Assassin's Creed games can be set in any place at any moment of history. For a time, fans thought the clues in the early games ensured that Assassin's Creed II or maybe Assassin's Creed III would be set in Japan, the player's assassin taking on the role of a ninja or other great martial artist.
Maybe it could have happend, but it wouldn't have been good enough, the game's creative director told me.
Alex Hutchinson, who started overseeing the ACIII project in early 2010, says that "four or five locations were in discussion," for the upcoming game. "The decision is based on what's fresh," he said.
Revolutionary War America felt novel.
"This gives us an opportunity to do something fresh and exciting," he said. "If you got, say Samurai Japan, you'd realise pretty quickly that I think you've played a lot of ninja games, and this is not as interesting as you thought it was going to be."
Hutchinson's producer Francois Pelland sounds a little more open to an AC: Japan, noting that "At some point it's true that any good piece of history could be good for an AC game." (Consider other options from this supposed Ubisoft survey that mentioned Japan, America and other settings.)
The stealth action and de-emphasis on firearms surely made a feudal Japan setting feel natural to many fans. But that was before some AC fans even considered ACII going to the Italian Renaissance and certainly before the series started introducing firearms. That progression brings us to the American Revolution, a setting Hutchinson happily pointed out that most games not only won't touch but are incapable of addressing. "It's cool that no one else could do it," he said. "You couldn't do a shooter in this period because the guns are so bad. You couldn't do most classic genres in this era, so it's sort of untouched. It's sort of virgin soil for video games."
I asked Hutchinson and Pelland to spill the details on the other locations that were considered for AC III. They declined.
To find out what more they are doing in the American Revolution setting, read our big preview of the game. And look for more ACIII coverage on Kotaku in the coming days.