On Engaging Fictional History in Games

In a couple of weeks two new Assassins Creed games come out, Unity and Rogue, for the PS4 and PS3 respectively. I’m a huge fan of the series so I have both games on pre-order and am very excited to play through the story and meet the new characters as well as to see how it ties in to the overall story.

So in preparation of this I have spent the last few days replaying Assassins Creed 4: Black Flag (aka AC Pirates). I think I’m currently at the midpoint in the game. Far enough in that I have upgraded the ship and can handle most sea battles, which means I’m taking a break from the story to work on completion. While playing there was a cutscene involving a fairly minor character and I thought to myself how most of the characters are based on an actual person so was this person real or simply a fictional addition to aid in the story. It turns out that this particular character was indeed based off of a real individual who was alive at the time, and indeed was someone who turned to piracy.

This is what I find enjoyable about these games, that even though the game is a work of fiction it is set in a historic time period and the developers take the time to include people and events that are at least partially based in reality. Obviously the whole Templar/Assassin thing is fictional, but they put it together with real history in such a way that it piqued my curiosity.

I enjoy history for the most part. I like the History Channel, or at least like when they actually show HISTORY, but reading history books is pretty boring. Games like Assassins Creed give me the interest to go and at least read what is available online about the events. That does make the assumption that the articles are indeed accurate, but it is cheaper than going to the book store and buying volumes of history books.

I know that Unity takes place during the French Revolution, so it will be interesting to see how that plays out. Not knowing much about that time period I imagine I’ll do a bit of reading once I play through the game. I’m not sure of the historical period that Rogue takes place in. I know it falls between Black Flag and Assassins Creed 3, but I really don’t know of any historical events that happened at that time.

What this is really getting at is that I feel there should be more games like this. Ones that have some basis in factual history that are engaging enough to get the audience interested in reading more about the subject matter.

On Console Exclusivity

This week E3 is going on and the big companies are showing off their new games and product pitches. Yesterday both Microsoft and Sony held their big presentations talking about upcoming titles and how focused they are on providing content. Both companies tend to talk about their console exclusive titles, but also talk about cross console releases as well. The thing is both companies kept talking about how they’d have this title first or have this amount of exclusive content that you won’t get anywhere else.

Every time I heard that I want to get a rolled up newspaper and whack the presenter on the nose saying “Bad presenter, stop withholding content from your players!”. I think it is dumb to separate what players get just because they may choose one console over another. Personally I own a PS4 (for arguments sake keeping this next gen). I don’t own a XBox One and really I don’t plan to get one. A lot of the games that I want are coming out for both systems, which you know that’s great because everyone should have a chance to play a game their interested in. I don’t like the idea of console exclusive titles anyways.

It just annoys me to no end when they start talking about how console x is going to get the game release first or how they will have an extra x number of hours of additional content that the other system won’t get. If I get Assassins Creed Unity on the PS4 I want the exact same content that someone on a Xbox One is getting. I don’t see why I should be penalized because of the console I own. Don’t tell me because I didn’t buy system x I can’t have 100% of the content that was developed. I’m paying for that content so just give it to me. And especially don’t come back a year later and try to charge me money for what used to be exclusive content that is now DLC.

Now, I can understand why they do this. And it’s a pretty simple reason. They want to drive up sales of their game so that they can say how well their game sold and more money means more games that can be developed. Does that mean I have to like it?I can’t even fault any particular company for doing this because both Sony and Microsoft are doing it. Now I say the brand when the decision might be on the individual developer level, I don’t know who decides what. I’m just saying I don’t think it is fair to the consumer.

Do I think this is ever going to stop? Not really, developers and the main companies such as Sony and Microsoft make too much money off of these practices to stop doing it.