At the end of the second game, (SPOILER) you kill, or take down The Pope. Where do you go from there? Sure that is the biggest figure in renaissance history, who else is left?
That is actually his son, Cesare Borgia, who was at that time leading the Pope army, the most powerful military force, and he is actually the inspiration for The Prince, written by Machiavelli. Rodrigo Borgia, the actual Pope at the time didn't die until a couple of years after. If you read the storybooks you're going to see how twisted the Borgia Family was, they are the perfect villains for Brotherhood.
There's a lot of room to play with the story here, even in how Rodrigo died, it's not clear who is involved in it. It's their story so it's already written. We're just putting Ezio in the middle of it. I think people are passionate about the renaissance even today. It's not going to be just one game that dries up the well.
There are two types of players: single-player guys and multiplayer guys and they are generally found clashing in forums. We have that in the storyline. We thought we'd play with the idea of Assassins who clash with the Templars. In the same disc we're going to have two experiences that are going to talk about and expose the conspiracy.
The multiplayer is going to be focused around the Templars quest to build the ultimate army, and why. This fits their motivation. It's competitive, aggressive, and there are a lot of people included. It fits the Templar mentality, the storyline and vibe, so that is why we're experimenting on that side.
In the single-player it is still the assassin, the unique guy who wants to build a community but, I think it's the oil and water thing we wanted to express.
You said the multiplayer is a very different setting. That's a big step to make, particularly on Xbox Live where everyone is playing Halo and Call of Duty. What do you think your multiplayer brings that will put it up there with those games?
It's a different experience. The emotion doesn't come from the same place. If you play Halo or Call of Duty it's not going to be comparable. Our pillars are different. It's about blending, moving freely; it's all going to be there - that sense of freedom.
But you're also an Assassin. You're killing AIs and at the same time being tracked. I think that little love triangle - following a guy that is following a guy who is following me, is bringing something to the table. I think with what we've planned in terms of progression, skills and abilities is going to provide new experiences with a lot of depth. After that it's up to the player's to decide what to do with their playing time.
The core experience is fresh and unique but everything around it, progression and online features like leaderboards and making friends, will be on par with similar titles.
We're trying to design something unique and put the Assassin's Creed stamp on it and make it fit into our universe. That is real important for us.
You're changing the combat in the game because you said players didn't seem all that happy with the way it worked in Assassin's Creed 2. Is it just a case of changing the counter moves? Are you tweaking them a bit or are you not doing it all?
I think that a lot of players liked the system but it was too defence-centric. For some players it was hard to exploit the potential or be really good at it. Instead of saying 'let's water down the counters' we're keeping them as they were, interesting and powerful. Instead whenever the player takes the initiative he's going to get better counters and kill faster.
We're going to approach this in two ways. First we accelerated the pace of the fight. We looked at the code and saw how we can get rid of the situations where guards are standing there waiting for their turn. So, what we did is to allow guards to enter a queue when you're doing an action, but let the player react to it. So you could be countering a guard but there is another guy waiting so I can either finish him and receive damage or counter-kill the second guy instead. So the system is more fluid, more reactive.