On April 15, the Notre-Dame de Paris Cathedral was devastated by a fire that brought down its iconic spire. French President Emmanuelle Marcon has vowed that the country will come together to rebuild the historic 850-year-old building. In the wake of the tragedy, individuals and organizations across the world have donated more than $1 billion to the restoration effort.

French games development studio Ubisoft has responded to the Notre Dame fire in two ways. One, the company has donated €500,000 to the rebuilding effort. More significantly, the corporation has also offered up the knowledge and experience it has with the historical structure.

In 2014, Ubisoft released “Assassin’s Creed Unity,” the eighth installment of its popular action-adventure video game series. Set in Paris during the French Revolution, the title features the Notre-Dame Cathedral prominently. Notably, “Unity’s” iteration of the renowned basilica is incredibly faithful to the actual building. Consequently, the firm’s design assets might be useful to real-world builders tasked with restoring the legendary Cathedral.


Two Years of Research

Fans and critics have praised the “Assassin’s Creed” for the accuracy of its historical recreations. But for “Unity,” Ubisoft took special care to accurately render notable 18th-century Parisian architecture.

Caroline Miousse, one of the game’s lead artists spent a full two years modeling Notre-Dame. Miousse poured over photographs of the Cathedral to accurately depict its dimensions. She also took pains to ensure the company’s texture artists accurately re-created the basilica’s ancient limestone bricks. As a result of all that hard work, “Unity’s” Norte-Dame is a breathtaking, fully accessible 90 percent scale model of the real building.

The company now hopes its extensive documentation and 3D renderings of a pre-fire Notre-Dame might one day serve as a resource in its reconstruction.

A Humble Tribute

Ubisoft noted in a press release its version of the world-renowned Cathedral was not 100 percent accurate. “It is important to keep in mind that what we did for the game was not a scientific reconstruction but rather an artistic vision.”

The studio nevertheless pledged to help with the basilica’s repair in any way that it could.

The company is honoring the Parisian landmark by allowing gamers to check out their recreation of it for free. On April 17, the company announced that it be made the PC version of “Assassin’s Creed Unity” free to download until April 25. Ubisoft explained that it made the game available to show the world what makes the Parisian landmark so special.

“We hope, with this small gesture, we can provide everyone an opportunity to appreciate our virtual homage to this monumental piece of architecture.”

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