DICE 2011: Toronto studio managing director Jade Raymond explains what she'd like to see from Ubisoft's next game.
Who was there: Assassin's Creed producer Jade Raymond earned a new role in 2009 as the managing director of Ubisoft's new Toronto-based studio. That studio is in the midst of creating a new property for Ubisoft, and Raymond offered her insight into how she is approaching that development in a session titled "Creating Blockbuster IP for Generation C."
What they talked about: After giving a brief rundown of how she landed her current gig at Ubisoft, Raymond took a step back to look at current trends in the gaming industry. Social and casual gaming were up first as Raymond talked about the top games in the industry in terms of players and revenue generated. At the top of this list were Facebook titles.
Raymond went on to say that the proliferation of platforms has helped change the way she thinks about gaming. There are a ton of new screens and platforms that gaming developers can target, she said. More importantly, there are a number of new ways to interface with games, from the Wii and the Kinect to touch screens on mobile phones.
What's most exciting, she said, is that the explosion of devices is changing the way we think and impacting the cognitive process. The world has gone from one of undivided attention to multitasking to partial engagement to continuous partial engagement. This impacts the way we make games, too, she said.
Further, she said that social and mobile are colliding in such a way that we "finally have the ability to be like the Borg." There's this all-powerful cloud, she said, and it's all connected to infinite computing power. We have real-time sensors blanketing the earth, which are attached to individual people as well, and these devices are becoming personal social beacons. It impacts the way we can build relationships, and there's a lot of interesting opportunities there, she said.
She went on to note that games are a mass-market industry now, and keeping up on games is just as important to our customers as it is to keeping up on the latest hit movie, current event, or viral YouTube video. "We aren't selling games to just nerds in their basements," she said. "We are selling games to people who don't really even consider themselves gamers."
What's changing thus addressed, she also said that a number of game-industry tenets continue to hold true. She posed the question, "Why do people play games?" In her opinion, it is to learn. "It's the satisfaction of feeling progression, knowing that you're doing well, and mastering something," she said, going on to say that we are wired in a Darwinain way to get satisfaction from progression.
Raymond also said that games still remain a multiplayer endeavor. Humans are ultimately much more fun to play with than AI, she contended, and as such, incorporating social mechanics into games is important. Social proof, or a badge that indicates status, also remains important, though it has evolved from the olden days when that was represented by a stack of money on a poker table.
Continuing with the poker analogy, she said that social permission also remains relevant, as people would gather in the Wild West ostensibly to play poker and as a way to socialize with others. "We need games as an excuse to talk to each other," she said.
Raymond then advocated the importance of fans. While working for famed SimCity designer Will Wright, she said that she was always surprised by how much time Wright spent looking at fan reaction in The Sims.
So how does all of this apply to creating Ubisoft's new IP? Raymond said she thinks it is a great time to start with a blank slate, so as to think about how the studio can incorporate the interaction between new and old trends to take advantage of these changes. Thinking about a new IP, she said, continues to be an evolution, rather than a revolution.
On Assassin's Creed, she said that the team spent a year of preproduction thinking about where the franchise could go if the original game proved to be a hit. She said the team wanted to make sure the groundwork was there to bring the IP to new mediums, if possible, and it spent a lot of time thinking about sandboxes that future teams in other media could experiment with.
Step two was handing over creative ownership to the fans. Why? There is the proliferation of platforms, for one. While Assassin's Creed has enough hooks to create eight or 10 teams, she said, the goal is to have 60 or more story arcs going at once. To do this successfully, the fans are needed. Further, fans will also keep a franchise fresh and relevant, as the younger generation has their way with it.
When fans really get into the franchise, they love it and will create great content, she argued. If they really want a franchise for themselves and feel they own it, they will also share it with their friends. Where Assassin's Creed was a franchise created to hand over to professionals, Raymond's team wants the next franchise to be handed over to the fans.
As one last insight, Raymond said that to become a blockbuster hit, it's important to build and maintain buzz leading up to launch. This has to be on par with film or TV, she said. The thing that's evolving is that games aren't so much just a topic of conversation around the water cooler; they're becoming the water cooler itself. She said that she hopes the studio's new IP will be both the context and the place of conversation and that it will be a widely shared pastime.
Quote: "If World of Warcraft is the new golf and Call of Duty is the new bowling, I'd like our next IP to be the new bar."--Jade Raymond, on the direction of Ubisoft's next big IP.
Takeaway: While Raymond's team at Ubisoft appears to be making a big-budget new IP for Ubisoft, it is clearly pulling elements from a number of popular trends within the current gaming-industry landscape. Further, whereas Raymond's work on Assassin's Creed was to create a transmedia property, the new IP is being designed so that fans will be in charge of its future.
DONT JUDGE BECAUSE SHE A WOMEN SHE MIGHT BE BETTER THAN MORE MEN BESIDE IS HOT LOOKING HAIL ALL WOMEN!!
Loved the original Assassin's Creed, didn't play the second or Brotherhood since Ubisoft saw fit to piss on the PC community. As far as another social game, good luck with it, but that bubble is probably going to burst sooner rather than later due to oversaturation of the market.
Same surname as my first name + she's hot. Damn, this is good news. Gabe Newell has the same surname as me. I am a good, hot game producer, and a genius game director all in one. :)
I echo the opinion of many of my fellow GS users; bloody hell! Raymond is one hot producer. What happened to the pale faced, balding, overweight producers we remember?.... unless she was a... no! Musn't think that!
dang that girl is hot!!! no wonder i bought all three of her games. She'd be the perfect video games playing hot looking girlfriend. think about it!!!!
