Written by Cameron Allan
I can’t describe what is was, but it felt like some sort of tempting force immediately magnetized my attention towards this game as soon as my eyes met with it from across the sound academy stadium. I could hear the shouting of tactical commands, the feeling of fear and apprehension from the incoming enemy confrontation, the explosive, destructive combat and the intoxicating aura of adrenaline emitting from the players.
I needed to personally experience it. After that first initial game, I was hooked. I simply couldn’t help myself from getting back in line to play yet another heart throbbing, cutthroat match of classic siege based competitive multiplayer, or play cooperatively with other operatives to secure multiple dangerous areas in terror hunt. The game felt difficult, and even though I may not have been the most valuable asset to my team, I sure as hell had too much fun being at the bottom.
I needed to exclaim my many compliments, like after you taste a delicious meal and need to sing its delectable praises to the chef. After weaseling my way in through PR, I was privileged enough to be able to speak with Scott Mitchell, the animation art director at Ubisoft’s Montreal based studio and all around super friendly, magnificently bearded, animator extraordinaire.
He was able to bear with me as I typed away everything he was saying as fast as I humanly could.
As much as I would have loved to delve right into the pure awesomeness that was this game, I had a desire to learn as much as I could about the man whose leadership in the animation department at Ubisoft created my seamlessly smooth game experience. I asked him to tell me a bit about himself and his role in development:
“My name is Scott Mitchell, I am the animation art director at Ubisoft Montreal, which basically means I am part animator, part designer and part technician. I lead a team of animators to deliver all of the character animation in the game. The process behind my work starts with designers who will create a design document. My team receives said document and figures out the certain things that will be needed in order to get those things done efficiently. We obviously provide the animation, but that also entails our understanding of the technology associated with it as well.”
Quite the Renaissance man! I went on to ask him about the journey that led him to make his big break and land a gig at Ubisoft:
“I grew up in Milton Ontario and completed a certificate in art fundamentals at Sheridan College. After which, I started working in Toronto in the television industry for about a years’ time. It mostly consisted of working on television series and commercials as a traditional animator, which meant it was entirely hand drawn.
Afterwards I decided to go back to school and earn a diploma in animation from Algonquin College, which opened the door for me to animate for several years. I worked on a number of things like character design and animation, prop design, visual effects and much more. The thing I can honestly say that motivated me to become part of the field I’m in today was through playing a lot of Tony Hawk Pro Skater.
It was then that I realized this is what I want and have to do. With that goal in mind, I attended Seneca College and took a gaming specific course that touched upon all aspects of character and level design and all other major aspects of gaming. I was hired directly out of school to work at Ubisoft Montreal.”
Plenty of stressful schooling it seems, but clearly he can look back on it now and realize it was beyond worth it. He became a self-made man in the dog eat dog world of the gaming industry, immediately after the completion of his program, something that an eager student like myself could only dream of! Now after gaining a deep sense of Scotts claim to fame, I thought it was about time to discuss Rainbow Six: Siege, the highly anticipated next installment in the critically acclaimed Rainbow Six series, and a game that Scott and his team have worked tirelessly on. From what I have seen, it is looking to add to the franchises already sterling reputation and is looking to be wholly innovative, drawing inspiration in aspects of context alone, counter strike ring a bell?
In light of this notion, I asked Scott to highlight what he personally believes both seasoned veterans and newcomers alike should be most ecstatic about:
“We are really looking to stray away from the traditional first person shooter setup of large outdoor arenas and the run and gun mentality. Instead we have moved all our environments in the game indoors and place a huge emphasis on strategic play.
The core fundamentals of this game are based upon the classic concept in history of the siege, which involves attacking and defending. Procedural destruction is something that is not only going to change this game individually, but the industry as a whole. In the past, destruction was sort of just an added design point, but we have taken it to the point where it becomes an integral part of the game environment itself.”
