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View Full Version : AC3 - micromanagement? (possible spoilers)



SixKeys
01-23-2013, 02:25 AM
One thing that continues to simuletaneously amaze and frustrate me is the inconsistent quality of the different elements in AC3. The things it does well, it does REALLY well. There are some things that are incredibly detailed, down to the tiniest detail. The number of arrows actually diminishes one by one as Connor shoots them. Every flap and pouch on his outfit moves realistically. He's got hundreds of fluid, lifelike animations that weren't exactly necessary but great to see nonetheless (like vaulting over a fence or petting animals). The animation of Connor is simply astounding in these gameplay moments. Sometimes you have scenes where Connor gestures with his hands or hugs himself to keep warm in a snowstorm. You've got dozens, maybe hundreds of unique NPC animations that stand out especially at the scene in the opera house. These small things add so much realism and it's amazing that someone actually thought of them and made the effort to put them in the game.

On the other hand you've got the Homestead mission cut scenes which are painful to watch. The characters barely move or emote while talking to each other and the lip-synching in simply awful at times. I was playing some last night and realized that I probably would find these characters a lot more endearing if they behaved like actual human beings. But everyone is just so stiff, they don't even move their arms or look at each other in the eyes when speaking to one another. It's just creepy. How can they put so much effort into things like making Connor's tool pouches move in the wind but can't hire decent animators for something that makes up about 1/4 of the game's missions?

On the flip side again, you've got the naval missions where the handling of the ship and the movements of each individual crew member have clearly been thought all the way through. I've never experienced bugs during these missions, the ship handles perfectly and the crew always responds to my commands. It's no wonder this aspect of the game has been almost universally praised even by those who hated the rest.

In contrast, Connor himself sometimes acts unpredictably, especially while treerunning. There are certain missions where the controls become unresponsive for no reason (like the one where the full sync objective requires you to tackle the target from above, many people have reported this being really difficult from a simple flight of stairs). Sometimes NPC interaction plain makes no sense. You're supposed to tail someone with another character who constantly keeps walking into your target's line of sight like a dumba$$ and exposing you, even if you tell them to stay out of sight. This was never a problem in previous games. You simply told your companions to stop or follow. In AC3 they seem to do what they please.

You've got some incredible, impressive scenes with lots of detail like the opera house mission and the battle of Bunker Hill. You've got interesting new systems like hunting which forms a big part of the game, works quite well and ties in nicely with the main character's native roots. Then you've got some ideas that seem to have been thrown together haphazardly, that just reek of pure laziness and lack of inspiration, like the underground fast travel stations. Who thought it would be fun to wander around slowly in the dark for hours with nothing interesting to do, only to unlock some doors? The "puzzles" in these sections were clearly an attempt to replace the intriguing Subject 16 glyphs, but they're embarrassingly easy and boring. On the graphics side again, the textures on Connor's clothes are amazingly realistic, but nobody thought to consider "hey, maybe we should get high-res versions of these textures for the dyed outfits as well, so you won't have to look at Connor's default outfit in every cut scene"? They clearly spent so much more effort on certain things while hastily glancing over other elements.

Some things about AC3 are incredible, which makes it all the more frustrating when I see elements that were clearly unfinished or not thought through very well. It feels like the team started off wanting to make this the best, most detailed and impressive AC game yet. They spent so much time and energy on creating a world that looks realistic and beautiful and is absolutely massive in size, but only halfway through remembered they should probably come up with stuff for players to DO in that world, too. So here, have a couple of half-assed delivery quests and feathers again, you all know the drill. They spent a lot of time researching the native culture and crafting their new hero in glorious detail, but forgot that he needed good supporting characters around him. They spent a lot of money on the cinematic cut scenes, every pore and pimple on every character's face is realistically detailed and the emotion and lip-synch is great. But they forgot to extend even half of that effort into the in-game cut scenes where as a result the characters seem to be communicating telepathically rather than speaking and emotion is expressed by staring vaguely into the distance while scratching your sack.

What do you think? Do you think the AC3 team bit off more than they could chew? Do you think they should have perhaps spread out their resources more across the board to balance out all the elements instead of crafting only a few of them to perfection?

Sushiglutton
01-23-2013, 01:25 PM
Excellent post!

I also believe they could have made a much, much better game with the same resources had they just made different priorities. But making correct priorities in a project this huge is super hard and it's ofc much easier for us in hindsight to point out things that worked from things that didn't. For example I would never have invested in the naval missions. I would have thought it was yet another failed attempt to branch out into a new genre. But it turned out great and is the most celebrated feature in the game.

But that said I still think that the game needs to shrink in terms of things it tries to do. Focus on making some things propoerly instead of doing a little bit of everything. Cook a sirloin steak instead of a smorgasboard of different turnips. This will make quality control a lot easier and a lot of the inconsistencies you describe would go away. It would also make the game much more fun imo.

Finally the yearly release schedule is slowly killing the franchise. FarCry 3 got an extra few months to polish and it turned out fantastic. The new Splinter Cell has been delayed to august and I'm sure it will be great as well. AC needed a few more months to solve some of the issuse you mention (wouldn't have helped mission design and gameplay though). It's sad that Ubi treats AC as a milking cow rather than as the prestige franchis it should be.

twenty_glyphs
01-23-2013, 07:06 PM
What do you think? Do you think the AC3 team bit off more than they could chew? Do you think they should have perhaps spread out their resources more across the board to balance out all the elements instead of crafting only a few of them to perfection?

