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Assassin's Creed 3 was 'almost a miracle' after Ubisoft realised that to make the game using the current Xbox 360 and Sony PlayStation 3 the developers would have to almost start from scratch.
Talking to T3, Marc-Antoine Lussier, Technical Director on Assassin's Creed 3 explained that if it wasn't for the revolutionary AnvilNext engine which runs the game, the title may not have even made it onto the current generation of consoles.
"The biggest problem we had was that the machine was still the same after the last two [so] we thought there was no more juice we could get out of that thing. It's almost a miracle and it's all because of AnvilNext. We took the time to really think it through, do it properly."
One of the biggest obstacles Ubisoft faced was the challenge of creating an environment that was not only many times bigger than seen in Brotherhood, but also much more detailed.
"If you remember in Assassins' Creed we were very lucky that the streets were narrow and we didn’t have such long line of sight and you couldn’t necessarily see the characters on the street, New York is a totally different story."
To tackle this problem the team worked on using the same tech that made it possible for AC3 to have nearly 2000 NPCs on an open-world battlefield as seen in the first Assassin's Creed 3 trailers.
"We can have a couple thousand NPCs that you see in the distance and as you get closer as you move into New York or Boston, we dynamically switch from low detail NPC to full detail NPC...so you have the illusion of being surrounded by a gigantic crowd."
Assassin's Creed 3: How it all began
Moving onto how it all began Marc-Antoine interestingly noted that it was in fact the forests of Assassin's Creed 3 which acted as the starting block for the AnvilNext engine.
"There was a bit, 'well other people do it so why don’t we?' But also it was the perfect compliment to the wilderness, especially with the winter, I think it came with the winter first. The characters are being confronted with the winter, [so] we thought it would be a cool thing to let people know what it would be like to go through a snowstorm."
Once again however, the moment the developers tried to do something new it was apparent that the current generation was going to cause some problems with both the Xbox 360 and the PS3 offering little in the way of leeway.
"On the graphics side, that weather was difficult, 'cos those guys were saying, 'No we can’t push anymore effects or polygons, that place is already full.' But again we’ve got very, very smart people that tried and made it work."
"It took years, just the deformable snow that left tracks as you walked through took over two years, we had one programmer full time on this so it's just the sum of a lot of people working very hard."
Assassin's Creed 3: Working with the Xbox 360 and PS3
Two years is a long time to work on snow and Lussier is the first person to accept that by making the decision to use the Xbox 360 and the PS3 they were going to face some challenges.
"Sometimes it can be frustrating, now that we know a new generation is coming at some point in the future, [so yes] it's not as exciting as a new generation, but the challenge on the other side is very motivating."
When we asked Marc-Antoine what Ubisoft's secret was he laughed knowingly and responded saying 'there’s no secret it's just hard work and a lot of good people trying to solve each problem at a time, we didn’t find a secret switch in the 360 of PS3 to make it go twice as fast."