When the French publisher Ubisoft, best known for its hit gaming franchises such as ‘Assassin’s Creed’ and ‘Far Cry’, decided to do the reboot of “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time”, it chose its studios in Pune and Mumbai to oversee the development for a remake. This is the first time an international video game publisher of Ubisoft’s stature relied on the expertise of in-house studios in India to fully develop a AAA title, even though a remake, from the ground up.
“What we want to showcase is that there is a greater control from India and it has always been our intention to show that we can build up together through strong competencies and expertise for game development,” Jean-Philippe Pieuchot, Ubisoft India Studios managing director, told indianexpress.com in an interview.
The announcement of “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time Remake” could increase India’s representation in the global video game market – not as the lucrative market to sell consoles and PC games but in the area of the development of high-profile titles targeted at the western market.
Pieuchot believes the game demonstrates what the Indian talent is up to in the video game development market. “We need to make sure that people understand that they can build their career in our industry, not only with us, but with so many other companies. We welcome everyone.”
Originally launched in 2003, “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time” remains one of the most popular games made by Ubisoft. The remake, which is developed by Ubisoft’s studios in Pune and Mumbai, has the same storyline as the classic 2003 action-adventure game but the remastered version includes updated graphics, improved camera angles and gameplay mechanics. American actor Yuri Lowenthal, who was the voice actor for the Prince in the original 2003 game, has reprised his role for the remake. The last The Prince of Persia game was The Forgotten Sands that came out in 2010.
“Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time Remake” is a very important milestone for the studio here because we finally have the ownership of that project… and we can actually tweak the design and inject into the game what has been in our mind,” Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time Remake game director Pierre-Sylvain Gires said. He added: “The studio has proved year after year that we could take more and more responsibilities. We started with Quality Control (QC), then production, and codec on major games like Far Cry and Just Dance. I think it is just the legacy that Indian studios in Pune and Mumbai start to create their own games.”
“We had to create the game from scratch,” said Annu Koul, senior producer with Ubisoft Pune, the studio in charge of the remake. “We went to Montreal [Ubisoft Montreal was in charge of the original 2003 title], brought back all the tapes here and then we had them digitalised.”
From the beginning, Koul and his teammates knew the remake of “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time” would not be an easy task. “In terms of designing the game, there was one thin line which we have to keep in our mind that is, we have to make this game a nostalgia because there are a lot of fans who want this back. There are a lot of people who have already played this game. So we have to keep that in mind. But at the same time, we have to have this game for the new players who didn’t have a chance to play the game back then.”
Koul also opened on the technical challenges the team had to face while designing the remake of “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time”. “The new Anvil engine which we took was for the open world and we had to create a game which was not an open world. The Anvil engine also powers the Assassin’s Creed franchise.”
Another big technical challenge was how to implement the rewind feature in the new game. According to Koul, the team had to make the rewind back time feature in the engine itself. “Our main focus was to actually keep that original feeling of the Prince while enhancing it completely,” Gires added. “So we revisited the three C’s, we improved the combat with the targeted system.”
“The remake of Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time approves that it is going to bring new lights to what we can expect now from this place,” Pieuchot added. Syed Abbas, Deputy Managing Director of Ubisoft India added: “The plan for us would be to keep going and doing more from India, as we have been doing for the last few years”.
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time will launch January 2021 for PlayStation 4, Windows PC and Xbox One. It will also be playable on the PS5 and Xbox Series X using backwards compatibility. Unfortunately, a Nintendo Switch version won’t be available at launch.
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