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Looking To The Future (again) - A Thread of Text Walls

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Calvar The Blade's picture
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At this point in my time of playing AC, I've realized that I've become far more interested in speculating as to how the series could change than actually playing it. It wasn't always this way, but these days it seems like we either get something unambitious but well crafted (Black Flag, Brotherhood, Rogue) or something horizontally ambitious but oblivious to core problems with the series and unwilling to truly rethink things. (Unity, Revelations, and to some extent, AC3) And in the latest two iterations, the bold and progressive storytelling I've loved the series for has seemed to fall by the wayside, replaced by a brainless and bloated blockbuster plot.

I think I've reached the point where I can't imagine actually buying the next AC game, but I'll always want to imagine what it could be, and see what's going on in the AC universe.

The core concept of this series has always had so much potential, but it's remained as potential for so long it's ended up as nothing more than wasted energy.

so, once again, this is the thread where I'll write all my hopes and ideas and evaluations of mechanics, contexts, structures, and systems. I welcome others to post as usual, though I'm sure you all know by now I could keep this sort of thing going on my own forever. Tongue

I'm going to start off with an examination of the core of the series. I'm not concerned about length, and I'll try to keep it interesting. I write in a very stream-of-consciousy and meandering way, so be prepared for that.

---

What is the Assassin? What are their methods? They hide in plain sight. Public areas are their domain. Their strength is in the people, in their mass which shields them from prying eyes, in their allies among those who pass unnoticed: thieves, beggars, prostitutes. They are masters of the Above, where they see all.

Templars live above the people, below the Assassins, and sheltered from both. They coerce influence in political circles, live in expensive houses, fortresses, skyscrapers. Their domain is unbreachable halls, bristling with well-armed guards. Wether in squalor or comfort, a Templar lives the same: untouchable. Untouchable unless they are among the people.

This is the Assassin and Templar as I understand them, as I saw in the early AC games. As we've gone on, the methods of Assassin and Templar have become less clearly defined. The Assassin has been given tools that bring them more in line with contemporary stealth games: long range weaponry, cover systems, and bombs of all types, darts that kill, darts that make people kill others.

And what are these tools meant to do? They are all designed to allow the Assassin to exist in the Templar domain: to infiltrate his house, to bypass his defenders, to turn his own guards against him, or vice versa.

This is an imbalance, a flaw, an unfair fight, and it draws focus away from a deeper system of social stealth.

The Templar needs his teeth back, and the Assassin's extraneous toys must be replaced by ones that conform to her rules of engagement.

These are the guidelines I propose:

-An Assassin who needs to cower behind a crate is somewhere he should not be.
-An Assassin is invisible before they have committed a crime, the crowd is to be used to cover kills and escape, it must not be required to move freely.
-An Assassin's tools must always be directly related to more efficient use of their environment, never to circumventing use of said environment.
-A Templar's fortress must not be directly assailable by an Assassin, though the same might not be said about their allies (some of which have been known to have armies), as is also true in reverse for Templar allies. (some of which have been known to live amongst the common people)

However, if an assassin must infiltrate the Templar domain, they should be equally as disadvantaged as a Templar is in theirs. Disguised, but no tools. Unable to kill, only to gather information, through observance or theft. If they are discovered, they solely must escape, and will not get a second shot.

Below are my thoughts as to how that would fit into the structure of an actual game:

It would mean an end to restricted areas as a gameplay space. if a building is restricted, you will not be able to enter. If you do enter, it will be in disguise, and involve no detection meters: if you're seen doing something you shouldn't be, you are instantly detected and must escape. telegraphing of being visible would be more prominent, to balance, but if you need to escape, they ramp up security, and you can't get back in. (unless you reset the memory, but any progress you might have made in gathering info would be lost in that case)

however, that kind of experience definitely isn't going to be for everyone, and it couldn't be the only way to gather information. (Which would be slightly different on each playthrough of the memory, requiring the information gathering stage and the Assassination to all be part of the same mission) Ideally, it would be only one of many options, but the most rewarding due to its difficulty.

Other things must also tie into the nature of the Assassin: gathering information from the populace, following up on leads from contacts.

and as for tools, outside factions must again become tools of the Assassin, in more far-reaching and systemic ways than siccing a cluster of folks on some guards. more like the mod missions of Unity, only more directed in their effects by the player. "cover my escape at these points, create this distraction to draw guards to this area, bribe this guard post to look the other way". Things planned out prior to embarking.

more direct tools should be simplified. the sword for combat, the blade for silent kills, the knives for limited ranged projectiles, and the fists as longer contextual animation for when you assassinate non-targets with no witnesses. (no need for wasteful death if overt discretion not required)

---

That's about it for now, but I think I'll leave with some idle thoughts I just had:

a better context for Co-Op: In singleplayer, you have an AI partner assassin that you can switch to at any time during free-roam. They will both be the opposite gender of the other. before a mission, you choose who you play as, and assign the other assassin to supporting tasks, separate from the basic faction system. In co-op, all players can choose which of the two assassins they want to play as. one of the other players will be the opposite of the assassin they pick, and the other players will appear as generic faces, one of the first assassin, and one of the other. gender-neutral customization options will ensure people still get bragging rights.

Co-Op missions would no longer be separate entities, but simply the same as single-player missions, except scaled up in difficulty depending on how many human players are involved.

Unique dialogue based on which character the player chose, no variation based on co-op. memory corridor using the same concept as Unity, but with the idea of the Assassin interrogating her target within his fading mind, accompanied by the same flashes of memory.

smaller thing: shadow of mordor's nemesis system is novel, if crude, and indicative of the direction AC side content needs to go. no longer just a small and simple mission, or endless collectibles, but robust, environment-wide systems that the player can engage with for their benefit both during free-roam and during missions.

the posts a bit guy

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This is fantastic, Calvar.
In my eyes, this is the best contribution you've made to this site - or at the very least my absolute favorite contribution that I've had the pleasure of reading.

I love literally everything about this post. Some of these things, I've been trying to speak about for a very long time, I just couldn't put them into the right words. And because my words needed to be the right words for the most powerful effect, I instead chose not to speak them at all. You've done it though, and now I can grab this and show my friends what I meant all these years.

Very well done.

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thanks for the kind words! I'm just doing word vomit, nothing special Smile

saw this tweet and was intrigued: https://twitter.com/stiknork/status/532701597445271553

Eagle vision has been used to this effect in tutorials, why not make it an actual mechanic? similar effect to the "runner vision" in Mirror's edge, only the player has to discover these paths themselves. It's part of another thing I want, which is less of a sense that the assassin can climb on pretty much anything unless there's some transparent bit of level design stopping them. High ground can be more important if you can't get there from basically any path. I'm not speaking of almost completely linear climb paths, such as the Castel from Brotherhood, but simply fewer paths that must be discovered prior to use.

Obvious things like a stack of boxes could obvs by hopped on, but paths up sheer buildings shouldn't be second nature.

it also would support a comparatively extended planning phase for assassinations, spending time in the area opening up pathways.

biggest flaw I could see is Ubisoft doing this but making them a new "collectible". no. bad Ubi.

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Calvar The Blade wrote:
biggest flaw I could see is Ubisoft doing this but making them a new "collectible". no. bad Ubi.

But if I collect all the collectibles then I can get an achievement, which itself is a global collectible! collectibles of collectibles of collectibles! gotta collect them all!

real talk though: collectibles in AC games have increasingly become useless. which is another reason I like Rogue's open world over that of Black Flag's.
- it made sense for Ezio to collect Borgia flags in Brotherhood in order to rid the area of Borgia influence.
- it made sense for Desmond, through Ezio, to collect Animus fragments in Revelations in order to reconstruct his consciousness and remember what was real and what was not.
- it made ZERO sense for Connor and Edward to collect Animus data fragments in 3 and Black Flag that did absolutely nothing.
- it makes sense again for Shay to collect data fragments in Rogue in order to [redacted].

