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Assassin’s Creed 3 interview: Ubi aims bigger, better

Monday, 6 August 2012 08:09 GMT By Dave Cook

Assassin’s Creed 3 is just a few short months away. Creative director Alex Hutchinson and multiplayer director Damien Kieken answer our questions about Desmond, new modes and more.

Alex Hutchinson

Creative director on Assassin’s Creed 3 at Ubisoft Montreal. Don’t get your hearing tested; he really is an Australian.

VG247: Desmond’s segments have felt like the weakest link in the Assassin’s Creed saga. To what extent has his portion been problematic for ubisoft Montreal, and how have you used player feedback to improve his tale in Assassin’s Creed 3? Is this his last adventure?

Alexander Hutchinson, creative director: Desmond is getting more screen time than ever before! But any more info would be a spoiler.

It’s clear that Ubisoft Montreal has made real efforts to diversify missions in its sandbox environments. How have you approached missions in Assassin’s Creed 3 to ensure they aren’t just “go here, kill this guy” or “go here and grab this item” quests?

Hutchinson: This is by far the biggest Assassin’s Creed game yet, and we have several full systems we haven’t yet announced. Between the two new cities in Boston and New York, the Frontier as a map that’s 1.5 times the size of Rome in Brotherhood, and the modifying effects of weather in all areas, the playable space is vast.

We’ve also added various new mission delivery systems like the Clubs, and allowed players to layer their experience: you can now have more than one active mission at a time, and more than one task on your plate, so people will be more in control of how they play their game.

Add to that the fact that we’re investing more on mission variety and custom mission events than ever before in a story that takes place over 30 years, and you have a vast experience. We can’t wait to get it into people’s hands.

Ubisoft’s disclaimer at the start of each Assassin’s Creed game seems as relevant now as ever, given the increased scrutiny given to the industry by the press. How careful must you be today when tackling historical events like the Revolution today? What do you think this scrutiny says about the industry at large?

We spend a big chunk of the early development of all of our games on historical research, reading books, watching documentaries, searching the internet, trying to find not just the well known history but any conspiracy theories that might be useful. We also have historians on staff and hire consultants for specific roles. On Assassin’s Creed 3 we have a cultural advisor from the local Native American community who helps us with accuracy and language. Then, once we have a base of ‘fact’ we weave our story into it, again checking back both with documents and historians, to make sure our fiction is supportable enough to make it fun and interesting for players.

Assassin’s Creed 3 debuts a new engine.

As far as I know we’ve never bent history significantly in the game. For example: every target in every game is a real person who dies in the right year at the right place, although we take liberty in ‘how’ they died of course. When it’s a completely fictional character, such as Connor, we can invent some things, but even the weapon you mention, which is probably the biggest fantasy element in the whole game, is an actual weapon from history and we explain how it came to America. Although again, in history it’s strong enough to kill a man throwing it forward, but probably not strong enough to hang a man from a branch!

Assassin’s Creed multiplayer has always been an intriguing concept. Is it fair to say that multiplayer so far has been a test bed for what you hope to achieve in Assassin’s Creed 3? Can you give us an insight into the big changes you’ve made?

Damien Kieken, multiplayer game director: Assassin’s Creed 3 takes place before, during and after the American Revolution, mainly in the British colonies Boston, New York and the Frontier. Therefore, one of the key focus for the multiplayer team was to create unique maps based on the revolutionary war setting that are different from past Assassin’s Creed multiplayer maps and fun to discover and play with and against friends! Of course, apart from unique maps, we had to create a wide array of characters that are inspired by this setting and that will resonate with the players!

Another key element we focused on was on developing new game modes based around team play and competition. We revealed one new mode at E3 called Domination which is a team based mode (4 VS 4) where players need to work together to attack/capture and defend various zones on a map to score points. It’s the famous multiplayer mode based on zone capturing with the Assassin’s Creed multiplayer twist. This mode introduces a whole new dynamic in Assassin’s Creed multiplayer.

Wolfpack is a 2-4 players versus AI mode. In this mode every second counts as you need to hunt AI targets. A fast pace experience which rewards flawless navigation and quick reactions before the clock ends.

Team Effort

As with most of its major franchises, Ubisoft has multiple teams working on Assassin’s Creed 3, although a core team at Ubsifot Montreal leads the project. Ubisoft Annecy is responsible for the multiplayer side of things, with help from the Bucharest and Shanghai studios.

Finally, we are always working on refining the overall multiplayer experience. Data tracking and feedback from Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood and Assassin’s Creed Revelations players have helped us in improving our core mechanics as well as working on the overall performance of matchmaking and group system. Now Kill and Stun interactions are merged on the same button (to stop having the game revealing the pursuer and to improve player reactivity), thanks to a third Ability slot, you can play with 3 active abilities at the same time and we have a brand new ‘player focused flow’.

