Assassin's Creed 2 Panel Recap

The team at Ubisoft Montreal and Hybride Technologies talked about Assassin's Creed 2 and the upcoming short film series they're working on.

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Who Was There: This panel consisted of Yannis Mallat, CEO of Ubisoft Montreal; Pierre Raymond, president and CEO of Hybrid Technologies; Corey May, scriptwriter of both Assassin's Creed games; and William Reymond, the short film series cowriter. It was moderated by Paul Semel.

What They Talked About: Convergence was the primary theme of the panel. Ubisoft has a strong belief that that at some point in the future, the film and video game industries will converge inseparably, and it wants to move toward that direction to help tell the greatest stories and provide the best possible experiences. Ubisoft began to work with Hybride Technologies--now a division of Ubisoft--because of its impressive history (visual effects on such films as 300 and Sin City) and because they shared the belief of a future of convergence.

The Ubisoft crew then showed off the cinematic trailer and game demo that we'd already seen at E3, and the crowd went wild at the sight of protagonist Ezio Auditore de Firenze in action. In particular, the audience loved watching him soar in Leonardo da Vinci's flying machine, pull a watchman out of his tower to his death below, and perform a double kill using his dual hidden blades.

After dazzling the audience with Assassin's Creed 2, the panel turned its attention toward the newly announced short film series titled Assassin's Creed Lineage. These short films will focus on Giovanni Auditore da Firenze, Ezio's father, and set up the story for Assassin's Creed 2. From the still photographs and quick making-of videos shown, this was a huge production that involved a massive green screen stage (even the floor was green!), incredibly detailed costumes, and a lot of fancy fight choreography. One of the more interesting things discussed was how actual in-game art assets were used in many of the shots as backgrounds.

Best Audience Question: One audience member and admitted history buff asked if there were going to be any other historical figures in Assassin's Creed 2 besides Leonardo da Vinci. To his delight, he was told that pretty much every major character in the game is straight out of history books, and a lot of effort was put into ensuring that they would be where and when they were in real life--that they would even die in the correct locations provided it was recorded knowledge.

Worst Audience Question: The questions were all pretty good, though the weakest was probably the first one, which was whether or not Ezio would be able to wield a bow with arrows in the game The Ubisoft team answered that we would have to play the finished game to find out.

The Takeaway: Convergence is a big deal for Ubisoft, which it is taking very seriously. Ubisoft also wanted to stress that this was a true collaborative project--a single team was formed to work on both the game and the film shorts, everything was in-house, and this wasn't simply an attempt to exploit the IP. Though we unfortunately didn't get to see any of the final film product, what we did see certainly piqued our interest, and we can't wait to find out more in the coming months.

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