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View Full Version : Why are the overworld maps always so messed up?



Sigma 1313
05-31-2016, 02:46 AM
Throughout the series, Ubisoft has lauded itself on their attention to detail and historical accuracy. And for the most part, they have been pretty accurate. They're a few things here and there, especially in AC3 that are wrong (like Hagia Sofia having 4 towers in 1511, the width of the Thames, the papal guard in 1506, assassination death dates, Notre Dame's tower, etc.) Those are all excusable in my opinion, as it's for gamification, and really makes no difference. The cities have always been extremely accurate based on maps of the cities when they existed. From what I've seen, most of the cities are excruciatingly detailed and accurate. But something that's almost never been accurate is the overworld. AC1, AC3, and AC Rogue have all been really far off, and takes it to a point I can't really call gamification, because it's now completely fictional. AC4 was actually pretty accurate. Assassin's Creed 2 only has the mountains, which isn't an over world, and all other games are 1 city.

ASSASSIN'S CREED 1
http://i.imgur.com/K5dYzay.png
and here's how the area actually looks... Akko is the bastardized version Acre.
http://i.imgur.com/p3QJave.jpg

Really more than anything the map was turned about 90 degree, and the mountains turned the area into ravines. I heard that this was because they initially wanted to show a real wide open plains, with tall mountains, ravines, etc. But along the way, they couldn't, so they did this. It's more excusable than AC3 and Rogue, but is still quite different. Masyaf doesn't exist, but is based on Alamut, in Iran. Obviously that had to be changed for the game, which is completely understandable.


ASSASSIN'S CREED 3
This is the worst offender.
http://i.imgur.com/ShltywY.jpg
here's where the colonies would roughly be in the map:
http://i.imgur.com/Z9vpfb4.jpg
And here's the truth.
http://i.imgur.com/60cOfUn.jpg
The coordinates in north eastern New York are where the temple "should be". Can someone explain this map to me? What happened to New Jersey? What happened with New York? What are those rivers? Theoretically we should play along the same rivers and valleys in rogue, and yet these maps look completely different. I have no words for how inaccurate this map is. +10 for Braddock's line "I hate this place. In the winter it's a tundra, and in the summer it's a bloody swamp!"


ASSASSIN'S CREED 4
The most accurate map:
http://i.imgur.com/ukxktLx.jpg
http://i.imgur.com/bqlpKRY.png
Obviously minor tweaks for the game.


ASSASSIN'S CREED ROGUE
Rogue is half good and half evil. Check out the North Atlantic.
http://i.imgur.com/C0t3FDT.jpg
http://i.imgur.com/jvDCljN.jpg[
Look at that! I actually have no idea what the islands in bottom right are meant to be, but that's all that's wrong. This is the second most accurate map shown.
And then we have this:
http://i.imgur.com/HZM3OvB.png
http://i.imgur.com/6KXBnWW.jpg
That map is the best I could find when looking at maps from the 18th and 19th century. Completely different from the game.

I get that there are changes you need to make to make the game play well, which is fine when it's something like the width of the Thames. But for something as massive as removing 99% of the land connecting towns while claiming to be a game series that extremely accurate and close to history, I feel like it's a big failure on Ubi's part, and hope they don't have a crazy map again.

Megas_Doux
05-31-2016, 03:52 AM
Gameplay 'kills' and SHOULD 'kill' historical/geographical accuracy, as simple as that. On reasonable limits, that is.....

In AC IV we have many Mayan Ruins throughout the map, one of them even near Cuba and Jamaica. In real life there's no mayan ruins in Santanillas, Misteriosa or Isla Providencia or even places called like that with the exception of the latter. Havana's Cathedral didn't exist during the time of the game. Acre didn't have gothic architecture during the game's timeframe, let alone a gargantuan Cathedral looking like out of the XIV century and so on...

However I cannot but love those 'mistakes', for they contributed, at least to me, to create a better experience. Check Acre, Akko or the way you like to call it; that city being that different from Damascus and Jerusalem created the illusion of truly traveling. If I got bored of the "islamic/middle east" feeling of Damacus I just traveled to the 'Christian/european' Acre/Akko and viceversa.....


