Richard Wych : Indonesian Designer Behind Assassin’s Creed Game
Assassin Creed is one of Ubisoft‘s masterpiece video game. This game is known because of the combination of historical environment and stealth gameplay. To build this beautiful video game is not easy. There are many things have been done, such as historical research, actual location survey, to the hard work of programming and design. And something that make me proud is the appearance of an Indonesian people in Assassin Creed designer team. Who is it? He is Richard Wych Bharata Setiawan, a graduate in Visual Communication Design from Universitas Trisakti. Richard is the Level Artist in Ubisoft studio at Montreal, Canada.
As video game environment designer, Richard involved in development of Assassin’s Creed game, inculding Brotherhood dan Revelations which is the expansion of Assassin’s Creed II. He also build the design of another Ubisoft’s popular game, Prince of Persia.
From Indonesia, Singapore and then Canada
At first, Richard didn’t immediately go to Canada after he graduate. He start his career working as graphic designer in Forhet in 2005. One year after, he decide to work as special effects artist in Matahari Studios, a local game developer.
“Incidentally, I received information that Ubisoft will open a studio in Southeast Asia,” said Richard
After that, Richard filled an applications as special effects artist in Ubisoft. But unfortunately, that position is unavailable. Richard was accepted as level artist and modeller in Ubisoft Singapore in 2008. He is one of two Indonesian people who join the team from total 25 employee.
“That time, there is a funny incident where i have to fill my application. I was given a laptop, but the keyboard using French language. So it’s took a long time just to fill the application, because i have to look every letters one by one” Said Richard with laugh when recall his experience. This is understandably, because Ubisoft is a company from France, so they seems forgot to bring suitable equipment to South East Asia.
Three years working in Singapore, Richard then move to Ubisoft main studio in Montreal, Canada.
Richard experience using French keyboard continue in different form in Montreal, because French language is the main language used in that city. Richard then become more keen to learn French. “It’s no longer easier to speak French, but i still have a lot to learn,” he said.
Bring Colossal World without Actual Reference
Seeing the world in Assassin’s Creed series was so vast and so detailed, it is conceivable that the author must have been working hard to realize the concept of the game. In Ubisoft studio, most of responsibility to give direction regarding the design of the game rests with the art director, including character design and level designer.
Because of that, Richard with another level artist in the team must think about what kind of architecture is suitable for the game. They must work to make the objects and environments based on the programmer game set.
Sometimes this process is not easy to do. Richard gave an example of one of the levels in the game Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood featuring the ruins of the Colosseum in Rome, Italy, complete with basement spaces.
“We have to make the Colosseum in accordance with the situation in the 15th century, the 1400’s, while the reference images are available only from the late 2000s,” said Richard. Nevertheless, although have not enough reference images, Ubisoft development team still managed to visualize magnificent Colosseum design.
At that time, Richard and the others level artists responsible to make dungeon or underground detention room in Colosseum arena which is also used for horses romp in the game. “The development of this section need a long time, but when played in the game, you just need five minutes to pass this level, hahaha,” said Richard.
In the process of making games, Ubisoft introduced milestones achievement system within a certain time. If it is near the time of the deadline, Richard often overtime to finish the job.
The challenge in the game design process was always escalate from title to title. According to Richard, this is because Ubisoft is always asking for a more detailed plan for the next game. “The working process of the Assassin’s Creed II Brotherhood Revelations and the next title, for example, should always be accompanied by an increase in quality, so we have to work even harder.”
When the design is over, the level world will be combined with other parts, such as game characters and fashion designer who also created based on factual references.
The work of Richard can be seen in a Assassin Creed series, from the Assassin’s Creed II, Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood, Assassin’s Creed: Revelations, and Assassin’s Creed III, which is available for the PC and gaming consoles such as Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.
Richard claimed that he enjoy working in the Ubisoft largest studio at Montreal. “The atmosphere is good, familial. All employees, for example, had lunch together regardless of position.”
Even so, Richard often look for inspiration by playing video game and usually return to Indonesia to take a break when a project is finished.
Richard said that in fact there are many gifted talents in Indonesia. However, according to Richard, beside the absence of large investors who dared to fund the creation of games like Assassin’s Creed, there are other things that developing large-scale games is difficult in Indonesia.
“Many are good designer and programmer, but most of them move like guerrilla fighters. If they could be put together, they would be strong,” says Richard.