Pixelization at its best _ See more from ArteF4ct here: http://artef4ct.deviantart.com/gallery/
We had a very good conversation with Philippe Baude, Lead Game Designer for Watch_Dogs’ companion app, the ctOS Mobile. Here’s what he had to say:
Can you tell us a bit more about your work experience prior to working on Watch_Dogs.
I’ve been working in video games for almost 15 years. I worked for different companies back in France to arrive in Canada, at Ubisoft in 2005. Since then, I’ve worked on some Far Cry and Star Wars titles. Later on, I worked on some Kinect titles like Your Shape and Michael Jackson, The Experience and now Watch_Dogs. It was always as a game designer.
What would you say are the fundamental differences between working on console or PC and working on a mobile platform?
The constraints are pretty much always the same and it basically is to know your platform. One of my strengths, I believe, is to be able to evaluate to which point you can push the system you’re working on. Whether it is on traditional console, mobile, handheld or movement based systems like the Kinect, you have to know what you can and cannot do. Then you just let the creativity go.
What’s different for a game designer to be working on a companion app like the ctOS Mobile?
On top of working on how the app itself will be, we also have to deal with other particularities. What’s really different about the ctOS Mobile is that this will be the first time we make a cross-platform game. What this means is, console or PC players will be taking on mobile players in real time. That’s the first time it’s ever been done. We had to take in account and push to the limit, no only the game designs and choices, but also the technology surrounding its applications. We also have to work in tight collaboration with the team making the AAA game to ensure the connection between both worlds is flawless.
I assume that in creating something that had never been done before, you ran into some challenges…
We sure did. In short, we had to adapt our way of working to the functioning of the AAA team. The fantasy of our game is to control the ctOS, all of the elements that are available in the game. We wanted to have the least amount of differences possible. Our main challenge was to look at what we have in the game and figure out how we can make the player become the manager of the city’s AI.
Do you absolutely need the AAA game to play ctOS Mobile?
You don’t need to own a copy of the game, but what you do need is adversaries, that are indeed in the game. You’ll need to add your friends who play on either console or PC in order to gain access to the ecosystem and play the ctOS Mobile. If you don’t know anyone, you can also use our matchmaking tool to find random players within the ecosystem. Once your adversary accepts your invitation, you’re in. The app is totally free and available on both iOS and Android
When the game comes out, which gaming type will you be favoring? The ctOS Mobile app or the Console/PC version?
It should be about 50/50. I played a lot on both but I have tried not to spoil it either. I can’t wait to finally play it for the story.
See more of Infectious Designer here: http://infectiousdesigner.deviantart.com/
MARK YOUR CALENDARS, PAX EAST ATTENDEES.ESPECIALLY THE WATCH DOGS COSPLAYERS!Have I ever got some good news for you:The WD developers are planning a cosplay meetup on Saturday, April 12 at 3PM at the Watch Dogs booth. Awesome, right?To show their appreciation for their beloved fans, the devs are offering framed limited edition, signed Alex Ross prints to cosplayers who come to the gathering! Stick around to chat with the creators, take pictures, and of course, watch the WD demo!Can’t make it to the gathering, but still dressing up? All Watch Dogs cosplayers will be given priority and get to skip any lines at the Watch Dogs booth all weekend!So throw on your Aiden cap, shave your head for Clara, and check out the Watch Dogs booth at PAX East on Saturday, April 12!
We recently met with Jack Potter, Tech Lead on the Gameplay team for Watch_Dogs. Here’s what he had to say:
What does a Tech Lead on the Gameplay Team do?
That’s a pretty broad question. Me specifically, I mainly focus on the animations. My main tasks are focused around the animation team. I work with them on a day-to-day basis and help them to get their animations in the game. I’m kind of the bridge between the animation teams and the other gameplay programmers.
My job all comes down to making tools that programmers and animators can use and like to use. I try to facilitate their work by allowing them to play with their animations. There’s a lot more after creating an animation in Motion Builder or any other software, you have to actually put it in the game, and this requires many steps. Also, when the animations become interactive, it’s a whole new level of complexity. I also maintain the animation engine runtime, which is the thing that will merge all of these component animations together which will give you what you see on your screen.
Does that position come with any particular challenges?
