The 2013 Survey That Foretold The Future Of Assassin's Creed

The 2013 Survey That Foretold The Future Of Assassin's Creed

Late last year, Assassin's Creed publisher Ubisoft sent a survey to me and other players of their long-running top franchise. They were asking for our reactions to Assassin's Creed IV and oh, uh, just wondering what we might want to see in future games. Well. They weren't really just wondering.

I wrote about the survey last year and made the incredibly safe prediction that they were testing their actual plans on some of us in the Assassin's Creed-playing public.

Now, with both of 2014's new Assassin's Creed games finally officiallyannounced, it's interesting to see just how much they were tipping their hand.

And it's worth noting the very small number of things they were just wondering about that haven't come true... yet?

The Survey Questions That Were Really Teases For 2014's Games

In a section about "your expectations for future Assassin's Creed games, they asked about the following possibly totally random what-if scenarios:

The 2013 Survey That Foretold The Future Of Assassin's Creed

Oh, that!

That sounds like something from this week...

The 2013 Survey That Foretold The Future Of Assassin's Creed
The 2013 Survey That Foretold The Future Of Assassin's Creed

In case you think I'm just cherry-picking, the other expectations they were wondering about were things like whether we'd expect the "ability to extend the game experience on my mobile or tablet," "more assassination missions," "more ship customisation," "a new present day hero character," "the possibility to create and customise my own villa" — you know, things that are either a given or are pretty basic desires for an AC sequel.

While just totally spitballing, they tossed this out there:

The 2013 Survey That Foretold The Future Of Assassin's Creed

Ringing any bells?

The 2013 Survey That Foretold The Future Of Assassin's Creed

CAN YOU HEAR THE CLANGING?

The 2013 Survey That Foretold The Future Of Assassin's Creed

HELLO? YES?

Shall we take a visit to http://assassinscreed.ubi.com/en-US/games/as...?

The 2013 Survey That Foretold The Future Of Assassin's Creed
The 2013 Survey That Foretold The Future Of Assassin's Creed

This survey was full of more hints than a Prima guide.

I mean, look at this:

The 2013 Survey That Foretold The Future Of Assassin's Creed

Compare that to this, which is from my own preview of Unity:

Level designer Bruno Saint Andre told me that a quarter of the game's buildings will have playable interiors, which is a massive increase from previous games.

Again, the majority of things that the survey was asking about for future AC games were no-brainers. Almost all of the ones that weren't obvious seem to have been testing the reaction to actual, planned 2014 Assassin's Creed games.

They were asking things like if we want to play "as a new Assassin, in a different historical time period" or whether we want "more linear and scripted missions" or 'the possibility to influence the look and feel of the city through my progression in the game." These questions appear to be filler.

One more non-filler question:

The 2013 Survey That Foretold The Future Of Assassin's Creed

That appears to have been pretty much about this Unity feature:

The 2013 Survey That Foretold The Future Of Assassin's Creed

Survey? Prophecy? Or Pile Of Spoilers? All of the above!

The Survey Questions That Were Maybe Testing Whether We'd Care About Parts Of 2014's Games

Ubisoft's survey included oddly-specific questions about Assassin's Creed IV's sailing and ship combat systems almost almost as if the mega-developer was planning to make more games with that system.

Of course they were.

This year's new-gen Assassin's Creed Unity appears to have no sailing. The old-gen Assassin's Creed Rogue will. This week's initial previews of Rogue both in Game Informer magazine and on Ubisoft's own blog give a handful of details about how the ship combat will work.

Would you be surprised that this week's previews indicate that the mortar is back?

Maybe that's why they were asking!

The 2013 Survey That Foretold The Future Of Assassin's Creed

Had you played AC IV, though, you may have been wondering why there were asking whether we liked the ram...

The 2013 Survey That Foretold The Future Of Assassin's Creed

The ram was barely a thing in IV.

Ah, but here's the Ubi blog on Rogue:

The frigid Northern temperatures mean you'll be ramming your way through fields of ice to find hidden locations,

And here's Game Informer:

Shay sets course directly at [the enemy ships], softening his targets with mortar fire and then ramming the one closest while firing a barrage from his front-facing cannons...

and...

With those ships out of the way, Shay moves to investigate the wreck of the Sapphire. It requires smashing through a thick sheet of ice (a ship upgrade that will presumably act as a gating mechanism to players as they progress).

