Toys for Bob is game studio known for creating the original Star Control series, and the Skylanders series. Both are influential in their own right. The former is credited as the blueprint for games like Mass Effect, Stellaris, and No Man's Sky. The latter is credited as the blueprint for the multi-billion dollar toys-to-life genre. Toys-for-Bob has been mentioned in the news lately, as one of the acquisitions in the Microsoft-Activision deal. The change in ownership might complicate this nomination a bit if it leads to any major news. But I think it would be easy to deal with, at most adding a few more sentences at the end. This article is coming off of a peer review and probably only needs minor edits, but I'm happy to make any changes that improve the article. Shooterwalker (talk) 20:25, 26 January 2022 (UTC)[reply]
Suggest adding alt text
Not sure File:ToysForBob.png is creative enough to warrant copyright protection. Nikkimaria (talk) 01:26, 27 January 2022 (UTC)[reply]
Added the alt text. I figure copyright comes into effect any time that a work is fixated in some medium, so better safe than sorry. Thanks for the review. Shooterwalker (talk) 16:10, 11 February 2022 (UTC)[reply]
Since the peer review and this FAC were very close in time frame with each other, and since I review peer reviews like FACs and re-read this article a second time and came up with little to nothing, please pardon me for Supporting right off the bat. One thing I noticed is that the first two sentences in the lead both start with "Ford and Reiche", so consider shaking it up a bit. Other than that, I feel this article more than deserves the bronze star. Panini!🥪 18:17, 27 January 2022 (UTC)[reply]
In case I didn't say it enough already, thanks for the review. Shooterwalker (talk) 16:10, 11 February 2022 (UTC)[reply]
"As Reiche and Ford's workflow as a team was developing, the game took on a more limited scope compared to its sequel." I don't understand this. Does the sequel refer to Star Control II? And what does "workflow as a team" mean?
The transcript from the interview is: "we learned how not only how to work together but just how to to finish something together. And so it's a much smaller game than its successor, Star Control II. We spent less time on it, but also we just spent a lot of time figuring out how we could work together." I am open to finding other ways to summarize this.
Perhaps "During development, Reiche and Ford spent a good deal of the project working out how to collaborate most effectively, and Reiche later said this was partly why the game was less complex than the sequel, Star Control II." (Assuming it was Reiche who said this.) Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 23:30, 11 February 2022 (UTC)[reply]
"Decades later, it is remembered as one of the greatest games of all time. The staff of Polygon stated that..." The important point isn't that the comment comes from Polygon staff, it's that the article is about the best video games of all time. I'd suggest "Decades later, it is remembered as one of the greatest games of all time: a 2017 review of the 500 best video games commented that...".
I removed the quote because it didn't seem to add much. You're right that the real value is that it is ranked among the best games of all time.
'Reiche and Ford aimed to go beyond ship combat to develop a "science fiction adventure role-playing game".' I never played Star Control, but from our article on it, it appears it was not restricted to ship combat, but already included a turn-based exploration and strategy component. If that's right, I think this comment is misleading.
Strategy is different from adventure, but I realize the genre terminology is throwing people off. I tried to say this more directly with less jargon.
I've copyedited a little as I go through, mainly to get a better flow, but just three paragraphs in it's starting to look like the prose is rather jerky throughout. The third paragraph of "Partnership and Star Control success" starts with seven consecutive declarative sentences with no comma or connecting tissue; the last three are the same. Glancing further down the article it doesn't seem to be a problem throughout but I do see some further examples. I think a copyedit pass is needed.
I tried to fix this string of sentences. It used to flow better, but it's been re-edited a few times for clarity, and lost something in the process. Hopefully this is an improvement.
It's still a bit staccato. Would the sources support a version like this? "Reiche had worked on Starflight in 1986, with Johnson as the lead developer, and the two had become friends. Reiche, inspired by Starflight, wanted to expand the scope of the game to add a space adventure component to go with the existing combat and strategy elements of the game. Johnson joined the development team for the sequel and was later credited by both Reiche and Ford as being one of the game's most significant contributors."
