Top Ubisoft Toronto programmers presenting at the 2021 Game Developers Conference

With a diverse combination of top programmers, artists, designers, and more, the Game Developers Conference (GDC) has brought the game development community together to progress change, advance ideas, and foster problem-solving skills within the industry since 1988.

This year’s online conference means more people around the world can attend. But if you still can’t make it, we’re here to share some insights from the three talks featuring experts from Ubisoft Toronto.

Stay tuned to this page where we’ll update the blog after each talk.

Dive Into The Tech Behind Watch Dogs: Legion

AI Summit: Branching Out: Watch Dogs Legion‘s Architecture for Group AI Behaviours

Christopher Dragert, Ph.D., Lead AI Programmer | Patrick McKenna, AI Programmer

Monday, July 19

Time: 9:40am – 10:40am PT   

McKenna and Dragert hosted a session centred around the architecture and group AI behaviors within Watch Dogs: Legion. This talk presented the aLiVE Group Behaviour System, a highly modular AI architecture used to provide a realistic game experience for players that aspects of the game like multi-character interactions and world tone.

Attendees gained an in-depth understanding of how to construct a high-functioning AI system that seamlessly balances the use of multiple gameplay features to create the best user experience.

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Session Highlights

“Watch Dogs is a game about people”  

Play As Anyone allows players to recruit anyone in the open world.  

Open-world AI behaviours are crucial to the player experience and authenticity of the world. Character interactions need to stand up to player scrutiny 

Synched animations provide the appearance of interactions, they fall apart under scrutiny. 

Group contexts provide opportunities for player interaction ️ A guard that understands he’s detaining the hostage / a hostage that understands what to do when the player distracts the guard.

The Behaviour level drives NPCs to perform specific actions – move here, play this animation, etc.   

Each NPC in a Behaviour has a Behaviour track, connected actions that dictates how the NPC will act, connected acyclically and can only start when all inputs have been fired.

We define how Group Behaviours react to external stimuli with Branches.  

As the strategy executes, it’s typical for the set of active Branches to change as the group context evolves. This is what sets the Group Behaviour System apart from our existing “living city” agents.  

From the data authoring perspective, the Branch definitions and reaction Behaviours are the most tricky-to-get-right aspect of the Group Behaviour System. #UbiGDC


AI Summit: Missions Played As Anyone in Watch Dogs: Legion

AI Summit: Missions Played As Anyone in Watch Dogs: Legion

Jurie Horneman, Lead R&D Programmer 

Date: Tuesday, July 20

Time: 10:50am – 11:20am PT

Jurie Horneman led a session centred around crafting missions within Watch Dogs: Legion, and the technology used to create the game’s Play As Anyone feature, which allows players to recruit and control those players in the future-London setting.

Watch Dogs: Legion has a variety of missions built to feature characters carefully generated through a unique procedural system to support the narrative.

Attendees learned from Horneman’s first-hand knowledge of how to approach mission technology in a way that works well with procedural generation and social simulation.

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Census: The Systemic Backbone Behind Play As Anyone in Watch Dogs: Legion

Christopher Dragert, Ph.D., Lead AI Programmer  

Date: Thursday, July 22

Time: 2:30pm – 3:30pm PT

Dragert’s solo session will focus on Census, Watch Dogs: Legion’s systematic backbone. This procedural system is an essential part of both a character’s life within the game and how they’re integrated into the gameplay world. Census generates the high-functioning social profiles that make Watch Dogs: Legion characters feel alive in the game.

This session is expected to teach attendees about creating a procedural system for a AAA game and will cover the challenges and solutions Dragert’s team faced throughout production.

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Learn From Top Programmers

Ubisoft Toronto is thrilled to have some of our top talent representing the studio at GDC among so many other amazing speakers. Dive into the virtual event to learn more about the awesome features of Watch Dogs: Legion!

Visit to learn more about GDC 2021.