Toontown Online

Last updated
Disney's Toontown Online
Toontown-Logo.svg
Developer Disney's Virtual Reality Studio
Schell Games [1]
Frogchildren Studios [2]
Type Massively multiplayer online game
Launch dateJune 2, 2003 (2003-06-02)
DiscontinuedSeptember 19, 2013 (2013-09-19) [3] [4]
Platform Macintosh operating systems and Microsoft Windows [5]
MembersUnknown
Website toontown.go.com
(Archived on August 24, 2013)

Disney's Toontown Online, commonly known as Toontown Online or Toontown, was a 3D massively multiplayer online role-playing game based on a cartoon animal world, developed by Disney's Virtual Reality Studio and Schell Games, published by the Walt Disney Company. [6]

Massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs) are a combination of role-playing video games and massively multiplayer online games in which a very large number of players interact with one another within a virtual world.

A virtual world is a computer-based simulated environment which may be populated by many users who can create a personal avatar, and simultaneously and independently explore the virtual world, participate in its activities and communicate with others. These avatars can be textual, two or three-dimensional graphical representations, or live video avatars with auditory and touch sensations. In general, virtual worlds allow for multiple users but single player computer games, such as Skyrim, can also be considered a type of virtual world.

Schell Games video game developer

Schell Games is a game design and development company based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It was founded in 2002 by game developer Jesse Schell. Schell Games creates video games and interactive experiences for education and entertainment.

Contents

The Toontown Online online servers were shut down and/or merged over the years, with the final server to close being the United States (then merged with the United Kingdom) on September 19, 2013. [3] A month before the closure, Disney released a statement that the company would be "shifting its focus to other online and mobile play experiences, such as Club Penguin and a growing selection of mobile apps." [7]

<i>Club Penguin</i> Massively multiplayer online game

Club Penguin was a massively multiplayer online game (MMO), involving a virtual world that contained a range of online games and activities. It was created by New Horizon Interactive. Players used cartoon penguin-avatars and played in a winter-set virtual world. After beta-testing, Club Penguin was made available to the general public on October 24, 2005, and expanded into a large online community, such that by late 2007, it was claimed Club Penguin had over 30 million user accounts. In July 2013, Club Penguin had over 200 million registered user accounts.

Gameplay

Toons

Players could create characters called "Toons". Players were able to customize their Toons in various shapes, colors, clothes and sizes, as well as their species, with choices consisting of cats, dogs, ducks, mice, pigs, rabbits, bears, horses and monkeys. [8]

Combat

"Cogs" were the antagonists in-game, stylized to be corporate robots that wanted to take over the town to propagate business culture. Cogs came in four types: brown-clad Bossbots, blue-clad Lawbots, green-clad Cashbots, and maroon-clad Sellbots, each with increasing levels throughout the game that increased their health and damage. [9]

Toons began with basic 'Gags' and a 15-point 'Laff' meter and have a maximum of 137 point laff meter at the end of the game. Gags, rooted in old cartoon slapstick humor, were weapons used to destroy the Cogs in Cog battles. Each 'gag track' had Gags with different properties that could be unlocked by completing 'Toontasks', and each gag track would get progressively more powerful as 'toons' used their gags more. [10] [11] The Laff meter functioned as health meter, representing how much damage toons could take from the Cogs before going 'sad' – in-game defeat. [12] Cogs were battled using a timed turn-based combat system with up to four Toons in a battle. Cogs could be fought on the streets of the game, in 'Cog buildings', or in their own designated 'Cog HQ', with each Cog HQ having their own designated bosses, which could be fought by obtaining a full set of their designated Cog disguise outfit. These include the VP (Vice-President, Sellbot HQ), CFO (Chief Financial Officer, Cashbot HQ) CJ (Chief Justice, Lawbot HQ), and CEO (Chief Executive Officer, Bossbot HQ). [13]

Slapstick genre

Slapstick is a style of humor involving exaggerated physical activity which exceeds the boundaries of normal physical comedy. The term arises from a device developed during the broad, physical comedy style known as commedia dell'arte in 16th-century Italy. The "slap stick" consists of two thin slats of wood, which make a "slap" when striking another actor, with little force needed to make a loud—and comical—sound. The physical slap stick remains a key component of the plot in the traditional and popular Punch and Judy puppet show.

