9 min read
Interview: Assassin's Creed's Brothers In Arms
Gamasutra's Simon Parkin sits down with the developers of Ubisoft Montreal's Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood to discuss the challenge of turning around a sequel in a blockbuster franchise in just 12 months.
[Just one year after the release of Assassin's Creed II, Ubisoft Montreal is putting the finishing touches to follow-up, Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood. Gamasutra's Simon Parkin sat down with producer Vincent Pontbriand, mission director Gaelec Simard, and multiplayer creative director Stephane Beaudet to discuss the challenges in delivering a sequel to a blockbuster franchise in just 12 months.] Over the course of three, tightly spaced iterations, Assassin's Creed has grown into one of gaming's most heavy hitting series. Its curious mixture of Da Vinci Code-esque narrative and stealth combat combined with a painstaking recreation of some of Europe's most beautiful cities has resonated with contemporary audiences, offering an action game-cum-historical tourism package that's at once fresh and familiar in gaming. In the forthcoming Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, players pick up the threads of the second game's story, continuing the saga of Italian Ezio Auditore da Firenze as he faces up to the Templars, this time with an entourage of hired hands. Primarily set in Rome, the game introduces various new systems to the host of additions introduced by its predecessor. We turned to producer Vincent Pontbriand, mission director Gaelec Simard, and multiplayer creative Director Stephane Beaudet to explain how they went about meeting such tall ambition in what appears to be a small development window. What were the main challenges in creating a sequel of this size and scope in a 12 month development period? Vincent Pontbriand: The trick is that we actually had more time than that. A lot of the research had already been done for the city and history of Rome itself. We knew where we wanted to go with the story and already had a lot of gameplay prototypes and new concept we had previously brainstormed. The multiplayer has been in production for over 2 years. Finally, when pure production started on the single player, we had the most experienced and motivated team so it made my job a lot easier. Gaelec Simard: For the single player, it is true that the dev period was short but many factors made it possible. We started the game with the engine that had shipped ACII so it gave us a good start while we developed all the new tech. The dedicated team has been working together since ACI so we know how to make an AC game and we knew what could be done in that amount of time. Using our other AAA studios also permitted us to create a huge game by outsourcing parts of the game to them. The rest was just keeping a clear head, communicating and just ship a game that we all wanted to play How have you sought to maintain freshness in the series in this latest release? GS: Most of the team are gamers and we all love the AC franchise. So when we make a new game we want to create something that's appealing to the gamers, our fans and us. With that in mind, we always push ourselves to the limit to make the next AC game fresh and exciting whether it be in the story, setting or in the gameplay. How many of Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood’s features were ‘would likes’ carried over from the development of the second game? GS: It's always hard to give numbers for these types of questions. All I can say is that every time we work on a game, we get ideas for a future one. Sometimes we try to do something in a game but we feel it's not up to par so we iterate on it in the next game. And many ideas come from player feedback. Is there a danger of over-saturating the market with such a quick turnaround on Assassin's Creed titles, or do you believe it’s better to release often? VP: Assassin's Creed has established itself as a core franchise in the industry. Our consumers appreciated what we offered with AC2 and are asking for more. The AC universe has so much potential, is so vast, that we wanted to offer players a chance to continue Ezio’s adventure and we are pleased to be able to deliver it a year after the release of the second game. How many of the current team worked on the previous title? Was it easy to motivate them moving immediately from one large project to the next? VP: We pretty much kept the same team from AC2 on Brotherhood, but of course it wasn’t enough, we had to recruit even more people in order to produce all aspect of the game such as our multiplayer. Our main goal was to make sure that everyone that would join the team would absorb our team and brand core values. We actually also encourage new people to join the team whenever possible because they come with a fresh eye, and are not fully indoctrinated yet. It wasn’t very hard to motivate them to work on a fascinating franchise like this.