Michel Ancel talks about emotional resonance and discovery in his next project – likely to be the much-anticipated Beyond Good & Evil 2 – in the new issue of Edge, which goes on sale Thursday February 13.
In a wide-ranging interview with the Rayman creator and Ubisoft Montpellier boss, Ancel wasn’t able to go into specifics but does suggest that his next game aims to fulfil a long-held ambition – to ‘create moments that will stay with people forever’. It’s something he doesn’t feel he or the game industry at large has really achieved to date.
“I think there are some very memorable moments in games, and in the one I’m working on we try to make moments memorable and [imbue them] with strong consequences,” he tells us. “It’s not only about a single moment, but the whole journey that the player is led through in the world. In Beyond Good & Evil, we tried to make the player travel and discover different things, and I think it’s something that you really need… It’s like in a good story, or a good book, or a good movie: the whole book is supposed to bring you to this special moment. It’s meant to make you feel something very strong, even if it’s short. It’s something that we haven’t achieved yet [in the game industry]. I have the idea to build this kind of thing, but honestly, it’s something that we need to work on.”
The follow-up to Ancel’s critically-acclaimed 2003 adventure has been in development for years, the only official footage emerging through the release of a teaser trailer at Ubisoft’s Ubidays event back in 2008. It is believed that work stopped on the game in recent years so that Ancel’s team could concentrate on the development of the two recent Rayman games, Origins and Legends. Now those games are finished, Ancel’s small team in Montpellier has been able to return to the project in earnest, though it remains shrouded in mystery. The original game was re-released as a HD remake on XBLA and PSN in 2011.
“When we did Beyond Good & Evil, we really wanted to make something different, even if it’s in the style of a classic action-adventure game, and make a real experience game,” adds Ancel. “I think that it’s a game that people are still discovering, and maybe these kinds of games still have a place. We’re all waiting for games like The Last Guardian, after all.“
Ancel also downplayed the importance of graphical power in the creation of truly new game experiences, urging his fellow developers to explore a wider range of possibilities.
“We know how to take care with design better than before, but now the next step is to move away a little bit from the graphics,” he says. “We know how to make games, but we need to work on how to make them really exciting and mysterious at the same time. We’ve made games with big cinematics and expensive sequences, and we’ve tried to make the games for millions of people. Now there are other explorations that we need to do.”
Elsewhere in the interview we discuss Ancel’s admiration of procedurally generated games, the making of King Kong and why time – not money – is the most precious resource in game development.
The newsstand and digital editions (on iPad, Google Play and Zinio) of the new issue are released on Thursday February 13, but subscribers are receiving their issues from today. To subscribe or buy an individual issue of Edge, just follow the links.