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Why Assassin’s Creed IV might be the biggest game in the world

Each studio working on the series receives a weekly newsletter, showing off the work being done by everyone else. The content depends on what is happening that week. Sometimes it’s a slick video put together by marketing, sometimes it’s a screen-share from a developer, sometimes it’s concept art or text. Either way, it’s a great way to showcase and share ideas to make sure everyone is working towards the same goals.

However, a newsletter isn’t enough. At Ubisoft Montreal, there’s an entire team dedicated to coordinating the studios. “The biggest challenge with Assassin’s Creed development is to make sure the vision and the priorities are the same all over the globe,” explains Ambre Lizurey, Production Manager at Ubisoft Montreal. “When you work in Montreal and you have the creative direction in one place, it’s easy to walk over to a colleague and ask for some details on a specific aspect of the game. However, when you’re 20 hours away and have a huge time difference, like the team in Singapore, getting immediate answers is a real difficulty. That’s why we created a dedicated team in Montreal to make sure that every studio has someone to ask questions to, and get the answers they need.”

With Ubisoft Montreal taking the lead on all Assassin’s Creed games (Montreal was the only developer on the original game), they ultimately have the final word on whether something is included or not. Does it cause conflict when an associate studio wants to include something, but Montreal doesn’t see a place for it (and vice versa)? “This will always happen,” says Guesdon. “It happens in every project, even when people are sharing the same floor. It isn’t a specific issue that happens when you’re working with multiple studios. It requires the same sort of problem solving--a lot of talk, and getting people around the table to sort out differences.”

And has it ever happened? We asked Singapore and Annecy if they’d ever had great ideas cut by Montreal. “We’re always pretty much aligned with Montreal about where we want to go,” says Luhe, speaking for Singapore studio. “It’s never a case of them bringing down a big hammer and saying ‘No, your idea is never going to work’.”

In fact, it often works the other way around. Associate studios will often inspire others to try something new. After seeing the naval warfare sections created by Singapore, the Annecy studio started working out how to integrate it into multiplayer. “It’s the natural reaction--you see it and think ‘Hey, that’d be really cool in multiplayer’,” says Kieken. “However, when we looked deeper into it we came up against many obstacles like how to replicate the physics of the water. The water, for example, is a gameplay tool--it behaves differently, it has physics, you can have rogue waves and things like that. So, it’s something that would need to be replicated perfectly for all players in multiplayer. That throws up all kinds of issues technically and in terms of game design, so it’s one of the things that was studied carefully and dropped.”

Shame, but with the added power of PS4 and Xbox One, this could be a feature we see in the future. Although the next-gen consoles allow all Ubisoft’s studios the chance to be more creative, and to play with all that extra power, it doesn’t change the way they actually build Assassin’s Creed. “Because Assassin’s Creed is on PC, we always develop for more than the current generation consoles can handle,” says Guesdon. “So, this time we’re just more certain that we can push the game even further. In terms of process, it doesn’t change anything. It changes the output, because the content we create is big enough for next-gen--although we do make sure it fits, with some adjustments, on current-gen.”

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13 comments

  • kezins - June 24, 2013 4:49 p.m.

    I'm skipping AC4. I felt like the first two games were awesome and the rest have just been cash ins. If they keep it up with the annual releases, they are going to burn everyone else out on it eventually too.
  • Dave2123 - July 25, 2013 4:25 p.m.

    You should really play AC3; it is better than 2 and especially better than 1. I haven't played Brotherhood or Revelations so can't comment on them, but AC3 is by far the best game I've ever played.
  • larkan - June 24, 2013 4:08 p.m.

    The last good AC game was 2 for me. Revelations and Brotherhood were simply re-hashes of 2 with some minor content added. 3 was unbelievably boring. When I have to spend 3-4 hours playing tutorials before I can get into the meat of a game, I'll move on to something else. I'm not even going to mess with 4, I don't see the point. It's the same games over and over again with more npcs and micro management of things that really don't matter in the end. They should go back to keeping things simpler like they were in the first 2. Not every game is designed to be bigger and badder, it can actually make them worse.
  • Dave2123 - July 25, 2013 4:35 p.m.

    You do realise that you have described every sequel ever created. So, you obviously hate Fallout 3 and Skyrim and almost every game ever made. Also, 1 was terribly boring and repetitive and 2 wasn't much better. 3 was better in every aspect. It introduced loads of new gameplay and the story was fantastic. The free running, the fighting, all the game mechanics were better in3. I really don't get you narrow-minded, ignorant people who are so stuck in "the good old days" and are afraid of change and complain when something is slightly different to your favourite game in a franchise. I bet if you'd played AC3 before 2 you would think 2 is crap. There are no aspects of 2 that are better. The story maybe considered better, but that's it. I, also, assume you prefer PS4 to The One, because you're happy that $ony, just being obsessed with sales, are trying to hinder any advancements in gaming by keeping it the same as it's been for 20 years. Xbox are introducing all the technologies that have been created since this gen and $ony have some of those too, but they won't use them, because they only care about money. That's why they removed the eye because they knew MS had got the better of them so then they could say their console was cheaper. Everything the PS4 has The One also has and it's better, but it also has extras.
  • grannysmith - June 22, 2013 1:54 a.m.

    Oh I do hope this turns out well, they're working so hard. It must be so tiring to go between Canada and Singapore all the time.
  • Cooldudeachyut - June 21, 2013 9:18 p.m.

    Assassin Creed is really a game of its own kind. There is no other game like it, as far as I know.
  • talleyXIV - June 21, 2013 5:19 p.m.

    That might be true... until GTA5 comes out.
  • shawksta - June 21, 2013 10:53 a.m.

    Ah the squid in AC2. Not bad of an article, it just might be the biggest but it might not be the best if it doesn't hold up.
  • GoldenEagle1476 - June 21, 2013 10 a.m.

    I think the credits for ACIII were at least twenty-five minutes long.
  • FAT47ITY - June 21, 2013 10:14 a.m.

    "Congrats, Ubisoft collective, on making such an outstanding game. Now can we please move this along?"
  • StrayGator - June 21, 2013 9:28 a.m.

    tried to make an inb4 comment in the style of cameltoe. was marked as spam.
  • Sliet - June 22, 2013 1:57 a.m.

    --i guess it was --worth the shot
  • winner2 - June 21, 2013 8:41 a.m.

    This was an interesting read, I enjoyed it. Still really looking forward to AC4.

Showing 1-13 of 13 comments

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