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View Full Version : Does Assassin's Creed need a popular historical setting?



Zafar1981
05-14-2014, 03:15 AM
This is the question which I ask to me and my friends. Most of my friend says some of them says no. My friend asked me that why I think that popular setting should never be used in the series. I told them because I know what happen in this time era and I know what would be the story.

Conner was a good character but the setting of the game was so powerful that it over shadowed his personality and most of the players says he was a dud. Could this same be happen to Arno?

Whenever a popular era is given the bar of expectation raised automatically. People start saying oh that guy, that general, that traitor, that lady because they knew them. There are so many movies and dramas discussing these characters and then we start comparing these animated characters with real actors. Then we start saying that Charles Lee was not killed by this way please look this Wikipedia.com, Adam Samuel was not portrayed well and so on and on.

Did anyone knows the history of all the targets of AC 1 and AC 2 although they were famous names of their time. Because we didn't knew much about that era. We were not only playing that game we were also getting education.

That's why I always said that use that part of history which is not that famous or people know little about it like Sumerians, Babylonians, Ancient Greek, Roman Empire(150 AD to 300 AD), Egypt(1300 BC to 600 BC). We know very little about that time period and it also help Ubisoft dev team to craft the story by their own way( meaning putting some imaginary character is action).

guardian_titan
05-14-2014, 03:58 AM
For a series starting out, a popular setting would heighten interest in the game. Doing a niche time period that few know or care about would only draw in a niche fan base and you might not get the popularity you want. The Caesar city building series later spurred the Pharaoh/Cleopatra city builder that led to Children of the Nile ... and then they all went *poof* replaced with much cheaper knock offs ... if you can even find them.. The Stronghold series is like the only castle building sim available. All are rather niche games. The Crusades are a rather niche era so AC1 likely didn't get as much interest as it could have out of the gate. Mention the Crusades and most think Richard the Lionheart before jumping to the fictional Robin Hood ... if they even associate them at all. People are more familiar with the Renaissance so Ezio sprang to the forefront and drew Altair out of the shadows on his coat tails. The 18th century is a rather popular era due to everything that happened and is a good way to really increase their fan base.

Egypt is not likely to be seen in the game series for some time because there's already a comic. And AC is marketed as being historical fiction. Making up the story isn't historical fiction. It's just fiction. What would make AC in Egypt different from The Scorpion King or other Egyptian historical movies (many of which are religion related)? Throwing in Ramesses II or some other famous pharaoh from Khufu to Amenhotep III, Akhenaten, Tutankhamen, Horemheb, and Aye to Cleopatra won't suddenly make it historical if the events and other characters aren't there to support it. The Avengers isn't real just because the movie takes places in New York. The Walking Dead isn't real just because it takes place around Atlanta, GA. Having actual people and mentioning events really nails a story to a place and time. Making it all up ... then how is it really historical anymore? I think the more fabricated stories that are based on very little should remain in the comics and books while those that have factual events and real people should remain in the games.

I got into the series with AC3 because I'm an American and I also happen to be related to several of the characters in the game. George Washington being the more prominent one that I'm related to by blood although I'm also related to Thomas Jefferson by marriage. I've recently started looking into my family tree so am finding numerous links to various famous figures from Zachary Taylor to Meriwether Lewis to Pocahantas. I'm also related by marriage to Robert E. Lee and Abraham Lincoln. I do expect those I'm related to to be portrayed in a certain fashion so I do take a bit of offense when one of my relatives is portrayed poorly. Who really wants their family to be portrayed poorly? Granted, it's a different story if the person was really a psychopath, but if the person was portrayed wildly different from what the real person was ... well, people have reason to be angry. AC is a popular series and there are people who believe the events in the game are true to reality. There are people who believe TV shows are real. You can't please everyone. If you try, you'll end up pleasing no one. People will have their gripes. I certainly have mine with the series, but c'est la vie. If we all agreed, we'd have world peace, and I'm sure you know how likely that is.

And who is Adam Samuel? You mean Samuel Adams?

LoyalACFan
05-14-2014, 08:25 AM
I think AC does better when it focuses on eras rather than events. AC3 is the go-to example of an AC game whose story was overshadowed by the historical events it displayed, whereas AC1 and the AC2 trilogy were more focused on capturing the overall "feel" of the time period rather than reenacting specific happenings (though to a certain extent they did that too, with the Battle of Arsuf and Pazzi conspiracy). AC4 was kind of a mix of both approaches, since it did reenact famous scenes like Blackbeard's death and the sinking of the Spanish fleet, but they tied it in with Edward's story a lot more seamlessly and the pirate ambiance felt a lot more authentic to me than the colonial ambiance ever felt in AC3.

