Addressing Accessibility in Watch Dogs: Legion
These are part of Ubisoft’s ongoing effort to make its games as accessible as possible, and to remove potential obstacles for those who want to play them. We spoke with Mihai Alexandru Nuta, associate producer at Ubisoft Kyiv, to learn more about the process of implementing these features, what developers learned in tests, and how the accessibility work done in other Ubisoft games has helped establish a foundation to build from.
Why are customization features important for accessibility?
Mihai Alexandru Nuta: A major part of giving games longevity has always been player customization. Giving players more ways to approach a game differently goes a long way towards keeping them invested.
Is there a foundational layer of options that the team was aiming for and wanted to build from for Watch Dogs: Legion?
MAN: Watch Dogs 2’s accessibility and customization options were the beginning of a love story for our team. First, we started developing options for PC, like a multiple-slot save system, customizable controls page, input adaptation for a variety of devices, and a video options menu.
What lessons did you learn from previous Ubisoft games, and how has the feature list for Watch Dogs: Legion grown as a result?
We also worked closely with other dev teams, including those on Far Cry, Assassin`s Creed and Ghost Recon, to identify design struggles and tech risks. It helped us a lot to point out our limitations in terms of engine, tech, and resources, and to work further to overcome them.
Is there a feedback process for getting these features into Watch Dogs: Legion? How does it work?
Our product directors play a big role in helping us to align the features with the overall game feel and promise. Also, we have a solid playtest schedule that’s both internal and external, so we can identify how different design techniques and decisions affect or improve how the features are perceived. They were able to play a very early build and provide their feedback on how we could improve accessibility, years before the game’s release.
Feedback from influencers who played the Ubisoft Forward demo for Watch Dogs: Legion included ideas for possible improvements to accessibility features. Is there a specific example of these learnings that the team is working on for launch?
MAN: Including accessibility in our demos for Ubisoft Forward has been an interesting and challenging experience. To give you some examples of things we learned: There is a cognitive overload of audio captions; auto-aiming and auto-camera prevent shooting from cover; and using the “Esc” key to exit drones, hijacked vehicles, etc.
There are a lot of things going on at once in Watch Dogs: Legion. Did the team consider cognitive accessibility when designing the game? MAN: We have several systems helping to reduce number of subtitles displayed at the same time. We enabled the option to filter the gameplay events captions to two or four lines at the same time. The UI was reworked many times before it reached a solid result in terms of how the information is displayed, taking into account the multitude of static and dynamic HUD elements appearing during gameplay, and how they can be optimized so as not to create cognitive overload for the player.
Aug 23, 2020 at 15:12