“Republic of Riders”, creativity in the heart of the mountains

What better alpine preparation for extreme sports video game development? French publishing house Ubisoft relied on its studio Annecy to develop “Riders Republic,” its last title of the year.

Being a global entertainment giant, with more than 45 studios and branches in nearly fifty countries on five continents, does not preclude relying on its local talent. Especially when the theme of the game – extreme sports and the outdoors – matches equally the location and passion of teams like Annecy’s.

“Nothing is trivial,” co-producer Boris Majora confirms to AFP for the game, which has been available since Thursday on PC and consoles after more than four years of development.

“We are fortunate to be in a wonderful place, at the foot of the Alps, with the lake… We have a lot of skiers and snowboarders on our team with nearby resorts, but also paragliding and running… Such a joy that one feels while practicing these sports , wanted to get her involved in a video game,” he adds.

Produced in collaboration with Montpellier Studios, Belgrade (Serbia), Pune (India), Berlin (Germany), Kiev and Odessa (Ukraine), “Riders Republic” is the second game from Ubisoft to be labeled “Made in Annecy” since its inception from the studio in 1996.

Whereas the older “Steep”, also an extreme sports title released in 2016, was a major alpine scene, “Riders Republic” offers an open world and multiplayer with the “famous” national parks in the western United States called Yosemite Valley or Mammoth Mountain or Bryce Valley.

Grégory Garcia, Director of Ubisoft Studio at Annecy explains: “We are targeting an audience that is located in both Europe, Asia and North America. We are proud to have the ability to offer entertainment experiences with a clear and presumptuous +French touch + yet aimed at a globalized audience.”

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The sketches of the various characters hanging on the studio walls and several state-of-the-art equipment provide an overview of the many different professions needed to create this “AAA” rated game, whose budgets are in the tens of millions of dollars comparable to Hollywood movies.

From graphic designers to engineers, including the audio team, over a hundred people were mobilized for this game out of the studio’s 300 employees.

“The entry of detail and quality has become much more specialized and requires expertise,” asserts Sebastien Arnault, Producer of Riders Republic.

“So we have 3D artists doing, for example, only characters throughout the game’s production and others other than plants, like a foliage or a tree, which are available in their different seasons. The combination of these elements brings the game to life,” he continued.

Passionate about paragliding, a sport she practiced before arriving at Annecy’s studio, Pauline Machabert embodies this keen attention to detail.

On his desk, where there is a vertical screen with lines of codes, a miniature glider is placed in front of his keyboard. An essential object to be able to imitate gestures with fellow animators and copy as few movements as possible … even the lines of the device.

“This allows us to stick to reality as much as possible,” she told AFP. “All the little things that you notice when playing the sport” like the feeling of the air on your face or the sound of the sail, “we try to convey to the player for an experience that is believable and accessible.”

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