Notre Dame could be rebuilt with the help of Assassins Creed: Unity
By now, you may have heard the news that, in a tragic turn of events, the Notre Dame cathedral was set ablaze, with the historical Paris monument taking great damage from the rapidly-spreading flames.
The fire has now been successfully extinguished, but not before the 800-year-old building sustained serious damage. The structure and the two towers of the cathedral were still intact following the fire, but unfortunately the roof and spire have collapsed.
"We'll rebuild this cathedral all together and it's undoubtedly part of the French destiny and the project we'll have for the coming years," French President Emmanuel Macron said today, calling the incident "a terrible tragedy".
Here's the heartbreaking moment that the Notre Dame spire collapsed:
However, there are already efforts underway to restore the cathedral to its former glory - or at least as close as we can get to it. Macron has announced that an international fundraising scheme is in the works, and there is already €10 million in emergency aid to help start the work.
There is the possibility that the secret to this restoration comes from an unlikely source - the 2014 video game, Assassin's Creed: Unity.
This game is set in Paris, 1789, and featured elaborate recreations of the city from that time period, including the Notre Dame. The digital version of the cathedral was painstakingly put together by the team at Ubisoft - and their detailed 3-D maps could become vital to the real-life restoration, according to a report from GPS World.
In an interview with The Verge from October 2014, art director Caroline Miousse spent "literally years fussing over the details" of Notre Dame during the game's development.
Looking over documents and old photos, she tried to get everything right, from the paintings that would have been featured inside at the time to the texture of each brick.
"I made some other stuff in the game," she said, "but 80 per cent of my time was spent on the Notre Dame."
Here's the perspective from inside the cathedral during the fire:
The game itself was extremely detailed, with over 10,000 non-playable characters featured on screen at a time. "It's a better Paris than the actual Paris for gameplay," world level design director Nicolas Guerin told The Verge at the time. "We have to build a game playground first, and on top of that make a cool city that's visually striking and historically accurate as well."
Miousse reportedly spoke to numerous historians during production, to help her figure out the details of the architecture.
In addition to this, laser scans were reportedly taken by art historian Andrew Tallon to create an accurate model of the cathedral the following year, which could also serve to help the restoration remain as faithful as possible.