I am chuffed. Reflections, the Driver lot defining the next generation of brum-brums in Watch Dogs and The Crew, have continued their creep towards Ubisoft’s inner circle of go-to studios. They’ve devoted about 40% of their workforce towards The Division, the third-person survival shooter that filled E3 with positive noises this year.
Best of all, it wasn’t a missive from Paris that compelled Reflections to work with Division directors Ubisoft Massive – they just happened to like each other.
The Division is being developed primarily in Sweden, at the Ubisoft-owned Massive Entertainment. But in the last few months, Reflections have moved about 40% of their staff over to the project – a bigger stake than the Newcastle studio had in Watch Dogs.
“Ubisoft’s model of collaboration is very interesting because it allows studios that could be a good match to work together,” Reflections MD Pauline Jacquey told Develop. “If studios don’t get along or are very far away with no direct flights, the whole team would be reluctant to work together. But when there is a natural fit in terms of culture, then suddenly things are fine.”
Where Reflections designed specific areas of Watch Dogs – namely its driving missions and building interiors – here they’re responsible for working on all of The Division’s systems alongside Massive: including characters, enemies, RPG pillars, and the building of a digital Manhattan.
Ubisoft denied that the partnership was a sign of struggle on Massive’s part – rather, it’s the kind of collaboration the publisher has employed across all of its recent open-world games, including Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag and Far Cry 3.
“It’s also classic team size management,” said Jacquey. “You don’t want your team to be too big when you’re in the initial phase of conception, when you need a lot of agility. But when you’re in full production – and given that the game’s scope is gigantic – it needs a big team behind it.”
Black Flag stood out late last year as the only cross-generational multi-platform game which didn’t wind up totally bum. I’m pretty sure we’ve Ubisoft’s ocean-spanning peace piping to thank for that. What you you lot think?