The making of Skylanders' Portal of Power

Blake Maloof has been covering the Game Developers' Conference for MAKE, and he interviewed his colleagues at Toys for Bob about the game, Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure, which my 8-year-old daughter loves. It has a wireless "Portal of Power," upon which you place little vinyl characters as you play the game. The characters have RFID chips in them, and the RFID reader in the portal senses which character you have place on it and puts the character into the game.

In my day job, I work as a game designer for a company called Toys for Bob which recently released the wildly popular game called Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure. The game comes with an external device (called the Portal of Power) that communicates with your console and action figures that can be identified by the portal and brought to life in the game. You swap out characters as you play by changing the character on the portal. Players can also expand their selection of playable characters by collecting more toys.

Before I went into GDC on Friday, I swung by the Toys for Bob offices in Novato, CA and sat down with Robert Leyland, the technical engineer behind the Skylanders hardware, and I-Wei Huang, the character and toy director (also known to MAKE readers as magazine and site-contributor CrabFu), to discuss the process of developing this innovative title.

Developing Skylanders' Innovative "Portal of Power"