Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown launches on January 18, 2024 on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PC through the Ubisoft Store and the Epic Games Store, and Amazon Luna, and will be included in the Ubisoft+ subscription. The game offers up challenging combat and platforming, but the development team at Ubisoft Montpellier want to ensure that as many people as possible are able to play and enjoy their game.
To learn more about how they’re making Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown accessible, we spoke to Senior Game Designer Rémi Boutin.
What was your approach to accessibility on Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown?
Rémi Boutin: Accessibility was an early consideration for us. We integrated it into the creative vision for the game and approached it from several angles. We applied design thinking around the specific barriers and opportunities that our genre and game presents, referenced existing good practices and guidance, and worked in close collaboration with the internal accessibility team at Ubisoft. Learning directly from the audience though user research has been very important as well, and is something that we plan to continue during the rest of development to help to refine our feature set.
Does the game’s genre bring any unique challenges?
RB: Games with similar mechanics to Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown are not always known for accessibility, so we wanted to explore ways to make our game enjoyable by the greatest number of players.
We identified exploration as a key part of this. Ensuring players can feel the thrill of free exploration without the frustration of feeling lost was a strong area of focus for us from the very start of development. We have an optional guided mode to help with this, which shows objectives and blocked/available paths. But we also approached it through design, in particular with a feature that we hope our players will enjoy - Eye of the Wanderer.
The genre is quite dependent on being able to "take mental notes"; remembering and visualizing things like blocked paths, or situations that need tools or powers that you don't have. We know that can be a barrier for some players, so to assist with this the Eye of the Wanderer feature allows you to take a screenshot and pin it to the map as a visual reminder.
Our game offers combat depth, and we're aiming for a challenging game, for players to experience the satisfaction of overcoming dangerous enemies. But we know that people are varied and that challenging means different things to different people. So, we are providing both difficulty presets and a range of individual parameters, so that more people can experience a challenge that fits their capabilities.
Did working as a smaller team affect the approach to accessibility?
RB: Being a smaller team doesn't need to get in the way of considering accessibility. Smaller teams even have some advantages, like agility. Rather than accessibility being handled by certain people on the team, everyone is involved to ensure that the features that they're personally working on are accessible, as well as looking out for potential accessibility issues across the game in general.
Another good way to work efficiently is to look for ways to avoid unnecessary barriers by default, through design choices rather than options. And there are other benefits to accessibility-by-design too, like discoverability. We were able to do this in several areas. For example, color-blindness, text presentation and QTEs (quick time events) are all addressed by default.
It's also important to start thinking about accessibility as early as possible in development, it means you're able to do more and do it more effectively. Ubisoft's processes encourage and support considering accessibility early, and it's something that really made a big difference for us. We were able to make good progress even by alpha.
We're excited to be able to offer this first look at accessibility alongside the announcement of the game, being able to do that means a lot to us as a team. Considering accessibility from early in development is what has allowed us to share it with you today.
ACCESSIBILITY FEATURES LIST
- Colorblind-accessible by design.
- Text presentation designed at a size suitable for both living room and hand-held use, in a clear sans-serif font and on plain contrasting backgrounds.
- Enhanced contrast: assistance distinguishing important gameplay elements.
- Subtitles are on by default, and players can choose the opacity of the background (none/half/full).
- Separate volume sliders for master, music, SFX, voiceover, and interface sounds.
- No important information is communicated through sound alone.
NAVIGATION & GUIDANCE
- The Eye of the Wanderer - pin screenshots to the map.
- Guided mode - optional icons marking objectives and available/blocked paths.
- Reminder of important controls is shown on-screen during gameplay.
- Practice area with no consequences of failure, and tutorials.
- Multiple input devices - both keyboard/mouse and gamepad support on PC.
- Remapping of gameplay controls for gamepad.
- Sticks can be swapped.
- X and Y axis inversion for both sticks.
- Vibration intensity can be adjusted or turned off.
- No QTEs (quick time events).
- Several difficulty presets.
- Individual parameters can be adjusted:
- Enemy damage.
- Enemy health.
- Parry timing.
- Special attack charge and deplete rate.
Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown is out January 18, 2024. For more information on the game, check out our gameplay preview and for more information on accessibility, be sure to check back into our Accessibility News hub.