Assassin’s Creed Unity DevBlog – Navigation with Max Spielberg
Join us as we explore the newly revamped parkour system with our Game Designer Max Spielberg.
We stole some time with Game Designer, Max Spielberg, to talk all about the navigation system in AC Unity. Max has been with Ubisoft since 2012, and has been working on Unity since the very beginning.
“In previous games, you were either running on your feet from object to object, or you were climbing.” stated Max. “What we did is basically create a transition between the climb system and the navigation system. So now, you no longer have to drop down from climbing a wall to an object to continue running. You can, from your climb, perform a transition into a direct run, or swing, or any move possible in the game.”
The goal from the start was to provide the player with more freedom, and this would mean taking the navigation to the next level with the debut of a new generation of consoles. To accomplish this, the team would have to break away from the trusted navigation system base present in the previous seven games in the series.
“It was a challenge for the entire team to wrap their heads around that kind of change in the system, so we really had to start from scratch.”
#DevTip: If you fall too far and are about to take damage, use the Roll move as you land to minimize the damage taken.
The result, is a navigation system that allows Arno to operate on different planes of motion within 3 control schemes; two on the vertical plane and one on the horizontal plane.
“There’s the standard Right Trigger control method, where we tried to emulate previous AC games as best we could. So if you’ve played any previous AC game, you should feel at home with the Right Trigger.
The A button [Parkour Up] will start trending you upwards. If you are on a façade or have a wall next to you, and there are props along the wall, holding A will use the façade itself - the actual wall - to scramble up to the next object that’s nearest to your current position.
On the other hand, the B button [Parkour Down] will start dropping you down objects until you reach the ground. This all happens very quickly. In fact, at one point we were toying with the idea of not even needing the leap of faith, because the player can get down facades so quickly with the B (down) option.”
A big change to the navigation system also meant that the team would need to clearly make the distinction between the art of free running and that of parkour. Especially when it came to the issue of Arno’s moves.
“Parkour is the fastest way to get from Point A to Point B using the environment, whereas free running is the same concept, except using flashier moves to complete that sequence, like doing tricks with your body. We have elements of free running in AC Unity, but we focused more on the parkour aspect of keeping the flow, and keeping some sense of realism. That being said, all these moves are possible since our mocap actors did all of them for us at some point.”
Arno will learn new moves as the story progresses, but players will also be able to purchase some new skills too.
“There is a skillset that you learn as you progress through the game. Arno starts out with basic moves and learns more parkour moves along the way. But there are also a few skills that you can purchase, that add some flair to the moves.”
“One of my favourite new moves, and one of the coolest ones I think you’ll see in the game is called the Base Jump. The player jumps out, arms outstretched, almost looks like he’s going into a Leap of Faith and then catches a pole right at the last second to swing off. That’s very impressive.”
Max Spielberg began his career at Ubisoft nearly three years ago on Assassin’s Creed Unity. He hates cilantro, but loves his PlayStation Vita. His Corgi, Mochi, thinks Max spends too much time playing games and not enough time feeding him socks.