"Apollodorus came, Caesar saw, Cleopatra conquered." ― Stacy Schiff, Cleopatra: A Life

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I completely agree on that, Double. Black Flag's shanties were awesome, because there was a direct tangible reward (though the fact that they were built around navigating precisely within an imprecise navigation system sucked) but the animus fragments were all too numerous and had literally no purpose other than compulsive collection.

Regarding that last tweet, I found this from the same guy amusing: https://twitter.com/stiknork/status/532697981414158336

last thing for now: I don't think that telling developers exactly what to do and then expecting them to execute on it makes a lot of sense. I phrase my ideas in terms of "this should happen" and "it should be this way", and indeed, write ideas in the first place, as a way of communicating what problems I have with the series and what I'm interested in it doing in a broader sense. fpr instance, I don't want to collect arbitrarily placed and meaningless trinkets, but that doesn't necessarily mean collection MUST be out. As Double says, it could just be done better and given a better context.

I'm sure AC developers have thought of all my ideas and much more, and have probably encountered massive difficulties implementing some of them. I'm not a designer, and I'm not privy to the inner workings of their game.

keeping that in mind, my next post will attempt to eschew specificity and be more about how my player experience with previous assassin's creed games was, and how I'd like playing a future AC game to feel.

the posts a bit guy

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Calvar The Blade wrote:
I completely agree on that, Double. Black Flag's shanties were awesome, because there was a direct tangible reward (though the fact that they were built around navigating precisely within an imprecise navigation system sucked) but the animus fragments were all too numerous and had literally no purpose other than compulsive collection.

Regarding that last tweet, I found this from the same guy amusing: https://twitter.com/stiknork/status/532697981414158336

last thing for now: I don't think that telling developers exactly what to do and then expecting them to execute on it makes a lot of sense. I phrase my ideas in terms of "this should happen" and "it should be this way", and indeed, write ideas in the first place, as a way of communicating what problems I have with the series and what I'm interested in it doing in a broader sense. fpr instance, I don't want to collect arbitrarily placed and meaningless trinkets, but that doesn't necessarily mean collection MUST be out. As Double says, it could just be done better and given a better context.

I'm sure AC developers have thought of all my ideas and much more, and have probably encountered massive difficulties implementing some of them. I'm not a designer, and I'm not privy to the inner workings of their game.

keeping that in mind, my next post will attempt to eschew specificity and be more about how my player experience with previous assassin's creed games was, and how I'd like playing a future AC game to feel.

not to harp on collectibles too much, because there's a lot here to comment on and I probably will in time, but collecting things to unlock an outfit/weapon isn't good enough to me.
i wish all the collectibles should fit the narrative, like the examples i listed.
even ezio collecting feathers in AC2 felt weird... okay, i'm collecting feathers for my dead brothers collection? what purpose does this serve? was I, the player, supposed to feel emotional attachment to a character that was on screen for less than 5 minutes and this journey was supposed to lead me to closure? maybe a real life ezio might feel that way, but as a player of the game, it was another empty collectible.

that said, i do feel accomplishment (even empty) when I'm able to collect them all... even though they mean next to nothing (except more hours on the game).

"Apollodorus came, Caesar saw, Cleopatra conquered." ― Stacy Schiff, Cleopatra: A Life

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What annoys me is that most of the equipment (weapons/clothing) in Unity is locked until you complete a "Club Competition". I tried looking up what "Club Competition" was and it's not an available game mode yet??? I'd rather have each weapon/armor piece unlock by collectible items than syncing up to Initiates or doing some other stupid thing on their useless website.

NEW Youtube channel!
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So, I talked in detail about what the experience of being an Assassin is meant to feel like.
But how have the games in this series felt? Which of them came closest to emulating that pitch? which of them felt credible without feeling anything like that description?

Many here would say Assassin's Creed 1 best embodies the Assassin experience. It's rare to see a big budget game with the same purity of purpose as AC1. it renders the gameplay loop of investigating leads, pulling off the kill, and reporting back to your master with elegant simplicity.
I also think it's a game that was dilluted by its structure, rather than enhanced by it.

There's nothing wrong with having space in between missions, but the connective tissue of AC1 feels nothing like the experience the core of it conveys. In the tightly designed missions of the main path, the world feels extremely credible, due to the level of fidelity that design enables. you hunt down a guard who saw an informant's face, you overhear two guards gossiping about your target, you steal a relevant message from a disgruntled shop owner. And after learning the state of the city in that area, you attack a target in a uniquely designed context, during a time when they are vulnerable.

These things all convey the sense of a living, breathing world, full of complex interpersonal interactions, and interwoven systems of human beings living their lives. Your target does not exist in the world because he spawned there (even though he did) but because he travelled there for a specific purpose that is tied into the world.

The open world aspect of the game destroys all illusions the main content creates. citizens of Assassin's Creed's open world walk in random patterns, never going anywhere in particular. They have no purpose, no role in the city. They don't live in a home, or talk to each other, conspire with each other, or remember each others' faces.

The player's abilities are solely designed for the tailor-made missions. they are not designed to interact with the open world, except through running, climbing, and murder. There is "Designed" "Content" in the open world, in the form of collectible dudes to murder before they murder you, collectible towers to sit on so you can see where the actually designed content is, and collectible flags to collect by running into them.

There is a place in between the three cities of the game with almost no designed content, called The Kingdom. it is so devoid of any semblance of an interesting reason to exist in it that after traversing it three times, you can completely skip it until the end of the game. And that last time that you visit it, you are made to go through a path that leads to an ambush in ancient ruins, guards springing out from behind walls. That is the only interesting designed content in The Kingdom.

Assassin's Creed has the exact same depth of world as a Hitman game, but its open world iss its hollow pretense at having more. Playing it feels like Being An Assassin, one mission at a time, then being booted into a nightmarish elseworld full of unfeeling zombies. At the end of the game it decides to let you kill as many of them as you want, without punishment. it finally admits that they are just window-dressing, that they don't matter, that they don't serve any purpose in some larger system. it's almost endearingly honest.

---

No game in the series has fully shaken that feeling. Randomly spawning Guys To Chase were added in AC2, and we've seen variations on that ever since. "chasing a bunch of clones to see numbers go up" only adds to the unnerving experience that is the AC open world. Assassin's Creed Unity added "Guys To Murder", which combined with the previous framework contributes to undermining any sense of killing having any weight. "Here" the game says "here are people to assert your dominance over. they are marked with a red dot. do this enough and you will be rewarded. it's justified because they are killing that man. it's always justified, ever time. everything you do is justified, everything you do is right, you are right, you are good, you are a hero."

---

Black Flag introduced a hero that suits the game that AC has become. Edward Kenway is a greedy piece of shit. He cares only about his own reward, and he doesn't care who he'll hurt to get it. But he thinks of himself as a swashbuckling hero. He sees every murder is justified, but the game never makes any attempt to justify it. the closest it comes is freeing pirates: guards are at the ready to kill them, and he has to stop them... so he can employ them and use them for his own personal gain.

from what I've gathered, systems of deeper interaction with the crew were cut, but the way it works is perfect. Edward sees his crew as a currency, nothing more. Adewale has to be the one to inform him of the crew's mood, further emphasizing how disconnected he is from them. he gives great speeches, and they admire him, but he sees them the same way as he sees his ship: something to be upgraded, to be made stronger.

Black Flag presents a world full of people and things to be exploited, and witholds any justification for doing so. It feels like being a Pirate.

