PSM3 Magazine recently interviewed the Ubisoft Montreal development team to reflect on Assassin's Creed II. Here's how the discussion went...
We love Ezio as a character - he's much more likeable than Altair. Is he inspired by anyone in particular?
Mohamed Gambouz (Art Director): Our main inspiration was of course Altair. From there, we got a lot of inspiration from paintings and sculptures from the period as well as movies which are set during the Renaissance like : Marcant de Venice, Elizabeth - The Golden Age, (which won an Oscar for its costumes) or TV series, like The Tudors. We also took a few inspirations from other video game characters such as Dante from Devil May Cry.
Since we essentially kept the main visual characteristics of Altair, the best way to make the change from the mediaval look to the Renaissance look was to put more reﬁnement and richness to the cloth and ornaments he wore. We also added more elegance to his silhouette. Since Ezio is from a noble family, these changes in his design work very well with who he is.
Corey May (Scriptwriter): In terms of inspiration for the personality of Ezio, we like to refer to the count of Monte Cristo... but there are many others!
Was renaissance Italy always the plan for the sequel?
Sebastien Puel (Producer): When we created the AC franchise, we knew we wanted to talk about pivotal periods in History. Moments where key changes deﬁne the world in which we live. That was exactly the case for the Third Crusade: this period deﬁned the balance of power between civilisation and religion for the centuries to come.
When we started AC2, we asked ourselves the question.: what is an even more exciting, deﬁ ning moment in History? The answer was pretty easy to ﬁnd: in a few years and in a very precise place, a handful of genius' radically changed everything; they invented a modern vision of the world, where men were at the centre rather than God. They invented a new way of representing the world (the invention of perspective), they changed politics, created the art of modern war and diplomacy. One man even invented planes, helicopter and tanks! Those men were Machiavelli, Leonardo Da Vinci and the Medici to name a few. The place is Italy. The time is the end of the 15th
century and it is called Renaissance.
But those were also cruel times, ruled by war, treason and murder! We found it very interesting to depict this darker side of the Renaissance in an Assassin's Creed game and cast a new light on those astonishing events.
You had a big team working on AC2, how did you co-ordinate it all?
Patrick Plourde (Lead Game Designer): Montreal took care of what we call the 'core' game: AI, Fight, Missions, Behaviours, etc. Our job was also to provide support to the 'outsource' teams. Singapore took care of the Secret Locations. Annecy took care of the Auditore Villa. As for how we manage to keep track of all this, well it was a challenge (mind boggling would be appropriate) but to sum things up, we had a team of people dedicated into communicating regularly to make sure all teams would be on the same page.
The Giant Squid in Venice is a nice little Easter Egg. What was the thinking behind that?
Patrick Plourde: This was a little surprise for us too! The Singapore team put this Easter Egg in the game.