Lately I have been hearing about Disney's new Shockwave-based MMOG, the Virtual Magic Kingdom, and so I decided to create an account and check it out. The online game is presently in beta, and for a limited time anyone can set up an account and join in the fun for free.
The sign-up process was relatively painless, with just an email, name and address being all they ask. The email address wasn't even verified before I was logged on and creating my character.
Initially, you have just a few options with which to outfit an avatar. Choose a gender and skin color, and then if you like, change the color of your shirt, pants and shoes. Later, in the game, you can win other outfits and accessories, or purchase additional items with credits earned by in-game quests.
You also create your very own room when you begin. Use it to design and decorate with furnishings earned and collected from the game. Several room motifs are available such as Mad Hatter's tea party, undersea world, Tiki Tiki Tiki room, or the old West.
Once in the game there isn't any doubt that it is Disney Online, simply because the visuals are very pretty. The entire park is represented virtually by their respective areas: Fantasy Land, Adventure Land, Tomorrow Land, and Main Street, and each area has 'instances' of each of the major attractions. These instances are pseudo-3D rooms with an isometric view where players can interact with each other. There may be multiple instances of a room to support the number of players visiting that area at any given time.
While sightseeing throughout the park there are many different things to do. While I haven't seen and done everything there is to see, I did purchase a camera with which to take pictures of the Mickey Mouse silhouettes hidden all around the park—there's one in the screen shot above, can you find it? Collect enough of them for credits to spend on clothing and furnishings for your room.
There are also multiplayer games to compete in. The one I played was called the Castle Fireworks game and it featured multiple levels. Each level consists of colored symbols being launched like fireworks against the backdrop of an area of the park. Each player must click the mouse at the pinnacle of the symbol's arc using the same colored symbol as the one launched. Points are awarded based on how accurate the player was in selecting the correct symbol and clicking on the best position at the appropriate time. The fireworks game can support up to 100 players in a single game.
Interacting with other players is, at times, difficult due to the very restrictive dictionary that your words must appear within. For example, numbers are not allowed to be spoken at any time, though I have no idea why numbers might make an environment unsafe. It seemed odd that someone kept saying "I found won" when looking for the hidden Mickeys, until I tried to type the same thing a bit later. Then, after catching on and getting used to the word substitution thing, I was asked by a cast member not to use dictionary words for numbers as they were trying to keep things safe. My connection was mysteriously dropped seconds later.
The hours of operation of Disney Online's VMK are from 10:00AM to 1:00AM Eastern time (GMT - 5:00). Click.