Appmodo Interviews Ubisoft’s Ben Mattes, Producer of Assassin’s Creed II: Discovery
Expected to be one of the largest sequel titles to hit the iPhone again in 2010, Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed II: Discovery is a game that has had eyebrows raised since E3 last summer. We’ve had the luxury to sit down with the game’s Producer, Ben Mattes, and discuss the success of Ubisoft in the App Store as well as the development behind their next big title, Assassin’s Creed II: Discovery.
Company Name: Ubisoft
Name: Ben Mattes
Title: Producer, Assassin’s Creed II: Discovery
Company URL: www.ubisoft.com
Q: How do you think the iPhone has revolutionized the mobile phone industry?
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.
Q: How do you think the iPhone has revolutionized the portable gaming industry with contenders such as Sony and Nintendo?
Just as the Nintendo DS and Sony PSP delivers its own unique gaming experience, so does the iPhone. I’m a fan of each platform for separate reasons and understand how they all fit into Ubisoft’s strategy to diversify its portfolio of entertainment.
Q: What separates your company from your competitors with mobile phone applications?
Ubisoft is very committed to the growing iPhone gaming market and we view the iPhone/iPod toouch 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.
Q: What is your company background, size (employees, developers, etc), and company inspirations?
Unfortunately we are unable to disclose information about number of employees, developers, etc. However, we view the iPhone and iPod touch as innovative platforms for handheld video games and a natural extension for delivering our brands to the mobile consumer. Ubisoft strives to provide a complete experience for consumers who enjoy our products, which means delivering high quality titles on devices that people use most.
Q: Do you outsource any projects or development, if so, how much?
We do work with outside developers such as Griptonite (who developed our Assassin’s Creed II: Discovery iPhone title. We also work with Gameloft who develops some of our Ubisoft-branded titles.
Q: Advancements in graphics and animations in the mobile phone industry have astronomically grown within the past couple of years. How much time does your company devote to graphical, animation, and sound production for mobile applications? Are there areas that you focus on?
Unfortunately, we cannot disclose this information.
Q: How many applications has your company planned, developed, or created at any given time?
We don’t have specific numbers to share, but I can confirm that we plan to launch several apps for the Apple App store that will span Ubisoft’s console lineup including casual and hardcore titles this year.
Q: Is your company currently developing for other mobile platforms, if so, which ones and why?
Currently, we develop mobile games for the iPhone only.
Q: Marketing an application can be a very difficult task. With so many applications being developed and released on a daily basis, capturing user attention in an App Store is challenging. What have you found to be an effective way to market your products to users?
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.) Therefore we are still learning ourselves. For Assassin’s Creed II: Discovery, 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.
Q: What do you think about other application review websites? Are they effective at providing in-depth reviews of applications and helping market your products? Or is your company experiencing challenges of trying to find quality application websites? What do you think of Appmodo?
We’re very excited to see more news sites cover iPhone gaming. AppModo provides great information about iPhone games, developers/publishers and industry news to its audiences.
Q: What are your thoughts on the App Store user reviews and the ability to monitor them?
No comments, we are still learning.
Q: What is your favorite application?
I really enjoy Assassin’s Creed 2: Discovery, not just because I managed the project – but because of its action-packed, fast-paced experience it provides while I’m on the go.
Q: Many of Ubisoft’s iPhone titles have been developed by Gameloft. Will that continue to be the case?
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.
Q: How does Assassin’s Creed 2: Discovery parallel with the console version?
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.
Q: How did you decide on which type of controls to use for this 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.
Q: What makes the iPhone version of Assassin’s Creed II: Discovery different from the DS version?
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). This makes it a great value for iPhone Gamers – at the regular price of $9.99, you get the full DS version of the game, plus the new features (mentioned above)!
Thank you Ben Mattes of Ubisoft for your time!
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