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Farlander1991
08-04-2016, 07:45 AM
Hi guys.

So my new analytical blog post (https://stanislavcostiuc.com/2016/08/03/black-flags-narrative-theming-in-gameplay/) is out, it's about Black Flag this time :) Enjoy!

RobertMcSassin
08-04-2016, 01:58 PM
Most excellent!!...

I never really connected hugely with Black Flag at the time...It just didn't grab me the way that ACIII and Haytham/Connor/The Homestead/Robert Faulkner did...And certainly Edward won't ever be up there at the top of my Assassin Charts, despite the similarities - we're both Welshmen; we share a tendency towards Arrogance and the occasional display of Grand Muppetry; we both like a good drink...Now and again...And both complain about the lack of money despite the work we do, and really would like everything in life a bit easier...Please...

*Cough*...Sorry about that...

Anyways...I've been trying to do stuff differently - just minor stuff here and there, just enough to make a difference to the experience somehow - on this current full runthrough of the games I'm on...And I admit, from reading your particular view of ACIV...It has made me think, and I shall be seeing it that much differently when I finally get there...(I'm only just arrived in Boston with Haytham at this point...)...

So, cheers for that...

Only thing I will say that I disagree with is in the comparing of Black Flag and Rogue...

And by that I mean, that while I agree that the Jackdaw is practically everything to Edward...Possibly as much their own character as The Enterprise or the Millenium Falcon is in their worlds...(And I completely agree that the Great Inagua is completely pointless as a base, I tended to "Berth" at one of the minor islands with a shop on it anyways...)...

Ummm...Oh yeah...

I'm not sure that I felt that The Morrigan was ever meant to mean quite so much to Shay anyways...Sure he/we/I liked it, it was cool and I very much enjoyed "Owning" it for the time I was playing Rogue, but as you said, most of Shay's story was to do with stuff elsewhere anyways...I seem to remember feeling that The Morrigan was meant to be a means to an end for Shay anyways...That it was just a way of getting his job done...

I certainly never felt that sailing was meant to be part of his blood - or soul, maybe - like it was for Edward...

So yeah, I do agree with the points as you make them...They are correct and valid...

But I'm not sure that the games should be compared like that in the first place, even if they do share so many of the systems...


That said, I really did enjoy the article a lot...It has definitely made me think very differently about Edward and - very much so - Black Flag...


*Minor disclaimer...My memory is somewhat shot with regard to some minor details in things these days...I could go into why, but I won't...It's so terribly boring dahling...So if I am misremembering stuff to do with Rogue, Shay and his attitude to the Morrigan...Go easy on a chap? please?... :o ...Just say no and point me in the right direction... ;) ...

SixKeys
08-06-2016, 09:00 PM
Personally speaking, AC4 is a fine game but not one of my absolute favorites. I never connected with the story and characters the way you did. But every time I read your analyses on how the themes and characterization tie into the gameplay, I appreciate the game more from an objective standpoint. It may not capture my imagination the way my favorites do, but your posts make me admire it the same way I can admire a cinematic masterpiece that is extremely professionally put together even if it's not one of my favorite movies.

Ureh
08-06-2016, 11:48 PM
Ashraf Ismail posted below your article! Nice!



1. I'm not sure that I felt that The Morrigan was ever meant to mean quite so much to Shay anyways...Sure he/we/I liked it, it was cool and I very much enjoyed "Owning" it for the time I was playing Rogue, but as you said, most of Shay's story was to do with stuff elsewhere anyways...I seem to remember feeling that The Morrigan was meant to be a means to an end for Shay anyways...That it was just a way of getting his job done...

