EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Disney Hidden Worlds’ Game Director Eduardo Baraf
In The Little Mermaid, you can spot Mickey, Goofy, and Donald in the crowd when King Triton makes his grand entrance. But if you knew this already, you’ll love Disney Hidden Worlds, a new — and free! — hidden object game for iOS, Android, and Facebook in which you have to find secret items in images from famous Disney animated movies. Though according to Eduardo Baraf, the Studio Director at Disney Interactive, and the Game Director on Disney Hidden Worlds, there’s more to this game than meets the eye.
Let’s start with the basics: What is Disney Hidden Worlds, how do you play it, and what other games do you think it’s similar to?
Simply put, Disney Hidden Worlds a hidden object game that uses scenes taken directly from the actual movies. It reflects such popular hidden object/builder games as Gardens Of Time, but also has some similarities to such hidden object adventure games as Drawn. When you play, you’ll see it has a feel all its own.
Would you say those games were an influence on Disney Hidden Worlds?
The game was made by people who love Disney and love games. Just as the team poured through, researched, and enjoyed Disney’s fantastic films, we also poured through dozens of other hidden object games, recent mobile titles, Facebook games, etc. Every game is a lesson, inspiration, or both.
The images you have to find the hidden objects in come from different Disney movies. How did you decide which movies to pull images from?
You always have to pick your first titles, but trust us, we are going to get to many movies. We also considered films that would lend themselves to fun hidden object scenes. If you think about the tower in Tangled or The Cave Of Wonders in Aladdin, you can imagine how fun it was to hide a bunch of objects in those places.
One of the most exciting things about this game is that we’ll not only represent the huge classics, but other Disney films that don’t get as much attention.
Is there some reason why the game doesn’t feature any of the Pixar movies?
We are definitely looking at every animated film in the Disney archives to possibly include in the game, including Pixar.
Statistically-speaking, hidden object games appeal more to women than to men. Did this factor into your decisions when it came to what movies you’d pull images from?
Working through all the Disney classics, it is hard to go wrong either way. Nostalgia and the magic in the Disney films touches all of us. Even though there is no doubt that adult women are the largest market for hidden object games, we wanted to make sure Disney Hidden Worlds had the same broad appeal that the movies have.
Did it also influence what objects would be hidden in the pictures?
No. When creating the scenes, it is always about aligning to the look, feel, and time period of the film.
Besides their own classic animated movies, Disney also now owns Marvel Comics, ABC television, and Star Wars. Was there any thought to incorporating any of them into the game? Why or why not?
Disney Hidden Worlds is a magical adventure through all of these memorable movies. Over time, we expect to broaden it, but we’ll stay pretty squarely in the “animated world” category.
The game features some new characters. Can you explain what they do and why you decided to add new ones instead of just having Stitch do it? Cuz he could’ve explained things really well. Or really hilariously, anyway.
Making this game was a huge balancing act. We plan to span a huge range of films. And in order to tie everything together and make a cohesive, magical experience, we created Chrona and The Inklings. We discussed using other Disney characters to do this, but it created lots of issues around their use and engagement with other Disney worlds and fiction. Here, each film is its own world and unit. Progression through the game ties into our new fiction.
The game is available for both iOS and Android devices, as well as Facebook. Are there any differences between these different versions? Or between the tablet versions and the one for smart phones?
Disney Hidden Worlds is fully synced across all platforms. Which is to say you can play from device to device on the same game. As such, the experiences on all devices is closely aligned.
Having said that, we went out of our way to create the best smart phone, tablet, and desktop experiences. This is noticeable in the interface, but also in the game interaction. We created unique solutions for each device.
So if you start a game on your iPad, you can continue it later on Facebook, and vice versa. Without getting too technical, how difficult was this to set up?
While technically straight-forward, it was a huge endeavor. The process of managing, testing, and maintaining the system takes a ton of work. The Engineering, Production, and QA [quality assurance] team poured a lot of effort into this.
Finally, if you could make this kind of game for any non-Disney movies, what would be your first choice and why?
We all love Disney, but we also all love games. It would actually be fantastic to see characters and worlds from classic video games getting a similar treatment. Seeing an entire world visualized in small homages, and then playing through it moment by moment, could be a wonderful thing.
6 thoughts on “EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Disney Hidden Worlds’ Game Director Eduardo Baraf”
I enjoy playing Disney hidden worlds. I am having trouble getting on to play the game this week. I was able to get onto it last week. Now when I try going on the game a popup comes up saying refresh and when I click it the game still won’t load. How do I fix the app on my ipad? Please let me know.
No idea, you’d have to ask them.
You might be able to contact them through this site: http://games.disney.com/hidden-worlds-app
Is he related to Barf from Spaceballs?
I have tried this game for at least a month, and it will not fully load. It starts, but before it is fully loaded it goes to the island, then to the library, but won’t work. I am really frustrated. I joined the group the first day I downloaded it and kept trying, but even after everyone else seems to be able to play, I can’t. What can I do?
Okay, I don’t work on the game, I just did the interview. But I would try deleting it from your phone or whatever and downloading it again. I would also make sure your device is up-to-date.
If all else fails, try the game’s Facebook page. You can get there by clicking on the blue “Facebook” in the intro paragraph above.
Hope that helps, and thank you for visiting my website.