Watch Dogs developer Ubisoft Montreal is designing the game to have a serious tone, and aims for its action sequences to have "real human drama" behind them, said creative director Jonathan Morin in an interview with Electric Theatre.
The open-world title tells the story of Aiden Pearce, a man who goes to great lengths to protect his family — even to the detriment of others in the game's representation of near-future Chicago. He manipulates ctOS, the network that serves as the underlying connective tissue for the entire city's infrastructure, to his own ends.
Realism is vital to Ubisoft Montreal in developing Watch Dogs, said Morin, but the key for the studio is that events in the game are backed up by scenarios that make you care about what's going on — the human side of the equation that's always present in real life, but is often forgotten in games.
"You will feel the gravity of each situation you play," said Morin. "This goes beyond realistic graphics, weather and mood. It means everyone involved in any event should matter. Everything you do as a player will have consequences on people's lives."
Ubisoft is also consulting with experts in the cyberterrorism and security industries. Morin explained that the developers' intent is "not only to make sure we were still within the boundaries of 'possible' but also to be as precise and authentic regarding the use of technology and the people using it."
That real-life grounding is key in building a believable world and connecting players to it, said Morin.
"I have two mantras I use all the time with every director in the team to make sure we deliver our serious tone," he said. "The first one is, 'Do you feel the gravity of this situation when you play it?' The second one is, 'Make it more Michael Mann and less Michael Bay.' These [kinds] of statements always help [remind] ourselves who we are and what we are aspiring to achieve."