New Ubisoft Tech Threatens World With Even Bigger Games

New Ubisoft Tech Threatens World With Even Bigger Games
Image: Ubisoft / Kotaku

Over the weekend, as part of a preview ahead of this year’s GDC, Ubisoft revealed a new cloud-based technology it’s developing. According to the Assassin’s Creed publisher, this new tech, named Scalar, will allow its teams to create “even bigger worlds” than what’s currently possible.

No, you read that last sentence correctly. Ubisoft is threatening us with bigger games, even as it releases games that are arguably far too big already. And to that, I say: Ubisoft, stop and think about this. Please. I beg you.

Look, I’m no Luddite. I like fancy new technology and software as much as the next person. And from a technical standpoint Ubisoft’s new Scalar system sounds cool, as reported by VentureBeat and GamesIndustry.biz. According to the publisher, the tech supports all platforms and can run various components of already-existing Ubisoft game engines — such as AI or physics systems — in the cloud, offloading the work across “a potentially unlimited number of machines,” allowing the company to leverage essentially an “infinite amount of computing power.” It would also allow Ubisoft to update games and add content to them without having to push out specific platform patches.

Ubisoft described a few different ways for how this immense increase in power could be used in video games, including future games being able to support huge numbers of online players at one time. Ubisoft also wants to create new types of games that would be free from having to rely on limited computing power, as is the case for most games today.

“How do you reimagine what games should be and what they could be in the future, and then start to build towards that to create new experiences?” said Patrick Bach, managing director for Ubisoft Stockholm, in a press briefing. “Because in general, games are usually an iteration of what it has done before. We want to break free of that and build something big.”

Wait, hold up. Stop.

Ubisoft keeps talking about building games that are big, as if it hasn’t released well over a dozen giant open-world games that take players months to clear. Perhaps Ubisoft doesn’t consider those games to be “big.” But if that’s the case, I’m truly frightened by whatever Ubisoft will end up creating with this new Scalar tech. What does Ubisoft consider a big game if Valhalla ain’t already it?

Image: UbisoftImage: Ubisoft

Ubisoft says Scalar tech isn’t for streaming games to players, like Stadia or Amazon’s Luna, but is instead intended to be used by devs. The idea is to give teams more freedom when creating games, allowing them to think beyond what a single PS5 or video card can handle. And while Ubisoft didn’t get into specifics in its GDC press briefing, it’s confident that this cloud-powered tech will allow its devs to create new, never-before-seen player experiences. It also envisions it letting teams create “bigger worlds” for players…and I have to step in again. Sorry.

So, how many more icons on the map will this end up adding to future Assassin’s Creed or Ghost Recon games? I am but one man, living in this current reality. I must sleep and eat. I barely have enough time to play current Ubisoft open-world games as it stands. Now, it wants to make even bigger games? I just don’t know if I, or anyone else out there, will actually be able to finish these games.

In the famous words of Jurassic Park’s Ian Malcolm: Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.

According to GamesIndustry.biz, Scalar is being created by a bunch of different Ubisoft teams including Massive Entertainment and Redlynx. The plan is to roll out Scalar over time as future Ubisoft projects require the new features and increased power it provides. God help us all when they connect Assassin’s Creed to this new tech.

    

Comments

  • I think this technology would be amazing
    Ubisofts engine is already at its limit , the problem with a lot of open world games is the bigger they get, the more copy paste assets and landscape design creeps in. So if scalar allows more variety over terrain bonus points.

    Ghost Reacon Breakpoint was one of its largest maps, and its basically the same dozen tileset buildings dotted with occasional landmark unique building… it was so bland!

    … but I think the intention for this technology is actual 1:1 scale Worlds, say in a vehicle based titles.

  • Does it relie on internet accessabiliy and speeds?, if so you can deal us out of it from the start. Speed, access, cost and limitations is what is holding us back and given the way that the NBN keeps going on prices will rise at a considrable rate. I see Ubisofts general practice as a money farming gimmick.

    • “beyond what a single PS5 or video card can handle”
      Very much so. Probably not like Stadia or xCloud but probably more like Flight Simulator which is so fucking unnecessary for anything Ubisoft does.

      Instead of working out how to make games bigger, they should be putting time into making the current sizes much more detailed and unique.
      Unique meaning more assets etc. Not just different uses of the same stuff

  • Typical Ubisoft (and most game companies tbh). When will they realize that “big” doesn’t mean good.
    I mostly avoid open world games because the amount of mind numbing filler and how long it takes to just get places

  • I think it is moronic the amount of shit Ubisoft get for ‘their’ large open world formula, that who knows how many other developers/games use without copping mountains of bullshit for it. Whether you personally like it or not is quite irrelevant. The fact is that it is clearly something a lot of people enjoy, otherwise developers wouldn’t still be selling games doing it.

    That aside, even bigger game worlds are simply going to need more varied content in them to actually work. In both Odyssey/Valhalla there were a lot of not only copy pasted assets but quests, etc, also. I still enjoyed both games, but if you want to make larger games it is not map size or the tech for it that is the real burning problem in need of solving.

    Of recent games Elden Ring might be the best example of riding a very fine line on this particular problem with big open world games… It is a very large open world game that reuses assets all over the damn shop, including quite a large number of essentially copy & pasted bosses, but it does enough in most cases to not make everything feel the same. However, it also seems like it took them a fucking mountain of time and effort to do it. The sort of time and effort I simply don’t see a lot of developers being willing to put in.

    • i agree but i also understand why Ubisoft gets the shit it does for its formula. apart from the Far Cry series, every other Ubisoft gamehas basically just become a 3rd person looter shooter

      Big maps and bigger maps are not the problem

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