2. I certainly never felt that sailing was meant to be part of his blood - or soul, maybe - like it was for Edward...

1. I think the devs intended for the Morrigan and Shay to have some kind of duality (Shay's story shares some similarities with the goddess', if I'm not mistaken.). But it wasn't reflected in the naval gameplay or story as well as it could've been. If they had gave us more time with the Morrigan when she was still a Crow, and more time with Shay as an Assassin, more time with Liam as quartermaster, and allowed us to upgrade the Morrigan as an Assassin-vessel first before transforming her into a Wolf (the Templar upgrades could've been a direct countermeasure to everything they knew about Assassin ships). They could've show us working with the Aquila and other Assassin ships, sailing side by side in perfect unison. Maybe show some bonding moments with Achilles, who could even treat him as an "adopted" son and teach the youngin some things he might not have known about sailing. Then later on, two titans that were family would clash in a battle that would be retold for generations to come. The Legendary Ship battles could've been us facing the ships that we used to work with, but instead most of them were mostly historical battles. You know how Shay gets a few scars and bruises after he defects the Assassins, they could've shown how the Morrigan was mistreated and received a few scrapes and bruises as well (followed by a cutscene showing the masthead being changed from a wounded Crow to a Wolf, and then Shay giving it a kiss.). In the Sequences where we play as an Assassin and visit zones that are controlled by Assassin, I rarely ever felt like I was revisiting a place, you know? We could've cooperated with the Aquilla or the Gerfut to take 1 or 2 heavily guarded naval forts, then later on we have to take it back. I never really thought along the lines of: "This place was my home. That rock under the tree was where I used to sit with my Assassin brothers and sisters, where we used to talk and laugh. Now I take this in the name of the Templars." More often than not, it was another place to take from some bandits or the French.

2. I don't know much about Edward's early life before he became a privateer, or at least I can't remember if the game ever mentioned it. What I do remember is that his grandfather and father were both... shepherds? So Edward might've been one as well. What's funny is that in Shay's biography, it says that he learned sailing at a pretty young age (can't remember at exactly what age). On top of that, him and Liam both seemed pretty knowledgable and excited about sailing when they take the ship in the first mission, alluding to past experiences. As a casual player, and as a professional non-writer, the story felt like it was too condensed, and the gameplay didn't/couldn't support it either. It conveyed the idea of an ex-Assassin undoing his precessors' work, but that idea doesn't really mesh with the naval part and the Morrigan.

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I could also be missing the point as well. Maybe I forgot something or perceived something incorrectly. Add all of that with the fact that I'm not a dev, a professional writer, or a historian.

SixKeys
08-07-2016, 12:25 AM
If you watch Loomer's interview with Richard Farrese (writer of Rogue), you can tell a LOT was cut or overlooked due to time constraints. They could have done so much thematically with Shay's story, but it's clear the game was very rushed, so it never went beyond a surface scratch. Would have loved to have spent more time establishing my relationships with my assassin brothers and sisters and creating more of a bond with the Morrigan. But the naval stuff never felt like anything that was in any way central to Shay's character. To Edward, his ship represented freedom. Whenever he started feeling weighed down by guilt or responsibility, he escaped to the high seas. What exactly did the Morrigan represent to Shay, a Templar who is all about order? Shay wasn't the kind to run away instead of fixing his mistakes, so the ship didn't represent escapism either. The ship was just there, only a means to an end, nothing more.

ze_topazio
08-07-2016, 12:58 AM
Anyone who played Rogue can tell that the story was in fast forward mode, they were rushing through it as fast as possible, but I think the Assassin segment was fairly well done, it was the betrayal that clearly, maybe do to lack of time, was forced, and his bonding and conversion to the Templar cause was super rushed, once again, maybe, because of lack of time, but I think the core of the story and the idea they had for it was pretty good, it's a shame they couldn't properly develop and expand that story.

Ureh
08-08-2016, 07:52 PM
Yeah for Edward it makes sense that he would just commandeer a random ship and make it his own. For Shay... maybe it should've belonged to an Assassin who then passes it down to him? I was also thinking that he could've made the voyage to Portugal on the Morrigan instead of another ship... but I'm guessing a sloop can't cross the Atlantic?


Anyone who played Rogue can tell that the story was in fast forward mode, they were rushing through it as fast as possible, but I think the Assassin segment was fairly well done, it was the betrayal that clearly, maybe do to lack of time, was forced, and his bonding and conversion to the Templar cause was super rushed, once again, maybe, because of lack of time, but I think the core of the story and the idea they had for it was pretty good, it's a shame they couldn't properly develop and expand that story.

I'd have to replay it again. But from what I can remember: On one hand, I guess we could consider the precursor box and the earthquake-tree as a cop-out (best word I can think of for now). But on the other, there's always an artifact in each and every AC game, so I thought they tied it in with Shay's story well enough. The context of the betrayal was fine. We don't know what the tree does until it's too late, Shay sees an entire city get destroyed, thousands or more dead. What would we do in Shay's place after that? If I were to guess for myself, I'd probably be in a mess... I wouldn't be thinking straight even with the years of physical training and discipline that Shay had. We know that Achilles is in a mess too. I guess that demonstrates the fragility of the human mind and free-will.

