The Little Touches in Assassin's Creed

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The Little Touches in Assassin's Creed

Yahtzee realizes that sometimes it's the little things that make a game interesting.

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Ichi the Killer, nice reference there. That is one sick movie.

I need to get around to finishing Brotherhood.

I thought this was going to be about the crowds in Italy talking about you and their day to day business upon clicking on it.

I never left the animus once. I don't care about Desmond all that much and was much more interested in doing Ezio things. Seems I may have missed out on something.

That's a very good point. I always love finding little things like that in games, like the clipboard with a picture of a chicken's skeleton in Portal, or the "Rakk Hive Rides" poster in Borderlands.

"Hey, wassa-matta you, Altair?"

This is the biggest point of characterization for Desmond.

That he talks to statues.

I agree with you on this, these things can really make a game. I know I loved it in Arkahm Asylum where the game actually rewarded you for finding all the little secrets like that.

its funny he should mention Kojima.... Raiden is an unlockable character if you gold metal all the challenges.

coincidence? No. Kojima acutally has some close ties to ubisoft. simple as that

There was a lot of this in Arkham Asylum. You could zoom in on things like the case files and newspapers scattered around the place and read random information about some of the patients. Some of them the super villains and some of the them just mundane normal crazy people. There is an entire box in one place full of fake letters from Joker to the family of somebody that was committed.

I have a huge fucking problem with the concept of a silent protagonist. How on Earth can you relate to a mute character? Gordon Freeman for example. He never says ANYTHING, so if his character is supposed to be based solely on his actions, then he's the fucking Terminator. He never eats, he never sleeps, he never bats an eyelash at murder or his own injuries... FUCK, he can't even say excuse me when NPCs block a hallway. No one else thinks this is really stupid? A work of fiction needs a protagonist with understandable goals and motivation.

In terms of player projection, he's something of a success, but that is not a good thing. If his character is nothing but the player, than Gordon Freeman is only casually invested in the creatures who call him their savior, a pervert who crouches next to Alyx for embarrassing lengths of time to get a juicy view of her ass, a man who is willing to hunt down every single last gooey grub, for hours and hours in an underground insect hive, rather than save his dying friend in a speedy manner.

You want to know a protagonist I felt a genuine kinship with? You want a character I felt immersed by?

Tommy, from 3D Realm's Prey. Why? Because he had a face, a name, and most importantly a voice. He reacted, and realistically, to the seriously messed up crap he was faced with. He vomits when the gravity shifts. He screams rage and pain when harmed. He cries out in panic and confusion when faced with surrealities that the player too cannot at first comprehend. He's grimly satisfied when things go his way, and often says what we're thinking. When he loses his loved ones, his pain IS our pain. The game uses the Half-Life 2 trick of never ever ever taking us out of the 1st person perspective, but without the character's voice, Gordon Freeman just seems like an oblivious oaf with no control or input on what happens unless he is directed by an NPC.

TL;DR: Gamers do not, unequivocally DO NOT, need voiceless protagonists in order to be a part of the narrative themselves. This is a shallow tactic that does more to break immersion than to enhance it. What games need is a protagonist of depth.

I think it's a test of a game's immersion to be able to zoom all the way into the smallest detail and find care and backstory even there - this is where games like Fallout 3 fall down, looking spectacular at a distance but shallow up close.

Wait, what? The backstory found within random encounters was the best part of F3.

There's an email system in the first Assassin's Creed too by the way, I also checked every square inch of the Abstergo laboratory every time I had the chance - just to see if I'd get any chance of interaction.

That's exactly why Portal was a great game and why most games from Valve are good. They always include lots of little things that make the game world seem more real. I'm worried about the full length Portal 2 because I don't think they can maintain the level of detail on a full length game, but we'll see.

Ill bet Desmond is written to be bland so that players can attach them selfs to him, Ill bet thats why allot of main chars are written bland or just mute, I never liked that although I suppose it does add more of a "this is you" sort of thing to games but to me it just comes off as lazy most of the time

A thought provoking article. I had't looked at it that way - that little things are necessarily little because the search for them is integral to their value.

