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View Full Version : Ubisoft Montreal is feeding its writers criticism sandwiches



Mr.Black24
03-14-2015, 06:30 PM
So let me get this straight, this article pretty much confirms how bad the writing is at Ubisoft. I thought it was bad, but oh boy it actually was worse!!! Like read this guys, seriously its great! While you're at it, take some quotes from the article and bring it to show and tell here, while we're at it. I got my fave right here!:

"Ultimately, Dankoff, who talked about what he's learned at a GDC 2015 session this week, sees himself as a helper. And as he was working on games in development, he realized something not that long ago: Narrative needs help. For reasons even the new process' creator doesn't understand, narrative was never part of the rigorous playtesting process that has become a hallmark of video game development. He decided to fix that."

So what do you guys write one or 2 scripts, and if its full of mistakes, just whatever? Slap it on the table and move on? No wonder Unity's story was messed up! Like I saw the potential there, but now I know why at least that it was crippled!

Read this here to know what I'm talking about: http://www.polygon.com/2015/3/5/8140249/ubisoft-montreal-narrative-review-writers-clients-gdc-2015

Hans684
03-14-2015, 06:32 PM
That's bad, that's really bad.

Shahkulu101
03-14-2015, 06:53 PM
I don't see anything that points to Ubisoft being particularly bad or worse than other companies, when he said 'narrative needs help' he was referring to the whole industry.

Ubisoft are just the first (as far as we know) to actually 'play-test' narrative. That's what the article is about, not Ubi being specifically bad at games writing.

Also the article itself is fine but that's an awful title.

Farlander1991
03-14-2015, 06:55 PM
Uhm... the article is about Ubisoft creating processes that should improve the narrative and the way it's developed in games, and people are calling this a bad thing? O_o Wha?

Mr.Black24
03-14-2015, 06:55 PM
That's bad, that's really bad.

I know, now wait till you read the whole article!

Mr.Black24
03-14-2015, 06:57 PM
Uhm... the article is about Ubisoft creating processes that should improve the narrative and the way it's developed in games, and people are calling this a bad thing? O_o Wha?I think its because they thought that the writing shouldn't be bad in the first place. And lets face it, in the position we are at right now....it isn't good either. I'm glad that they are improving sure, but the fact that narrative wasn't on their radar was the biggest thing for me and a lot of folks right now.

Farlander1991
03-14-2015, 07:12 PM
I think its because they thought that the writing shouldn't be bad in the first place. And lets face it, in the position we are at right now....it isn't good either. I'm glad that they are improving sure, but the fact that narrative wasn't on their radar was the biggest thing for me and a lot of folks right now.

Nothing in the article says that narrative wasn't on their radar or that they don't care about it. Here's the thing: unless the main mechanic is, essentially, narrative itself (like, for example, we're talking adventure games, and even then sometimes that can't be always the case), lack of narrative iteration is a problem that affects pretty much all AAA productions due to the nature of game development and how early story has to get locked down (at least big chunks of it) and how late a clean big picture can be seen (especially from an outside view which is very important). For example, Uncharted had good writers, yet though Uncharted 2 is a very well-structured story, Uncharted 3 is a mess, and that had nothing to do with them being bad or not caring. Heck, AC itself is a prime example of how seemingly random the quality of the story may be, having both gems as well as messes. Ubisoft tries to find ways to make messes not happen.

SixKeys
03-14-2015, 07:41 PM
We were planning to discuss this on the podcast actually.

It's incredible how little the importance of narrative has been valued at the studio according to this article, but it's positive that they're looking to change that.

Democrito_71
03-14-2015, 07:57 PM
I'm very surprised to hear how little they focused on narrative and that they integrate the narrative so late into productions when one of the biggest strengths in this franchise, is the narrative imo. I'm very happy to hear they're taking narrative more seriously now and I hope we'll see much better, stronger and unique stories in future AC-games compared to AC3 and Unity(Both games narratives were a mess in my humble opinion)

Thanks for sharing the article to us, Mr.Black24 :)

Hans684
03-14-2015, 08:36 PM
Uhm... the article is about Ubisoft creating processes that should improve the narrative and the way it's developed in games, and people are calling this a bad thing? O_o Wha?

