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Spyro's Kingdom was a defunct Spyro game concept that soon evolved into concepts similar to its successor, Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure.
In 2007, after Vivendi Games merged with Activision, Toys For Bob began working on ideas for the Spyro license. There were different early concepts for Spyro, including a "realistic, gritty" Spyro, a tiny Spyro that ran around the real world on book shelves, and an origami Spyro that can take shape. In fact, Activision first approached Toys For Bob about doing a Spyro title; Paul Reiche and his company originally aimed for something much darker than Spyro has ever been before. "It was going to be for an older audience, a darker take on it for the next-gen systems," Toys For Bob Producer, Alex Ness, says.
One of the concepts for the gritty "realistic" Spyro reboot idea was a post-apocalyptic, exploration toy story where there were no humans and Spyro, his friends, and other characters were 6-inches tall. Enemies would use surrounding objects like forks and knives as weapons. The main mystery for the premise would have had players wondering what happened to the human race.
"Let's blow Spyro out," Paul Reiche said at the time. "Let's raise up the age range for him, let's appeal to the kids over 16 up into young adults, let's make it tough and bloody. And we did all of this concept work and just lost our enthusiasm. That wasn't Spyro. That isn't what our passion was about. It was much more joyous and active, and so we sort of stepped back from that."
Activision wanted to do more with the character, so Toys for Bob kept coming up with imaginative ways to use the Spyro license, with toys being the way to do this. One of those ideas included playable little toy dragons that hatched from eggs for users to play with. Eventually, Spyro's Kingdom came into light.
Spyro's Kingdom started life as a project, which Graham says still featured "the toys-to-life idea - taking your toys, putting them on a magic device, and having them come to life in the game. Spyro was going to be a full-grown dragon and the king of Spyro’s Kingdom. You go to him for quests, and he'd tell you where to go and help you on your adventures.
Graham says this version of the game "was very close to something we were going to go forward with. I think it was April or May of 2010 where we were almost ready to hit alpha with Spyro's Kingdom, and it was time for the go/no-go call. That’s where we said, ‘this is fun and cute, but it can be so much bigger.'"
At this point, one of Skylanders' key elements - "toys with brains," which remember your characters' progress as you level up — wasn’t in the mix. If the action figures had memory inside them, the save functionality would be hassle-free and invisible, plus they’d be platform agnostic — a huge win for kids who might not own the same game system as their friends. "The goal was to make it very reminiscent of something you would do as a kid," says Graham. "You could put your toys in your backpack, go to your friend’s house after school, and you could play with your Star Wars characters with your G.I. Joe characters with your Transformers characters; it didn’t matter that they were from different worlds. We looked at consoles that way too: How great could it be if you could share in an experience regardless of what console you were on? So there was this big idea of what this game could be."
With Spyro's Kingdom nearly at alpha but an ambitious alternate plan on the table, the decision was up to the top brass, including Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick. But as Graham reveals, "Bobby believed in it completely. He said, 'What do you guys need?’ And from that point on, it was this little idea that continued to grow to what we have now, which is a team of fantasy superheroes - Skylanders."
- A MMORPG game concept for Spyro's Kingdom was proposed by Helios Interactive with the game based on The Legend of Spyro series, but it was rejected by Activision. However a playable demo of this version of the game was available for download on the Helios website for the game, but was deleted sometime after the website was discovered.
- Though Toys For Bob was initially tasked with creating a main Spyro game, only for their Spyro's Kingdom pitch to be accepted and eventually made into Skylanders, they would later be the first team to work on the Spyro series again, in the form of the Spyro Reignited Trilogy.
- The descriptions for Boomer and Cyclops Slime's cards and the initial world map imply that, unlike the final concept for Skylands being explored as a whole, characters would come from various kingdoms to the area around the titular Spyro's Kingdom, with the levels being connected to the mainland in various ways. This might've been different from the M.A.P., which simply connects to these areas' relative locations in Skylands but aren't their actual location.
- Oddly, though the characters shown in the early versions mostly came back as enemies or their concepts were reused elsewhere (such as a rattlesnake Skylander, for example), three were never seen in any other iteration, playable or not: the Magic gnome riding a bird, the four armed bipedal Air dragon, and the Life creature with snake and mantis features.
- Dark Horse: The Secret of Skylanders' Success
- Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure DEVELOPER COMMENTARY - Episode 1: Studio Head, Paul Reiche, 23:16
- Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure preview: Babes in toyland
- Mike Stout Skylanders GDC Speech 2012 (w Paul Reiche)
- The Secret Skylanders You’ve Never Seen
- Michael Ebert's page
- Game design