It's not only Ezio and Altair who are the stars of the Assassin's Creed series, but it's also the atmospheric, evocative city and landscapes that make this one of the most beautiful series in gaming.
For Assassin's Creed: Revelations, Ubisoft Montreal has rebuilt that famous crossroads of the ancient world, Constantinople, as well as several diverse secret locations.
As part of our Unlock the Animus campaign, we sat down with art director Raphael Lacoste, creative director Alexandre Amancio and scriptwriter Darby McDevitt to give you the low down on Revelations' locations...
You'll spend a lot of time in Revelations in Constantinople. That must have been quite a canvas to work with, can you tell us about the process of bringing it to life?
Raphael Lacoste: Our team invested itself heavily into both historical and on-location research to bring 16th century Constantinople to life. Via many trips to modern Istanbul to fully grasp the feel of the city, to hundreds of hours of research into the political and social realities of the period, we hope that we have brought this rich period of history to life in a convincing and believable manner.
Our approach was "hand crafted" and very artistic. The first step was to study maps from the 16th century to get the feeling of the different districts, main roads, public places and streets but also the overall shape of Constantinople. Historical maps were also very useful to locate the Landmarks and define the density of the city.
After this first stage of research, we created a map for the ground manually in our 3D software and we started to match the elevations based on the actual topography of Istanbul, only for the terrain. Then we did concept Art to define the mood of the different districts of the city (Beyazid, Imperial, Constantin and Galata), and used also historical paintings as reference for the modelling of the houses and Landmarks.
As we went to Istanbul in our research trip, we also felt the mood of the city and took a lot of pictures for textures and scale references. We re-created separately all the houses and landmarks we needed (with different variations for houses and generic landmarks) and started to fill the entire city around public places and streets.
Our next challenge was to blend artistic direction and gameplay navigation in the whole city, we managed to balance the image composition and navigation for the player in the setting. Tweaks were done for months to satisfy the artistic and gameplay experience, but also immersion in a memorable setting.