@Kastigador Reading too much into it? It's possible. A text interview lacks context; maybe she laughed or did 'air quotes' when she said the 'nerds in their basements' line. If not. it comes off as pretty crass. I'm well aware that the gaming user base is expanding and fully support it, but there's no need for an Ubisoft executive to casually insult the very people that got them where they are today. If their social experiment doesn't pan out, it'll be those basement-dwelling freaks that allow them to survive via their core business. It's not wise to bite the hand that has fed you for so long.
I don't care about Jade. She's just a pretty face and a talking head that didn't actually make the AC games.
Ubisoft recruited her cause they know most of gamers are horny dudes. I am pretty sure they maturbate by even looking at Assassin's creed. how petty. I stopped playing games from Ubisoft. I saw on internet there is a comic for Jade Raymond. I think that explained the backside.
Those new IP(s) from Ubisoft called "From Dust" or "I Am Alive" isn't, which is leaked recently... And in "From Dust" you play as god just like Peter Molyneux's Black & White, maybe has similarity game-play with Will Wright's The Sims or other Will Wright's creation Sim City, And since the producer is women, probably they working on it... but I could be wrong. It's just assumptions :P
@Rottenwood Am I missing something here, or are we reading into her words a bit much? She was simply referencing the already well established fact that the masses that buy videogames aren't just the stereotypical "nerds in their basement" these days. No attack on her fans. What she said is actually quite true... once upon a time, being a gamer was a rare breed. I know, I was one then... and I played them in my basement on a 19" used color tv. Lol. If there's anything to be analyzed in this article with regards to how she feels about her fans, it's that she wants the next IP to socially involve the fan community in the development of the story arcs more than any franchise before at Ubisoft. that could be a bunch of hot air, but she is clearly reaching out to fans with that whole statement. I'm more anxious about how much casual-to-the-masses gaming is going to take away from the development of higher quality titles. If the movie industy's evolution is any indication, I'm worried.
@CarlitosWay I want Assassin's Creed 3 to be the final one of the story arc though (Desmond's story), one that ties as many loose ends as possible and gives us a definitive conclusion for the tilogy.. They said it was going to be a trilogy, and if they didn't end this arc with AC3 it would just feel like they're milking the franchise. They can continue the SERIES however for as long as they want for all I care, just that they should take a break from it for a couple of years, make a new IP, then come back when people are still wanting more and start a new trilogy with a new main character, and a new story arc.
sometimes she look good..... but sometimes she look plastic. on the real, im not too impressed with what shes done in games either. thoguh id like that to change.
I'd have sex with her but why's there only one picture? Now how am I suppose to get through on a Tuesday night?
@PixelAddict To be fair, you see this sort of thing at any Web site. YouTube, ESPN, you name it... if the article or subject has an attractive woman involved, that will be the primary source of responses. That's a guy thing, not a geek thing. The real issue here is a gaming executive blatantly insulting her own core fan base. If Raymond holds the opinion that die-hard gamers are filthy cretins, fine, but it's terrible business to broadcast those views in what is supposed to be a promotional outlet. It wasn't the coveted 'non-gamers' that bought all those copies of Assassin's Creed that put her where she is to begin with. I'm all for expanding the gaming audience, but yikes, no need to throw us out with the trash.
A. Creed is a great franchise. Great story, top notch visuals and all. But then only brotherhood had a multi-player component and 2nd was definitely better. All she is talked about in this article is that 'multi-player' is today's big thing. I don't see the connection. She is just repeating Kotick and Pachter. And facebook games r good for 'casual' gamers but does everybody from EA to Ubisoft need to make them. There r a lot of developers like gameloft, zinga already in that market.....
So she wants to create a game based on social inclusion? Or just the idea of it? How the hell is she the head of ubisoft montreal?! Don't get me wrong while there great things have come from that studio...it just sound like she wants to base a game off of that idea rather than creating a game and then creating social inclusion...it also feels like every one in the gaming industry is jumping on board with this just to make money and not to create great games. DAMMIT PEOPLE GREAT GAMES COME FROM COMPANIES WHO WANT TO MAKE GREAT GAMES NOT FROM PEOPLE WHO JUST WANNA MAKE MONEY...
Damn... is the age of fat bearded smelly men ruling anything with 'game' attached to it finally over? Me likey.
@shani_boy101 I wouldnt want a cliff hanger ending for the SERIES either. That is not my point. I meant a cliff hanger for each sequel, until the end. Cliff hanger endings for finales are horrible, like God of War's finale. I cant stand that. Like i said in my comment, the series will need closure when its done; but in the mean time, they can keep messing with us all they want.
Btw, A.Creed was a good game, a nice idea, but not a `WOW` factor nor an industry changing, pioneer to new heights game.
Jade Raymond`s A.Creed - 1st one - was not as good as the second game nor the Brotherhood. Anyway, partly because of her, we have a great action game called A.Creed.
OMG!!! She is AMAZINGLY HOTTTTT!!!!!! Saw her images up on google too and she definetly checks out as the hottest living creature in the gaming industry and probably the currently known universe.......wow.......just WOW.........
It sounds good on paper. The problem is that fans suck at making stories. The few games I can think of that are handed to the fans, instead of professionals are the Sims, and Little Big Planet, Mod Nation Racers...
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