Rayman Legends' design philosophy: breathe life into concept art

The design philosophy behind Ubisoft Montpellier's Rayman Legends was to create a world that felt and looked as beautiful as its initial concept art, according to a post by level designer Chris McEntee on the Ubisoft blog.

McEntee said the UbiArt design framework enabled the developers to create a functioning, interactive work of art. The first game to utilize UbiArt was Rayman Origins, and Rayman Legends will be the second title built with the software.

"The mission statement was simple: We want to play inside the concept art," McEntee wrote. "Our team in Montpellier found it unfortunate that beautiful concept art only ever amounted to just that — concepts."

In order to give the side-scrolling platformer more depth of field, designers used HD sprites and objects and colored them to look as though they are different distances from the player in the foreground. Bushes and trees on terrain, clouds and horizon lines have all been given different depth fields, making the two-dimensional gameplay feel as though it's in a 3D space.

"What you end up with is a coherent and solid environment that maybe loses a bit of the 'this is obviously a game' feeling, and treads into 'what a nice painting' territory — right where Rayman Legends wants to be," McEntee said.

The design team also strove to build organic-looking levels that mirrored the natural look of hills and forest. According to McEntee, too many right angles or smooth planes can prevent players from immersing themselves in the world. The team made the world feel more natural by adding more slopes bumps, and unconventional structures.

"Through the creation of two Rayman games, I personally learned to not force my vision into the world of Rayman, but rather to force the vision of the world into my thought process," McEntee wrote. "That way, I filter my ideas so only the ones that will truly fit into the universe and style of gameplay will make it into the level."

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