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Patrice Desilets' Ancestors is no longer episodic

Former Asssasin's Creed developer reveals more about his mysterious adventure game at Reboot Develop

The elusive Ancestors, the debut project from Patrice Desilets' Panache Digital Games, has gone through some significant changes in the past year.

Speaking at Reboot Develop, Desilets revealed that the game no longer follows the episodic structure he originally planned, but will still be a third-person action-adventure similar to the Assassin's Creed and Prince of Persia games he is best known for.

"It's a third-person adventure game set 10 million years ago," he told attendees, stressing that the subject has not changed. "Before it was episodic and that changed the pace, but the content is the same. It's a bigger game, a bigger world. It was hour to hour, now it's open and I let the player tell their own stories. There are systems talking to each other, not me taking players by the hand. You'll create the story of your own ancestors, and maybe it will be different than what science claims."

As previously announced, the game follows mankind's ancestors: the still evolving ape creatures of the jungle. Set in Africa, the title sounds like it's an open-world adventure - although Desilets was reluctant to discuss how big the world is. Instead, he focused on how much the game and the story explores the rise of our species.

"We're all big apes, that's what we are," he said. "We're mutants that live in a fast-paced technological place, but that's not what we are. We're made out of the jungle, that's why we're scared of everything. We're good at fleeing. That's why we're afraid of talking in front of people, missing the train."

Conveying that has presented the developer with new challenges when compared to his previous games.

"This is the first time I'm creating a character that interacts with the jungle," said Desilets. "I'm used to characters that interact with walls - 10m years ago, there were no walls.

"I've never done a character who is afraid of everything all the time. There's no sword. Eventually there will be a tree branch, but no sword."

While the subject may be different, the gameplay is expected to be similar to that of the franchises he worked on at Ubisoft.

"I do third-person games," Desilets said. "I don't do VR. I do Assassin's Creed, Prince of Persia type of games, and my next 15 games will be in the same vein - if I don't die in the meantime."

However, Desilets said that he has tired of re-telling the hero's journey in his games, so is keen for Ancestors - and his future games - to be something different, albeit while still using the mechanics of a third-person action adventure.

He also referred to Ancestors as the first in a new franchise, with Amsterdam 1666 - a project originally due to be published by THQ, later picked up by his former employers Ubisoft and eventually reclaimed by Desilets and Panache - is currently on hold.

He also revealed that his studio works hard to ensure Ancestors is constantly "ready to ship".

"We make sure every time we add something to the game, it doesn't crash the game," he said. "If we shipped Ancestors today - which we won't - it would be playable, but it wouldn't be the experience we want."

When probed as to when it will be playable, Desilets nearly said years before backtracking and promising it would be available (presumably at shows such as E3 and Gamescom) in "months".

Desilets also shared more insight about how his new studio works. Originally a team of six that would meet at his house, it is now a fully-fledged studio in Montreal that is home to 25 employees.

"We were 24 because that's the number of desks we could physically fit in the office," he said. "Then we tore down a wall, so next year I should have 32. It's the amount of desks that limits my studio."

He also said he was keen to have a diverse team, with several women already working at the studio.

"I'm not telling the story of mankind only between guys," he said.

He added that having a smaller team does away with some of the confusing hierarchies and internal competition he experienced when working on teams of 200 to 400 people at Ubisoft.

"There's no hierarchy at Panache," he says. "I make the decisions. Everyone puts in effort, but they're not in competition with each other. And we're all in the same room. When I do a team meeting, I just stand up.

"Also, at Panache, there are no Mondays. You cannot have a meeting on Monday - that's your day to go to the bank, get your car fixed, and so on. It makes it easier to recruit people.

"And I don't make any decisions on Friday, because I'll think about it over the weekend and change my mind by Tuesday."

The session ended with another teaser video for Ancestors, showing a glimpse at the game world.

The interview with Desilets was just one of nine sessions from Reboot Develop we're livestreaming this week. You can watch the rest here.

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