The narrative focus they have is showing, that they didn't realize anything until now is bad. It's something they should have noticed, isn't it? Narrative olso carries the games. It's not bad that they intend to fix the bad narrative focus, it's just that for someone who oversees it it's bad they didn't realize anything until now.

Mr.Black24
03-14-2015, 08:50 PM
Nothing in the article says that narrative wasn't on their radar or that they don't care about it. Here's the thing: unless the main mechanic is, essentially, narrative itself (like, for example, we're talking adventure games, and even then sometimes that can't be always the case), lack of narrative iteration is a problem that affects pretty much all AAA productions due to the nature of game development and how early story has to get locked down (at least big chunks of it) and how late a clean big picture can be seen (especially from an outside view which is very important). For example, Uncharted had good writers, yet though Uncharted 2 is a very well-structured story, Uncharted 3 is a mess, and that had nothing to do with them being bad or not caring. Heck, AC itself is a prime example of how seemingly random the quality of the story may be, having both gems as well as messes. Ubisoft tries to find ways to make messes not happen. Are you sure you read it well, I mean I ain't tryin to start anything, but these quotes right here says the deal:

"Game and mission design receive constant feedback, but story gets "next to none," he said. And that doesn't make any sense, given his understanding that narrative has become the second most important component for game reviews."

"As everything does with hindsight, his process seems obvious. But it's new at Ubisoft, a company whose flagship Assassin's Creed series is steeped in lore."


The fact is that they neglect the story, hence why the story currently in the AC Lore is terrible, cuz they don't put the care in it. Left in the cold. And like the guy says, when its a game that is steep into lore at that, you can't lack attention into it. The game's lore is one of the biggest reasons why people play it, and if that reason is weak, then the series and interest weakens.

Farlander1991
03-14-2015, 08:51 PM
The narrative focus they have is showing, that they didn't realize anything until now is bad. It's something they should have noticed, isn't it? Narrative olso carries the games. It's not bad that they intend to fix the bad narrative focus, it's just that for someone who oversees it it's bad they didn't realize anything until now.

Uhm. You do realize that all those are your own assumptions? The article neither says nor implies this.

People who work in games are not stupid. They know when something, in the end, has failed. There's no 'sudden realization'.

All this article is saying, is that in game development (more precisely big budget game development) there's a problem with narrative iteration and gathering narrative feedback at a right moment (i.e. when it's not too late, the reason why mechanics get so much playtesting as mentioned in the article, btw, is because they can be tested out in modules, and get tons of feedback in short amount of time, that's not as easy to do with narrative, especially getting outside perspective), and how some people at Ubisoft decide to improve the process to make that less of a problem.

There's no 'we weren't focusing on narrative before', no 'we suddenly realized there's a problem', no 'we don't care about narrative', no 'we don't view narrative as important'. Those are all just assumptions and conjectures.


Are you sure you read it well, I mean I ain't tryin to start anything, but these quotes right here says the deal:

"Game and mission design receive constant feedback, but story gets "next to none," he said. And that doesn't make any sense, given his understanding that narrative has become the second most important component for game reviews."

"As everything does with hindsight, his process seems obvious. But it's new at Ubisoft, a company whose flagship Assassin's Creed series is steeped in lore."


The fact is that they neglect the story, hence why the story currently in the AC Lore is terrible, cuz they don't put the care in it. Left in the cold. And like the guy says, when its a game that is steep into lore at that, you can't lack attention into it. The game's lore is one of the biggest reasons why people play it, and if that reason is weak, then the series and interest weakens.

*sigh* *facepalm*

You know, I think I'm considered a nice and argumentative guy around here. But, my apologies, I'm gonna be an *** this one time and say '**** this ****, I'm out'. It's like the 'oh they don't care about Connor!' all over again. What the developers are saying is not what you're taking away from it.

Anyway, be free to think whatever makes you feel best people, I'm out of this thread. See ya.

Mr.Black24
03-14-2015, 09:06 PM
Uhm. You do realize that all those are your own assumptions? The article neither says nor implies this.

People who work in games are not stupid. They know when something, in the end, has failed. There's no 'sudden realization'.

