Another big-name developer has heard the call of the indie, but that doesn’t mean he’s also leaving the comfy confines of his long-time employer.
Michel Ancel, the mastermind responsible for Rayman, Beyond Good & Evil, and more at publisher Ubisoft, is participating in the creation of Wild Sheep Studio, a new indie outfit in Montpellier, France. The team is working on something original under the leadership of director Céline Tellier who previously worked with Ancel on the Rayman games. While Ancel is the latest developer to go into the independent-gaming scene after years working for a triple-A publisher, he actually isn’t leaving his position at Ubisoft Montpellier, according to French reports.
“We are fortunate to have some of the industry’s finest talents, including Michel Ancel, working with us at our studio,” an Ubisoft spokesperson said in a statement provided to GamesBeat. “In addition to spending some of his time on this new venture, Michel is leading the creative development of select projects at Ubisoft Motpellier, including an extremely ambitious new title that is very close to his and the team’s heart.”
Ancel started at Ubisoft in 1990. He went on to design Rayman in 1995. In 2003, he debuted his critically acclaimed action-adventure game Beyond Good & Evil. In recent years, Ancel has directed a pair of Rayman sequels while also showing off concept art for the promised sequel to Beyond Good & Evil.
We reached out to Ubisoft for more information about the status of Beyond Good & Evil 2, and it provided the following comment:
“In many ways, BG&E is an inimitable game — it appeals to all generations of gamers and is an inspiration behind many of Ubisoft Montpellier’s past and future games. It’s still far too early to give many details about this new title, but what we can say is that while Michel and the team at Ubisoft Montpellier are working with the core tenets of BG&E, they’re developing something that aspires to push past the boundaries of a proverbial sequel and leverages next-gen technologies to deliver a truly surprising, innovative and exceptional game. The entire team is excited about the direction this extremely ambitious project is taking, and we’ll have more to share later, as it progresses.”
While Ancel is still at Ubisoft, it isn’t a surprise that he would join an independent studio. He’s the latest in a long line of game directors to do so. People like Gears of War director Cliff Bleszinski, Civilization producer Brian Reynolds, and Twisted Metal creator David Jaffe have all moved on from established game studios to form their own companies. Be sure to read our story explaining why so many developers are moving into independent gaming.