Recently PC Games sat down with the Assasin’s Creed II Producer Sebastien Puel who reveals some key elements of the game.
PC Games: “Please, introduce yourself to our readers – what are you doing, what have you done in the past?”
Puel: “My name is Sebastien Puel and I’m the producer on Assassin’s Creed 2. In the past years, I was producer on: Naruto: Rise of a Ninja and Uru: Ages Beyond Myst.”
PC Games: “Please describe the connection / relationship between Ezio, Altair and Desmond Miles. Will Lucy Stillman and professor Vidic be in the game?”
Puel: “Ezio, Altair and Desmond Miles are all from the same lineage. This is why Desmond is able to re-experience their life thanks to the animus and genetic memory. You will have to play the game to discover the present segments of the game.””
PC Games: “An early concept art shows a Leonardo-da-Vinci-developed “flying machine”. Will it be permanently useable or mission-based only?”
Puel: “The flying machine will be directly controlled by the player in real time. Our team is really focusing on making “special gameplay? exciting to break the pace of the game. You will learn more of the flying machines in the coming weeks.”
PC Games: “Ezio can now swim, what else is new in his acrobatic repertoire?”
Puel: “We are spicing the free-running up by adding some new skills that will really add to the strategic gameplay while approaching or escaping your target. For example, the new climb leap move gives the player a chance, while climbing a building, to boost him higher with a strong leap upwards and to grasp the ledge by the press of a button. This is really useful to climb a building faster but also useful to find special paths that are inaccessible without this skill.
The multiple water canals found in Venice will add a lot to the gameplay. Ezio can swim/dive and will therefore be able to navigate the city using these water canals. This will add to the various strategic approaches in each of your mission. You can use the water approach onto your enemies and dispose of them. Although, swimming alone in water canal in Venice isn’t the most common thing to see and can be a bit more suspicious than being in the middle of a crowd…
We are also working of making the free-running path more readable so that player can recognize them and build up some spectacular escape/chase sequences.”
PC Games: “The GameInformer’s exclusive article said something about 16 different mission-types, including assassination, escort and chase. What else can we expect? Are you sure you will be able to avoid the predecessor’s lack of variety with these mission-types?”
Puel: “We are working very hard on the structure and – missions and storyline – of the game so that players always have a fresh experience at every turn. How the storyline and the missions unfold is completely different from the first Assassin’s Creed. The main mission will unfold in a much more progressive and unpredictable way. No longer will you be expecting the same systemic mission to happen twice. We want to offer the player the liberty to choose what and how he accomplishes all of his objectives. In Assassin’s Creed 2, you can choose when you want to complete main and secondary missions and you can choose when and how you discover the world and discover all its secrets. We want the game to reward your choices and actions when you are successful. We have more than 16 single mission types that we tie up together in tons of various ways. For example, a single mission might have you go through three steps ; starting by fighting alongside an ally against enemies, carrying this ally who has been injured to a safe haven and in the end running after the enemy who injured your ally. You will never get to do the same thing twice. Also, with the new gameplay in Venice and the additions of swimming, diving and all the new free running moves such as the leap climb, we are confident that the gameplay will be exciting and never the exact same twice. I just played through a mission where you need to dispose of archers on rooftops so you can sneak into a palace in Venice without being noticed. It’s really exciting to sneak up on the archers in the cover of the night holding on to the ledge of a rooftop and as the guard passes by you, you grab him to throw him down the roof. The missions are all very engaging and interesting to play. Your really feel an attachment to your objectives and a progression as you play the game thanks to the story and fresh new game structure.”
PC Games: “You’ve integrated a variety of real historic characters in Assassin’s Creed 2, including real relationships between people and families. Will you bend some facts or will everything be accurate?”
Puel: “Assassin’s Creed lets player relive pivotal historic moments. Our goal is to be as closely historically accurate as possible but we also leave some place for our creativity and a bit of fiction. We have historians who are working with us and serve as a guide to what we should and shouldn’t do when using historical characters and events. Players will be able relive major events like the Pazzi conspiracy but from our perspective.
Historically, the Assassin’s stronghold was destroyed by the Mongols in 1256. With Assassin’s Creed, we are giving an alternate version of History and yes, the Assassin brotherhood lives on. They are closely linked to a large conspiracy opposing them to the Templar – which was also disbanded in 1312 by Pope Clement V. In the game, the conspiracy of the Templar and the Assassin opposition has been rooted for over 1000 years to our very modern time. Therefore, you can definitely expect both the Templar and the Assassin to be part of the Italian Renaissance as they were part of the Middle Age and they are part of our present time. Also, when we create a city in 3D like Venice in the 15th century, we want it to be as accurate as possible. Many of the team’s lead members went directly to Italy and visited each city assisted by a guide who explained them the story behind each building and their respective construction date. We also took a lot of picture as references. So early 2008, right after setting a proper path and our visit to Italy, we started to build our first sections of Venice during pre-production. Our art team is doing an amazing job of creating Italy. It’s looking quite impressive. Mohamed Gambouz, the art director, is working closely with the world and character team so that they all have a cohesive view of the art direction.
The main challenge is really to recreate the city as much as they would have looked like in the 15th century. This requires lots of researches. For example, there is little information on the Rialto Bridge in Venice as it looked like in the 15th century since it burnt down around the time our game is set. The only thing we knew is that it was made in wood. Therefore, we designed the bridge based on what it looks like today but in wood. We need to find ingenious and creative ways to design the cities with the information we have and create a real 15th century mood.”
PC Games: “Assassin’s Creed left the player with a fantastic cliffhanger – what about the ending of Assassin’s Creed 2? Will it give clarification of facts or another cliffhanger?”
Puel: “The ending of the first Assassin’s Creed opened up many questions and this was really exciting for us to look into all the analysis and hypothesis of the fans. I think giving a clear and straightforward ending doesn’t always quite cut it either since it doesn’t leave room for imagination. We were all very excited to start the development of Assassin’s Creed 2 a while back to answer many of the questions we opened up in the first game.
As for the ending of the second game, you will have to play it and see for yourself. I don’t think players can expect what we have in mind for them!”
PC Games: “Assassin’s Creed used the Anvil Engine – what about Assassin’s Creed 2?”
Puel: “The Assassin’s Creed game engine – Anvil – got some awesome new technical features that let us create a world with an even better visual treatment and a wider variety of gameplay with more opportunity for the player. We have many new technicalities we added in the engine that affects the graphics in the game and improves the overall visual treatment:
· Night and day cycle
· New load distance for more detailed open-world environment from greater distances
· The same internal vegetation technology used in Far Cry 2
· Several rendering improvements to support improved lighting, reflection and more special effects.
· New cloth system used extensively for characters
We have new technicalities that enhance the gameplay and give us the opportunity to create more mission variety and through more unique scenarios:
· New Artificial Intelligence architecture allowing much more diverse gameplay and mission.
· Enhanced NPC navigation showcasing parkour-like acrobatics that will spice-up the chases and escape missions”
PC Games: “What’s the status quo of development, how much of Assassin’s Creed 2 has already been finished?”
Puel: With the size of the team, their experience, their passion for the franchise and their continuous effort, the game is building up very well.”
PC Games: “Will there be a collector’s edition?”
Puel: “Nothing has been announced at this point. You will get to learn more on this at E3.”