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Disney's big Millennium Falcon ride is facing a classic game design problem: difficulty balancing

Disney is working on one of the biggest projects in its theme park history. Galaxy Edge is the Star Wars-themed country that will be coming to Disneyland Park in Anaheim, California next summer. The Walt Disney World version will open this winter at the resort's Disney Hollywood Park in Orlando, Florida. One of Galaxys Edge's attractions will be park guests flying the famous Millennium Falcon (19459003), and the project depicts Disney's Imagineers (as Disney calls theme park designers and engineers) challenges that are all too familiar with working in video games ( Disney declined to comment on this story.)

The Millennium Falcon ride is a simulator, meaning that guests drive in a vehicle that can turn and move to simulate larger movements. In conjunction with a video screen, a simulator can make people sensational. It's similar to the original Disney Star Wars tour, Star Tours, since 1


But most simulators, including Star Tours, go with it. The vehicle can move because it knows what will appear next in the movie. The Millennium Falcon Ride renders its action like a video game in real time. And you're not just watching the action. Six guests pass at the same time and each take a seat on one of the ship stations. Two people sitting at the front act as pilots with two gunners and two engineers. They operate buttons and use controls as if they were a real ship, and your actions affect what happens during the ride.

Essentially, you play a cooperative video game.

Above: What is the interior of the vehicle? will look like.

Credit: Disney

Ride to Victory

"You're traveling through potentially much space and your actions determine where you're in the decision tree and what happens next," said Disney Parks expert Jim Hill vs. GamesBeat Hill has covered theme parks for decades and now operates a network of podcasts that focus on theme parks and the Disney company.

The Millennium Falcon Ride is an ambitious project that requires impressive technology to support According to Hill, the ride requires intense computer equipment to perform its branching in real time, but this is just a challenge facing Disney, and the other problem is a problem addressed by all video game designers: difficulty. [19659002] By the inspiration of the ride, you have to take on a job for a smuggler named Hondo (of which, as my more of Star W Ars knowledgeable editor Jason Wilson could be the popular pirate) of Clone Wars and Rebels cartoons). You can either fail or succeed in your mission. This is obvious for a video game, but that can be a scary prospect for a theme park ride. When Galaxy's Edge opens, its attractions will have huge lines. People will be waiting hours to ride this Millennium Falcon. Disney has to make sure that they will not be disappointed even if they fail.

"What's good, if you remember the Star Wars movies, the Millennium Falcon does not always work like this." Hill said. "If you remember The Empire Strikes Back it was constantly erupting. Han hit systems or she fell out of the speed of light, something like that. This is a kind of canon. You suddenly have a bad experience, causing another weird disaster. That kind of thing. Disney has tried to make it so that even if everything goes horribly wrong, it's as funny as possible. "

" Do not get me wrong. If you do everything right, you will experience a truly exciting adventure, "Hill continued. "If you really do a bad job, it will be fun. But that is – the problem is how they tested it – they wrote what they considered to be really funny scripts, something like that. But again we are human. We want to be successful. It's the whole idea of ​​"I do not want to be on the Millennium Falcon when power goes down or when the TIE fighters overtake us." I want to succeed. They try to work with this expectation by refining some story elements so that they do not disappear with a bad taste in the mouth.

Above: Toy Story Midway Mania is also part of the game, part of the game. 19659006] Photo credit: Disney

Disney's story with games

This is not the first time a Disney game has game elements. The games date back to the beginning of Disneyland in 1955, where a shooting range was opened as part of the US Main Street Park. And as the game became digital, Disney brought these elements on the journey. At Toy Story Midway Mania, which opened in 2008, guests are shooting cannons at 3D movies, aiming for goals, and trying to score high. This is itself a further development of the Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger spin-tour, which opened in 1998 in the Magic Kingdom. This attraction has no fancy 3D screens, but you're still aiming for a canon and aiming for targets.

