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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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    A security flaw discovered in Minecraft’s code that could give perpetrators the ability to crash servers remotely has been fixed via a patch by Mojang. Update: Mojang has released an update to Minecraft patch 1.8, listed as version 1.8.4, and it is available now. It fixes reported security issues, in addition to some other minor […]

  • Official Bloodborne merchandise now available, including a limited edition statue

    The PlayStation gear store has added a new section dedicated to Bloodborne merchandise. The first set of items is as good as you’d expect. If you’re a fan of Bloodborne and want to make sure everyone around you knows it, you’ll be happy to know that Sony has added a few pieces of Bloodborne-branded gear […]

  • Destiny Xur update: should you buy The Last Word?

    Xur is selling one of Destiny’s top hand cannons today: The Last Word. Is it worth grinding the coins for? The answer is a resounding YES. The Last Word is one of Destiny’s best Exotics, and one of the best Hand Cannons in the game. Our Destiny expert Alex notes that it’s one of the […]

  • Destiny: Xur location and inventory for April 17, 18 – The Last Word edition

    What did our good buddy Xur bring for us this week? Xur: Agent of the Nine, Destiny’s weekend vendor is back with more Exotic offers. Xur is your guy if you’re after Exotic weapons or armour, provided you have the Strange Coins for them. Head over to the lounge in the Tower Hangar, you’ll find […]

  • The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt discounted for Gold members, pre-load now live

    The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt files are now live on the Xbox Store. Xbox One owners with The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt pre-orders can start downloading the full game to be ready for launch. The file size was confirmed earlier to be just over 25GB. Those who have yet to pre-order can do so at […]

  • GTA 5 files accessed by modders, reveal horses, zombies, more

    Modders have managed to pry GTA 5′s file lock open and expose many of its interesting innards. GTA community modders have gained access to several of GTA 5′s archives on PC. These files were previously believed to be inaccessible. Popular modding tool OpenIV, which was used in editing files in GTA 4 (hence the name), […]

  • Bethesda’s E3 invite features Dishonored, Doom, Wolfenstein… but no Fallout

    Bethesda is going first at E3 this year with a showcase of games on Sunday night. What clues can we see in the press invite? Skyrim publisher Bethesda has sent out confirmation of its E3 showcase, taking place Sunday June 14. The invite includes a number of Bethesda game characters including Wolfenstein’s BJ Blazcowicz, a […]

  • Here’s Crytek’s VR demo, because dinosaurs

    Dinosaurs! This is precisely what virtual reality is for. VR demos are all over the place and CryEngine developer Crytek has produced one of its own, showing off how the engine is flexible enough t- Look, let me level with you: I don’t care. I only care about dinosaurs. Hush now and watch the dinosaurs. […]

  • StreetPass update adds birthday collecting, VIP Miis and more

    StreetPass collecters should take advantage of an optional update. It’s International StreetPass Week, so now’s the time to break out the 3DS and go hunting. Don’t leave your home network without first checking out a new optional update, though. Kotaku reports the update prompt is available from the leftmost icon in your StreetPass Mii Plaza. […]

  • Massive Uplay sale offers cheap games in time for the weekend

    PC gamers can grab a sweet saving or two in Uplay’s Spring Sale. Assassin’s Creed: Unity, Far Cry 4, South Park: The Stick of Truth, Dragon Age: Inquisition and Alien: Isolation are all on sale as part of Uplay’s Spring Sale, among many other titles. The sale offers discounts of up to 85% off digital […]

  • Fix for GTA 5 PC Windows install bug releasing today

    Rockstar is set to release a patch today that will fix a bug preventing players from installing the game. The bug is tied to Windows usernames that use certain characters not supported by Rockstar. There’s already a workaround available on the Rockstar Support site, but those waiting for an official update will be able to […]

  • Prey 2 dev’s new mobile horror Lost Within out now on iOS and Fire

    Remember Lost Within, that mobile survival horror erstwhile Prey 2 developer Human Head Studios was making with Amazon Game Studios? It’s now available on iOS and for Amazon’s Fire devices, through the appropriate App Stores. There’s a little bit of extra info on it on the AGS blog, if you’re keen; unfortunately the blog doesn’t […]

  • Let’s take a look at Blood Bowl 2′s Chaos faction

    Blood Bowl 2: The Chaos Theory is only the latest in a much loved series of games based on a game based on two other games. Blood Bowl is a popular Games Workshop tabletop game which blends the fantasy universe of Warhammer with a fantasy sport drawing inspiration from American football and related games. It’s […]

  • “Second-person” shooter Screencheat coming to PS4 and Xbox One

    Goldeneye players should be familiar with the concept of screencheating, which is what this new indie is all about. Screencheat has been on our radars for a while but has now been confirmed for PS4, sparking a new wave of interest with a trailer and PS Blog post. However, it was one of a number […]

  • World of Warcraft Timewalking will make old dungeons fun again

    World of Warcraft will soon introduce a feature called Timewalking, designed to make you feel young again. When WoW players participate in a Timewalking event, they’ll be transported to a randomly selected classic dungeon. Upon entering, their level and gear will be scaled way, way down to the Dungeon’s Heroic level – so they won’t […]