I didn't realize that the "Toys for Bob" name didn't come into existence right away until the section on Crystal Dynamics. I think that should be clearer at the start of the article. In fact, I can't really tell the sequence of naming from the article. Was the studio in legal existence right from 1989, with a later name change to "Toys for Bob"? Exactly when did the name change occur? What was the studio name before that? Reading further down I see that they incorporated the studio in 2002, so what was the situation before that? There's a lot of the article that's about things that happened before Toys for Bob came into existence legally; is the article at the right name?
It's really a difficult and vague story. What we know is in the article: the partnership started in 1989, the incorporation happened in 2002, and somewhere in between, they started using "Toys for Bob" as their operating name. If you look at their first few games, they are credited to Reiche and Ford personally. Somewhere in the mid-90s, they start operating under Toys for Bob. A lot of independent studios start in this messy sort of way. We are doing the best with the published information available.
Yes, I can see that that's a problem. It wouldn't make sense to split the article up just because the company wasn't actually incorporated under that name for a few years. I think my only concern is that it's not clear in the lead that the article isn't just about the period when it was called Toys for Bob. Could we address this by changing the first couple of sentences to make it clearer that the article is about the partnership that led to the company as well? How about "Toys for Bob, Inc. is an American video game developer that developed from a partnership between Paul Reiche III and Fred Ford." Then take us through the UC Berkeley connection, mutual friends, meeting and starting the partnership, and mention Star Control and Skylanders at that point, and then explicitly put into the lead the date (approximate, if that's all we have) when the name was adopted. That would set the reader's expectation that the company name happens partway through the narrative. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 23:39, 11 February 2022 (UTC)[reply]
Sounds good. I did another search for information about their corporate structure and history, but I think we're stuck with the picture we have. Ready to keep working on this whenever you have more input. Shooterwalker (talk) 21:49, 11 February 2022 (UTC)[reply]
In the last paragraph of the partnership section, where we talk about Star Control II's reputation, I think it would be worth making the comparison to Star Control -- at least say something like "Like its predecessor, Star Control II became regarded as...". And it sounds like the sequel is even more highly-regarded than the first game, in which case it would be good to say so at this point.
"It is also ranked among the best games in several specific areas, including": would it be better to qualify this with "often ranked"? Or can we be this absolute? I also think this could be seamlessly joined with the previous sentence.
We name three games that were influenced by Star Control II; can we say these are just some of the ones that have acknowledged the influence? As phrased it sounds very definite, as if only these three games were influenced, which seems unlikely.
In the Crystal Dynamics section you mention Toys for Bob as the company name but then backtrack to explain the name; I think this is disorienting. Wherever you place the explanation of the name, I wouldn't use the name until after that point.
"According to Reiche, since people frequently asked who "Bob" was, he instructed his team to come up with their own Bob, and swear he is the only one, "to confuse people"." I don't think the source really supports that the instruction to his team is because people were asking; I think this needs to be rephrased.
"Once again, Reiche's two-layered game design of Archon provided its inspiration." As far as I can see we haven't said anything about a two-layered game design up to this point; the previous mention of Archon only refers to its "strategic elements".
This is probably my ignorance of the world of game development but what does license mean in "Reiche and Ford thought the gameplay could be re-purposed to work with a Japanese license such as SD Gundam"? The article on SD Gundam says it's a franchise, so does license mean that The Unholy War could be reworked to fit into a franchise? And then "even bigger license" would mean a larger franchise which would presumably pay more?
It wasn't clear to me from reading this paragraph that The Unholy War was developed by Toys for Bob; it sounded like it was developed by some other studio for Crystal Dynamics, and Toys for Bob got involved in creating Majokko Daisakusen. I think this could be fixed by starting the paragraph with "In the lead up to Toys for Bob's 1998 game The Unholy War...".
It's a pity there's no information about how well Majokko Daisakusen did in Japan. Not an issue for FAC, but I wonder if it would be worth asking at the video games project if a Japanese speaker could search for sources. Presumably some Japanese gaming magazine of the era has something relevant.