Yes, they definitely bit off more than they could chew. It's obvious that tons of time and attention to detail went into parts of the game, but I feel like they were the wrong parts. It's great that Connor has tons of cool animations, but that hardly influenced my experience with the game at all. The stiffness and awkwardness of the Homestead missions sticks in my head much more than any of the small but cool details the game had. In fact, as cool as the animations were, their transitions could be choppy at times in ways that made the animation feel worse than previous games in the series.

Spreading out their resources was not the problem, the problem is still that they tried to cram too much stuff into the game for the simple reason that they thought they could. So you've got this huge, epic project that just doesn't feel very cohesive and struggles to find a real identity and consistency in the end. AC2 was a large game, but it was a cohesive whole. It had many different parts that felt like they fit together well. AC3 just needed to be a little bigger than AC2 while offering upgraded or new gameplay systems. Trying to make it so huge was a mistake, no matter how many people they could get to work on it. The only thing that would have fixed that is more development time to iron the issues out. It seems that for a lot of development issues, it doesn't matter how many people you throw at the problem, the only thing that will really get you a polished result that feels right is the time to iterate and refine the product.

Despite this, the thing that really disappointed me about the game is still the story and the way the overall identity of the series was sort of tossed aside. It also failed to deliver any sort of real conclusion for the story so far and just feels like a way to set up the next 5 years of yearly releases. But combine that with the unpolished, downright unfinished nature of many parts of the game and the fact that very often it's just not a fun game to play, and you get what for me was a disaster.

SixKeys
01-23-2013, 08:58 PM
Yes, they definitely bit off more than they could chew. It's obvious that tons of time and attention to detail went into parts of the game, but I feel like they were the wrong parts. It's great that Connor has tons of cool animations, but that hardly influenced my experience with the game at all. The stiffness and awkwardness of the Homestead missions sticks in my head much more than any of the small but cool details the game had. In fact, as cool as the animations were, their transitions could be choppy at times in ways that made the animation feel worse than previous games in the series.

Good point. The inconsistency is a problem precisely because the parts that are excellent make the less good or downright bad elements stick out even more. In the liberation missions where you have to burn the infected blankets, Connor always awkwardly slides towards the lantern no matter what angle I approach it from. It's like... they made the effort to make sure his tool pouches move individually but couldn't make him pick up a lantern like a human being? Some things I understand like objects sinking or moving in heavy snow in awkward ways because deep snow involves complex physics, but then you have regular animations that really don't require that much effort to fix.

Both of you brought up the fact that it can't be easy to manage a big project like this. That's another thing, though: AC3 was advertised as the biggest project Ubisoft had ever taken on, but it doesn't FEEL like it. I'm trying, but honestly can't figure out what exactly about this project was so huge and time-consuming compared to the other games. Graphically it's head and shoulders above the rest, but the story really isn't that much longer or more complex than AC2. In fact, it could have benefitted from some tighter editing, especially in the Haytham sequences. The side missions are so simplistic and poorly done I can't imagine they took the lion's share of the production time. The best parts of the game are the graphics and the naval missions, so I'm left to conclude those are the elements that took the most time and resources to create. Two elements that took 3 years to develop? Then there's the world itself, especially the Frontier, but there's not much to do there so I can't understand why creating an empty world would be such a challenge. The world itself is massive, but why would the devs insist on making things difficult for themselves? They obviously couldn't think of any use for New York, so why even include it in the game? Why was the Frontier 1,5 times the size of Rome with only half as many activities? What exactly made this the biggest Ubisoft project to date and why make it so big the devs could no longer handle the size of it themselves?

Sushiglutton
01-23-2013, 09:19 PM
Good point. The inconsistency is a problem precisely because the parts that are excellent make the less good or downright bad elements stick out even more. In the liberation missions where you have to burn the infected blankets, Connor always awkwardly slides towards the lantern no matter what angle I approach it from. It's like... they made the effort to make sure his tool pouches move individually but couldn't make him pick up a lantern like a human being? Some things I understand like objects sinking or moving in heavy snow in awkward ways because deep snow involves complex physics, but then you have regular animations that really don't require that much effort to fix.

Both of you brought up the fact that it can't be easy to manage a big project like this. That's another thing, though: AC3 was advertised as the biggest project Ubisoft had ever taken on, but it doesn't FEEL like it. I'm trying, but honestly can't figure out what exactly about this project was so huge and time-consuming compared to the other games. Graphically it's head and shoulders above the rest, but the story really isn't that much longer or more complex than AC2. In fact, it could have benefitted from some tighter editing, especially in the Haytham sequences. The side missions are so simplistic and poorly done I can't imagine they took the lion's share of the production time. The best parts of the game are the graphics and the naval missions, so I'm left to conclude those are the elements that took the most time and resources to create. Two elements that took 3 years to develop? Then there's the world itself, especially the Frontier, but there's not much to do there so I can't understand why creating an empty world would be such a challenge. The world itself is massive, but why would the devs insist on making things difficult for themselves? They obviously couldn't think of any use for New York, so why even include it in the game? Why was the Frontier 1,5 times the size of Rome with only half as many activities? What exactly made this the biggest Ubisoft project to date and why make it so big the devs could no longer handle the size of it themselves?

