Publisher Ubisoft has distanced itself from claims that high workloads are behind its omission of playable female characters in the four-player co-op focused Assassin's Creed: Unity.
Ubisoft technical director James Therien yesterday said that adding playable women into the game would have created an unmanageable workload. Now, however, an official statement from the publisher says that it was in fact a narrative decision.
“We recognize the valid concern around diversity in video game narrative,” a statement released to Kotaku claimed. “Assassin's Creed is developed by a multicultural team of various faiths and beliefs and we hope this attention to diversity is reflected in the settings of our games and our characters.
“Assassin's Creed Unity is focused on the story of the lead character, Arno. Whether playing by yourself or with the co-op shared experiences, you the gamer will always be playing as Arno, complete with his broad range of gear and skill sets that will make you feel unique.
“With regard to diversity in our playable Assassins, we've featured Aveline, Connor, Adewale and Altair in Assassin's Creed games and we continue to look at showcasing diverse characters. We look forward to introducing you to some of the strong female characters in Assassin's Creed Unity.”
However, speaking to Polygon, Assassin's Creed Unity director Alex Amancio again argued that it WAS a workload issue.
"It's double the animations, it's double the voices, all that stuff and double the visual assets," he said. "Especially because we have customizable assassins. It was really a lot of extra production work."
MCV was among the many news outlets to criticise the decision yesterday, primarily because it seems implausible that high workloads could be the motive for the decision considering the vast scope of the game.
And indeed, Naughty Dog animator and former Assassin's Creed 3 animator Jonathan Cooper questioned the claims on Twitter, stating: "In my educated opinion, I would estimate this to be a day or two's work. Not a replacement of 8000 animations."
In my educated opinion, I would estimate this to be a day or two's work. Not a replacement of 8000 animations. http://t.co/z4OZl3Sngl— Jonathan Cooper (@GameAnim) June 11, 2014
Man, if I had a dollar for every time someone at Ubisoft tried to bullshit me on animation tech ;-)— Jonathan Cooper (@GameAnim) June 11, 2014