“Fortnite Festival”, “Rocket Racing” and “Lego”: The “original gangster” is… Montrealer – Le Devoir

A new season isn’t just beginning for Epic Games’ open-world game Fortnite. It’s a new paradigm, gaming as a platform, ready to welcome fans of music, car racing, construction and – of course – timed manhunts. And that’s just the beginning if we trust Epic’s head of development and Montreal video game veteran Alain Tascan.

It all started last Saturday, December 2nd, with a “Big Bang,” an animated in-game preview broadcast that gives Fortnite regulars a taste of what to expect in the coming months. In addition to the introduction of Lego Fortnite and Fortnite Rocket Racing in recent days, Epic is adding a third part, this time more musical, titled Fortnite Festival.

Lego Fortnite is, in a sense, a version of the Lego construction game integrated into the digital environment of Fortnite. Rocket Racing is a car racing game that takes place on various race tracks and is more reminiscent of an arcade game than a simulation. Fortnite Festival is a musical environment created in collaboration with music game publisher Rock Band where you can play music from your video game controller.

Musical instruments compatible with Fortnite Festival will go on sale in 2024.

From online gaming to a scalable platform

To do all this justice, Fortnite inherits a new immersive digital world that is larger and more detailed than its predecessor… and whose development is still ongoing, explains Alain Tascan, senior vice president of game development at Epic Games. Le Devoir met Mr. Tascan at the offices of Epic Games on Rue McGill College in Montreal following this major modernization of one of the most popular games in the world: last November, 100 million players entered one or another of Fortnite’s fictional islands.

Alain Tascan has big ambitions for something that is less and less just a game and more and more a gaming platform. He has his sights set on the next 100 million other players who might be less interested in the game. Traditional model of this game, but who I still want to visit it to have fun.

“We will gradually evolve into this ecosystem where if you want to play Fortnite, you play Fortnite; If you want to drive a car, play Rocket Racing. If you want to play Lego, play music or create your own games, you can do it all without delay – you buy a figure here or there, you create music, you can transpose it elsewhere, you can even play music from artists like… compose The weeknd. »

Toronto artist The Weeknd was also involved in the launch of the Fortnite Festival, just as American rapper Eminem attended the big bang that took place a week earlier. “We can do things that no one has done before,” explains Alain Tascan. Having been in the industry for a while, I have this pioneering mindset where we try new things. »

Fortnite was already something more than just a game, as its players could program their own small environments and generate income from them. Epic says it has distributed around $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 OG was a nod to the game’s early days. OG for Original Gangsters, the tough guys. Basically, Fortnite is a battle royale game in which the player whose character is still alive at the end of the game wins. The formula is more complex as you can also construct structures and buildings and use the environment in ways other than hunting other players.

Naturally, early players liked this formula. Not surprisingly, the new world, larger, more detailed and more diverse, caused a wave of discontent among some purists.

“That’s normal,” believes Alain Tascan. He doesn’t take offense. “When you want to take a big step forward, you often look back. That’s 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 day one of our new world’s launch. »

It has to be said that this original Montreal video game gangster has seen others before. He began his career in the Ville Marie Tower, a few blocks south of Epic’s current offices in Montreal, at the same time that the video game industry was emerging in the metropolis, which today employs more than 15,000 people. The distance traveled is a lot longer than McGill College Street actually is…

“Montreal and Quebec have also changed a lot. At the time it was a somewhat crazy dream, but today we are proof that the dream has come true, notes Alain Tascan. Perhaps it allowed the entire technology cluster to relax – universities, companies, engineers – we realized our potential. »

“And today we’re taking care of the biggest game in the world, which has 100 million players. His direction is here and also part of his creation. »

There’s a bit of Montreal in the new Fortnite. But Alain Tascan didn’t go so far as to promise hockey in his next update…

To watch in the video