I'll be replaying Deus Ex right away.

Pardon me for being off-topic, but the page that you get when you click the "extra punctuation" tag hasn't updated for weeks. That's usually how I check for updates on Tuesdays, too.

I never noticed an email system in ACII, but the Codex was one of the most incredible little details I've ever seen. While reading it, I didn't even notice what was happening: I was getting an explanation for my upgrades.

That was something I'd always taken for granted, just taking the NPC's word for it that you got an upgrade. But the Codex actually explained why and how. Sometimes the little things blow your mind :0

I have to disagree with the Fallout 3.

The little things were FLAWLESS in my book regarding F3. For instance, if you decided to check out indoor areas and whatever houses/caves you can find, the scenery and the items are displayed and placed in such manner, you can tell a story from it all without a narrative explaining who/what/why it happened.

Much like finding two skeletons on a queen sized bed, with a single 10MM pistol with them, giving you an indication it might be suicide or they ultimatly decided to starve/die slowly whilst embracing eachother.

This is what makes Fallout 3 so perfect for me. They say a picture says more than 1000 words, if so, Fallout 3 contains millions of pictures just begging to be seen and experienced. The experience was far from shallow, if not, it showed me humanity and invoked real feelings in me.

I'm not sure I agree with your Fallout 3 point.

For example, in the Museum of Technology, you can reach a hidden ledge leading to a room with valuable items, but also two embracing skeletons on a mattress. A nice touch.

And in the town of Minefield, besides being a gigantic Snatcher reference, you can find blood marks outside the door of one of the houses, perhaps from someone shot by the resident crazed sniper. Open the door, and you'll find a dead raider.

Not to mention the tons of hackable computers, some of them containing emails from before the apocalypse. In one particular town being attacked by fire ants, one of the residents, who is never seen and barely mentioned, through hacking his terminal, is shown to be quite the paranoiac, and keeps a hidden rocket launcher nearby.

It really felt rather rich to me, which is why, again, I don't understand why you felt the game lost some of its charm when you examined things closely.

As with others here I have to say that if he thinks Fallout 3 is shallow, then he didn't put any energy into the game whatsoever. It's so easy to miss things like the town full of Cannibals (Andale) or the little part where you can get a drug addict to pass OD so you can rob him. That game is packed full of stuff that you don't catch unless you're paying attention.

In Fallout 3, if you open the right door in the right place,

If you found it, you know what I'm talking about. Is it fun? Hell no.

I laughed out loud at the "(he isn't happy)" part. Understatement for the win.

A Curious Fellow:
I have a huge fucking problem with the concept of a silent protagonist. How on Earth can you relate to a mute character? Gordon Freeman for example. He never says ANYTHING, so if his character is supposed to be based solely on his actions, then he's the fucking Terminator. He never eats, he never sleeps, he never bats an eyelash at murder or his own injuries... FUCK, he can't even say excuse me when NPCs block a hallway. No one else thinks this is really stupid? A work of fiction needs a protagonist with understandable goals and motivation.

I actually more often have problem with non-mute protagonists hurting the immersion. Like in Dragon Age when I am in a really hard battle and my character cries "is it just me, or do you actually think you have a chance". I kinda like silent protagonists because you can at least pretend that they have an interesting personality, while many talking characters either come out as bland or dipshits the moment they open their mouths.

I also think Fallout 3 was good at the little things and one of the reasons I like New Vegas more is that it does the little things even better.

I loved reading the emails in the H & H factory between two staff members complaining about the new HR policies while they arranged meetings with each other to carry out a affair (and what items to bring too).

I LOVE the background stuff in Mass Effect, like the Krogan on Tuchanka talking about visiting his son in the female camps, or the two Asari on Ilium snidely backbiting the "pureblood" standing only a few feet away from them. And don't even get me started on the Lair of the Shadowbroker surveillance vids and e-mails. I wish Yahtzee had mentioned these, they were masterfully done.

