With Assassin’s Creed III, Ubisoft Montreal hopes to remind players that parkour isn’t a strictly urban activity.
This interesting observation was made by creative director Alex Hutchison and senior producer Francois Pelland while speaking to 1UP.
“Everyone says, oh, Assassin’s Creed is about climbing buildings. What we believe is that Assassin’s Creed is about climbing. You know what I mean? It doesn’t have to be about buildings at all,” the pair said.
“It’s about the act of climbing, about parkour, and all that sort of stuff.”
Ubisoft Montreal believes changing the environment from urban to wilderness helps resolve some of the fatigue of ‘just another building’; even the cities in Assassin’s Creed III are different, with more sloped, snow-friendly roofs as opposed to previous games’ flat, Mediterranean architecture. This new look also gave the engineering team a welcome challenge.
“Slopes are everywhere, in both the frontier and on the roofs, big slopes are everywhere. There’s a reason why 99% of games only do flat surfaces,” the developer said.
“Organic terrain actually having shapes that don’t look gridded and unusual shapes were all big challenges. Usually games are based on metrics. You say, the jump distance is one meter, whatever the metric is. But if you’re going to put it in an organic environment, you need to base it on ranges. In other words, a jump can be point-eight meters to one-point-two meters. So once you start dealing with ranges, you can get dynamic shapes. It’s a big engineering challenge and an animation challenge.”
Of course, players are going to need to learn a whole new set of navigational rules. Ubisoft Montreal commented that forests are normally obstacles to players, but playtesters had caught on quickly to seeing them as paths.
“It’s important that what you see as climbable, and that you feel like is climbable, it is climbable. You don’t have those orange glowing trees,” the developer added.
“But naturally you look at things and say, alright, I can climb on that thing. I see that rock, I’m going to climb on that. That feeling for the player of being in front and looking around and just looking at all the trees, I can climb this, I can climb that, I can climb that. That kind of puzzle element that you would do anyway, like if you had been in the forest, that’s the kind of thing we’re doing.”
Assassin’s Creed III is expected on PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in October.