Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation Q&A Aveline is “the equal of any man”
Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation is a completely different game from Assassin’s Creed III and one of the most impressive looking games on Vita. Ubsioft producer Martin Capel explains the thinking behind the ambitious spin-off.
What have been the challenges in transporting the themes and ideas from Assassin’s Creed III over to the PS Vita spin-off?
Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation is a very different game from Assassin’s Creed III. We’ve got a new story, a new setting and a new Assassin character, Aveline – the first female protagonist of the series. We do share the same AnvilNext engine with Assassin’s Creed III underneath, which has allowed us to make use of the innovations, new inventions and features they’ve brought to Assassin’s Creed III. So it’s based on the latest technology but a whole new Assassin’s Creed experience.
How have you approached Assassin’s Creed as a handheld title? Is it designed towards shorter play times or is it a traditional experience in an expansive sense?
The Vita is a very capable machine. We’ve worked closely with both Ubisoft Montreal and Sony during development and it has allowed us to bring the Assassin’s Creed core gameplay and values to the Vita without any compromises. In terms of gameplay, we’ve scaled the missions so they’re much more built around on-the-go gaming, but again this is entirely up to you as the player. You can sit down and play a couple of missions while you’re mobile, or you can sit down and explore the open world. We’ve left it to the player’s choice in terms of scope. The game will give an Assassin’s Creed player familiar with the game around 15 hours of gameplay and around 20 hours for someone who is new to the brand.
Aveline is a progressive figure in the saga. Was it always the plan to introduce a female protagonist in Liberation?
We always like to say that we didn’t invent her but she was there waiting to be discovered. This was something we uncovered through research in New Orleans, which was a setting we decided on early in the project. It’s a French city, and one of the things they had there was this system of plaçage, where basically they couldn’t encourage enough women to move from Europe to the New World, so they set up this temporary form of marriage. Aveline’s father is a wealthy French merchant and takes an African slave as a bride, and Aveline is the result of that temporary union. Her father loves her and decides to educate and raise her as a lady, so Aveline is very much part of the New Orleans society. She was born there, she’s raised there, the neighbours know her. We found these people quite inspirational. So it was like, ‘Here we have reference, here we have women who are empowered, totally confident and very strong in their character.’ This is an Assassin. She’s the equal of any man. Very firm in her mind in what she wants to do but very caught in the middle of having a white father from the Old World and a slave mother. She’s dragged down the middle and she’s caught in a world of contrasts.
Have you faced any issues adapting the gameplay mechanics for the Vita?
Because we’ve taken most of the mechanics away from Assassin’s Creed III, and worked with that team very closely, we haven’t faced issues in that ourselves. Also, we’ve introduced our own features and mechanics for Liberation, such as the persona system – with the Assassin, slave and lady. These features were something that we started developing a long time ago and took through a series of steps to check with ourselves and the team in Montreal. In that respect, it has actually been a very good process of bringing both Assassin’s Creed III to Vita and our own features in.
The Montreal team has been working on Assassin’s Creed III for nearly three years. Has the development of Liberation been similarly arduous?
Any Assassin’s Creed is a big project, but by working together it makes big scope and big ambitions much more achievable. One example I can give for Liberation is that we had to change animations. Because we’ve had all male characters up until now, we needed to address the fact that Aveline, being a female, moves differently. We started from scratch and by working together with the Montreal guys, we followed their methodology, so we were able to bring this to Liberation. They are big projects, with huge worlds, fantastic stories, intense animations and everything. By working together, it makes it much more manageable.