Falling under Siege's spell

Why I Love: Raconteur Games' Nicholas Laborde takes aim at the many virtues of the latest entry in the Rainbow Six series

By Nicholas Laborde.Published Tuesday 2nd January 2018, 2:29pm GMT

Why I Love is a series of guest editorials on GamesIndustry.biz intended to showcase the ways in which game developers appreciate each other's work. This installment was contributed by Nicholas Laborde, CEO of Raconteur Games, the studio behind Close Order and Evangeline.

Thirty seconds left. Two of us remain. Four of them are on the prowl. 2 v 4.

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I can hear one stomping around on the floor above, while a grappling hook dangles at one of the open windows; the other two are unaccounted for. My pulse pounds. My heart races. My teammate holds an angle, while we're communicating every detail about what is happening.

Suddenly, all goes white. VRRR-VWUUP! The rappelling enemy swings into the room as I'm blinded. Shots are exchanged. My teammate goes does down, but I haven't been seen. 1 v 4.

The enemy goes to plant a defusing kit, and I take him out with my knife. 1 v 3. Fifteen seconds remain. I listen closely. Two sets of footsteps are rapidly running toward me. Leaning over my cover, I prepare for the worst.

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CLAMP. One of them is caught in a bear trap I previously laid down. Realizing that now is my moment, I peek out from behind cover. BRRRRRP BRRP BRP. Two go down. 1 v 1.

Five seconds remain. Thinking the coast is clear, and there is no way they could win, I let my guard down for one second and walk into the open to stop the defusing kit...

CRACK. A single shot from a sniper takes me out. "HEARTBREAKING DEFEAT" flashes across the screen.

This is but a single scenario in the world of Rainbow Six: Siege, and I love it.

My name is Nicholas Laborde of indie company Raconteur Games. If there were one word to describe myself, I'd say enthusiastic. I don't buy into the mentality that caring about things is silly; I care, I get excited, and most importantly, I love. In this column, I'm in very esteemed company. This industry produces so much great work, and it is an honor to be able to publicly gush about a game that I care about so very much. That game is Rainbow Six: Siege by Ubisoft Montreal.

I'll be breaking this love and excitement down into three core pieces: 1) the game itself, 2) the business model, and 3) the team. I love all of them equally and want to gush appropriately at all of the hard work that went into it, across all aspects!

First, let's start with the game. Siege is the newest iteration in a long and storied line of tactical shooters. For nearly two decades, we've commanded squads to tactfully and carefully infiltrate dangerous urban environments and accomplish some objective, such as rescuing a hostage or defusing an explosive.

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In a world where multiplayer is an essential component and it becomes difficult to stand out from the swaths of typical FPS gunplay, Siege just thinks differently

Siege breaks the mold. It's a multiplayer-only experience, and is entirely focused on team play and cooperation. Yes, we're still being inserted into hostile situations to accomplish an objective, but this time the focus is on both ends: Attacking and Defending. It's a tactical shooter at heart, but it simultaneously becomes so many other things - co-op as you work with your teammates to break and enter (or repel and defend); survival horror as you become the last person in your squad, hunted; tower defense as you set up traps and reinforce the world around you; the list goes on and on.

Each playable character, known as an Operator, brings their own special ability to the table. From bear traps that incapacitate enemies to explosive charges that can tear through reinforced walls like butter, each character on each team brings a unique perspective to the table. This is why I love Siege. In a world where multiplayer is an essential component and it becomes difficult to stand out from the swaths of typical FPS gunplay, Siege just thinks differently. You're not safe running straight in, because TTK ("time to kill") is extraordinarily short... and you only get one life per round. You're not safe cowering behind most cover, either, due to most of the world being destructible. Oh, and lone wolfing won't work, because failure to communicate with your team means everyone loses!

In the aftermath of the cancelled Rainbow 6: Patriots, Ubisoft Montreal rose from the ashes to give us Siege. It was nothing like what we wanted - a pulse-pounding campaign with squad-based gameplay is what we always knew. Instead, we got a multiplayer-only team-based shooter with destruction and teamplay at its core. We did not know we would love it, but we whole-heartedly do.

I love Siege's gameplay because it remains fresh after the nearly three hundred hours I have put in to it; I love Siege's design because Ubisoft Montreal continues to add fresh new content and updates to the world; and I love Siege's support, which I will go over as my second point.

For lack of a better explanation, Siege is very un-Ubisoft. It launched in December 2015 with tons of bugs and a $30 USD season pass... does this sound familiar?

It shouldn't, because those bugs were fixed (with constant support and commitment from the team continuing to this day), and the season pass doesn't give you access to any of the content. All of Siege's content is freely available, with no paid DLC apart from cosmetic items. The Season Pass gives you a slight discount on in-game items, and early access to future DLC.

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Wait. Let's back up. A major AAA game, and a reboot of a franchise at that, offering long-term support and free content to all players?! Siege's business model was most assuredly a risk for Ubisoft, but it paid off. It even caused them to rethink how they offer DLC business-wide.

Siege treats players not as numbers on a spreadsheet, but rather, as invested stakeholders in the game's future

It keeps getting better - the game has been on the rise ever since it released. We're two years in, and Siege has only grown in popularity. When was the last time a AAA shooter was still growing two years down the line, short of Counter-Strike? I love the business model behind Siege, and I hope the rest of the industry sees it as inspiration. It treats players not as numbers on a spreadsheet, but rather, as invested stakeholders in the game's future.

Third and finally, I love the team, Ubisoft Montreal. From the meme-wielding community developer Craig Robinson (known as Its_Epi on Twitter and reddit) to the passionate product manager Laure Guilbert to the creative director Xavier Marquis, the team is not only visible, but they are visibly loving what they work on.

Simon Sinek, a leadership speaker and author, argues that a product cannot be successful unless you know "why" you are making it, and that employees must believe in that before a customer ever could. Siege is an incredible example of this idea. The developers truly love it and the community behind it; they are visible, which tends to not be common in AAA outside of famous designers; and they interact with their community regularly and easily, in a fashion that's not forced. They love Siege, and I love Siege even more because of it.

All of these factors led to me falling in love with Siege and playing perhaps a bit too much of it over the past two years since its release. It helped me get through the stresses of graduate school and multiple product launches. As I write this, I'm juggling playing a ton of matches with friends.

To end my loving tangent, here's a final anecdote - last year, I reached out to Ubisoft Montreal to thank them for creating something that I have spent so many hours of my life with, explaining how I've used it to decompress during a lot of the stressful things I was working through. They forwarded that message to the entire team. Some added me on Facebook to tell me they got the message; some even reached out on other channels for encouragement and advice on pressing forward with my company and career!

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Ubisoft Montreal, you have created something so incredibly special and wonderful. I love Rainbow Six: Siege, and I am so incredibly proud to be a member of your 20 million+ community. It is so apparent that you love this game, and I hope that you continue to love it for years to come. Now, if only I could convince you to bring back raptor legs as a cosmetic charm...

Upcoming Why I Love columns:

  • Tuesday, January 16 - Quantum Soup's Chris Payne on Ultima Underworld
  • Tuesday, January 30 - Deus Ex: Mankind Divided's Rayna Anderson on Loom
  • Tuesday, February 13 - Ghost Story Games on DOTA 2, Doom (2016), Final Fantasy X, Kerbal Space Program, and Final Fantasy XIV
  • Tuesday, February 27 - Caledonia's Nels Anderson on Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice

Developers interested in contributing their own Why I Love column are encouraged to reach out to us at news@gamesindustry.biz.

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