Q&A: Ubisoft's Nicolas Normandon talks Rayman Raving Rabbids 2

Ubisoft's creative director Nicolas Normandon discusses Rayman Raving Rabbids 2, tossing bunnies, and reinventing the game controller.

The Rabbids are back and looking for new adventures in the sequel to last year's Rayman Raving Rabbids game for the PC, PlayStation 2, Xbox 360, Nintendo DS, and Wii. GameSpot AU spoke with Nicolas Normandon, Ubisoft's creative director about some of the technical challenges of developing for the Wii Remote, ditching cross-platform, and tapping the casual gaming market.

GameSpot AU: Which came first, the idea of turning Raving Rabbids into a series of minigames or the control system to play the minigames?

Nicolas Normandon: We were working on the first Rayman Raving Rabbids (RRR) with the traditional action adventure game in mind, we then received the first Wii kits and we started prototyping movements. Once we saw the reaction in terms of controls and people playing it, we realised that there were so many different movements and controls to explore that a load of different games would be fun to make. We wanted to make a game that showcased the new controls and would really make people laugh as they smacked, pumped, and tossed little insane bunnies everywhere. We have now taken it one step further and really focused on the multiplayer side where you can get more physical on and off the screen.

GS AU: What are some of the technical challenges of accurately mapping user actions to the Wii Remote's control system?

NN: There is too much technical detail to explain without boring you, but basically you have to completely rethink the way you use the traditional pad. It’s not only pushing buttons anymore or moving a stick; it has to be immersive, accessible, intuitive, and easy to reproduce. The player needs to find the logical movement to go with what is happening on screen [and] that isn’t as easy as it sounds.

GS AU: What's the most exciting technical aspect of developing games to use the Wii Remote?

NN: The most exciting point, which is also the most frightening, is that you have to forget everything you spent years developing in terms of controls and think of the pad as an extension of your hands.

GS AU: How much play testing is done to ensure the title is fun to play and not just chaotic arm flailing?

NN: We have a great team of play testers that start from the early prototypes and go on until the final versions to ensure that the chaotic arm flailing will be as fun as possible. We also simply watch how people react; if they laugh and understand what to do straight away, it is always a positive sign.

GS AU: How big a threat is Warioware: Smooth Moves to the success of the Rayman series?

NN: Warioware is a great party game, but Rayman Raving Rabbids 2 offers much more diversity in terms of humour, full multiplayer games, stylised graphics, and longer games that let the player have a different experience.

GS AU: How different is the game development process for the Wii compared to the PS2 or Xbox 360?

NN: A game is a game. But still, the obvious control difference plays a major role, since the Wii Remote is such a unique device. So we always must keep in mind accessibility and intuitive gameplay.

GS AU: Why is Rayman Raving Rabbids 2 a Nintendo exclusive after offering the original as a cross-platform title?

NN: Some of the games would totally miss their point without the Wii Remote. We want to go even deeper and create a new experience for the player and RRR2 fits perfectly with that philosophy.

GS AU: How big a player do you see the PS3's Sixaxis control system being in the motion-gaming market?

NN: I think the PS3’s Sixaxis is innovative and will add a new dimension to certain games. For us, we have had the time to experiment with the Wii controllers and the game was conceived with those controls in mind. Until someone develops a game that is fully focused on the Sixaxis' capabilities, we won’t know how it can be fully exploited.

GS AU: Ubisoft has been a big supporter of the Wii since launch. Recently, concerns have been raised as to the long-term appeal of the platform to consumers. How hard do you see it becoming to be genuinely innovative with what is essentially a comparatively underpowered, low-price-point console with an arguably novelty control system?

