It's always interesting to hear what developers have to say about their games once the hype machine has rolled out of town and they feel they can speak a little more candidly. During a recent visit to Ubisoft Montreal to see Assassin's Creed Brotherhood, Patrick Plourde and Vincent Pontbriand, two members of the AC development team, both spoke without a hint of PR bullshit about the original Assassin's Creed.
Above: The original Assassin's Creed. There was lots of this
On the subject of Assassin's Creed being a 'big' franchise, Plourde (who is game director on Brotherhood and worked as game designer on the original AC) said:
"Ever since Assassin's Creed got revealed, the hype went through the roof. So we've always had to deal with that. With the first game we knew it had some weaknesses, but at the same time we didn't want to go out in public and say 'don't expect the earth'. So that was challenging."
Plourde also discussed some of the shortcomings that resulted from creating such a hugely ambitious game as the original Assassins Creed:
"We wanted to push the envelope in all areas - we didn't want regular cut-scenes, we wanted to climb every wall, have two alternate realities... maybe that was a lot of stuff to get right the first time. So we succeeded with the core, but there wasn't enough variety, the missions had problems, the exposition wasn't the best..."
He admitted that he thought the first game was too heavy and serious for its own good:
"We went too epic with AC1 - it was traditional 'save the world' style. The mistake we realised and corrected in AC2 was that even with epic movies there needs to be an element of stress relief, comedy relief. It's not necessarily normal that people are as formal as they were in AC1... I think the pressure on the team during Assassin's 1 made everybody a little stiff. The atmosphere in which games are designed, it's reflected in the product."
Above: Too epic? Too stiff? Too epically stiff?
Vincent Pontbriand, producer of Assassin's Creed Brotherhood, also spoke about the first Assassin's Creed when asked where he thought the game figured in the 'games as art' debate:
"We wanted to do something way more serious with AC1 than what the project ended up being. Ultimately the more mainstream a game is, the more it sells. With Assassin's Creed the more buzz we got, the more mainstream interest in the game ramped up. So we ended up dumbing it down a bit to make it more accessible."
And was that 'dumbing down' an order that came from higher up the chain of command?
"It's both. We realised it ourselves on the dev team, but higher up Ubi's philosophy is definitely to have accessible, finishable games."
And there we are - some honest, straightforward talking about the original Assassin's Creed from the developers at Ubisoft Montreal themselves. We'll be posting the complete interview with Patrick Plourde and Vincent Pontbriand later in the week.
October 18, 2010