It usually comes down to figuring out how to achieve the vision from the design and animation team. On Watch_Dogs, the team didn’t want to compromise on the level of detail in the “living city”, so this meant we needed to create something that is extremely scalable and can deal with a very large amount of data.
Recently, the challenges in my work are often in the realm of optimization, making things go fast enough and ultimately fit in the memory. It’s maybe not as fun as at the start of a project when you are creating new systems but it can be very rewarding in its own way.
What would you say is your favorite part of the job?
It really is working with the animators. I get to be creative through them because their creativity comes through in my work. Also, a big part of my job is helping out other programmers, helping them solve problems. That’s always challenging and fun.
What part of your work on Watch_Dogs are you particularly proud of?
The tricky thing about being in this part of the animation pipeline is that almost all animations go through my code but I can never go: “this is mine”. The animators created it and the gameplay programmers implemented it. So it’s all part of a team effort. However, I was able to put a lot of love into the “Living City” aspect of Watch_Dogs. The amount or detail and variation you’ll find in this game, it’s incredible. One of the big innovations in the “Living City” was making scenarios that are less static. For example, you’ll see a guy drinking a coffee cup as he walks down the street and then he puts it in the garbage. There’s no code that says: “Guy drink coffee and puts it in bin”. It’s all a big data system that animators will use. You can use the same system to have a mailman delivering letters around the city or people buying drugs in a back alley. It’s all truly quite powerful. It means that animators can get the most out of the actors because they can improvise. These subtle things sell the city in a good way, but on a sub-conscious level. We have to deal with all the “what if’s”, and I think we were able to pull it off.
When you play the game, do you get to enjoy it or do you mostly see the work you did?
I really enjoy it. It’s such a huge game. You can be working on one tiny piece of a giant puzzle for so long, it’s refreshing to stand back and enjoy the big picture.
Signs of a scuffle in this Digital Art_
See more from Deviant Artist Brendow Tonelli here:http://brendowtonelli.deviantart.com/gallery/
What exactly does a Production Manager for the Missions Team do?
I basically make sure we’re working on the right things, at the right time. Producing missions is one thing, but making sure we create the best content that drives the story and showcases our gameplay mechanics is a more complicated task. I need to work hand in hand with the Level Design Director to make sure the decisions regarding the content are well implemented. So I have a look at the vision, take into account the resources we have, and figure out how we’re going to reach our goal, which is to deliver the best, most innovative experience for the players.
What does a typical day at work look like for you?
That’s what’s interesting; no work day is ever the same. When I walk in, situations fall on my desk and I have to figure out solutions. I have to be ready for everything from a WTB (walkthrough break) to a major game design change. A typical day starts out with me finding out what exactly we’re going to work on in the game. Where are we with our deliverables? Are we late? Are we early? I need to make sure that things are moving forward according to our plan, and if not, making the adjustments that would rectify the situation. But my job is not only about shipping on time; I also need to make sure that we deliver top quality content. To achieve that, we run reviews to figure out if the missions are delivering on the initial promises.
When you say you review missions, how does that work exactly?
Part of my work is to ensure that reviews do happen. We can’t really develop a game without checking periodically if what we’re doing works. So we iterate. To make sure we ship the game with the highest level of quality, we have to make sure that every mission gets validation from the best person or group of people. This will often require people from many different departments like animation, programming, story, etc. With Watch_Dogs being such a big project, we have to take all of that into account. We play the game, take a step back, and see if it works. If it does, great; if not, we act on it.
With the game now being so close to launch, what are you up to now?
We’re now at the closing stage of the game, which means debugging and polish. I basically make sure we’re fixing the right things, in the right order. We have to make sure that whatever we’re doing doesn’t break anything else in the game. Fortunately, since I work with such an awesome team of people, that doesn’t happen too often. They really make things easier for me.
What do you like the most about Watch_Dogs?
The scope of the game. It’s such a massive game, with so much stuff to do, and with so many gameplay variations, I really feel there’s something in there for any type of player. And the addition of the hacking mechanic brings something really innovative to the table.
What’s your favorite hack?
Successfully hacking a steam pipe when trying to evade pursuers remains very satisfying, and very impressive.
Do you still get surprised when you play the game?
Constantly! We have so many emergent gameplay elements, a lot things can and will happen. Two players won’t experience the same thing. I have been playing A LOT and the game keeps taking me by surprise; I love it.