NN: If I had all the answers and could tell the future, I would be in a casino or betting on horses, but in terms of creating a game, we have simply tried to make people have fun and have a laugh, and the Wii fits perfectly with the crazy humour and ridiculous nature of the raving rabbids. I still love playing GRAW2 on my 360; the graphics look awesome, online is cool; but then I also like playing tennis on the Wii with my friends, and even the rest of the family who have barely heard of video games, which would have never happened with the majority if not any of my other games. The Wii and many of the games work with all generations, from over five to 55; that is where it is innovative. It is not the number of polygons that makes you laugh or cry, it is the experience you have with it.

GS AU: Nicolas Normandon, thanks for you time.

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Discussion

39 comments
SuperMax1316
SuperMax1316

spread the words: DAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!!!!!!!!!!

DaJJ
DaJJ

Right on Nick! Graphics aren't everything!

sieg6529
sieg6529

I'm glad that at least some game developers know what's important. Don't get me wrong; I love eye-candy graphics. But I've played enough beautiful games that are shallow and/or unimaginative. DAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!

Dark_Nexus3367
Dark_Nexus3367

I enjoyed Raving Rabbids 1,and with the improvements they are going to make I will most certainly enjoy the second one.As for the Graphics Vs. Gameplay issue,I believe he was right.It's nice to have a console with hardcore games like Gears or Rainbow with all the graphical trimmings,but it's also nice to have a console with games that provide a unique experience with innovative controls and have a relaxing atmosphere about them without mind blowing graphics like Raving Rabbids or Warioware.I think having games for both hardcore and casual gamers makes the industry much better economically,and it provides us with great experiences,whether its chainsawing someone in Gears to smacking singing rabbits in Rayman.

Nharia12
Nharia12

Yes..more rabbid torture. Though it never gets old ringing a bell and making a rabbid walk into a cactus.

bigmick07
bigmick07

im not a huge fan of mini-games, but who knows. I'll have to look at the ratings

fugori
fugori

@n00b They identify it as a Wii exclusive in the 15th paragraph or so, in response to the 7th question. Sounds like fun. I hope they improve some of the more awkward mini games from before, like the damn toilet one.

Rect_Pola
Rect_Pola

Ah, good good. Now if they'd only give us a little Rayman 4 to chew on...

Juthan
Juthan

Raving Rabbids is an immensely fun experience! I am so very glad that they are on board with Nintendo for this upcoming sequel!

Phazevariance
Phazevariance

I have to agree with them above, gameplay over graphics anyday. I still play contra 3 from time to time, and its obviously not because the graphics are "killer" or anything. Not tomention, from a developers point of view, selling games to ages 15-30 doesnt compare to selling games from ages 5-90 in which way more people will eventually have access to wii games than say a 360 or ps3 owner. Cheaper to make a game for it, and then the sales go off the charts because of the increased user base. It's a win win situation for developers and gamers alike (except we lose the pretty graphics). ... but 360 is still kewl anyways. :)

thestickman
thestickman

Awesome. I enjoyed Raving Rabbids but I beat it all too quickly, and I'm sure Rabbids 2 is going to bring a whole lot more to us since Ubisoft has extra time and full attention to spend on it since its now a Wii-exclusive (which I believe the first game should have been to begin with).

Dr_Corndog
Dr_Corndog

I like it that they're focusing more on multiplayer this time around. If they throw in a cohesive game mode to tie the minigames together, kind of like the board game in Mario Party, then I might have to check it out.

Capt_Billy
Capt_Billy

Fair call on the whole graphics thing above. People seem to forget just how much fun they had when Mario was made up of about 24 coloured squares. I love my 360, don't get me wrong, but I've played Metal Slug Anthology and KOF for the last 2 months straight. Gameplay over Graphics anyday.

soulfood4
soulfood4

GS AU: "How hard do you see it becoming to be genuinely innovative with what is essentially a comparatively underpowered, low price point console with an arguably novelty control system?" WTF? This is why i HATE Gamespot, and their biased reviews. Why the hell does price matter? God some people dont want to pay 600 dollars for a POS system. Look at the end of the interview, it was all about othe systems. Geez stay on topic.

wingchunstudent
wingchunstudent

Loved the first one, will definately be getting the second.

