At E3, Ubisoft’s 2D platformer Rayman Origins turned heads and delighted eyes with a distinct, crisp art style brimming with charm. If Ubisoft’s Michel Ancel is to be believed, the engine powering these visuals will be freely available for all to use.
In an interview with Develop, Ancel revealed that it is his intention to make UbiArt, the middleware behind the new Rayman, open-source. “UbiArt has been built to be shared,” Ancel remarked about the engine. “It won’t be like other game technologies, which are often just locked away.”
Ancel was also critical of a growing trend on proprietary technology within games, claiming that such practices stifle creativity and contribute to stagnation within the industry. He made a comparison to the animation industry, in which artistic practices from top animators at Disney are freely shared with the rest of the community. “That whole medium has evolved on the basis of sharing ideas. But in games we lock it all in a black box and keep it to ourselves,” he says. “A lot of independent developers fail or struggle because of that trend… It is more interesting to have a community and share our content.”
The details of such an open-source policy have not been disclosed or indeed even finalized by Ubisoft. Despite this, Ancel remains undeterred in his belief that UbiArt will be freely distributed.
Given the industry’s obsession with proprietary technology, it’s rather refreshing to hear from a developer whose motivations seem genuinely altruistic. And with how visually stunning Rayman Origins is looking so far, it’s exciting to imagine what others might accomplish should the technology become available.
Rayman Origins is scheduled for release this holiday season.