How Ubisoft’s editorial teams are quietly changing games like Assassin’s Creed, Roller Champions – IGN

You are probably familiar with video game development jobs such as programmer, artist, or designer. But one of the most influential roles at Ubisoft is one that most people don’t always immediately analyze: that of the editorial staff.

This advisory group’s mission, broadly speaking, is to set the creative direction for Ubisoft and its games, and it’s been in turmoil lately. It was the editorial team Previously got an overhaul In early 2020, Only to need another later that year After a wave of abuse allegations It is imposed on many of Ubisoft’s senior employeesincluding editorial titles.

In the pre-2020 structure, reports indicated that many Ubisoft games ended up the same way since only one or two people dictated the creative direction of the company as a whole. And while the team’s initial edit may have been well-intentioned enough, it left at least two people with allegations against them that dictate the creative pillars of the company. So it had to change again.

This is where Fozzie Nail came in. Mismar joined Ubisoft as Deputy Editor-in-Chief just over a year ago, with nearly two decades of experience in the design industry at companies like Atlus, Gameloft, King, and EA DICE. He took over at a particularly vulnerable moment, and while his team’s overall direction for shaping the company’s creative direction remains the same, the nuances seem to be shifting. Speaking to IGN, Nail describes the broad strokes of his role as working with senior leadership to put together a “creative framework” to help guide individual game teams in their creative visions. They put the pillars in place, then help teams get them through the development process.

“We’re dealing with these guidelines,” says Mismar. “So that these are not things that every project needs to do or that every project needs to adhere to. They are creative guiding principles. Think of them as a framework that you can use to activate your creativity, but not a checkbox that you need to tackle…and one game can’t be everything.” do not expect [that from] Even games that want to follow the guidelines or take into account some of these standards. Games should focus on what they are and who they are for.”

So what is this framework? nail alluded to beforeIt is effectively centered around three pillars. The first, “complete focus on quality,” is self-explanatory. The second is making toys that are culturally significant, which Mismar describes as a drive to make toys that make up the overall fabric of pop culture in general. So, quite frankly, well-made games that a lot of people love are pretty straightforward.

The third pillar is a little different – a nail wants to “create third spaces”.

“If work is your first space and home is your second, then your third space is…you can just go in and out and connect with individuals or groups of like-minded people where you can freely express yourself and communicate with them. I like to think of it as Similar to a skate park.You can show up [whenever] At a skate park, even if you don’t want to skate, you just sit there and hang out.”

Joining Nail in his efforts is Raashi Sikka, another recent hire who joined Ubisoft in February of 2021 in the wake of the same storm of allegations that rocked the editorial team. Sikka is Ubisoft’s Vice President of Global Diversity, Accessibility, and Inclusion – a role Ubisoft has never had before. She told me that while D&I efforts had previously been in the company, they had never been united under one banner before.

“Things were happening, they were just happening in different places different teams using different words and languages,” she says. “And what we’ve really tried to do is work together in a common direction, a common vocabulary and language, a North Star that the whole organization — 20,000 people — can get behind and help us move in that common direction.”

While it covers the role of people teams rail at Ubisoft, it also intersects with Mesmar in that they both work with creative teams to ensure that game content is more diverse and inclusive. In practice, this involves having conversations with development teams at various stages of a project to determine where diversity and inclusion topics might have a role in everything they do. Mesmar explains that depending on where they are in the project, these conversations can take different forms, from high-level internal design discussions to asking outside consultants for their ideas to analyzing player feedback and data.

I ask what happens if there is a conflict between something the editorial team is suggesting and what the development team wants?

It is difficult for five or six people to agree on where they want to go for lunch. Imagine hundreds of people working for years on a creative endeavor.

“We provide the team with player feedback, and then the team is their own creative visionary and then they make the decision on how to move forward with their game keeping in mind the feedback,” Mismar replies. “It’s hard for five or six people to agree on where they want to go for lunch. Imagine if hundreds of people have been working for years on a very personal and creative endeavor. There will be differences of view of course, and I think that’s an inevitable part of the process.” Creative. But that’s why assigning ownership, which is creative ownership, is always with the team.”

Such conversations are rarely two-way, Sikka adds, and are usually very subtle. But the value is in being able to talk about it with a group of people who aren’t deeply embedded in it, experts and advisors on hand, and lots of data.

“When it comes to when we do a review later in the game, what we tend to give back to the team in terms of feedback is high, low and medium stakes of what we see and what we think needs to change,” she says. When something is marked as high [risk] That we think this doesn’t really support our values, we try to make sure it goes beyond conversation and we take action.”

Right now, neither of them can go into too much detail about how this will affect Ubisoft’s games — they’ve been in it for about a year now, and much of their work is still in development and unannounced.

However, Sikka wanted to shout one specific win the team has already achieved: the content review group.

“This came out of a need we’ve heard from our development teams; [they wanted] For diverse sounding boards, get feedback from a variety of team members not working directly on the project to ensure this [they’re] To be inclusive, respectful and celebrate diversity [their] Toy. So we created this group of volunteers, we have about a hundred outsiders contributing their voices and their points of view to these diverse projects, and we started it as a pilot. It proved to be really successful. We have a team of about two full-time employees dedicated to managing the process, managing hundreds of individual volunteers, and interacting with development teams around the world.”

She adds that the Content Review Group has been particularly helpful to Roller Heroes, in creating her diverse cast of characters and making notes about different outfits and hairstyles. And to get more of the fruits of their efforts, she urges people to look forward to the next Assassin’s Creed game: Mirage.

Outside of reviewing the content, the Content and Comprehensive Games team has been instrumental in assisting outside experts with penmanship [Arab] Arabic culture names. It’s very exciting to see where and how our players will receive it in the future.”

Then she throws a nail at him, saying she knows he’s particularly excited about the Mirages.

“For me, when the first Assassin’s Creed was a man riding a horse to Damascus and that was one of the first times in games where I saw my culture represented,” he says. “And now with the Mirage coming to Baghdad in that historical era, I can’t wait for our players to get to experience it.”

Rebecca Valentine is a news reporter for IGN. You can find her on Twitter @employee.

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