Watch Dogs developer: 'It's not the consoles that will define next-gen gaming, it's the people'
The games industry is on the cusp of its first major overhaul for six years. Microsoft and Sony are about to release their next-generation consoles, the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 respectively, and developers are working on next-generation titles, some in tandem with the current-gen versions.
One of those is Ubisoft Montreal creative director Jonathan Morin, who has played an instrumental role in one of the most eagerly anticipated titles on the immediate horizon, Watch Dogs. And as it is a truly multi-platform release, soon to be available for Xbox 360, PS3 and PC as well as the new consoles, he would be a good person to turn to get an insight on what we should expect the next-generation of gaming to be like.
The only thing is, he doesn't think the consoles themselves will define the era. It will be the players. "I'm one of those guys that believes from now on machines or consoles will not be what defines next-gen. I think that more and more it is players' behaviour that will define what next-gen will become," Morin told Pocket-lint during the recent Eurogamer Expo in London.
It is for this reason that he thinks that developers and games design teams need to step out from the shadow of the games industry and think and behave like designers from other walks of life.
"Games designers need to start being designers," he said. "Look at how players behave in their lives, look at how they behave with their phones: they have 6,000 apps open at the same time, they talk to a friend while they're in a meeting, they play a game while they're watching a movie on another television.
"They're very different from how they used to be and I think that games designers' jobs will become about trying to assimilate all those layers and give the players the chance to bounce back and say what's cool, what works, what doesn't work. It's not about tech any more. It's a lot more about behaviour.
"We'll be playing on everything. Everything is exploding right now. I can pick up my phone and try a new game every five minutes. For free most of the time."
As well as the versions for dedicated games machines, Watch Dogs will be released alongside a companion application for iPhone, iPod touch, iPad and Android devices. It allows players to interact with each other across technologies in gameplay designed to be controlled by one on a console, another on a mobile devices.
It's only the start, believes Morin.
"The one thing that I'm sure of is that it's not about the machine any more. It's the player that drives everything. It's their behaviours, it's how they're connected together, it's how people live their lives today," he said.
"And so it's going to become harder to make games that are about what people are doing. And not just, 'Here's a game, it works like that in a single screen.' No. You're going to have to think about the other screen. Not for every game, but for the big games it's at least an extra spectrum to think about."
Watch Dogs will be available for multiple formats from 22 November. Check out the full and in-depth Pocket-lint interview with creative director Morin below.