I'm sort of afraid that ACU will be taking the same route as AC3, but then again, even if it does I don't think I'll be bothered as much by it. As an American schoolboy, we were taught all about (romanticized versions of) Revolutionary War events, so being plopped right in the middle of them as a random Mohawk warrior felt all the cheesier for it. I nearly had to stop playing when I reached the Paul Revere mission.

But I think mission design has a lot to do with it too. Many of the historical events in AC3 were just stupidly-designed missions, plain and simple (Battle of Lexington and Concord, Paul Revere's Ride, Boston Massacre, and Battle of Monmouth come to mind). I think even if Unity shoehorns us into significant events of the French Revolution, it won't feel as forced if the gameplay sticks to what makes AC missions good. That is to say, no missions where we're barked orders to from the back of a horse, or forced to command troops from horseback.

RinoTheBouncer
05-14-2014, 08:43 AM
AC needs a better story writer and director. AC’s been jumping at every popular setting like American Revolution, Pirates andRenaissance, but all it needs is a proper story and a major focus on the Assassins and Templars rather than just bringing up the most mainstream factions and calling them Assassins and Templars.

Bring some immersive setting, a very interesting and connected story divided between modern and historical settings, a likable protagonist, good and original gameplay and a beautiful atmosphere and the game will be amazing whether it’s in Ancient Egypt, Sumer, Japan or WWII or any other location. As long as we have a new and a completely different era and culture, as well as believable and interesting characters, the game will be good. It doesn’t have to be Victorian London, French Revolution or 9/11.

SixKeys
05-14-2014, 08:48 AM
Popular? No. Just immersive and interesting is enough. One of the reasons AC1 and AC2 were so intriguing was because they featured eras that had been surprisingly rarely touched in games before. I never even knew how interesting those eras were until I played these games. AC1 featured no famous events apart from the Battle of Arsuf (and even that is not very famous to non-historians). The intrigue came from simply being able to explore Crusades-era locations and imagine how life must have been like back then. AC2 had more historical events woven into its narrative, but in a non-intrusive way, like the attempted assassination of Lorenzo de Medici. The assassination theme and political scheming fit into the overall story, so it didn't feel thrown in there just for the heck of it. AC3 also featured an era that wasn't often explored, but in its case I think the setting just didn't work. America was simply too young to have much history back then and the architecture was much closer to modern style, so it didn't even have that 'wow' factor to it. Because the setting alone couldn't carry the game, they tried to make up for it by throwing the player into all kinds of historical events, even when they made no sense or were boring gameplay-wise (Paul Revere's ride, signing of the Declaration). AC4 had a bit of this going on as well, but was able to pull it off better because pirates are always fun and the locations were more diverse.

I really want AC to go far, far back in time again, to locations that haven't been explored much if at all in other games. The less familiar I am with the history of that location, the better. Let me visit places like Poland, Iran, Tibet, Mongolia, Sweden, etc. etc. I don't care if there were no big battles or hugely interesting political events, just make the setting interesting and I'm there.

GunnerGalactico
05-14-2014, 11:09 AM
I kind of agree with what everyone says. AC does not necessarily need popular historical events to keep players engrossed in the game or to make the main character interesting, and they should not have to base games on a particular setting because of the popularity of a location or significance of an event. Just as Sixkeys has pointed out, AC has used settings and locations that have not been used by other games and that's what made it interesting and unique.AC1 and 2 really captured the essence and ambience of the setting that they were based on. AC3 on the other hand, great story, setting and main character... but I didn't like being shoehorned into events. AC4 managed to keep things balanced... which is simply what they need to do, keep things balanced out.

dxsxhxcx
05-14-2014, 12:09 PM
I agree with SixKeys, but I wouldn't mind if they decided to use some popular settings as long as they don't throw us at every single meaningful event of that era, let these (or most of these) be what they should be, the background of the story, I believe a good story can be writen anywhere if proper focus is given to what really matters, the Assassin vs Templar war.

ze_topazio
05-14-2014, 12:18 PM
A setting you know nothing about can be fun because you can be surprised, you can discover more about a different place, culture, event, etc..., everything is new.

A setting you already know a lot about can be fun too, it's fun to see places, events and historical figures you have heard and read about so much being brought to life.

