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In the console Skylanders games, changing which Skylander you had in the game was a simple interaction: take the existing Skylander figure off the connected Portal Of Power accessory, and then place a new one down. Instant swap.


When developing the Nintendo 3DS version of the first game, "Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure", we knew the Magic Moment would be more complex, since the 3DS' Portal Of Power wouldn't be connected to the game all the time.


To make gameplay more convenient while on-the-go, we created the "Shadow Zone" - a limbo area, between Earth and the Skylands - where Skylanders could be held in crystals, ready for play. Tapping a crystal allowed an instant hot-swap of characters, and an extra life during gameplay.

When a player wanted to bring in a new/different Skylander, they had to approach a dedicated character in the game's hub world... ...and then we needed to come up with an interaction that felt good.


Here's the animated storyboard I devised...

Now that everyone had signed off for the interaction mechanic, I worked through a series of mockups of what the Shadow Zone could look like. Below was the last painting before in-engine implementation. I was looking at it literally as veiled in shadow and mystery. And at this point, there were still 3 Skylanders' crystals in the zone.

As we began making it real, we realized that there was one Skylander too many here; it made gameplay too easy having so many extra teammates. We also reconceived the Shadow Zone as a dimension that was luminous and full of energy.

Once all was done, here's how it looked in-game:

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