It’s not just a new season for the open-world game Fortnite from Epic Games. It’s a new paradigm, that of gaming as a platform, ready to welcome fans of music, car racing, construction and – of course – timed manhunts. And this is just the beginning, if we trust the head of development for Epic and Montreal video game veteran Alain Tascan.
It all started last Saturday, December 2 with a “big bang”, an animated preview broadcast directly in the game and which gave regulars Fortnite a taste of what will await them over the coming months. In addition to the introduction in recent days of LEGO Fortnite And Fortnite Rocket RacingEpic adds a third part, more musical this one, called Fortnite Festival.
LEGO Fortnite is in a way a version integrated into the digital environment of Fortnite from the Lego construction set. Rocket Racing is a car racing game that takes place on different circuits and is more reminiscent of an arcade game than a simulation. Fortnite Festival is a musical environment created in collaboration with the publisher of musical games Rock band where it will be possible to play music from your video game controller.
Holders for instrument controllers will be made available in 2024.
From online gaming to scalable platform
To accommodate all of this, Fortnite inherits a new immersive digital world that is larger and more detailed than its predecessor… and which continues to evolve, explains Alain Tascan, executive vice president of game development for Epic Games. The duty met Mr. Tascan at the Epic Games offices, located on McGill College Street in Montreal, in the wake of this major upgrade of one of the most popular games on the planet: last November, 100 million players trampled with their virtual feet one or other of the fictional islands of Fortnite.
Alain Tascan has big ambitions for what is less and less just a game and more and more a gaming platform. He has in his sights the next 100 million other players who might be less interested in the game. traditional model of this game, but who would like to visit it to have fun all the same.
“We are going to evolve little by little to become this ecosystem where, if you want to play Fortniteyou play Fortnite ; if you want to drive a car, you play Rocket Racing ; if you want to play Lego, play music, create your own games, you can do all that without delay — you buy a character here or there, you create music, you can transpose it elsewhere, you can even compose from music from artists like The Weeknd. »
Toronto artist The Weeknd was also part of the launch of Fortnite Festival, in the same way that the American rapper Eminem participated in the big bang which occurred a week earlier. “We can do things that no one has yet done,” explains Alain Tascan. For me, having been in the industry for a while, I find this pioneering attitude where we try new things. »
Fortnite was already a little more than a simple game, since its players can program their own small environments and earn income from them. Epic says it has distributed some $120 million to these independent content creators, including $10 million to Canadian creators.
The original gangster is from Montreal
The previous version of Fortnite — Epic calls them its “seasons” —, titled Fortnite OGwas a nod to the early days of the game. OG for Original Gangsters, the tough ones. Basic, Fortnite is a type game Battle Royale where — in principle — the winner is the last player whose character is still alive at the end of the time allocated to play. The formula is more complex, since you can also construct structures, buildings, and use the environment in other ways than to hunt other players.
This formula naturally appealed to early players. Unsurprisingly, therefore, the new world, larger, more detailed and more diverse, created a wave of discontent among some purists.
“It’s normal,” believes Alain Tascan. He doesn’t take offense. “Often, when you’re about to take a big step forward, you take a look back. This is what we did with Fortnite OG. We broke all our records with this world, but the crazy thing is that we welcomed even more players from the first day after the launch of our new world. »
It must be said that this original Montreal video game gangster has seen others. He began his career in the Ville Marie tower, a few blocks further south of Epic’s current offices in Montreal, at the same time as the video game industry was born in the metropolis, which today employs more than 15,000 people. . The path traveled is quite a bit longer than McGill College Street actually is…
“Montreal and Quebec have changed a lot, too. At the time, it was a somewhat crazy dream, but today we are proof that the dream came true, notes Alain Tascan. It perhaps allowed the entire technological cluster to unwind – universities, businesses, engineers – we realized our potential. »
“And today, we are taking care of the biggest game in the world, which has 100 million players. His direction is here and part of his creation too. »
So there is a little bit of Montreal in the new Fortnite. But Alain Tascan still didn’t go so far as to promise hockey in his next update…