It’s the little things. A tiny gesture that Arno makes as he’s racing across the Parisian rooftops. A barely noticeable reaction from a solitary NPC in a crowd 3,000 deep. The subtle swaying motion of an opulent chandelier in a lavish ballroom. It’s these little things, multiplied by the thousands, that a development team focuses on during the final push to ship a game. And with a massive open-world title like Assassin’s Creed Unity, all those little things add up fast. Toss in the fact that Unity has been built from the ground up as a new-gen Assassin’s Creed – and that final straight-line sprint to the finish suddenly feels like an obstacle course laden with curves, hurdles and pitfalls.
Still, the race is almost over. Assassin’s Creed Unity will release in North America on November 11 and in EMEA territories on November 13, 2014.
Yes, that’s two weeks after the previously announced release date. But along with big ambition – and even bigger promises – comes a lot of heavy lifting. “This being a fully next-gen game, it requires a lot of work, a lot of production, and a lot of learning,” says Senior Producer Vincent Pontbriand. “It’s always hard to be precise and to quantify exactly how much work is involved. So as we get close to the finish we often realize we’re near the target but we’re not quite there yet.”
A Leap of Faith
Like anyone making a triple-A game, the team also had to adjust to new technology. At just a year old, the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 are in their infancy, and everyone is still learning how to get the most out of these magnificent machines. “We rebuilt most of the systems,” Pontbriand says. “Sometimes to improve the experience. Sometimes to improve the gameplay itself. Sometimes to reskin it, to make it look fresh all over again. Or sometimes because we had to make everything online-compatible.”
But this is also Assassin’s Creed, Pontbriand reminds us. “And AC is a huge open-world game. We have thousands of NPCs on screen. We have more depth in the types of AI we’ve built. The graphics are spectacular. The processes are way more complex. Which makes it exponentially harder to grasp everything than it was in the previous generation.”
Now that the team has a near-finished game, those extra two weeks will allow them to focus on those minor adjustments that can make a big difference – and ultimately help Ubisoft deliver on the promise of the game. “We’re very confident in the game we’re making,” Pontbriand says.
This small delay is also about taking total ownership and doing what’s right for both the gamers and the development team. “Making games is not a precise science. It’s a leap of faith. There’s a good level of subjectivity and creativity,” he says. “We have a bunch of us who have spent two, three years or more on this project. It’s a huge personal investment. People have been truly dedicated to this game. For them it’s also important to make a game that they can be proud of.” That’s why the team will continue to toil even beyond the ship date – right up to actual release – building a Day 1 patch that offers even more improvements to Unity.
As for the fans, Pontbriand can’t wait to get Assassin’s Creed Unity into their hands. “We honestly appreciate their commitment to the game and their patience. It’s just a couple more weeks. And it’s going to be worth it.”
The US release date for Assassin’s Creed Rogue remains unchanged; Rogue will release on November 11, 2014 (alongside Unity). However in EMEA territories, Rogue will now release November 13, 2014 (also alongside Unity).
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