How Assassin's Creed Unity Could Help With Notre Dame Restoration

Recovering from the fire.


The historic Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris caught flame Monday evening, collapsing its spire and severely damaging parts of the building including its roof. Now as the government looks toward restoration, it may tap an unexpected source: Assassin's Creed Unity.

CBS News reports that restorers may need to utilize the expertise of a Vassar College architecture historian and the artist team for Ubisoft's 2014 video game. The detailed models could help provide a functional understanding of the building's measurements and specifications that isn't possible with still photographs.

Unity is set during the French Revolution, and was noted for its accurate rendering of 1700s Paris. The Verge reports that level artist Caroline Miousse spent roughly two years modeling Notre Dame Cathedral, saying about 80% of her work on the game was that landmark alone.

An Ubisoft spokesperson told GameSpot that the studio's portrayal of Notre Dame may not be an exact match in every respect, but signaled that it's happy to help.

"It is important to keep in mind that what we did for the game was not a scientific reconstruction but rather an artistic vision," the spokesperson said. "While we wanted to be very precise with details, there are some differences in terms of scale and with some elements. That being said, we would be more than happy to lend our expertise in any way that we can to help with these efforts."

The company is helping out in another way, however. It has committed more than $500,000 to reconstruction efforts, and made Assassin's Creed Unity free for a limited time in honor of the cathedral.

Notre Dame is a cathedral that has undergone multiple expansions and restorations over the centuries, and Miousse's recreation is modeled as closely as possible to the structure as it was at the time--at least, for the most part. The team found that playtesters missed the spires, so Miousse added them to the cathedral despite the fact that they weren't actually added until later.

"Video games can enable us to explore places in ways we never could have otherwise imagined," the company said. "We hope, with this small gesture, we can provide everyone an opportunity to appreciate our virtual homage to this monumental piece of architecture."

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