Assassin’s Creed Devs ‘Truly Didn’t See’ Controversy Coming

Assassin’s Creed: Unity lead designer Benjamin Plich told GameFront on Thursday that the game’s development team was caught off guard by the controversy regarding the lack of any female assassin avatars in co-op play.

“We truly didn’t see that coming,” Plich said.

Plich clarified further that the co-op characters aren’t customizable player avatars, but simply variations on AC:U main character Arno. “Everybody was saying, ‘You made four characters and weren’t able to make even one female character?’ ” he said, explaining that like Watch_Dogs, players will never see what their characters look like to others in co-op play. The gameplay will account for multiple players but the story will not be affected in any way.

While the admission that Ubisoft didn’t realize the way co-op works would be controversial doesn’t necessarily paint the company in a more favorable light, it is a departure from the tone-deafness which has only worsened the growing controversy. Previously, both AC:U Technical Director James Therien and Far Cry 4 Director Alex Hutchinson have insisted that designing and animating female player characters was simply too difficult for the massive development teams assigned to each game, a claim that was later disputed by a former Assassin’s Creed developer.

Whether or not Ubisoft plans to change Assassin’s Creed: Unity in response to the outcry is, for now, a question the company will not address. “This controversy is very early to say anything about what we’re planning [in response].”

GameFront Contributor Phil Owen contributed reporting to this story.


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15 Comments on Assassin’s Creed Devs ‘Truly Didn’t See’ Controversy Coming

Michael

On June 12, 2014 at 1:26 pm

Wait a second. So there are women who worked on this game? Right? So why didn’t they have a say on this?

T. Jetfuel

On June 12, 2014 at 1:38 pm

Because Ubisoft has a hierarchy? It’s not like everyone who works on a game gets final approval.

R.J.

On June 12, 2014 at 3:27 pm

Well, the “different animations” thing seems like a weak excuse but it is certainly more believable that this didn’t occur to them since everyone will just be playing as variants on the exact same character. I’m actually more concerned as to why Ubisoft thinks having a nearly identical character running around in your game is a good idea. While having another assassin helping is a neat idea, having another version of the main character seems immersion breaking to me.

Hawke

On June 12, 2014 at 6:08 pm

I think it’s absolutely stupid that this is an issue. The point of the game is to run around stabbing people to death and climbing over buildings. I hardly think what you’re wearing or how your polygonal “assets” are shaped effects that.

I also think Ubisoft saying they didn’t want to divert resources to making new animations and clothes systems for female characters is semi-legit (although a very bad things to admit about a game, since it seems to indicate the game being rushed) what people need to bear in mind is that Paris is 1:1 scale replica. It took them 8 months (out of a year development cycle) to make Notre Dame. Just one location in a massive, to scale city.

Hawke

On June 12, 2014 at 6:13 pm

Did my comment just get deleted?

Tam'Cham

On June 13, 2014 at 1:01 am

Had Ubisoft added female characters right from the start, obviously I’d have had no problem. Now that they’re being targeted by a group of PC intellectually snobbish liberal bullies who want to force their warped vision of social parity into everything regardless of whether or not it’s actually contextually relevant or shows their ego-driven white knight targets in any sort of progressive or even decent light (see the hilariously stupid demands that Payday, a game about robbing banks, includes a female bank robber or that Saints Row has “strong female characters” as if anything about Saints Row is supposed to be representative of real life or include role models to aspire to), I actually now hope Ubisoft tells them to piss off. They hire hundreds of women, Gamefront hires zero. How the contributors expect us to take a single sneering word they say on this seriously, no matter how many articles they post on the subject, is beyond me. Getting Ross “anyone who disagrees with me is just a troll with no empathy or an unintelligent cranky old white dude even though these unfounded generalizations are even more stereotypical and insulting than anything I ever write about” Lincoln to return from wherever he’s been for months for a five-paragraph cameo doesn’t change a thing.

If you want to look credible on this subject, get the thoughts of some female gamers. I don’t mean the usual whining professional victims who crawl out of the gutter whenever anything even remotely resembling a story relating to gender comes along, I mean some regular female gamers who actually play games for enjoyment rather than seek out specific games to force themselves into being offended. I can predict the average response right now, it will basically say they don’t care that much, or that it’s a shame but it doesn’t change the gameplay, or that it’s an oversight but probably just a cultural oversight rather than any actual discrimination or prejudice. These responses, sadly, don’t make for good hit fuel since they’re too balanced, so instead we just have to put up with article after article squeezing every last drop of attention from a minor story because it fits your long-existing agenda to feel like heroes of the oppressed rather than out of any journalistic duty.

