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Sushiglutton
02-26-2013, 04:27 PM
AC is a huge franchise (AC3 sold >12M). Naturally there is a wide variety in terms of how experienced and skilled all these people are, as well as what kind of enjoyment they get out playing. Some play AC because they love the historical setting, interesting character and exciting stories. This group does not want a tough stealth section to put a halt in the story. Others play the game to plan and execute a perfect assassination and then vanish into thin air. This group does not want overly long cut scenes, or excessive handholding to disrupt the gameplay flow. Most of us are somewhere in between. In this thread I thought we could discuss ideas for how to make the game more interesting for more experienced gamers (core gamers), without alienating the casuals!

I’d love to hear your ideas as well as feedback on mine :)!



Something for everyone NOT everything for everyone
Like I said in the intro I understand that AC is a huge franchise that is played by tons of different players and that you need to have a wide range of content to meet that. But something for everyone is very different than everything for everyone!!! It seems to me like Ubi wants all players to do everything. This is never going to work! If you design a crafting and trading system that is so shallow and dumbed down, so that someone who plays AC to stab dudes in the back will enjoy it, it means that those who actually enjoy economy games won’t! If you design puzzles that can be solved by people who hate to think, than obv they won’t be fun for those who enjoy puzzles! This is a huge problem that is apparent across the entire game design imo.


Easy achievements
Casual gamers still want to platinum the game. Since the achievements are usually handed out for mastering a certain area of the game, it means the skill ceiling needs to be super low and core gamers suffer. Instead give achievements for testing something and do a little bit of it and leave the tougher challenges for those who play because they enjoy it, not to get achievements. For example I really appreciated the board games. Now a lot of players have complained about how difficult they were and how they couldn’t get the achievements. Please don’t make the board games easier in future games!!!! Instead allow people to get their achievement by beating a weaker AI. We who love a challenge don't need a virtual trophy to look for it, we just need the option to be there!


Fleshed out side missions
I understand that the campaign needs to be designed so that everyone can get through with as little hassle as possible. But the optional side missions do not have to be constrained by that. Therefor they are essential for how much enjoyment the core gamers get out of the game. And indeed the forts have been the most enjoyable part by far to me. There I can experiment, try different paths and have fun with gadgets. They represent the things about AC that I love (the stealth still needs improvement though (http://forums.ubi.com/showthread.php/743457-Constructive-and-specific-feedback-on-the-stealth-gameplay)). The assassination side missions were a disaster though and felt like they were thrown in the last second. The more fleshed out side content, built around the core mechanics, we can get the better! Also make this side content easily replayable. The seven forts are basically all the core fans got. The option to replay them is vital (Farcry 3 patched in an option to reset their fort equivalent)!


Smarter HUD
One problem with AC is that it gives you too much information instead of letting the player figure stuff out on his own. For this reason I like to turn off most of the HUD. However this leads to a bunch of problems, since the game is not designed for that. For example it can be really unintuitive that you need to tap ‘B’ to interact with a certain object. It’s also annoying that there is no way to see your inventory, money etc. without pausing the game. In for example F.E.A.R. you can watch your HUD temporarily by a button tap. Something like that would be excellent.


Right kind of full synch
This is something we have discussed a lot on this board. The full synch system feels like a way to add extra challenge to the game, which is great. But many of them restrict in what way the main objective can be completed, which is wrong. Most gamers that want more challenge also want more freedom. The full synch objectives should be designed so they increase the former without removing the latter.


Combat
Combat is heading in the right direction imo but needs to be fleshed out further to allow for more experimentation and a longer learning curve (aka longer before you know everything). I also think some kind of scoring system would be nice. That way you would have something to aim and practice for. There is a “length of kill streak” measurement in some missions, but I think this system needs to be fleshed out further. I also want to be able to quick fire all gadgets and have better control of what moves Connor performs. I was thinking maybe you could have a system where in an easy mode the same button tap results in different animation, but in a hardcore mode I can control the animations by different inputs? That would be sweet! Combat also cries out for some kind of difficulty setting imo. Tuning the amount of damage the player takes shouldn’t be that hard. Why not give that power to the player?


