Technical feat

Technical feat
Michael French

By Michael French

October 7th 2009 at 8:30AM

The second part of Develop's focus on Assassin's Creed II looks over the game's Anvil engine

Ubisoft Montreal has moved closer to that rare thing: an internally developed, cross-game, cross-platform engine that supports a variety of projects.

Called the Anvil engine, this technology was created alongside the first Assassin’s Creed, with the ambitious game made in tandem with an ambitious codebase.

“The mandate of the team was to create the next-gen action/adventure game so they had to build an engine up to the test,” says producer Sébastien Puel.

“For Assassin’s Creed II what I’m particularly proud of is the new game architecture allowing much more diverse gameplay and missions in our engine. We have enhanced NPC navigation showcasing parkour-like acrobatics that will spice up the chases and escape missions in the game.”

Significant advancement has been made in making the engine offer more graphical oomph, he says.

These include a night and day cycle; new load distance for more detailed open-world environment from greater distances; several rendering improvements to support improved lighting, reflection and more special effects; and a bew cloth system used extensively for characters.

Says Puel: “Beyond the technical achievements, the very location we chose poised us to make a visually outstanding game. Cities like Florence and Venice are amongst the most stunning landscapes in the world and all the technology we developed just served this purpose, made you feel this beauty. We are not only recreating the architecture but also everything that makes Italy so unique during the 15th Century – from the special lighting of Venice to the colourful carnival.”

And because Ubisoft Montreal is also home to the team responsible for the Far Cry franchise (plus many others), the engine has also incorporated the same internal vegetation technology used in Far Cry 2. It’s proof positive that the shared engine can work across teams, with incremental features from each of Ubisoft Montreal’s tent pole release folded back into upcoming titles.

“We constantly share knowledge between teams and projects,” says Puel. “Since Far Cry 2 came out last year, the team on that game shared their software ‘real tree’ – it is included in Anvil for Assassin’s Creed II. This is only one example of shared knowledge between teams.”

To read yesterday's interview with Puel, click here.