Ubisoft Montreal’s Rise To Power
In the world of gaming, Ubisoft Montreal’s role is reaching high praise. This year, the company wins the attention of many with the focusing on very serious research, such as innovating artificial intelligence for more immersive games, and making sure to blow fans away with reoccurring hard-core titles. Ubisoft cannot be left undetected, with also being nominated in several categories at this annual “Golden Joystick Awards”. Tyler Windecker, Ubisoft Montreal’s talented level designer, talks to us about Montreal’s branch upheaval year and explains what it’s like to work for one of the most grossing and growing company in the world.
“Finishing school was a big one for me. I always had a hard time in a class room, but I knew I could not give up. I wanted to have my dream job one day”, Tyler Windecker says while talking about his career in video game design. After taking an extensive course at Campus Ubisoft, and now having two years of experience under his belt as a level designer, Tyler has already worked on several projects such as Far Cry 2 and Prince of Persia. “When I was in high school, I wanted to be a film director. I wanted to show people my ideas and visions. I never ended up studying film but the desire to create never went away. I ended up liking video games more and level design is like being a director, so it was better for me.” Most of the team mates surrounding Tyler’s workspace share the same thirst for creativeness, and he explains that a company is only at its strongest because of the people that are involved in it.
“To accomplish big projects, like Assassin’s Creed Revelations, we sometime have to outsource to other overseas branches”, Tyler reveals, “though, the Montreal branch is most responsible for the biggest part on those AAA titles”. Those types of games are what started defining Ubisoft as a more serious studio. Of course, games like Just Dance are more casual-oriented, are still selling extremely well, for now. But so were some titles for different companies such as Harmonix’s Rock Band, which now no longer exists due to the drop in their game sales, and Ubisoft’s Just Dance could follow the same fate someday. “Hard-core titles like the Assassin’s Creed series are not just a fad and benefit from complex story-lines and the appropriate audience doesn’t perceive them as just toys you get tired of playing at parties with your mates”, Tyler confirms.
That said, expectations are high for coming titles and the annual Golden Joystick Awards makes sure to acknowledge them. Besides current games being recognized under different categories, Ubisoft has three titles nominated under the category “One to Watch” (games to come which players are most excited), which are Far Cry 3, Assassin’s Creed Revelations and Ghost Recon: Future Soldier. “Even though I didn’t get to participate in most of these titles, real shame, I think it’s awesome that all our games are nominated for those awards. It gives us great exposure and will surely boost our sales up, so it’s just great for the company as whole”, Tyler discusses, very pleased with his branch finally being in the driver’s seat.
On a more serious subject, in March, Ubisoft Montreal, in collaboration with Ubisoft Toronto, created a program called Industrial Chair of Learning Representations for Immersive Video Games. This program will be funded by Ubisoft Montreal and will approximately invest $1 million within the next five years. Taking place at the University of Montreal, this research will include about 30 students, all with Ph.Ds. or master’s degree-levels, and will work close to the Ubisoft production team for testing hypothesis and algorithms. The scope is to make interactions between the human mind and the machines possible.
The future of video games is becoming much more immersive for gamers, and profitable for the industry. The reason for Ubisoft making such a big investment is to get the game to adapt to the players, instead of the opposite. This will mean that, depending on how a player interacts with the in-game environment, the machine will be able to analyze their behaviour towards specific and personalized experiences, and will be able to learn to adapt. “For sure, I see things that blow me away all the time, but does not all make it in this generation of games because of time constrains and systems limitations”, Tyler comments, and assures us that this will be a huge upheaval for artificial intelligence research. “The content for games we will have in the years to come will be unimaginable and dynamic”, he continues. We should expect some early results in 2012, as Ubisoft Montreal will begin to develop new material with this concept as they constantly renew it.
Ubisoft Montreal is head first in innovations and constant renewal of their material and resources. This year, the company is making huge investments to improve the video game industry, and to keep its fans a priority focus with delivering a mass of capitalized games from already loved-franchises. Its devoted and awesome teams of developers and designers reassured us that the best is yet to come from Ubisoft Montreal, and will always try to make its city proud.