---

Assassin's Creed 3 excels at creating a world that creates a compelling case for what Connor might be doing when he's not assassinating. It is refreshingly mutifaceted: instead of the one-note sneaking and stabbing objectives of Unity, Connor solves urban legends, hunts animals, gets into a boxing league, explores tunnels, wages a long campaign against a rival ship captain, finds an ancient treasure map, and builds up a diverse and thriving frontier community on his land. It presents a world that, while still relying on the unnatural framework and static world of AC1, is populated with enough diverse bespoke content to feel like it could be a real place, and rarely truly feels like it's just a diversion from a game about Assassination. (though it does, at times, especially when fighting off waves of enemies.)

Assassin's Creed 3 feels like being an Assassin, and also being a Person living in a place, not just moving through it.

---

Black Flag's DLC "Freedom Cry" is one of the most excellent things Assassin's Creed has produced. Its open world is completely alive with persistent systems that can't be "completed" or "cleared out". Adewale is thrust into, for all intents and purposes, Hell. Slavery at one of its heights. The game is about fighting slavery, and it allows you to do it indefinitely. But you will never win. You are one man. If you mess up and get detected on a plantation, slaves will die because of your carelessness. if you succeed at freeing them, a new slaver will arrive to bring more.

Your efforts are not meaningless: those you save may end up joining the rebellion, though it is good to note that not all of them do: you are not collecting people. you are freeing them, and letting them choose if they want to be added to your numbers. Perhaps because it is so small, Freedom Cry's open world feels the most like a living, breathing place of any Assassin's Creed game. Its often-glossed over context is brave, as is its refusal to tell the player "you won", but instead make them understand they are fighting against something much larger than they are. It feels like being an Assassin made to focus on fighting something Assassins cannot fix with a single murder, or ten thousand.

---

Assassin's Creed Unity wants to be a return to the form of Assassin's Creed 1. It thinks that Assassin's Creed 1 was good because all of its designed content was about being an assassin, except that's wrong. Assassin's Creed 1 was good because it had ENOUGH content about being an Assassin. Choosing to have stuff that wasn't about being an assassin would not have harmed it, it would in fact have justified making it a bigger game. But Unity is a gigantic game, and makes absolutely everything about Assassins. Except Assassin's are so sidelined in the context of the story that it feels unsure if ANYTHING is about being an assassin. Interesting characters are introduced and relegated to side quests about being an assassin doing 4x less interesting things than normal. The only Assassins that are explored in any amount of detail completely drop out of the story and then are brought back to be murdered halfway through, ostensibly for "Dramatic effect" but actually because they can't figure out what to do with the assassins in the story and want to drop them so they can focus on making Elise and Arno kiss and making the player wish they were playing as Elise instead of this idiot rich white dude who has no comprehensible motivation or reason to be doing anything. When the Assassins kick you out of the order, you don't feel any different, because being in the order meant so little in the first place.

Assassin's Creed Unity feels like being an Assassin forever, an Assassin never, and opening five million chests to upgrade your pants.

AC3 is the game I look to most when I think about my preferred feel for the ideal Assassin's Creed game. Carrying out the Assassin modus operandi is very interesting, and there is a ton of work that could be done on making that more interesting and have more depth, but I also want to be able to feel like I belong in the world.

I want to feel like the world is real, to be able to interact with it in more ways than murder, to be able to see its complexities and what makes it tick, to feel like it's bigger than me, like I can't change it all on my own or with a couple of co-op buddies. I want it to feel dangerous, mysterious. I don't want to feel like everything in the world is catalogued and on a list 4 menus deep. I want to feel like the world isn't desperate to throw things at me to make me feel like it's alive, but to simply be actually alive and unconcerned with if I notice or not.

I want it to feel like those cool assassinations take place in that same world, like they are deeply connected to the systems of that world, like that world informs how they unfold.

Shadow of Mordor allows Talion to bend the entire world to his will, to enslave every orc commander and use them all to his own ends. I don't want AC's world to feel like that. I want it to feel like when you take a big action that would logically affect the world, it does, but for that to mean something, and be something you must work up to by engaging with the little things that make up the world.

I want Assassin's Creed games to feel like being an Assassin in a distinct city or cities with their own unique culture, and learning to become fluent in its systemic pieces, learning the rhythm of its heartbeat, and moving to that rhythm in service of doing your grim work. fighting for what you believe, and also in simply taking pleasure in living life among other human beings. I want my sense of power to be overshadowed by my sense of being part of a larger world, one that I feel I am a part of, not simply an observer and agitater of.

EDIT:

@double, I totally agree. there is definitely a way to make the experience of collecting something feel more tactile and non-arbitrary. what if our character was really into flowers, and wanted to create a collection by finding them in logical places you'd find a flower? buying them from people, picking them in the wild, ect.

@joey, yeah, the barring of content behind initiates and the mobile app is gross. I think club competitions are something they haven't gotten online yet due to the other web-based issues. online-exclusive stuff can exist, but I'd rather it just be fun skins than something tied to the actual progress of the player character. The way that the game's gear loop is balanced to incentivize microtransactions is also gross and detracts from the feel of progression.

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Calvar The Blade wrote:

Assassin's Creed Unity added "Guys To Murder", which combined with the previous framework contributes to undermining any sense of killing having any weight. "Here" the game says "here are people to assert your dominance over. they are marked with a red dot. do this enough and you will be rewarded. it's justified because they are killing that man. it's always justified, ever time. everything you do is justified, everything you do is right, you are right, you are good, you are a hero."

[...]

Edward Kenway is a greedy piece of shit. He cares only about his own reward, and he doesn't care who he'll hurt to get it. But he thinks of himself as a swashbuckling hero. He sees every murder is justified, but the game never makes any attempt to justify it. the closest it comes is freeing pirates: guards are at the ready to kill them, and he has to stop them... so he can employ them and use them for his own personal gain.

from what I've gathered, systems of deeper interaction with the crew were cut, but the way it works is perfect. Edward sees his crew as a currency, nothing more. Adewale has to be the one to inform him of the crew's mood, further emphasizing how disconnected he is from them. he gives great speeches, and they admire him, but he sees them the same way as he sees his ship: something to be upgraded, to be made stronger.

[...]

Adewale is thrust into, for all intents and purposes, Hell. Slavery at one of its heights. The game is about fighting slavery, and it allows you to do it indefinitely. But you will never win. You are one man. If you mess up and get detected on a plantation, slaves will die because of your carelessness. if you succeed at freeing them, a new slaver will arrive to bring more.

Your efforts are not meaningless: those you save may end up joining the rebellion, though it is good to note that not all of them do: you are not collecting people. you are freeing them, and letting them choose if they want to be added to your numbers. Perhaps because it is so small, Freedom Cry's open world feels the most like a living, breathing place of any Assassin's Creed game. Its often-glossed over context is brave, as is its refusal to tell the player "you won", but instead make them understand they are fighting against something much larger than they are. It feels like being an Assassin made to focus on fighting something Assassins cannot fix with a single murder, or ten thousand.

[...]

But Unity is a gigantic game, and makes absolutely everything about Assassins. Except Assassin's are so sidelined in the context of the story that it feels unsure if ANYTHING is about being an assassin. Interesting characters are introduced and relegated to side quests about being an assassin doing 4x less interesting things than normal. The only Assassins that are explored in any amount of detail completely drop out of the story and then are brought back to be murdered halfway through, ostensibly for "Dramatic effect" but actually because they can't figure out what to do with the assassins in the story and want to drop them so they can focus on making Elise and Arno kiss and making the player wish they were playing as Elise instead of this idiot rich white dude who has no comprehensible motivation or reason to be doing anything. When the Assassins kick you out of the order, you don't feel any different, because being in the order meant so little in the first place.

