Toontown Online

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Toontown Online
Toontown-Logo.svg
DeveloperDisney's Virtual Reality Studio
Schell Games[1]
Frogchildren Studios[2]
TypeMassively multiplayer online role-playing game
Launch dateAugust 2001[citation needed] – January 16, 2002 (Beta 1)[3]
September 10, 2002 – October 21, 2002 (Beta 2)[3]
June 2, 2003 (2003-06-02) (Official Launch)[4]
DiscontinuedSeptember 19, 2013 (2013-09-19)[5]
Platform(s)Macintosh operating systems and Microsoft Windows[6]
Websitetoontown.go.com
(archived on August 24, 2013)

Toontown Online, commonly known as 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, and published by The Walt Disney Company.[4] The game made its official launch on June 2, 2003.

Various Toontown Online servers were shut down over the years long before the US servers closed on September 19, 2013. 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] The mention of Club Penguin was eventually removed from the statement via Toontown's website likely due to backlash by fans.


Gameplay[edit]

Toons[edit]

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[edit]

"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 had 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 a 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 a boss that could only be fought by obtaining a full set of the HQ's Cog disguise. These include the Senior V.P. (Vice President, Sellbot HQ), C.F.O. (Chief Financial Officer, Cashbot HQ) C.J. (Chief Justice, Lawbot HQ), and C.E.O. (Chief Executive Officer, Bossbot HQ).[13]

A Toon in Toontown Central, the first playground available in-game.

Non-combat activities[edit]

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. The main playgrounds were Toontown Central, Daisy Gardens, Donald's Dock, Minnie's Melodyland, The Brrrgh, and Donald's Dreamland, along with extra playgrounds such as Goofy Speedway and Chip 'n Dale's Acorn Acres.[14]

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 home with objects ordered from the in-game catalog ('Clarabelle's Cattlelog') by using jellybeans, the in-game currency. Wardrobes and accessory trunks held clothing and accessories that were not currently being worn by the player's Toon. Other elements of estates included Doodles (pets), gardening, fishing, and the ability to purchase various types of in-game items from Clarabelle's Cattlelog.[15]

Online safety features[edit]

Toontown Online was marketed and developed for players of 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 sometime 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 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[edit]

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 invitations to these parties.

Distribution[edit]

CD-ROM[edit]

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[edit]

On August 20, 2013, Disney announced that after ten years of operation, 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 canceled. Memberships could no longer be purchased, and accounts could no longer be created.[24] The website was also updated with a closing FAQ.[25]

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.[5] 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 that are free-to-play and not monetized. 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, the former Creative Director of the Walt Disney Imagineering Virtual Reality Studio,[27] hinted that Toontown Online closed due to becoming unsustainable in its business model (subscription-based downloadable RPG).[28] Schell confirmed that Disney wants to be able to port the game to mobile devices but is 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.[28] A solution has yet to be agreed upon, but according to Schell, these internal meetings continued into 2016.[29]

ToonFest[edit]

Disney organized two real-life gatherings for Toontown fans called ToonFest. It 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] The second gathering, ToonFest 2007, was held at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida.[34][35]

Reception[edit]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Association Award Category Result Ref
2003 Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences Annual Interactive Achievement Award
PC Massively Multiplayer/Persistent
World Game of the Year Award
Games Nominated [43]
Computer Gaming World MMORPG Game of the Year Online Games Won [44]
Game industry News Family Game of the Year Games Won [40]
Parents' Choice Foundation Silver Honor Online Video Games Won [45]
Web Marketing Association WebAward Outstanding Website Game Site Won [46]
The Webby Awards Webby Award Games Nominated [47]
Webby Award People's Voice Youth Won [48][49]
2004 Web Marketing Association WebAward Outstanding Website Game Site Won [50]
2005 Web Marketing Association WebAward Outstanding Website Game Site Won [51]
The Webby Awards Webby Award Games Nominated [52]
"Webby Worthy Selection" Games Won [1]
WiredKids Safe Gaming Award Computer Games Won [53][54]
2006 Web Marketing Association WebAward Game Site Standard of Excellence Game Site Won [55]
The Webby Awards Webby Award Games Nominated [56]
2007
Web Marketing Association WebAward Outstanding Website Game Site Won [57]
2009 Parent Tested Parent Approved Seal of Approval Website Won [58]

References in other media[edit]

  • The game was mentioned on a January 2002 comic strip of Penny Arcade, in which the side character, Gabe, admits to enjoying the game.[59]
  • The Cogs, the main antagonists of Toontown Online, are referenced by Gyro Gearloose on a pad of paper in the DuckTales reboot.[60]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]