25/07/2014

Soo…. When is an extra assassin not an asset?



Pretty much whenever anything related to Assassin Creed Unity shows up on the internet I have a standing bet that within ten comments someone will bring up the whole female asset debacle, usually i am right. I am not going to try and defend the way it was presented, not the fact that there was not any priority put on including a female Assassin. But I still feel the case they present have some merit.

Ubisoft said they ran out of time/money to put another character in to production and I will defend the more general idea put forward, if you have a rig called male and it follow the average male heroic design of 180-ish cm tall with broad shoulders and a Y shape, that build will be useless for a traditional female hero. So while they probably could have ripped the skeleton and rig from Aveline and stuck it on a generic female Assassin from Brotherhood… Done some tweaking and called it a day. They would have been dragged over coals any way, accused for taking short-cuts and not caring about female characters… Sounds familiar.  The solution ofc is to make an androgynous character and thus solve the problem but I have a gut feeling that it would cause other problem.

See... You can barley tell the gender of this one.
 Image is the property of KejaBlank

So… Let us look at this from a logic perspective. AssCred need a hero... Someone for the player to control and make dance to our twisted imaginations. So right of the bat you have to make a choice (in the mind of most people) to go either male or female. Now I would generally hold to the fact that you could write an entire asscred game without bothering with gender. But that is just me. Ubisoft went with a traditional male hero.
So now the base character is set. This will have to be rigged, animated, textured and have customization no matter what happen. Any other character that does not conform to this character is extra work, extra work cost extra money… As far as I know we do not have any tall and hunched or short and fat male characters either. So the asscred team claims they ran in to a situation where content had to be cut. I see no reason to doubt this, and again while I would have proposed for a few extra months and a few pesky extra 100k to put in a fully developed female assassin I have to assume this was not an option. I actually have no problem seeing the people in control of the money not really seeing a problem in cutting female MP characters.
Had they done the same if it was a female protagonist and it was the male MP characters that was on the line…? I wish I could say yes but I am sure that it would not have been the case. If nothing else they tend to have more male rigs in the game such as NPC enemies that can be adapted.
So would people have wanted a watered down female character for MP over nothing? Because as it stands and until someone with real insight call bullshit in Ubisofts claims of deadline/financial reasons I will have to take them at face value. They give a logical and plausible reason to why this happened.

So while it is easy to mock Ubisoft for this whole thing and call them all manners of names, I would suggest to take a step back and for a while try to imagine a world where every minute have a monetary value and is a limited commodity, That spending it in one place equals not spending it someplace else. We all live in this world so it should not be too hard. Then ask yourself, if you really had to… Would you really pick a fight with your boss over what is in the end a fairly inconsequential matter? Especially from a game design point of view. But at least this brought the subject out in the open again and the more exposure it get the better it is, I just feel that way too many people focus on the concept that a studio have full control to change deadlines and budgets as they like, and too few ask them self... Maybe they just ran out of time/money and had to scrap something… If not the female assassin... then what should have been scrapped…  Some level design assets… Some sound design… A MP map or two…?



No I am just curious to see if this will affect the next AC game, maybe we will see a “genderless” assassin with an interesting backstory and a distinct lack of this kind of drama.