While “Watch Dogs” attempts to create a video game version of Chicago, it’s not quite as large and sprawling as other titles in the open-world action-adventure genre. Creative Director Jonathan Morin explained in an interview with Examiner that Ubisoft is going for density over pure world size.
“It’s definitely an original statement,” Morin responded when asked if density was the theme due to Chicago or the development team’s own ambitions. “It’s always been what we thought defined a well-executed simulation of a city in real-life, it’s dense, which makes it a pain to build. If you cut a corner to make it easier to build, suddenly you look at it and think, ‘it’s not quite right, it feels wrong.’
"In terms of gameplay, we wanted to avoid tendency that open-world games have, of having an unjustified battle for scale,” he continued. “I think scale is something you put into your game and the size of the city has a purpose to support an idea. It costs money to do that, the more you build, the more you make it big, the more it costs. But if the result of that is going from A to B and having space in between, and that’s it, then it doesn’t really serve a purpose.”
In other words, don’t expect long walks or drives before you can get to the next thing to do in “Watch Dogs.”
“What we wanted was to make sure the density information was valid. You could open-up your profiler, find some stuff around you, you’d always have something to do around the corner. There’s a lot of real things everywhere in the city. We wanted to fuel that density properly, and at the same time it gave us a very different direction for the game,” Morin said, continuing the focus on density.
“The city is quite massive and big, but it hasn’t been built with this idea that it has become the biggest one. It’s been built with this idea to be maybe the deepest one, and the one that has more every square block, and at the same time feel like there is more dynamism to it.”