A fire on Monday devastated the iconic Notre-Dame Cathedral and at first it seemed as if Paris would lose one of its most iconic structures.
But while Notre Dame has avoided complete disaster it has certainly not escaped unscathed, with years’ worth of restoration now laying ahead of it, as well as the loss of important historic artefacts. The structure, including its two main towers, remains intact, but its spire collapsed before firefighters could contain the blaze. French President Emmanuel Macron has vowed to rebuild the famous cathedral, tweeting in French: "We will rebuild it. All together."
Cette cathédrale Notre-Dame, nous la rebâtirons. Tous ensemble. C’est une part de notre destin français. Je m’y engage : dès demain une souscription nationale sera lancée, et bien au-delà de nos frontières.— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) April 15, 2019
One potential source of help in those efforts is the 2014 video game "Assassin's Creed Unity," which is set in Paris.
One of the most difficult problems is trying to recreate the cathedral exactly as it was, and while there’s obviously no shortage of photos what would be more useful is 3D models – such as the kind created for 2014 game Assassin’s Creed Unity. Set in Paris during the 18th century, Unity features an extremely accurate portrayal of the city and, in particular, the cathedral of Notre Dame.
As detailed in a 2014 feature published in The Verge, Caroline Miousse, a Ubisoft level artist, spent two years poring over details of the cathedral to create as accurate a depiction as possible in the game.
Assassin’s Creed Unity is free for Windows PC on the Ubisoft Store for the next week and Ubisoft also announced a €500,000 donation to aid the restoration and reconstruction of Notre-Dame. “In addition, we want to give everyone the chance to experience the majesty and beauty of Notre-Dame the best way we know how,” Ubisoft said in announcing the free game.
“Video games can enable us to explore places in ways we never could have otherwise imagined,” the company said. “We hope, with this small gesture, we can provide everyone an opportunity to appreciate our virtual homage to this monumental piece of architecture.”
The "Assassin's Creed" series is known for its lovingly detailed re-creations of historic places, and the Notre-Dame Cathedral in "Unity" is no exception.