Liberté, Égalité, Réalité Virtuelle: Ubi’s Eagle Flight

Ian Ubisoft, is this here virtual reality bird game Eagle Flight [official site] you’ve just announced set in a version of the Paris you created for Assassin’s Creed Unity? If not, you should do stuff like that. If so, splendid! Share your cities and worlds freely around the Ubioffices, let people play and make weird things out all of them. A game about eagles exploring and fighting in the skies above a post-humanity Paris is a fair start, but let’s go further.

Ubi have shown Eagle Flight before but as a prototype. Now it’s an actual game coming into 2016 for Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, they’ve confirmed. Set 50 years after humanity vanishes, it’ll let folks soar around a deserted, overgrown Paris. Along with singleplayer – Ubi talk about “missions that include ring parkour and shooting challenges” – it’ll have multiplayer team-based dogfighting for up to six. It’s made by folks from Ubi’s new-ish Fun House team, which is a space for folks to try strange and new things.

“But Alice,” you say, tugging at my arm, “I thought you’d been going on about how boring all these unremarkable tech demos are, and how this latest VR craze is a fad?” You’re right, and I don’t feel too differently about Eagle Flight (though eagles fighting is pretty cool). But I’d be astonished if it’s not built on re-used assets from other Ubi games, and I really dig the idea of them re-using these beautiful, sprawling worlds for other things.

As a vast company with thousands of employees and dozens of studios across the world, Ubisoft do already have folks chip in on others’ games and sometimes hand ’em assets like weapon models, but it’s a shame that their worlds are ousted by the next annual sequel. One level artist spent two years recreating Notre-Dame for AC Unity. So if they’re letting folks lark about with unexpected games like Grow Home, yeah, absolutely let them into the cupboard where you keep levels too. Let them play with all of your toys.

I’ve heard folks grumble that re-using assets is lazy development, but mostly it strikes me as efficient. What difference does it make if a gun’s from another gungame? (Same goes for games using store-bought Unity assets, while I’m at it.) If Ubisoft have a virtuaParis kicking about, heck yeah give it to a small team who likely wouldn’t get to make their own.

Sticking with the bird theme and Assassin’s Creed cities, I’d like a game with pigeons in Trafalgar Square cooing around and begging for seed. Or maybe singing cockneys dancing across the rooftops. An Endless Express-type game about trying to navigate the night buses from some far-flung corner of London. Game about tracking the lost rivers of London. Heck, straight-up walking simulators.

What might you like to see Ubi do with some of the worlds they have lying around?


  1. Premium User Badge

    Mungrul says:

    Eagle-ité even.

    So a bit like Tokyo Jungle, but with eagles instead of Pomeranians?

  2. Gunrun says:

    I hope they do more with the frankly enormous world of The Crew, it deserves so much more than a moderately decent racing game in it.

    • Junkenstein says:

      That’s what came immediately to my mind too. I have so much fun just driving around, if they made GTA style shenanigans possible, oh boy.

      • Junkenstein says:

        Even something like this bird thing would be great though.

  3. Christo4 says:

    I kinda agree with reusing assets, especially if it’s a different type of game.
    As you said, it’s quite efficient, since someone actually did stay and work on it, why let it go to waste?
    The problem is that assets that are reused have already been used in previous games, which people bought, so if they reuse the same assets in a new game and put it out for full-price, people are going to dislike it since they already paid for those assets. And 90% of the time they don’t offer discounts.
    This is why people say “lazy development”. Not necessarely because people didn’t take time to make those assets (because they did), but because reusing assets and making the game full-price is lazy.

    • Premium User Badge

      Harlander says:

      They could reuse assets and sell it as a cheaper mini-game, as with Blood Dragon.

      Or reuse assets more frequently and make all their games cheaper.

      • Christo4 says:

        I’d have no problem with either of those options.
        Just saying why people are against reusing assets, which is because the price doesn’t go down anyway.
        Hey if a game can go down 10-20 dollars/euros just because they reused some assets, i couldn’t be happier if it doesn’t change the intended experience.

