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Passing The Puck: Assassin’s Creed Creator Meets NHL’s Producer

Every year at E3, we try to connect two developers for a one-on-one conversation that viewers wouldn't expect. Even with that template in mind, we were still surprised when the creator of Assassin's Creed and founder of Panache Digital Games Patrice Désilets said that he really wanted to sit down with NHL 16's producer Sean Ramjagsingh. As Désilets points out in this year's video, sports developers are wildly under-appreciated for their effort and passion. In a side hall at E3 2015, Désilets and Ramjagsingh sat down to discuss the simple beauty of hockey, the importance of passion in game development, the balance of creativity versus mirroring reality in games, the challenges of opening a new indie studio, and much more.

Watch the video below to learn what the creative director of Assassin's Creed 1 & II and Prince of Persia: Sands of Time wants to discuss with the producer of EA's NHL series.

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Special thanks to Job and Laura of Telltale Games for the beer donation.

If you enjoy these videos of developers speaking with other developers, here are some previous entries in the series…

No Man's Sky's Sean Murray and Insomniac's Ted Price
The Creators of Tetris and the Designer of Threes
Richard Garriott, Greg Kasavin, and Felicia Day
The Walking Dead's Sean Vanaman and Peter Molyneux
Minecraft's Notch and Bethesda's Todd Howard
David Cage, Ryan Payton, and Shenmue's Yu Suzuki – The Feed

Forget Assassin’s Creed Hitman Is The Real Assassin Of E3 2015

With Hitman: Absolution, Io-Interactive hit on a winning formula in creating a series of small sandboxes for players to explore, sneak through and MacGyver their way to assassinate their target. For Io-Interactive’s first Hitman game on the newest batch of consoles, the studio is sticking to this formula, but now the sandboxes are bigger and more detailed than ever before.

Our E3 demo starts off with Agent 47 arriving at Paris fashion show. MI6 has asked for Agent 47’s helped after a man named Viktor Novikov gained access to a list of their covert operatives. An underground auction is taking place in the rooms above this fashion show and Agent 47 needs to sneak into that meeting, assassinate Novikov as well as his boss, and then disappear before any terrorist organizations can get their hands on MI6’s list of operatives.

Io-Interactive wants players to feel like they’ve been dropped into a giant sandbox rich with things to interact with. As Agent 47 enters the public areas of the show, he sees a reporter talking into a camera, explaining how she’ll be interviewing Novikov later that evening. This, of course, is an opportunity that Agent 47 can exploit to get close to his target, but it’s far from the only option. Io-Interactive is creating several story hooks similar to this, which players can hop onto an explore the level in hopes of edging themselves closer to their target. However, if players walk into the reporter or disrupt her taping, they may never learn about this planned meeting.

Each level of Hitman is filled with up to 300 unique A.I. routines that dictate the behavior of the NPCs, and dynamically react to player actions. At one moment in our demo, we watched a bodyguard discover one of Agent 47’s mines, disarm it, and then take it into an evidence holding area. This is a little annoying, but savvy players can use this A.I. behavior to smuggle other things into otherwise restricted areas. Imagine sneaking a listening device or even a bomb into a building that is otherwise locked down.

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During our tour of the level we saw areas that Agent 47 could tamper with speakers and chandeliers, causing them to fall down on his victims. The fashion show is taking place inside a museum and one wing of the museum actually contains an ancient saber that Agent 47 can use as a weapon. Along the river is a set of fireworks being set up for the evening’s celebration, but if Agent 47 can find the detonation key, those fireworks will make a great distraction if they went off early. Of course, sometimes the stealthy approach is the more stylish one. If Agent 47 “acquires’ a bartenders outfit, he can poison his target or other NPCs that aren’t his target but who will help create opening into restricted areas.

