in the Mickey Mouse universe and sets them off adventuring across a diverse range of landscapes and world themes, solving problems while playing a wide variety of character roles.
As they play the user would constantly be rewarded with positive feedback and un-lockables. The delightful gameplay would feature a wide plethora of activities and game mechanics but with simple and intuitive control schemes, easily playable by the youngest of users.
We were also determined to maintain the high quality look and feel of the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse show by making use of the actual 3D assets used in the TV production, as well as utilising sophisticated animation techniques and visual effects the bring the world to life.
Translating 3D assets faithfully to the browser as bespoke HTML5 content meant using 3D software to pose and render out all the artwork we needed, as well as custom modelling some bespoke bits!
Designing a game that not only allowed Mickey and Minnie to go on seven distinct adventures, but wear any one of seven different outfits whilst doing so makes for a huge amount of possible combinations and a vast amount of creative assets. These would need to be carefully managed to keep the gameplay coming without huge loading times.
Keeping the games engaging and varied whilst making sure the gameplay was never too challenging or difficult to control for the very young (3-6yr old) audience took some careful balancing and testing with the target audience.
We’re really pleased with how the story elements blend with the gameplay to form a cohesive and immersive adventure though each zone, and how the player can customise this by playing in whatever role they like, wether thats playing through the farm adventure as an astronaut or through the pirate story as a rockstar!
The gameplay itself is gentle and simple, with easy single-tap based control for most interactions, that suit the target 2-5 year old age range and keep the game easy to get into, especially on mobile, touch-based devices.
The game gives the player subtle guidance by selecting (by default) the outfit which matches their zone selection, but if the player chooses to go with an outfit that doesn’t suit the task at hand, they can still play through the whole zone. At the end they are treated to a silly surprise moment when Mickey and Minnie realise that they can’t rocket boost up a mountain dressed as farmers or rock-out on stage without microphones, followed by a comedy entrance by a (correctly dressed!) Donald to show them how it’s done.
With seven separate narratives across seven completely distinct ‘zones’, involving a host of characters and Mickey and Minnie playing any one of seven different roles, Mickey and Minnie’s Universe marks the largest game we have built to date. This scale and variety is helping keep kids engaged for longer with the Disney reporting some of the highest average session lengths of any game currently on their site.