Both ways are interesting.


Connor is the type of person that doesn't stand out much and can be easily forgotten, it was not the historical event that made him fade in to the background, his monotonous and discreet personality made him disappear.

oliacr
05-14-2014, 01:08 PM
A setting you know nothing about can be fun because you can be surprised, you can discover more about a different place, culture, event, etc..., everything is new.

A setting you already know a lot about can be fun too, it's fun to see places, events and historical figures you have heard and read about so much being brought to life.

Both ways are interesting.

Agreed. If the game is well executed then both ways could be interesting. It doesn't matter if you know something about that time period or not because you haven't seen those periods anywhere have you? I mean you have seen those only on pictures. But in a game it is a far better representation of the old cities, cultures, events, places, landscapes, landmarks.

GunnerGalactico
05-14-2014, 01:29 PM
A setting you know nothing about can be fun because you can be surprised, you can discover more about a different place, culture, event, etc..., everything is new.

A setting you already know a lot about can be fun too, it's fun to see places, events and historical figures you have heard and read about so much being brought to life.

Both ways are interesting.


Connor is the type of person that doesn't stand out much and can be easily forgotten, it was not the historical event that made him fade in to the background, his monotonous and discreet personality made him disappear.

That's fine, just as long as they don't throw the main character on the forefront of significant events just for the sake of it and lose focus of the plot... I'm all for it.

Connor's personality is not the problem, the mission structures and designs were poorly done and he looked like an errand boy when he aided George Washington and Samuel Adams and was barked orders by Paul Revere when they rode in Lexington. It's like they forked up excuses to throw Connor in events like the Battle of Chesapeake. That's where it fell apart.

Hans684
05-14-2014, 05:08 PM
Connor was a good character but the setting of the game was so powerful that it over shadowed his personality and most of the players says he was a dud. Could this same be happen to Arno?

Yes, if people feel that he gets thrown around everywhere meeting everyone. But it's just a feeling and opinion, the story is more important than a simple feeling.


Whenever a popular era is given the bar of expectation raised automatically. People start saying oh that guy, that general, that traitor, that lady because they knew them. There are so many movies and dramas discussing these characters and then we start comparing these animated characters with real actors. Then we start saying that Charles Lee was not killed by this way please look this Wikipedia.com, Adam Samuel was not portrayed well and so on and on.

I get the point.


Did anyone knows the history of all the targets of AC 1 and AC 2 although they were famous names of their time. Because we didn't knew much about that era. We were not only playing that game we were also getting education.

There is Wikipedia if you insist. Lack of knowledge =/= unpopular. There is always "oh that guy, that general, that traitor, that lady because someone knew them". There are those famous people you have just heard about, not knowing for example the place and time they lived in or you only know the pop culture version of someone famous like Blackbeard. I'm sure Disney helped with showing off the pop culture Blackbeard that went around killing just couse. It's popular and inaccurate.


That's why I always said that use that part of history which is not that famous or people know little about it like Sumerians, Babylonians, Ancient Greek, Roman Empire(150 AD to 300 AD), Egypt(1300 BC to 600 BC). We know very little about that time period and it also help Ubisoft dev team to craft the story by their own way( meaning putting some imaginary character is action).

I'd love to go far back doesn't Ubisoft always "craft their story their own way(putting some imaginary character is action)". Dissapointment does not mean a series is ruined and not far from dying.

Markaccus
05-14-2014, 05:17 PM
I agree with SixKeys, but I wouldn't mind if they decided to use some popular settings as long as they don't throw us at every single meaningful event of that era, let these (or most of these) be what they should be, the background of the story, I believe a good story can be writen anywhere if proper focus is given to what really matters, the Assassin vs Templar war.

i agree that we should not be involved in every main event of the time portrayed, but certainly it is nice to be involved with some of them. I think it was good the way Ubi tweaked history to include ezio in saving cat sfortzas kids, and i also enjoyed bonfire of the vanities. The guy who kicked that off was a bit nuts, so making out he had been corrupted by the apple was not too much of a stretch. In Ac 3 the way they did the boston tea party was good too, they didnt make it all about greedy brits (i am brittish and would have been p1ssed at that :D ) or militant yanks (clearly also not correct). They gave it a templar twist that both sides could accept.

HercRembrandt
05-14-2014, 07:01 PM
I'm not sure I fully understand by what is meant by "popular historical setting" here. Are ancient Egypt/Greece/Roman Empire somehow more obscure than the Crusades or the Italian Renaissance? If so, it's not immediately obvious to me.