Has there ever been a temptation to create an Assassin’s Creed game set purely in the modern day setting, and showing Desmond as a master assassin? Or would removing the ‘ancestry/period setting’ slant be too much of a gamble?

Hutchinson: I really don’t know what the future holds on the franchise, I’m 100% committed to shipping Assassin’s Creed 3 at the moment.

Assassin’s Creed 3 does a lot, and it’s massive – but what about things you absolutely did not want to keep from previous games? Are there any series elements that you were desperate to ditch this time round, and how has this benefited the experience?

Hutchinson: I think we reached it with this one. The game is huge, both in physical size, play time and in the amount of new gameplay we packed in. We stripped out a lot of mechanics and systems from previous games but I think we are still pushing the maximum possible scope: there is only so much you can juggle in your mind simultaneously, and only so much variety you can add before it starts to feel random and not cohesive. Also, we have a very high completion rate on the franchise, and if you make it too long you start to lose that, which would be a disaster for a game like ours where we really value the consistency and continuity of the universe.

Assassin’s Creed 3 launches on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in late October. A PC release is expected before the end of the year.

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10 Comments

  1. Yoshi

    Is it me or did he not answer any of the questions properly except for maybe the multiplayer one… *facepalm* Seemed to be just typical PR answers.

    #1 3 years ago
  2. Dave Cook

    @1 yep, it happens sometimes :(

    #2 3 years ago
  3. Yoshi

    @2 Should have slapped him :D :P “ANSWER THESE QUESTIONS PROPERLY!” *slap*

    #3 3 years ago
  4. Sadismek

    @1 I had the exact same feeling.

    “Assassin’s Creed 3 does a lot, and it’s massive – but what about things you absolutely did not want to keep from previous games?”

    “I think we reached it with this one. The game is huge, both in physical size, play time and in the amount of new gameplay we packed in.”

    What. the. fuck?

    #4 3 years ago
  5. KAP

    He’s actually really kool, this interview in all honesty is one of his worse though, check out him at comic con panel.. he goes into alot of detail here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z9MQ1Z6QSME (1 hour long)

    Also the last 20mins he goes into Q&A and some really juicy info was mentioned…

    #5 3 years ago
  6. Gheritt White

    Was this an e-mail interview or a phoner? If it was over e-mail, I wouldn’t be surprised if this had been cobbled together by a PR.

    #6 3 years ago
  7. drewbles82

    Makes me kinda feel they should have waited and made this for nextgen, then it could be even bigger. Knowing the way they do games, you’ll have a few extra games in the same era for the next couple of years. Then AC4 in a new era.

    #7 3 years ago
  8. majicship

    “Desmond is getting more screen time than ever before!” This has to be to put us off the scent right? Why would you give even more screen time to such an unpopular character? Or is it just me?

    #8 3 years ago
  9. wlodi

    Alex’s part certainly feels like a PR-piece. Not really going deep into these questions, which is a shame…

    #9 3 years ago
  10. Dave Cook

    @9 yeah this happens at times, sucks :(

    #10 3 years ago

Comments are now closed on this article.

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    Overkill Software released the 21st DLC pack for Payday 2 yesterday, titled The Butcher’s Western Pack. The pack will run you $4.99/€4.99 and other digital distribution channels. “For our 21st DLC we go back in time to visit the Wild West and the arsenal it was known for,” said the developers. “With it we’re introducing […]

  • The Yooka-Laylee Kickstarter just launched and has already met its funding goal

    Playtonic Games launched the Kickstarter campaign for Yooka-Laylee at 5pm UK, and in just over 30 minutes it already hit its $270,000 funding goal. You can watch the funding counter continue to roll over through the link. Yooka-Laylee is a 3D platformer where the characters use special moves such as Yooka’s tongue grapple and Laylee’s […]

  • Batch of hi-res Persona 5 screenshots released by PlayStation Japan

    A set of screenshots have been released for Persona 5, and while you’ve seen these before in magazines and on the official website, these are high-res versions. Some will even look familiar to those who watched the first gameplay trailer back in February. The shots were posted over on the PlayStation Japan Persona 5 game […]

  • Is Alien: Isolation getting HTC Vive support?

