During a panel at DICE, Ubisoft did a panel called “Creative Maturity Through Life Experiences – How to Build Engaging Open Worlds.”, where they highlighted how they come up with numerous open worlds, all of which feel both unique, and realistic.
Ubisoft VP of Editorial Tommy Francois defined their process as thus:
“When you create a world, I think it’s actually a trap to only read books,” he said, noting “the most important thing” in the “fight for player immersion” is first-hand experience. “It needs to start with our own immersion,” Francois added. “How do we do this? We go smell the grass. We have to get out from behind our computers.”
This applied heavily to the upcoming Tom Clancy’s The Division, where the team went and explored Manhattan to try and make it as true to the real thing as possible. In doing so, they went below Manhattan itself to the underground and found a culture under their feet. They found out that “Manhattan has less homeless people because a large portion live below the city.”
Whether this finding will be seen in The Division has yet to be determined. The Division arrives March 8th.