Dynamic character storytelling on an interplanetary scale.
I can’t recall how many times during my meeting with the development team of Beyond Good & Evil 2 I thought to myself, “This is impossible.” While the trailer shown at Ubisoft’s E3 conference was more of a development announcement, our post-show meeting was where the concept and true potential of BG&E2 really came into focus. The goal is a seamless multi-planet world populated by dynamically-generated characters, with unique stories being told and optional social interaction throughout. I may have initially scoffed at these ambitious ideas, but by the end of our meeting I was enthralled, not to mention giggling like a child out of sheer amazement at the fact that this could actually work.
What we actually saw was a demonstration of the team’s new engine, one they’ve been working on for the better part of three years, and the potential that it offers for the world they want to build. “We wanted to emphasize with this game is the sense of scale,” explained Ubisoft Montpellier’s senior producer Guillaume Brunier, “So we developed the technology to let us go from a very small, tiny place in a big city [all the way] to space exploration.” Referring to some nearby concept art, he described the idea that players could go from within an intimate location, like a noodle bar or back alley, and walk outside through the fully-designed city, then hop into a ship and fly to the other side of the planet, or evey beyond that to another world entirely – all without load times or transitions.
In the case of our demonstration, we began next to a huge frigate, floating lazily next to the giant statue of Ganesh seen in the trailer. And, almost exactly framed as it was during the press conference, a sprawling city stood in the background. Creative Director Michel Ancel, who was controlling the demo, guided the camera back from the frigate, passing over rivers and open plains. “We are just a little city in the middle of a little island, in the middle of little planet,” he said, pulling back further and further, until the whole city was barely visible and we were looking at the top half of the entire globe. “It’s just a satellite of a gigantic planet,” he said with a laugh, referencing the massive ringed planet sitting off in the distance. “It’s a big simulation.”
“We are in a huge universe,” he continued, zooming back into the surface of the planet, making a point to show off that we could stop in on the other side of the world before returning to our ship outside Ganesh City. “The spaceship, you can consider it your house,” he explained while we re-oriented around the statue, “We can also use it as a garage.” Then, just like in the trailer, the front of our ship unfolded, and a smaller, more nimble-looking vessel piloted itself out of the belly of our giant frigate. Or, perhaps I should say Knox piloted it, since we then zoomed the camera inside this smaller ship – and Michel was suddenly controlling the wisecracking chimp from the trailer. With the touch of a button he was outside, standing on top the smaller ship, though it now appeared to be about half a block in length.
To see such fine detail in a tech demo was both stunning and reassuring.
From here, as my jaw hung slack, he activated a jetpack and began flying towards the statue of Ganesh – which had appeared to only be a few feet high, and now loomed ahead of us like some gargantuan titan in a greek myth. As we approached the statue, it was especially impressive to see that every bolt and weld on the plates of the statue’s head, were visible. To see such fine detail in a mere tech demo was both stunning and reassuring – and made the ideas that the team had for Beyond’s story and world seem much more achievable.
Source: IGN Video Games