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rAge 2014 with Assassin's Creed: Unity

We had the honour of talking to some of the most creative people in the video game industry at rAge this year. We kept each interview short, and presented each interviewee with at least one brain teaser, resulting in a few secrets accidentally spilling out. Join us as we try to unlock the mysteries held captive by Lesley Phord-Toy, Producer at Ubisoft Toronto for Assassin's Creed: Unity.

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Lesley Phord-Toy, Producer at Ubisoft Toronto. Photographer: Giverny Ives

How difficult was it to recreate such an historic event as the French Revolution?

My focus has been pretty much on Unity for the last year and a half. I can speak specifically on the french revolution and what we're doing for Unity. The French Revolution is an extremely important period in our history. We did want to treat it with authenticity. It was also a period of time where there were a lot of different interpretations of what actually happened. Even today there are still historians debating certain details of the French Revolution. So, what we did was to weave in the fiction of the age old struggle between the Assassins in Templars.

I'll tell you an anecdotal story. When we were researching figures who we could cast as Templars. Because the French Revolution was such a bloody period of time. So many were beheaded at the guillotine. It made for an interesting search for plausible historical figures and targets in the game. It was easy to find characters who could've played Templars. We had to find people who were not publicly beheaded or died in mysterious circumstances. It was quite challenging to find those characters because there were so many executions during that time. It's quite surprising to realise it was fairly recent in the context of our human development."

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We saw mob justice hit a peak when the French Revolution

"It went into a level of fanaticism where the classic idea that the people who were the most vocal, and are leading the revolution end up being persecuted by more extreme people later on. Robspierre was one, and he ended up being beheaded as well. I hope that's not a spoiler!"

Tell us something about Unity that's not yet known

"As you know we have single player missions, we have co-op missions, assassination contracts, ministries, treasure hunts. There's a whole lot of activities that you can do in the game. You know I was contemplating all these different things that you can do and how you can keep it cohesive. In previous AC it was a very, very strong SP campaign. The driving motivation for the player was to drive through the narrative and get through the narrative of the story. What's interesting is that kind of works in conflict against an open world, which is kind of pulling you out, telling you to explore and try new things. Now in Unity, it's about player progression. It still has a strong narrative. Now the driving motivator is becoming a master assassin through customisation. Combat ability, navigation, defense, assassination and stealth are areas you'll be able to change things around."

Are skills tree based or do they restrict players to particular competencies?

"You can max all out all your stats by completing all the missions. We don't restrict the skill path."

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What is Ubisoft's stance on female representation?

"Female representation is an important issue in the game industry as well in society in general. Elise is a strong female character and a very important character in the story. What's very interesting about her story is that it contrasts Arno's story as the protagonist. His journey is a quest for redemption, and has incredible guilt about the death of his father and his adopted father. Elise has become a Templar, her journey is about revenge. It's a very interesting dynamic between the two of these characters. She's an independent strong women. We need to consider female representation in all of our stories. This particular game's objective was to tell the story of Arno similar to AC2 with Ezio."

Many thanks to Megarom Games for doing such a stellar job in connecting local press with prominent international industry people. A big shoutout has to go out to NAG for hosting the biggest party in Africa! Last but not least, a big "thank you" to Lesley Phord-Toy for allowing us to extract that spoiler ;)

Do you have any questions or comments? Please feel free to comment below. We'd love to hear from you.

Assassin's Creed: Unity releases on November 11 in North America and on November 13 in EMEA territories. You can pre-order it from kalahari.com:

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Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not MWEB Connect (Pty) Ltd

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