You know I missed that diversity in AC III in which NY and Boston look super samey, thank god for the beautiful yet empty Frontier with all its inaccuracies. Or what about Unity? In which Versailles feels like a mini Paris , fortunately Saint Denis has somewhat of a different feeling. On Syndicate is worse because there's only London..... Not that I didn't love freaking London, for it is favorite city so far, but I would have liked another city with a different feeling, such as Bath or York. May be castle surrounded by a forest, things like that.

So If you don't have naturally like in AC II, creating it like in AC I is fine for me. The only thing that bothers me about Acre/akko is the excessive use of the grey tone, heck even the wood, trees and water looked grey haha. Otherwise, I love it the way it is.


PD Stonehenge should've been a location in ACS related to TWCB... I'll never forget that treason, Ubisoft :(

Sigma 1313
05-31-2016, 04:31 AM
Gameplay 'kills' and SHOULD 'kill' historical/geographical accuracy, as simple as that. On reasonable limits, that is.....

In AC IV we have many Mayan Ruins throughout the map, one of them even near Cuba and Jamaica. In real life there's no mayan ruins in Santanillas, Misteriosa or Isla Providencia or even places called like that with the exception of the latter. Havana's Cathedral didn't exist during the time of the game. Acre didn't have gothic architecture during the game's timeframe, let alone a gargantuan Cathedral looking like out of the XIV century and so on...

However I cannot but love those 'mistakes', for they contributed, at least to me, to create a better experience. Check Acre, Akko or the way you like to call it; that city being that different from Damascus and Jerusalem created the illusion of truly traveling. If I got bored of the "islamic/middle east" feeling of Damacus I just traveled to the 'Christian/european' Acre/Akko and viceversa.....


You know I missed that diversity in AC III in which NY and Boston look super samey, thank god for the beautiful yet empty Frontier with all its inaccuracies. Or what about Unity? In which Versailles feels like a mini Paris , fortunately Saint Denis has somewhat of a different feeling. On Syndicate is worse because there's only London..... Not that I didn't love freaking London, for it is favorite city so far, but I would have liked another city with a different feeling, such as Bath or York. May be castle surrounded by a forest, things like that.

So If you don't have naturally like in AC II, creating it like in AC I is fine for me. The only thing that bothers me about Acre/akko is the excessive use of the grey tone, heck even the wood, trees and water looked grey haha. Otherwise, I love it the way it is.


PD Stonehenge should've been a location in ACS related to TWCB... I'll never forget that treason, Ubisoft :(

Stonehenge would've been cool. And I agree that gameplay should come first. In the end, the only problem with AC1's overworld is the linearity and wrong direction. Like I said, the linearity was caused by technology constraints. AC3 and Rogue both have unrecognizable maps though. Small things like the obelisk in ACS, some Gothic churches in AC1, or a church in AC4 is something we can discuss, but it only helps the gameplay. They add viewpoints, an interesting skyline, etc. I feel like messing with the overworld the way they did is in AC3 and Rogue's River Valley is like making the Thames a concrete slab, putting the Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe in the middle of Paris, or designing Florence to look like venice. Now, I do think that AC3 is as bad as it is because of some cuts later on in the development. I read that development was terrible, and communication was worse. There was initially meant to be canoes to traverse the rivers in AC3, which got cut. So they probably designed the world with the idea of being able to traverse most places in a canoe.

Farlander1991
05-31-2016, 06:48 AM
Look, there are two important factors: scale and importance of area being added in. General rule of thumb is (and it applies to cities as well if you actually start comparing them in detail especially those from earlier game where scale is smaller, but even later ones as well), you either have the areas be really small but accurate from an overhead point of view, or you do twists and adjustments, remove unneeded areas, but make the ones you do put in normal scale.

Lexington and Concord have quite a lot of area between them and Valley Forge, but what do you actually put there in between? There's narrative reason to visit those areas mentioned, but no narrative reason for those that are not, so instead of having the two towns be one-three buildings and the camp at valley forge be one-two tents but have the whole area be geographically accurate, they made the towns and camp closer to actual scale, but removed the area inbetween.

Ultimately, it's not like the developers make something without looking at the real world maps, it's a conscious choice to try and make the best of it and balance between accuracy, gameplay and resources. Massive landscapes are really long to develop and hard to recreate, so choices have to be made.

