San Diego Comic Con 2011 – Assassin's Creed: The Creation of a Universe
This was one panel that we had to attend. Present at the panel was Darby McDevitt, a writer, Brent Ashe a presentation designer, Louis-Pierre Pharand a producer for transmedia and Cameron Stewart, the writer and artist for Assassin's Creed: The Fall. This only gave us some hints as to what is to come in both Revelations and Assassin's Creed 3. This series is known for its narrative and multi-faceted approach.
McDevitt started the panel telling what he had done in the past, having written the story and script for Bloodlines, script of Discovery and the story for Revelations and Embers. He's been on board for about 2 years. He was asked how he starts the story and he explained that the orders come down from above giving a general sense of time period and regions and the directions of the story. You pluck stories and events from history, add in the fictional characters and put it all in a blender. He added he was saddened at what was left out as he enjoyed writing it a lot. He explained that they already know what is going to happen to the main characters. He did not even hint, at present what is to come for Desmond, Ezio or Altair.
LP (Louis-Pierre), the transmedia producer and the head of the Ubiworkshop. Ubiworkshop is responsible for numerous shorts that we have seen emerge to help flush out the Assassin's Creed universe. They are working closely with Darby to develop transmedia opportunities, be it working with Cameron and Carl on the comics or producing Assassin's Creed: Ascendence. This year it is working on Assassin's Creed: Embers as well as an Encyclopedia for the Assassin's Creed universe. He started to explain Assassin's Creed: Embers, which is a twenty minute short about Ezio in his later years. He explained this way the best way to handle this part of Ezio's story as it simply would not fit into gameplay very well. He felt it was a great narrative piece and something he hopes we will enjoy.
Next up was Brent, explaining his role within the Assassin's Creed universe. He joined in Brotherhod as the presentation director. He was responsible for what we've come to know as the Animus as well as other aspects of the graphical user interface. He tells us that we will see changes in the Animus to reflect what has happened to Desmond at the end of Brotherhood. He is also involved with the brand of Assassin's Creed, so he has a hand in the logos, t-shirts and other fine goodies.
Cameron followed, telling us he was one of two people who work on the comic series. He explained that the series “Assassin's Creed: The Fall” was going to be compiled and avaliable for purchase in November with a new ten page epilogue. He told us a bit about the origin of the Assassin's Creed comic, just out a desire to expand into other media to tell a better story. He is presently working on “Assassin's Creed: The Chain”. They decided to go with someone else opposed to Ezio to keep things interesting. They are creating new things that go along side the games. He made it clear they are very close, geographically, to Ubisoft Montreal and while they had a lot of creative freedom they chose to work closely with Ubisoft to ensure that it had a proper fit within the universe.
The panel swung back to Darby, asking him what he felt really defined Assassin's Creed, not just the game but in other media as well. He explained it depended on the format. The general premise of revisiting the memories is the core of the games while the core premise of the narrative itself, like in the comic, is to explore the sci-fi concept. He also felt it gave the universe a chance to enrich things in the present much more than the games could. Cameron chimed in, explaining that they had not intended to do this but that was how things simply worked out.
The next question for Darby was about the research that went into the series. He explained it was a lot of reading and talking with the right people. He explained that even for the dialogue they had coaches for all the languages to ensure the accuracy. Darby told us that there were more moments than he would like to admit about the coach stopping them and making minor corrections for culture and diction. He explained that one of their coaches is from the area that the game takes place and is a huge fan. Darby explained that it was a part of the series just getting to where it is and the need for such people to be a part of it.
Darby was then asked to tell what he could about the forthcoming Revelations. He told us that the main effort they had made was to make the trailer much closer to the game. The trailer itself was part of the story we would be finding inside the game. It was turned out later in their efforts to get it closer to the game opposed to being metaphors for the new abilities.
Brett took it next, being asked about how they kept the balance between the past and the Sci-Fi element. He told us they always look for opportunities to remind people of the things happening outside of the Animus Simulation. He reminds us that they are doing two stories at once, that of Desmond and Altair/Ezio.
After that, they took some questions from Twitter, the first for Darby asking where Ezio starts in Revelations. He responds with “see above”, refering to the trailer comment he made earlier. He elaborates a bit with he's on a journey. The next one was for L.P. if Ezio will have kids, to which we were told he'd have a son and daughter, Marchello and Flavia, who will be playing a big role in Embers. And with that, the rolled a trailer for Assassin's Creed: Embers.
The animation has a very distinct look, reminiscent of the game but still its own creature, the Moderator asked about this and L.P. made it clear they wanted it to be separate from the game but they wanted to keep to the visual style of the game. All the environments from the movie are in the game. Darby explained that they went location scouting in the game to figure out where things would be happening in the movie. The Moderator then asked when to watch “Embers”, L.P. recommended that you watch it after. He did explain that you can show it to your Mom and it will stand alone. It can spoil things in Revelations.
Now the floor was opened up for questions. The first was if there was going to be customization in the Brotherhood recruits. Darby explained that there will be a more elaborate system and a higher level you can take them to. Even the way you can recruit them will be more varied plus they hinted at some more surprises. The next one was about the historical accuracy, Darby explained they have a lot of people watching over them but it was more about reigning themselves in to assure a solid story. There is a tendency to want to put in all these little things inside. Just like the following one where he could not say anything so it could not be taken out of context as “this is where the next Assassin's Creed is going to be”. Then they were asked about the Pieces of Eden, if we were going to see more variety of them and see what they offer. Darby explained they wanted to be concrete but leave just a little open for a future project to take advantage of. The panel wrapped up shortly after that, but it was a blast to see.
This is one game and one world that is going to stay with us for quite some time. See the role that Desmond and all his ancestors can play is astounding as well as the others who can trace their lineage to either the Assassins or the Templars. Keep your eyes on this game series!