Io-Interactive says it designs its levels like Swiss cheese, because there are so many entrances and exits everywhere as well as other holes that players will be able to use to sneak in or out of a room. The developer wants to let would be assassins play this new Hitman however they want, and after seeing the demo at E3 the way I want to play it is right now. Unfortunately, I’ll have to wait until Hitman’s digital release on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on December 8. A boxed retail release is still being planned for a later date in 2016. – The Feed

Ubisoft Is Inviting The Public To Play-Test Assassin’s Creed Syndicate

Ubisoft will be hosting a select number of individuals to play-test the next title in the Assassin's Creed series. The first invitation-only session will be taking place next week in Los Angeles alongside E3.

In order to apply, you need to be over the age of 17 and send an email to [email protected] You'll need to include your name, age, and 100 words or less about your experience playing Assassin's Creed games.

Ubisoft is looking for those experienced with the franchise. If you're selected, you'll be given a specific appointment time on Wednesday, June 17, and further information. For more, check out our previous coverage.


Our Take
While we're checking out the game inside the Los Angeles Convention Center, you might be doing the same. Ubisoft appears to be working to involve the community a bit more after last year's problems with Assassin's Creed Unity. Anything the publisher can do to restore confidence and engage its community, the better. – The Feed

Watch The Trailer And Demo For Assassin’s Creed Syndicate

With the official announcement of Assassin's Creed Syndicate, fans now know more about what to expect from this years foray into the Assassin's Creed Universe. Developer Ubisoft Quebec revealed plenty of information about the upcoming title, but it didn't stop there. The studio also showed the game in action through two different videos.

You can watch the trailer and demo below. For even more about Assassin's Creed Syndicate, be sure to check out our feature about the 5 Things You Should Know, as well as an interview with the game's creative director.

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Assassin’s Creed Syndicate Has No Multiplayer

Despite the focus that Assassin's Creed Unity put on the four-player co-op component, this year's installment of Assassin's Creed is strictly a single-player affair. Syndicate does not include any competitive multiplayer or co-op.

Creative director Marc-Alexis Côté explains in our interview, saying "It’s really about returning to our roots. Returning to what made this series such a success. For us, it’s truly the single-player experience, and investing in that that’s going to make Assassin’s Creed feel more modern and fresh for our players."

While this means that you will be conquering London solo, Syndicate also gives you control of two main characters and puts you in charge of a whole street gang, so you probably won't feel too isolated.

Our Take
This may seem like a step back at first, but it is ultimately the right move. The co-op missions in Unity were plagued by technical issues when that game released; if excising those elements and focusing on the single-player is what it takes to avoid another troubled launch, then I'm fine with it. Of course, the multiplayer modes of Assassin's Creed never appealed to me much anyway – the single-player content has always felt more like the core of the experience. – The Feed

Weekend Reading: Where Assassin’s Creed Should Go Next: The First Civilization

I'm growing disenchanted with the Assassin's Creed games, a series that once dazzled me with its melding of period piece storytelling and secrets tied to an ancient civilization possessing technology far beyond ours today. Ubisoft's focus is now mostly on exploring the past, something they do quite well, but I'm finding that, without the mystery, the experience is different and and not nearly as engaging. Part of its DNA missing.

As much as I enjoy suiting up as an assassin and exploring landmark events in human history, such as the French Revolution or Italy during the 15th century, the big hook for me, which took root in Assassin's Creed II, was searching for "The Truth," secrets, messages, and images that pointed to a much larger story unfolding. This hunt for clues tied to that ancient civilization was one of the best optional objectives I've ever come across in a game.

In Assassin's Creed II, I was absolutely floored by the secret video that showed Adam and Eve leaping across a futuristic cityscape (which you can view below). I watched it frame by frame, and overanalyzed every little clue within it, hoping that I would uncover more of that world. I was just as engaged with that story line, as minimal as it was, as Ezio's. Ubisoft had a great thing going. It reminded me of the TV show Lost. I thought the setup moving forward would be each game delivering two stories: the primary being the assassin in a historic setting, and the secondary being about the first civilization.