The story in the interview about how they eventually turned the fax machine off in order to stop Bandai sending them more designs to translate is entertaining; any reason not to include it?
Did Crystal Dynamics fire them (and if so why), or did they decide to leave ("announcing they were parting ways") and if so why?
"Soon after rebuilding their studio as an independent company": "rebuilding" might be a bit too strong -- presumably the studio itself didn't change much, just the business paperwork around it. I think just "Soon after incorporating Toys for Bob,..." or even just "Soon after the incorporation...".
"The publisher offered Toys for Bob three Disney licenses for Disney's Extreme Skate Adventure": again probably my ignorance of the industry, but what does it mean to offer three licenses? Licenses to produce three games? That doesn't seem right, since they only produced one.
"The growing relationship between the studio and publisher led Activision to acquire Toys for Bob in May 2005." I don't think the source supports the causation implied here. I also think it would read more smoothly if we could incorporate the next sentence, about the number of employees, into this statement. How about "In May 2005 Activision acquired Toys for Bob, which by this time had 27 employees. The company became..."?
Also in that paragraph you mention Madagascar as the kind of project that Activision had Toys for Bob focus on, but one of the sources for the acquisition says they were finishing Madagascar at the time of the acquisition. Given the timing of the sources I suspect that the latter is correct -- the other source is much later.
"in part due to the negative reputation created by other licensed games": what does this refer to?
Re the Skylanders section: I know this isn't the article on Skylanders, but I have to say I did not understand how the concept worked until I read this source. The images there, plus the text "Players place monsters on a plastic tray that is connected to a console, (called a Portal of Power). The same monster appears on-screen, in game. The toys "remember" their in-game achievements and modifications. These dragons, imps, elves and griffins are portable and playable both with, and without the game." made it completely clear to me. I think we need to explain it that well here, and that might mean a fair use image of one of the toys on a Portal of Power.
"This culminated in the 2011 release of Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure, which became a breakthrough success for the developer": I think presenting the release as the culmination of a development cycle is reasonable, but we haven't talked a great deal about the development process, just mentioned a couple of elements of it. How about "The resulting game, Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure, was released in 2011, and became a breakthrough success"? I don't think we need "for the developer" -- it's a breakthrough success for everyone involved, and the reader doesn't need to be told that.
"The next year, they followed up with the release of Skylanders: Giants, creating a franchise with a billion dollars in sales just 15 months after the release of the first game." It seems odd to say that the second game created the franchise; I guess in a sense it's not a franchise till a second game appears, but the billion-dollar market isn't the creation of the second game. How about "The release the following year of a sequel, Skylanders: Giants, was equally [or "even more"?] successful, and the new franchise reached a billion dollars in sales just 15 months after the release of the first game"?
I see a ton of awards listed in the Accolades section for Skylanders: Imaginators: are any of these significant enough to be called out in the body of the article? E.g. something like "In the years that followed, Toys for Bob created several successful Skylanders video games; their last game in the series, Skylanders: Imaginators, released in 2016, won several awards, including...".
Then I'd reverse the next two sentences -- we've just talked about the success of the games so I think it makes more sense to say it's one of the best-selling video game franchises, and then say that the market was saturated so they discontinued it.
"with assets integrated into Warzone": what does this mean?
"Toys for Bob's employees were among 500 employees calling for the resignation of Kotick": as written this means every one of Toys for Bob's employees called for Kotick's resignation, which the source doesn't support. You could make this "Toys for Bob employees were among 500 employees calling for the resignation of Kotick" which is probably the simplest fix, or rephrase.
That's everything. Nothing major, just a lot of tweaks and places where I think the text could be clearer. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 13:27, 12 February 2022 (UTC)[reply]
Thanks for all the feedback. Did my best to incorporate all of the suggestions.
I wish we had a good article about licensed games, or even intellectual property licensing more generally. It's used really commonly in the industry, and in the sources. "License" just means that if you want to make a game using else's intellectual property (such as Mickey Mouse, or Gundam), you need to negotiate a license with whoever owns the intellectual property. I hope the copy-editing has at least made that more intelligible from the context.