Assassin's Creed Unity feels like being an Assassin forever, an Assassin never, and opening five million chests to upgrade your pants.

Quoted the bits I found most compelling.

Wow. This post is just... It made me stare blankly at the screen for some minutes. Rob's applause

I'm not sure how long Ubi can retain respect in my eyes, with all the new focuses the AC series is pursuing. When Amancio talked in the pre-release videos about the core motivation of the game being progression and upgrading your character, I knew something fishy was up. Then Unity's story came along, in its pointlessness, where AC4 must have been the dying words of the once glorious AC, commenting on the series' new direction.

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slembroccoli wrote:
I'm not sure how long Ubi can retain respect in my eyes, with all the new focuses the AC series is pursuing. When Amancio talked in the pre-release videos about the core motivation of the game being progression and upgrading your character, I knew something fishy was up. Then Unity's story came along, in its pointlessness, where AC4 must have been the dying words of the once glorious AC, commenting on the series' new direction.

So my fears of the game just becoming another RPG came to fruition? Ugh. I've said it before... If I want an RPG where I have to design my character as I progress, I'd play an RPG.

"Apollodorus came, Caesar saw, Cleopatra conquered." ― Stacy Schiff, Cleopatra: A Life

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Double McStab with Cheese wrote:
slembroccoli wrote:
I'm not sure how long Ubi can retain respect in my eyes, with all the new focuses the AC series is pursuing. When Amancio talked in the pre-release videos about the core motivation of the game being progression and upgrading your character, I knew something fishy was up. Then Unity's story came along, in its pointlessness, where AC4 must have been the dying words of the once glorious AC, commenting on the series' new direction.

So my fears of the game just becoming another RPG came to fruition? Ugh. I've said it before... If I want an RPG where I have to design my character as I progress, I'd play an RPG.

Oh McStab, if ONLY it were so... At least RPGs are actually FUN. Unity's not even an RPG. It's like... It's not quite AC, and it's not quite an RPG, and it kind of tries to hit both but ends up hitting nothing. I don't really know how else to explain it. Here's the thing, RPGs are not so much about Progression as they are about Choice. AC Unity has no Choice. It's pure Progression. That's what I feel when I play it. There's not much Style, there's not much to make your decisions feel like they actually matter. It's just unlock after unlock after unlock. Which you'd think would be fine, since that's pretty much how AC works right?

Not in this case, and I'm not even sure what I'm feeling in regards to it. I'm not even sure exactly WHY it doesn't work out to be a fun experience - or have difficulty putting it into words. Playing AC1 to Revelations felt like swimming through energy drink. Playing Unity feels like chewing cardboard. There. A completely absurd analogy that hopefully makes sense.

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I don't think black flag was commenting on the series new direction, but being honest about what it always felt like. Unity blindly amplified the faults of previous games.

I don't think player chosen progression is bad, but it needs to be simple to engage with, meaningful, and implemented in a way that doesnt feel like its interrupting the experience, but is part of it. and it probably should be accompanied by a basic linear progression, otherwise levels have to be designed for people who don't have no brainer upgrades like double assassination.

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Well to be honest I don't think Amancio should be making Assassin's Creed games. The guy clearly wants to be making RPGs. So let him make real RPGs, rather than forcing him into this in-between thing that's never going to lead anywhere.

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161803398874989 wrote:
Well to be honest I don't think Amancio should be making Assassin's Creed games. The guy clearly wants to be making RPGs. So let him make real RPGs, rather than forcing him into this in-between thing that's never going to lead anywhere.

Bring back Patrice Désilets. Bring back Jade Raymond. Bring back Désilets-Raymond. Bring back Desmond.

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Alex Amancio seems to like bombs/explosives for some reason. He was invovled with both AC:R and AC:U, and both of these have a lot of bombs/explosives.

Coincidence? I think not! Puzzled

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Isn't Jade Raymond working on an AC game currently?

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JoeyFogey wrote:
Isn't Jade Raymond working on an AC game currently?

Seems like she's left Ubi for good. Just before the Unity's release, of course. Don't know what to make of that. Is she ashamed or does she want nothing to do with it? Was she even involved in the making of Unity?

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161803398874989 wrote:
Well to be honest I don't think Amancio should be making Assassin's Creed games. The guy clearly wants to be making RPGs. So let him make real RPGs, rather than forcing him into this in-between thing that's never going to lead anywhere.

What's wrong with the series is bigger than any one person. The problem Unity's RPG elements is not that they exist, but the fact that in their current form they exist to serve monetization rather than player experimentation. That sounds like something that Ubi higher-ups would have pushed unity in the direction of, not a core tenet of it from the start. Ubi's microtransaction experimentation started very recently, Unity's been in dev for a long time.

Assassin's Creed 1 had linear RPG progression elements. that was fine. it's not the only progression structure that a good AC game could fit into.

wouldn't be a surprise if Amancio + bombs were mostly a coincidence. they shelved a lot of that stuff when moving into the new engine in AC3, I bet he just ended up leading the team that was intending to pick them back up again.

As I said, those particular flavors of gadgets don't really fit into my idea of the assassin experience. hope they go pretty far back in time and use that as an excuse to ditch them.

Jade Raymond was in charge of Ubi Toronto, the studio that did the co-op missions for Unity. She announced she was leaving 22 days before Unity launched.

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Or maybe Amancio is the Micheal Bay of gaming. Tongue But there's nothing wrong with that. Many people don't seem to like the occasional explosions and action scenes, even on this site Shock , but there's no harm in that as long as the game is overall great.

Speaking of which, another complaint is with the story. It may be short, but if you take your time and do side missions and stuff you can stretch it to a few weeks before you finish the game. Not much character development, but some nice twists and surprises here and there.

And after all the story we've had from the past six console games, spinoffs, and simultaneously released Rogue, I'd rather focus on the gameplay. They seem to take the opposite approach of AC3, which was very slow.

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So, new assassin's creed leaked. whatever, read about it somewhere else.

I wanted to write a bit about what I think could feasibly happen to the series, given its situation.
been learning a bit more about why ubisoft has been making the decisions they are: they're a public company, meaning they need to make a certain amount of money every year to please shareholders. currently, Assassin's Creed is their only really big series, and continues to make more money each year. (which is what shareholders are also looking for.) Without the support yearly AC releases have given them, Ubi would likely be in a bad spot right now. in their situation, it doesn't matter how much money they made in the past, if they don't make a steadily increasing profit, their existence could be jeopardized.

They seem to be aware of the tenuousness of their position, and are trying to create things that reach as much mainstream appeal as AC does, so not all of the burden has to be placed upon it.

The best case scenario is the new AC coming out next year and restoring (mainstream) confidence alongside The Division, followed by a mix of Watch Dogs 2, maybe a Far Cry sequel, and another new IP taking the place of AC in the following year.

Watch Dogs had a pretty strong start despite mixed critical reception, and Far Cry, while nowhere near AC sales levels, is building a reputation as a solid open world FPS.

Assassin's Creed will never have the creative freedom to slow down and reexamine itself unless Ubisoft's other series can buy it some time to do so.

Predictions for next year's Assassin's Creed: it will address the main complaints of performance issues, glitches, and microtransactions, offer some new tools, slightly improved movement precision, and do very little else differently from Unity. This will likely be enough to get it a fairly good score and reception among the mainstream.

I definitely won't be buying it at launch, maybe when it's cheaper if it seems better than I expected. All I really hope for is that it'll be a solid enough temporary band-aid that this series might one day become something more.

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may have touched on this before, but what is the point of eagle vision as-is? it's meant to cut down on the need for HUD elements, but it's made redundant by HUD markers.