Animus training
Animus training was an awesome addition to AC:B and I can’t believe it was removed. It’s an opportunity to give the player more extreme kind of challenges (like endless amount of enemies) and also a way to help people become more skilled at the game.


Now I want to hear your ideas :D!

SuperLoboMau 25
02-26-2013, 04:50 PM
The most basic would give option to change difficulty and put better tutorials like ones of AC 1. First time I played AC was in Brotherhood, and how there were no good tutorials I thought the game boring.

Sushiglutton
02-26-2013, 05:03 PM
The most basic would give option to change difficulty and put better tutorials like ones of AC 1. First time I played AC was in Brotherhood, and how there were no good tutorials I thought the game boring.

The way the game is structured, different difficulty settings wouldn't really add all that much I'm afraid. Since there is one, more or less scripted, solution to every mission there is little room for extra challenge. I think the campaign is lost to me :(. That's why I emphasized the side content.

SuperLoboMau 25
02-26-2013, 05:07 PM
The way the game is structured, different difficulty settings wouldn't really add all that much I'm afraid. Since there is one, more or less scripted, solution to every mission there is little room for extra challenge. I think the campaign is lost to me :(. That's why I emphasized the side content.

Since AC2 the game is every time easest and I don't have hope to it change. And it's all new Ubisoft's game, look to Far Cry 3, Watch Dogs seems going to the same way.
AC3 is harder just till you "get the way".

Sushiglutton
02-26-2013, 05:18 PM
Since AC2 the game is every time easest and I don't have hope to it change. And it's all new Ubisoft's game, look to Far Cry 3, Watch Dogs seems going to the same way.
AC3 is harder just till you "get the way".

I mean like I said I can understand why the base experience has to be fairly easy so that fans of different skill levels and interests can enjoy it. I'm hoping for additions and tweaks so that we who play a lot more games will have a good time as well :).

dxsxhxcx
02-26-2013, 05:49 PM
the option to change the difficulty would certainly add a lot to the game (combat wise):

Easy or Recruit level: the current state;


Normal or Assassin level:

smaller window to counter an attack;
1HKO on killstreak based on a fixed % (maybe 30 or 40%, it would be interesting if we were able to set this value);
enemies deal a little (but noticeable) more damage;
direct attacks from the character deal a little less damage;
regenerate health happens slowly and after a certain number of hits we have a second health bar that set a new maximum HP that can only be brought to its original state when we go to a doctor;
one doctor per district;
enemies attack much more often; (use batman AA/AC as example)
enemies can break our defense;
enemies don't run away;
decrease notoriety require more actions than in the easy level; (maybe the amount of actions could be set by the player as well)


Hard or Master Assassin level:

even smaller window to counter;
1HKO based on a smaller % than in the normal level;
enemies deal more damage than in the normal level;
direct attack from the main character deal a little less damage than in normal level;
regenerate health happens slower than in normal level;
decrease notoriety require more actions than in the normal level;
the rest is the same as normal level;


Insane or Mentor level: same as hard level but once you die you need to start the game from the beginning;


ps: achievements are the same no matter the level you play (this way people who like to do this kind of thing won't complain)

Sushiglutton
02-26-2013, 06:43 PM
the option to change the difficulty would certainly add a lot to the game (combat wise):

Easy or Recruit level: the current state;


