Warning: I've done my best to not reveal an "Assassin's Creed" spoiler here, but it's not entirely avoidable.
Over at MTVNews.com, we're running an interview with Patrice Desilets, creative director behind Ubisoft's "Assassin's Creed."
We had a great chat about many things, the most surprising of which, to me, was Desilets' drive to "justify" every video game cliche.
Why are video games broken into levels? "Assassin's Creed" has a reason for it.
Why are characters controlled by buttons? "Assassin's Creed" explains that too.
And so on...
Desilets said he last toyed with this concept in "Prince of Persia: Sands of Time," which explains why a game character might have multiple lives and the ability to resume his adventure after the player kills him.
But the concept only goes so far. What almost made it fall apart for Desilets? Collectibles.
From my article:
The justification concept could only go so far, and Desilets found himself on the losing side of an argument that almost broke it all apart. Throughout the game, there are collectible flags. Players can find them in nooks and crannies throughout the game's massive cities, gaining 100 of one type or 60 of another. The game tracks them. But do they really make sense? "They have nothing to do with Altair," Desilets admitted. He suggested he could have done without them but said others on his team thought players would enjoy gathering them.
... "I managed to justify them," Desilets said. "I tried to do it in the instruction booklet and say that [Altair] had a thing with flags." In fact, the booklet states that planting flags in the 12th-century land of the game "was a popular way to lay claim to an area, but in the assassin's mind, these were false claims." Removing the flags is a way for the assassin to voice his disapproval.
Such was Desilets' manner of masking an impurity in his game. Note that there are no rewards for gamers who collect all the flags other than pride. "It's almost a statement for gamers," he said. "It's a statement about the futility of collecting things."
What do you think? Are you into Desilets' experiment? Should more games explain the things that make them games? Why are item-boxes floating all over "Metal Gear" levels, anyway?
For more on "Assassin's" check out my piece at MTVNews.com.