Some stuff is simply unanswerable with the sources. For example, the story of them being fired is a little vague: "We had a connection with Disney and then things changed at Crystal dynamics and one Christmas party I got a phone call saying, "Hey guys, this is Crystal, yeah you're all fired. "Now on can you please call the rest "of your team and tell them that." And so I was like, okay. But this is one of those situations where from the worst days come the best days. So we formed a corporation of Toys For Bob. Again, we rebuilt Toys For Bob, now it's a corporation."
Same thing with Little Witching Mischiefs, and it seems not knowing how the game was received is part of the story.
An illustration of the Toys-to-Life concept would be nice. I could honestly use help with the images as I've always had some weird technical difficulty with it.
Either way, I hope we're closer to FA now. Happy to keep tweaking this stuff until we get there. Shooterwalker (talk) 03:04, 14 February 2022 (UTC)[reply]
I've struck most points above. Some of the points I've left open are just suggestions, and I've left them in case you take a look and decide to do something with them. The remaining points that I think are important are the first three, at the top of this section, plus the need for a concise explanation of how Skylanders works -- in a footnote would work. You mentioned problems images -- if you have a specific technical problem, let me know and I'll see if I can help. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 09:48, 14 February 2022 (UTC)[reply]
I tried to address the last few points. The image help would be incredible. Something like this, maybe. Would be a good place to include the concise explanation of Toys-to-Life, like "In the Skylanders series, players place a toys-to-life character on a plastic tray that is connected to a console. The character appears in the game, and in-game data is stored in the toy." Shooterwalker (talk) 16:37, 14 February 2022 (UTC)[reply]
I struck one point above, although I think "collaborative process" is a bit jargony and would be better with simpler phrasing, such as "how to collaborate".
The lead is definitely better; you now make it clear that the name was adopted after some years of the partnership. I think if you want to mention Star Control and Skylanders early in the lead, I would make it part of the first sentence -- the reader expects the first sentence to be definitional and then we go to narrative, so putting it in the second sentence isn't ideal unless you have a paragraph break after that sentence. How about:
Toys for Bob, Inc. is an American video game developer based in Novato, California, best-known as the creators of the Star Control and Skylanders series. The studio originated as a partnership between Paul Reiche III and Fred Ford, who had separately attended the University of California, Berkeley, in the late 1970s before entering the video game industry in the early 1980s. They met through mutual friends in 1988, when Reiche was seeking a programmer to develop Star Control for Accolade, and became partners in 1989. Star Control debuted in 1990; the release was considered a landmark science fiction game and led to the 1992 sequel Star Control II, which greatly expanded the series' story and scale. Star Control II is celebrated as one of the greatest games of all time and is featured on several "best of" lists for music, writing, world design, and character design.
I'm still not crazy about the third paragraph in the "Partnership..." section. I don't think "deeper storytelling" conveys much, and what does "dynamic" mean in "dynamic space adventure"? And I think the rhythm is still jerky.
Re the image: not sure what you're asking -- I don't know what the source of that image is, but it seems likely to be copyrighted. I don't think we could justify fair use for a Skylanders picture. Your proposed explanation is a good start, but "toys-to-life" isn't very informative unless the reader already knows what you're trying to tell them. And I think you're missing a key point, perhaps because it's obvious to you -- the in-game data stored in the toy means that the toy and the on-screen character are the same, to the player. The source makes this point by saying 'The toys "remember" their in-game achievements and modifications.'
