The fine folks at Activision and Toys for Bob were gracious enough to answer some questions about the upcoming game, Skylanders Giants. Alex Ness, Chief of Staff at Toys for Bob, gives us plenty of insight into the new Skylanders game and we have to say we are even more excited about this game then prior to the interview. We want to thank Alex for taking the time to answer ours questions and we look forward to all the new and exciting information yet to be released about Skylanders Giants. If this game is not on your radar, then you need to put it there now.
Skylanders Giants Q & A
Alex Ness, Toys for Bob Chief of Staff
June 25, 2012
1) What is the storyline behind Skylanders Giants and do we expect to see Chaos more powerful than before with greater challenges and allies? Does Chaos have his own Giants? Are there any new elements introduced or does Giants still use the same elements?
ALEX: Well as you might expect, Kaos is none too happy about being exiled to Earth like he was at the end of Skylanders Spyro's Adventure. He finds a way to return to Skylands though, actually using one of our Portals of Power used in a toy store display. And when he does return, he lands in a very ancient part of the world and discovers the remnants of a civilization that ruled Skylands over 10,000 years ago. A race of magical and technological beings called the Arkeyans. Kaos is able to activate one of their robots and quickly learns that if he can acquire something known as the "Iron Fist of Arkus", he can not only reactivate the entire army of Arkeyan robots but also command them. With that kind of power, Kaos would pretty much be unstoppable so it's up to you to get to this Iron Fist before he does. The original Skylanders, the Giants, who fought the Arkeyans all those years ago are back too to help stop them again.
2) Can we expect the Series 1 characters to be playable in Giants along with the brand new characters yet to be announced? How many new characters can we expect in Giants? How many actually Giant characters will there be initially? Total Skylanders playable at launch of Giants?
ALEX: Absolutely! We know that many players invested a lot in their Skylanders toys, both in terms of money and time. We wanted that investment to carry over into Skylanders Giants so all original Skylanders toys will work in the new game and have all their same amounts of experience points, upgrades, and even treasure. Then there are tons of great new Skylanders as well. We have 8 Giants + 8 new regular Skylanders, 2 for each element. Not sure about which ones will be available at launch, but I believe we are planning waves just like we did last time. Then there are the Series 2 and LightCore Skylanders as well.
3) Can we expect special variations of Giants as well as the Series 2 characters such as Legendary, Special Colors, etc.? I really love leveling up my Skylanders so my biggest question is has the level cap increased from 10 and will original characters carry over their levels to the new game?
ALEX: Oops, I gave away part of that answer already. Yes, your original characters will carry their levels on to the new game and can level up beyond 10 there as well. I do believe we are absolutely planning Legendaries again, as well as some other cool alternate types.
4) Will gameplay remain pretty much the same and does it take place in all new environments or will we revisit environments from the first game? What kind of differences can we expect in gameplay? Have the Giants required a change in gameplay that we are used to?
ALEX: We're planning all new environments. We're keeping the gameplay that was cool in Spyro's Adventure and adding in some cool new features. We've got stuff just for the Giants, like these things we call "feats of strength" where Giants can use their superior strength and size to do something. Examples include pulling floating islands over to you with a big chain or picking up large boulders and throwing them. Then for all Skylanders, Giants included, we've got some interesting new mechanics as well that should hopefully feel familiar and intuitive to the Skylanders universe but also fresh and new as well. We've really tried hard to strike a good balance of not changing so much of the game that fans of Spyro's Adventure will miss what they loved about the first game but enough so that they feel like they're also getting something new too.
5) Any chance that online multiplayer could be a possibility with the new game or even as an update? I think it could be hugely popular.
ALEX: Probably won't be a feature in Giants but I do hope this is something we can look into down the road. I think it could be a lot of fun. As for right now though, we are really focused in improving the non-online multiplayer features for people in the same room, like co-op and player-vs-player gameplay.
6) What is the one new feature in the game that you really think fans will enjoy and could possibly entice even more gamers to jump on board with the Skylanders franchise?
ALEX: Ooh, that's a good question. My initial reaction was to say the Giants themselves, since I think they are really cool in a lot of ways. But I think in terms of bringing more gamers to jump on board with the Skylanders franchise, I think about maybe more hardcore gamers who might perceive Skylanders as not necessarily being for them. Well for this hardcore gamer, we have really improved the feeling of combat and interaction with enemies in Giants. It's got a lot more depth to the experience, and I believe those players will appreciate that.
