I was fortunate to have the rare chance to pose some tough question’s to Ubisoft about Assassin’s Creed Revelations. I spoke to the Art, Game Design, Transmedia Production and Scriptwriting teams. They shared their thoughts on the background history, the narrative design, the community collaboration and more on this legendary franchise upcoming November 15th.
GeekDad: Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood and Assassin’s Creed Revelations have such a rich historical and architectural context. What kind of research do you do to maintain an “authentic period” game environment?
Raphael Lacoste, Art Director: We’ve always tried to reproduce the feeling of the cities we bring to life in the Assassin’s Creed games as faithfully as possible. Obviously, this can be quite challenging when the task is to realistically recreate environments from the 12 century (Assassin’s Creed 1), Renaissance Italy (Assassin’s Creed 2 and Brotherhood) and finally 16th century Turkey.
To do so, we have neither photos nor contemporary references to start with when we enter the conception of a project. To achieve our goals, we engage in long and intense periods of research using historical documents, maps from the era, illustrations, paintings, travelogues, etc. We’ve also had the good fortune of being able to travel to these locations and get a real sense of the sights, sounds and smells of these amazing cities.
Naturally, it’s impossible to create an exact replica of these locations, but we have always managed to construct immersive environments that allow the player the total freedom to explore historically accurate and immense settings.
GD: Is there hands-on experience the dev team engages in with the actual historical locations of the game (Rome, Venice, Florence, Istanbul) to make this authentic narrative credible to the player?
RL: Our goal is always to make an experience for players that is as credible as possible, and we take great care in visiting the cities that we translate into the game.
One of the most important aspects for us is to make sure that the overall impression that the cities leave on the player are as true to life as possible, especially if said players have had the good fortune of visiting these locations themselves in real life. Given the feedback we’ve gotten thus far on the series, I think this is a goal we’re accomplishing quite well!
To be certain that we understand the cities we’ll be bringing to life in the game, we spent a considerable amount of time visiting Rome, Florence, Venice and now Istanbul for Assassin’s Creed Revelations. We visited the real-life monuments that players will visit in the game, such as the magnificent Hagia Sofia and the amazing view from the Galata tower over the Bosphorus river. We also visited many museums to see the weapons of the era, and took in the magnificent opulence of Topkapi palace.
We are only truly satisfied when we feel that we have created an in-game rendition of these cities that truly conveys the beauty and history that we felt when we visited them ourselves.
GD: In Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood you can upgrade and send your assassins on missions. Is this feature of the game being incorporated and upgraded in Assassin’s Creed Revelations?
Alexandre Breault, Game Design Director: Yes, you are still able to call on your brotherhood for assistance during a fight or to assassinate a target. Assassin recruits were an appreciated addition the game, but players provided us feedback that they didn’t feel a particular attachment to them and would have preferred a deeper character development of sorts. In Assassin’s Creed Revelations, we are giving your assassin recruits more personality, making them more meaningful to the player. There are more options to customize the assassins by selecting their weapons and their class. We also added more missions related to the assassins: new recruitment missions, as well as missions when they reach specific levels in their progression.
That brings me to the second main change that we made to the Assassin’s guild. Since Ezio is more mature in our game, he needs to prepare new master assassins. He won’t be there forever, so he wants to make sure he has followers ready to pass the torch to them. The player will be able to promote his preferred Assassins enabling them to reach the Master Assassins’ level.
We also improved the Guild Contract Assignments. The Assassins you send away are not just completing missions: they can now take control of foreign cities. This will provide the player a steady stream of rewards, but will also attract the attention of the Templars who will try to regain control of those cities.
Related to your brotherhood is the Assassin’s Den a new feature, built from the ground up for Assassin’s Creed Revelations, where you gain (and lose) control of Constantinople’s districts. It best represents the battle that is fought in the streets between the Assassins and the Templars. It’s very organic, so a district that is controlled by the assassins can be attacked by the Templars and then taken back and vice-versa.
As for Altaïr, the full scope of his involvement is something that I’ll have to keep mysterious for the time being.