I think the key is to craft a story that uses a particular time and place as a setting, without the obligation to have the protagonist be a total Forrest Gump figure, as was the case with Connor. That way, the appeal is not wholly dependent on whether we happen to be particularly interested in the era to begin with. There's no need for the game to feel like it's "AC does the American Revolution!" Gotta separate the background from the story focus. Otherwise it will just be a series of Paul Revere's Rides, though to be honest, that particular mission feels a lot like it was conceived as intentionally humorous, as opposed to "Experience the Thrills of the Revolution!"

GunnerGalactico
05-14-2014, 07:50 PM
Otherwise it will just be a series of Paul Revere's Rides, though to be honest, that particular mission feels a lot like it was conceived as intentionally humorous, as opposed to "Experience the Thrills of the Revolution!

Don't get me wrong, I did find that mission as hilarious as it was annoying. Especially when he said "This way Connor" , "Turn left" , "I believe we are on course"... and especially when he said "To left" multiple times, it reminded me of an annoying song by Beyoncé. I appreciate the comic relief, but I wished they could've designed that mission differently. :)

Zafar1981
05-14-2014, 09:51 PM
Instead of putting the player active in a popular event they need to make a story based on the aftermaths of that event. Like Templar were defeated or succeeded in that popular event and now they are plotting a dangerous scheme against Assassins.

All the series need a solid and balanced story, not a popular event. There are lots of area which we don't know. Germany, Spain, Portugal, Netherlands, Iran, Iraq, Egypt(after 1200 AD). Just a simple setting with an interesting story, story we want to watch and play again and again.

yankeegamergirl
05-14-2014, 11:07 PM
I think the points you raise are interesting and there are a lot of posts in this thread that I agree with, like Loyal AC Fan's and ze-topazio to name a few.
I would like to think that a 'popular' historical setting is not needed if the story is fantastic and and the gameplay/mechanics are smooth. I also personally believe stealth should always be given priority. As I've said before (in other threads) my own guess would be popular settings that Ubisoft thinks the people are already somewhat familiar with may appeal to them for monetary reasons as well as marketing but of course this is just speculation. I agree that antiquity is the way to go (I can't say it enough), however only if it can be done right. Ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome in my opinion are only popular in terms of very general knowledge; especially Egypt like 'yeah pyramids and pharaohs' and that's about it for a lot of people. How many could name significant events or people within such a broad range of history of these civilizations (thousands of years) like the Battle of Kadesh for example or Tiberius and Gaius Gracchus (The Gracchi Brothers) from the Late Republic or Pericles from Classical Athens. I think you would be hard pressed to find many. And if they could many people would go with the cliche (who are not necessarily always the most interesting) like Cleopatra, Julius Caesar or Alexander. Where as the French Revolution and the storming of the Bastille are often topics within many a classroom in the west. So I'm assuming that's what you mean by 'lesser known' in that case I would agree that Ubisoft should not be afraid to give us something a little different.

To add I'm not totally against famous historical settings. Apparently the French Rev. is something a lot of people wanted and those individuals are very lucky to get something they wanted from a franchise they support. I'm excited for Unity somewhat even though I was initially annoyed about another game in the 18th century (I'm not good with guns lol). I think to some people it just seems like Ubisoft is jumping on the cliche instead of using more of their imagination. Popular settings are great if the story works (yeah I'm a story person). :)

ze_topazio
05-14-2014, 11:28 PM
Instead of putting the player active in a popular event they need to make a story based on the aftermaths of that event. Like Templar were defeated or succeeded in that popular event and now they are plotting a dangerous scheme against Assassins.

All the series need a solid and balanced story, not a popular event. There are lots of area which we don't know. Germany, Spain, Portugal, Netherlands, Iran, Iraq, Egypt(after 1200 AD). Just a simple setting with an interesting story, story we want to watch and play again and again.

I like the way you think partner!

Ureh
05-15-2014, 04:00 AM
I think both can work very well. Just depends on the story and its characters. I think I'm pretty flexible when it comes to taking a lot of creative liberties cause I'm not super familiar with most of the eras they choose.

Whenever I play any AC game, I always imagine it as the "secret" history. The one that really happened but very few remember cause written history was construed or embellished in certain ways. It's really exciting to see another version of events and meeting historical figures that have been molded (or even changed) to fit their story.

So they don't need it. But sometimes trying to weave an AC story into a popular setting can result in a very intriguing and rewarding experience.