Assassin’s Creed: Unity – Oh, Ubisoft

I am 85% excited for this game.

Set in Paris during the French Revolution (which too place from 1789 to 1799), the story will follow Arno Dorian and his fellow assassins as they fight to uncover the true power behind the Revolution. This game will allow to co-op multiplayer for the first time, allowing up to four people to play at once.

Arno Dorian was born in Versailles and is on a quest of redemption that brings him into the ranks of Assassins. As he slowly rises in the ranks, his story will be more similar to that of Altiair or Ezio.  Combat has also been rebuilt, basing the style of fighting on fencing. This comes with the addition one a few new weapons, including the Phantom Blade. That’s the little assassin’s blade that works like a crossbow. I did, in fact, squee in that part of the cinematic trailer.

Now, I’ve always really enjoyed the Assassin’s Creed games. Out of six major games, however, I’ve only beaten two of them. I’m very much a character person, meaning I have to be really into the character to play the game. As such, I only beat Assassin’s Creed 2 and Brotherhood, because Ezio is my absolute favorite. That being said, the gameplay for 3 was fantastic and I still haven’t had the chance to play Black Flag.

I haven’t heard much hype from this game, as what most people are talking about is the fact that, out of four possible avatars, not one of them is female. There has been a lot of controversy about this. Some people really, honestly, don’t care. Others think it’s 100% insulting. I am kind of in the middle. I am disappointed that we won’t have the option, as it existed in Brotherhood and Liberation (which wasn’t a major installment), but I think there might be deeper issues here.

For me, I don’t mind not have a playable female assassin as long as there are still compelling female characters. The developers insist that that is not the true issue here, as no matter what the player will always be playing as Arno. For me, that’s kind of the problem. First of all, the idea that having a female assassin doesn’t really matter. And, secondly, the idea that it’s okay because every character is co-op is really just a copy of Arno. For the purposes of co-op, I understand. However, for the purposes of story and historical context, if ever they were planning on having a female lead in a major Assassin’s Creed installment, I think the French Revolution is the time to do it. Women’s rights – and women – played a huge role in the revolution. So why no female lead? It’s not as is Assassin’s Creed has a history of being sexist. What it is, I think, is the very real and very troubling perception that the majority of men are uncomfortable at the prospect of playing a female character. Around 45% of gamers are female, but if they’re going to market, they going to look for the majority. There is an idea here that men will not be willing to play a woman, but women are very used to playing men. I think that’s generally untrue, and kind of awful.

I haven’t seen games that have a similar problem, games such as Halo or Gears of War, get attacked in the same way that Unity has. This is why I’m in the middle. While I think that the French Revolution would be the perfect backdrop for a female lead, I think that the fact that there is no female lead at this point is not world-crushing. I think it’s revealing. We should really wait to judge the game – and it’s female cast – until it comes out.

That being said.

The reasoning the developers have given for a lack of playable female assassins is 100% bullshit.

The reason? Because it’d be difficult. The developers claim that adding in a female protagonist would be a ton of extra work, causing the animators to make 8000 new animations. Really, Ubisoft? Can we talk about the number of games that feature playable male and female character fighting side by side as well as a main character that can be either male of female? Like, um, I dunno Dragon Age?  Mass Effect? Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood? Assassin’s Creed Liberation?

I say again: Really Ubisoft?

The animation director of Assassin’s Creed III had this to say: “In my educated opinion, I would estimate this to be a day or two’s work. Not a replacement of 8,000 animations.”

This is where I get pissed off. Because this means that the animators at Ubisoft are so soul-crushingly lazy that the moment they realized adding a female character just in co-op mode would take them more than a day they had to drop the project. Which tells me that they really never even started in the first place and, when PR told them people would get upset, they had to come up with something to say. What do most people not understand? Animation and programming. Let’s go with that.

Honestly, if they just came out and said ‘wow, sorry guys, the thought never even occurred to us!’ i would be just a little bit okay with it. But Ubisoft just needs to be difficult, I see.

What’s your take on this? Let me know in the comments below, and have a nice day.

 

 

 

 

 

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5 comments

  1. Hey!
    You seem to know a lot about video games and generally how they are made. Could you tell me if you know anything about how they make the scenery for video games? Is it really complicated or require a lot of work? Or is it more simple than most people think?
    Thanks!
    Aul

    1. I do know some about that, actually! But only in professional gaming and studio gaming. I’m not sure how well this applies to all aspects of the gaming world.

      I know that, in generally, I think a lot more goes into scenery than most people know. The person who builds the scenery is in charge of getting together all the environments, and they work very closely with the story boarders and concept artists and writers and what not to get the exact feel that the game developers are going for. Because it is so collaborative, there is a lot of tweaking and changing that happens before they get to the final project. Because of that, it is a hugely time consuming process.

      This article has a lot of information about it as well: http://getinmedia.com/careers/environment-artist

      One example is gives is that, if in a video game level the characters need to escape the area, the environment designers need make sure the characters have a way out.

      People who do this generally have a large skill set as well. You only need a bachelors, and the time taken to get this degree and learn how to use things like Maya (which is notoriously difficult) and photoshop will make the job much easier than someone who just wanted to try it out. There is a lot of physical artistry that goes into it (2D drawing, 3D modelling) as well as concepts of architecture throughout different cultures. For example, designers on the Assassin’s Creed games have had to build the architecture for places Jerusalem and Rome of the past. But they’ve also had to replicate existing architecture.

      The people who do this, because it is such a time consuming job, are pretty much exclusively people who enjoy doing this and have taken the years to get comfortable using programs like Maya. If you know how to do it, then you know how to do it and it doesn’t become that difficult for you. I also know that there are some programs that non-professional artists can learn to work with to get some experience or build a portfolio. They just need to watch the polygon count (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polygon_(computer_graphics)) – if it’s took high, no matter how good it looks in game, it won’t render right and that will lag in the animation and gameplay.

      It is also worth nothing that they are usually not going to build environments entirely from scratch. There are many programs that can be used to create basic terrain and molded as the designers see fit.

      Also, as far as difficultly, some things are much more difficult to get right than others. Across both the gaming and film world, water is notoriously difficult to create.You’ll notice in many games, particularly the newer ones with beautiful graphics, the water still doesn’t really look real. Water has a fluidity that is very difficult to render without a huge polygon count. That’s why in so many video games a character will not be able to swim, because creating interactive water is really difficult. That’s also why when characters can swim, they often come out of the water looking dry. So little details like that can easily get lost just for the sake of rendering.

      So, to recap, it’s very complicated and requires a lot of work. It can be difficult to learn how to do it, but after a couple of years of study it can get generally easy. It’s kind of like general programming, in that sense. It’s not extensively difficult so much as it is inherently complicated and requires a ton of time and effort.

      I hope this is useful! =]

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