I'm going to pass on these last few suggestions. What you see as a choppy sentences, I see as clear and uncomplicated. The goal is readability. When you add lots of short sentence fragments connected by commas and conjunctions, you start to introduce needless complexity, and it's easy to lose the reader. An image of the toys would also be nice, but I can see why it would be too complicated to add it. It actually isn't obvious to me how toys-to-life works either. But that's fine, because it's enough to understand the studio's historic role in inventing the concept of integrating video games with toy peripherals. There are wikilinks for readers who want to learn more about the technology itself. Shooterwalker (talk) 03:50, 15 February 2022 (UTC)[reply]
OK. I'll take another read through, this morning if I have time, and will see if I can support the article as it stands. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 11:37, 15 February 2022 (UTC)[reply]
Weak support. This is a full support on most FA criteria, with a couple of caveats. I didn't look at images, and I didn't do a full source review or spotcheck, though I did end up reading quite a few of the sources, and the article represents the sources I read accurately. My support is weak because I think there are places where the prose falls just short of "well-written and of a professional standard". The nominator disagrees; I concede this might be just a stylistic preference on my part, and I don't think it would be right to withhold support from a well-researched and well-structured article on that basis. If other reviewers see no weaknesses in the prose I have no objection to promotion. Mike Christie (talk - contribs - library) 12:14, 15 February 2022 (UTC)[reply]
Thanks for the feedback and the support. I do think the article is better off from all your feedback, and hoping for new perspectives to iron out any remaining issues. Shooterwalker (talk) 17:47, 15 February 2022 (UTC)[reply]
I noted this briefly during the PR but would like to bring this up again. Please review the reliability of some of the sources and remove/replace them.
The following sources appear to be unreliable: GameGrin, Retro Game Daisuki, MobileSyrup, and Charlie INTEL.
Destructoid, Game Rant, and TechRaptor ("situational" and "inconclusive" sources per WP:VG/RS) might also not be suited for features articles. Especially the latter two are usually classed as unreliable.
Tried to tweak these during the PR, but I wrapped up the loose ends. The unreliable sources are gone, as is the one inconclusive source. The situational sources are appropriately situational, not making any fringe or user-generated claims. We should be solid now. Shooterwalker (talk) 03:13, 14 February 2022 (UTC)[reply]
And thanks for tweaking a lot of the citation template stuff that I missed. Shooterwalker (talk) 16:37, 14 February 2022 (UTC)[reply]
Source 65 link should be marked as dead as the non-archive link is not working.
Source 84 was published on 10 December 2016 (according to Google). I suggest adding that.
Source 88 - what makes Windows Central a high-quality, reliable source?
Source 93 - what makes TheGamer a high-quality, reliable source? As I see, its article was deleted because it failed notability. FrB.TG (talk) 20:10, 4 March 2022 (UTC)[reply]
@FrB.TG: Made some adjustments based on your feedback. Replaced the third source, and fixed the first two. TheGamer has an editorial team with a reputation for fact-checking and accuracy, at least in recent years. Hope that's everything. Shooterwalker (talk) 02:27, 7 March 2022 (UTC)[reply]
Windows Central should be fine. It is a Future-published property like many HQ video game sources (PC Gamer et al.) and appears on WP:VG/RS's list of reliable sources. The replacement is more likely to be unreliable per WP:FORBESCON. IceWelder [✉] 19:03, 7 March 2022 (UTC)[reply]
Thanks for checking that out. I can revert to the Windows Central source, and just want feedback from @FrB.TG: before I do that. Shooterwalker (talk) 21:03, 7 March 2022 (UTC)[reply]
It's fine if you want to restore the Windows Central source. I have no further concerns. FrB.TG (talk) 12:11, 8 March 2022 (UTC)[reply]
Hi FrB.TG, I was wondering if you felt in a position to either pass or fail this source review yet? Thanks. Gog the Mild (talk) 14:09, 13 March 2022 (UTC)[reply]
Gog the Mild, sorry I didn’t clarify it before but yeah I would pass the source review based on reliability and formatting. I am not thrilled about some sources used but I realize they’re the best available and fine for what they’re being used. FrB.TG (talk) 14:27, 13 March 2022 (UTC)[reply]
Thanks for the prompt response, FrB.TG, and sorry to press you on this, but you ran up a red flag with "they’re the best available". That doesn't cut it at FAC, the criterion is "high-quality reliable sources" (emphasis added). If such are not available, it may be that it is not possible to improve an article to FA standard, despite the use of the best sources that are available. You also say they are "fine for what they’re being used", so it could be that the first comment was just obiter dictum. I would be grateful if you could clarify. Gog the Mild (talk) 14:46, 13 March 2022 (UTC)[reply]
Gog the Mild, my doubt was about Game Rant, which is a situational source. They're controversial for BLPs but reliable for pop culture and game info, which is why I consider its usage acceptable in this case. FrB.TG (talk) 15:14, 13 March 2022 (UTC)[reply]
"Soon thereafter" - this would mean the same thing with "soon after".
