IGN's "Making of": The hidden secrets - Part 2
Markuz, July 30th, 2014
Translated by: Stefania

Many of you appreciated our last analysis on the first part of the Assassin's Creed Unity “Making Of”, to the point that it appeared on various websites and social pages. Some days ago the second part was released and we found more than one request from our fans about a possible analysis similar to the first one. While such a request may seem banal or somehow common for who, like us, creates daily contents about AC, it impressed us very much because, in our opinion, the request itself holds an appreciation of our work and the expectation that it continues in the future. Requests like this encourage us to do our best on each content we publish, so we use this occasion to thank you and finally we present you our analysis on the second part of the Assassin's Creed Unity’s “Making Of” by IGN.

Arno’s face

Let’s start exactly as we did for the first part, in other words with a screen dedicated to Arno’s face. In this case, however, it is possible to see the level of detail with which the face of our protagonist and, presumably, also of the other characters, was achieved through the AnvilNext. As shown in the picture, in the upper right corner it is possible to notice the "FaceBuilder Animation Panel”, the tool the developers use to modify dozens of parameters for each part of the face. There are six modifiable parts, namely eyebrows, eyes, nose and cheeks, mouth, others and "LookAt". In the first image we can see the 16 modifiable parameters for the eyes (which determine the position and, among others, the contraction and the eyelid’s corners) while in the second one we can see the 35 parameters for the mouth (which, among others, include jaw, lips, chin, teeth and tongue). Lastly, the third image shows us the 11 parameters for cheeks and nose, these ones too dedicated to their positioning.
In addition to this, the video shows also a close-up of Arno’s face while he wears the traditional Assassin outfit. This picture is very interesting because if zoomed it shows various details about the files that the character of Arno is made up of. Immediately on the right of Arno’s face it's possible to see the macrocomponents, among which the skeleton ("Skeleton Component"), the "Facial Component", the "Ragdoll Component" and also the graphic effects of the Eagle Vision ("Eagle Vision Component"). On the right of the picture, instead, there are other files about the various parts of Arno’s model, again called sometimes Arnaud (eyebrows, hair, eyes and also the phantom blade, called "ThrowBlade").

The logo and the menus of Anvil 1

A big part of what is shown in the Making Of belongs to this program that seems to be the base of the AnvilNext (or its interface). The program is complex and very detailed, and its icon immediately drew our attention because, according to our AJ23, recalls a set of various Abstergo logos.
Also, watching the video, we can have an idea of the complexity and the possibilities of the program by looking at the menus that appear for a few seconds:

It is therefore possible to notice all the functions that the program allows to use, from the graphics to the setting of cameras, from the tools for the creation of buildings to the functions dedicated to collisions, obviously with a section dedicated to level design.

Blade and the voice actors of Assassin's Creed Unity

As we can see in the picture, Ubisoft uses Blade (version 1.7 in the video), which is a ”Motion Capture Pipeline Processing Software". The image on the screen, as it can be imagined, shows the sensors worn by the actors for the motion capture, but the most important thing can be found in the file names in the bottom part of the image. Indeed these four files appear on screen:


Those are four actors and voice actors who already were part of the Assassin's Creed cast in the past and that now we can expect to see also in Unity. Below we specify their roles in AC, to give an idea of their past work:

  • Frédéric Lavallée: voice actor (additional voices) for Freedom Cry, motion capture actor for AC4 and AC3
  • Carlo Mestroni: voice actor (additional voices) for AC4 and ACB; motion capture actor for AC4, voice of Benjamin Franklin in the Tyranny of King Washington, voice of Edward Braddock in AC3, mocap of Yusuf Tazim in ACR, voice of Antonio de Magianis in AC2
  • Dusan Dukic: additional voices in AC3, ACB and AC2
  • Amber Goldfarb: additional voices in AC4, ACB and AC2, mocap in AC4, voice of Aveline de Grandpré in AC4 and AC3: Liberation, voice of Cristina Vespucci in AC2 and ACB

Below the files which feature the name of the voice actors it is also possible to see the following file names:


The first two files, referring to 4pp, which can stand for "4 people" (with the specification regarding the Assassins), may represent the animation of two Assassins who, during a co-op mission, compare some documents that they obtained, while the other two files may refer to a small repair (“RepairSmall”) of a part of the equipment in one of the General Shops (“GenShop").

