It’s hardly a secret that Assasin’s Creed III left a lot of fans feeling rather unhappy. Now a former employee of Ubisoft has stepped forth on Reddit to vent some of his frustration about the development of Assassin’s Creed III.
The person, henceforth referred to as Preludes, began by explaining that Assassin’s Creed III suffered from a case of too many cooks spoiling the broth, writing, “So why was AC3 a wreck? Without going into too much details, basically because of ridiculously unrealistic expectations and constantly tacked on features by producers / the creative team, it became literally impossible to get everything done with just Ubi Montreal. In order to get everything in the design doc completed in time for the annual release (ugh!), team size was constantly fluctuating. The game was worked on by large majority of the Montreal team, as well as Ubi Quebec, Ubi Annecy, Ubi Bucharest, and Ubi Singapore. Between 500-600 people touched the game before it’s release. Contrast that with teams like Naughty Dog or Sony Santa Monica, who operate with 80-100 (maybe 200 during crunch).”
Preludes also pointed out that with such a vast team at work communication was downright terrible, saying, “The coordination of resources between all of these teams separated by thousands of miles and differing time zones was a damn joke, and at the same time studio resources were constantly stolen for work on Watchdogs and Far Cry 3”
This utterly lack of communication between the various people working on the game got so bad that employees often weren’t even aware of new features being added: “Dissemination of information between individual employees was also pretty bad. A disturbingly large portion of team members had no idea about the majority of the Homestead, Caravan, and assassin crew side missions. There was basically so much content that even approaching release, plenty of grunt workers like myself on the ground were finding new features they didn’t know existed that needed more attention.”
Preludes uses the collectible Origami birds as an example, stating “there’s an origami-crane node collecting mini game that unlocks that I’ve NEVER seen covered or mentioned in any gaming blogs, reviews, or fan vids. Most of us didn’t even know it existed. That’s how random and disjointed the design was. ”
Preludes also comments on how features were ignored or added until late in development: “Stuff like the homestead economy, weapon crafting, hunting, board games, and the late-game set pieces were all heavily ignored til the very end of development, and no time was given to polish them or make them cohesive. Getting 100% went from something fun for the diehard fans, to a herculean task of tedium and dumb-luck.”
Furthermore Preludes states that game was still going through major work mere weeks before it went Gold: “A large action set piece near the Haytham boss fight was entirely cut ~2 weeks before we went gold. On top of that, some vital cutscenes anims and audio weren’t implemented until right befoe gold.”
This and features like crafting being added so late caused severe problems for testing, and resulted in the game’s many glitches and problems, according to Preludes: “So the (massive and disjointed) test teams were often sitting on their laurels waiting for more content while the thousands of issues they had already flagged were marked as “Won’t Fix” due to time constraints.”
Preludes also addressed the game’s rather patchy performance, saying that, “As for the shitty performance, it was the first project ever used on the new AnvilNext engine, which was pretty much designed with next-gen consoles and future pc tech in mind, so it was super inefficient on PS3/360. It was a widespread opinion that AC3 was just a massive tech demo for AnvilNext, in anticipation for AC4 and future projects. Took a while for the some programmers to get used to the engine given the processing constraints.”
But despite all of this Preludes was also keen to stress that he had enjoyed working for Ubisoft: “I cherished my time at Ubisoft, and despite my following complaints, working there was a great experience despite the bullshit.”
Another developer from Ubisoft caught word of this post by Preludes and responded on Twitter by saying:
@loomer979 Lots of falsehoods in that one. I don’t doubt that was his impression of things, but he’s getting big facts wrong.
— Darby McDevitt (@DarbyMcDevitt) January 22, 2014
Preludes replied on Reddit, saying:
“Darby? Hey, man. I meant no offense to you or your team. I honestly figured this post would be seen by like 5 people tops.
I feel I may have been in the wrong to go off on a rant, even if I thought it would remain obscure. I didn’t mean to knock Ubisoft either as a brand or as a team of human beings (who obviously deserve my respect). I have no doubt that every single man and woman at Ubi did their absolute best on that project, and will continue to do so on future projects. No one was actively trying to cause harm. And obviously the industry and the medium is just really tough, but we do it because we love it.
And I do think that AC3 was a decent product. I think it had some missteps, but I think it has some strengths too. The Haytham is actually a Templar reveal is one of my favorite uses of dramatic twists in the medium to date. And I do think that Connor was a good protagonist, who only suffered from some great character development that hit the cutting room floor.
I was wrong to out my frustrations in a public forum, but I’m sure you understand about the stresses of the industry getting to you.”
Preludes post makes for some fascinating reading, largely because it describes the state of the triple A videogame industry as a whole. But at least Assassin’s Creed IV managed to make it through and deliver a superb gaming experience.
Being Reddit it’s obviously pretty damn hard to verify whether Preludes was ever genuinely an employee at Ubisoft working on Assassin’s Creed III. The boys girls over at Escapist managed to get in touch with Prelude who attempted to validate his claims without actually revealing his identity, but currently Escapist have made no mention of actually being able to verify his claims.