Ubisoft is fully committing to a philosophy that it’s been testing for some time: focusing on game worlds rather than on scripted stories. The next Assassin’s Creed title will be the first Ubisoft project to launch with that new direction, said chief creative officer Serge Hascoet in an interview with Le Monde.
"The game is becoming less important," said Hascoet. "What interests me is to make worlds that are interesting to me, even as a tourist." Hascoet added that as long as the characters that players meet in those worlds are also interesting, then it can be "up to the player to amuse themselves."
Hascoet spoke of Ubisoft’s internal plan to design every game as an "anecdote factory," an approach the company discussed publicly as early as 2014 with regards to the development of Far Cry 4. The idea is to give the player the tools to make their own fun, rather than have the developers dictate the terms from on high.
"I don’t want the player to go through a story created by someone," said Hascoet. "We have games like that still, but I ask more and more that we let the player write their own story — that they set themselves a long-term goal, identify the opportunities that are open to them and choose not to follow a path that was decided for them."
The philosophy reflects the way people are consuming games today, posting clips and GIFs to sites like YouTube, Twitter and Tumblr. Hascoet specifically voiced a desire for Ubisoft games to allow players to express themselves in a "sufficiently interesting way for them to want to share it with other players."
Series like Far Cry and Assassin’s Creed have generally delivered an overarching narrative in their games; every mission in an Assassin’s Creed title begins with a cutscene that advances the story in some way. Hascoet said that seeing non-interactive cutscenes and cinematics annoys him "because it takes away my ability to express."
That’s changing starting with the next Assassin’s Creed game, which is set for release in 2017. (Ubisoft decided to give the franchise a breather in 2016, leaving the film Assassin’s Creed to stand on its own next month.) Hascoet told Le Monde that for the next Assassin’s Creed title, the developers "have created a system in which what I do doesn’t just affect the moment, but the long term as well.
"My actions will change the world," Hascoet said.