  • Bloodborne and Dark Souls messaging – in real life

    Soapstone is a cool little app that mimics the messaging system found in Bloodborne, Dark Souls and Demon’s Souls. Bloodborne and Dark Souls fans will surely agree that the asynchronous multiplayer side of things, with players leaving anonymous tips, encouragement and jokes for each other, is one of the cooler aspects of the From Software […]

  • Mass Effect fans, get a load of this My Talking Elcor plushie

    I have been waiting to write about this all day because oh my god. Mass Effect attracted a devoted fanbase and Bioware has found tons of clever ways to satisfy that fanbase’s desire for clothes, collectibles, books, comics and toys related to the future world of Commander Shepard and company. The company has been so […]

  • Homeworld Remastered Collection headed to retail

    Homeworld fans can purchase a neat little package of gloriously remastered nostalgia soon. The Homeworld Remastered Collection has been available online since the end of February, but is now on its way to retail thanks to a deal between new rights holder Gearbox and Ubisoft. The PC exclusive will launch in physical form from May […]

  • The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt download size lower than predicted

    The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt has a hefty install footprint, but it’s not as bad as we expected. The Witcher 3 was expected to be a 50GB download after a note to this effect was added to the PlayStation Store. It looks like that might have been a placeholder figure, as DualShockers noted today that […]

  • Bloodborne, beaten with a Guitar Hero controller

    Come on now, you didn’t expect anything less from the Souls community, did you? Bloodborne has been vanquished with a Guitar Hero controller, just a few weeks after its release. Kotaku reports Bearzly took nine hours to finish the game, which is probably less than many players using a Dual Shock. You can watch a […]

  • Vendors? New social space? Your House of Wolves questions will be answered

    Destiny players learned more about House of Wolves in this week’s Bungie update than you might realise at first glance. Resident Destiny expert Arekkz cast his eagle eye over this week’s Bungie Weekly Update, which announced next week’s Reef tour livestream. I personally am most excited to learn about gear upgrade paths, but Arekkz points […]

  • GTA 5 playable with Virtuix Omni VR treadmill

    You’ve seen GTA 5 with Oculus Rift, Now see GTA 5 with the Virtuix Omni. GTA 5 PC has unlocked a number of exciting possibilities. Modders and hackers are still working on making the game’s files accessible to third-party creation tools, but several cool things have been produced even with this barrier still in place. […]

  • Mortal Kombat X: play as Rain and other locked characters on PC

    Mortal Kombat X players comfortable with tinkering with the game’s files can unlock unplayable characters. Mortal Kombat X includes a number of familiar fighters available only as opponents, not playable characters. if you’re super keen to try out Rain, Baraka and co, you can – with a bit of fiddling. Redditor XVermillion figured out that […]

  • Madden 16 release date set for August, of course

    Madden NFL 16 has a deeply unsurprising release date. Madden’s release date always falls at the end of US summer, and Madden 16 is no exception. EA Sports has announced that the NFL sim will release on PlayStation 3, PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One on August 26. We have absolutely no further information at […]

  • Star Wars Battlefront won’t have Battlelog support

    Star Wars Battlefront is not just Battlefield in a Hallowe’en costume, so don’t expect the same suite of features. Star Wars Battlefront is the subject of intense anticipation and curiosity, so it’s not surprising a bunch of rumours have turned up. One of these rumours suggests that Battlefront will have its own version of Battlelog, […]

  • Battlefield Hardline beats Bloodborne to top March NPD chart

    PS4 had a good month but it was EA’s multi-platform Battlefield Hardline that was the best-selling game. March 2015 NPD at a glance Total spend down 6% YoY. Hardware and software both down. Console hardware blamed for significant hardware dip. Accessories up. Battlefield Hardline tops software chart. PS4 outsells other consoles. Wii U, 3DS and […]

  • Destiny: House of Wolves gear upgrade paths will be revealed next week

    Destiny developer Bungie will reveal new equipment upgrade paths during a livestream next week. Destiny: House of Wolves will release on May 19, the developer announced last week, promising a full schedule of reveals over the next few weeks. It also gave a broad outline of some of the things it will be discussing in […]

  • Don’t forget: the Elder Scrolls Online Welcome Back Weekend kicks off tomorrow

    Just a quick heads up to remind you that The Elder Scrolls Online Welcome Back Weekend kicks off tomorrow, April 17 at 10am EDT. The free weekend is an incentive to bring back beta players which tried the game, but decided not to pursue a purchase. You can play the MMO until 10am EDT on […]

  • Tale of Tales announces May release for Kickstarter success Sunset

    Those attending Kill Screen’s Two5six Festival next month will be able to play Tale of Tales upcoming title Sunset before it’s released. Along with the news provided to us by BeefJack, Tale of Tales have also released new set of lovely screenshots which we have posted below. Sunset will be released on Linux, Mac and […]