I think it was clearly a bigger jump than AC:B, or AC:R. First the frontier which I think was more difficult than you describe. Platforming on irregular shapes like trees is not easy to figure out and get right I think (that's why no one else has done it before). Then we have the animals and weather like snow and rain. The naval missions must have been tough to do. Then there were tons of "mini-games" like: fly like an eagle, play hide and seek, manage a cannon, order firing lines, hunting, herd pigs, run from cover to cover etc. On top of this they had to remake all the animations+add a lot more of them. Rebuild combat from scratch, change the freerunning controls, add some new features to stealth, a crafting system, a trading system.

I dunno, I think I can see why it took longer than the typical AC sequel to develop. Sadly most of these new things are pretty boring, because they are underdeveloped. I think they should have added fewer things and made sure they were right and then pushed the core mechanics more.

SixKeys
01-23-2013, 09:45 PM
I think it was clearly a bigger jump than AC:B, or AC:R. First the frontier which I think was more difficult than you describe. Platforming on irregular shapes like trees is not easy to figure out and get right I think (that's why no one else has done it before). Then we have the animals and weather like snow and rain. The naval missions must have been tough to do. Then there were tons of "mini-games" like: fly like an eagle, play hide and seek, manage a cannon, order firing lines, hunting, herd pigs, run from cover to cover etc. On top of this they had to remake all the animations+add a lot more of them. Rebuild combat from scratch, change the freerunning controls, add some new features to stealth, a crafting system, a trading system.

Some of the "mini-games" you mentioned we've already seen before in one form or another. We could fire cannons in ACB, herding pigs is nothing more than moving your character from left to right, flying as an eagle is just moving in different directions and avoiding crashing like Leonardo's flying machine, running from cover to cover was present in at least one mission in ACB (the Aqueducts where you're chasing a Borgia guard that keeps shooting at you). Ordering firing lines was nothing but running back and forth between three different spots and pressing a button. Trading system works no differently from regular buying and selling. Crafting works similarly to the bomb-crafting in ACR, with the difference than in ACR you, the player, were in control of what you produced, so you could argue it was actually more fun. The graphics made these missions look more impressive than they really were, but if you simply look at what the actual mechanics were, they really weren't anything new or demanding.

I know the devs also talked a lot about the difficulties of creating irregular shapes on the ground where the characters could fight and how nobody had done it before, but all I can think of is "...Skyrim, anyone?" That game was a massive open-world where battles regularly took place in a hilly forest. What exactly is the difference, apart from AC3 having a graphical advantage?

I guess what I'm arguing for is that AC3 introduced a few ACTUAL new systems like naval missions and hunting, which does make it a bigger jump for the series than ACB and ACR. However, MOST of the systems that were supposedly new weren't actually new, just reskinned from previous games. It certainly wasn't as big a jump as AC2 was from AC1. Perhaps the yearly development cycle rears its ugly head here: without ACB and ACR, some of the stuff in AC3 would have actually been new and perhaps more impressive. But firing a cannon or crafting was something I'd already done in the mid-quels, so it didn't feel new to me.

lothario-da-be
01-23-2013, 09:45 PM
My view on ac3 is: 4 extra months and we had a MASTERPIECE, A CLASSIC, but yeaah the release date...

Sushiglutton
01-23-2013, 09:52 PM
My view on ac3 is: 4 extra months and we had a MASTERPIECE, A CLASSIC, but yeaah the release date...

I completely disagree with this. Four extra month would have solved many of the bugs yes. But imo Ubi had a very bad design philosophy for the game and four more years wouldn't have made this game into a masterpiece. Handholding, tutorials, super restricted missions, press B to watch cutscene, walk watch cutscene. walk watch cutscene, press B to interact etc etc. The direction they have taken the franchsie is totally mindless.

Assassin_M
01-23-2013, 09:54 PM
It certainly wasn't as big a jump as AC2 was from AC1.

Was going to post in agreement, but then I saw this....

Sushiglutton
01-23-2013, 10:00 PM
Some of the "mini-games" you mentioned we've already seen before in one form or another. We could fire cannons in ACB, herding pigs is nothing more than moving your character from left to right, flying as an eagle is just moving in different directions and avoiding crashing like Leonardo's flying machine, running from cover to cover was present in at least one mission in ACB (the Aqueducts where you're chasing a Borgia guard that keeps shooting at you). Ordering firing lines was nothing but running back and forth between three different spots and pressing a button. Trading system works no differently from regular buying and selling. Crafting works similarly to the bomb-crafting in ACR, with the difference than in ACR you, the player, were in control of what you produced, so you could argue it was actually more fun. The graphics made these missions look more impressive than they really were, but if you simply look at what the actual mechanics were, they really weren't anything new or demanding.

I know the devs also talked a lot about the difficulties of creating irregular shapes on the ground where the characters could fight and how nobody had done it before, but all I can think of is "...Skyrim, anyone?" That game was a massive open-world where battles regularly took place in a hilly forest. What exactly is the difference, apart from AC3 having a graphical advantage?