Rainbow Six: Siege is a prime example of forward thinking content that takes preset notions and formulaic unoriginality and does away with them in order to create an experience that feels fresh and fun for the player. Having claustrophobically tight indoor environments translates into meaningful gameplay, whereby your successful execution as an entire team becomes your most powerful asset.
Individual skill level and proficiency with a gun can only get you so far. I can personally vouch for the fact that destruction and breaching are integral game mechanics by recalling upon a slightly embarrassing moment I experienced while playing. I am willing to admit that I camped, nothing I find particularly shameful mind you. As much as I tried, camping felt almost impossible, seeing as anyone could breach through any area you cowardly hid around. The game is quite difficult, and Scott details this in the next segment:
“Beyond all that, there is a concept of one life. Real world counter terrorist operatives are not presented with the option to respawn upon their death, and therefore you shouldn’t be either. If you die at any given point during the round, you are out until the next one. With that being said, you do not become entirely useless.
You are able to scout anyone’s position on the map, including the enemies, forcing you to communicate and advise your team accordingly. The game is very realistic in that respect, it takes plenty of inspiration from real life counter terrorist units from all across the world. Taking that concept of one life, and partnering it with close quarters combat, creates extremely intense gameplay. We have also introduced the new concept of a preparation phase. The player is provided with 30 seconds to figure out what exactly their game plan is going to be and locate certain objectives.”
Gamers now a day have a deep respect for games that present them with seemingly impossible odds, and Rainbow Six: Siege is most certainly no walk in the park. It has a steep learning curve, which may immediately prove quite frustrating for newbies, but in the long run will be more than gratifying.
The recoil is quite heavy, providing a near indistinguishable look to firing a round of bullets from a real high power assault rifle. Additionally, the idea of constant over watch may prove to be quite interesting for the competitive future of this game, allowing coaches and players to outline key mistakes or excellent plays that may have been responsible for a collective team victory or loss. If you are looking for a game that holds your hand, pinpointing where your objective is and how to go about approaching it, I’d suggest you just keep on walking. This aint your grandma’s video game!
There were mixed feelings amongst the internet about Ubisoft’s choice to push the game’s development back to its now amended, December 1st release date. Despite rejoicing in hearing this news, I needed to know what the motivation and elements were that laid the fabric for their eventual choice to delay the games launch. Scotts answer was quite surprising:
“We first released a closed alpha for the game which was an entirely new concept for Ubisoft and players were quite verbal within the community. We had come to the realization that the game was not up to the status quo of the players, and we knew we needed to release a fully polished game that everyone could enjoy. Player feedback was our driving force and was the prioritizing measure behind many of the changes we have made thus far like balancing out operators, weapons, gadgets, recoil intensity and so on. Once the game is actually fully released, feedback will continue to be openly accepted throughout the games life and will still be used for future patches and DLC.”
Oddly enough, I am thrilled to hear these kinds of announcements. It translates into our assurance that the game is being given the additional attention it desperately needs so that upon release, we are getting a painstakingly mastered experience that addresses apparent issues pointed out by both play testers and fans, and is worthy of having spent our hard earned cash on. I was surprised, and frankly relieved, to see how much fan feedback meant to the development studio. As a loyal player to the franchise, you play an integral role in the future and further development of the game, which feels nothing short of amazing. Lastly, I asked Scott to discuss the many different classes in the game and their significance in the player versus player mode.
“So in the PVP online game mode we have included 20 different unique operators for the player to choose from that are representative of counter terrorist forces in real life. You can select from the 5 big dogs in counter terrorism across the world and within each you have 4 operators with their own unique gadget.
Furthermore, within these groups of 4 there are two attacking operators and two defending ones. Across all twenty of the classes you will find that gadgets can mingle with your other squad mates and can completely counter the enemy defensive.”
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Scott for such an organic conversation and for being such an outstandingly patient and insightful interviewee toward a slightly nervous, newcomer like myself. I don’t know about you, but chatting about this game with Scott for quite a long while, really made me highly anticipate its release. We have waited very patiently, and all siege enthusiasts can do, is hope that it will be well worth it in every respect.