Health (gaming) gaming-related attribute

Health or vitality is an attribute assigned to entities such as characters or objects within role-playing games and video games, that indicates their continued ability to function. Health is usually measured in hit points or health points, shortened to HP which lowers by set amounts when the entity is attacked or injured. When the HP of a player character or non-player character reaches zero, that character is incapacitated and barred from taking further action. In some games, such as those with cooperative multiplayer and party based role playing games, it may be possible for an ally to revive a character who has reached 0 hit points and let them return to action. In single player games, running out of health usually equates to "dying" and losing a life or receiving a Game Over.

A Toon in Toontown Central, the first playground available in-game. Toontown Online, Toontown Central Screenshot 5-25-2012.jpg
A Toon in Toontown Central, the first playground available in-game.

Non-combat activities

Playgrounds were the only areas of Toontown permanently safe from Cogs. In the playgrounds, Toons could regain lost Laff Points, receive or complete ToonTasks unique to each playground, purchase gags, play trolley games, go fishing, kart racing or golfing. By completing ToonTasks, Toons would grow in strength through additional Laff Points or new Gags. Laff Point increases were also available through fishing, racing and golfing challenges. There was a playground in each neighborhood of Toontown. Each playground featured one of Disney's classic animated characters as a non-player character. These playgrounds consisted of the following main playgrounds: Toontown Central, Daisy Gardens, Donald's Dock, Minnie's Melodyland, The Brrrgh, Donald's Dreamland and extra playgrounds including: Goofy's Speedway, and Chip & Dale's Acorn Acres. [14]

A non-player character (NPC) is any character in a game which is not controlled by a player. The term originated in traditional tabletop role-playing games, where it applies to characters controlled by the gamemaster or referee, rather than another player. In video games, this usually means a character controlled by the computer via algorithmic, predetermined or responsive behavior, but not necessarily true artificial intelligence.

Every Toontown Online account came with a player's estate. Each estate consisted of a fishing pond and six houses for each Toon on the player's account. Players could customize their Toon's appearance and house with objects ordered from the in-game catalog by using jellybeans, the in-game currency. Wardrobes held clothing and accessories that were not currently being worn. Other elements of estates included Doodles (pets), gardening, fishing, cannons and play tables, which featured playable Chinese checkers, checkers and Connect Four. [15]

Online safety features

Toontown Online was marketed and developed towards all ages, which is why a chat restriction was placed on the game. Players could only chat using "SpeedChat", a list of pre-approved phrases set by Disney that the player could select. It included general English phrases, in-game strategy phrases, and, occasionally, seasonal phrases. Players could purchase more SpeedChat phrases using, most of the time, 100 jellybeans. "SpeedChat Plus" and "Secret Friends", later renamed to "True Friends", were introduced some time after the game's release, which had to be enabled using a parental account if the player was under 13 years of age. SpeedChat Plus allowed the player to type their own messages against a word filter developed by Disney; if a word was not allowed, it was replaced with an onomatopoeia of that player's Toon's species. True Friends allowed players to chat with a less-restrictive filter with certain friends who have shared a "True Friend code" with each other. [16]

Parties

Parties were hostable, plannable and customizable events by Toons. Toons would use their stored jellybeans in their bank to customize and add content to their parties, such as fireworks, minigames (Tug 'O War, etc.), trampolines, party cannons, etc. To plan a party, Toons would go to a Toon Party Planner. Toons could also customize their own invitations to these parties. These parties would last about 30 minutes.

