Ubisoft Montreal actually gave up on Scott Pilgrim vs The World, thinking it would be impossible to finish on deadline, before Ubisoft Chengdu stepped up to the plate and knocked it right out of the park.
Ubisoft Chengdu managing director Richard Tsao told Siliconera that Ubisoft Montreal had to reallocate some resources to next-generation projects and realised it wouldn’t be able to finish the game – and believed that nobody else could, either.
“We had about six months left to launch window and they only have one level completed at that time with one set of characters,” Tsao remembered.
“All pre-production was done. The whole plan was done, but they felt that in five months, because one month you need for certification, to create everything – the other six levels, the other three characters – was almost impossible to do. Weighing out all those things they said we’ve got to find another studio that can do this.
“No other studio around Ubisoft would pick this up. They wouldn’t touch it with a ten-foot pole. Why? It’s like five months to make 80% of the game. You know? Who in their right mind would sign up for that? But it was a great opportunity for us. I’m like, no problem,” he said.
As for why Ubisoft Chengdu could do it, Tsao said that in his opinion, Chinese development staff work really well as teams, whereas western studios suffer from internal divisions.
“When they have a very strong direction and good leadership they trust in that leadership so wholeheartedly that they will execute and create better quality, faster than any Western game studio that I’ve ever seen. That includes Blizzard and Valve,” he said.
“What I mean by this is, if you have very good creative leadership and you say this is the direction I want to go – we want this color blue. I’m just using blue as an example. Nobody is going to question if that blue is going to be the right blue.
“What I find the biggest challenge in Western companies is every single person, down to the individual artist, will feel that blue is not the right blue. So, more than half the energy, when creating game in the West is corralling cats, trying to convince them why this blue is the right blue.”
Tsao’s full interview is lengthy but very interesting, chronicling his experience as a Chinese-American moving to mainland China but unable to speak Mandarin, and the various benefits to development found in Asian countries.
Scott Pilgrim vs The World is available on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, and received its long-anticipated online co-op and Wallace Wells DLC earlier this year.