Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey – Experiences: The AnthropologistOn August 10, 2019 by Raul Dinwiddie
We evolved in a place that was never
this perfect gentle Eden, this paradise. I mean, Africa was not this gentle giving
mother. Crocodile! Crocodile! Do something! Move! Well… I’m trying! Move! Move! Move! Ahhhhhhh! That’s it. Sometimes the oasis was wet and full
of fish, but nature could be a bitch. When I did my games before, Assassin’s Creed or Prince of Persia, it was a big adventure, epic. And I said okay but I wanna tell the
story of the greatest adventure of all time. Yes. The greatest story ever told. Yeah. Ours. The thing for me as a filmmaker, I’ve worked in the same subject as you, uh, the thing that always strikes me is how unlikely our survival was. I mean if you look at the world we lived in,
hum it was never assured that we would make it. The beginning of your game, Volume 1 of Humankind
Odyssey really starts with the early ancestors. The very early ones. So before Homo Sapiens, before Homo Erectus, before Australopithecines, this is just when we’re beginning to get out of the trees and up on our feet. Exactly. I’m starting Ancestors 10 million years ago and it’s about the evolution through time and how climate changed so many times
and how many species tried and then didn’t survive. I think that if you look at it in terms of human evolution this is purely a stop on the way. We have not arrived at a destination.
It’s one bus stop on a journey that will never end. Yeah. We’re used to living in a world where humans are unlike any other form of life. It wasn’t very long ago that we lived in a kind of Middle Earth. You know, the Hobbits and Denisovans and Neanderthals and all kinds of species of Homo erectus that we’re just learning about now. The brilliant thing about a game like yours is
it transports us back to a time
when there was this incredible diversity of humans! And each one of these kinds of humans was just an experiment. And some of the experiments worked out and some of them didn’t. You need other members of a, of a clan around you to survive. It’s not true that you can do it by yourself. Even though you’re the best runner of them all, you… you need help. Yeah. And one of the most important advantages that our ancestors had clearly, and we don’t really understand the pace of its evolution and when it becomes that advantage, is the size of human communities and the ability to be in contact with other human communities, to have some kind of, literally common language with them. Because the larger the community, the more potential solutions there are to any problem. So you’re creating the environment that your characters are going to be in. I mean it’s incredible to me because I just get in an airplane with a camera man and… I go there! I go to this place, I film it. There’s my environment. But you have to build everything! Yes. Yes so… We take pictures from people like you, who go there, and then we recreate. What’s interesting is, it’s very realistic! So you’re putting every discrete element
in there. Every blade of grass, every tree, every stone. You gotta drop it all in. Yeah. In fact, we’re doing a lot of research. Finding references on the internet, movies, everything we can. Books. And then we try to put as much as we can. After that, we have the technologic aspect of it that will force us to limit ourselves on the data we put in. So that’s why it’s important to choose the right amount of which one will be there that will pay a lot. My player is an Homo sapiens and so he knows a lot more than the character he’s playing. Yeah So I… all the time I need to adjust what is possible in the game because the Homo sapiens, with the controller, will have ideas about “Oh! Can I do this? Can I use this to survive?” That’s a gym. Yup. So it’s basically a quick way for us to look at every single item we have in the game. Okay. Nic and those guys will do the landscape, the visuals, and then we start putting ingredients in there. I see. Hum… Most of the times, people will do the ingredients first and then they’ll put the art on top of it. Uh… Because our subject matter is so organic, we started the opposite way. So… So you build the landscape… And then we start populating it animals, uh… food, tools and start create scenarios for that. Over 2 million years of human evolution, and when I say evolution I mean we’re changing all the time, we have a single tool, the hand axe which is this big chunk of rock with a sharp end. That’s all we need for 2 million years! I mean, I’ve had my phone for a year and I feel like I need a new one! You see I still have to look down- Woah! No no no no! Argh! That is the end of Niobe right now. Oh! Poor you. This game, even in the development stage, puts you into a much richer world than I would’ve expected of a video game. Where it’s not about killing the enemy. It’s about dealing with all the opportunities and threats in a natural environment. Oh my god! This takes way more intelligence than… I mean… My PhD at Cambridge did not prepare me for this.