Normal or Assassin level:

smaller window to counter an attack;
1HKO on killstreak based on a fixed % (maybe 30 or 40%, it would be interesting if we were able to set this value);
enemies deal a little (but noticeable) more damage;
direct attacks from the character deal a little less damage;
regenerate health happens slowly and after a certain number of hits we have a second health bar that set a new maximum HP that can only be brought to its original state when we go to a doctor;
one doctor per district;
enemies attack much more often; (use batman AA/AC as example)
enemies can break our defense;
enemies don't run away;
decrease notoriety require more actions than in the easy level; (maybe the amount of actions could be set by the player as well)
Hard or Master Assassin level:

even smaller window to counter;
1HKO based on a smaller % than in the normal level;
enemies deal more damage than in the normal level;
direct attack from the main character deal a little less damage than in normal level;
regenerate health happens slower than in normal level;
decrease notoriety require more actions than in the normal level;
the rest is the same as normal level;
Insane or Mentor level: same as hard level but once you die you need to start the game from the beginning;


ps: achievements are the same no matter the level you play (this way people who like to do this kind of thing won't complain)

Yeah combat is a lot more scalable than the other gameplay pillars and like I said in OP I want some options in that area (what is 1HKO btw :)?). However I think the game needs more than just harder combat. To me freedom/options is more important than challenge.

Farlander1991
02-26-2013, 06:49 PM
Nice post!

I think generally speaking, AC should go into an 'easy to learn - hard to master' direction. And I think it started to go there, even though right now it's still closer to the 'easy to learn - easy to master'. And 'hard to master' part really comes from external sources rather than player controls... like, if you remember our discussion about parkour, the chase sequences being a set of obstacles we have to use the right action on to go through smoothly. In case of enemies, that's all their strengths and weaknesses (I think AC:B and AC:R are actually the best games when it comes to that, followed by AC2, but the over-powered counter and kill-streaks break everything... although AC3 generally speaking has a pretty varied set of immunities too, it's still kinda broken), so we have to use the right combination of moves for the right types of enemies, and so on and so on.

I don't agree with the part about achievements, though. Casual gamers for the most part don't really care about achievements (sure, there are people who complain about achievements being too hard, but that's really a vocal minority). And, achievements are a VERY powerful tool. For example, Deus Ex: Human Revolution has got several achievements... 1 - where you complete the game without killing anybody (except bosses you have to kill), 2 - where you complete the game without sounding any alarms, 3 - where you never get detected by enemies. These achievements are completable only by core gamers, and do you know how greatly it influences the style of the game if you try to go through to get them? That's what achievements should be, in my opinion. Not something that can be completed in seconds, but something that can be... well... achieved. And influence how you're playing, making you want to try new things. Like, let's say, achievement 'in one combat session kill an enemy with each weapon type and tool'. 'Finish all main missions without killing anybody but the targets'. And so on and so forth.

dxsxhxcx
02-26-2013, 06:53 PM
Yeah combat is a lot more scalable than the other gameplay pillars and like I said in OP I want some options in that area (what is 1HKO btw :)?). However I think the game needs more than just harder combat. To me freedom/options is more important than challenge.

I'll try to elaborate more on your other points later, now I'm at work.. :p

1HKO = kill or defeat an enemy with one hit

Sushiglutton
02-26-2013, 07:12 PM
Nice post!

I think generally speaking, AC should go into an 'easy to learn - hard to master' direction. And I think it started to go there, even though right now it's still closer to the 'easy to learn - easy to master'. And 'hard to master' part really comes from external sources rather than player controls... like, if you remember our discussion about parkour, the chase sequences being a set of obstacles we have to use the right action on to go through smoothly. In case of enemies, that's all their strengths and weaknesses (I think AC:B and AC:R are actually the best games when it comes to that, followed by AC2, but the over-powered counter and kill-streaks break everything... although AC3 generally speaking has a pretty varied set of immunities too, it's still kinda broken), so we have to use the right combination of moves for the right types of enemies, and so on and so on.

I totally agree with that. And I think I remember Alex speaking along those lines when it comes to the combat. Problem now I think is that the combat is easy to learn, but not that hard to master :). Also I think the game needs to have some kind of metric for how well you have mastered the combat. Like I said some kind of score system would be cool. But for such a system to be releveant I feel like the combat needs to be fleshed out a little bit more (they are fairly close though).