Ramming will be important in Rogue!

But why were they asking about barrels?

The 2013 Survey That Foretold The Future Of Assassin's Creed

One possible reason for the fire barrel question would be that Ubisoft was planning something better than fire barrels for Rogue's naval combat. What's better than fire barrels, you ask?

Ubi blog answers (emphasis added):

The Morrigan also comes equipped with a new set of tools to help you take on enemies in the frigid North Atlantic Ocean, including the puckle gun (a machine gun-like weapon) and burning oil, which creates a trail of fire behind your vessel.

Sometimes a survey asks you about things that Ubisoft is going to let you do in the next year's games. Sometimes the survey asks about a thing that they won't. I hope you weren't too attached to AC IV's diving missions.

The 2013 Survey That Foretold The Future Of Assassin's Creed

Here's the deal: there is no underwater stuff in Rogue, as confirmed in the GI article. The developers argue that it's simply too cold in the game's North Atlantic seas, not just for you to dive but to even swim for that long in the game.

Finding out about what people dislike is important. Gauging disinterest as arguably as crucial as gauging interest — especially if you're about to cut a franchise mainstay from your franchise. I speak, of course, of Assassin's Creed competitive multiplayer.

Bear in mind that both Unity and Rogue have no competitive multiplayer modes. Unity has optional campaign co-op. Rogue is solo-only. They are the first Assassin's Creeds since 2009's Assassin's Creed II to omit competitive multiplayer. Ubisoft had to know that would be the case late last year. Knowing that now puts the following questions in a different light.

The 2013 Survey That Foretold The Future Of Assassin's Creed
The 2013 Survey That Foretold The Future Of Assassin's Creed

The answers I gave last year are in these screencaps. Sorry, fans of AC multiplayer!

The Survey Questions That Haven't Led To Anything... Yet

Not everything in the big 2013 Assassin's Creed survey has come true. Given how much already has, though, it's hard not to bank on the few things not currently serving as bullet points for announced Ubisoft games. After all, I think it's clear at this point that none of these questions were all that random.

For example, the survey was asking about the idea of AC IV spawning pirate-themed games that didn't involve the assassins. You'd play as a pirate not as an assassin. They have announced nothing like that so far.

The 2013 Survey That Foretold The Future Of Assassin's Creed

This next question had caught my eye and it was initially what I thought an Assassin's Creed set in Paris might entail.

The 2013 Survey That Foretold The Future Of Assassin's Creed

I asked Unity's designers about this back in June. At the time, they gave me the impression that even though Unity may span the phases of the French Revolution it doesn't seem to involve big switches between time periods. I'd been imagining a game that let you see the same city in a few different centuries, hopping back and forth sort of how you moved back and forth across eras in the classic Zelda game Ocarina of Time. I don't think Unity does anything like that, but maybe a 2015 Assassin's Creed will!

Finally, for this category of Things They Asked About That Were Oddly Specific But Haven't Been Announced, we have this:

The 2013 Survey That Foretold The Future Of Assassin's Creed

So specific. So weird. Any theories?

And there you have it. Dear Ubisoft, please send me a new Assassin's Creed survey at the end of this year. You don't have to include any winking emoticons. I'll infer that they're in there.


Comments

    It's specific because it's a cash cow and they are giving people exactly what they want. It's not a bad thing in particular, its just a money thing, make no mistake.

    Assassins creed games are good for now and if they get better that's cool. But I'm definitely getting assassins fatigue. After all, assassins creed is kinda like Sly gameplay wise, and after playing all 4 I needed a break.

    Last edited 09/08/14 11:25 am

    The possibility to play as a female character?

    - Not interested
    - Not gonna happen because, uh, reasons, lol
    - TIPPING INTENSIFIES

    Last edited 09/08/14 11:27 am

      As ubisoft have stated, multiple times, onto deaf ears.
      IN CO-OP YOU ARE PLAYING AS THE MAIN CHARACTER IN THE STORY STILL.
      Co-op isnt some seperate game like the other AC's.
      It makes zero sense to have u change into a female.

        People are still being stupid thinking it is like the online multiplayer. "Just let us change to girl avatar instead". Bloody stupid people.