I guess what I'm arguing for is that AC3 introduced a few ACTUAL new systems like naval missions and hunting, which does make it a bigger jump for the series than ACB and ACR. However, MOST of the systems that were supposedly new weren't actually new, just reskinned from previous games. It certainly wasn't as big a jump as AC2 was from AC1. Perhaps the yearly development cycle rears its ugly head here: without ACB and ACR, some of the stuff in AC3 would have actually been new and perhaps more impressive. But firing a cannon or crafting was something I'd already done in the mid-quels, so it didn't feel new to me.

You are correect about the "mini-games", that many of them has been seen before and they shouldn't be that hard (nor should they have been included in the game). I also agree that they kept waaaay too many old system and "reskinned" them, even though I think "expanded on them" is a more fair expression. The platforming in AC is much more developed than the one in Skyrim, so I don't think that is a fair comparison. Connor has a much better connection to objects in the enviroment.

Above is details though, overall I agree with you.

twenty_glyphs
01-23-2013, 10:48 PM
I completely disagree with this. Four extra month would have solved many of the bugs yes. But imo Ubi had a very bad design philosophy for the game and four more years wouldn't have made this game into a masterpiece. Handholding, tutorials, super restricted missions, press B to watch cutscene, walk watch cutscene. walk watch cutscene, press B to interact etc etc. The direction they have taken the franchsie is totally mindless.

I completely agree. Despite the issue of biting off more than they could chew, AC3's main problem is its core game design. It's just trying way too hard to be a movie when it should be trying to be a great game first. In addition to the often mindless gameplay and pressing B to interact, the story/mission design wasn't going to be fixed with more time. That's something they got wrong very early in development. I feel like they put a ton of effort into researching the setting, time period and Native American culture, but much of that just didn't come through in the actual product. That research somehow wasn't incorporated into a great story that fueled the gameplay. The story and setting feels very generic and I never got the same feeling of being a historical tourist like the first 4 games in the series. They also missed huge chances to weave historical elements of their own universe into the American Revolution by delving into New World Templar myths and weaving more Pieces of Eden mythology into the plot.

Back on topic, things like the weather effects were nice, but they were ultimately pointless. Why bother putting all that effort into that technology when there wasn't enough fun to be had in the open world? Skyrim has weather effects too, though AC3's were better. But at the end of the day, the moments I remember from Skyrim's open world involved things like discovering a cool location at the top of a mountain while having an epic fight with a dragon or creature that came out of nowhere. I couldn't tell you if it was raining or snowing when it happened. My memories of AC3's open world are of running... a lot of running. And eerie quietness due to the lack of ambient music.

SixKeys
01-23-2013, 11:10 PM
AC3's weather system would perhaps been better if it had more effect on gameplay. Snow did slow enemies down, but we didn't have enough sequences that took place during winter for this to be a big feature. It would have been nice to replay missions with different weather settings which would affect the missions in different ways. For example you could choose to play the mission during a heavy rainstorm which would make tree branches unusable due to slippery surfaces, or during heavy mist which would limit the line of sight (both for enemies and yourself, making Eagle Vision useful once more).

Maybe it's just me but did anyone else have the feeling that the day/night cycle was much longer in AC3 than in the other games? In AC2 there used to be a hint that told you to plan your missions according to guards' schedules, but if that was the case in AC3, I would have had to wait forever for each guard change. The weather changes also weren't as noticeable as I hoped they would be, it only rarely rained and the Frontier was the only place with mist sometimes. Heavy wind would have been another nice option to include, to see NPCs running for shelter, clothes on clothing lines blowing in the wind, Connor shielding his face etc.

SteelCity999
01-23-2013, 11:37 PM
I think a lot of the posts in this thread sum up what is good and bad with the game. I had high hopes but I have found myself just plodding along through the game just to get a 100% trophy and really for no other reason. With work and school taking up most of my time, this is more of a, "I bought all of the AC games, and I should at least finish this 100% because I have all of the rest," games.

The Frontier is great and from a technical standpoint, I think they did a wonderful job. BUT with most things in this game, it is underutilized and suffers from the bigger is better mentality. There are so many opportunities for random missions and yet there are none, other than convoys. So many of them missions are pointless, although the Frontiersman missions would have been a nice change of pace. The assassination contracts were utterly pointless.

Some of the animations and cutscenes are just atrocious. I think many of the actors have Parkinson's judging by their on screen movement. Out of sync voices are just wonderful too. Shows lack of polish and unfortunately, its an obvious fault.

I had more fun with Desmond when he was in a coma in AC:R....that really says it all. Even with all the nay-sayers, I could live with the ending but I find major issues with how they got there and the gameplay that went with it. It was by far the most disappointing present day of the series - separate from the endings.

Twentyglyphs said it great....it does not feel cohesive. Too many studios, to many parts being thrown together.

The sad thing is that they made a good game, but for the resources (including money and man hours), they really did not make the best game they could have, or should have. They really needed another 6 months(minimum) to fix the missions at least but more likely another year to help flesh out the story to better fit with the rest of the series.

One last thought.....I know they didn't redesign the engine from AC1 to AC2, but compare the number of people and hours spent on AC2, keeping in mind the development time between releases, to the legions and millions of dollars spent on AC3. Its interesting to note the product quality between the two and overall advancement of the series. Seems like less is more. How can you justify the expense in AC3?