All this article is saying, is that in game development (more precisely big budget game development) there's a problem with narrative iteration and gathering narrative feedback at a right moment (i.e. when it's not too late, the reason why mechanics get so much playtesting as mentioned in the article, btw, is because they can be tested out in modules, and get tons of feedback in short amount of time, that's not as easy to do with narrative, especially getting outside perspective), and how some people at Ubisoft decide to improve the process to make that less of a problem.

There's no 'we weren't focusing on narrative before', no 'we suddenly realized there's a problem', no 'we don't care about narrative', no 'we don't view narrative as important'. Those are all just assumptions and conjectures.



*sigh* *facepalm*

You know, I think I'm considered a nice and argumentative guy around here. But, my apologies, I'm gonna be an *** this one time and say '**** this ****, I'm out'. It's like the 'oh they don't care about Connor!' all over again. What the developers are saying is not what you're taking away from it.

Anyway, be free to think whatever makes you feel best people, I'm out of this thread. See ya. Ummmm are you ok....? Like this ain't ya....but ok I guess.

I-Like-Pie45
03-14-2015, 09:13 PM
Uhm. You do realize that all those are your own assumptions? The article neither says nor implies this.

People who work in games are not stupid. They know when something, in the end, has failed. There's no 'sudden realization'.

All this article is saying, is that in game development (more precisely big budget game development) there's a problem with narrative iteration and gathering narrative feedback at a right moment (i.e. when it's not too late, the reason why mechanics get so much playtesting as mentioned in the article, btw, is because they can be tested out in modules, and get tons of feedback in short amount of time, that's not as easy to do with narrative, especially getting outside perspective), and how some people at Ubisoft decide to improve the process to make that less of a problem.

There's no 'we weren't focusing on narrative before', no 'we suddenly realized there's a problem', no 'we don't care about narrative', no 'we don't view narrative as important'. Those are all just assumptions and conjectures.



*sigh* *facepalm*

You know, I think I'm considered a nice and argumentative guy around here. But, my apologies, I'm gonna be an *** this one time and say '**** this ****, I'm out'. It's like the 'oh they don't care about Connor!' all over again. What the developers are saying is not what you're taking away from it.

Anyway, be free to think whatever makes you feel best people, I'm out of this thread. See ya.
#GamerGate

Mr.Black24
03-14-2015, 09:18 PM
#GamerGate
?

What's that mess supposed to do with this?


Uhm. You do realize that all those are your own assumptions? The article neither says nor implies this.

People who work in games are not stupid. They know when something, in the end, has failed. There's no 'sudden realization'.

All this article is saying, is that in game development (more precisely big budget game development) there's a problem with narrative iteration and gathering narrative feedback at a right moment (i.e. when it's not too late, the reason why mechanics get so much playtesting as mentioned in the article, btw, is because they can be tested out in modules, and get tons of feedback in short amount of time, that's not as easy to do with narrative, especially getting outside perspective), and how some people at Ubisoft decide to improve the process to make that less of a problem.

There's no 'we weren't focusing on narrative before', no 'we suddenly realized there's a problem', no 'we don't care about narrative', no 'we don't view narrative as important'. Those are all just assumptions and conjectures.


But my question is, why now? If the narrative end of the development process has been always put in last place, why is it at this very moment they decide to fix it, when it should have been fixed alongside the gameplay for ages? The lore of the game should have been improving along side the other elements. Its like the glitches in Unity. why release a game so buggy? Can't they just have more time to fix the bugs? They say they've been working on this for 4 years, why not one more to polish it nice. But ya know, yearly releases plan, hence why many of us are against this idea in the first place since it just brings down chances to make the game better.

Basicly, what I'm trying to say is, why leave fixing of the story last minute? Why not take time in the beginning, hash it out, and then move on to the next phase? They said by the time that improvement on narrative was to be made it was too late, which means they weren't as focused on it as they should be. To be honest, I thought thats how it was done, but apparently not.

JustPlainQuirky
03-15-2015, 01:05 AM
Farlander has shown his inner Hulk

now SMASH

I-Like-Pie45
03-15-2015, 01:17 AM
it's all about ethics in gaming journalism, farlander

Mr.Black24
03-15-2015, 02:14 AM
Farlander has shown his inner Hulk

now SMASH

it's all about ethics in gaming journalism, farlander
I just don't know whats going on anymore.....

