http://www.boston.com/business/technolo ... ideo_game/
Warren Spector realizes that he made a mistake with "Epic Mickey," his 2010 action-adventure game starring the world's most famous mouse
Despite his insistence on crafting an interactive homage to the silent cartoons that inspired him to create "Epic Mickey," the veteran designer admits that the game's characters should have actually spoken.
Spector, the mastermind behind such games as "Deus Ex" and "Thief," now is more than fixing that flub with "Disney Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two." He's not only tapped voice actors to portray the game's colorful cast, he's also making the sequel a musical. Jim Dooley and Mike Himelstein, the composer and lyricist who wrote the music for the upcoming animated film "Dorothy of Oz," are crafting original tunes for "Epic Mickey 2."
"I'm such a geek about musicals," said Spector at the recent Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, where he was honored with a lifetime achievement award. "I love the co-op and next-gen stuff, but for me, when a character breaks into song, which they do on a regular basis in this game, it's magic."
That includes Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, the zany predecessor to Mickey Mouse co-created by Walt Disney but lost in a 1928 contract dispute. Oswald returned to Disney's control in 2006 and had a starring role in the first "Epic Mickey." Oswald, who never uttered a word in a Disney cartoon, will be portrayed in "Epic Mickey 2" by veteran voice actor Frank Welker.
"I couldn't be more pleased," said Walt Disney Co. archive director Becky Cline, who has been uncovering Oswald's past and working with Spector on including more of the rabbit in the sequel. "Once you give a character a voice, it takes it to a whole new level. I can't wait for the public to see it and embrace Oswald the way that we have over the years in the archive."
Oswald is also getting in on the action this time as a playable character who joins the mouse's side in a new cooperative mode. Mickey will again wield a brush powered by magical paint and thinner, while Oswald is armed with a remote control that has the power to command electricity. Spector said the pair will have to work together to overcome obstacles.
"It's drop-in, drop-out co-op," said Spector. "You can sit down at any time with a friend who is playing as Mickey, and you can take control of Oswald. If you're playing as a single player, Oswald will be there every second of the game. He's not just a multiplayer character. He's a helper, whether you're playing alone or with a friend or family member."
After reintroducing Oswald and weaving his past into the storyline of the first game, Spector hopes Oswald's larger part wins the rabbit more fans. It's an unprecedented virtual push for a Disney character that most adults -- let alone children -- haven't been watching on TV, wearing on their backpack or taking their photo with at a theme park for the past 40 years.
"Epic Mickey 2" finds Mickey back in Wasteland, a twisted take on Disneyland filled with forgotten characters and theme park attractions. Spector said the mouse will return to a few places he visited during his first trip, but earthquakes and other disasters have changed their appearance. He teased that Mickey would also explore previously unseen Wasteland realms.
"There's always been one part of the (Disney) parks that I've always wanted to get into Wasteland," said Spector. "Frontierland has changed so much since it started. There's so much forgotten history there, so Frontierland is going to get a pretty good exploration this time around, plus some other places that we'll keep secret for now."