Associate producer Ashley Johnson also discusses the use of AI for testing.
Out of all the Ubisoft open world titles we’ve seen till date, Watch Dogs Legion is perhaps the most ambitious. Players can recruit and play as any NPC in London, growing their resistance into a venerable army. At one point, the touted number of playable NPCs was around nine million.
Speaking to Stevivor, associate producer Ashley Johnson talked about the challenges of developing such a system. “This is probably one of the most ambitious games Ubi has ever imagined. It was certainly from a management standpoint and a creative standpoint, the biggest challenge yet, certainly for me personally.”
“Honestly, there are so many GDC talks to come from this game. We innovated across so many axes to make this. [To] play as anyone, as a pillar — to really fulfill on the promise of that — it’s expensive. This game is, in as far as challenge is concerned, complex almost beyond description.”
It’s interesting because Ubisoft had to use a systemic system just to test the systemic NPC generation that it had built. “To be honest it’s really the first game, I think, for Ubisoft where we realized the limits of human testing — QC [quality control]. We really are crossing over into the need for AI to start picking up some of the heavy lifting when it comes to testing the game because of the complexity.”
While it remains to be seen how the game’s open world plays out from a gameplay perspective, there’s no denying the appeal of tackling objectives with differing playstyles. You can control brawlers who brute force their way through missions or spies that sneak their way past defenses. The world itself will also be fairly massive with “dozens” of explorable interiors.
Watch Dogs Legion is out on March 6th 2020 for Xbox One, PS4, PC and Google Stadia.