There's no sense of fellowship in online gaming anymore, according to Ubisoft Massive's Ryan Barnard - everybody's too worried about juvenile trolls, and developers and publishers are so willing to give up a game's secrets that players don't need to ask each other for help. Barnard plans to change all that with Tom Clancy's The Division, a post-apocalyptic survival sim for current gen, next gen and PC.
"A personal goal for me with The Division is to create community again," he told OXM, as part of a feature you'll read in our latest issue, on sale now. "Games have lost that. People are afraid to talk in games because they're going to get yelled at by some 12-year-old kid who's talking about your mum or whatever. I want us to help create that again.
Barnard feels modern methods of digital "sharing" are too impersonal, and that too few games dare to cultivate a sense of genuine mystery and adventure. "[Community is] gone in online games, it's dead. And a lot of that is because all I have to do is use Google or Youtube, or the game shows me exactly how to do something. There's no interaction between players.
"I personally will want to say as little as possible before the game comes out so people will just play, and have a good time, and discover it for themselves," he added. Barnard was happy, however, to shed a bit of light on how the game's behind-the-scenes match-making systems work: it'll track not simply your level but minute player preferences, such as whether you prefer to quest in groups, your fondness for PvP and how much you like item crafting.
Barnard is prepared for a fight with Ubisoft marketing teams. "I'm tired of games having a hook about them, [where you know] how to create everything before the game even comes out. I'm going to be a big pain in the ass for brand and marketing people because I think it's better to give people a premise of the game and have them actually discover what it's actually about when they play it."
For more, read Jonty's E3 preview. According to he, "Ubisoft's refusal to discuss the bigger picture makes it hard to get a handle on The Division, save to indicate that the picture is a lot larger than anything else we've seen on Xbox 360, and closer to Bungie's Destiny than anything else in the Clancy universe."