All things eventually have to die... and that fated time has finally come for none other than Disney's ToonTown Online. Kind of ironic considering one of the most epic sandboxes of all times just released a couple days ago, in the form of Grand Theft Auto V -- literally two days ago on the 17th -- then today on the 19th, the place built for kids, but fun for all ages, ToonTown Online, turned off its servers that one last and final time, like the flatline of a heart-rate monitor. At 11:30am it happened (though, as typical, Disney said it was to remain open until 11:49am!), and then that was it -- lost to the eternity of time and space, forever; the modern-age euthenization. Mind you, not hating on GTA; the game is pretty sweet and awesome -- but perhaps representative of the days and times we live in. The popularity and excitement goes into the gritty/hardcore titles, while the innocent playgrounds are Left Behind for the Langoliers to chew up and spit back out like the "timekeepers of eternity" that they are.
When designing it, they probably had no idea it'd have as big an impact on so many hearts, minds, and imaginations quite the way it did... and though it may have been considered a "kid's game"; don't knock it, it was loads of fun. I've always been the biggest of all kids at heart; truly too. I've literally been gaming for over the past thirty years (three decades); started gaming originally in 1983, at the mere age of five years-old on a ColecoVision (later a ColecoVision: Adam) and on a PC. I've technically and literally either played, read about, viewed every game and innovation to come along down the pike; seen most all of it as far as gaming is concerned, and although it's true that each MMO allows a customized character that's an extension of the self -- never was it more true than in Disney's ToonTown Online.
The youthful and slapstick innocence of the player's toons, was a chance to see the true glory of the innocence of childhood, as well as allow us moldy-oldies to experience the wonder years of our youth all over again -- or in my case, get to second-hand experience the wonder years... since my upbringing was hell, crap, and nothing really worth remembering whatsoever.
Therefore, it's no real surprise why so many of us Toon-Fanatics felt just a tiny piece of us die inside today as they closed shut and locked the doors for the final time. The Big Wigs locked up our playground... and the cogs have finally and truly won...
I can still remember the exact outfit my main toon was wearing at the end -- Biker Boots, Pirate Pants, "Toontastic" Toontown shirt (earned with the special "secret code" GADZOOKS), Super-Toon Cape, Goggles (steampunk style), and Detective hat -- Super Butch Thundermonkey; and then scrambling at the last minute, managed to get my secondary toon, "BabyGirl Sheba" (named after our old cat Sheba), to actually "represent" our goofy nickname for her. We used to call her our little alien... because we used to have this giant fish tank, and fish would always disappear, and Sheba managed to find a way up to grab them, even though there was no way for her to get up there -- we knew it was her, because her exact paw prints would be on the edge of the tank up near the top of the front-face (siding), but the real kicker? The paw prints were always upright, not hanging down over the edge, like as if she were floating or flying in mid-air, looking at the tank from the front, and touching the glass. Never did figure out how she was getting up there, nor how she was leaving those prints -- unless she was getting a running start, catching her feet on the glass, and giving herself an extra mid-air parkour leap; but they were always her trademark.
Anyways, for her in-game toon, after scrambling at the last minute, got her a new Fez, alien eye-glasses, and a jetpack... to go along with the dinosaur shirt and pants she had on -- to make her a perfectly themed Dr. Who(-esque) alien -- our little alien!
Probably the Last of the Mohicans as far as true enforced and moderated "innocent" games are still concerned. Even though the game had its fair share of bots from time to time, all games do, it always upheld the beauty of moderated conversation and by default pre-written selections to communicate with everybody.
Sure, there's still other outlets like NeoPets, Wizard 101, Pirate 101, Free Realms, etc... but there's no real protection of innocents as cursing, phishing, scamming, hating, trolling, and raging occur all too frequently on all the others, and much of it is now barely even moderated.
