Beyond Good & Evil 2 may be a 3D game, but that doesn’t mean it can’t run in Ubisoft Montpellier’s UbiArt Framework engine, which has so far only been used in 2D games like Rayman Legends. Michel Ancel has said it could be done.
Speaking with Edge, Ancel explained that while developing the UbiArt Framework and trying to remove much of the laborious grunt work involved in the coding process, he and his team took a trip to Lord of the Rings effects studio Weta Digital. He recalled, “We visited the studios in New Zealand. We discovered they were working closely with the programmers in order to avoid too much repetitive work done by humans.
“I think it’s very interesting to see how much you can integrate and put artificial intelligence in the tools so you can really order the computer to do things. It’s a very interesting way of working, to see where and how humans are involved in creation [and where the computer takes over].”
When asked if the same techniques could work in Beyond Good & Evil 2, Ancel replied, “Of course. There’s not so much difference between the two because, as soon as you start the process of sharing human [development] with the computer, you can translate that to more complex games. We have done research and it’s something we are working on, but I can’t mention too much about that.”
Reducing workload is important seeing as Ancel’s team is the smallest at Ubisoft, and in essence UbiArt Framework reduces the need for human input in mechanical areas of development, leaving the team free to focus on more creative elements, such as the charming visuals found in Rayman Legends.
When asked if this process could be applied to larger-scale operations – again, like Beyond Good & Evil 2 – Ancel continued, “For sure, we’re doing research that could help even for bigger games. We believe we can achieve big games even with this size [of studio]; more could be done by the computer and we can focus on the really important things done by real people.
“The content and the quality of the content will be different. That’s something we’ve learned with our tools on Rayman Legends; in fact, those tools improve the quality. It was also funny to see how many people in the team can create content with the tools. Sometimes in [this business] you say, ‘Oh, this veteran is better than this young guy,’ but what if the veteran is only better at the technical things?
“When those two people are using tools that are easy to use, technical things don’t matter; it’s more the imagination and ideas that are very important. But we need to practise and use the tools, and now that Rayman Legends has been finished, we are going to move back onto triple-A games with those tools. I think it could be very interesting to talk about it in a year, and to see how far we’ve come.”
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