A non-violent game alternative, Toontown Online is a fun filled, ever changing online Toon world where players become Toons and join together to save the world from the evil Cogs. Toontown is under siege from an evil band of business robots called the Cogs. An unsuspecting Scrooge McDuck accidentally unleashed the money-hungry robots on the Town and they are attempting to turn the colorful world of Toontown into a black and white metropolis of skyscrapers and businesses. The player's job, as a Toon, is to help stop the Cogs and rescue the town.
Membership for the Disney's Toontown Online sneak preview is priced at $7.95 per month with an initial sign-up fee of $9.95, which covers the first 30 days. Initially players will receive three days of game play free before being required to provide a credit card for payment. At launch in June, membership will be $9.95 per month.
Disney's Toontown Online runs on the PC platform and requires a Pentium II 223 with an 8 mb 3D graphics card and is available at www.Toonwtown.com .
The game was developed by the VR Studio, now part of Walt Disney Internet Group (WDIG), using the Disney PANDA3D proprietary network game engine. The VR Studio was established as part of Walt Disney Imagineering R&D to drive the creativity and experience of the theme park experience into the rendered, online 3D world.
The Player's Character
Each player can choose to be a dog, cat, mouse, horse, rabbit or duck. They then personalize their Toon by mixing and matching body types, height, over 100 clothing styles, and colors. Once the player has made these selections they will name their newly created avatar.
Each player is provided a Shticker Book which has several key features. Among other things, it includes a map, inventory sheet, record of accomplishments, and game options menu.
Located in the upper right corner of the screen, the player's Friends List informs a player which of their friends are currently online and allows players to teleport directly to them-as long as they are not fighting to convert a Cog Skyscraper back to a Toon Building.
Disney's Toontown Online features two major industry innovations, SpeedChat and Secret Friends, to enable safe communication within the community for participating kids. These features also allow players to control their level of interaction with the broad, game audience.
SpeedChat is a menu-based tool which gives players several layers of pre-written phrases that they can link together to form sentences. SpeedChat adapts for each avatar based on the Tasks they have been assigned and allows a dynamic means of safe and easy communication among younger aged children.
Secret Friends allows two players who know each other outside the game to chat freely within the game environment. By exchanging a time-sensitive secret password—generated by the game and exchanged via some external (not in-game) form of communication—two players can chat freely with one another. These chat messages are filtered for obscenities between friends, and are incomprehensible to other Toons in the vicinity.
Toontown currently consists of six neighborhoods:
Each neighborhood has a Playground, where players are safe from Cog Encounters. Here players will find the Trolley Station that takes them to a mini-game (see below). Each Playground has some type of activity for players to enjoy. Surrounding the Playground are the streets where Toons will encounter the Cogs.
The only way to stop the Cogs from changing Toontown is to confront them in battle. A player can fight the Cogs alone or with a group of Toon friends. The player defeats a Cog using an array of 42 cartoon props and gags such as a "pie in the face" or a "squirt from a seltzer bottle." Cogs, retaliate with their own suite of attacks like "Canning" or tying up the Toon in "Red Tape."
If too many Cogs enter a Toon building, it can be Incorporated—equivalent to a hostile takeover. The former Toon Business is converted to a Cog Skyscraper. Toons can band together, enter these Skyscrapers and after successfully defeating all of the Cogs inside, win the building back for Toontown. When creating Toontown, developers made key choices in ease of battle and ease of battle grouping, so that casual/non-gamers would be able to join in and have fun while learning the strategy of battle. In addition, the developers decided that battles would not be action based, in the sense of Toons directing accuracy or being able to dodge cog attacks and other things, but rather strategy based. As players move through Toontown, the action elements are centered in the Trolley games.
There are seven tracks for the players to master (although any given player/Toon gets to choose which 6 tracks to master): Throw, Squirt, Drop, Trap, Lure, Sound and Toon Up (healing). Each track has six levels of gags. As the player advances in the game, more levels and props become available for them to use in battle. Bonuses are rewarded when Toons cooperate strategically in battle, and gags have unique properties which can be maximized for Toons to succeed in battle.
Mini-games are simple games of skill and chance. There are currently 8 Mini-Games players can play.
The Catching Game
Mini-games are not just a fun activity for the player. Every time a player uses a prop in battle, that item is subtracted from their inventory. By playing mini-games, the player earns jelly beans/points. The points awarded to the player or players who win the mini-game can be used—either in post-game Gag Shop or Playground Gag Shops— to purchase additional battle props.
There hundreds of quests or "Tasks" integrated into story and gameplay which are assigned to players by Non-Player Characters. Successful completion of the missions rewards the player with a boost in experience and/or inventory.
Innovations on the Massively Multiplayer Genre
Universal themes and humor
Gradual access to complexity using tutorial and quests
Short play sessions
Light death penalties
Parents and kids can safely share avatars
Cooperative 4-player minigames
Seamless grouping system
Teleport to friends
Multiplayer turn-based combat
Context sensitive menu-based chat
Elimination of most in-game economic problems
Inexpensive to maintain and operate
Password protected chat with parental control
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