Assassin’s Creed 3 Multiplayer Game Director Damien Kieken was kind enough to take a few minutes out of his schedule of creating and playing video games to answer these questions, which were in part sourced by you, the formerly wealthy readers of Top Tier Tactics.*
Anyway, let’s get started with the AC3 multiplayer interview!
Top Tier Tactics interview with Damien Kieken of Ubisoft
T3: First of all, thank you for your time and for your work on this project. Top Tier Tactics has been home to a large portion of serious Assassin’s Creed multiplayer play, so it is a pleasure to have this opportunity! AC multiplayer is very different from the generic FPS multiplayer you see in most games. Certainly Ubisoft has a history of “different” multiplayer experiences. Did games like The Ship inspire it? What were the design goals of creating ACB multiplayer?
Kieken: When we worked for the first time on the multiplayer of Assassin’s Creed, we wanted to come up with something fresh and innovative, but also something that is really respectful of the main pillars of an Assassin’s Creed game : free-running, social-stealth/crowd and assassination/combat. So, we tried different ideas and one of them (that came up from the Ubisoft Worldwide Creative Director when he reviewed the game) was to base a mode around the famous “Killer” game where everyone has a contract (or player) to execute, gets the contract of the player he kills, and so on. That’s pretty much where the Wanted mode came from. Regarding the gameplay mechanics it was really an iterative process starting on the AC pillars, so that’s why we have the crowd, the free-running and awesome assassination moves.
T3:Did you learn anything surprising about player ability/perks/streaks balance in ACB or ACR? How did that influence your plans for AC3 gameplay?
Kieken: In fact, it’s always funny to look at the statistics and see how some tendencies of using certain abilities develop over time. Mute, for example, wasn’t really popular at the beginning of ACB, but the more the players played and the more we’ve seen people using it. The decoy is also used a lot now on ACR, and not just defensively but also offensively.
T3:Several players have asked us if any changes have been made to in-game communication. Especially, our PC players are wondering if in-game typing chat will be implemented?
Kieken: We have a dedicated team working on the PC version to develop some dedicated features (control binding, keyboard support, integrated friend list, etc.), but I don’t know enough of the specific details to know if they are doing an in-game typing chat.
T3:As Assassin’s Creed multiplayer grows more popular, more and more clans and websites (like ours!) will be running tournaments and other competitive events. Is there any consideration to have spectator, replay, or other e-sport friendly options in AC3?
Kieken: Of course, it’s something we’re looking into for future game iterations, but to seriously consider those we really need strong community support using the tools. So the bigger the community and the more active it will be, the more chance we’ll work on those options. So continue supporting the game and doing awesome stuff around it! :)
And also we’ve integrated in AC3 the new “Abstergo Ladder”, a ranking system based on your skills (not your time played). You’ll have different Abstergo Grades and to be in the best one you’ll need to be in the top 100 worldwide players!
T3:Will Alliance (or another old game mode) make an appearance in AC3? Is it possible to list modes that are definitely in or out at this time?
Kieken: I can’t tell you the exact list, but you’ll have some new modes like Domination and Wolfpack and also some returning ones from the previous games like Wanted or Manhunt. The more a mode is played in ACR, the more chance it will be in AC3 ;)
T3:Many players enjoyed seeing old favorite maps return from ACB to ACR. Will any maps be carried over into AC3, even though the game is set on a different continent?
Kieken: Because this year the game is based around a new setting, we are really pushing new content based on it: natural environments, new cities, etc. We’ll have some rewards linked to previous games for players who played those though.
T3:In ACR, two big changes that allowed for “chains” were being able to lock on during animations (which was later removed) and being able to deploy abilities during animations. What was the philosophy implementing these mechanics and will they see a return/tweaks in AC3?
Kieken: We’ve added some possible interaction during the animations (like targeting and ability-using) to bring more reactivity in the gameplay. That’s why we integrated the silent kill animations in ACR which are quicker if the player plays stealthy (because at the end, he doesn’t want to be spotted thanks to an animation).
T3:The SP of AC3 clearly features lots of new movement, like tree-climbing and diving into building interiors. Will this kind of navigation be in AC3 MP?
Kieken: Each time we do a new multiplayer, we look at what is really necessary for our gameplay. The multiplayer needs to be quick and more reactive than the single player in the character navigation, so for example, we’ve integrated the vault move in the multiplayer which helps you navigate faster.
T3:Will there be any additional custom game options in AC3? It would be cool to play unranked games against friends where the match was 20 minutes long, or where certain abilities were locked out, or with other special modifiers.
Kieken: There will be post-launch events organized by the post-launch team that will allow you to play in certain circumstances (defined abilities, maps, etc.), but I can’t tell you much more for the moment.
T3:In ACB and ACR, many players started flame wars over the “right” way to play. Some hate Smoke Bomb or Hidden Gun. Some players hate roofing. Some players believe score is all that counts, while others believe winning the match is all that counts. In your opinion, what is the “right” way to play? Is taking 1st place the main measure of victory?
Kieken: It’s a tricky question. The “right” way to play, is really to enjoy the game without griefing the other players. For some, it’s being very stealthy, but for others it’s doing aerial kills. At the end of the day, we try to give tools to everyone so that players can play the way they want, that’s why we have a 3rd Ability Slot in AC3 dedicated to ranged abilities to help interacting with players at distance (running away, on a roof, etc.).
T3:Finally, our fans are extremely interested in having all the best strategies. Do you have any tips for expert players for how to win with the new systems in AC3?
Kieken: One of the thing you’ll learn quickly in Domination mode is that if you stun your enemy right away while trying to capture his territory, he will stand-up and kill you before you capture the territory, so you’ll always need to wait a little bit for your capture to progress before going for the stun (without being spotted, which is always tricky).
In Wolfpack, everything is about cooperation, if you don’t cooperate, you won’t get anywhere. So you really need to synchronize your kills with your friends while trying to accomplish the secondary objectives at the same time. Communication with your partner is really key in this mode.
Additional Assassin’s Creed 3 info from Loomer979
A lot of readers had other questions about the changes to Assassin’s Creed 3′s kill/stun system, the inclusion of a third (ranged-only) skill slot, and queries about lag/online play. We specifically avoided these questions, as they have been previously answered in other media. To that effect, we invite you to watch another informative interview of Damien Kieken, performed by the ever professional Loomer979. It contains many answers to common questions submitted by T3 readers!
* Don’t ask what I mean and don’t check your bank account.