    Placeholder images for SteamVR icons have been found and it looks like there may be support for Alien: Isolation, so if you enjoy soiling yourself, get psyched! NeoGAF members found a thread on Reddit, where a little rooting around in a Steam directory unearthed the images. The list includes both games and apps, and as […]

  • Xbox Live multiplayer is free this weekend on Xbox 360

    Xbox 360 players in all Xbox Live regions can play multiplayer online for free this weekend. If you are a Silver member, this means you are Golden from May 1-3 and can play multiple games online with your buddies. All you have to do is log-in to Xbox Live.

  • Assassin’s Creed actor Michael Fassbender confirms film production starts September

    The Assassin’s Creed movie will start production this fall, actor Michael Fassbender (Prometheus, 300, X-Men:First Class) as confirmed. Speaking with ComingSoon.net, Fassbender said filming will start in September, which is inline with Ubisoft’s announcement in February. The actor will star in the film alongside Oscar-winning actress Marion Cotillard, both reuniting with their MacBeth director Justin […]

  • Eve Online boss states VR won’t be as big as we think next year

    I don’t think I’m the only one who wants VR to hurry up and manifest into a Sword Art Online-esque reality. Unfortunately, the chief executive officer at the studio behind Eve Online doesn’t think that will be happening any time soon. Talking to Venture Beat, Hilmar Veigar Pétursson touched on his excitement at the prospects […]

  • The Last of Us: Left Behind goes standalone in May on PS3, PS4

    Naughty Dog has announced that The Last of US DLC Left Behind will be released as a standalone experience next month. It can be purchased for both PlayStation 3 and PS4 through the PS Store and a two-hour demo of the Factions multiplayer will also be made available. “The Left Behind standalone game will have […]

  • EA’s annual E3 press conference takes place on June 15

    Electronic Arts has announced its annual E3 2015 press conference will take place the day before the show kicks off on June 15. EA, Microsoft, Sony and Ubisoft always hold press events the day before E3 officially starts, so this isn’t any surprise, really. The presser, dubbed “Live to Play”, will last one hour and […]

  • Steam exchange rate mix-up closes down community market

    The Steam community market was buggered up big time today after a mix-up with currency conversion had items selling from practically nothing, to millions of dollars. PC Gamer picked up on the news after a thread on Reddit appeared with screenshots depicting just how silly things were getting over there. The currency exchange rate data […]

  • Britney Spears signs five-year deal with Glu for new mobile game

    Pop star Britney Spears has signed a five-year deal with Glu mobile for a new, untitled game. The mobile game will feature her “voice, likeness, and creative influence,” and is due for release sometime next year. Glu also signed a deal with Katy Perry in February, so expect a game revolving around her to hit […]

  • Large Activision publisher sale on Steam discounts Call of Duty, Prototype, more

    Activision has put the majority of its library on sale through Steam this weekend, and if other titles weren’t included, it could be referred to as a Call of Duty sale. Below are a few standouts. Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare – Gold Edition 25% off Call of Duty: Ghosts 67% off Call of Duty: […]

  • The Dota 2 International Compendium is out, second Stretch Goal almost complete

    The International Compendium has been released for Dota 2 with the prize pool sitting at a lovely $1,917,155 as of press time. Valve said over the weekend to expect the International Compendium to drop sometime this week. As with previous years, those who purchase the Compendium can earn rewards by completing challenges, making predictions and by […]

  • If permadeath RTS games are up your alley, check out indie project XO

    The Square Enix Collective showcases projects for a limited time to help drum up community support and potential backers, and RTS title XO from Jumpdrive Studios is worth taking a look at. The teaser trailer is fairly brief, but if you visit the page for XO over at the Square Enix Collective, it’s understandable – […]

  • GTA 5 PC patch disables mods. Here’s how to get them working again

    A new patch for the PC version of GTA 5 was released yesterday and, as it turns out, has wiped the ability to use mods with the game. The wasn’t great news for some players, but YouTuber taltigolt has already figured out how to play the PC version with mods after installing the patch. Matt […]

  • Xbox One ad stealth launches a mysterious Halo 5 competition

    A new Xbox One advert released today isn’t as straightforward as it appears. The trailer has a couple of pretty conspicuous ‘glitches’ throughout, and members of NeoGAF wasted no time in breaking it down. The first item of interest is the screen from the hunt the signal site, which displays an error message when accessed […]

  • Battlefield 4 Jungle map improved with latest update

    DICE LA has updated the Battlefield 4 Jungle map, adding more foliage and a new route. As demonstrated by Westie in the video above, the map now has the kind of foliage you’d expect in the jungle, helping to conceal infantry players. The update also tweaks positions of objective points and has added a concealed […]

  • Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate free DLC pack for May includes Metroid and Mega Man armour

