Ubisoft on Rayman strategy, Legends’ non-used Wii U NFC, Beyond Good & Evil 2, more

Posted under General Nintendo, News, Podcast Stories, Wii U
March 5, 2013 by (@NE_Brian)

Ubisoft France boss Xavier Poix answered a whole bunch of questions in a new IGN interview. Topics include Ubisoft’s strategy when it comes to Rayman, Wii U NFC, and Beyond Good & Evil 2.

We’ve rounded up Poix’s comments below.

Poix on how there isn’t a specific strategy when it comes to Rayman…

“We think that if you like the Rayman universe, it’s worth the price of a AAA game. We wanted to make sure that we could render the beauty of the Rayman universe in full HD. We’ve created a new engine, what we call the Ubi Art Framework. It’s an engine dedicated to 2D gameplay. It’ll make sure that the artists drawing the universe can see their work on the screen. That’s the idea. And then of course Michel Ancel’s craziness in design handles the rest. We don’t have a specific path for the game. We’ve added some 3D elements in the background that make the world more alive, but we’re still focusing on 2D gameplay. It’s in this kind of gameplay that Rayman was born years ago, and we wanted to preserve it.”

Poix on bringing Rayman back to 2D…

“What was key when we came back to 2D is that it makes sense with new devices. If we had done a new Rayman in 3D, we wouldn’t have done a portable adaptation. Then we’d have to port the same controls. It would be strange. I don’t know exactly what we could have done. But for sure, what drove us to doing a portable Rayman was the 2D. We could adapt it, but with changes to the scope. It has smaller missions. The things that you need to learn how to perform. The main fuel of the idea was that we could render the best quality ever on this device, with full HD and the same amount of immersion you can find on the main screen.”

Poix on Ubisoft’s Wii U NFC idea for Rayman Legends originally shown in the game’s first leaked video…

“The franchise is very adaptable. We’ve always tried to create the best experience we could in every generation of Rayman. It’s a game and a franchise that can appeal to you, as an older gamer, or an even older audience, but also appeal to smaller children. When Wii U announced the NFC reader, we thought about that. I can’t disclose any more on this, but what has leaked is something we were thinking about.”

Poix on rumors that Rayman is slowing down Beyond Good & Evil 2 development…

“Michel is like 300 people. Each of them is doing something. If Beyond Good & Evil 2 is made at some point, then Michel will have to focus those 300 people on that one thing. Today it’s Rayman Legends. We’ll see. But of course that’s something that we have. It’s one of those rare games where, each time I have the opportunity to speak with gamers or the press, we talk about that. There’s something magical about this game. It’s always on our mind, what we could do with it. But there’s nothing to say right now.”

Poix on Ubisoft’s commitment to platform launches…

“It’s about the experience of building games for the launch of a console, which is a totally different matter. We’re good at mixing, especially in the French studios. We launched on the Wii. We were there with Rabbids at launch, and Red Steel as well. For the Wii U, we had ZombiU, Rabbids Land, and Just Dance 4. We had all these experiences that were built for the new system. Back in the day, at the launch of Xbox 360, we had Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter, which was praised as one of the first real next-gen games on the 360. There are many different examples. When you’re designing a game for the launch of a console, it’s hard to imagine. You’re doing your game, which is hard enough, in parallel with the development of the technology on which you base your game. You have absolutely no benchmarks or market information. You’re alone. You can’t really test it, usually, because if there’s a new accessory or something like that you can’t show it to anyone. It’s only your intuition, amid all these constraints of being at launch and having only so much time. What it leaves us to do is to be creative, and use our intuition to separate the good ideas that will last and will make changes in the games industry from the ones that seem at first like really good ideas, but at some point they’ll just be a gimmick. We’ve been developing a lot of experiments based on this way of thinking. Each time, we try to accept the challenge.”