Distribution

CD-ROM

Platform Publishing, a subsidiary company of Sony Online Entertainment that publishes games for third-party developers, announced on August 25, 2005 it had acquired rights to publish a CD version of Toontown Online for the PC and bring the game to online game consoles. [17] [18] [19] [20] Toontown Online became available on CD for the PC on October 3, 2005. [21] This allowed players to play the game without downloading it onto their storage devices. This version came in a box set with two months of subscription, a poster, a game manual, and an in-game bonus. [22] Toontown Online chose to create a CD that could be purchased in stores, due to customer insecurity when downloading and buying things online that they could not physically hold. [23]

Closure

On August 20, 2013, Disney announced that after 10 years of operation, Disney's Toontown Online was being shut down permanently on September 19, 2013. [7] [24] Subsequently, every player was given membership for the remaining time of the game. Seasonal and holiday celebrations and special in-game events took place in the time remaining. Recurring paid memberships were automatically cancelled, memberships could no longer be purchased and accounts could no longer be created. [24] The website was also updated with a closing FAQ. [25] The main Toontown Online website was not due for closure until another year. The game remained open for a month after the announcement, finally closing on the set date, September 19, 2013, at 11:59 A.M. Pacific Standard Time. [3] After the game's closure, Toontown's website was updated with a new FAQ to help with billing support and inform users about the game's closure. [3] Toontown's site, toontown.go.com, now redirects to Disney's main site, disney.com. In response to the closure, former players have created multiple private servers of Toontown Online. The most popular server, Toontown Rewritten, is described by its developers as "a fan-made revival of Disney's Toontown Online, created using publicly available downloads and information made freely available to the general public." [26]

In June 2015, Jesse Schell hinted that Toontown Online closed due to becoming unsustainable in its business model (subscription-based downloadable RPG). [27] Schell confirmed that Disney wants to be able to port the game to mobile devices but are waiting for a working business model for self-sustaining, constantly-updating mobile RPGs. Schell also stated that the company has hosted internal meetings discussing the future of the game, taking the popularity of mobile games and the payment options available on that platform into consideration for planning the next step for the Toontown license. [27] A solution has yet to be agreed upon, but according to Schell, these internal meetings continued into 2016. [28]

ToonFest

Not to be confused with Walt Disney's Hometown Toonfest held annually in Marceline, Missouri. [29]

Disney organized two real-life gatherings for Toontown fans called ToonFest. ToonFest included themed activities and games, trivia and costume contests, previews of upcoming features for the game, and developer Q&A panels. [30] [31] The first gathering, ToonFest 2006, was held at the Walt Disney Studios complex in Burbank, California, [32] [33] while ToonFest 2007 was held at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. [34] [35]

Reception

Toontown Online received "favorable reviews". The game has won several awards.

Reception
Aggregate scores
AggregatorScore
GameRankings 82% [36]
Metacritic 81% [37]
Review scores
PublicationScore
AllGame Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar half.svgStar empty.svg [38]
GameZone9/10 [39]
PC Gamer (UK) 83% [40]
Game industry NewsStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar half.svg [41]
GamerDadStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar half.svg [42]
PC Magazine Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar empty.svgStar empty.svg [43]

Awards and nominations

YearAssociationAwardCategoryResultRef
2003 Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences Annual Interactive Achievement Award
PC Massively Multiplayer/Persistent
World Game of the Year Award
GamesNominated [44]
Computer Gaming World MMORPG Game of the YearOnline GamesWon [45]
Game industry NewsFamily Game of the YearGamesWon [41]
Parents' Choice Foundation Silver HonorOnline Video GamesWon [46]
Web Marketing Association WebAward Outstanding WebsiteGame SiteWon [47]
The Webby Awards Webby Award GamesNominated [48]
Webby Award People's VoiceYouthWon [49] [50]
2004 Web Marketing Association WebAward Outstanding WebsiteGame SiteWon [51]
2005 Web Marketing Association WebAward Outstanding WebsiteGame SiteWon [52]
The Webby Awards Webby Award GamesNominated [53]
"Webby Worthy Selection"GamesWon [1]
WiredKidsSafe Gaming AwardComputer GamesWon [54] [55]
2006 Web Marketing Association WebAward Game Site Standard of ExcellenceGame SiteWon [56]
The Webby Awards Webby Award GamesNominated [57]
2007 iParenting Media AwardsGreatest Products Award WinnerVideo GamesWon[ citation needed ]
Web Marketing Association WebAward Outstanding WebsiteGame SiteWon [58]
2009Parent Tested Parent ApprovedSeal of ApprovalWebsiteWon [59]

References in other media

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