I think it'd be best for eagle vision to be more integrated into the hud, and consist of subtle contextual hints depending on what the player is actually looking at. In this way, eagle vision would be more indicative of how an assassin sees the world, and less an alternate vision mode.

It would also make the previously mentioned idea of scoping out a climb before executing it feel a lot more natural, if all that is required is getting line of sight. Not to mention the other control options that come with freeing up the eagle vision input.

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Calvar The Blade wrote:
may have touched on this before, but what is the point of eagle vision as-is? it's meant to cut down on the need for HUD elements, but it's made redundant by HUD markers.

I think it'd be best for eagle vision to be more integrated into the hud, and consist of subtle contextual hints depending on what the player is actually looking at. In this way, eagle vision would be more indicative of how an assassin sees the world, and less an alternate vision mode.

It would also make the previously mentioned idea of scoping out a climb before executing it feel a lot more natural, if all that is required is getting line of sight. Not to mention the other control options that come with freeing up the eagle vision input.

This is actually really clever and I'd like to see something like that happen. Focusing or looking at something for a while would enhance the effect, potentially. Kind of like how Old!Ezio in Revelations needed to Focus on individual targets within a Group to see if they were the one he was looking for. But less... Game-y. I dunno.

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I actually really like Unity's EV, and that you kind of have to use it all the time. Also rreducing the number of HUD elements increases immersion, which for me is key to AC. I like turnisg SSI off only to hear a guard yell at me and get **** scared and not knowing where to run.

They could really minimize the HUD more though.

hey team, we should add the players uplay name above the health bar, and an assassin insignia, and DIAMONDS

Why not just have a few health bars by the minimap?

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slembroccoli wrote:
I actually really like Unity's EV, and that you kind of have to use it all the time. Also rreducing the number of HUD elements increases immersion, which for me is key to AC.

They could really minimize the HUD more though.

hey team, we should add the players uplay name above the health bar, and an assassin insignia, and DIAMONDS

Why not just have a few health bars by the minimap?

From what I've gathered, the "immersion" of the game has nothing to do with the past, but with the present. They idea is to make you feel like your working through memories in an at home setting. In this reality, you WOULD have names and stuff on a HUD. The game is no longer designed to immerse you the past, but to immerse you in an alternative present. This is why, at the very beginning, when you first start the game, you aren't dropped into an Ubisoft/AC menu... you are dropped into a Helix menu. The game (and immersion) started the moment you put in the disc, not when you entered the Animus as Arno.

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Double McStab with Cheese wrote:
slembroccoli wrote:
I actually really like Unity's EV, and that you kind of have to use it all the time. Also rreducing the number of HUD elements increases immersion, which for me is key to AC.

They could really minimize the HUD more though.

hey team, we should add the players uplay name above the health bar, and an assassin insignia, and DIAMONDS

Why not just have a few health bars by the minimap?

From what I've gathered, the "immersion" of the game has nothing to do with the past, but with the present. They idea is to make you feel like your working through memories in an at home setting. In this reality, you WOULD have names and stuff on a HUD. The game is no longer designed to immerse you the past, but to immerse you in an alternative present. This is why, at the very beginning, when you first start the game, you aren't dropped into an Ubisoft/AC menu... you are dropped into a Helix menu. The game (and immersion) started the moment you put in the disc, not when you entered the Animus as Arno.

Extremely important, and what most people fail to understand about Assassin's Creed. This has been the case since AC1, and I've always loved that about it. I adored the fact that HUDs and bars and meters, and Desynchronization as a death mechanic - all of it made sense and all of it immersed me in the world further. Because like, that's the real story, that's what's actually happening. The in-Animus gameplay was originally designed to provide power and strength to a Modern Day character so that they may progress in their own battles; of course, that changed over time, but... Yeah.

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Double McStab with Cheese wrote:
slembroccoli wrote:
I actually really like Unity's EV, and that you kind of have to use it all the time. Also rreducing the number of HUD elements increases immersion, which for me is key to AC.

They could really minimize the HUD more though.

hey team, we should add the players uplay name above the health bar, and an assassin insignia, and DIAMONDS

Why not just have a few health bars by the minimap?

From what I've gathered, the "immersion" of the game has nothing to do with the past, but with the present. They idea is to make you feel like your working through memories in an at home setting. In this reality, you WOULD have names and stuff on a HUD. The game is no longer designed to immerse you the past, but to immerse you in an alternative present. This is why, at the very beginning, when you first start the game, you aren't dropped into an Ubisoft/AC menu... you are dropped into a Helix menu. The game (and immersion) started the moment you put in the disc, not when you entered the Animus as Arno.

Extremely important, and what most people fail to understand about Assassin's Creed. This has been the case since AC1, and I've always loved that about it. I adored the fact that HUDs and bars and meters, and Desynchronization as a death mechanic - all of it made sense and all of it immersed me in the world further. Because like, that's the real story, that's what's actually happening. The in-Animus gameplay was originally designed to provide power and strength to a Modern Day character so that they may progress in their own battles; of course, that changed over time, but... Yeah.

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DarkAlphabetZoup wrote:
I adored the fact that HUDs and bars and meters, and Desynchronization as a death mechanic - all of it made sense and all of it immersed me in the world further. Because like, that's the real story, that's what's actually happening. The in-Animus gameplay was originally designed to provide power and strength to a Modern Day character so that they may progress in their own battles; of course, that changed over time, but... Yeah.

But why would "I" need to see my username? And a colored symbol that only makes sense in co-op? It could have been contextual. I could know what level of gear I was wearing by looking at the gear.

I agree that the previous games' HUD was great and immersive in it's own way, but Unity's is just stupid and cluttered. "I" could easily have made progress in the Helix without knowing that I had unspent Sync Points or that I had captured 41 thieves.

All of the HUD could have been compressed into the lower half of the screen, with exactly the same info. Even then I would remove stuff, mostly the pop-ups.

EDIT

Something like this: (click to open full-size)

The sword/hidden blade icon is useless. The same info is portrayed via the control button.

The eagle vision icon is useless. The cooldown could probably be merged with the control icon by not displaying the text until it is ready, or having a colored overlay on the icon (same way the eagle icon is now).

Everything but the health bar in the upper left is useless, except maybe the co-op skill icon.

The co-op skill icon would be hidden and/or not usable unless in co-op and/or placed by the ammunition weapon icons. Not sure about this one. Not too fond of the crazy abilities though. Seems we'll be getting personas in Victory accessible via another mechanic anyway.

The empty hand control icon would be purely contextual and thus not needed in the HUD. The parkour up/down buttons are simple in function and would not be shown after the tutorial.

We would be able to disable ALL HUD at any time, including combat overlay on enemies (white glow), interact pop-ups, dots over people's heads, mission markers and other SSI.

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That, I do agree with. The HUD is an important element of AC's mythos and immersion, but you're right in saying it's just way too much now. I enjoyed it the most in AC1 and AC2 where the Animus and the Puppeteering Concept were actually huge mechanics in the story-gameplay-integration.

Unity is the only AC game in which turning off HUD actually made a noticeable difference to me in how much I enjoyed the gameplay. That probably speaks for itself. Ubisoft doesn't seem particularly good at the whole, minimalist thing. To be fair, it is an Open World game - and it's harder to do that for a game like that as opposed to something like Uncharted or The Last of Us, but the Eagle Vision mechanic could certainly allow them to try.

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slembroccoli wrote:
We would be able to disable ALL HUD at any time, including combat overlay on enemies (white glow), interact pop-ups, dots over people's heads, mission markers and other SSI.

Didn't someone here make a topic about how to disable HUD? Something about the right control stick or "C" on PC?