    • Premium User Badge

      Ninja Dodo says:

      >since they already paid for those assets

      That’s a really strange way to look at it. The publisher, or whoever is funding the game, pays for the assets. You pay a retail price for a product, at whatever you think is fair (full price, or wait for a sale). How it’s constructed is irrelevant to whether you are getting value for money.

      Assets (art, sound & code, especially code) are re-used all the time. If they weren’t, no games would ever be finished. Most art is made from scratch because it needs to be a specific style or the level of detail is different, but if you’re doing something the exact same style (say, for a sequel) and you already have one sitting around there’s no reason not to use it, maybe just with some extra detail and polish. It’s efficient, not lazy. The time and money saved not re-doing things unnecessarily can be used to make more cool things, or add more polish to other areas of a game.

      • Zetetik says:

        Yeah, and you know with a Game like AC: Unity for example for every model texture used there was probably a dozen others considered and passed aside (in their search for the aesthetic of that particular Game world) – so re-skinning these intricate city buildings would likely almost be just a case of pallette swap and tweak.
        Soo much gets left on the cutting room floors of these gargantuan AAA projects.

        I think it’s a wonderful idea, full of Potential!
        (I still walk around “Empire Bay” (from MAFIA 2) occasionally and think on what could be done in such a wonderful, evocative space).

        I have to imagine there must be so much talent at these large studios that get entirely canalised into highly specialized task-groupings (for the next big AAA/sequel) who have wonderful long mulled-over concepts and no time to fulfill (or even explore their outlines practically).

        And while it’s great to see that indie development is now fully lauded and all, I feel there’s room on the gaming scene now for a whole spectrum of project sizes (not just the Tiny and the Huuge) and new methodologies to realise them.

        There’s Always gonna be detractors! (particularly in the Fun-House mirror maze of online ‘debate’)

    • x1501 says:

      “…people are going to dislike it since they already paid for those assets.”

      According to this logic, there can be only one “likable” movie about New York or any other major city. After all, since I already paid to see Statue of Liberty destroyed in 1968’s Planet of the Apes, why would I ever want to see it again in another movie? I already paid for these assets. Next city, please.

  4. thedosbox says:

    Ubi talk about “missions that include ring parkour and shooting challenges”

    What sort of shooting do eagles do? Poop guns? Launching dead squirrels at targets?

    I’m in.

  5. rangerfall says:

    much in looking forward to games or simulations that let you explore actual places and spaces(virtual tourism) and if reusing content or allowing interested users the freedom to import their own terrain and objects helps that along so much the better

  6. Robmonster says:

    Sounds like you want the moon on a stick

  7. John O says:

    Huh. Well some of the detail and the animals are pretty, but their Paris looks really bland. It would be nice to have a VR look at the place, but mostly this is about flying around with animulz? Nice, not what I’d hope for.

    • ninjapirate says:

      I suppose the blandness is due to the lack of textures and the lack of humans, who – in the game – vanished half a century ago.

  8. TechnicalBen says:

    If I can also play as a ferret, I’ll buy this on release!

  9. Ancient Evil says:

    I am disappointed that nobody here has mentioned that this game cannot be set in AC: Unity’s Paris, because the Eiffel Tower is plainly visible in the headline screenshot and the still for the trailer. The Eiffel Tower was erected in 1889. Unity is set during the French Revolution. That’s a whole century off. That’s not to say no assets were reused, mind, but it’s obviously not cut and paste.

    As a fan of history and video games, I notice these things. I die a little inside each time a World War II game uses the U.S. 50-star flag (adopted 1960), and no-one so much as raises an eyebrow.

    • Blastaz says:

      Unity wasn’t just set in the revolution. It has a level set ON the Eiffel Tower in the middle of ww2 for example…

      • Ancient Evil says:

        Interesting. I haven’t played Unity. I’m aware the AC games have segments where they take you out of the primary setting, but not the details.

        Like I said, it’s perfectly possible that they’ve reused assets. I wouldn’t know. But the presence of the Tower does indicate that it’s definitely not a cut and paste job of Unity’s main map.

  10. MadMinstrel says:

    Ring parkour huh?