SixKeys
01-24-2013, 01:38 AM
One last thought.....I know they didn't redesign the engine from AC1 to AC2, but compare the number of people and hours spent on AC2, keeping in mind the development time between releases, to the legions and millions of dollars spent on AC3. Its interesting to note the product quality between the two and overall advancement of the series. Seems like less is more. How can you justify the expense in AC3?

Ex-ACT-ly. You just summarized the entire driving thought behind this thread, I just went about phrasing it much more long-windedly. :p AC2 brought a ton of changes, improvements and new elements into the series yet still felt more cohesive as a whole than AC3. It introduced some ideas that at first sounded kind of absurd, like the PoP-style platforming sections, glyph puzzles and the flying machine, but they actually fit the story and never felt out of place. AC3, OTOH, has a lot of elements that just make me question why they're even in the game, like the assassin recruits.

twenty_glyphs
01-24-2013, 07:04 PM
Ex-ACT-ly. You just summarized the entire driving thought behind this thread, I just went about phrasing it much more long-windedly. :p AC2 brought a ton of changes, improvements and new elements into the series yet still felt more cohesive as a whole than AC3. It introduced some ideas that at first sounded kind of absurd, like the PoP-style platforming sections, glyph puzzles and the flying machine, but they actually fit the story and never felt out of place. AC3, OTOH, has a lot of elements that just make me question why they're even in the game, like the assassin recruits.

It's really weird the way Alex Hutchinson said over and over again "We didn't want to include elements in AC3 just because they were in previous games", and then the final product has many features that seem to exist only because they were in previous games. It's like they knew it was an issue and hoped by saying it wasn't their intent that reality would magically change. The Assassin recruits are the prime example of things being included just because they were there before. It doesn't really fit with Connor's character or the time period so much, and yet the feature is there in the game. It's a stripped down version of the previous system, with a few nice changes like the unique abilities you learn from each recruit, and they don't even bother to incorporate the gameplay feature into the game at all. I hardly ever used the recruits, even though it was a system I had liked in the past. And the recruit missions aren't even introduced to you in the game, meaning many people never found them. On top of that, those missions are completely pointless. Leveling up your recruits serves zero purpose. So why is it in the game? I like the recruit concept, so I wish they had put more thought and effort into it for AC3.

I also really question the Homestead. It just feels so awkward and out of place. I feel like it only exists as a way to outdo the Villa from AC2, which was a very nice side system that game introduced. Brotherhood tried to up the ante and make you manage the whole city of Rome, and then Revelations just blindly copied the feature with no story explanation at all. But the Homestead as a location is not as interesting as an Italian villa. It also made little sense to me why this supposedly loner Assassin is just inviting people to come live on his land. I hate how several important features of the game, like dual holsters and pouch upgrades, are tied to this side system that feels so tacked on. The whole system just felt like filler to me, and the only reason I did it was to get the pouch upgrades it offered.

Sushiglutton
01-24-2013, 07:12 PM
^^^^^Hutchinson said some very strange things given how the game turned out. I made a thread back in March were I praised his intentions to go "back to basics" (http://forums.ubi.com/showthread.php/662715-Hutchinson-has-the-right-ideas-makes-me-optimistic!).

In his speech at GDC he said: "I think one of the joys of having a new character and a new universe is that we can strip it back and we can go back to basics,". he also said: "But now, moving forward, we're as much as possible tying to clear the deck for new players. It means obviously a new hero and a new setting, and it means getting that new hero into that new setting as fast as possible." (http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2012-03-09-assassins-creed-3-will-be-back-to-basics).

What I don't understand is why he would lie about these things? Why pretend you have less features than what you actually have? If he said: "We are expanding almost every system from the previous games" that would have been closer to the truth and more in line with what people would want to hear? I really don't undertsand what he was thinking?

twenty_glyphs
01-24-2013, 07:37 PM
^^^^^Hutchinson said some very strange things given how the game turned out. I made a thread back in March were I praised his intentions to go "back to basics" (http://forums.ubi.com/showthread.php/662715-Hutchinson-has-the-right-ideas-makes-me-optimistic!).

In his speech at GDC he said: "I think one of the joys of having a new character and a new universe is that we can strip it back and we can go back to basics,". he also said: "But now, moving forward, we're as much as possible tying to clear the deck for new players. It means obviously a new hero and a new setting, and it means getting that new hero into that new setting as fast as possible." (http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2012-03-09-assassins-creed-3-will-be-back-to-basics).

What I don't understand is why he would lie about these things? Why pretend you have less features than what you actually have? If he said: "We are expanding almost every system from the previous games" that would have been closer to the truth and more in line with what people would want to hear? I really don't undertsand what he was thinking?

I don't think Hutchinson lied about having fewer features than they had. He was trying to say that elements weren't included just because they were in past games, but many things were being brought into AC3 and being reworked and rethought in a fresh way. My disagreement is with the statement that these features were actually reworked and rethought in a fresh way that fit the setting. The recruits feel like that system was dumped into AC3 from Brotherhood, stripped of the limited customization options it used to have, and paired down to just 6 recruits. They also dumped the process of hiring groups into the recruits' function. They gave the recruits distinct personalities and clothing but then hardly ever let us experience that. They left in recruit missions we can send them on so they can level up, but the leveling up serves no purpose. The recruits don't appear to get stronger, and they don't gain equipment options like they used to.

