Within Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time Remake, the Debut Game for Ubisoft India Studios

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Prince of Persia is rolling back the clock, again. Seventeen years on from the release of Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, Ubisoft has announced its first-ever full-fledged remake. And in a bit of unforeseen news, it’s Ubisoft India Studios — the combined might of Ubisoft Pune and Ubisoft Mumbai — that is leading development on the remake. Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time Remake — as it’s officially known — is the first actual title created by Ubisoft India Studios. It’s been made from the ground up with a new engine, re-recorded dialogue, and new camera angles.

More than 170 employees between Mumbai and Pune have spent over two years working on Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time Remake, with its sprint to the finish line falling under the COVID-19 cloud. Ubisoft’s India offices have been shut since March when the nationwide lockdown used to be announced, and the gaming giant given work-from-home equipment and make stronger to all of its employees, to help them total the Prince of Persia remake, in what are the key months leading up to game’s release.

Ubisoft India Studios managing director Jean-Philippe Pieuchot claims it is the culmination of the first end-to-end console production from India: “With this remake Ubisoft has pioneered AAA expertise in India. […] This milestone paves the Road to the way forward for the Indian gaming industry.”

Why doesn’t it look great?

While Pieuchot is touting it as a AAA title, the first look at the game — be it trailer or screenshots — is not very promising, relating to graphics. For a title that uses the same engine (AnvilNext 2.0) as Murderer’s Creed Origins, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time Remake looks nothing love it. Actually, it looks something that belongs to the preceding era. It is a concern shared by other publications and lots of Prince of Persia fans on Twitter.

“You’ll ensure that the game will be top notch [upon release in] January 2021,” Ubisoft Mumbai and Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time Remake game director Pierre-Sylvain Gires told Gadgets 360. “You’ll ensure that the polish will be there.

“Yes, we are the usage of Murderer’s Creed Origins’ Anvil engine, but that used to be just a base and we revealed numerous things around this engine to in truth suit Prince of Persia Sands of Time Remake. Not only the tech approach with the rewind features and all those things that had to be reworked, but like the artistic direction is intended to be different than Murderer’s Creed Origins.

“We wanted the game to have a unique look that served the purpose of the game. The narration and storyline [in Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time] is a fantasy. It’s something that is near to the [Middle Eastern folk tale collection] One Thousand and One Nights feeling. So, it is intentional to have a unique look that serves the purpose of the game, with a new lighting approach [and more] saturation of the colours to help the magic and the fantasy of the story to in truth pop from the screen.”

Ubisoft Pune senior producer Annu Koul thinks the new Anvil engine allowed them to give a “contemporary twist” to Prince of Persia, but still stay “true to what our game used to be before.”

A white actor voicing a Middle Eastern prince

Speaking of staying true to the 2003 original, Yuri Lowenthal returns as the voice and motion-capture actor for the titular Prince. That’s a curious casting choice, particularly in a year where there was renewed outcry over white actors voicing non-white characters across the realms of entertainment. It’s affected The Simpsons, Circle of relatives Guy, Netflix’s Big Jaw, and Apple TV+’s Central Park. Many shows and creators have even pledged to no longer have white actors voice non-white characters.

“It is a very, very good question that you’re asking me here,” Gires said. “And I will be able to tell you that when we manage the casting for our characters […] we did pay numerous attention to the origin of our actors. We are in truth casting out of a very large panel, and […] and we in truth try to receive as authentic as conceivable.

“But regarding the prince, Yuri Lowenthal, […] he [was cast] as any other actor. He used to be shortlisted and selected on account of his voice. And we did take a call all together, that since we wanted to play on the nostalgia [of the original] — I think Yuri’s voice also hasn’t aged — and he has such an energy and his character used to be like such a lot like the Prince, that we need to go with him.”

Princess Farah and the Prince in Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time Remake
Photo Credit: Ubisoft

Additionally, Gires famous that the female lead character of Farah, an Indian princess, used to be being voiced by Supinder Wraich, a Canadian actress of Indian origin.

And all the way through a presentation to journalists, Koul spoke approximately the native knowledge and cultural experience Ubisoft India Studios used to be in a position to cause to Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time Remake that starts in 9th-century India at a fictional Maharaja’s palace. She called it “an honour.”

Why Prince of Persia remake is an honour

Koul’s team at Ubisoft Pune took care of the more technical aspects, working on the game engine, rendering, camera, controls, combat, missions, and AI and data management. Ubisoft Mumbai handled the creative side of Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time Remake, which involved the art (design, concept, level, technical and 3D art), animation, mo-cap, game and level design, FX, and UI.

It suited the team’s strengths. Ubisoft Pune used to be set up in 2008 primarily for quality regulate (QC). Even as it’s grown from 100 employees in 2009, 500 employees in 2016, and 1300+ in 2020, quality regulate remains its primary whip. 70 percent of its workforce does QC, with the remaining 30 percent devoted to production.

Alternatively, Ubisoft Mumbai — set up in 2018 to be committed to AAA titles — is entirely devoted to production, though it does have only a hundred employees presently. Ubisoft also has an R&D unit established at the IIT Bombay, one of the crucial country’s top technical universities, with less than 30 people working on AI, data, and machine learning.

Pieuchot remarked that AAA game development is not an overnight venture. Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time Remake has been made conceivable on account of Ubisoft’s investments over a decade ago.

The Prince running on walls in Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time Remake
Photo Credit: Ubisoft

When Ubisoft India Studios learnt it would get to work on Prince of Persia, the teams were elated. Gires said: “We’re all very excited and very, more than pleased as a way to work on this first remake from Ubisoft. As a franchise, Prince of Persia is beloved locally, and for the studio in India as polite. In an effort to work on the sort of game is an honour.”

Koul added: “I’m certain, like us, you have grown up with this game. We have all grown up with this game, and for plenty of team members, this game has shown them that there is usually a career in a gaming industry. So, the game which has provided us a career, it used to be all the time an honour to work on that game, and to showcase that game to the world now.”

Rewind the clock

Released in late 2003 first for the Game Boy Advance, followed quickly by PS2, Xbox, Windows, and a version for mobiles, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time is famous as one of the crucial greatest video games of all time. It follows the titular Prince, the son of Sharaman and inheritor to a Persian kingdom, as he discovers an hourglass and a dagger as his father sacks a Maharaja’s city. The Maharaja’s only daughter, Farah, is kidnapped as a gift for the Sultan of Azad.

When they arrive in Azad, the Prince’s father presents the hourglass as a gift to the Sultan, but a Vizier tricks the Prince and has him stab the hourglass with the dagger, releasing the Sands of Time contained inside. They change into the citizens into savage monsters and the Prince should then work with Farah to undo the damage. The dagger allows players to rewind time, kill, and freeze enemies.

Now, over 17 years on, you’ll be able to do all of it again. Koul famous that this is “a remake, not a remaster nor a reboot. We wanted to give players the possibility to experience this game again, or for the first actual time but with a contemporary twist.”

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time Remake will be to be had January 21, 2021 on PC, PS4, and Xbox One. Though the game may not have a proper launch on PS5 and the Xbox Series circle of relatives, it’ll still run on next-gen consoles thanks to backward compatibility, Koul assured us. It’s going to cost €40 (approximately Rs. 3,500) across platforms.

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