According to a report by Polygon, game designer Michel Ancel has founded a new, independent game studio known as Wild Sheep Studio based in Montpellier, France. Ancel plans to keep his current job at Ubisoft Montpellier while working on an as-of-yet unannounced title with a team of twelve other “experienced developers.”
Michel Ancel is best known as the creator of the Rayman series of platformers, which began in 1995, and 2003’s action adventure game Beyond Good And Evil. The Rayman series has remained one of Ubisoft’s most popular franchises during its nineteen years of life, creating a great deal of excitement amongst the many fans of the platforming series as to what Ancel’s new, secret indie project might be. Ancel’s other titles, including Beyond Good and Evil, which follows the story of an investigative reporter endeavoring to uncover a planet-wide conspiracy by means of martial arts, espionage, and puzzle solving, and the more recent Valiant Hearts: The Great War, a puzzle adventure game inspired by letters written by soldiers during World War I built on the Rayman engine, have achieved a great deal of critical acclaim but have fallen short of Rayman’s commercial success. While this has created some concern that Wild Sheep Studio may flounder as a business, Ancel’s skill in crafting unique and memorable games has others eagerly awaiting the end result of his work as an independent designer.
Ubisoft Montpellier’s Managing Director Xavier Poix has confirmed that Ancel will remain on the Ubisoft payroll during his involvement with Wild Sheep for the forseeable future. His work at Ubisoft will center around the creative development of a few select projects including “an extremely ambitious new title that is very close to his and the team’s heart” that many suspect to be an upcoming sequel to Beyond Good And Evil. Long suspected to be in development in spite of the commercial failure of its predecessor, Ancel commented in 2013 that his team at Ubisoft felt the game was “too big” for current consoles at the time and had made the decision to delay in order to avoid compromising on the game’s large, open world and technical specs.
Michel Ancel’s plans for Wild Sheep Studio, on the other hand, remain a closely guarded secret for now.