Earlier this year, fans thrashed the creators of the Mass Effect trilogy over an ending that, they felt, failed to deliver on the games' initial promise. Next month, another ambitious trilogy, Assassin's Creed, will conclude. Is Corey May, the lead writer of Assassin's Creed 3, bracing himself for a similar backlash? "I wouldn't say we're second guessing our concerns," said May, "but there's always anxiety."
Earlier this year, fans thrashed the creators of the Mass Effect trilogy over an ending that, they felt, failed to deliver on the games' initial promise. Next month, another ambitious trilogy, Assassin's Creed, will conclude. Is Corey May, the lead writer of Assassin's Creed 3, bracing himself for a similar backlash?
"I wouldn't say we're second guessing our concerns," said May at a recent press event in downtown Boston, "but there's always anxiety."
May has been with the series since the original game, and has experienced the gamut of reactions to his work.
"I can't control whether or not people like it," said May, "but I can at least say that we were faithful to our intentions. That this was not an issue of making shit up as we go along. Obviously certain things change over the many years the games have been production, and we have to address them. But I'd say we're 90... 95... 97% of where we wanted to be today. I think that's pretty good, all things considered."
The base idea of how the game will end, May told us, was generated as far back as the original game in 2007. Plenty has changed since then. Creator Patrice Désilets left the publisher following Assassin's Creed 2 in 2009. That game was followed by two sub-sequels from two different creative directors. There was a series of short films, and loads of tie-ins, expanding the universe. Most recently, publisher Ubisoft signed a movie deal.
In some capacity, May thinks this massive, expanded universe actually allowed them to wrap up the original trilogy.
"I think we've been very fortunate in that regard," says May. "We've now grown the universe enough that there are other things inhabiting it that we can move to and tell stories in. So I don't think providing a relatively definitive ending here would spell trouble down the road, because the team has done an incredible job making thing so large, that there are all these opportunities to tell other people's stories. Or other assassins' adventures."
May was tight-lipped about where Assassin's Creed 3 will take Desmond, the series' present day hero. May reminded us that Desmond's dad is in the picture, and that the two will interact in some capacity. Lineage has been a big part of the franchise
"All I can say," May said, "is that at the start of the game you arrive at a very important first civilization site. So obviously there's going to be stuff to learn and discover inside. We want people to discover it as they go."
The "first-civilization" is in reference to a precursor race of beings that existed before humans. "There was interbreeding between precursors and human beings," said May. "What that means is something for the future." The writer wouldn't say whether that will be discussed in Assassin's Creed 3.
May did tell us how the game won't end. Said May, "There was a point in time where someone who will remain nameless [...] said maybe we should have him wake up in an animus and the whole thing took place in an animus. That's not happening."
"The ending will not descend out of nowhere," said May. "There's a build up to it. There's an explanation as we go along. It does not suddenly appear, leaving you saying, "What the hell just happened." You get big long endings for both characters. As a kid, it was always really frustrating to get to the end of the game, and get an unceremonious good job and goodbye. I wanted my prize for finishing the game. You made it here and here's what's waiting for you."