The light effects

As said in the video and reported by us in this recap, the developers of Unity focused on the illumination, taking into account the “directional” light, the sun, and the local lights.
The video also gives us the chance to get a glimpse of the effects that the Unity teams can use for the creation of the game:

  • "LayeredSky": it is possible to see two types of mention of the "Sunlight", three types of "Sun Sprite" (where “sprite” may refer to the graphic term), four effects of the "Sun flare", and other two effects / tools dedicated to the Moon ("Moon Azimut" and "Moon Elevation");
  • "VolCloudsParams" (Parameters for the clouds’ volume): we can see three of them, although the file names aren’t completely visible (“Multi-Sca…” , “Sky Inten…”, “Cloud Sha…”);
  • “PostEffectSettings”
  • “Fog”: the settings for the “Volumetric Fog” concern nine functions: “density”, “top” (maybe the upper part of the volumetric fog), “Top fall off”, “bottom”, “atmospheric”, “noise scale”, “noise threshold”, “noise turbidity” and “dense fog”.

Café Momus

During the presentation of some of the models of buildings it is possible to see the facade of Café Momus. This building hasn’t been invented by the developers, but it actually existed. The café was located in rue des Prêtres-Saint-Germain-l'Auxerrois 17, in front of the Church of Saint-Germain-l'Auxerrois, between the Louvre and Pont Neuf. So this may be a representation of rue des Prêtres-Saint-Germain-l'Auxerrois (even though the café appears when the video shows the automatic generation of buildings in the streets of Paris) and the café may be one of the “Revolutionary Cafés” that Amancio talked about in the past.

The house creation system

The video gives us an example of how the developers are able to quickly create the structure of a street in Paris. As Steve Labrecque, Technical Artist at Ubisoft Montreal, says in the video, the tool (House Block Generator) allows them to draw the form of a street (automatically specifying width, length and bending angles). To this “street shape" the developers assign a "theme" for the buildings that will compose it. The theme is probably the district the buildings will belong to but, unfortunately, as shown in the screenshots, the names of themes/districts have been intentionally screened (we know, however, that, among them, we will find "Le Marais", "Le Ventre de Paris" - nowadays knows as "Les Halles" - and "Île de la Cité”, as shown in this animated story ). After this, buildings are created by the generator and developers have various options to act on the buildings themselves, from the reassignment of theme to the reconstruction or regeneration of the buildings and the streets. Also, as previously announced, the rooftops can be modified too to better design Arno’s parkour.

Hotel Dieu

The video also shows pictures of the design of the sewer system. In addition to having an idea of how it can be developed, it’s possible to see some file names in the window in the upper right corner. First there is a file group called “FRV_House_Row_Sewer_6x4x0_12”, which may be the part of the sewers related to a certain and defined number of buildings (maybe that’s what the numbers after the word “Sewer" specify). Among the files of this group, two in particular stand out: "Visual (FRV_LM_HotelDieu_Door_02_LOD0)" and "Visual (FRV_LM_HotelDieu_To_ Sewer_01_LOD0)”. These are the files that identify the door and the access to the sewer system through the Hôtel-Dieu, the oldest hospital of Paris, founded in 651 by Saint Landry, bishop of Paris. The building, just to give an idea, resides on the 'Île de la Cité, at the north side of Notre-Dame.

Elise’s return

Also this video proved to be generous in terms of details about the mysterious Elise, the female character of Unity that we discovered in the first part of the Making Of.

The first content we see is the model of her hair, highlighted in yellow in the video and called "CN_U_Elise_Head_tst7_LOD0". Considering the file name, this may still be a test version ("tst"), but anyway the model is consistent with what we saw in the first part of the Making Of.
Subsequently it is possible to take a closer look at Elise’s ball gown. The main file is called "CN_U_Elise_Ball_001" and actually it’s an entity, made up of many subfiles dedicated to the various parts of the model (eyes, hair, eyelashes, etc…)
Again in terms of 3D modeling, the video also shows Elise’s whole ball gown and also how it was made, from a 2D pattern of the different parts of the dress (“MarvelousSS.psd" file) to the composition of the 3D model before applying the textures.

In addition to that, it is possible to see the machine / tool for the Facial Scan of actors. In this case, the actress that we see in the screenshot is almost certainly the one from whom the face of Elise with her ball gown was derived (at least considering the curls). Moreover, recently it was confirmed on Twitter (and retweeted from the Ubisoft Montreal account) that the actress, Catherine Bérubé, was the one behind the motion capture of the red-haired female character with a worried expression that can be seen in the video. This girl looks like the Elise we know, if only for the hair color and hairstyle, and also for a certain resemblance with the female character appeared in the poker cards, which act as bonus item for one of the Unity preorders. Back then we created a comparison, and this time we show it to you again, updated, thanks to our Xander, to try and understand if the three images refer to the same character, our Elise.

