Second only to Grand Theft Auto, Assassin’s Creed may have left the largest mark on open-world games as we know them. But while we’ve all had our digs at climbable towers and cluttered maps, one Ubisoft developer claims that some of the historical stab ’em up’s most frustrating designs choices weren’t spurred on by the team – but instead crunched out in a five-day haze to ensure an executive’s kid wasn’t bored to death.

Responding to yesterday’s quote-tweet-of-the-day, Ubisoft fight system AI lead Charles Randall chipped in to provide his own, five-word industry horror story. Apparently, Assassin’s Creed was done and dusted – passing its first launch submission and seemingly ready to ship, when the team heard the bad news:

An unnamed CEO (either Ubisoft’s Yves Guillemot or Ubisoft Montreal CEO Yannis Mallet) had let his son play the game. As Randall explains further down the thread, that kid apparently found the game “boring”, claiming “there was nothing to do in the game.” Now, boring a rich kid being an inexcusable crime, so Randall’s team is tasked with putting together a bunch of side-activities to liven things up, bug-free and ready to go in less than a week.

That’s how locked in the Montreal Peck building for 5 days, Randall’s team reportedly cranked out optional Templar Assassinations and those infamous flag-collecting activities. Burning themselves out over two utterly inconsequential distractions created in such a furious haze that Randall “literally [doesn’t] remember what happened in that period of five days.”

It seems they even met that bug-free requirement – for the most part. There was, it seems, a frustrating issue at launch on consoles that caused a Templar target to vanish through the world, robbing completionists of their ‘cheevos. That’s a small price to pay, Randal reckons, and that it’s “a miracle that the game didn’t just melt your console or whatever”.

Randall does insist that this process was entirely optional – and that outside of literally bolting themselves inside a tower for five days, that first Assassin’s Creed had the least overtime of any game he’s worked on. But while AC did perhaps need more meat on its bones, it’s hard to say these were additions were “good”. The flags, in particular, were a nightmare, something even I (a literal child on release, oh no) found to be the height of tedium.

Assassin’s Creed has come a long, long way from its simple roots stabbing templars in the promised land. This year’s Assassin’s Creed Valhalla sails further still, with Viking rap battles and a map somehow even larger than Assassin’s Creed Odyssey’s.

The series never got less dense with “stuff”, but later games try a little harder to make it all matter, at least somewhat. But it’s hard not to imagine the minimalist time-travelling assassinations we could have had, if only some executive’s kid had found that first draft a little more exciting.

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