Ubisoft Montreal’s Patrick Plourde explores a brave new world in Ubisoft’s side-scrolling RPG.
Ubisoft Montreal is renowned for a ton of different games. Far Cry 3, Assassin’s Creed, even the upcoming Watch Dogs – but Child of Light is even further differentiated from the crop. It emphasizes on side-scrolling and JRPG elements, features a dark fantasy story focused on a young girl named Aurora and has been crafted with the UbiArt Framework engine (last seen in Rayman Legends). It would sound like an odd combination but truth be told, it all comes together in an amazing way.
GamingBolt recently had a chance to speak to creative director Patrick Plourde who talked about the game’s mechanics, its resolution and frame rate on different next gen consoles, the inspiration for the story and much more.
Ravi Sinha: Child of Light is heavily inspired by classic JRPGs like Final Fantasy VIII, Vagrant Story, Grandia II and many more, featuring elements that are missing in contemporary titles. Do you feel that Child of Light will bring about a revival of sorts when it comes to presenting classic gameplay from a whole new perspective?
Patrick Plourde: Being a fan of that genre, I hope that Child of Light can inspire other to come with more turn-based games for consoles.The genre allows for a different tempo then Action games. You can focus more storytelling since the pace is less hectic. So if the genre could see a renaissance the same way we experienced one with 2D platformers in the recent years it would make me really happy.
Ravi Sinha: Side-scrollers aren’t usually renowned for their length but Child of Light has a very strong plot and story behind it. What inspired the Narnia-esque tale and how will the characterizations differ from the usually humorous platformers we’ve seen from Ubisoft?
Patrick Plourde: I loved the idea that fairy tales happened for real but that the only traces left are contained in fairy tales. That’s the concept behind the world of Lemuria: This parallel world still exists and we simply have to find the ways to access it.From that point its about finding stories and character that we want to explore. Aurora’s story is one of them.
As for the narrative style, it follows the ‘epic poem’ structure. Everything is written in verse, something you would see more in classic literature than in games, so it has a really unique tone.
"In term of new technology, we integrated a fluid system to animate Aurora’s hair to give a sense that they are in suspension, as if she would be underwater. For me that was important to give a sense that we are in a magical world. And it makes it fun to move Aurora to just see her hair react."
Ravi Sinha: The UbiArt Framework engine has been brilliant in every creation we’ve seen it in. Though Child of Light is an entirely different aesthetic which has been positively received, do you believe a fatigue is beginning to set in for the engine? Or have you found ways to work around this and keep it ever fresh?
Patrick Plourde: A strong art direction is key. When you do a 2D game, as long as your Art direction is unique the tech is never going to be old.
In term of new technology, we integrated a fluid system to animate Aurora’s hair to give a sense that they are in suspension, as if she would be underwater. For me that was important to give a sense that we are in a magical world. And it makes it fun to move Aurora to just see her hair react.
Ravi Sinha: When it comes to Aurora’s abilities, what kind of upgrades will we see? Will you try to find a way to cater to different player styles or just allow players to eventually unlock everything a la Far Cry 3?
Patrick Plourde: The depth of the skill system comes with the partners. Each of them comes with their unique skills that complement each other.
As for unlocking the skills, you can unlock around half of them in a walkthrough. That’s why we support the NewGame+ to let completionist unlock all the skills.
Ravi Sinha: How will Child of Light approach random battles? Will you be able to smack enemies to gain an advantage for fights or have them take advantage of you in battles?
Patrick Plourde: There are no Random Battles. All the enemies are displayed in the world and the player decides when and with whom he fights. If you initiate combat by arriving from behind on an enemy, you get the First Strike.
"The game is at 720p on Xbox360, PS3 and WiiU. On WiiU we use the GamePad screen to control Igniculus and the players can do the same on the PS4 by using the PSVita in remote play. That resumes the differences between versions."
Ravi Sinha: Child of Light will release on PS4 and Xbox One. Can you confirm the resolution and frame rates of both the versions?
Patrick Plourde: For the new consoles, the game will be 1080p and 60 fps.
Ravi Sinha: Will the experience be phenomenally different on current gen consoles as compared to next gen?
Patrick Plourde: The main difference is the resolution. The game is at 720p on Xbox360, PS3 and WiiU. On WiiU we use the GamePad screen to control Igniculus and the players can do the same on the PS4 by using the PSVita in remote play. That resumes the differences between versions.
Ravi Sinha: Will the multiplayer be anything like Rayman Legends, wherein one player uses the Wii U Gamepad to help other players? Will Igniculus have a similar kind of mechanic in co-op? For that matter, how many players will be possible in co-op, especially since Aurora will pick up a few allies along the way?
Patrick Plourde: The game is playable in 2 Player COOP. 1 player controls Aurora and the Partners, the other player control Igniculus.
"I have a lot of ideas for where we could bring Child of Light next. It all depends on the game’s reception!"
Ravi Sinha: What kind of technical benefits has PS4 and Xbox One bought to the Child of Light? Were there things that you were able to do only on next gen and not on last gen consoles?
Patrick Plourde: We are not the type of game that pushes the machines technically. But even for a game with our style, there are less technical restrictions with memory.
Ravi Sinha: Are there any plans to use DualShock 4 touch pad/speaker or Camera, and Xbox One’s Kinect for the game?
Patrick Plourde: The TouchPad can be used to move Igniculus. We are not using Kinect for this game.
Ravi Sinha: Technically speaking did you find any differences between the PS4 and Xbox One while working on Child of Light?
Patrick Plourde: The only difference on my side was that we could give more Achievements on Xbox One then on PS4 because the Xbox One doesn’t have the notion of XBLA games anymore.
Ravi Sinha: If it’s successful, will we see any further iterations of Child of Light? At the very least, will there be plans for additional content in the future? Maybe something like what Ubisoft Montreal did for Far Cry 3 with Blood Dragon?
Patrick Plourde: I have a lot of ideas for where we could bring Child of Light next. It all depends on the game’s reception!