I don't agree with the part about achievements, though. Casual gamers for the most part don't really care about achievements (sure, there are people who complain about achievements being too hard, but that's really a vocal minority). And, achievements are a VERY powerful tool. For example, Deus Ex: Human Revolution has got several achievements... 1 - where you complete the game without killing anybody (except bosses you have to kill), 2 - where you complete the game without sounding any alarms, 3 - where you never get detected by enemies. These achievements are completable only by core gamers, and do you know how greatly it influences the style of the game if you try to go through to get them? That's what achievements should be, in my opinion. Not something that can be completed in seconds, but something that can be... well... achieved. And influence how you're playing, making you want to try new things. Like, let's say, achievement 'in one combat session kill an enemy with each weapon type and tool'. 'Finish all main missions without killing anybody but the targets'. And so on and so forth.

This is very true. Achievements could be used to serve the core gamers and inspire totally new ways to approach the game. I guess I was just verbalizing a concern I have had that they may adjust the difficulty ceiling to serve this vocal minority, as you put it. IF they want to satisfy this group, I would prefer if they lowered the requirements for the achievements instead.

But what you describe would be even juicier :)!


I'll try to elaborate more on your other points later, now I'm at work.. :p

1HKO = kill or defeat an enemy with one hit

Haha yeah it's probably best to not discuss the finer points of game design at work ;).

UrDeviant1
02-26-2013, 07:21 PM
Oops, i just made a similar sort of thread, but was more focused on combat. I probably should have posted it in here.

Gi1t
02-26-2013, 11:06 PM
1: Agree. Just pick certain activities for the gameplay and dedicate your efforts to them. Once you have them well-developed, new activities will emerge where the primary factors intersect that will just be natural extensions of existing functions. But start with just a couple of major ideas for primary functions. You don’t NEED to do EVERYTHING. Games have lasted generations on nothing more than the ability to either talk or fight. Depth comes from how well developed the core functions are, not how many you have. I don’t understand why more people don’t get that. -__-

2: Meh, I could care less about achievements to be honest. With so many online only achievements in games or achievements with preposterous, life-consuming conditions, I’ve never bothered with them except in games that were too short.

3: In a game like AC, I don’t think I would ever be able to enjoy endless randomized side missions. I think it would be better to have fewer, but much more involved missions, almost like extra segments of the main story that aren’t required. Make a big deal out of them. Some can be within one part of the game, while others can span several segments in all, but if you do that PLEASE make it something you can keep track of. Don’t be like RPGs and just put the next quest trigger somewhere in the vast world at some random point in the game and just expect players to waste their time trying to find it. I don’t have time to check the ENTIRE world to make sure I’m not breaking off some part of a quest I was doing every time I advance the story one meter. XD I would also recommend not putting triggers like that in positions where the player would have to abandon the story at a critical moment to go off and advance some side quest. That’s another mistake RPGs like to make.

4: I think that’s a good idea, but I will say that AC was originally based on a control system that assigned buttons to certain appendages, i.e.: Y was the head-X was the armed hand-B was the empty hand-A was the feet. With that, as long as you know what you want to do, you can figure out which button to use. If it’s obviously something you can use your hands on, press B. Now, if it’s something ambiguous, like, say you aren’t sure if you’re supposed to pull on a rope to activate a mechanism, or cut the rope..or if you aren’t sure if you’re expected to knock something over with your weapon, or kick it over…in that case I think they could make subtle indicators of which action is expected. A glow could pass over the object with, say a cut mark appearing on it or perhaps a simple motion indicator produced by the animus. Not something distracting, just a little animus interference the player can use as a reference for which action to use without being specifically TOLD what to do. It’s better when it’s a little more subtle and based on an internal, learned logic because then the player still gets to think about it for themselves a bit. :)

