The primary mind behind last year’s unique adventure game from Ubisoft, Valiant Hearts, has let the publisher after 14 years.
Yoan Fanise joined the studio 14 years ago, working on the fan favorite Beyond Good & Evil. After that he worked on all kinds of projects – like Assassin’s Creed – before he got to put his own game together.
The shift from smaller teams to international, multi-studio efforts within Ubisoft seems to have played a large part in his decision.
“The industrial scale and organization of a giant project like Assassin’s Creed removes some direct connection between people,” he said in an interview with Gamasutra. “Your interactions are limited, and it is really difficult to have a global vision of the finished game.”
Inside a studio where games typically aren’t greenlit unless they can be turned into a yearly or semi-yearly franchise, getting a small art project like Valiant Hearts isn’t easy. The game has sold over a million and pulled in tons of awards, but Fanise says it only got the support it did because Ubisoft’s CEO Yves Guillemot “fell in love with the project and made it possible” despite it not being as marketable as the big franchises in the company’s library.
Fanise makes an apt comparison:
Working on Valiant Hearts and going back to AAA development is like if “a successful chain of restaurants allows some of its cooks to install a foodtruck on the parking lot, then asks them to go back inside,” he said. “What would you do?”
Fanise has also been called a “fake indie” developer thanks to his corporate backing. He doesn’t go into his feelings on that, but says he wants to go “real indie” now. Fanise doesn’t have anything to announce quite yet, but with a portfolio like his, we’ll probably see something interesting before too long.