Ubisoft Producer ACII Discovery - Ben Mattes

Today we have an interview with Ben Mattes from Ubisoft who is the producer of Assassin’s Creed 2 Discovery for the iPhone. He gives us the low down on the production process, and why Ubisoft produced the sequel instead of having Gameloft do it again. Be sure to check out our Sneak Peek of the game.

Why should iPhone gamers care about Assassin’s Creed 2: Discovery?  What makes it better than the first?

Ubisoft wanted to publish Assassin’s Creed II: Discovery ensure it complimented the AC II franchise experience.

Assassin’s Creed II: Discovery is a port of the DS version; however we wanted to take our time with the development to ensure we’re delivering the same quality experience that consumers expect from the franchise. The iPhone version delivers a fast-paced, arcade-style experience. It focuses on stealth moves and free-running/acrobatics, which are inspired by the console chase sequences. We also added a new combat system in the iPhone version – the struggle mechanic, which offers more diversity in combat (for instance some gourds are harder to kill than others). There are also three new levels, upscaled high-res graphics, enhanced sounds, voice acting and more music from the console game (all due to the platform’s optimized hardware capabilities).

Why did you choose to take over development of the iPhone series instead of allowing Gameloft to develop the sequel?

Ubisoft has a great relationship with Gameloft. We’re delighted to be developing a new version for Assassin’s Creed II. In addition to launching our own titles for the iPhone and iPod Touch, Ubisoft will continue to work with Gameloft on the launch of iPhone titles based on our intellectual properties.

This is Ubisoft’s first true iPhone game.  What were some of the difficulties you ran into developing for the platform? Some of your favorite things about the platform?
There’s always a learning curve to developing for any new platform. As this was Ubisoft’s first iPhone title, we had to learn everything that is specific to the iPhone platform (unique hardware, development environments, submission process, etc.) We also had to identify what elements of the console version would be best translated to the iPhone version. We understand that folks playing the iPhone version are not in the same mind frame as those playing the console version. Folks playing iPhone games are usually on the go – they still want the key elements of Assassin’s Creed II, but enjoy different aspects of the gameplay.

The iPhone/iPod touch platform is an incredible device, its innovative hardware enables developers to generate amazing gameplay and create beautifully rendered environments with its accelerated 3D graphics.

Being a large developer, how do you feel about the App Store’s current pricing structure?  Do you believe there is room for both indie developers and large developers?

Absolutely, the beauty of the App Store is that indie and large developers can create games for a variety of audiences at various price points.

How does Assassin’s Creed 2: Discoveries’ story fit in with the rest of the games from the series?

Assassin’s Creed II: Discovery takes place between Chapters 10 through 13 of the console version. It’s a supportive story that further develops the Assassin’s Creed universe and characters. Our aim with all of our Assassin’s Creed titles is to create a complimentary experience for consumers and reassure them that it’s not required that they play all the other versions in order to understand the storyline.

Assassin’s Creed II: Discovery seems to be more of a fast-paced side-scroller.  Was that due to the difficulty in controlling Altair in the first game?

Development of the iPhone Controls was an evolutionary process. We examined our options (accelerometer, virtual analog stick, etc.) and were conscientious that players’ thumbs may cover too much of the action on screen. Therefore, we decided that since this is such a fast-paced game, Ezio could function well if we used a left/right slide controls for movement and attack/block buttons with special combat buttons that appear as needed to create a fluid experience.

Any added replay value for the sequel?  About how much play time can gamers expect to get?

Yes, to increase the replay value – Assassin’s Creed II: Discoverý features unlockables, achievements and hidden secret rooms that allow players to unlock images to use as a wall paper. The gameplay time ranges from 6 to 8 hours, and varies based on side missions, exploring each unlockable area, etc.

What are Ubisoft’s plans for the future of Assassin’s Creed on the iPhone?  Is the ultimate goal to bring a console experience to a mobile device?

The beauty of this franchise is that players can integrate with the Assassin’s Creed universe in a variety of ways. It does not necessarily have to be a fully open sandbox world in order for players to enjoy its core features. The iPhone’s 2.5 dimensional experience immerses players into the storyline with its thrilling and fast-paced gameplay.

Will Ubisoft be bringing more of their titles to the iPhone in the future?  Will they also be developed in-house?

Ubisoft is very committed to this growing market and we view the iPhone as a viable platform to engage consumers with Ubisoft’s brands. We plan to launch several apps for the Apple App store that will span Ubisoft’s console lineup including casual and hardcore titles.