Video Game Designing Career
Ancel's first title, Mechanic Warriors, was developed for software house Lankhor. Ancel then joined Ubisoft as a graphic artist at the age of 17, where he worked on the graphics of games such as The Intruder and The Teller. In 1992, he began to work on Rayman, his directorial debut. It was originally released in 1995 for the Atari Jaguar, and in 1996 for PlayStation and Sega Saturn.
Ancel was also heavily involved in the development of Rayman 2: The Great Escape, but had only an advisory role on Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc. Although he praised its development team, he claims 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 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 mini games 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 a recent interview by Nintendo Power, Ancel confirms that he is working on a new project that means a lot to him. He also talks about Jade from Beyond Good & Evil and says "I really hope that Jade will continue to keep her values and her personality". Ubisoft's CEO Yves Guillemot has confirmed that Michel Ancel is currently working on several unannounced projects, as of March 2008.
In a recent interview with French video game magazine JVM (for Jeux Video 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.