Michel Ancel was born in Monaco on the 29th of March, 1972. Ancel is currently married to Alexandra Ancel née Steible, with whom he has two children. He is the stepfather of Alexandra's four older children, and has two more children of his own from a previous relationship. His eldest child, Claire, was born when he was sixteen years old. Alexandra worked with Ancel on the first two Rayman games, as well as Beyond Good & Evil and King Kong.
Video game developing career
Ancel met the game author Nicolas Choukroun in Montpellier at the age of 17. He worked as a graphics artist on several of Choukroun's games, such as The Intruder and Pick'n Pile. Ancel's first demo, Mechanic Warriors, was developed for software house Lankhor. In 1988, Ancel created a computer animation illustrating the effect of CFCs on the ozone layer as part of a competition in a professional journal. The animation, which depicted the Earth being transformed into a vast desert, did not win the competition; however, it attracted the attention of Ubi Soft, who hired him as a graphics artist.
Ancel's first game as both programmer and graphic artist, The Brain Blasters (also known as The Teller) was published by Ubi Soft in 1990. In 1992, he began to work on Rayman 1, his directorial debut. It was originally released in 1995 for the Atari Jaguar and PC, and in 1996 for PlayStation and Sega Saturn.
Ancel was also heavily involved in the development of Rayman 2: The Great Escape in 1999, but had only an advisory role on Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc. Although he praised its development team, he says that the game is "a bit too concrete for my tastes", and that he "would have made the game differently".
In 2003, he created Beyond Good & Evil, which garnered critical acclaim and a cult following, but was a commercial failure. However, film director Peter Jackson's admiration of the game — and his frustration with EA's handling of the The Lord of the Rings license — led to Ancel being given direction of the King Kong video game adaptation. In spite of Ubisoft's reluctance to produce a Beyond Good & Evil sequel, Ancel has expressed a clear wish to produce one in the future.
On April 5, 2006, Ubisoft announced Ancel was leading the development of the fourth game in the Rayman series, Rayman Raving Rabbids, for the Nintendo Wii. The game began production in early 2005 and was released on November 15, 2006 for the launch of the Wii. However, Ancel was notably absent from the project after its E3 announcement, and he has made no public appearances regarding the game after the development team switched focus from a free-roaming platformer to the final minigames format shortly after E3. In the final game, Ancel was only credited with storyboarding and character design, while design credits were shared between multiple other people.
In an interview with Nintendo Power, Ancel confirmed that he was working on a new project which meant a lot to him. He also talked about Jade from Beyond Good & Evil and said that "I really hope that Jade will continue to keep her values and her personality". Ubisoft's CEO, Yves Guillemot, confirmed that Michel Ancel was currently working on several unannounced projects, as of March 2008.
In a 2008 interview with French video game magazine JVM (for Jeux Vidéo Magazine), Ancel stated that a sequel to Beyond Good & Evil has been in pre-production by a small team for about a year, but they still await Ubisoft's approval before moving into full production.
On December 18, 2008, at the VGL event in Paris, Ancel stated that the game has been under development for a year and a half and that the development team have received total freedom from Ubisoft, giving them the opportunity to make the game how they want.
On August 2009, shortly after GamesCom, Ubisoft officially put Beyond Good & Evil 2 on hold, with the future of the game uncertain.
In January 2010, Geoffrey Sardin, CEO of Ubisoft France, confirmed that Beyond Good & Evil 2 was still in production.
- Pick 'n Pile (1990) – Story
- Rayman (1995) – Concept & Design
- The Adventures of Valdo & Marie (1997) – Special credits for game design
- Tonic Trouble (1999) – Concept
- Rayman 2: The Great Escape (1999) – Concept, Art Design & Story
- Rayman M/Arena (2001) – Concept
- Rayman Rush (2002) – Concept
- Beyond Good & Evil (2003) – Director, Design & Story
- Peter Jackson's King Kong: The Official Game of the Movie (2005) – Designer
- Rayman Raving Rabbids (2006) – Character Design
- Rayman Raving Rabbids 2 (2007) – Character Design
- Rayman Raving Rabbids TV Party (2008) – Character Design
- Rabbids Go Home (2009) – Character Design
- Beyond Good & Evil 2 (TBA) – Designer
- The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn (TBA) – Designer