The addition of Checkers, Fanorama and Nine Men's Morris in Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag were "carefully researched, period-appropriate" choices, communications manager Gary Steinman announced via the UbiBlog.
Board games made their first appearance in Assassin's Creed 3. According to programming team lead at Ubisoft Quebec, Olivier Garneau, the developer wanted to add minigames that would be fun and easy to play.
"The historians searched and found two games that matched those criteria: Fanorona and Nine Men's Morris," Garneau said. "After careful research on the more common rules for those games and analysis of their feasibility, we decided to keep them and started working on their implementation."
Checkers wasn't part of the developer's original plan, but was introduced further down the line. Garneau said that while ensuring AI components were not too skilled was a challenge, creating smooth visuals was another problem.
"We wanted [the assassin] to be able to seamlessly manipulate the pieces, to stack them, to make his opponent angry at him," Garneau said. "... In short, to make the board and pieces a physical thing, something that's part of the world instead of some out-of-place minigame."
Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag was released last year for PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Windows PC, Xbox 360 and Xbox One. For more on the game, check out our review.