Patrice Desilets, the man credited with creating the first Assassin’s Creed game, has revealed first details of his new independent project since his departure from Ubisoft two years ago.
His new game, Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey, appears to be an episodic series based on various milestones in human progress and evolution. On Thursday, during his speech at the Reboot Develop conference in Croatia, Desilets aired a trailer showcasing key breakthrough moments in human history. No game content was shown, but the trailer showed a message that appears to explain the purpose of the project.
Blockbusters won’t die. Triple-A won’t die. They will transform and change themselves.
It read: “The minds that made you jump from rooftop to rooftop. Climb a campanile with your brother. Run on walls to avoid traps. And rewind time for your love. After having fought millions of templars, hidden in haystacks, and chased a pope, it is time for something new. For the greatest adventure of all is our own.”
This message contains many references to the Assassin’s Creed and Prince of Persia series, though it’s unclear how closely Ancestors will resemble these flagship Ubisoft series. Desilets’ new studio, Panache Digital Games, currently employs about half a dozen developers, meaning it’s highly unlikely that Ancestors will retain the scale of the Assassin’s Creed series.
According to the game’s description on the Panache website, Ancestors is a “third person action-adventure survival episodic game.”
It adds: “Through each episodes, we want the player to relive the greatest moments of mankind with a documentary twist. Our civilisation is one idea away from extinction… or evolution.”
The Long Journey
Desilets’ path to this point in his career has involved many sudden changes and set-backs. In 2010, Desilets left Ubisoft to found a new THQ studio in Montreal, but that publisher’s decline into bankruptcy led to Ubisoft purchasing the Montreal studio, as well as its assets and talent.
Why do games need to be 35 hours?
When back with Ubisoft, Desilets’ relationship with the publisher appeared to have broken down. In May 2013, several months into his new role, Desilets claimed he was fired by Ubisoft, and went on to sue the company.
Hinged on that lawsuit was the ownership of a game project called 1666, which Desilets had been working on at THQ and then Ubisoft. It is believed that Ubisoft still owns the IP, but has suspended work on the project. In November 2014, Desilets announced the formation of Panache.
Speaking to a gathering of games industry professionals on Thursday, Desilets explained that his independent studio wanted to deliver triple-A quality, but not to the scale of his previous projects.
“What’s too short?” he asked, as quoted by Gamasutra. “These days with my team this is the question, what’s too short? Why do games need to be 35 hours? Right now we’re using big TV shows as examples, so episodic is 2 hours, now. Why is 30 minutes too short?”
“We’re at a crossroads,” he said. “In fact we’re always at a crossroads. Don’t do what was popular last year. Blockbusters won’t die. Triple-A won’t die. They will transform and change themselves.”