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Yeah in Unity you can, but it only disables the static elements. SSI is still shown for some reason. And even THE POP-UPS. Since AC3 the main mission objective cannot even be hidden using menus (maybe other games as well).

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Believe it or not, there were several times during the game where the pop-ups would OVERLAP with the letter that was showing.

Stuff like that really grinds my gears...

As for the UI design, I feel like that they're taking 2 steps forward and 1 big step backwards. I was really impressed with everything compressed to the lower half of the screen (although I believe that the top ups on the upper half could have been compressed down or eliminated altogether).

The menu system is still of a mixed bag for me. I'd much rather have a grid layout of different options, rather than one long scrolling one.

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Vesferatu wrote:
The menu system is still of a mixed bag for me. I'd much rather have a grid layout of different options, rather than one long scrolling one.

I completely agree with this at this point.

Also, I hate the pop-ups in all capacities.

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Can't you just disable the pop-ups?

I disabled "updates" in the HUD options menu and I no longer get messages like : X amount of creed points earned, etc.

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I don't mind if things pop up. I just don't want them to

a) overlap with other HUD
b) not be too big or too cluttered
c) flexible enough to the point where I can determine the rate of WHEN they pop up
d) movable so that I can place them at different corners of the screen

ACU has failed to meet all 4 requirements.

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very good discussion going on. I understand that some prefer Eagle Vision to be a toggle between information and no information. My issue with that has always been that it, like most "detective vision" mechanics, makes everything monochrome, basically turning any environment into a samey one. My point is I'd prefer Eagle vision itself to be a much subtler effect, to the point where you could freely keep it on at all times during gameplay without feeling like you're missing anything (or feeling like you need to use it as a crutch), whether by it being that way by default, or put on a toggle.

regarding more essential HUD elements, I think most would agree that AC3's system of everything at the bottom two corners was great. I would prefer ammo/cash pickups and such to be represented by "in world" text, like how Unity floats it over Arno's head. It would also be great if accessing the animus database were a more in-world affair as well, since cutting down on pop-up boxes is great, and I think people miss it a lot more than they would if it were a friendly ball of light in front of a building (would also be a good collectible, as it would have immediate rewards and could be applicable to more than just historical facts. would be really cool if it could replace all other collectibles, many of which have redundant functions.)

So I've been thinking about the difference between an Assassin's thinking and a player's. The Assassin wants to create openings to strike their target and escape. They want to do this because it's the only way to kill them without being killed.

The player has the ability to create an opening, strike at their target without being seen, and escape. But the player also has the ability to walk in through the front door, get spotted, run away, throw a smoke bomb, kill some guards, throw another smoke bomb, kill more guards, hide until they go back to their posts, run past them, get spotted by their target, throw a smoke bomb, kill their target, run out of smoke bombs, heal often with their medicine to kill all the aggroed guards, run out, and kill a few random dudes for fun.

The game does not make playing like an Assassin essential to survival. The flaw of the series' more open missions is that it exposes that the game world is designed around allowing the player to do literally whatever they want, with few restrictions. you take away the arbitrary failstate and you can see that the systems themselves are not hostile enough to create a failstate for anyone who just wants to take the most obvious path through.

Failure is important in games. people don't like to fail, but they can understand failure as a way of scoping out what their limitations are. And when it feels like there are no limitations, people don't feel empowered. all good power fantasies have consequences. mayhem in GTA has no weight if the cops are completely ineffectual. People just don't like failure that seems arbitrary, like you're being told to play a certain way when there's no physical evidence that you'd need to.

Assassin's Creed has been focusing on rediscovering its freedom, but what it needs more than that is to build better walls.

If we're meant to be stealthy, make us so by giving us something we feel the need to hide from.

If we're meant to be patient, make us so by giving us something we feel the need to wait for.

If we're meant to be merciful, make us so by giving us reasons not to kill everyone we see.

Mordor's boss resistances seemed a little too gamey to me in their exact content, but I like the concept of enemies that necessitate different playstyles based on their skills. it's kinda a letdown that every offensive skill you have is usually effective against any assassination target, as it makes them all feel the same.

Assassins are similar to characters like Sherlock Holmes, in that they have dedicated their life to becoming specialists in many forms of murder, to the exclusion of other skills. It thereby stands to reason that they would have to be careful of targets that are skilled in ways they are not, or ones with habits that reduce the effectiveness of one of their assassination tactics.

I think the ideal form of a mordor-like resistance system for AC would be a single "specialization", and a single "habit". I'd stay away from "invulnerability" to things, but something like a habit that means the target keeps an eye on the rooftops would effectively negate air assassination, for example.

Personality of a target doesn't have to come from their inherent abilities, as simple patterns and context can create novel gameplay, but it definitely helps contribute to the feeling of intelligent resistance from those inhabiting the world.

And I think people find it more fun to thwart resistance that feels designed to actually be a threat to them, not simply a minor inconvenience. And if things that ARE just inconvenient are stripped out, people resent failure less (imagine if desynchronizing and respawning at a checkpoint took 1 second)

But at the same time, I think AC could also do with a less binary system of interaction with people. Playing through Unity's excellent murder mysteries reminds me of how much the series excells when it's just letting you explore and get involved in low-key events, all leading up to something big.

I think the reception to AC1 convinced Ubisoft that people want a quicker pace of action, but I don't think that's the case. I think people would welcome a game that wasn't afraid to slow things down for a bit and let you get to know the world. Assassinations need not be bookended by hot air balloon chases. If the homestead of AC3 were more polished, and replaced some of the more filler-ish AC3 missions in the main path, no-one would have complained.

Big games that take a long time to finish benefit from variety in tone and pace. What is the point of an open world when stealth and stabbing are the ONLY ways you're expected to interact with it? What is the point of following a person's whole life when we only see them working, never their days off?

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Been thinking a bit about nonviolent interaction in AC. AC2 introduced the faction system, which allowed you to hire different groups to distract guards in various ways. This was a cool concept, but in practice the groups existed solely in immobile pods, waiting around for you to hire them, as their sole purpose. The concept of an Assassin hiring civillians to help them out is interesting, but the way it's always worked has felt a bit too much like a mechanic, rather than a personal interaction.

There are many approaches that could change this, but my idea is to have a system where you can target any NPC in an environment and wave them over, wherin you'll enter a dialogue tree that allows you to bribe them to perform specific actions on specific individuals or in specific places. this on its own feels a lot less proscripted than the faction pod system, but the concept of different individuals having different uses could still be maintained. For example, a regular crowd member might be able to ask a guard for directions, reducing his awareness for a small amount of time, but a prostitute might be able to lead a guard away from his post, and a guard might be able to convince some of his buddies to clear out.

Designing missions around these sorts of interactions might require standardizing the general percentage makeup of a crowd, as well as giving the player a mission-specific budget and each NPC action being priced according to its effectiveness. The idea of the budget being that spreading too much money around a single area would inevitably lead to loose lips and bring into question why the mysterious killer had so many resources to spare that they paid off the whole block. (as the idea seems to be that Assassin work is passed off as isolated incidents, not hits backed by a large organization.) from a gameplay standpoint, bribing every guard in an area shouldn't be possible. More on economics in a later post.

Beyond this, I think the same dialogue tree system would also be interesting in investigations. (which I think should make use of the mystery-solving mechanics of Unity)

It would present an excellent way to allow the player to choose what information they actually want to learn about their target, as well as giving the mystery-solving more depth. (previously you could only get one statement from each person.) it could also give interactions with regular folk more flavor, which would contribute to the series becoming about the player actually getting to know a city and its citizens.

The build-up to an assassination, the bribes, the whispers behind closed doors. This is one of the things about its premise AC has never really nailed. I think the main path of any AC should be based on a strict, well-polished tempo of build-up, climax, repeat, branching non-linear investigations and low-tempo interactions leading to an open-ended Assassination.