PS. Masyaf exists, it just doesn't really look like its ingame counterpart.

cawatrooper9
05-31-2016, 02:34 PM
I totally agree with the Black Flag overworld map being the most accurate. In fact, that's the first game where I actually realized that these maps were actually supposed to be scaled down versions of real life locations. With ACIII, for instance, I just assumed that the overworld map was supposed to be a random section of frontier lands, with essentially "warp points" (i.e. roads) to the other cities in the game. Hopefully that is what they were going for, because as you've pointed out, it's otherwise wildly inaccurate.

Rogue's river valley was the biggest offender, in my book. I was excited for a river valley, that was a new thing that we hadn't seen in a game before. One major river, maybe a few tributaries- it might not be as open as Black Flag's Caribbean, but its uniqueness could allow for some completely novel experiences.
NOPE! Instead we get what is basically another scaled down Caribbean island area with land on the borders and more narrow waterways. If anything, it resembles a bayou far more than a northeast river valley. Maybe Aveline would feel at home, but I found it to be really jarring.

Senningiri_GR
05-31-2016, 07:24 PM
Funny, I indented to make some posts about it in a thread I have opened for maps of the Assassin's Creed franchise (http://forums.ubi.com/showthread.php/1248842-Assassin-s-Creed-Map-Comparisons) but it was about the sizes of them. It is true that maps of the games are really much smaller than the real life locations like I have said before, but what if the maps are like this because the ancestors remember them like this. (Joking, I also think that maps should be more like what they really were)
http://i.imgur.com/VynKi5z.png

cawatrooper9
05-31-2016, 09:13 PM
but what if the maps are like this because the ancestors remember them like this.

Well, that would confirm the theories that Shay isn't sympathetic, but just crazy, because there's no way that the Valley map is rooted in reality.

LoyalACFan
05-31-2016, 10:43 PM
Well, that would confirm the theories that Shay isn't sympathetic, but just crazy, because there's no way that the Valley map is rooted in reality.

Lol this. IDK how OP thinks AC3's map is the worst when the entirety of the River Valley and its usage as a naval map is patently ridiculous.

But yeah, basically what Farlander said, it's not that they're "wrong," it's that they have to deliberately fudge the geography to make it interesting for gameplay (and manageable for development). It was easier to fake with the Caribbean and North Atlantic because you can basically just turn each island into whatever you want and still have it look roughly like real life from a bird's eye perspective, but when the entire map is one huge tract of land it's harder to get all the important places to fit. I mean, yes, in real life the Frontier area would be thousands of square miles, but they had to squash it all down into a reasonable size for a gameplay map that included all the important places while still making some aesthetic sense. IMO it's yet another problem with the "Forrest Gump Factor," in that your gameplay space is dictated by historical necessity rather than gameplay usage and you end up with big boring spots like Valley Forge and Monmouth, but I digress.

cawatrooper9
05-31-2016, 10:59 PM
It was easier to fake with the Caribbean and North Atlantic because you can basically just turn each island into whatever you want and still have it look roughly like real life from a bird's eye perspective, but when the entire map is one huge tract of land it's harder to get all the important places to fit.

Good point. The naval maps (the good ones at least, not River Valley) also have the advantage of illusion- they feel bigger, due to the ship travel sections. In fact, they are very big, but they're also empty, and the vast majority of what we see as land is not at all traversable in the actual game. So yeah, they do look better on the map because of these clever illusions, but if our map was instead of the playable areas, the Caribbean and North Atlantic would look absolutely ridiculous, and extremely sparse.

Farlander1991
06-01-2016, 12:45 AM
Lol this. IDK how OP thinks AC3's map is the worst when the entirety of the River Valley and its usage as a naval map is patently ridiculous.

But yeah, basically what Farlander said, it's not that they're "wrong," it's that they have to deliberately fudge the geography to make it interesting for gameplay (and manageable for development). It was easier to fake with the Caribbean and North Atlantic because you can basically just turn each island into whatever you want and still have it look roughly like real life from a bird's eye perspective, but when the entire map is one huge tract of land it's harder to get all the important places to fit. I mean, yes, in real life the Frontier area would be thousands of square miles, but they had to squash it all down into a reasonable size for a gameplay map that included all the important places while still making some aesthetic sense. IMO it's yet another problem with the "Forrest Gump Factor," in that your gameplay space is dictated by historical necessity rather than gameplay usage and you end up with big boring spots like Valley Forge and Monmouth, but I digress.

