'The Division' Creative Director On Delays, Easter Eggs, And Why New York City Is The Best


The Division has had an incredibly long development cycle. Formally announced back in 2013, The Division has been in development since 2012 and releases March 8. The long development cycle can be attributed to the fact that the project is such a new one for developer Ubisoft Massive.

iDigitalTimes sat down with Magnus Jansen, the Creative Director on The Division to discuss the development cycle and how building an IP from scratch means an awful lot of work.

“It takes a long time to do anything new,” Jansen said. “For this project we have many things that are new. We have a completely new engine, a completely new universe with the story and everything. We’ve got a completely new system set up with the DarkZone and normal campaign.”

All of these things added up, and Jansen explained that Massive was well aware of the challenge as development progressed. “Normally even one of those things would take years to develop so we stacked a little bit against us,” said Jansen. “It took quite a bit of time to finish it all because it was so much unproven territory. Normally when you make a game, most of the things you’ve done before or you can stand on the shoulders of giants. Here there was a tremendous amount of iteration because there was new things that hadn't been tried before.”

The Division was delayed a few times, and the current release date is its third. This isn’t due to any feature changes or relaunches, it’s simply because Ubisoft didn’t know how long it would actually take to make everything work. “We had the release date delayed a bit from when it was first announced, but it’s not because we cut things or added things,” Jansen said. “It was more because it was so hard to anticipate and plan when it would actually be done. We found ‘oh this wouldn’t work’ or we would have to add a new feature to make it work.”

One of the new features Ubisoft has spent so much time on is the player-versus-player area called The DarkZone. This isn’t a separate mode, it’s nestled right in the middle of The Division’s map. Entering into PvP mode is as seamless as opening a door. Not only does gameplay change in The DarkZone, the story does as well.

“Not to spoil it too much, but there is actually a division in The Division,” Jansen mentioned. This twist allows a game that should be a co-op game become a head-to-head game.

“Not all Division agents are playing fair in this world. To have people going rogue in the story, it’s not a new concept in storytelling,” he said, “but to mirror that for a player, to feel that corruption in his or her heart to be tempted by greed. It creates a ludonarrative resonance that really makes The DarkZone pop.”

When asked about choosing New York City as a setting for The Division, Jansen said it was because New York is such a milestone of human achievement.

“Where’s a better place to see society fall than sort of the pinnacle of society?” Jansen said. “It’s not a coincidence that whenever aliens attack or meteors strike down in movies, New York is often used to showcase how far we can fall. It’s really like the pinnacle of society, it’s the city that never sleeps, it’s got all the arts. When you want to see civilization at its finest, and want to show how far you fall, you use New York. It’s the perfect canvas to show the difference you make as a Division agent.”

Using this massive city, Jansen and his team have made sure to hide all sorts of Easter eggs and references to other Tom Clancy games and everything else. “We definitely have lots of Easter eggs and references to all kinds of things and our own sister and brother universes are not exempt from this,” Jansen said. “Gamers and fans will definitely find references to other Tom Clancy games. I haven’t found all of them myself, but I have no doubt the combined efforts of the community will find all of them.”

The Division will be released on PS4, Xbox One, and PC on March 8.

So what do you think? Are you excited to finally see The Division getting a release after all these years? Did you try out the beta or read our hands-on impressions? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

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