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How Rayman Legends' underwater stealth world came together

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Rayman Legends developer Ubisoft Montpellier had a challenging task in creating the underwater universe of the platformer's "20,000 Lums Under the Sea" world, and its designer went through the process on the UbiBlog today.

The studio had to ensure that the world was very different from the water world of Rayman Legends' predecessor, 2011's Rayman Origins. The first game's water sequence was bright and colorful; in contrast, the one in Legends is ominous and foreboding. Going along with the dark theme, the developers decided to excise visible lums (the Rayman games' happy-go-lucky collectibles). Ubisoft Montpellier also tweaked the standard underwater-level formula by setting 20,000 Lums in a massive underwater dome, which allowed the studio to build swimming sections as well as above-ground sequences.

"We wanted 20,000 Lums Under the Sea to have a very distinctive theme to it that fit with the new focus for the world: avoiding detection through stealth, slowly descending into an underwater base and eventually destroying a giant mechanical creature created by a madman," said level designer Chris McEntee. The developers quickly filled the world with references to spy movies and games such as Mission: Impossible, James Bond and Splinter Cell.

"We wanted 20,000 Lums Under the Sea to have a very distinctive theme"

"These references and parodies helped us strengthen the identity of the world, while at the same time [injecting] a bit of humor into an otherwise uncharacteristically dark and serious environment for a Rayman game," McEntee explained. Ubisoft Montpellier was also inspired by the novel that gave the world its name: Jules Verne's Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea.

Another key in 20,000 Lums was the idea of a narrative progression, which isn't usually a major part of Rayman titles. The story is told through gameplay, with a sequence of eight levels that brings players back to the same spot where they started. McEntee also touched on the world's visuals, noting that there was a tighter collaboration between the art and level design teams for 20,000 Lums. In addition, said McEntee, the new lighting engine provided by the UbiArt Framework — the game engine for Origins and Legends — allowed the developers to simulate 3D lighting on 2D levels and create depth with a silhouetted style.

Rayman Legends is now available on PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, Wii U, Windows PC and Xbox 360; it will be released next February on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. You can see 20,000 Lums Under the Sea in action in the gameplay video below.