You can not lose Midway Mania or Space Ranger Spin (or its counterpart to Disneyland, the similar Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters). Sure, your score can be bad, but if you can not hit a single target, your driving experience is essentially the same as the all-time top scorer.

The older gentlemen of Universal Studios in Florida In Black: Alien Attack attraction (it was opened in 2000) works similarly. Shoot aliens as they drive through a ride and try to score as many points as possible. In this journey, your team's score actually affects the end. If you're good enough, you'll see an animatronic alien preparing your suit in black, followed by a video in which Will Smith congratulates you. If you do not score enough, you will see another alien reference before Will Smith clears your memories.

But that's just the end of Alien Attack. Everything before and after is the same for everyone. At the Millennium Falcon ride, your choices will change the experience. A victory can have consequences that go beyond the appeal itself. Disney wants Galaxy's Edge to be an interactive space where you're part of a story. It will be able to leverage its tracking and data acquisition technology to see how you did it on the way. Costumed characters in Galaxy's Edge will respond accordingly. When you complete your smuggling job, an alien can approach you and compliment you on the successful mission.

Above: Conceptual Art for Galaxy's Edge.

Photo credit: Disney


How are you doing something good? You practice. For many players, we have learned to rescue princesses and win wars against armies of aliens and robots. We played until we were good enough.

But the Millennium Falcon does not give you an opportunity to practice before continuing. The attraction is sure to get long lines, so you may experience the ride only once during your trip. It's a lot to expect someone to fly a spaceship if they've never done it before.

This is a cooperative experience. You play with five other people you may never have met. It might be good, but it does not matter if the rest of your team has problems. It is one thing to communicate with your family and friends when they are with you on the same path. You may like to yell at the person behind your back that your engines need more power if that person is your brother too, but you're less likely to communicate if your engineers are strangers.

Disney can overcome some of this problem tutorials. While waiting for the ride, video screens can explain the controls of the ship in detail. However, this solution has its own problem: language barriers.

"Considering how many guests are international travelers, it has to be more intuitive than they originally expected," says Hill.

This problem is getting bigger on the ride itself. You have to respond to what's happening during the ride. The ride can not only give instructions in English as it is not understood by a large number of guests.

Disney does not mind that people are unsuccessful on the first try. Just as you do not outdo a video game on your first try, you're unlikely to get the best possible result the first time you get the appeal of the Millennium Falcon. That could only encourage you to drive it again. And if you do not have enough time to ride that day again, it may encourage you to return to the park just to swing again.

However, this plan could backfire. The guests were more frustrated than motivated by their failure.

Top: The Mission: spacecraft.

Credit: WDW Info

The balancing act

The simplest solution would be just the ride Well, easier. However, according to Hill, Disney is trying to avoid this. Disney has another space simulator in the Epcot Park called Mission: Space, which debuted in 2003 and was extensively renovated in 2017. This also gives every passenger a job, such as a pilot or a technician, as well as buttons and switches that he suspects should interact with something. But with Mission: Space, these buttons do not really matter. There is no challenge. The ride is always the same, whether you separate the second rocket personally or not. It could be a reason why Mission: Space does not have long lines. When I wrote this story, Mission: Space has a 15-minute wait. The most popular attraction of Epcot, Soarin, has a waiting time of 75 minutes.

Galaxy's Edge is a huge investment for Disney, with each version costing $ 600 million. It's an answer to what Universal, Disney's main rival in the theme park, did to Harry Potter. Universal has opened Potter Landscapes in all parks, taking the immersion to a new level and guiding visitors to Universal Park. Already, Universal is planning a Coaster for the Forbidden Forest for its park of the Islands of Adventure in Orlando.

Disney's new Star Wars offerings could help the company cool the Potter fever of the theme park world. The ambitious Millennium Falcon must be a hit to bring Galaxy's Edge to the hot start, which is hoped for by Disney.

And how will Universal be Disney's counter? Universal's is now working on theme parks and attractions based on Nintendo.

Gaming has become a fixture of the theme park world.

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