      Dear stupid people,

      Even if your condition prevents you from understanding satire and parsing social subtleties, your over-focusing on 'factual' information should inform you that this questionnaire came out allegedly before the decision was made to format the AC Unity multiplayer that way.

      Still your fedoras and put down those juice boxes.

        Uh, how does that change anything at all? The fact is that they don't have competitive MP, they do have co-op which is simply where four clones of the protag play with each other, who happens to be male, and so there's not really any logical way to add a female playable character.

        Besides, they've already dedicated a trailer to introducing a female character who seems to be quite prominent and potentially very interesting. Why the hell are people still bitching about this? It's very clear they're not going on some patriarchal agenda, it's quite clear to me that at this stage, if they could, they would add a playable female character (given the intense pressure by the media and foaming at the mouth SJWs like yourself). It seems obvious that they're only not doing so simply because they cannot, this late in development anyway.

          Oh, you can rescue a woman? HOW PROGRESSIVE OF THEM.

          In case you missed the memo, no one has said 'Add women now'.

          The conversation is 'At what point in the months of planning did Ubisoft think "HEY LET'S EXCLUDE 50% OF THE POPULATION RATHER THAN MAKE AN INTERESTING WAY FOR PLAYERS TO CUSTOMISE THEIR CHARACTER."

          The 'you all play Arno' excuse is the lamest thing ever.

          'Oh, you couldn't have a female, that wouldn't be realistic and would break continuity!'

          INSTEAD YOU GET TO HANG OUT WITH THREE CLONES OF YOURSELF COS THAT IS PERFECTLY NORMAL

          Srsly.

            So you're saying that after you watch a cutscene where Arno says "okay, I gotta go kill this guy before he does whatever", and then you decide to invite some other players seamlessly, so suddenly Arno magically gets a sex change right after the cutscene, right until you kill the target, after which Arno turns back into a male. Doesn't that sound so much more absurd than having 4 characters that look different to you, and thus don't look like your version of Arno so they could well be a completely different character to him. It makes perfect sense, unless of course everyone just runs around with an identical Arno. Either way, the four clones thing has been in games forever.

            HEY LET'S EXCLUDE 50% OF THE POPULATION

            So women aren't allowed to play the game suddenly because there's no female characters? This is extremely exaggerated. I don't look at Tomb Raider and say "OH WELL IT'S A FEMALE PROTAGONIST, THIS WON'T DO AT ALL" and not play it.

            *cue "but they sexualise lara croft so it's different for males"*

            Oh, you can rescue a woman? HOW PROGRESSIVE OF THEM.

            You realise that's a promotional trailer not indicative of the game's actual content? Few of these trailers are actually featured scene by scene in the game. It probably won't even feature in the game.

            I think going as far as to imply they INTENTIONALLY went out of their way to exclude woman by having a man as the protagonist is ironically sexist towards males, making you a hipocrite. Sexist views are not right either way, and you won't be taken seriously if you try oppose sexism by being ignorantly sexist.

            Furthermore. These guys don't sit behind their desks plotting ways to exclude woman. The oposite. They are FREE THINKING enough to be ABLE to tell the story THEY WANT TO tell with who THEY want to tell it with and not shove in blatant 'token' genders and races just to be painfully checkbox politically correct.

            Not to mention there was an Assassins Creed that featured a woman protagonist. She was a woman because that's the story they wanted to tell and it was great.

            I really don't think they are guilty of anything, if anything they are ahead of most other developers when it comes to diversity, I'm sorry you don't see that.

            Last edited 09/08/14 11:50 pm

    Breaking news: game developer seeks feedback on potential game features, includes features in response to positive feedback.

    Fans need to have less of a say, i know we live in this age where for some reason people have strong opinions on things they don't understand. The folly of this is when the person doesn't actually know or is unwilling to admit just how little they really know and responds with arbitrary, ignorant, short-sighted criticism... Which game developers now listen to and use to guide their creative work. The AC series has the potential to be an insightful, relevant and provocative series but ubi's filthy, moneygrubbing ears to the ground and obvious pandering to only one section of the market is causing me to lose favour with their products. (Not really games any more)

      Yes, I heartily agree.
      Assassin's Creed started out with some really cool ideas and an interesting premise. Now it's devolved into a period murder sim catering to lowest common denominator and all the intrigue and subtlety has been yanked from the experience for the sake of sequels and merchandising.

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