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That never came to fruition, and yes, maybe it was more my wishful thinking than anything else. What followed was game after game of confusion and disappointing plot points tied to the first civilization. As it stands today, I couldn't tell you what happened. Juno is a computer virus? Maybe she's the Lawnmower Man? We can argue over what happened all day long, but I think we can all agree that Ubisoft dropped the ball with a story that could have been a pillar for the franchise.

And it still could. Rather than sticking with the dumb "game development" story line, why not send players into the distant past? What better way could there be to shake up the series than traveling to a world where anything is possible. We saw what the "apple" was capable of. We saw what Minerva could do. Think of what that world would be like. Think of the gameplay that could come from it.

Yes, I love the attention to detail that Ubisoft puts into each historic setting, but the gameplay isn't changing. We're still stabbing people in the back of head and climbing on walls. The first civilization could produce a wealth of new ideas that change up the assassination game. The idea is there. We've seen it. We want it. Well, at least I want it. Why not go there? Why not open up that plot thread again and make it count this time?

Should the first civilization be the primary location for a game? Maybe not, but it would make one hell of a place to visit. I enjoyed playing as Desmond in the sequences set in the near future. Just imagine what it would be like to play as Adam or Eve or a different character in a world that is brimming with science fiction possibilities. Go nuts with it, Ubisoft. At this point I'm more interested in your fiction than the stories that come from history books. – The Feed

Report: More Signs Point To Assassin’s Creed Diving Into London This Holiday

The Assassin's Creed train shows no signs of slowing down even after the speed bumps Unity experienced last year. According to leaked marketing materials, Assassin's Creed: Syndicate will take players to Victorian London this holiday.

A few days ago, Ubisoft announced that it would be showing off its new Assassin's Creed game next week. The studio had previously confirmed that it was working on an Assassin's Creed game set in Victorian London, called Assassin's Creed Victory, the game may have gotten a name change. Polygon claims to have obtained marketing materials for a game called Assassin's Creed: Syndicate, which stars a character named Jacob Frye that will "transport millions of gamers to an astonishing recreation of London during the Industrial Revolution where they will find themselves immersed in a game world they'll have to see to believe."

Check out the official site here.

[Source: Polygon]


Our Take
I'm slightly annoyed, because while I'm a huge Assassin's Creed fan, I'm definitely feeling burnt out on the series. I never finished Unity last year, so I was thinking of taking a break this year, but Victorian London does sound like a cool setting. We'll see if Ubisoft can lure me back in next week. – The Feed

New Assassin’s Creed Game To Be Revealed On May 12

Ubisoft is getting ready show off this year’s Assassin’s Creed game next week. The reveal is scheduled for May 12 at 9 a.m. Pacific / 12 p.m. Eastern.

It just so happens that Ubisoft will also be sharing its earnings report for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2015. We expect that the reveal will take place either immediately before or after the call.

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In December, Ubisoft confirmed a game in development called Assassin’s Creed Victory set in Victorian England. The confirmation came after a leak of screenshot and video assets that were also confirmed to be authentic.


Our Take
While there doesn’t seem to be much mystery about what this Assassin’s Creed game is, this game will be under much scrutiny. Ubisoft’s 2014 was marked by significant problems with Assassin’s Creed Unity that resulted in apologies, a make-right in the form of free DLC, and cancelation of the season pass. The publisher needs this game to be great. – The Feed

GI Show 244: Battlefront, Assassin’s Creed, Warren Spector Interview

Last week's episode of the Game Informer Show podcast was the great Matt Helgeson's last time hosting the show. This week marks a new era for The Game Informer Show. The podcast is now co-hosted by Ben Hanson and Tim Turi and will cover more games than ever, a weekly reader/listener feedback section, and a rotating final segment that should pack in plenty of surprises. As you can see below, the biggest change is that The Game Informer Show is now also a video podcast! You can still download and listen to the audio version, but video allows us to show off some gameplay and let you see our dumb faces. Also, despite the timing of this post, we are still planning on releasing new episodes every Thursday at 7pm Central.

