Ubisoft: Assassin's annual production cycle is "ideal"

Mission design director Falco Poiker says annual release gives team direction

Assassin's Creed: Revelations mission design director Falco Poiker has given his thoughts on the annual release cycle for Ubisoft's massive franchise, and says it's actually a positive.

"The production cycle is less than a year, which actually for me is about ideal," Poiker told Edge Online.

"But a lot of people complain about that, I mean I'm talking internally - people say there's not enough time."

Revelations is currently due for release on November 15. The last game in the series, Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, was released on November 16.

"It gives an impetus to the team and we find a direction that we say we're going to run in, and there's very little of the indecision that comes with teams that spend two, three, four years developing games," explained Poiker.

"Frequently those games will restart completely from the ground-up because they're like, "We're not satisfied where we are." We don't have that luxury so the time actually kind of works in our favour. We go one direction and we go with it. If there's problems, oh well, we'll fix it along the way."

Poiker has worked in level design at Ubisoft since 2003, but joined the Assassin's team for the production of Brotherhood. He's also worked on Prince Of Persia and Avatar: The Game.

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Latest comments (15)

Andrew Ihegbu / 6 years ago
I don't like this. It only means the game will get shorter and less polished per release. Sure, the directors might like it, but thats because it fattens their bosses wallets!
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Daniel Brewer Janitor, Supermassive Games6 years ago
Sounds like the best way to piss off and burn out your staff.

I agree with reducing indecision and faffing around, but there's got to be better ways than rail-roading a project at 300mph!
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Paul Smith Dev 6 years ago
If they keep it up like this the franchise WILL run out of steam eventually, Just like what happened to PoP and Splinter Cell
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Show all comments (15)
Sounds like a great way to be totally mundane and parachute straight into IP exhaustion.
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Kyle Davidson6 years ago
The annual production cycle of the Assassin's Creed series has already stopped me from purachasing Brotherhood, and I won't be supporting them if they insist that this is the best way forward. I know that it's an industry-wide problem nowadays, but actually claiming that it's a positive just doesn't sit right with me.
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Terence Gage Freelance writer 6 years ago
Ironically, the original Assassin's Creed went through at least one change of style before we ended up with the finished product.

I think Yves Guillemot and whoever else at Ubi ought to realise that while Assassin's might be selling very well and the annual production cycle is giving them a guaranteed 8-ish million sales each Christmas, they will also burn out staff - creatively and physically - and potentially saturate consumers with the brand too. I would suggest that a 24 month production cycle would be the sweet spot for all concerned whilst ensuring the brand does not become oversaturated or burn out (for instance - would Skyward Sword or Skyrim be as anticipated if there were Zelda and Elder Scrolls instalments every year?).
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Private VIdeo Games 6 years ago
Paul - how exactly is the Assassins model anything like the case for either PoP or Splinter Cell?

Unless my memory serves me incorrectly I can't remember there being a Splinter Cell or PoP game every year on 360/PS3...

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Cody Pike Studying Electrical Engineering, Alabama University6 years ago
As much as I hate seeing my favorite franchise go the way of Call of Duty, I withhold judgement until Revelations is released. If they pulled another stunt like they did with Brotherhood (taking a game well known for its Single Player, and kind of skimping on the Single Player to focus on the Multiplayer), I may have to find my fix elsewhere.
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Gregory Hommel writer 6 years ago
It matters not how long the production cycle is. If this or any team could upgrade and polish in six months, that would be fine. The trouble is that these games are using the same tired engine in title after title. What a silly article in the first place. I would bet that everyone in the studio loves the fact that they don't have to spend any time building a new engine or polishing for months. But, these games are supposed to improve technologically and show us what our machines and the developers are capable of. I can't wait for this phenomenon to catch up with Ubisoft, Activision, EA, Sony, Microsoft and anyone else guilty of beating an IP to death. Here's to long production cycles like God of War, Uncharted, Gran Turismo, Elder Scrolls, Grand Theft Auto, etc. One fact remains though, as long as numbskulls keep lining up to ingest this garbage, it will never end.
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Private VIdeo Games 6 years ago
"same tired engine in title after title"

That comment saddens me......
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Andrew Goodchild Studying development, Train2Game6 years ago
I'd rather a good game than a new shiny engine. Now I've never got round to playing the Assassin's Creed games, but it may be worth noting they have absolutely massive teams, they are probably having as many hours spent, by more people over less time, the series was one of the first results of Ubisoft's Canadian super studio. If they are managing to keep coherence doing things this way, even though they are managing more people, fair enough. As I say, I can't say if this is the case, but a lot of people I know seem to think they have done a very good job for the last 2 games and the previews of the new one.
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Terence Gage Freelance writer 6 years ago
"The trouble is that these games are using the same tired engine in title after title."

Are we still talking about the Assassin's Creed games?! It has an excellent game engine which is capable of superb detail (check out the clothing and texture details), almost peerless animation en masse, massive detailed environments and huge crowd scenes (most notably I would point to the Venice Carnival chapter in ACII, and the engine's probably come some way in the two years since its release).

Ubisoft's Anvil Engine driving it is in many ways one of the most impressive multiformat game engines of the generation so far, based on its impressive outings in the last couple of AC games (and Prince of Persia 2008). I can't really comment on its use in Shaun White Snowboarding though.
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Private VIdeo Games 6 years ago
Agree with everything Terence says in the above.

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Alex Hutchinson Creative Director, Ubisoft Montreal6 years ago
Just because a game comes out every year, does not mean that it took only a year to make, or that the same team is working on each iteration. Trust me.
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they probably have 2-3 teams working in rotation, thus allowing a staggered release. Thats how I would structure my team anyways
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