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Farlander1991
07-15-2016, 04:33 PM
Hey guys.

For most of you my thoughts on the matter aren't going to be anything you as I've stated them several times on these forums. But still, maybe you will be interested in my new AC-related blog post about how ACB creates a cohesive open-world experience. (https://stanislavcostiuc.com/2016/07/15/cohesive-open-world-experience-of-assassins-creed-brotherhood/) Hope you enjoy the read :)

I have about 8 more AC blogposts planned, here are the topics if you're interested:
- Importance of cutting features (on example of ACR)
- Open-world level design principles (using AC3 as learnings of what to do and not to do)
- ACL opinion piece (I couldn't think of a particular topic to choose for the game)
- Narrative theming in gameplay on example of AC4
- The disunity of player experience in ACU
- How to make collectibles (and other little side-content) interesting and engaging on example of ACRo
- Dissonance in freedom of choice on example of ACChronicles (though it applies to main AC games as well)
- And the last AC game-related post at least until the next AC game is released is going to be (inspired by playing ACS as I have a very evident example of the point I want to make): why Assassin's Creed series are not social stealth games (and, really, never have fully been ones) and what is required to make them so.

So there's some things that you can look forward to :D

dxsxhxcx
07-15-2016, 05:48 PM
Looking forward to read them all Farlander, especially the one about the collectibles and the last one.. :)

Sushiglutton
07-15-2016, 07:30 PM
Sick new title! Not sure I can take the pain of another Trials game :p (jk I will).


[/quote]I firmly believe that what we as game developers do is create experiences for our players. And all the different areas of the game, – cool gameplay, technology, narrative, audio – feeds into those experiences.[/quote]

Not a dev, but I think this is spot on. A couple of corollaries:
1) Low quality content taints the entire game. The "if you don't like it ignore it" argument is false.
2) Don't squeeze in gamey stuff if it doesn't feel right for the experience. Some times it's best to let the player be.
3) Everything on screen is part of the experience. Be careful about pushing out too much info.



Which is why I believe a cohesive experience that the game provides is the most important aspect, because, ultimately, that’s what stays with you over time. Of course, things like top-notch mechanics, amazing narrative, great balance all help with that, but even if they have issues, you can get a great game.

I'm starting to realize this more and more. Not sure if you remember but I have been a core mechanics fanatic. But I think you make a convincing case for the package being able to compensate for a lot of flaws.



There's one thing I do disagree with (perhaps). Theres room between randoming creating side stuff and having a single goal for everything. And that is to have a couple of goals. In AC I think there needs to be two. One professional and one leisure (toursim). A massive part of the franchise is that we get to explore these wonderful eras and settings. I think it's a waste to just make an assassin simulator out of it. We need to be Bruce Wayne sometimes too. I think stuff like boardgames are excellent as a way to live the era. This doesn't mean anything goes. These side activities should be focused on capturing what is unique about the setting (beating up husbands fails in this regard too).


I just think having two sides of most aspects in an Open World games adds so much to the experience. Urban and countryside. Action and sneaky. Focus on accomplishing goals and just trotting about. Day and night. Rainy and sunny. Business and pleasure.

Farlander1991
07-15-2016, 08:34 PM
Looking forward to read them all Farlander, especially the one about the collectibles and the last one.. :)

Thanks, mate!


Sick new title! Not sure I can take the pain of another Trials game :p (jk I will).

:p




There's one thing I do disagree with (perhaps). Theres room between randoming creating side stuff and having a single goal for everything. And that is to have a couple of goals. In AC I think there needs to be two. One professional and one leisure (toursim). A massive part of the franchise is that we get to explore these wonderful eras and settings. I think it's a waste to just make an assassin simulator out of it. We need to be Bruce Wayne sometimes too. I think stuff like boardgames are excellent as a way to live the era. This doesn't mean anything goes. These side activities should be focused on capturing what is unique about the setting (beating up husbands fails in this regard too).

Well, I make it a point in the post that the way Brotherhood does it is not how it should be done or the only right way to do so (there is no right way). For example, what AC4 does is that it includes a bunch of different activities that are character-based, i.e. what Edward would do as a person (though in the end they still all relate to money, but not as directly), which means stuff like sea animal hunting, board games, etc., are all part of the experience. That said, even that is also not the only/right way.

And it's a good point that sometimes there can be too much focus on something and that it can be detrimental to the experience. It's a weird thing to balance. :)

SixKeys
07-16-2016, 01:57 AM
This being my favorite game, you know I'm excited to read any in-depth commentary on it. I always greatly enjoy your analyses of AC.