Yahtzee, this was a great article, but I have to admit I'm kinda disappointed. For the first time since Team Fortress 2, you found a game's multiplayer appealing and I was hoping for an article where you would explain what makes for a good multiplayer experience. Any chance you'd share your thoughts on that in an upcoming Extra Punctuation?

Yup. Sometimes the little things are better then the big.

Too bad that many games focus on the big now.

Optimystic:
I LOVE the background stuff in Mass Effect, like the Krogan on Tuchanka talking about visiting his son in the female camps, or the two Asari on Ilium snidely backbiting the "pureblood" standing only a few feet away from them. And don't even get me started on the Lair of the Shadowbroker surveillance vids and e-mails. I wish Yahtzee had mentioned these, they were masterfully done.

Like how the vids reveal who Liara's father is? Good stuff there. Totally knew the Shadow Broker would have that information long before the DLC came out.

Yatzhee summed up why me and two of my friends what Treyarch to simply make a Nazi Zombie GAME. The three map packs for World at War have SO much information hidden in them . Field manuals, hidden radios, notes, name tags, blood smears...there are so many tiny little secrets that people miss. But if you take the time to look for them, you realize just how much story Treyarch has put behind this so-called mini-game. Still trying to find stuff in the new Theater one.

See I have to disagree with you on the Fallout 3 bit. There actually is a TON of backstory and little tidbits within the world. For example, there is one medical makeshift camp that has a log of a doctor explaining everything that's happening up until the bombs drop and dying from radiation poisoning.

There's a segment where you find a food packaging plant that has zombified Chinese soldiers in it. Why? Because the plant was actually meant to be a place to gather demographic information for the Chinese government. It's ridiculous, but it makes killing those zombie soldiers seem to have a purpose.

There's also another point in the Dunwich building where you follow the story of a man who winds up in the building after being attacked by Raiders and slowly turns into a Ghoul.

Fallout 3 is filled with small details that flesh out the world. To me, that's what makes the game so much more engaging.

True Nero:
its funny he should mention Kojima.... Raiden is an unlockable character if you gold metal all the challenges.

coincidence? No. Kojima acutally has some close ties to ubisoft. simple as that

Furthermore, you can unlock Altair's outfit for Snake in MGS4. It's not easy though.

Still love the seemingly random dialogue exchange between the survivors in L4D2 :D I've heard a lot of them but every so often i still hear something that comes across as new! (probably because i haven't heard them say it forever)

A Curious Fellow:
Gordon Freeman for example.

Yeah, I found this a little odd as well. There's the mention of how in AC:B an essentially mute character (that obviously does have a pre determined story and personality) who doesn't interact with the world or others in any meaningful way hurts the immersion aspect of the game.. and then HL2 is trotted out as a good example of how to immerse a player via small details, without mentioning how it has that exact same flaw.

If that's how you feel then how come you didn't like Dead Space? It has little things up the wazoo! Plus a suitably bland main protagonist!

Don't know much about Fallout 3, but one game I definitely know has tons of little details and funny quirks is Vampire Masquerade: Bloodlines. I played the game at least 4 times by now and I discover something new with each playthrough. Even if it has so many bugs I could open an insect themed restaurant. But that's what patches are for.

StriderShinryu:

A Curious Fellow:
Gordon Freeman for example.

Yeah, I found this a little odd as well. There's the mention of how in AC:B an essentially mute character (that obviously does have a pre determined story and personality) who doesn't interact with the world or others in any meaningful way hurts the immersion aspect of the game.. and then HL2 is trotted out as a good example of how to immerse a player via small details, without mentioning how it has that exact same flaw.

Half-Life 2 is essentially a documentary, except the camera crew is armed to the teeth and doesn't take kindly to the locals in between getting interviews from some important people...

Edit: Posting's being twitchy for me, for some reason.

Yahtzee's right, it's hard to buy into the modern day Assassin v. Templar conspiracy in Assassin's Creed when we hardly see any of it. But "The Truth" segments in AC:Brotherhood did more to give it weight than anything Lucy, Desmond or even Vidic have said. Most noteworthy is one phone log where

Now that's a little touch that shows just how pervasive and powerful this conspiracy really is.

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