5: I think the best way to do something like this would be to add an extra objective, rather than restricting the original one. Something like stopping a courier from reaching his destination with a letter. You could hunt the poor sap down, leave a trap for him, cause an accident, do something that would stop him getting into the city, or pickpocket him, or just approach him, demand the letter and tell him to scram (rough him up if you have to). Point is if it’s whole new objective, then that’s MORE freedom, rather than less. :D

6: I really would prefer more attention on how well you do against individual opponents rather than how many kills you can get in a short time. -__- I think it’s a great idea to have a more complex and intelligent system and then layer an semi-automatic system over it for the players who don’t want to fool with it. Tales games have a little of that. You can set the controls to approach the target automatically when you attack from out of range, or leave it in manual where that’s your responsibility. I always play in manual, because I’m used to having to designate the range for my attacks. The game also gives you a bonus in your score if you’re playing in manual, so maybe do that as well, if you’re going to add scoring. (I usually don’t give a fish about scoring though.)

Need to be careful with setting damage though. Have specified settings and have at least some restriction on when that setting can be altered, because if it’s too easy to change and/or too variable, you lose that sense of being given a challenge to overcome, and it becomes totally self-imposed. That’s why I prefer seeing difficulty come from the challenges themselves and not just from damage parameters. It helps you maintain a sense of whether you’re really challenging yourself and living up to it, or if you’re making things easy for yourself. Trouble with RPGs is, with all the level, weapons, skills, difficulty settings that can be altered any time, knowing whether or not what you’re doing is considered ‘hard’ is nearly impossible to tell. But if you’re, say, fighting an enemy that’s tough to keep up with then you know you’re doing well, because you’re FIGHTING well, and not getting hit all the time. Then it doesn’t really matter how much damage you take when you DO get hit, or how long it takes you to kill your opponent.

7: Yes, that gives you the opportunity to give the player challenges not bound by the parameters of the world. They could even throw in unlockable missions with other material not based in Assassin’s Creed, or from other AC games, like duels with old Assassins. :D

Krayus Korianis
02-27-2013, 01:02 AM
Please... Define "Core Gamers". I'm mystified by this sequence of words.

D.I.D.
02-27-2013, 02:08 AM
Way more excitement, way more tension.

Make the character agile and fit, but light and skinny, so that players don't expect a warrior and aren't too disappointed in the end of the human tank. Make this character a better climber, and allow more ability to hide behind or even inside objects.

Then make combat harder, primarily by making the AI better. You can still have your deadly assassin, but his/her opponents need to be smarter. If I see one, maybe two guards, the character can conceivably handle them. However, if I attack a larger group and I appear to be getting the upper hand, one or two guards ought to run away to find help. This would make combat so much more interesting, adding a chase element and a danger of escalating the situation. If I fail to contain the trouble I start, I should find myself running from a swarm of guards if they are simply too numerous to take on. In the current system, it doesn't matter how many guards you give me to fight; 5 is the same as 50.

The effect of your actions should be cumulative and hard to repair. Rather than the old Notoriety system, where somehow a bit of bribery or poster removal makes all the trouble go away, I'd prefer something like Dishonored's Chaos system. If you play in a bloodthirsty style, your actions make you newsworthy and you'll make the world more dangerous for yourself: more patrols, more guards, faster recognition. Dishonored allows your infamy to die off, if you make it through a few missions in a more quiet fashion.

Light and sound need to become extremely important. We don't have a means of creeping, either to be stealthy or predatory. I need to use a type of movement that feels exciting and appropriate to the circumstances. Better lighting dynamics should give us the ability to hide in shadows, and move, ignite or extinguish light sources to suit our purposes.

I would like to see more missions based around the infiltration of a large building with large rooms, where I can use the vertical movement as well as the floors. Mission design in general needs to be vastly improved to make it exciting for me as a player. Brotherhood's Castell Angelo missions were not much more than "find the path we want you to follow, and don't be seen", but the use of the architecture made them great. There are points where it feels like you could fall from a great height, which is really only an illusion but it's enough to make the climb a more lively experience than it should be.