And really, even the cities with the biggest scale ratio like Paris and Syndicate have things fudged, landmarks moved around, if you compare earlier games then the amount of fudging is immense. Compare the biggest AC2 city, Venice, to its real counterpart for example:

http://guidesmedia.ign.com/guides/14302493/images/assacreed2_maps_venice_g.jpg
http://www.veniceforyou.com/img/Google_map_venezia_hot_spots_big_legenda.JPG


Ok, so the general shape is there, but look how squished it is in comparison. Look at the most visible from air landmarks: Palazzo Ducale and Arsenale, and that the whole ground section between them is basically removed. And the Arsenale/Castello district in AC2 is widened up because if they'd try to keep the proportions then none of the city would fit. And San Marco district consists pretty much of Palazzo Ducale/San Marco Square alone, the whole inland to the west of it is cut and squished to fit the Dorsoduro district somehow. And no connection between Cannaregio (north one) and Castello (east) districts while as you can see in real life there's a clear line there.

There are a bunch of other examples, like in Florence, Palazzo della Signoria is directly to the south of Il Duomo, while in the game it's moved to the east. And so on and so on.

I mean, sure, you can say that AC3 with the landmass did a far bigger skew than AC2 ever did with Venice, and I guess that's right from a certain point of view, but cities due to their man made nature are relatively easier to scale than landscapes (though still hard and there's still a lot of skewing).

Ureh
06-01-2016, 02:57 AM
Me too. The River Valley - mostly from a gameplay pov - really stuck out in a weird way. Swerving around corners, and squeezing the Morrigan in the maze-like map felt a bit unnatural. They should've introduced a second boat that we could upgrade and pilot, maybe a schooner. Example: I thought Bonnet's boat - it's a boat okay!? - sorta changed the perspective a bit because it felt fast and the world appeared much larger. A smaller craft would've made more sense in-land, I think. Shay would probably call the schooner: Hope. There weren't many enemy ships in the River Valley so naval battles wouldn't be a huge issue. Instead of brute force, the Hope can employ poisonous bombardments and flaming swivel guns to incapacitate the enemies' sails and crew. When Shay wants to sneak into an enemy fort, the Hope can masquerade as a merchant vessel and purposely allow the crew to be captured. Once inside, Shay can take control of it from within.

The layout of the River Valley felt a bit complicated, but maybe they did a bunch of playtests and realised that the layout in the final game was the most interesting. To balance all that water, maybe they could've let us interact with it more, such as: ice skating, fishing, diving for loot, freerunning across floating logs, ferrying civilians across the river, etc.

Senningiri_GR
06-01-2016, 08:01 AM
And really, even the cities with the biggest scale ratio like Paris and Syndicate have things fudged, landmarks moved around, if you compare earlier games then the amount of fudging is immense. Compare the biggest AC2 city, Venice, to its real counterpart for example:

http://guidesmedia.ign.com/guides/14302493/images/assacreed2_maps_venice_g.jpg
http://www.veniceforyou.com/img/Google_map_venezia_hot_spots_big_legenda.JPG


Ok, so the general shape is there, but look how squished it is in comparison. Look at the most visible from air landmarks: Palazzo Ducale and Arsenale, and that the whole ground section between them is basically removed. And the Arsenale/Castello district in AC2 is widened up because if they'd try to keep the proportions then none of the city would fit. And San Marco district consists pretty much of Palazzo Ducale/San Marco Square alone, the whole inland to the west of it is cut and squished to fit the Dorsoduro district somehow. And no connection between Cannaregio (north one) and Castello (east) districts while as you can see in real life there's a clear line there.

There are a bunch of other examples, like in Florence, Palazzo della Signoria is directly to the south of Il Duomo, while in the game it's moved to the east. And so on and so on.

I mean, sure, you can say that AC3 with the landmass did a far bigger skew than AC2 ever did with Venice, and I guess that's right from a certain point of view, but cities due to their man made nature are relatively easier to scale than landscapes (though still hard and there's still a lot of skewing).

Yes Venice is one of the most clear examples of this "non accurate shaped map issue". Actually, in Assassin's Creed 2 there is a problem, that if you look closely there are much more buildings in reality and also the streets on the map look huge.

http://i.imgur.com/6PW1pY5.jpg

I think this issue of the roads is more clear in Florence where there are more buildings and less canals.

