Wiadomości

What does it mean to be a PC game?

What does it mean to be a PC game? The technically correct answer is ‘to be playable on a personal computer’, yet we all know this question entails so much more.

To be a PC game is to push the limits of modern hardware, increase freedom of choice – to add a bit of yourself to what you are playing.

Every year, we at Ubisoft grow our understanding and genuine respect for the PC community. We improve, get smarter, learning from mistakes and success equally; providing gamers with the tools and performance necessary to reach those savoury top notch framerates.

For Skull & Bones, a solid PC version has been obvious from the get go. We believe the game we are making fits PC fans perfectly, with a deep meta-game and a huge world to dive into for a long time to come. To reach this goal, we’ve had Blue Byte, the de-facto Ubisoft PC powerhouse, join our fleet. To celebrate our E3 announcement, I sat down with some of their developers to discuss their contribution to the game.

The following people graciously joined:
Uwe Mathon, Senior Producer
Martin Mais, Lead Programmer
Sebastian Sonntag, Lead UI Designer
Nicolas Sakschewski, Senior Programmer
Christian Hamm, 3D Programmer


What’s the main reason to start PC development early?

Martin: Well, to start off it’s very important that the core systems are made for multi-platform development and that all developers are aware of the platform features. PC and consoles have a lot of differences when it comes to memory restrictions, their input methods, graphics hardware etc., so we need to ensure the base structure of the game has a proper workflow set up to handle all of these differences.

Sebastian: The development of a PC game involves many different technologies, which often include changes and optimizations the console version also benefits from. This can go so far to apply to design topics, too – in our case we are also responsible for complete gameplay features and the integration of the game’s UI technology.

Two main topics for PC versions are the controls and the UI. If you are adapting a console game to PC and vice versa the end product will always come with certain drawbacks. This is especially the case if a game is already close to its master version before it gets ported – developers then often have to “hack” their way through systems established for console and try to make them work on PC without breaking the console version.

Starting early means we can work hand-in-hand with the console-focused team and consider compatibility and usability topics from the get go – and ensure a more consistent, player-friendly game on all platforms.


Could you mention a few special things that you are considering for the PC version of the game?

Sebastian: Multi Monitor Options! We are planning to support for 2- and 3-monitor setups including a configurable HUD for those setups.

Chris: Native DirectX12 support. That’s one of the main benefits on the technical side.

Nicolas: The most important setting we’ve developed is the possibility to configure inputs for all important actions in the game. This allows players to freely customize the inputs as they want. It’s also very important to allow players to visualize the input configuration for different devices, e.g. the Xbox One Controller or the Steam Controller.

Martin: Because the PC offers a wide range of audio input and output options it’s also very important to implement configurable audio settings.


What about exclusive features?

Martin: We’ve implemented some PC exclusive features like a Text Chat which allows players to easily communicate in game and find friends or create groups for online gaming.

Uwe: We have some feature ideas in discussion exclusively for the PC version. Unfortunately we can’t announce much at this point as it involves many details about things that will be revealed at a later point, so you’ll have to be a little patient with us.


How have you succeeded in making Skull & Bones comfortable to play with mouse and keyboard?

Martin: The new Input Action Mapping system mentioned by Nicolas. It allows us to cleanly define inputs for all versions (PC, XB1, PS4) and for all actions in the game including custom UI behaviours to be able to implement proper controls for the PC version.

Sebastian: Actually that might sound a little boring, but what this means is players can freely switch between their input devices without having to change them in the options. Now obviously many PC versions have this, but quality of life features like this are not necessarily a given. Implementing such things early in the production is quite essential.


To you personally, what are the most important PC unique features/settings?

Nicolas: For me it’s most important is that the UI controls and visuals don’t feel like a console port, but like an excellent PC version. For that it is very important to create all UI with all platforms in mind or even go as far to create some custom UI especially for the PC version. Of course also the game controls need to work flawlessly with all supported devices and the player should be able to switch input devices instantly.

Sebastian: Being able to control the game with the device you prefer. I’m a console gamer, so I definitely want my controllers supported, but obviously every PC owner should be able to use his favourite keyboard and gaming mouse, configured the way he prefers to play games.

Not to mention this is also a great accessibility feature – if you can’t use the default configuration due to disabilities you should be able to change it so you can enjoy the game, too.

For PC players it’s very nice to allow them to handle things their way. That can mean simple things like being able to actually type text via keyboard instead of fiddling around with virtual keyboard widgets, but also to being able to get the most out of their hardware. PCs come in near infinite configurations, with many gamers putting their emphasis on different aspects like graphics or high-end audio equipment. Those are all exclusive niceties that can greatly extend the experience, which should be properly supported instead of feeling “hacked-in”.


How do you feel about working on Skull & Bones?

Sebastian: It’s a great opportunity for us to be involved in the world wide creation of a completely new brand and having seen it evolve over time. We are also very excited to be able to work on gameplay features for all platforms besides being responsible the PC version.

With a team spread across 3 studios, additional technology support from Montreal and our editorial team in the Paris HQ, working on Skull & Bones is a challenge we loved to accept and an enriching experience to have.

Due to the distance and different time zones everyone gives their best to keep communications and news quick and share their knowledge and opinions as fast and effective as possible. Thanks to that we’ve got to know each other very well and have grown a lot as one team with one goal in mind: Creating a great experience/game!

Martin: Yes, it’s great to work with such a big and talented team in different time zones. It’s a lot of fun and we learn a lot during development, which will also make it much easier for future projects and collaborations.

Nicolas: It’s also nice that you can always ask anyone working in Ubisoft for help and that there are so many Ubisoft technologies that can be used in multiple projects so there is no need to reinvent the wheel every time you start working on a game.


Talking to Blue Byte about PC is a bit like going to the gym and asking the biggest, toughest looking person for help. Stereotypes would have you expect an elitist tirade that either disillusions or confuses you, but in reality you get to talk to someone with a huge amount of passion, knowledge and willingness to share what they love – albeit with a fair amount of hit-and-miss lingo.

Our friends in Mainz, Germany have their hearts set on delivering a rock-solid PC game, closely working with the Singapore and Chengdu studios to ensure anyone can enjoy Skull & Bones, no matter the platform, controller preference or level of enthusiasm for hardware.