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Assassin's Creed Developer Shares Funny Story About Last Minute Changes To Original Game [Correction]

Illustration for article titled iAssassins Creed/i Developer Shares Funny Story About Last Minute Changes To Original Game [Correction]
Screenshot: Ubisoft

Some of the original Assassin’s Creed’s side missions were added during a short five-day sprint, according to a viral Twitter thread shared online today.

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Correction: May 23, 12:50 p.m.: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that all of the game’s side missions were added at the last minute. That was an incorrect interpretation of Charles Randall’s Tweets. We have corrected the story throughout, clarifying that Randall was only referring to some of the game’s smaller side activities. We also have changed the headline. It originally stated: “All The Side Missions In The First Assassin’s Creed Were Created And Added In Five Days.” We regret the error and apologize to readers and Randall for getting this wrong.

This story comes from a Tweet thread posted by Charles Randall. He worked on the first Assassin’s Creed game as a programmer. He initially explained that he and his team were ready to ship the game when they got some news: The CEO of Ubisoft let his kid play the game and they found it boring.

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(Randall would later note that he wasn’t sure if it was actually the CEO’s kid or even if the CEO had a kid, but that suddenly they had feedback they needed to act on with haste.)

This immediately forced the team to have conversations about what to do and after thinking about it, Randall and the others decided to add some more side activities. But they would only have five days to design extra material and they would have to be completely bug-free, because the moment Randall and his team were finished the game was being burned to discs and shipped.

While this wasn’t easy he says they created no new art or assets. Instead, they were able to make new activities out of existing assets, things like flag races and challenges to hunt down some unnamed Templar enemies. Randall admits that ultimately the advice they got was right. “...there was nothing in [Assassin’s Creed]’s first submission except the critical path story and like... high points.” So it sounds like the game needed more stuff to do.

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Miraculously the game shipped and worked without any issues or bugs. Well, except one really annoying bug that players sometimes encountered when trying to get all the achievements in the game.

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One assassination target wasn’t set up correctly and if players approached this target from the wrong direction it would cause the enemy to fall through the world. This didn’t give you credit for the kill, but according to the game he was now dead and would no longer spawn. This would prevent players from completing every assassination and would force them to restart the game if they wanted to collect all the achievements.

While Randall apologizes for causing players some frustration, he says he is just happy they were able to pull this off at all and that they didn’t ship with game-breaking, or worse, bugs. “But I know it’s a miracle that the game didn’t just melt your console or whatever,” explained Randall.

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Looking back at the entire incident, Randall says that it was a group effort that everyone volunteered for and that ultimately the game did need more things to do.

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Of course, now Assassin’s Creed games have the opposite problem, but it is wild to think about a time when an AC game was going to ship with mostly story missions and some towers to jump off.

Kotaku Weekend Editor | Zack Zwiezen is a writer living in Kansas. He has written for GameCritics, USgamer, Kill Screen & Entertainment Fuse.

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DISCUSSION

And this is why executives shouldn’t be allowed to meddle. The CEO thinks their idiot kid’s lone opinion is the equivalent of rigorous market testing.

The devs knew what they were doing, and the game had plenty to interest the actual intended audience. But the CEO’s snot nosed brat makes an almost cartoonishly childish complaint of “It’s so BORING! There’s nothing to DO!”, and suddenly the devs are forced to scramble to appease the ignorant executive.

And then of course, once the game comes out and the intended audience plays it and loves it, but complains about the slapped-on side content no one wanted, no one ever goes back to the CEO and holds them accountable.

You think there’s a single person at the company who would have dared to tell the truth? “You made us add this stuff in at the last mintue based on your kid’s opinion instead of trusting us to do our jobs, but the stuff you demanded we add is the least popular and most frustrating part of the entire game among our customers.”

Hell no! The CEO never has to take responsibility! They can do no wrong!

To hell with senselessly meddling executives. There’s a time and a place to intervene in a project when it’s genuinely going off the rails, but getting a single absurd complaint from your no-nothing kid doesn’t qualify!