Iconic game designer Michel Ancel, who most recently led the brilliant Rayman Legends project at Ubisoft, has always come across as a free spirit, destined to seek his own direction away from the corporate priorities of the publishing behemoth. That desire seems to have been partly fulfilled, as he's now formed a small independent Montpellier-based studio called Wild Sheep Studio; it has just 13 staff and is working on a new game that will be revealed soon.
Ancel hasn't entirely left Ubisoft, however, and will continue to work part-time at Ubisoft Montpellier, with managing director of Ubisoft's Annecy, Paris and Montpellier studios, Xavier Poix, saying the following to Eurogamer.
We are fortunate to have some of the industry's finest talents, including Michel Ancel, working with us at our studio. In addition to spending some of his time on this new venture, Michel is leading the creative development of select projects at Ubisoft Montpellier, including an extremely ambitious new title that is very close to his and the team's heart.
That teasing comment naturally brings thoughts back to the ongoing saga of a sequel to Beyond Good & Evil, a title that graced the GameCube along with other systems. When pushed further Ubisoft did confirm that Ancel is working on that sequel, which was also suggested and hinted at earlier in the year.
In many ways, BG&E is an inimitable game - it appeals to all generations of gamers and is an inspiration behind many of Ubisoft Montpellier's past and future games. It's still far too early to give many details about this new title, but what we can say is that while Michel and the team at Ubisoft Montpellier are working with the core tenets of BG&E, they're developing something that aspires to push past the boundaries of a proverbial sequel and leverages next-gen technologies to deliver a truly surprising, innovative and exceptional game. The entire team is excited about the direction this extremely ambitious project is taking, and we'll have more to share later, as it progresses.
Unfortunately Ubisoft's support of the Wii U has dwindled following poor sales, to the point that it made the extraordinary admission that it has a finished game that it's holding back; in addition, references to "next-gen technologies" can often mean "not Wii U" — a sad reality of where it stands at present.
Time will tell, of course, and it'll also be interesting to see what Ancel's new independent studio produces with its first game.