On this week's episode we're joined by Jeff Cork and Andrew Reiner as we cover the mixed reaction to Assassin's Creed Chronicles: China, share our obligatory update on Bloodborne, learn what it was like to attend this year's exciting Star Wars Celebration convention, and much more. Last but not least, we are joined by legendary game developer Warren Spector (Deus Ex, System Shock, Epic Mickey) who shares details on his game development program at the University of Texas at Austin (which you can learn more about by clicking here), his pitch on making a Command and Conquer RPG back in the day, and news details on Junction Point's unfruitful collaboration with Valve in creating an episode of Half-Life featuring a magnet gun. We hope you enjoy the show, and please send any feedback to [email protected]!

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Our thanks to the talented Super Marcato Bros. for The Game Informer Show's new intro song. You can hear more of their original tunes and awesome video game music podcast at their website. – The Feed

Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: China Review

Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: China – the first in a planned downloadable trilogy – is the best spin-off the franchise has received so far, rising high above the mostly garbage mobile and handheld titles. The 2.5D stealth title blends signature Assassin’s Creed elements and plenty of influence from 2012’s Mark of the Ninja. I’m glad somebody’s borrowing from Klei Entertainment’s brand of platforming, sneaking, and killing, as it fits well with Ubisoft’s world.

The protagonist, Shao Jun, returns from her appearance in Assassin’s Creed Embers, where she trained with an older Ezio Auditore. A Templar gang called the Tigers previously drove out and killed most of the Assassins in China, and she’s back for revenge.

Shao Jun proves to be an agile platformer, running, crouching, climbing, and jumping throughout 12 memory sequences (there are no current-day components). Most of the gameplay consists of entering a large area patrolled by increasing amounts and varieties of guards. Their vision cones pan back and forth. You scan with blue eagle vision to see farther ahead and track their routes. Then it’s a matter of darting between hiding spots, tossing out a noise dart for distraction, stunning guards with firecrackers, snapping a neck here, stabbing a back there, and hiding the bodies. Most everything controls tightly except for that last bit; I always had to hit the pickup body button several times to get it to work. You can’t mash it until it works, because Shao Jun will lift and drop the body. When the windows for killing and hiding without getting caught are this tight, it’s frustrating to be undone by something that should just work.

That said, I enjoyed thinking my way through encounters. Strategizing a creative route, killing that one annoying guard that seems to be looking everywhere, and then earning a perfect gold rating when you hit that next checkpoint feels great. These ratings are tallied up at the end (alongside side-mission bonuses like rescuing slaves), and certain score thresholds grant upgrades like new abilities and more health. 

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I couldn’t resist going for these rewards, so I was thankful for the quick checkpoint reload. I didn’t really die much, since I would reload if anyone saw me at all. The only times this approach falters are when an unskippable cutscene drags things down, or you’re stuck waiting around for a particularly elaborate patrol routine to play out. 

The in-game maps of these relatively large stages are always fully visible, but several require syncing from a high point to see the pickups scattered about. The layout is a bland gray with black and white icons, making them hard to see. The maps lack detail in general, showing useless building exteriors during interior sequences, and I constantly wished I could zoom out more than the claustrophobic view allowed.

A handful of fast-paced escape sequences are tossed in to break up the core stealth gameplay. Fire roars from behind as you sprint and hop around all manner of obstacles and quick-kill guards standing still with their backs to you. While I appreciated the change of pace and opportunity to go full throttle, nothing really sets it apart from a standard runner game experience.

A little over halfway through the campaign, the gameplay starts to lose steam. Patrols get more elaborate, but you’re stuck using all the same old tools. While the game introduces several new enemy types, almost all of them behave the same on patrols (and all die from a well-timed Assassin stab). You can’t experience how much stronger and faster they are unless you get caught, which is never supposed to happen anyway.

This isn’t helped by the underwhelming story about assassinating one villainous Templar after another. The end doesn’t spice things up, and it also leaves a thread open to remind you that there are two more of these games left. I just hope they’ve got enough differentiating features to keep players invested. – The Feed