Thursday, February 6th, 2014 Posted by Jim Thacker

Ex-Ubisoft devs intend to recreate entire world in 3D

Two former Ubisoft staff have launched Pixyul: a new start-up with the ambitious aim of mapping the entire planet with aerial drones, then recreating it in 3D in a videogame.

Mapping the earth with drones, one kilometre at a time
The company, founded by former Ubisoft development directors Julien Cuny and Louis-Pierre Pharand, has partnered drone manufacturer senseFly to create a virtual Earth for its debut title, online action RPG ReROLL.

According to the ReROLL launch video: “We will scan all the different environments, whether they are urban or rural. Our goal is to drone-source and map the entire planet, one square kilometre at a time.”

And as if that was’t enough, the game’s ‘RealitySync’ system will feed real-time environment data into the game, meaning that the weather in the virtual world will match that in the real one.

Nice idea, but will it work?
ReROLL is still in the very early stages: according to the founders’ LinkedIn profiles, Pixyul itself is only four months old, and details of the actual gameplay are pretty sketchy in the press release.

Which begs the question: how close will the final game get to the developers’ initial vision?

Recreating 3D environments from aerial photographs is certainly technically possible: just this week, Planetside software announced the option to use georeferenced satellite imagery in Terragen 3.1.

But is photographing the entire world at a reasonable resolution logistically feasible? It’s something even Google still struggles with, and Google Earth has a 12-year head start.

Releasing the game in stages, one brick at a time
So it isn’t entirely surprising that ReROLL won’t let you play in quite the entire world – at least at launch.

According to Pixyul: “The production is broken down into playable bricks. This way the game will be constantly growing and always releasing new features and real world regions.”

So whether you’ll ever get to play in, say, Antarctica is a moot point, but for now, ReROLL certainly has an attention-grabbing premise.

If you want to support its development, Pixyul has launched a ‘gamer angel’ program (they don’t like the word ‘crowd’ in ‘crowdfunding’, apparently). You can find details of it on the ReRoll website.

Read more about ReROLL on the game’s website