Hot air balloon chases, linear platforming sections, trips through time, and combat sections can still be in the game, and many players would miss them if they weren't. But they would be a better fit for side content: those who tire of the main path will seek them out if they want them, those who don't will enjoy that they aren't there to fuck up the main path's pacing.

The current strategy has seemed to be to throw everything and the kitchen sink in the main path, and then fill out the optional stuff with mostly rudimentary quests and a million collectibles. I don't think that's really working out.

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remember stalkers from Revelations? Bring them back, let them free-run and air assassinate, let them do rudimentary line of sight stealth (no overly conspicuous "in cover" animations, though there should always be a slight tell that something is off with them) which will obviously only be effective if you're not using eagle vision, since then you can see through stuff.

maybe have different types of them: some who go for the normal stabs and air assassinates some who subtly bump into you and poison you, some who shadow you for a while and then bribe the first group of guards you pass to join them in attacking you. They could all have different audio cues.

They shouldn't be overly frequent, but they should all be something the player has to take seriously. for example, one stab from the normal stalker shouldn't kill, but it should hurt, and you shouldn't feel happy about having to fight them at reduced health. spitballing, but I like the idea of having to kill the poisoning one quickly to get the antidote from them, as an experienced poisoner wouldn't take the chance of being screwed if they accidentally poisoned themselves. (the alternative if they escape being going to a doctor, obviously)

normal NPCs would also have to have behaviors that you might confuse with the stalker's, the tell shouldn't be obvious until they're closing in.

regarding more stuff in the open world, I like the place Unity starts to go with how it characterizes the Fanatic and Protector guard factions. If you're being chased by Fanatics and run past Protectors, they'll attack the Fanatics and let you get on with your day. If they see Fanatics going over to yell at someone they'll go up to them and tell them to get out of the area, and they actually will. If you berserk one Fanatic near Protectors, the other will stand by helplessly as the Protectors take care of his maddened friend, and then they ignore the one who wasn't berserked.

This kind of stuff is great, makes the world feel so much more alive, and it needs to be in place with more NPCs with greater depth, and more interplay with what the player can do. This is the kind of stuff that will justify Assassin's Creed being an open world game, especially if it's overlaid under more overarching systems that offer the player larger concrete goals without having to be within a traditional mission structure.

It helps create more moments where something cool happens. Assassin's Creed has, for the most part, remained a game where it's hard to make really cool things happen, and anything less than really cool is usually just a mess. Failure isn't exciting, improvisation is rarely interesting, and the amount of possibilities of how something will happen is usually very low.

Unity, to its credit, takes serious steps to change that, but said steps must be bolder.

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I like the idea of being able to influence pretty much any NPC. Wouldn't that work well with Skyrim's system of bribe/persuade/intimidate?

I also lik having to look over your shoulders for the returning stalkers, and presenting them in different archetypes will make it more interesting to deal with them. From what I've seen about AC Rogue, the Assassins do a pretty good job of keeping the player alert, and slightly paranoid.


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Calvar The Blade wrote:
remember stalkers from Revelations? Bring them back, let them free-run and air assassinate, let them do rudimentary line of sight stealth (no overly conspicuous "in cover" animations, though there should always be a slight tell that something is off with them) which will obviously only be effective if you're not using eagle vision, since then you can see through stuff.

maybe have different types of them: some who go for the normal stabs and air assassinates some who subtly bump into you and poison you, some who shadow you for a while and then bribe the first group of guards you pass to join them in attacking you. They could all have different audio cues.

They shouldn't be overly frequent, but they should all be something the player has to take seriously. for example, one stab from the normal stalker shouldn't kill, but it should hurt, and you shouldn't feel happy about having to fight them at reduced health. spitballing, but I like the idea of having to kill the poisoning one quickly to get the antidote from them, as an experienced poisoner wouldn't take the chance of being screwed if they accidentally poisoned themselves. (the alternative if they escape being going to a doctor, obviously)

They did this in Rogue... to a point.

Yes, they were easy to find. Yes, they were easy to kill. Yes, they did a lot of damage.

One stab did 4 bars of damage (out of a maximum 8 with updrades). Often they were in groups of 2, one on the roof and one on the ground. If you're being too lackadaisical about them, you're dead. If you're in open conflict with others and run to a hide spot where one of them is, you're dead.

"Apollodorus came, Caesar saw, Cleopatra conquered." ― Stacy Schiff, Cleopatra: A Life

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I definitely appreciate Rogue's forays into that kind of system. I think the reason I didn't get too excited about it is it seemed a poor substitute for Assassin AI. applied to nameless open world stalkers rather than such legendary figures, it seems more fitting.

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Calvar The Blade wrote:
So I've been thinking about the difference between an Assassin's thinking and a player's. The Assassin wants to create openings to strike their target and escape. They want to do this because it's the only way to kill them without being killed.

The player has the ability to create an opening, strike at their target without being seen, and escape. But the player also has the ability to walk in through the front door, get spotted, run away, throw a smoke bomb, kill some guards, throw another smoke bomb, kill more guards, hide until they go back to their posts, run past them, get spotted by their target, throw a smoke bomb, kill their target, run out of smoke bombs, heal often with their medicine to kill all the aggroed guards, run out, and kill a few random dudes for fun.

So what if they gave you a time limit to escape the area? It can be beaten in easily half the time, but certain actions will reduce the time left, such as assassinating or staying in the same spot for too long.

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aurllcooljay wrote:
Calvar The Blade wrote:
So I've been thinking about the difference between an Assassin's thinking and a player's. The Assassin wants to create openings to strike their target and escape. They want to do this because it's the only way to kill them without being killed.

The player has the ability to create an opening, strike at their target without being seen, and escape. But the player also has the ability to walk in through the front door, get spotted, run away, throw a smoke bomb, kill some guards, throw another smoke bomb, kill more guards, hide until they go back to their posts, run past them, get spotted by their target, throw a smoke bomb, kill their target, run out of smoke bombs, heal often with their medicine to kill all the aggroed guards, run out, and kill a few random dudes for fun.

So what if they gave you a time limit to escape the area? It can be beaten in easily half the time, but certain actions will reduce the time left, such as assassinating or staying in the same spot for too long.

A time limit just reinforces the fact that the actual guards and hazards the assassin is facing are not actually dangerous enough to justify playing well, and the game has to rely on an arbitrary crutch to challenge the player.

When you fail, it should feel like it was because you were outplayed by the enemy forces, not because you were crushed by the hand of God for not doing things exactly the way he wanted.

If players are instead punished in a less binary way by the actual game world, they will be able to more easily internalize its rules and come up with creative ways to solve problems.

The problem Ubi has to solve isn't just creating failure states, but creating ones that feel fair and encourage experimentation on your next try.

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Calvar The Blade wrote:
When you fail, it should feel like it was because you were outplayed by the enemy forces, not because you were crushed by the hand of God for not doing things exactly the way he wanted.

THIS is why full sync was a good idea in Brotherhood and on... you NEED to do things "exactly the way he wanted" because that's how it happened. This game used to be about reliving an ancestor's life, exactly, to gain knowledge, skills and insight into the present day complications. With Abstergo Entertainment taking over for the Assassin cell, it's more about living in the past to get good footage for Abstergo to use in movies/etc, and to gather knowledge in the environment secondarily. Thus, after AC3, full sync objectives make zero sense from a story standpoint. Before, you needed them to increase synchronization to advance and unlock bits of data. Now, Abstergo has charged us with running around and doing what we want... so full sync should be abolished.

