The Way of Ubisoft: AI Tech or Artists?
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The Way of Ubisoft: AI Tech or Artists?
5 August, 2018

Assassin’s Creed: Origins is one of the biggest games Ubisoft has ever released in terms of the game’s open world. We all know that the team relies heavily on AI tech, but does that mean that artists’ work is not that important anymore? Actually, no. GamesBeat has recently shared an interview with the game’s art director Raphael Lacoste about the way their team mixes AI approaches and traditional techniques. An artist’s talent is still a big thing when it comes to building a game world. 

“On Origins, it was the first time we brought to life a whole country,” Lacoste explained. “The scope was amazingly huge and demanding. To make sure we could deliver the most impressive experience, we needed to create new tools and developed a new procedural pipeline in our engine.”

Ubisoft developed procedural tools to produce vast spaces, but the artists still go in and adjust everything manually. So even when the team designs something that gives them more time, they funnel that back into polish and building even bigger environments.

“Everything is crafted by hand even if the procedural tools help us a lot to create large environments like forests and desert lands with rocks and dry grass,” said Lacoste. “The procedural benchmarks and recipes are all done by hand by an artist and conceptualized by our illustrators. We aren’t yet in a position where we want the tools to create everything for us, but we need them to help us crafting very large maps with all the diversity we need.”

So technology isn’t threatening the jobs of artists at Ubisoft yet even if AI and procedural technologies are improving rapidly. But Lacoste and his team embrace this tech because they feel the pressure to keep costs down.

“It is a pressure for the directors,” said Lacoste. “Not only for me, but also for the technical directors who have the responsibility and challenge to give us the best tools to generate procedural data like forests, mountains, and roads on such a large map.”

But as the tools get better and the artists improve at using them, this enables games to expand in scope without drastically increasing the size of the budget. That means the next Assassin’s Creed can have even more art and assets without turning into a bigger risk for Ubisoft.

You can find the full interview here

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