3 Rules The Makers Of Assassin's Creed Origins Used To Design Quests

Assassin’s Creed Origins is an incomprehensibly large game, so packed with quests that most players will likely never see them all. If you do see them all, however, you may notice that they follow certain rules — rules that Ubisoft detailed pretty specifically while making the game.

Speaking on the AIAS Game Maker’s Notebook podcast in an interview published yesterday, Assassin’s Creed Origins director Ashraf Ismail explained that Ubisoft has a “hefty guideline document” for how to make quests in the game.

Most Ubisoft games are made not just in a single main studio but across several of their offices worldwide, so this kind of documentation was important, Ismail said.

“It had to be formalised in a way that we can give it to, let’s say, our studios in Singapore, and Sofia, and there were clear guidelines, and we don’t have to keep repeating those messages,” he told the podcast’s host, Insomniac CEO Ted Price.

Here are a few of the guidelines he brought up:

1) The distance that a quest can take you is capped off depending what the quest is. If it’s what Ismail called a “bread crumb quest”, likely referring to a quest that steers you to a new point of interest, it can take you within 1000m of the quest-giver. “If it’s part of a hub,” he said, “then you have to stay within the bounds of 500.”

“So these are very technical constraints,” Ismail said. “It was really structuring the way we imagined players would spend time in part of the world.”

2) Only one “eradicate” quest is allowed per hub. Those are the ones where you have to take out all of the bandits or guards in one specific location. “That was to not have it be super frustrating that you’re just non-stop attacking,” Ismail said.

3) There can only be one “funny” quest in every zone. “No more than one,” Ismail said.

The whole interview is fascinating, and worth your time — Ismail is an interesting guy with a lot of cool insights on Assassin’s Creed Origins, and he made some salient points about the power of limits like these.

“Having a programming background, I love constraints,” he said. “If you give me a white piece of paper, I’m going to get lost, I’m going to be flying around everywhere. If you give me boundaries, I always feel like, ‘OK, I have nowhere to go but deep.’ For me, constraints are an aspect of design, a valuable thing.”


    Interesting to read/hear, but at the same time puzzling; as much as I like the game, it’s not (as with almost all Ubisoft games I play/have played) because of the quests - I’m just in the first dlc now having completed virtually all of the base game & I can only remember a handful (seriously) of decent quests. I had far more fun just jaunting around the world causing mayhem & exploring but even then it grew old before I’d seen everything.

    It’s the one area I would love them to focus on going forward because the copy/paste/rinse/repeat approach they have to quests in all of their admittedly great open worlds seriously hurt their games & my/some peoples opinion of them long term (hence I haven’t bought an Ubi game at launch/non-sale for a long time now)

    I know the Witcher 3 isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but if ever - and again, just my opinion - there’s an advert for an open world with decent quests AND side quests then that’s it.

    As much as the AC Origins world is amazing, the game is lacking the fun. Quests feel the same and become tedious despite the scenery.

    While I can appreciate the need for this style guide to coordinate dev teams, maybe it contributed to the issue. Do quests all feel the same because the style guide said they should? Need to leave more room for innovation next time.

    Origins was the worst game of the series for me. So I guess they need to re-analyze their ideas.

      Meanwhile it was probably the best game in the series since Black Flag for me.

      One size does not fit all.

        Yeah I'm with you. Definitely the best of the series, and Black Flag stood out as well.

        Black Flag and Brotherhood are the top two for me. I just found I was spending a ton of time fighting the controls of the game. AC isn't known for it's amazing controls, but idk, this one seemed worse than the others.

    Probably what contributed to the 'questing' quickly became boring, repetitive and not particularly memorable. Origins is a great example of why narrative driven experiences shouldn't be directed by programmers who come up with arbitrary rules that are ultimately not consumer focused but dev focused.

    You know what should define how many “eradicate” quests are allowed? Context. Context driven by the world, its inhabitants and the protagonists relationship with them. not arbitrary rules that you imposed because you lack creativity and direction.
    ‘OK, I have nowhere to go but deep.’ - the experience wasn't deep, it was shallow and imposed. even basic relationships between core characters were superficial at best.

    You need writers and directors; not programmers. The world of Origins is incredible, alive and vibrant. The way you as a player interact with it - is not.

    The biggest cool new thing about this is the Discovery Tour. My daughter who is too young to play the game can spend hours wandering around Egypt.

    Their school has been studying ancient Egypt and next week am going to take my PS4 and do a lesson where we will take a tour around the places the kids have been studying and listen to the info tours. It's an amazing educational resource.

    Stick that politicians, with your games are bad for kids BS....

      That's so cool. My only issue with the discovery tour was the generic voices they had doing the narration. I find it much more engaging when the people presenting the information are people who both know what they are talking about, and love their subject.

    1: Can we use copy? 2: Can we use paste? 3: Is the average brain-dead player likely to notice if we do?

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