So when you step back and look at the finished product, the recruits seem to be included only because it was a popular system in the past without developing them enough into something fun and unique in AC3. Now that I think about it, it probably wasn't a lie on Hutchinson's part as much as it was just a failure to meet their stated goal. Because they didn't do a good job of fleshing out features in fresh ways and into tight systems like many of the ones you mentioned from AC2, they feel tacked on in the end, even though it wasn't the developers' intent. And ultimately, that may just be a symptom of trying to do too much on AC3 and not being able to focus deeply enough on a few core systems.

Although, the "getting that hero into that new setting as fast as possible" statement is rather curious and hilarious once you've experienced the first 3 sequences of AC3 and know that they were planning that all along...

Sushiglutton
01-24-2013, 08:06 PM
I don't think Hutchinson lied about having fewer features than they had. He was trying to say that elements weren't included just because they were in past games, but many things were being brought into AC3 and being reworked and rethought in a fresh way. My disagreement is with the statement that these features were actually reworked and rethought in a fresh way that fit the setting. The recruits feel like that system was dumped into AC3 from Brotherhood, stripped of the limited customization options it used to have, and paired down to just 6 recruits. They also dumped the process of hiring groups into the recruits' function. They gave the recruits distinct personalities and clothing but then hardly ever let us experience that. They left in recruit missions we can send them on so they can level up, but the leveling up serves no purpose. The recruits don't appear to get stronger, and they don't gain equipment options like they used to.

So when you step back and look at the finished product, the recruits seem to be included only because it was a popular system in the past without developing them enough into something fun and unique in AC3. Now that I think about it, it probably wasn't a lie on Hutchinson's part as much as it was just a failure to meet their stated goal. Because they didn't do a good job of fleshing out features in fresh ways and into tight systems like many of the ones you mentioned from AC2, they feel tacked on in the end, even though it wasn't the developers' intent. And ultimately, that may just be a symptom of trying to do too much on AC3 and not being able to focus deeply enough on a few core systems.

Although, the "getting that hero into that new setting as fast as possible" statement is rather curious and hilarious once you've experienced the first 3 sequences of AC3 and know that they were planning that all along...

Yeah you are correct he didn't "lie", that was wrong of me, apologize for that :(. They did remove many things like bombs, parachutes and so on. It was a bit misleading though and I don't really see the purpose of that.

About the recruits I completely agree, they failed as a system and felt tacked on. I think the core problem with them is that every time you use the recruits it feels a bit like cheating. You know like getting help instead of doing it yourself. Given how easy the game is, this external help just isn't needed. That means there is no real motivation for the system and it kind of falls apart from there.

I understand why he couldn't spoil the Haytham part, but why did he have to say anything about it at all? So weird. Also listen to this video interview, around the ~5:20 mark, where he talks about opening up the structure. Again very weird given how the game turned out http://www.gameinformer.com/b/features/archive/2012/03/05/meet-the-new-creative-director-for-assassin-39-s-creed-iii.aspx

SixKeys
01-24-2013, 09:28 PM
I also really question the Homestead. It just feels so awkward and out of place. I feel like it only exists as a way to outdo the Villa from AC2, which was a very nice side system that game introduced. Brotherhood tried to up the ante and make you manage the whole city of Rome, and then Revelations just blindly copied the feature with no story explanation at all. But the Homestead as a location is not as interesting as an Italian villa. It also made little sense to me why this supposedly loner Assassin is just inviting people to come live on his land. I hate how several important features of the game, like dual holsters and pouch upgrades, are tied to this side system that feels so tacked on. The whole system just felt like filler to me, and the only reason I did it was to get the pouch upgrades it offered.

I kind of agree. I do think it fits Connor's character to gather people around him because actually not as much of a loner as the other assassins were. IMO he was in a way trying to replace his tribe because he enjoys being surrounded by people he cares about.

One of the (numerous) failings of the game is actually in the fact that they're trying to present the assassin in two conflicting ways. The way he interacts with people makes it obvious he's more of a social animal than Alta´r or Ezio ever were. Connor is much more trusting and willing to let people close, perhaps because he grew up in a small, tightly-knit community. If anything, the game should be emphasizing the social side of Connor, meaning his relationship with the recruits should be more crucial than ever. We should have had lots of missions where we had to use these characters in order to get to know them and care about them the way Connor did. That way, when one of them gets hurt, we would feel the same genuine connection to them that Connor feels. The same goes for the Homestead people. I like the idea of collecting characters who each have their own little stories and personalities, the implementation was simply poor.

The real problem is that the game can't seem to decide whether it wants its hero to be a bada$$ lonely, cold-blooded assassin or a sociable person with inner conflicts about killing people because he believes everyone has a right to life. Ezio may have been a talkative playboy, but throughout the series we saw he had trouble truly connecting with people. He wooed dozens of women but rarely made the effort to get serious with any of them. At the beginning of ACB, we see he has grown estranged from his sister and mother. His relationship with Machiavelli is purely professional, they never come off as real friends. Leonardo was pretty much Ezio's only confidant. When Ezio fought, he fought with brutality and flair, even taunting his opponents as they fell. To me these things show that there was a darker side to him, one that enjoyed exacting revenge instead of quickly and mercifully ending his opponent's suffering like Alta´r. Connor is more of a genuine people person, so it somehow doesn't feel quite right when he approaches each assassination mission in the same cold, calculated way as the two previous ancestors. AC3 would perhaps have been the perfect opportunity to introduce co-op into the single-player since Connor doesn't actually seem like the kind of person who likes to work alone. The game simultaneously tries to portray him as a ruthless, calculating killer (his combat moves have the same kind of needless boastfulness as Ezio's) and a warm, sociable family man who genuinely hates seeing people hurt.