Bringing these last two paragraphs together, I'd like to see at least one mission where you have to rig up a building to protect yourself against intruders who have similar agility to your own character. You could make three basic decisions about how to place light sources: in hard to reach places, or maybe in deliberately easy spots so that you'll see the enemies putting them out, or you could make the whole place deliberately dark and trust in your ability to deal with that.

[edit] And one more thing: free aim, please. It's ridiculous that we still don't have this when virtually every other similar game either allows or insists on it. In order to work, the freerunning needs to glue you to certain invisible tracks, and we accept that, but aiming has got to become a skill or we might as well not be playing.

Gi1t
02-27-2013, 06:30 AM
Please... Define "Core Gamers". I'm mystified by this sequence of words.

Just another, slightly shorter term for 'hardcore gamers'. It's a broad topic, since core gamers all have different ideas on what they want, which is why he made an open thread about it; so other people can put in their version of an AC for the 'hardcore' crowd. Still, core gamers do share an interest in the exploration of a game's deeper 'core' mechanics and seek entertainment well beyond the game's surface content, so I think the term is appropriate. :)

@DoubleclickTF: Those are great ideas! Although I was never interested in them making a multiplayer mode in AC, since they've already done it, I think the multiplayer would be a good testing ground for your last idea. :D

Sushiglutton
02-27-2013, 02:10 PM
1: Agree. Just pick certain activities for the gameplay and dedicate your efforts to them. Once you have them well-developed, new activities will emerge where the primary factors intersect that will just be natural extensions of existing functions. But start with just a couple of major ideas for primary functions. You donít NEED to do EVERYTHING. Games have lasted generations on nothing more than the ability to either talk or fight. Depth comes from how well developed the core functions are, not how many you have. I donít understand why more people donít get that. -__-

2: Meh, I could care less about achievements to be honest. With so many online only achievements in games or achievements with preposterous, life-consuming conditions, Iíve never bothered with them except in games that were too short.

3: In a game like AC, I donít think I would ever be able to enjoy endless randomized side missions. I think it would be better to have fewer, but much more involved missions, almost like extra segments of the main story that arenít required. Make a big deal out of them. Some can be within one part of the game, while others can span several segments in all, but if you do that PLEASE make it something you can keep track of. Donít be like RPGs and just put the next quest trigger somewhere in the vast world at some random point in the game and just expect players to waste their time trying to find it. I donít have time to check the ENTIRE world to make sure Iím not breaking off some part of a quest I was doing every time I advance the story one meter. XD I would also recommend not putting triggers like that in positions where the player would have to abandon the story at a critical moment to go off and advance some side quest. Thatís another mistake RPGs like to make.

4: I think thatís a good idea, but I will say that AC was originally based on a control system that assigned buttons to certain appendages, i.e.: Y was the head-X was the armed hand-B was the empty hand-A was the feet. With that, as long as you know what you want to do, you can figure out which button to use. If itís obviously something you can use your hands on, press B. Now, if itís something ambiguous, like, say you arenít sure if youíre supposed to pull on a rope to activate a mechanism, or cut the rope..or if you arenít sure if youíre expected to knock something over with your weapon, or kick it overÖin that case I think they could make subtle indicators of which action is expected. A glow could pass over the object with, say a cut mark appearing on it or perhaps a simple motion indicator produced by the animus. Not something distracting, just a little animus interference the player can use as a reference for which action to use without being specifically TOLD what to do. Itís better when itís a little more subtle and based on an internal, learned logic because then the player still gets to think about it for themselves a bit. :)

5: I think the best way to do something like this would be to add an extra objective, rather than restricting the original one. Something like stopping a courier from reaching his destination with a letter. You could hunt the poor sap down, leave a trap for him, cause an accident, do something that would stop him getting into the city, or pickpocket him, or just approach him, demand the letter and tell him to scram (rough him up if you have to). Point is if itís whole new objective, then thatís MORE freedom, rather than less. :D