But the real question is why!? Why did it have to die?? Disney has millions don't they? I mean, they just bought out both Marvel and LucasArts right!? That's right! Completely honestly, the new direction Disney is taking disgusts me to no end! And I truly feel Walt would be doing somersaults in his grave had he any idea which direction down the swirling bowl his company was being taken! Disney came out not too long ago with the blatantly bull$#!+ excuse that their reason for it was "an influx of bots that they couldn't keep control of anymore" -- oh right, because ToonTown never went through that issue before, ever, right!? Come on Disney, stop jerking our chains while throwing vinegar in our eye sockets and saying it's a courtesy (blind leading the blind!?) -- tell it like it is... ToonTown isn't making them the revenue they hoped for anymore, because they've been showing their true colors for the past five and a half years, almost on the dot even. Referring to the last big Cog HQ to release, being BossBot HQ, back on 06-Mar-08. Even back then, the big chunky updates seemed to be few and far between, but at least it was a bit easier to assume the developers were hard at work, and the big chunky updates must have taken quite a lot of code. But did they really in retrospect, looking at the final product?
I mean seriously, it really started to show after they released BossBot HQ didn't it? In the past five and a half years, what exactly NEW and HUGE has come along? We got Mini-Golf, Racing, a few more Trolley Games, Accessories (such as hats, backpacks, and glasses) we could wear, oh and a neat little map that would pop up on the neighborhood streets by use of the ALT key -- and that was pretty much it... the last five and a half years of ToonTown can pretty much be summed up with just that... REALLY!? There's even still what looked like a tunnel under construction leading out of the Chip'n'Dales area that never actually led anywhere!! Yet, while everybody else had the brains to adopt the "free to play" structure, utilizing a cash-shop for revenue to pay for upkeep and the like, Disney went completely arse-backwards, forcing the game to remain $15/month right up until the end. Granted, there was a "semi-free" option, where you could play as [only] one (out of six character slots) character with many limitations; like never being able to really upgrade most everything, not being able to order anything from the catalog (wardrobe, bank, furniture, accessories, and other upgrades that could have done GREAT in an ACTUAL cash-shop [while making the rest of the game true free-to-play]), I don't even recall you could have a Doodle pet if you were a free player. But nope, had to keep squeezing the children for that $15/month, and never giving them more reason to keep paying it -- now all these epicly mind-blowing MMOs are coming out, and "next-generation" games and consoles, yet ToonTown threw in the towel quite early, laid down their hand of cards, and showed their truest intentions a very long time ago. I guess as a concession for Disney's blatant greed and laziness, they gave all the users of ToonTown the last month they were open a free pass, so that everything as unlocked and available.
Along with Disney's ToonTown Online, Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean Online, and Disney's Pixie Hollow also got the axe. Disney's just being outright brutal aren't they? Axing off every young childrens' outlet!? Probably making way for that new crap-shoot project they have going on, which boasts an MMO-ish/virtual-world something or other... what's it called again? Disney Ignoramous? Oh wait, that's not it... Disney Infinity, that's it, excuse me while I fall out of my chair laughing my backside off. How well can anybody see that selling? By this move today, axing off those three titles listed above, can Disney of all people really try to sell the idea of "infinity"? I mean come on, really!?
Not to devalue the experience of ToonTown though, Disney's ToonTown Online was a true escape, and probably the last true digital-version of a Boys & Girls Club that anybody had left. For those that lived too far away from a Boys & Girls Club, or who's parents just wouldn't allow them to go to one... Disney's ToonTown was a great outlet. Just like any game, it did have its aggrivations; like the fact that in the entire time the game ran, I still never managed to ever once catch, while fishing, a Devil Ray, or a Grizzly Bear Acuda. Would have also been nice if it offered another handful of activities and little games to partake in; again, Disney's lack of care and motivation showing its ugly money-grubbing face, along with showing the big cash-cow that it was, once a person got to have a 105+ laff toon, ("my main" was 111 - yeah, eat your heart out, the perfect "binary" [base-2] - triple "right on" \o/), there wasn't really much of anything left to do, again outside of fishing (which became more of a chore than anything, though Fish Bingo was fun now and again), racing, minigolf, repetitive Trolley games, and dressing up with accessories.
If anybody would like to view the album and final pictures taken of our time in ToonTown Online before the doors finally shut for the last time like a lid of a coffin, can check them out right here.