Lastly, the most important element is that the girl in the second part of the Making Of has a Templar cross on the collar of her dress (zoom the image to see the cross with the best definition possible). In addition to this, recently we were able to find some pictures of the figurine "Elise: The Fiery Templar", a name that leaves no room for speculation. The Templar cross and the figure made us connect the various data we had to hypothetically reconstruct part of the events that may occur in Unity.
If you remember well, in one of the past news Alexandre Amancio, Creative Director of Unity, said that one of the story layers in Unity is about an impossible decision, love versus duty, or desire versus duty, while, even deeper, the story tells us how the ideals of Templars and Assassins, if pushed to the extreme, can damage society and people instead of helping them. If we add the recent rumors about the video shown at San Diego Comic-Con (that was later revealed as the "Arno Master Assassin" CG Trailer) that say Arno may have a more important love story than the other Assassins and also that the girl appearing in the trailer wears a Templar medallion and can fight, the big picture becomes very interesting. Lastly, we also add a tweet by Dan Jeannotte, Arno’s voice actor, who, in a recent Q&A, said that a complicated love story will be present in the game.
This girl, now it is clear, will be our Elise and considering the Templar cross on her collar, the figure with the “Templar” mention, and the Templar medallion, we can suppose (thanks to the ideas of our Hephaestus) that Unity will show us a complicated love story between Arno, member of the Assassins, and Elise, a Templar, and probably Arno will have to deal with the impossible choice “Love versus Duty". As previously stated, Unity should also show how the exacerbation of ideals could be harmful for the people and this may have an effect on Arno himself, considering that maybe, at a certain point of the story, the Assassins will ask him to kill Elise. So this may be the “impossible decision", and, as we learnt from Initiates thanks to the words of Galina’s grandmother, the partner of Sergei (the Assassin that hunted Nikolai Orelov at the beginning of The Chain), "(...) there is no peaceful end to the work we do. There is only one end for people like us."

Kino and the "Parkour Gym"

In the screen we see Kino, the software that the developers use not only to create the animations but also to directly implement them in the game. On the left it is possible to see Arno without the traditional cloak (a pair of white trousers can be seen) and the file / level is called"ACU_BHV_ParkourGym". Arno’s outfit (incomplete) together with the name Parkour Gym made us suppose that what we see may be a screen of Unity’s tutorial. In particular "BHV" may also be, according to our Hephaestus, a reference to a "BrotherHood Virtual system" and so, in this case, this wouldn’t be only a scene of Arno’s training, but also a sequence connected to the present day, similar to what we saw in the past games with the Animus Virtual Training Program.

On the right, instead, the actual screen of Kino can be seen. In this case Arno’s actions seem to be nodes connected to arcs made up of restrictions. For instance, it seems that if the character runs (Sprint) and he is in high profile mode (HighProfile=True), and at the same time (AND) the outcome of the interaction with the crowd is “avoid” (Crowd_Interaction = Avoid) or (OR) the crowd shoves him (CrowdShove=True) therefore the result is that the character stumbles (Stumble).

Kino seems to also have a timeline with the various types of animations (it is possible to see, as for the navigation, "xx_Nav_IdleLow_Footr", "xx_Nav_WaitSt_LookAt_Horizontal" and “xx_Nav_WaitSt_LookAt_Vertical”), and of "State Machines" ("general_layering_state." "Ground_Nav.", "Navigation.", "lo_profile.", "lo_idle.", "LowProfileIdle_" among others).

Mood system

As stated in this second part of the Making Of, Unity will also have a "Mood System", in other words a system that will change the behaviour of NPCs according to a parameter determining their mood. The screenshot shows the character used to explain the Mood System, "CHR_Crowd_BaseEntity_Male | 0x0:0:00:0| [Name: (N…". As we saw for Arno, also this model is made up of various elements that can be examined in the upper right corner (Action Component, Kino Component, Bulk Unity Component, etc…). Among these there is also a “FX_EagleVision_Material_Overlay”, which probably is the “material” used to graphically “dress” the character when the player looks at him with the Eagle Vision.
There are also many other parameters among which, as previously mentioned, we can find the mood. So for each NPC, we should expect a “Default Mood”, which can change into “Afraid”, “Angry", “Confused", “Curious", “Happy", “Neutral", “Sad", “Stressed". This will change both the NPCs’ appearance (for example, their facial expressions) and their animations.

New character and new model

Near the end of the video it is possible to see a new character. He appears, considering the “StageCamera_001_COOP_RB020_SC030_Cin" file, which is in the middle of the screen, in the co-op mission RB020, namely "Danton Sacrifice", as we pointed out in the previous article. The scene should be the third one of the mission and should be filmed by camera 001.

Sticking to the point, at the end of the video it is also possible to spot the model of a noble NPC who, according to the file name ("CN_C_FR_HighClass_F_Indoors"), could be seen indoors (or she wears indoor clothes).

That’s the last detail we noticed in the second part of the IGN’s Making Of! Stay with us for our next analysis!

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