6: I really would prefer more attention on how well you do against individual opponents rather than how many kills you can get in a short time. -__- I think itís a great idea to have a more complex and intelligent system and then layer an semi-automatic system over it for the players who donít want to fool with it. Tales games have a little of that. You can set the controls to approach the target automatically when you attack from out of range, or leave it in manual where thatís your responsibility. I always play in manual, because Iím used to having to designate the range for my attacks. The game also gives you a bonus in your score if youíre playing in manual, so maybe do that as well, if youíre going to add scoring. (I usually donít give a fish about scoring though.)

Need to be careful with setting damage though. Have specified settings and have at least some restriction on when that setting can be altered, because if itís too easy to change and/or too variable, you lose that sense of being given a challenge to overcome, and it becomes totally self-imposed. Thatís why I prefer seeing difficulty come from the challenges themselves and not just from damage parameters. It helps you maintain a sense of whether youíre really challenging yourself and living up to it, or if youíre making things easy for yourself. Trouble with RPGs is, with all the level, weapons, skills, difficulty settings that can be altered any time, knowing whether or not what youíre doing is considered Ďhardí is nearly impossible to tell. But if youíre, say, fighting an enemy thatís tough to keep up with then you know youíre doing well, because youíre FIGHTING well, and not getting hit all the time. Then it doesnít really matter how much damage you take when you DO get hit, or how long it takes you to kill your opponent.

7: Yes, that gives you the opportunity to give the player challenges not bound by the parameters of the world. They could even throw in unlockable missions with other material not based in Assassinís Creed, or from other AC games, like duels with old Assassins. :D

1: I think you missinterpred my point here :). In general I agree that the game is trying to do too much, instead of doing things well. But I had a slightly different point this time. To me it's seems like they are designing each individual system for those who don't enjoy that kind of gameplay. That's what I meant that they are trying to do "everything for everyone". Instead I think they should accept that some players don't like economy games (for example) and design them so that those who do will get maximum enjoyment. This is a "something for everyone"- approach. There is still a wide range of activities, but they should be designed to have enough depth to be fun for those who enjoy this type of activity and let the others just skip it.

2: Again it seems like you did not quiet understand my point. Basically what I was trying to say is that they should not lower the skill ceiling just so that everyone can get their platinum. It's better to give the achievements for trying something out rather than mastering. Now I agree with Farlander that a perhaps better alternative would be to use achievements to inspire even more extreme challenges. Like you I pretty much ignore achievements for the most part :).

3: I agree that fleshed out side content, with backstory and so on is preferable to generic content. But it is expensive I suppose. Place a victim and a number of guards in some part of the map and let the player figure it out, should be fairly cheap and would give the core gamers some more meat. The more work put into these assassination side missions, the better of course.

4: Very good point here, this is exactly the kind of solution that is needed. Thing is if you turn off your HUD some situations will be almost impossible. Then you need to pause, temporarily turn it on again and it's kind of ruined. Some smart fellow needs to think about what information is essential and how it could be, in a subtle way as you say, given to the player with no HUD.

5: Exactly, Give us liberty, or give us death as my avatar used to say ;)!

6: Yeah maybe they could have a more or less automatic combat system. I think some gamers (have seen a couple of angry threads) hate combat and basically want to be able to tap a button to watch Connor kill everyone so that they can progress. Why not give them this option? Then you could have a more advanced system for those who actually enjoy it.

I personally don't like the RPG leveling idea for the reasons you give. They mess with the difficulty level in ways that are not fun. AC is not an RPG, so that shouldn't be a problem :).

7: Duelling old assassins would be awesome :). It's like the final boss fight in AC1 where you face all your previous victims. The animus training should def be a bit experimental like that!