Also there is a big mistake in the map of Forli. In the game the city has at most 300 meters distance from the sea, while in reality the distance is about 25 km.

http://i.imgur.com/KKoo3YD.png
http://i.imgur.com/gqDBLy8.jpg

Actually you can't even see the sea from the top of the Abbey of San Mercuriale while in the game it is easily seen.

Locopells
06-01-2016, 06:57 PM
The cities have always been reshaped for gameplay reasons - remember what was said about moving Whitechapel, I think it was, in order to make London less long and thin?

LoyalACFan
06-01-2016, 09:21 PM
Also there is a big mistake in the map of Forli. In the game the city has at most 300 meters distance from the sea, while in reality the distance is about 25 km.

But they aren't mistakes. It's not as if the developers just created the cities without ever consulting a map; they have to change things to make each space feel playable and properly scoped. To use Forli as an example; the entire point of going there in AC2 is to get on a boat to Venice, so they moved the docks closer to the city so all the interesting bits could be put on one map. What were they supposed to do, include 25 km^2 of empty space between Forli and the beach?

Shrykull_the1st
05-31-2017, 08:46 PM
Excellent to see this scrutiny here. :)

I wonder about these:

Unity: why did the team (intentionally, I say) misaligned the Palais du Luxembourg? Instead of its South-North direction, they patently put it Southwest-Northeast... They respected minutely other directions, yet here... The Palais Bourbon and Les Invalides are slightly off... And what happened in Versailles? From the town, facing North, the palace is to the right and aligned with South-North?... The whole Versailles location seems diametrically reversed.

Brotherhood: a round Flavian Amphitheatre (Colosseum) in Rome? Much harder to make it oval?

LoyalACFan
05-31-2017, 10:39 PM
Excellent to see this scrutiny here. :)

I wonder about these:

Unity: why did the team (intentionally, I say) misaligned the Palais du Luxembourg? Instead of its South-North direction, they patently put it Southwest-Northeast... They respected minutely other directions, yet here... The Palais Bourbon and Les Invalides are slightly off... And what happened in Versailles? From the town, facing North, the palace is to the right and aligned with South-North?... The whole Versailles location seems diametrically reversed.

Brotherhood: a round Flavian Amphitheatre (Colosseum) in Rome? Much harder to make it oval?

As for the Palais du Luxembourg, I suspect it was rotated slightly to accommodate the nearby (massive) Jardin du Luxembourg without having it jut out conspicuously to the south. They basically just aligned the whole thing with the Seine to make it more uniform-looking. Not sure about their reasoning for the Colosseum in Brotherhood. I know they made a lot of changes to the city to give it a more "Baroque" feel to distinguish it from AC2 cities, but I've always thought Rome was the most hideous and dull-to-traverse location in the series, so I don't have a really high opinion of that map anyway.

Shrykull_the1st
05-31-2017, 10:58 PM
Hmm I do not see how rightly aligning it would disturb the space...and in the game there is even more area to the South, than Southwest... I am still curious.

Since I love Rome, I had much fun comparing the game's adaptation of it. It was interesting to see the bits they cut, the scale reduction etc.

Xstantin
05-31-2017, 11:31 PM
Making New York into Havana wannabe is worse than moving some landmarks around imo.

ze_topazio
06-01-2017, 12:56 AM
I remember them saying back in the day that the round shape of the Colosseum was because of technical reasons, they were not capable of making the oval shape work or was impossible or something.

cawatrooper9
06-01-2017, 02:23 PM
Making New York into Havana wannabe is worse than moving some landmarks around imo.

A little off topic, but I totally agree. I was really looking forward to having ACIII's New York back, but pre-fire. No such luck, apparently.

ze_topazio
06-01-2017, 07:14 PM
A little off topic, but I totally agree. I was really looking forward to having ACIII's New York back, but pre-fire. No such luck, apparently.

You should have made your own luck.

wvstolzing
06-02-2017, 07:26 PM
My favorite squished map is the map of the US in The Crew. So adorable.

cawatrooper9
06-02-2017, 08:45 PM
My favorite squished map is the map of the US in The Crew. So adorable.

Just looked it up to see what you were talking about.

Certainly not life sized, but that's still pretty cool!