To relieve some of the tension seen lately at these forums (created mostly by people posting the same old "Will it be released for the 360/PC?" and "Future? What the hell?") I decided to make a topic myself, inspired by this thread's somewhat derailed subject of Altairs hidden blade.
The issue is this: Does the blade come out from his sleeve or from where his ring finger should be? The trailer shows this:
You can clearly see that it's coming out from his sleeve, as one would think. This is after all the most traditional spot to place stuff for easy concealment if you need it handy at a moments notice.
However, this concept art complicates the situation:
And another one:
In these two, it appears as if the blade is actually sticking out from the place where his ring finger should have been. These two sources seem to completely contradict each other, but you could of course write these latter images off as early sketches.
However, IGN reports the following:
"While the knight attempted to free his sword from his scabbard, he was no match for the assassin, who stabbed him in the neck with a retractable blade (which we later found out was given to him when he joined his guild for the price of his left ring finger)."
This may sound like he had to get rid of his ring finger to make room for the blade, which would back up the theory about the blade being fitted into his ring finger. Nevertheless, it doesn't explicitly state that. It could also be interpreted as a proof of commitment to the order that gave him the knife. Maybe he had to prove that he was willing to go to great lengths for his superiors.
If you're gonna look at this from a realistic perspective, then of course the idea about a switchblade being surgically implanted into a wound is absurd. I'm not even gonna elaborate on the impossibilities of this, but key issues are how he's going to trigger the spring inside his hand and the stability of the actual design if implanted in the skeleton of the subject. (He's gonna have major problems with reaching the mechanism and the pain that he undoubtedly would experience for each blow.) Of course, supporters of the blade-in-finger theory could argue that this is a video game and that real-world physics don't apply.
Then, I found this video (the "teaser") that clearly shows how the blade works. These images show how it operates:
Here we see that the user is required to press a button to activate the blades spring feature. He is most likely using his other hand to do this. The object directly over the button seems to be spring-based already there. It's unlocked by the button and subsequently pulls a string which leads to the lock in the next image. Although I must question the safety of this system as opposed to a more switch-like lock.
The button appears to unlock something, presumably the cog in the next image. How the cog is actually set in motion, I have no idea. Suggestions to this would be welcomed.
The cogs reveal that the spring mechanism are of complex design, perhaps a little bit too complex if you ask me. The whole process of actually getting the blade out takes a whole 8 seconds, assuming that time isn't slowed down to better show the mechanism in the video. This might be the case though, as the unlucky knight that gets stabbed in the end seems to notice that something is wrong a second before Altair activates his switchblade. You would think that in a window of 8 seconds he would be able to do something to defend himself, so I suspect that a time distortion is the problem here.
Another, more zoomed out view of the blades mechanism. To my eyes, it looks like the button seen earlier makes the cog go around which then "unlocks" some strings seen in the next image.
The aforementioned strings. I suspect that they act as the spring, considering that they're fixed to a wheel-like component and starts to move as soon as they're unlocked. Either the strings could be elastic, though I kind of doubt this as elastic material was rare back in the days, or they could actually just hold the blade in place. This leads to another startling theory: The blade is actually not spring-based at all, but relies on gravity to release it from it's initial position. More on this later.
The blade is released and moves at great speed towards what would appear to be the end of Altairs sleeve. By great speed I actually mean the speed at which say, a dagger falls to the ground, not the kind lightning-fast speed that is so characteristic of a regular modern switchblade at all. Again, this could be time distortion playing tricks on us.
This again confirms the sleeve theory, although it appears as if the blade is in fact inside the clothing, not fixed to Altairs wrist, as one would expect. This gives some credibility to my theory of the gravity-driven blade, but I'll get back to that.
These next three images at least clears up why Altair appears to be having a knife for a finger. It's actually just his way of holding it.
This also makes sense because if my theory about the gravity-driven blade is correct, then you would need to hold it firmly when you strike, as the blade would just retract if you didn't. Moreover, it's essential to hold it with your hands in some way when it's not attached to your wrist at all, or you'll risk it tearing up the clothing the blade is attached to and losing a great deal of the force behind the strike in the process. This is however, countered by a contradiction to this feature in the trailer. We can see Altair not holding his blade at all when stabbing his victim. This would suggest that it is in fact strapped to his wrist, but still inside the clothing.
Maybe you have noticed how Altair can activate his blade on the go, as seen in the trailer when he jumps at his target? This I suspect is due to centrifugal force that is created by lashing out his arm. I could be wrong of course. I don't know if the developers intended the design of the blade to be examined closely, so any contradictions could be chalked up to the developers not taking it that seriously or my lacking skills of observation I guess. Another contradiction that is apparent is the short time it takes (about 0.5 seconds and this is even during a major slowdown in time) and the lack of button-pushing during the trailer, as opposed to the teaser where Altair have to push the button to activate the blade and the blade uses about 8 seconds to be released. One might speculate that it's actually two different blades, though this sounds unlikely. Why would he use the gravity-driven one if he had the seemingly spring-driven one? It makes no sense. Suggestions would be welcome here too. I'm at a loss.
It would of course not be wise to hold a blade without a hilt in your hand, and it looks like Altair is holding some sort of hilt that actually sticks far enough out of the base hilt to grab it. This is unusual for a switchblade, but considering the other strange features of the blade, like it being fastened to a piece of cloth and being gravity-driven, it's utterly necessary. If it is in fact strapped to his wrist, holding would be a good way to deal with more precise maneuvers, like targeting more vulnerable area.
The mystery about the missing ring finger is also solved: You risk cutting yourself if you have all five fingers, so ironically you have to cut one off to make room for the blade.
Since nothing can be made out of the provided imagery to determine the way the blade is retracted, we can only assume that is has to be push back in manually, possibly with the aid of some sort of protection for hands to avoid injury. The blade would probably lock itself in place when fully retracted.
Nice to see that the developers have such a keen eye for details. I'm looking forward to hearing about the real mechanics behind it all, although I fear it might go unanswered.
So, to sum up:
<LI>The blade is attached to the sleeve, not the finger or the wrist, though it may be attached to the wrist through the clothing of the sleeve.
<LI>To release the blade, it is necessary to press a button, probably with your free hand, although contradictions have been spotted.
<LI>The blade may be gravity-driven, with no spring at all, except the initial one that is connected to the button.
<LI>It may however also be spring-based, though no images have been provided to confirm this. This might suggest two seperate blades.
<LI>To be able to handle the blade properly, the ring finger needs to be removed.
<LI>The blade has (unlike regular switchblades) an extra hilt that is released with it. This hilt is used to steady the blade and keep it in place when a strike occurs.
<LI>It is still unknown how the blade is retracted.
So, hope you all enjoyed it. Comments, ideas, thoughts and the likes are very welcome.
This document is subject for changes. I'll add more as I think of things or get input.