SteelCity999
01-24-2013, 10:13 PM
It's really weird the way Alex Hutchinson said over and over again "We didn't want to include elements in AC3 just because they were in previous games", and then the final product has many features that seem to exist only because they were in previous games. It's like they knew it was an issue and hoped by saying it wasn't their intent that reality would magically change. The Assassin recruits are the prime example of things being included just because they were there before. It doesn't really fit with Connor's character or the time period so much, and yet the feature is there in the game. It's a stripped down version of the previous system, with a few nice changes like the unique abilities you learn from each recruit, and they don't even bother to incorporate the gameplay feature into the game at all. I hardly ever used the recruits, even though it was a system I had liked in the past. And the recruit missions aren't even introduced to you in the game, meaning many people never found them. On top of that, those missions are completely pointless. Leveling up your recruits serves zero purpose. So why is it in the game? I like the recruit concept, so I wish they had put more thought and effort into it for AC3.

I also really question the Homestead. It just feels so awkward and out of place. I feel like it only exists as a way to outdo the Villa from AC2, which was a very nice side system that game introduced. Brotherhood tried to up the ante and make you manage the whole city of Rome, and then Revelations just blindly copied the feature with no story explanation at all. But the Homestead as a location is not as interesting as an Italian villa. It also made little sense to me why this supposedly loner Assassin is just inviting people to come live on his land. I hate how several important features of the game, like dual holsters and pouch upgrades, are tied to this side system that feels so tacked on. The whole system just felt like filler to me, and the only reason I did it was to get the pouch upgrades it offered.

Your point about things being in the game just because they were in the previous games is well put.

One of the things that is hard to believe is the entire eonomic meta-system in the game. I played through the story and had absolutely no need to take part in the Homestead, to buy stuff, craft stuff, trade stuff or really do anything other than do the missions. Much like the assassin recruits, it feels like it is a totally separate game from the main story of AC3 and really doesn't help the core gameplay experience. I didn't need the recruits ever either, other when they forced me to use them.

AC2's villa and economic system, for example, had some connection to the game and definitely made it easier as you progressed. It fit well within the scope of what Ubi presented to you as part of Ezio's world. I don't get the same feeling from AC3.

At very least, they should have tied something to Connor's development such as having the ability, as the player, to acquire exprience points that would affect the sync system they used. For example, young Connor would've desynced quicker and not regained his health as fast as badass Connor toward the end of the game. At least playing as Ezio, we had some progression of skills and health. We had some, albeit flawed at times, sense of Ezio becoming a better assassin.

Again, nice concept but bad execution tying it to the rest of the game.

Assassin_M
01-24-2013, 10:24 PM
We had some, albeit flawed at times, sense of Ezio becoming a better assassin.



for me it was not flawed.....Something that does not exist cannot be flawed

SixKeys
01-24-2013, 10:25 PM
The Homestead would have benefitted from upgrades around the area actually being useful. In AC2, as you upgraded the Villa, you could open up shops to upgrade your gear or buy medicine. In AC3, the Homestead stays pretty empty. It's just a bunch of houses scattered far apart and there's nothing to do at any of them other than talk to the inhabitants. It should have been that once you acquire a blacksmith, you can buy weapons there, new outfits/dyes at the seamstress etc. There's really no good reason for the Homestead to be as big as it is, other than to boast "look how much bigger this is compared to the Villa!". You can't even really hunt there since there's only like 2 or 3 animal species on the whole map, in specific areas.

dxsxhxcx
01-25-2013, 12:12 AM
excelent post, I would add more to my post but it's not like they'll listen anyway, I have the feeling they unfortunately already have the path they want to take the franchise settled and the fan opinions won't do much if it's not aligned with their views..

burtie80
01-25-2013, 12:34 AM
Your point about things being in the game just because they were in the previous games is well put.

One of the things that is hard to believe is the entire eonomic meta-system in the game. I played through the story and had absolutely no need to take part in the Homestead, to buy stuff, craft stuff, trade stuff or really do anything other than do the missions. Much like the assassin recruits, it feels like it is a totally separate game from the main story of AC3 and really doesn't help the core gameplay experience. I didn't need the recruits ever either, other when they forced me to use them.

AC2's villa and economic system, for example, had some connection to the game and definitely made it easier as you progressed. It fit well within the scope of what Ubi presented to you as part of Ezio's world. I don't get the same feeling from AC3.

At very least, they should have tied something to Connor's development such as having the ability, as the player, to acquire exprience points that would affect the sync system they used. For example, young Connor would've desynced quicker and not regained his health as fast as badass Connor toward the end of the game. At least playing as Ezio, we had some progression of skills and health. We had some, albeit flawed at times, sense of Ezio becoming a better assassin.

Again, nice concept but bad execution tying it to the rest of the game.

You hit the nail right on the head there.

