Ubisoft Montreal is soliciting feedback on hacking as it is depicted in Watch Dogs, a contemporary action game in which the protagonist exploits interconnected computer networks through his smartphone. Senior Producer Dominic Guay told Joystiq about the developer's work with Kaspersky Lab, the internet security firm that recently claimed to have identified a targeted malware attack on the Android platform.
"We're working with Kaspersky Lab, a big security firm," Guay said during a San Francisco press event. "They have really hardcore experts there on hacking. We send them some of our designs and we ask them feedback on it, and it's interesting to see what gets back. Sometimes they say, 'Yeah, that's possible, but change that word,' or, 'That's not the way it works.'"
Watch Dogs isn't focused on hacking at a granular level, despite being fictionally fertile ground for the clichéd hacking minigame. Instead, it treats hacking as a shortcut to manipulating doors, cameras, cars, laptops and ATMs in a futuristic "smart city" based on Chicago. The centrally computer-controlled urban environment is a sprawling basis for the game's traversal, shooting, stealth and driving systems.
"It's not about the challenges of climbing a wall," Guay says, recalling the simplification of movement in Ubisoft Montreal's flagship series, Assassin's Creed. "It's finding the path I want to follow.
"It's not about the minigame that will let me open the door, it's the fact that I'm making a plan. I'm making a plan of how I'm going to chain hacking, shooting, traveling the city and driving to achieve an objective."
The input from Kaspersky Lab, and that from Ubisoft's own engineers, is intended to reduce instances of Hollywood hacking: the sexed-up, hyperspeed code wrangling meant to convey skilled computer use and software creation in an exciting/embarrassing way. Watch Dogs is certainly bombastic, but attempts to be more sensible than the likes of "Swordfish."
After the break: that scene where Hugh Jackman shows John Travolta where he hid the worm.