And how did it impact the game's development?
MA: I began to repeat to myself how important it was that someone like me could finish the game. I'm not an amazing player, and it's fine, because not everyone is an amazing player. We always need to think about the hundreds of thousands, maybe the millions of people who might play our game. We have to always be welcoming to the non-players. I don't think video games should withdraw into itself. I often used to think about player versus non-player wars, and they're a pity; we need to give people a hand.
With Rayman Origins, we wanted gamers to be able to play with their girlfriend, who maybe hates video games, but we needed to keep this door open so that even so she could find something to have fun with. I'm very sensitive to this. We're like mountain guides, or super surf teachers: we love it, but we can also share this passion.
That's what we repeat the most to game designers. When they're comfortable with tools, methods, there's this little one thing: to realize that we work for millions of people. But you would almost need to have every one of them in front of you to understand!
I'd guess the Mario games must have been a huge inspiration for Rayman games.
MA: As far as I'm concerned, not at all! I will tell you something terrible -- I don't really enjoy playing Mario games. I don't like gliding, I don't like its inertia, and I don't like not being able to give some slaps! It's a fabulous series, and I understand that people love it, but it's not my cup of tea.
I used to prefer Ghosts n' Goblins, Heart of Darkness, Another World -- games with a focus on the narrative side. Beyond that, I find Mario's controls very interesting, but I don't buy it. I can't help but seeing the ropes of the game, even if it works. The game is thrilling, obviously.
In your biography, surprisingly, the game you're the most enthusiastic about is Legend of the Mystical Ninja, on Super NES. This merging of gameplay styles, it's something we can also find in Beyond Good & Evil -- as if it was less important to fit into a genre than to tell a story by interactive means.
MA: Exactly. It was a really important game for me. Around that time, Super Mario World was out, but if I were given the choice, I preferred to play Mystical Ninja. Primarily because it was a two player game, that one might climb on the other's shoulders. And they were this mythical levels, where you could make the background crumble, the other player fall. And then there were the Mode 7-style rendered bosses, a story, hidden paths, and games inside the game. It's true that it was a game one couldn't define.
I sometimes forget to quote it, but alongside The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, it's one of my models. They share one thing in common: they're a world in their own. Gameplay is secondary. Of course, when it comes to video games, gameplay is essential. But whenever there is storytelling, some sense, it's better. Gameplay is about action. But it's the story which explains why we pursue this action.
This is something very striking about the genesis of the first Rayman. In your biography, you never talk about any gameplay-related ambitions. It looks like the game had been thought of from an artist's view, which is pretty unusual for a platformer.
MA: It's true. To tell the truth, the first Rayman wasn't so fun at the beginning of the project. But when Serge Hascoët arrived, we were able to find the correct alchemy between the artistic side and the gameplay.
Today, which game are you the most proud of?
MA: Of course I'm very happy with Beyond Good & Evil, even if while playing it again in HD, I sometimes felt it deserved to be dusted. We learned so much since BGE that we'd of course have a lot to things to polish. I think than Beyond Good & Evil 2 might be as different from the first Beyond Good & Evil as Rayman Origins is from the first Rayman. Everything we learned about rhythm, and mastering the gameplay, we'll be able to use it.