With that said, I wish this article had been a little more detailed. The title promises to talk about the cohesive open-world experience in this particular game, so I expected more comparisons to other games (Ubisoft and non-Ubi) to explain what makes them different or what they should be doing better. This line in particular stood out to me in your summary:


And don’t add cool and awesome things just for the sake of them being cool and awesome.

It seems a little odd considering that earlier in the article you praise the game's broken combat system and the overpowered brotherhood mechanic because they manage to feel cool and awesome despite breaking the game. You say that infiltrating Castel St. Angelo with your recruits felt like a culmination of all you had done to liberate Rome, yet previously criticized the recruit system for being OP. So which is it, really? Do you like having cool and awesome things in the game just because they feel cool and awesome, or don't you?

I appreciate the comparisons between AC2's activities, especially considering ACB was a direct follow-up yet managed to (IMO) address many of its problems. Would have appreciated comparisons with other, more recent games in the series like AC4 and Syndicate. You often praise AC4 for being another great open-world experience, it would have been nice to see how it compares to ACB. And Syndicate was written by the same script writer as ACB and also had the design principle of connecting each activity to a single, grand goal (taking over London). Like ACB, the combat in Syndicate was overhauled to be faster and more overpowered than its predecessor. While I enjoy Syndicate, there is something about it that feels a little less cohesive than Brotherhood and I can't quite put my finger on why. Would have been interesting to hear your thoughts on two games with such similarities.

I hope you don't take this as a criticism against the article as a whole. Like I said, I always enjoy your analyses. :) Would just have liked to see more examples and comparisons and why you think the Rule of Cool sometimes works even if it technically shouldn't. What lessons do you think the series as a whole should learn from ACB?

Farlander1991
07-16-2016, 02:42 AM
@SixKeys, thanks for the feedback :)

First, regarding the detalization and comparisons with other AC games. I understand and I agree that there's less details than some might expect, but this kinda comes from the fact that I didn't write this from the beginning as a stand-alone article, but as part of a larger series where for each game I've selected a main topic based on or inspired by that game. Where the selected game would be the focus but not the only mention of course. So I wrote this with pre-existing knowledge of where I wanted to talk about what, and the parts that didn't become part of this article I didn't add because later they'd be redundant, but then when it all comes together (and I want to release all these articles one after another, perfectly with an interval of a week if possible), they would be completing each other.

So for Unity I chose the topic that I call 'Disunity in Unity', which is the other side of the coherent experience coin, where I think the particular elements used in the game make sense stand-alone, but when all tied together it doesn't gel at all, that would be the focus but it's also where I wanted to mention other imperfect examples in this regard like AC3 and ACS.

But not ACR and ACRo, even though they both also have imperfect overall experience, because ACR was chosen as a topic of why it's important to cut (or simplify) features and how this can improve the experience of the game, and the article would mention some parts of ACRo as well, how it'd benefit from certain features being cut.

And I didn't mention AC4 in this article, because the coherent open-world experience and the topic I chose for AC4, that being narrative theming in gameplay (which includes how it affects the open-world as well) kinda overlap, so if I'd start elaborating about AC4 in this article, I'd be repeating a bunch of same points in another one (at least I think I would from what I've planned).

So in the end, for ACB I ended up writing just about strictly the positive example of ACB and why it works, without further comparisons or discussion about other games. But regarding this, hopefully you'll be satisfied as I release more articles with most of them complimenting each other :)

Now, regarding the other question:


It seems a little odd considering that earlier in the article you praise the game's broken combat system and the overpowered brotherhood mechanic because they manage to feel cool and awesome despite breaking the game. You say that infiltrating Castel St. Angelo with your recruits felt like a culmination of all you had done to liberate Rome, yet previously criticized the recruit system for being OP. So which is it, really? Do you like having cool and awesome things in the game just because they feel cool and awesome, or don't you?

Maybe it didn't come off as clear as I intended (maybe because of that line you've mentioned in particular), but part of the point of the article that I was trying to make is precisely that flawed, unbalanced things can be absolutely fine if they're a coherent part of the overall package. The Brotherhood mechanic IS OP, there's no way around it. You analyze the mechanic, and it's the most powerful thing in the game, and if I as a designer would have a chance to rework and rebalance it, I would.

However, the Brotherhood mechanic is also a pretty integral part of the experience that ACB aims to provide. It fits thematically, narratively, and adds to the overall experience. Which is why it works to the benefit of the game, and of the player as a result, even if it's OP on a standalone analysis.

But, as a side-note, the Brotherhood mechanic is one of the things that I'm going to mention in my ACR article as well with the purpose of explaining why and how it DOESN'T fit there when being pretty much copied from ACB, so that would also be an example of 'when cool things don't work'. :)