    The May DLC pack for Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate boasts some big ticket items, including Metroid, Street Fighter, and Mega Man gear. This big fat chunk of free DLC, detailed on the capcom unity blog, includes Hunter equipment: Metroid’s Varia Suit Metroid’s Zero Suit Metroid’s Arm Cannon Taiko Drum Master Hunting Horn USJ’s Star Rook […]

  • Destiny: Xur location and inventory for May 1, 2 – Hard Light edition

    Here he comes with his weird face, dealing goods and gear for Guardians. It’s Friday. Xur: Agent of the Nine is back in the Tower. Of Course he is. Got your Strange Coins? Here’s what’s in his bag this week: Ruin Wings [Exotic Titan gauntlets] – 13SC Don’t Touch Me [Exotic Hunter gauntlets] – 13SC […]

  • Dragon Age: Inquisition Jaws of Hakkon DLC drops for PS4 on May 26

    Dragon Age: Inquisition DLC has now been announced for May 26 for PS3, PS4 and Xbox 360. The announcement was made on Twitter via the official Dragon Age account. Mark your calendars! #DAIJawsOfHakkon pic.twitter.com/mU1WfkSrQV — Dragon Age (@dragonage) May 1, 2015 The DLC was released for PC and Xbox One back in March thanks to […]

  • New Witcher 3 screenshots highlight Geralt’s questionable fashion choices

    Even though The Witcher 3 release date is drawing closer, it still feels like a million year away. So here are some more screenshots to tide you over until then. We got to look at in-game shots yesterday, but these new screens show Geralt riding through some gorgeously vibrant mountains, in the midst of combat […]

  • Sims Gurus patch out pregnant men

    Say goodbye to The Sims 4 unique take on fatherhood, as The Sims Gurus confirm that male pregnancies are no more. The Sims 4 players have been reporting high numbers of alien abductions, leaving their male characters with sore bottoms and a bellyful of alien baby. Kotaku reports that not everyone was getting their knickers […]

  • Black Mesa countdown probably points to Half-life remake release date

    Half-life remake Black Mesa may have a release date at last. Black Mesa is a Source Engine remake of the original Half-life, which like everything related to Half-life feels like it’s taking forever to come out. The first part launched in September 2012, and it looks like we might have a release date for the […]

  • Spector puts down rumours of troubled Epic Mickey development

    Epic Mickey seemed like a surprising follow-up project from the man who made Deus Ex, but Warren Spector has put down rumours of a difficult relationship with Disney. Epic Mickey displays several qualities found in Spector’s other games and which he has always espoused in interviews – heck, this is the man whose dream it […]

  • Ubisoft makes good on Child of Light promise with free eBook

    Child of Light fans can check out a gorgeous new illustrated book set in the world of Lumeria. Earlier this month, creator Patrick Plourde confirmed that there were more Child of Light projects on the way. As we expected from the cagey wording, at least the first of these projects isn’t a game: it’s an […]

  • Half-life episode from Junction Point would have featured a magnet gun

    Half-life seems to be on near permanent hold, but at least we can glean some insight into what might once have been. Junction Point’s cancelled Half-life game came up in Warren Spector’s Reddit AMA overnight. Commenting that he isn’t sure whether he’ll get into legal trouble for discussing the project, Spector gave a few comments […]

  • Destiny: exclusive shader, emblem on offer with Nepal benefit shirt

    Destiny developer Bungie has asked Guardians to offer their aid, and they’ve already responded in troves. A new Destiny shirt added to the Bungie Store is the object of a fundraising drive to provide aid in Nepal following a devastating earthquake this week. Bungie popped the pretty stylish shirt on sale earlier today, offering an […]

  • What does the creator of Deus Ex think of Human Revolution and Mankind Divided?

    Deus Ex creator Warren Spector seems pretty positive about the direction the sci-fi series has followed under Square Enix’s hand. Deus Ex was created by Spector and his team at Ion Storm, and remained with Eidos after the developer shuttered. When Square Enix purchased the British publisher, it put new studio Eidos Montreal to work […]

  • Protest Goat secures future for Elite Dangerous destruction derbies

    One of the stranger and more beautiful stories to manifest in the gaming world this week, I think. Elite: Dangerous has given birth to an unintended, emergent style of gameplay; a destruction derby like affair where players gather in no combat areas to both race and gleefully smash into each other until a victor limps […]

  • Destiny’s stunning landscapes captured in panoramas

    Destiny has some beautiful environments, which screenshots don’t necessarily do justice to. Walking around Destiny exclaiming over the lighting effects and the tiny animated details is the best way to experience Bungie’s tremendous achievements, but these panorama images stitched together from in-game screenshots are a good second. Click to see them fullsize. Redditor CenturyEagle made […]