Ubisoft’s executive director of production services at the firm’s Montreal studio, is of the opinion that AI will be the next, big technological step forward with the next generation of home consoles.
According to Yves Jacquier, next-gen consoles won’t be focusing primarily on graphics hardware, thanks to Wii proving that better graphics doesn’t necessarily sell hardware.
“AI has always been the real battleground,” he told GI.biz. “The challenge is that, if you see an AI coming, you’ve failed. And that’s a problem we have to overcome as we create the impression of flawless, seamless worlds.
“In general the industry expects that graphics will not be a strong feature any more… Obviously, graphics are better for marketing purposes because you can show things. AI you can’t show. Our challenge with the PlayStation 3 and Xbox  is that we’re extremely limited in what we can do. It’s a challenge for the engineers to provide nice graphics and nice AI and nice sound with a very small amount of memory and computation time.
“We think that the next generation of consoles won’t have these limits any more. Games might have more realistic graphics and more on-screen, but what’s the value of making something more realistic and better animated if you have poor AI?”
Jacquier has been working with students at Montreal University, using Ubisoft’s recent pledge of $200,000 a year for the next five years, in order to help students come up with “other ways of thinking” about game development.