7) Who is your favorite Skylander (Series 1, Series 2 or a Giant) and why?
ALEX: You know, now that we have 32 original Skylanders (+ alts), 24 Series 2 Skylanders, 8 Giants, 8 brand new Skylanders, and 8 LightCore Skylanders (+ alts for all the new stuff too), it is impossible for me to answer that question. It's like answering what my favorite song of all time is. There are just too many good ones. I can tell you that from Series 1, I am pretty partial to Lightning Rod, Drobot, Gill Grunt, and Flameslinger. Good combination of personality and fun-to-playness. Then for all the new guys, I am not sure what I am allowed to talk about yet since we haven't released the info on everybody yet but I can say that our starter pack Giant, Tree Rex, does a pretty good job representing the experience of playing a big, lumbering, unstoppable, powerful Giant. I feel awesome when I play with that guy.
8) Do you think there is one Skylander Giants character that will stand out among the rest as generally a fan favorite?
ALEX: Well I do think Tree Rex will be pretty well-received and certainly, everyone will get to play with him because he's part of the starter pack but our goal, when we come up with these guys, is to make sure that every single one could be a fan favorite. Or somebody's favorite character. We would never say, "Well, this Giant is not necessarily an A-lister but they're pretty cool and we've already got plenty of other A-list Giants so we can have a few B's in there." No way. We remind ourselves every day that someone out there will love each and every one of these Skylanders and we need to make sure that they all deliver.
9) If you had to pitch the new game to gamers and give them one good reason to really want Skylanders Giants, what would that one thing be?
ALEX: I'd say that we took a AAA, polished game in Spyro's Adventure, applied all the knowledge we received from the experience of making it and the experiences players have had, improved the gameplay, improved the characters, and even improved the toys themselves (significantly) to deliver a really strong sequel. I'd also say that if you ever wanted to feel like a giant and destroy everything in your path (and who hasn't?), this is your chance!
General Sklylander Questions
1) Where do you see this franchise going in the future? Is Skylanders the modern day Pokemon and do you think you have enough content/characters to keep this going on for years?
ALEX: To us, the idea of bringing toys to life inside a video game has a limitless future and maybe one day, we won't be able to imagine toys NOT coming to life in some other medium. People will always love toys and expanding what they are capable of seems like it will always or interest. We also made sure to create a world of the Skylands that is fairly limitless itself. We have characters of every element and an infinite world. We represent a lot of the traditional fantasy archetypes that have endured for centuries and hopefully brought a unique style of humor and charm and general whimsicality that hopefully will continue to appeal to our audience as well as new audiences down the road.
2) Any chance the consoles could become compatible with mobile technology? Especially with the recent announcement of Xbox Smart Glass. The possiblities could be endless.
ALEX: I don't know too much about what's in store for the future but the hope is that this thing just grows and grows, reaching every platform.
3) Have you ever considered possibly allowing for a stat to be kept for your Skylander figurine regarding which friends(gamertags) he has helped or visited? Would be a great feature if online but even just locally when taking a figure over to a friends house.
ALEX: We have thought about that a little bit and if the Skylands Universe, the web world, continues to expand, it wouldn't surprise me if that is something we looked closer at.
4) Ever considered a sandbox feature where kids can take their Skylanders into a world and run obstacles courses, battle, compete in different events, etc?
ALEX: Yes and we do have something kind of like this! The web world I just mentioned. It is expanding and we hope that will continue and more and more different types of games and events will become available.
5) Is it true that there are hundreds of Skylander prototype that just never made it into the game? I'd love to see a picture of that bookcase with all the prototypes!
ALEX: Many of our Skylanders changed a little over the course of development but just about all of them are somewhat true to their original forms, just very much improved upon. The bookcase you mention has a lot of the different toy prototypes as that was an extremely iterative process. We had never made toys before and a lot of thought and care went into getting them right. Thus, we did a lot of tests and tried a lot of different things before getting to the final incarnation. On Giants, we've actually put even more care into these things and improved the overall quality even more. Besides new features like LightCore, where certain toys actually light up on the Portal of Power, we also feel like the general look and pose of the new toys will better match their in-game models as well as just generally look cooler.