At Ubisoft’s Digital Days event, Patrick Plourde, Creative Director, and Jeffrey Yohalem, Scriptwriter for the upcoming Child of Light were put under a spotlight and asked some questions.
What is Child of Light?
Child of Light is a 2D RPG using Ubi Art Framework, the Rayman Origins Engine. The original idea was to make a game where we play on living paintings, a ‘playable poem’. A game that feels soft and inviting where I’m free to explore and discover it. You mix it with my love for JRPGs like the FinalFantasy and Grandia series and you have the foundations of what the game is today.
What were your inspirations to create the Child of Light’s universe?
In 2007, I went to see the ‘Once upon a Time… Walt Disney’ exposition at the Art Museum here in Montreal. Looking at the references , from Arthur Rackham to Kay NielsenDisney used to create its classic movies was really inspiring to me. The idea that stuck with me was to, one day, uses those references and have a chance to do my personal take on it.
Fairy Tales strong use of Symbols makes them universal and open to be reinterpreted. The idea is to use those symbols that live in our collective ‘DNA’ and to spin them in a tale that feels modern: An active heroine, no prince charming at the end, focused on the idea that we need to grow up, leave home and take responsibility to make a change in the world.
That was the initial spark toward building the universe of Lemuria.
What is the story of Child of Light?
Child of Light is the story of a young girl, Aurora, who falls ill, but instead of dying she wakes up in another world. The game is about her struggle to return home.
Jeffrey, how did you write the script?
The script is written in verse, largely in ballad form. It’s exciting and challenging to work within such a rigid structure. Pat and I developed the story together in October, and I’ve been working on it since.
Because the text in the game is largely written, not spoken, my goal is to pack as much meaning into as few words as possible. Much of the story is told through gameplay, the story’s evolution is tightly linked with Aurora’s evolution.
It’s also important that I remain flexible. The script changes during the development process. As the levels of the game evolve, the script evolves. We’re working in tandem.
Patrick, as the creative director, can you tell us what are the key challenges you are facing while developing Child of Light?
Self Doubt. That’s always the main issue. Is it a good idea? Is it going to be fun? Is it relevant? I follow my heart and my guts, but since this project is more personal, I feel naked sometimes. I hope players will fall in love with the game.
Otherwise, the switch from 3D to 2D was another big challenge. In 2D, you can’t lie. Everything exist on the screen, you can’t turn the camera around to reveal something or to tease. It’s all there on the screen. All my design reflexes in previous games were built on using 3D to tease exploration, to generate Gameplay challenges, etc…, so that was something that hit me hard when we started to play the prototypes. But don’t worry, I got over it!
For which public did you create this game?
Primarily the game is a love letter to JRPG fans. That’s our core audience. We hope we can reach players that haven’t played the genre in a while and rekindle their love for this type of adventure, players who were raised on the golden age of Squaresoft.
I also feel we can make an impact with women. There’s a serious lack of representation of strong female leads in games and I feel we can make a difference.
What did the UbiArt Framework bring to the game?
The first advantage is that we can produce a lot of content with a small team in a reasonable time frame. Something that we could NEVER have done in 3D. When you make a JRPG, it requires a LOT of assets, both in the number of environments and enemies, something that would have required a much bigger team. Going with UAF gives us the opportunity to create the game we want, and take more creative risks. For example, we can actually draw a character in the morning, and have it animated and working in the engine in the afternoon. It’s better for iterations and allow us to create a full bestiary.
The other one is that we can create a rich High Definition world in 2D, in 60 FPS. The tools for the artists are really great so that will enable our team to create a really magical world.
You both worked on Far Cry 3 before Child of Light. Why create such a different game? Are there some common points between the two projects?
[PP] Child of Light is the complete opposite from FC3. That was my conscious goal from the start. Something soft, poetic and feminine. I think these are themes that are a) fascinating, and B) underrepresented in games. So I wanted to explore them.
Creators are like Sharks, we die if we stop moving. Child of Light is about pressing the reset button, starting fresh and risk everything on something that I never did before.
[JY] They both are coming-of-age stories set in dream worlds. The worlds themselves are very different, but the journey is one of self-discovery. We wanted to tell a different kind of story than a first-person shooter would allow. Try to create a new experience.
What would you like to be the emotion that people will keep in their mind after finishing Child of
[PP] Happiness. I hope they will feel they went on a Journey with Aurora and that they believe in the magic of Fairy Tales.
[JY] Joy. The triumph of the human spirit.
Why Child of Light is a digital title? On which platforms the game will be released?
Digital means that we have the possibility to reach directly our consumers. We can be as creative as we want without worrying about competing for self space. Its all about our relationship with the fans. I hope we won’t disappoint them.
Our goal is that gamers can have easy access to our game. The game will come on PS4, PS3, Xbox
One, Xbox 360, PC and WiiU!