The homestead felt completely cut off and different from the rest of the game. It was interesting at the start and I thought that by building the homestead up that I would be able to buy new weapons from the blacksmith, and other items from people that came to live there but it turned out to be completely pointless because all I was able to do was talk to and observe the residents.
The homstead missions were really boring to, pick flowers, play hide and seek etc...there was no creativity apart from go to point A, now go to point B.

Carch
01-25-2013, 12:57 AM
One of the things that is hard to believe is the entire eonomic meta-system in the game. I played through the story and had absolutely no need to take part in the Homestead, to buy stuff, craft stuff, trade stuff or really do anything other than do the missions. Much like the assassin recruits, it feels like it is a totally separate game from the main story of AC3 and really doesn't help the core gameplay experience. I didn't need the recruits ever either, other when they forced me to use them.

You may not need the recruits, but they are another tool in your Assassin toolbox. Their different abilities offer many more options for varied gameplay. Even if you only use them to assassinate guards, leveling them up is useful. A fully leveled up recruit or two can take on a full squad of guards by themselves. Trying to run on the rooftops but there are too many guards? Send in a leveled up recruit, and bam, you're on your way. They may not have fit the way you played the game, but they are far from useless.


AC2's villa and economic system, for example, had some connection to the game and definitely made it easier as you progressed. It fit well within the scope of what Ubi presented to you as part of Ezio's world. I don't get the same feeling from AC3.

The Homestead gives you more options than the Villa did. Monteriggioni was never needed for any of the upgrades. You could buy them from any shop. The only thing the shops and Villa did in AC2 was give you more money. And realistically, the upgrades were never needed either. While better armor gave you a little more breathing room, and better weapons ended fights a little more quickly, it was perfectly possible (and more challenging!) to play through AC2 with few if any upgrades. So actually, you didn't really need the money in AC2 either. The Homestead serves the same purpose in AC3 - it's all about making money. So what if you don't have to spend that money? Making more money is a gameplay goal in itself. I love the crafting system, because I love trying to figure out what I can make with the bits of junk I pick up hunting, pickpocketing and doing Assassin missions.

My point is these parts of the game do fit in with everything else, because they provide more options while playing the game. That means that different people can enjoy the game their own way, and it even adds to replayability, because having more options means you can try different approaches. You can play Tomahawk-and-Bow Connor with no upgrades at all, or Rootin' Tootin' PIstol Shootin' Connor with dual Royal pistols and a sword for when he runs out of ammo, or Iroquois Warrior Connor with a great big war club and no secondary weapon, or Assassin Connor with hidden blades and poison, or Huntsman Connor who uses snares to choke out his enemies.

SixKeys
01-25-2013, 01:35 AM
The Homestead gives you more options than the Villa did. Monteriggioni was never needed for any of the upgrades. You could buy them from any shop. The only thing the shops and Villa did in AC2 was give you more money. And realistically, the upgrades were never needed either. While better armor gave you a little more breathing room, and better weapons ended fights a little more quickly, it was perfectly possible (and more challenging!) to play through AC2 with few if any upgrades. So actually, you didn't really need the money in AC2 either. The Homestead serves the same purpose in AC3 - it's all about making money. So what if you don't have to spend that money? Making more money is a gameplay goal in itself. I love the crafting system, because I love trying to figure out what I can make with the bits of junk I pick up hunting, pickpocketing and doing Assassin missions.

You're right that the Villa upgrades weren't actually necessary but for me at least simply seeing the place visually improve before my very eyes was reward enough. I loved all the little details: the streets started out empty but by the end you had enough crowds to form blend groups. A tree in the middle of a courtyard slowly grew healthier and finally bloomed in full. Even the weather gradually got better as Monteriggioni improved. Upgrading the Villa is still one of my favorite activities whenever I replay the game because knowing your actions have an impact on your surroundings is rewarding in itself. In ACB, they kinda had a similar concept with Rome but the changes weren't nearly as drastic, so it wasn't quite as rewarding. In ACR there was literally no impact besides opening shops. In AC3, the only changes to the environment are the villagers' houses, but they're so far apart that you don't actually notice the changes. If the Homestead were smaller like Monteriggioni where you had a clear overview of the entire place, recruiting inhabitants and upgrading their homes might have been cooler. As it stands though, I have the feeling that my actions have as little impact on the environment as in ACR which gives me little incentive to keep doing it.

montagemik
01-25-2013, 02:21 AM
Got to admit , i was more than a little dissapointed that with the introduction of crafting items & the Homestead -
We had no option of getting the Artisans to do anything useful or fun for us really .

Have the tailor make or customise our outfits .
Have lance perfect the Flying machine - if just to fly down to the harbour at least.
Have the Blacksmith actually make our weapons for us ( expected that's where the Assassin Tomahawk would come from ) - designed by Connor, not given to us by achilles, or bought in a Shop - Bought in a shop ?? really ?
(who the hell supplies those for them ? )

& the whole 'running through buildings & windows' in the City :rolleyes:.............. Why bother other than a 2 sec cinematic graphical touch . Yet they were so proud of that .

SixKeys
01-25-2013, 08:04 PM
& the whole 'running through buildings & windows' in the City :rolleyes:.............. Why bother other than a 2 sec cinematic graphical touch . Yet they were so proud of that .

It was a nice idea, but would have been more useful if they had more of them. I almost never used them because I could never find one while being chased.