View Full Version : Puppetry Lets Game Down

04-01-2014, 03:10 PM
I sent this to Uplay themselves but felt it might be worth reproducing in the forum.

I would like this review of the Assassin's Creed gameplay to hopefully end up reaching the actual developers, as what I am drawing attention to here I think would actually serve the game's makers well, were they to improve on what I see as a problem that detracts from the game's quality, and therefore saleability.

This isn't a question but more a review and I hope the game creators and developers will take my comment into account regarding future editions.

First of all let me say I love the Assassins Creed series. The level of detail, historical research, artistic brilliance, the superb story arc, and countless other elements that make the games so magnificent and beautiful are elements that keep me wanting to play the Assassin's Creed games.

But sadly there is one element that really undermines the overall game. I first noticed it in the Ezio games but in Black Flag it actually seems to be worse, and it is this: The puppetry of the figure lacks subtlety.

Not meaning to denigrate the work of the developers by comparing it to a rival, but GTA have had this down for a long time (notwithstanding that the GTA characters tend not to leap from buiding to building or scale walls etc.) and it seems to be a problem Ubisoft don't seem to be able to overcome.

For example: sometimes when Kenway (and Ezio to a lesser degree) is walking along a boardwalk, he will get stuck. It is like the slight difference in the irregular plane of the floor base is being read as an obstacle. Thus it takes a number of unnecessary extra moves to get out of the trap - walking backwards or sideways in a 'situation' that should simply be possible to step over.

This encapsulates a problem that runs through the entirety of the main character's puppetry. Rather than being able to make 'diagonal moves,' or, say, a general leap that should have him land where expected, it seems like the "squaring of the circle" the digital block interaction between character and terrain is still very "boxy".

So rather than having an intuitive feel, there are numerous moments in the game where movement is 'squared' and 'robotic'. Rather than being able to move diagonally, he moves in sets of right or left turns. In terms of the pi equation, the degree to which the circle has been squared needs to be higher.

Because this is an assassin game, and missions often require 'stealth' this 'robotic,' 'boxy' aspect to the puppeteering really impedes, staggers the gameplay. This undermines the enjoyment of the gameplay, forcing retakes of missions where stealth was paramount, simply because of a misstep based on the technical clumsiness of the figure's interaction with the environment.

The incremental right-angled movements and lack of intuitive action targeting makes the character clumsy, missing leapt-for targets, jumping up walls when he should be running past them and numerous other unwanted actions. Not the kinds of things an assassin would do.

Combat and action scenes are also undermined by 'blocky' triggering and action targeting.

Example: There are hooks on the ships that if leapt at, provide a quick cinematic which leads to the character swiftly returning to the deck from a mast platform. That is fine in itself, but if the character is leaping diagonally to land on a ropewalk, and is nearby the hook but not necessarily with the hook in visual range, it still automatically triggers the hook drop.

Example: when involved in a fast action sequence where say the character may need to leap from a mast, to another mast or ropewalk, despite that targeted location seeming to be fairly within reach according to the dynamics of the general actions, the character will completely miss the target. Now of course that can happen in real life, but the way it 'feels' in the game is not natural. The way he performs other actions, this kind of action should be intuitive and harmonize with them. This severely disrupts fast action sequences. And again it 'feels' like it is because of a missing refinement in 'diagonal' movement.

It seems crazy that a game that has been researched so diligently, and created with such amazing detail and artistic finesse, is lacking in such an important area as the gameplay itself - the main character's actions.

I hope that in the future Assassin's Creed will still fulfill its amazing attention to detail and beautiful standard of artistic excellence, but I also fervently hope that the way the main character's actions operate will be improved upon so it feels more intuitive.

Thanks for taking the time to read this.

04-04-2014, 01:15 PM
Shortly after I submitted a comment to the Help Centre, and then reproduced it in this 'forum,' I received, a generic (I presume) survey letter. I found the survey, not unlike the rating system in Black Flag, nowhere near specific enough to encompass (apparent contradiction there - specific/encompass) the depth and detail of what I think about the production. So I wrote what I felt was a more specific answer, rather than fill out the Abstergo (ha ha) form.

To wit (original user-names withheld):


I would have happily filled out your request form for feedback, but I got a few questions into it and it started not to apply to my personal reasons for contacting Ubisoft.

I am a berry imbelligenk bear and understand there is a corporate market research reason for why the survey, but that same intelligence is behind why I sent an email and wrote a forum post.

My comment was not the usual moaning about Ubisoft or Uplay, or a meltdown gamer needing someone to shout at over some trivial irritation, but quite a specific thing about the puppetry of the main characters' interaction with the environment in the Assassin's Creed series. If that is a bug, it is one that has been consistently there throughout the last few episodes of Assassin's Creed. I only commented because I felt attention being drawn to this particular fault aspect in the gameplay, would benefit Ubisoft in the long run. All the other elements of this game are, to me, an absolute masterpiece, and I think everyone who has been involved, from its inception, through to the latest production, should feel proud to have been involved in producing such an immense work of art.

I mean - the story arc of (perhaps) an Atlantean race bifurcated into making choices about the future evolution of the human race, and one 'school' (as embodied by The Templars) uses a DNA cipher as its conduit to fulfill its vision, while the other, in the tradition of Cosmic Dualism, gifts carriers randomly with the 'Chaotic' Assassin Gene. This is Science Fiction at its best. But then, to have Science Fiction fully embrace its vision through history is another staggering narrative element again. Not to mention the sublime artistry and detail on every level of the visual aspect of the creation. The intelligence of the artistry in Black Flag - with its references to the Golden Age of Maritime Art, yet still managing what I would call an educational curve, marking the history of the South Seas. Well. I cannot begin to describe how impressive this is really. But perhaps the work speaks for itself - yet in this sense, it transcends mere 'gaming' and becomes part of the history of art.

Any failure in terms of customer relations on the part of Ubisoft (which is where the survey seems to be headed?) is to me, kind of collateral damage, and is not massively important when understood within the context that the Assassin's Creed story is a major work of art of the early 21st Century, and will be seen as such in the future. In my opinion anyway. I've done my fair share of freaking out at game producers in the past, rabid emails, adolescent rants, and I have grown up a bit, and I see that as kind of inevitable, but also not all defining when it is taken into account what a massive production a game of this type is.

But... as I said.. unfortunately, my whole take on the thing doesn't really fulfill the criteria of the questionnaire. So hopefully this email will make up for that and constitute my feedback, and maybe encourage the people at Ubisoft to read what I sent to the Help Centre and what I posted on the Forum under the name Gamingtonbear - as I think it is actually important. I'm not going to add links - if you are interested you can find that 'Username'.

Love and Best Regards