"Apollodorus came, Caesar saw, Cleopatra conquered." ― Stacy Schiff, Cleopatra: A Life

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Double McStab with Cheese wrote:
Calvar The Blade wrote:
When you fail, it should feel like it was because you were outplayed by the enemy forces, not because you were crushed by the hand of God for not doing things exactly the way he wanted.

THIS is why full sync was a good idea in Brotherhood and on... you NEED to do things "exactly the way he wanted" because that's how it happened. This game used to be about reliving an ancestor's life, exactly, to gain knowledge, skills and insight into the present day complications. With Abstergo Entertainment taking over for the Assassin cell, it's more about living in the past to get good footage for Abstergo to use in movies/etc, and to gather knowledge in the environment secondarily. Thus, after AC3, full sync objectives make zero sense from a story standpoint. Before, you needed them to increase synchronization to advance and unlock bits of data. Now, Abstergo has charged us with running around and doing what we want... so full sync should be abolished.

I don't think it fit narratively even in brotherhood, because it was explicitly optional. If it had been required to move the story along then it would have actually felt like it was accurate to the premise of fully syncing memories.

Optional objectives, like that one assassination in Unity where you can choose to rescue a guy from the attic or not? That's the kind of stuff that is good. make that an XP reward.

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I'm not saying you NEEDED to do them to progress... just that they narratively made sense.

"Apollodorus came, Caesar saw, Cleopatra conquered." ― Stacy Schiff, Cleopatra: A Life

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Double McStab with Cheese wrote:
I'm not saying you NEEDED to do them to progress... just that they narratively made sense.

I know you weren't saying that. I'm saying that the fact that you don't need to do them kinda undermines the credibility of their narrative context.

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been rethinking what I've said about the main path of AC games. I still think the basic main loop should be simple, but I also think exploring side content should be something that the main path should encourage you to diverge from it. Giving the player a clear narrative break like Black Flag did, but maybe actually requiring the player to do some side content before continuing with the story?

something like a notification: "reclaim one district or do one side mission to unlock the next story mission"?

Or maybe more specific, requiring you to gain a certain amount of resources that side content unlocks, similar to when you had to gain enough resources by any means to upgrade the jackdaw.

Speaking of that, the piracy loop of ACIV is a model that should be seriously looked at. (and is actually kinda similar to Shadow of Mordor, now I think of it) Applying that to a traditional Assassin, it can't be as wantonly destructive or as single-note, nor as immediately gratifying. It's a tricky problem, because Assassins have more complex motivations than Edward or Talion from Mordor, and simulating persistent activities to the degree necessary would be difficult. The main point though, would be to make certain resources available by engaging with these systems, resources which are required at points to advance the story.

I'm considering shifting the focus of the side murder mystery concept from a hand-crafted set of missions to a more modular randomly generated layout that tags NPCs in the world with specific properties and scatters relevant clues in discoverable areas, all resulting in an objective, such as "kill this guy", "steal this thing", or "destroy this thing". Which all sounds hideously complex, and there would probably be a need to cater to people who like to solve their mysteries aggressively.

but it could pay off in an amazing way if done well. At first it would probably have to complement bespoke content, as in Black Flag, but I would hope that in the future open world games eschew the idea of handcrafted "side content" altogether, and instead focus on seamlessly integrating hand-crafted story missions into a less static world.

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It's been quite a while since I've posted here. I've enjoyed reading this thread. I found many of the thoughts here interesting, so many that I'm not even going to try to reply to them specifically. What struck me most of all is how close my overall viewpoint is to Calvar's after completing Unity. This game was by all appearances an attempt to reset expectations for the series, to do the closest thing to a ground up revamp possible, and as a result I feel like I have a good sense of where things are going and can look at the series' future with almost total dispassion.

I enjoyed Unity quite a bit on the whole, it has many very good aspects and many not so good to outright awful ones. I'm not going to go into detail because that would never end, instead I'll just state what it all comes down to for me personally: mission design, even at its best, is not where I want it to be, and I don't think it ever will be, at least on a consistent basis, as long as the games maintain their current structure, both in terms of gameplay and how the games themselves are produced. Unity comes achingly close to reaching my desired standard at times, especially in the co-op missions (the co-op missions are tragically flawed in my opinion, I won't go into my reasoning here unless someone asks since it's a whole topic on its own), but those times are rare, and I don't see that changing. If I'm right, these games will remain curiosities to me, instead of things that I can really sink my teeth into. It's probably impossible for me to love absolutely everything about these games even in theory, again because of their basic gameplay structure and production realities, but I'm willing to overlook a lot if the core value I desire is there, as in AC3 (which, to be clear, still wasn't ideal for my tastes, even when I did everything possible to squeeze the best of it out). I could go into exactly what I mean here, but that's just another big topic that doesn't seem appropriate. Calvar already did a fantastic job of describing the production side in post #19, and that post also illustrates what I mean by dispassion perfectly. That post is truth, raw and unfiltered. Beautifully said.

One last thing on a different note: there is one video I'm tempted to make for Unity, it's quick, simple, and sadly flawed, but there's a cool moment where wallcrawling is actually useful indoors that might make it more worthwhile. It's tragic that the game encourages you to make use of alternate methods of movement indoors so rarely, there's so much opportunity there. The video would be an (almost) perfect stealth assassination of Le Peletier with no tools or abilities used (outside of the basics of course; the hidden blade, blending and eagle vision) and no other enemy interactions. The level design bizarrely forces you to reveal yourself after performing the special assassination unless you use an ability as far as I can tell, but the escape would pretty much just be the infiltration in reverse so I might not even put that to video anyway. Let me know if there's interest.

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I'd definitely be interested in a video of it. Anything to breathe new life into Unity or help me appreciate it more would be great. As for the exfiltration, if it would be too much trouble - no need to do it. If it wouldn't be much trouble - do it. There's something satisfying about book-ending a stealth mission with an Infiltration and an Exfiltration on either side.

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InTehVaria wrote:
The video would be an (almost) perfect stealth assassination of Le Peletier with no tools or abilities used (outside of the basics of course; the hidden blade, blending and eagle vision) and no other enemy interactions. The level design bizarrely forces you to reveal yourself after performing the special assassination unless you use an ability as far as I can tell, but the escape would pretty much just be the infiltration in reverse so I might not even put that to video anyway. Let me know if there's interest.

I have a similar thing in mind, but my video recording is crap in Unity so it'll have to wait. Basically you run around the left side of the palace, climb a meter above two guards in front of the entrance that leads to the poisoned wine, grab it, climb above the guards again and find an open window 5 meters to the right. Enter, climb the staircase from behind with the right timing, blend and swap wine bottle. A stealthy escape would require a smoke bomb or disguise, which actually makes sense as you could put on le Peletier's clothes, though I don't know if the mechanics allow actually disguising as his corpse rather than a civilian. Well... at least it makes sense in a real-life situation. As you say, escape the way you entered.

Route on map.

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Similar to how I did it, Slembroccoli, except I started out climbing the roof, killed the gunman at the top and dropped down before I reached the part with the other gunmen. Grabbed the wine and climbed over again. Going behind the stairs is the stealthiest way, making the alternate entrance a joke.

Your right about the post assassination, Varia. Can't get into blend with civilians until after getting seen by guards. Make the video pretty please.

slembroccoli wrote:
A stealthy escape would require a smoke bomb or disguise, which actually makes sense as you could put on le Peletier's clothes, though I don't know if the mechanics allow actually disguising as his corpse rather than a civilian. Well... at least it makes sense in a real-life situation. As you say, escape the way you entered.

You can disguise yourself as an enemy when you're killing them. Just make sure to select disguise right after pushing the attack button and you'll keep it even after the animation. Haven't tried it on a target, but I assume it will work like on regular enemies. But as Varia said, using the basic skills Arno starts out with.