On one note: Awww come on Farlander, just three posts and you got super salty right quick! I'm here just wanting to discuss this article, I mean, am I the only one who is curious to why this wasn't corrected long ago, or how this news will hopefully benefit the lore in the future. I mean comon, their methods before was pretty lousy, but I'm glad they're planning to improve on it now.

Democrito_71
03-15-2015, 03:23 AM
am I the only one who is curious to why this wasn't corrected long ago, or how this news will hopefully benefit the lore in the future. I mean comon, their methods before was pretty lousy, but I'm glad they're planning to improve on it now.

The news did get me surprised since the series is very heavy narrative focused and to read that they didn't focus foremost on narrative was very worrying. It made me realize why Unitys story was so weak and underdeveloped(imo) my impression on this subject is Ubisoft focused more on gameplay over narrative and not the other way around in Unity cause the combat and the parkour in Unity was the best achievement in the franchise since AC1s combat system and AC3 parkour system while the story was weaker, underdeveloped and it's way shorter than previous games(Unitys 26 main missions compared to Black Flags 42 main missions??). Why this wasn't corrected before, that's something we could ask Darby via twitter.

From a marketing perspective, I think the purpose of this article is to show that Ubisoft are going too and most importantly, want too take narrative much more seriously than before and perhaps regain former fans who were either disappointed with AC3s Story or Unitys story & to perhaps to gain new fans who might consider Ubisoft to be a Company who actually listens to their fans

But yeah, I'm very happy they are planning to improve the narratives on future games, I also hope Ubisoft use this strategy on other of their franchises like Watch dogs and I also hope other companies are adapting to this new way to improve narratives in AAA-blockbustergames so we can play games with interesting, strong and unique narratives:cool:

ACHILLES4713
03-15-2015, 03:39 AM
Farlander and Mr. Black: I think you are both right in a sense. The article isn't saying that there wasn't any focus on narrative for the AC franchise, Ubi had writers; and they obviously cared enough to want to do the job. But Black is right to bring up the valid point of, "Why did it take this long?" The industry in general has really only started to focus heavily on story wirhin the last 10 to 15 years other than the RPG genre, but developers are still working with the "gameplay first" mindset since that's the only thing games were in the early days of the medium. Ultimately, I'm just glad that Ubi is finally taking a more serious look at how they create stories, and work that process into the larger development of thier games. Its an excersize that is long over due for Ubisoft and the industry as a whole. Better late than never I guess!

ze_topazio
03-15-2015, 04:03 AM
Will they have Nutella sandwiches too?


The idea of having story testers is not half bad, in theory at least.

SixKeys
03-15-2015, 09:10 AM
I always thought the mission rating system in the recent games was flawed because it didn't account for narrative. You could have a mission that's solid gameplay-wise, but feels really out of place in the story or feels out of the character for the protagonist. If I rate the mission 2 stars because I think the gameplay is okay but the storytelling falters, then how will Ubi know why I'm giving it a low score?

JustPlainQuirky
03-15-2015, 04:28 PM
This system seems really good but I literally just had a conversation with Darby on how there's many plot holes in Rogue that they missed. That coupled with the poor reception of Unity's story makes me really question how effective this system is.

Farlander1991
03-15-2015, 04:32 PM
This system seems really good but I literally just had a conversation with Darby on how there's many plot holes in Rogue that they missed. That coupled with the poor reception of Unity's story makes me really question how effective this system is.

Psssssssst, they mentioned that there's no game released (or announced) yet that was developed with that system.

JustPlainQuirky
03-15-2015, 04:34 PM
I thought I read it was used for Black Flag, Rogue, and Unity

I must have misread.

well then, I hope the system is effective then! :)

glad theyre trying to revamp things

Mr.Black24
03-15-2015, 09:48 PM
Well hopefully narrative is no longer ignored till the last second and we actually see things spice up from here.
But as I said before, I am very surprised and disappointed that its now that a solution is being made to remedy that, of what should have been since Unity. I never really minded the 1st person element in Black Flag really, I don't know why that ticked people off, especially since it was supposed to be complete closure to Desmond's story, thus making way for a new character, that should have been in Unity, but alas, hopefully we see something like that soon.