"and one of the friends who encouraged the get-together was fantasy artist Erol Otus." This part can be directly incorporated where the "mutual friends" are introduced: ".. so their mutual friends – one of whom was fantasy artist Erol Otus – set up a board game night to introduce them".
"During the development of Starflight" → "While developing Starflight" (less words ;))
"In addition to Johnson, they recruited Otus, who contributed music, text, and art for the game's manual and voice acting for the game." Repetitive phrasing ("the game's"... "the game").
"Unholy War combined a fighting game with a strategic meta-game, similar to the combination" - repetition of "combine" (and its derivative "combination").
"The company saw the potential to adopt these toys and character designs into a game" - I think "adapt" is more suitable since it's more frequently used when talking about transferring one work into another kind (see film adaptation, for example).
"These successes led Gamasutra to list Toys for Bob among their top developers for 2012, stating "we're.." - comma after "stating".
"April 2021", "December 2021" - NBSP needed
This should conclude my review of the prose. FrB.TG (talk) 17:39, 11 March 2022 (UTC)[reply]
@FrB.TG: All good comments, and I did my best to address all of them. Let me know if you see anything else. Shooterwalker (talk) 00:48, 12 March 2022 (UTC)[reply]
I'll begin a review of this article very soon! My reviews tend to focus on prose and MOS issues, especially on the lede, but I will also comment on anything that could be improved. I'll post up some comments below over the next couple days, which you should either respond to, or ask me questions on issues you are unsure of. I'll be claiming points towards the wikicup once this review is over.
release was considered a landmark science fiction game - probably needs to say by whom. I don't mind the next part of the sentence, as it qualifies Star Craft 2 being top of game lists. Best Wishes, Lee Vilenski(talk • contribs) 10:41, 16 March 2022 (UTC)[reply]
The studio adopted the name Toys for Bob in the mid 1990s - i do think it suitable to have at least some mention as to why it's called that. It was the first question I had about the company. Best Wishes, Lee Vilenski(talk • contribs) 10:41, 16 March 2022 (UTC)[reply]
Credited with inventing the toys-to-life genre. Hmm, it's not like this wasn't a thing that existed. My first experience with this was more The Eye of Judgement on PS3. Perhaps say whom credits them (at least in the body.) Best Wishes, Lee Vilenski(talk • contribs) 10:41, 16 March 2022 (UTC)[reply]
In 2018, Toys for Bob assisted with the development of the remaster compilations Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy and Spyro Reignited Trilogy. - this seems very throwaway for some of the biggest remaster releases ever. Perhaps mention both of these recieved high praise from critics. Best Wishes, Lee Vilenski(talk • contribs) 10:41, 16 March 2022 (UTC)[reply]
There is one bundled note, could we change it to be:
Did my best with most of these. The reference style is an artifact of citing the awards twice – in the prose and in the award section. Is there a precedent for linking to the section itself as a reference? That could be a potential solution, but I'd want to be sure that other Featured Articles follow this format. The other challenge is that some of the questions you asked about the lead don't have interesting answers when you get to the prose. According to who? Multiple publications and developers. Why did they call it that? To make you curious enough to ask. Why are they credited with creating this concept, when a similar technical innovation happened earlier? That's what every reliable source says, and when the terminology came into fashion. I tried to fix these nonetheless, and my hope is people who want to know more than the lead will read further. If any of these are still really glaring we can try to come up with some other solution. But my hope is we are close to FA quality now. Shooterwalker (talk) 18:04, 17 March 2022 (UTC)[reply]
I'm hoping we have something close to a consensus for promotion. Either way, I'm hoping to nominate another article for FA status. Would that be alright? Shooterwalker (talk) 16:14, 24 March 2022 (UTC)[reply]