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Valiant Hearts director leaves Ubisoft

Tired of the AAA business and being labeled "fake indie," Yoan Fanise is looking to pursue a new opportunity

Having spent 14 years at Ubisoft, Valiant Hearts director Yoan Fanise has decided to leave the French publisher in order to seek a fresh start. Fanise had worked on Beyond Good & Evil back in 2001 with Michel Ancel, and he hoped to recapture that indie spirit when Ubisoft allowed him to work on Valiant Hearts, but the developer also grew increasingly frustrated with the seemingly impersonal nature of big AAA projects like Assassin's Creed.

"Beyond Good & Evil was a 30+ team production with a unique, creative mood that Michel Ancel is able to bring. The more we grew, the more this mood diminished. 100, 250, 500 people...it was necessary due to the technical evolution and AAA requirements, but on the creative and human side something was missing," he noted to Gamasutra.

"I mean the industrial scale and organization of a giant project like Assassin's Creed removes some direct connection between people from different job categories, for example. Your interactions are limited, and it is really difficult to have a global vision of the finished game. But at that scale, it would be very hard to make it different."

It came as a relief to Fanise to work on something like Valiant Heart, a project, he said, that looked "to bring back the Beyond Good & Evil spirit, the collegial creative process." That being said, market realities are sometimes hard to swallow.

"I mean, business-wise, even if the game is a success, with over a million players and many awards, this is still small revenue compared to blockbusters. That's the harsh reality," he said, adding that after being called "fake indie" for working on a small project at Ubisoft, he may as well consider going independent for real.

Fanise has not committed to anything just yet, however. "There are a lot of really interesting opportunities, and I'm still taking time to find the one that is most exciting," he said.

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James Brightman


James Brightman has been covering the games industry since 2003 and has been an avid gamer since the days of Atari and Intellivision. He was previously EIC and co-founder of IndustryGamers and spent several years leading GameDaily Biz at AOL prior to that.