Poix on expanding to new audiences…

“The audience is enlarging and people now are getting into the games industry. They won’t be so focused on their game in the way some types of players can be. But they’ll be okay with spending a few minutes on one game that appeals to the kind of challenge that they like, that has the level of interactivity that is needed, because they don’t know controls. For us, it’s just an opportunity for our brands. Rayman is a good example. It’s broadened the kind of experience we can provide in the same world and the same franchise. In the future, I don’t think the debate has to be about how we can get the people who play on iPhones to play on consoles. It’s about how your franchise can provide a nice experience on this kind of device for this kind of players, and how it can potentially provide another kind of experience – longer, broader, I don’t know – to another kind of audience that likes to sit in front of a TV and play for hours.”

“Then there’s the question of the business model. Is there a problem with having one experience in the brand that’s two dollars and another experience in the same franchise at $60 dollars? This is the question we’re raising right now. Today, I won’t be surprised if you, as a fan of Rayman, will spend money on both. That’s our promise. That’s what excites me. We can give you Rayman anytime and anywhere. If you’re standing around waiting for somebody, you play the mobile game. If you’re at home and you have the time, you play on the console. I think that if we interconnect everything, then everything you do with the franchise makes sense. The whole objective is universal. What will be interesting in the future is that what you’re doing on the device will have an impact on the game when you get back home. It could be a different kind of play that has an impact, or it could potentially be the same, if it makes sense to have the same thing. Of course, it won’t all be at the same price. It won’t be the same approach. But I don’t think that we have to be too scared of that difference in price. Some people want to go to the movies and have the full experience and spend $10 for that. Others will wait to see it on TV. Others will buy the DVD when it comes out. It’s just a different form of consumption, a different kind of pleasure, based on that same experience.”

Poix on how communication keeps Ubisoft’s studios efficient…

“We began working on these collaborations between studios a long time ago. At first it was really hard. We were saying ‘you’ll only do one part. You won’t design the whole game.’ Now, since we’ve been very successful in terms of organization, the question isn’t the same anymore. The studios that, today, accept the challenge of working with another studio are okay with that. It gives them opportunities to create games in franchises that they wouldn’t have otherwise. It’s very motivating for every studio. Even on Just Dance, for example, you might think that game developers wouldn’t love it. On the contrary, it’s the kind of game that’s more relaxing in terms of design. Not in terms of artwork – the artwork is still intensive – but it’s simple and it’s clear. Once a studio has learned how to work on a franchise like this, what we do is that the studio gets more and more ownership of what they’re doing. At some point they’ll do a game on their own. But we’re working with games that are so huge when it comes to production scale that one studio wouldn’t be able to do it.”

“There are not a lot of studios within Ubisoft that can totally handle one game. Sometimes it’s good to divide up a game into clusters. Once the design is well-thought-out and you know the links between each part and how they fit together, then it’s better to focus on just one part. Then you can put all your imagination and creativity into that one side of the game, so it can be perfect. Compare that to having all the issues at the same time. It becomes all about deciding where to go and what to cut. We don’t have that problem when we have different studios working on a game. Annecy has been developing a huge experience, creating multiplayer gameplay out of a solo experience – first for Splinter Cell back in the day and now on Assassin’s Creed. The change was so huge, imagining how the gameplay of Assassin’s Creed could work in multiplayer. It had to be done at a specialist studio that knows how to do that and would only focus on that.”

“We have big teams, especially in Montreal. Huge teams. But we set up our organization at the beginning. The principle is, ownership needs to be clear. Once that’s done, it’s about intelligence in between the team at our level so that we’re anticipating everything that can happen. It’s very motivating. It adds a lot to the game. When we worked with Red Storm, which has a huge amount of experience in multiplayer on Ghost Recon, there was a mutual benefit. We had guys dedicated to multiplayer, with everything that’s needed in terms of how fast you need to go when you’re playing multiplayer, and our team dedicated to a more cooperative experience. That created very good chemistry.”

Poix on maintaining chemistry and avoiding communication problems…

“We make sure that doesn’t happen. When it comes to relationships and coordination, we have people dedicated to that, to make sure that every decision that’s taken in relation to some element of the game has no huge influence on the rest.”

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