GrimBee
GrimBee

Man, WHY people are so concerned with graphics these days... The guy in the interview talks sense, but Gamespot really kinda made the Wii out to be some sort of inferior kids toy in this interview. I remember when Gamespot were always going on about how crap the DS graphics were now. They hush up about this now and just comment on the GAME in hand having bad graphics, not the console itself. Soon, gamespot should kinda give Nintendo a break on choosing to not have amazing graphics. Can you imagine the amount of time spent of developing games if the Wii DID have 360-like graphics? The reason why we haven't seen ANY potential in the Sixaxis at the moment is because the developers have concentrated more on graphics than motion controls. Whereas the Wii developers are concentrating more on controls than the graphics. If you concentrate on both, it would be costly, and the game would take aaages to come out.

AnFangs_Endes
AnFangs_Endes

While, I know that Rival Swords was bad on the Wii, it would be cool if these guys worked on a PoP...since they're both Ubisoft...

jorranvv
jorranvv

Rayman Raving Rabbits for the Wii was a very good and funny game,cant wait to see what the part 2 looks like.

kavadias1981
kavadias1981

I welcome any game that I can play and enjoy with my family. I would also like to remind gamers that this is the point of the Wii. It wasn't designed for you. It was designed for everyone. If you want a system for gamers only, then go and get a PS3 or 360 and quit whining..

Sagacious_Tien
Sagacious_Tien

I'd still like to see a traditional game that uses the Wii Remote and makes sense. Zelda was the closest thing to it, and it didn't do everything right.

mattisdada
mattisdada

This is just something funny i thought of. But i dont agree with what im about to say. I love my Wii and think its awesome. " The Wii and many of the games work with all generations from over five to 55 that is where it is innovative. It is not the number of polygons that makes you laugh or cry, it is the experience you have with it." Yeah make you cry cause its so bad! And make you laugh at how the game struggles with frames. Just had to say it :P

Cobra5
Cobra5

I thought Raving Rabbids was a poor game. The Wii already has a million "Collection of Minigames" games and it *really* doesn't need another, anyway. They better get to making Beyond Good and Evil 2.

lotsofgunfire
lotsofgunfire

well my hopes of a good platformer are completely dead for now.

-Squirrel-
-Squirrel-

I really enjoyed Raving Rabbids and love playing it by my self or with people. But its concept has already been spent, so for me to buy a sequel to it there would have to be something really new or innovative to make me buy a similar game again. Plus I do kinda just wanna pick up Wario Ware. Ubisoft, give me another Rayman platformer!

SuperMax1316
SuperMax1316

seg555, how can you have the FIRST one????

seg555
seg555

I have the first one and it was fun. I hope it will fixes the problem in the first one like a story line. I also hope that they don't make some really bad mini games like in the first one. I mean some were a bit*h to play, Overall I really like the first one.

LordLeckie
LordLeckie

wow gamespot Au have become a lot more proactive, keep up the good work!

carddude
carddude

I've got my plunger locked and loaded!

VGobbsesser
VGobbsesser

The first one was awesome.:D I can't wait for this one.8)

interpolred
interpolred

The first game was innovative, comical, and lots of fun. Hopefully the second retains those attributes, but also fixes the flaws from the first one.

skine99
skine99

Awesome. It's looking better than the original 8)

CaptainDingo
CaptainDingo

I'm glad they dropped multiplatform. This game was made for Wii controls, and by making it multiplatform it's just bottlenecking what the Wii can do. I'm fairly interested to see how involved the motion sensing becomes.

fmobliv06
fmobliv06

RRR2 is one of my most anticipated wii titles of the year. the original was fun and hilarious

Selfdestruct9
Selfdestruct9

MEH No we're not busy on independance day, this game just isn't that important.

rey06
rey06

i wonder where all the people are? im guessing their so busy on independence day :lol:

rey06
rey06

yay rayman rabbids 2 i love the first one :D