On the other, I think it's tragic that one of the greatest disasters in history will be remembered as a natural occurance, when it was actually the product of the Assassins' meddling. Instead of sending Shay alone to Lisbon they could've made contact with the Portuguese Assassins, then rendezvous with them? That way some fellow Assassins could've vouched for Shay after the catastrophe. *shrugs* Could be that I'm gullible and giving too much credit to this part of the story.

After that, his meeting with the Templars did feel rushed. Maybe they could've added 1-2 memories of Shay wandering aimlessly in a decrepit state (from the gun wound and floating in cold water for who knows how long) with no ship and no comrades. His mind was pretty unstable at that time so maybe he coulda walked up to a British fort and tried to provoke them into ending his misery. Little does he know, the Templar Munro from behind the fortification, sees Shay as an untapped opportunity, then sneaks out from the fort, knocks him out, then... you know the rest.

cawatrooper9
08-08-2016, 08:08 PM
Yeah for Edward it makes sense that he would just commandeer a random ship and make it his own. For Shay... maybe it should've belonged to an Assassin who then passes it down to him?

In an ideal world, the "Assassin" memories in Rogue would have served as more of a prologue and constituted less percent of the game. Maybe Shay could've gotten into a fight with an Assassin early on after leaving the homestead and been forced to kill him, afterward claiming the Assassin's ship Morrigan and using it to escape as a larger Assassin fleet led by Liam attempted to close in.

Ureh
08-08-2016, 09:16 PM
In an ideal world, the "Assassin" memories in Rogue would have served as more of a prologue and constituted less percent of the game. Maybe Shay could've gotten into a fight with an Assassin early on after leaving the homestead and been forced to kill him, afterward claiming the Assassin's ship Morrigan and using it to escape as a larger Assassin fleet led by Liam attempted to close in.

I think I know what you mean. If they extended the Assassin part then the pacing of the story might feel like it's dragging its feet (kinda like in AC3 with Haytham and then young Connor). It's not everyone's preferred way of storytelling.

Nice idea btw!

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One of the topics that AC games don't seem to fully cover is slavery (AC3 briefly touches upon it, AC4 touches on it, I heard Freedom Cry has a larger focus on it, and in ACU you have to dig really deep to find it). Which is probably one of the biggest contributing factors to Shay's desertion. If they had expanded on it then it would've made his actions more understandable, maybe? Not sure if the writers or directors cover this in Loomer's interview so hopefully they share their reasoning behind it.

cawatrooper9
08-08-2016, 09:29 PM
---
One of the topics that AC games don't seem to fully cover is slavery (AC3 briefly touches upon it, AC4 touches on it, I heard Freedom Cry has a larger focus on it, and in ACU you have to dig really deep to find it). Which is probably one of the biggest contributing factors to Shay's desertion. If they had expanded on it then it would've made his actions more understandable, maybe? Not sure if the writers or directors cover this in Loomer's interview so hopefully they share their reasoning behind it.

Maybe. I actually got the impression that the Templars were openly slave owners, and the Assassins were against the practice. But I could be wrong.

Ureh
08-08-2016, 11:31 PM
Maybe. I actually got the impression that the Templars were openly slave owners, and the Assassins were against the practice. But I could be wrong.

Yeah that's what I got too. But I think the series was attempting to picture the Assassins as somebody who are not running a completely clean operation (that's what I think Shay and Liam were trying to say in Seq 1, the latter responds by saying that not everything is clear cut and alludes to Adams' line from AC3: "everyone has to wait for their turn to be free"). Like maybe they could've shown Shay freeing some slaves from the British, then he gets an anonymoous tip that they might've ended somewhere else. So he goes to a French plantation that's next to an Assassin outpost and finds that the slaves he freed are forced back into a similar if not worse situation than the one they were in. Later he finds out that the "tip" he got was from Monro and then they work together, etc.

ze_topazio
08-09-2016, 12:27 AM
Yeah the earthquake seems like it was a "we got no time to develop this slowly so we got to use some shocking event" thing, Shay during the Assassin segment believes on the idea of freedom that the Assassins defend but he also seems interested in actively helping the people, since the Assassins on principle do not interfere and for the most part they work to preserve the status quo and let Humanity progress by themselves, Shay getting tired of this and gravitating towards the Templars who actively work to change the world even at the expense of "freedom", in my opinion that could have been the way of handling his defection, maybe the earthquake could have been kept at the final straw.