The more you beat this drum, the more you force your half-baked leftist views onto what is supposed to be a website about videogames, the more you patronize your readers for challenging said views, and the more you do so without taking a single step towards diversifying your staff or their output – the less we care. We just don’t care, now. It’s impossible to tell which stories are worth attention and which are just sensationalist guilt complex exploitation. Your lack of restraint has backfired massively, and it’s only going to get worse the more you insist on this.

Ron Whitaker

On June 13, 2014 at 6:06 am

@Tam’Cham – Our female Editor-in-Chief would be curious to hear you explain how we hire zero women (that’s her there, presenting our E3 awards at the show https://twitter.com/GameFrontCom/status/477188657028165632/photo/1). Additionally, you might want to look around, because pretending that we’re somehow the only site talking about this is amusing at best, and willfully dishonest at worst.

PS: Ross is now the Senior Editor, Comics and Cosplay for The Escapist. He simply pitched in our E3 coverage this year.

Grizzfist

On June 13, 2014 at 8:41 am

Lol, no one really cares about this. Only these pc liberal game writers.

Tracy

On June 13, 2014 at 10:04 am

Why would any industry actively choose to ignore 50% of the possible buying population? It’s like the game industry is run by the Saudi government.

Dach

On June 13, 2014 at 10:46 am

I can think of many more relevant issues, all of which could be far more gameplay or immersion breakers than whether or not I can play as a female, that spring to mind from the revelation that we will not get to even pick which of the characters we will play as.

Here’s a few for example:

Is your appearance randomized in each new session or do you actually get to pick one of the four?
If you can pick one of the four characters as your online avatar will other players be forced to choose a different character?

Does this mean the weapons handle the same regardless of their appearance?
How does that not cause conflicts in combat, or do you simply get to keep your preferred/equipped weapon from the single player campaign?

Are skills related to the player, upgradeable or are they all available to everyone equally?

Are there random people just running through your game like Watch_Dogs?
Can you turn that setting off like you can in Watch_Dogs?

Realistically most people don’t pay attention to what character model you’re playing as in multiplayer, since it really is just a means to an end of interacting with the world or with your friends. Customization is always rewarded if it is present, since everyone wants to feel original and different, but it is not the controversy that many are making this out to be.

I am fully aware of the times in this industry where the callous and backwards mentalities surrounding sex, gender and orientation of decades past rear there ugly head; but in this instance I’m finding the whole idea of a controversy a little absurd.

T. Jetfuel

On June 13, 2014 at 11:04 am

@Dach, as I understand it, you play as the very same character (Arno Something) you play in single player, with whatever weapon you’re using (no conflicts with weapon choice, they’re all in the game anyway) and skills you have. The game simply assigns you a different face and probably outfit color for your appearance to your co-op partners. This could be either randomly, or done as part of registering a team. This registering is a thing, since they are already offering various bonuses for doing it (you get a bonus mission for registering a full team of 4). There won’t be random people in your game, only the co-op partners you sign up with, and I think you are supposed to be able to play everything with or without them.

T. Jetfuel

On June 13, 2014 at 11:10 am

Clarification: You are supposed to be able to play everything WITHOUT them, that is. Not sure if there are missions you cannot play in co-op.

GF really ought to allow editing comments after posting. It’s just unreasonable to expect me to actually check what I’ve written before I hit the “Leave Comment” button. Mine is the hectic lifestyle of the modern professional.

Phil Hornshaw

On June 13, 2014 at 2:28 pm

@T. Jetfuel

Yeah, we know, seriously. Hopefully comments will be very much better sometime in the near future.

Gallon

On June 14, 2014 at 3:50 am

What I saw in interview is that you are customizing your own version of Arno.
You do not pick presets, it’s you who defines the look of your character.
That’s why there is no female character, they are all Arno, customized by each players.

Tiagonal

On June 14, 2014 at 8:55 pm

I’d say the origins of this debacle comes from the likes of this video: youtube.com/watch?v=scuCeo8e-Ag and the excessive amount of clothes.