Ubisoft previously revealed that they planned to release a new Assassin's Creed each year for the next 3 years. With this sort of information, one would not be forgiven for wondering whether Ubisoft are laying the foundations for the series to go on in some form indefinitely. However the game director for Asassin's Creed IV, Ashraf Ismail, has now confirmed that there is method in the madness with an overarching story and the ending already planned out.
Speaking to Eurogamer he said:
"We have multiple development teams, then we have the brand team that sits on top and is filled with writers and designers concerned with the series' overall arc. So there is an overall arc, and each iteration has its place inside this.
"We have an idea of where the end is, what the end is. But of course Yves [Guillemot, the CEO of Ubisoft] announced we are a yearly title, we ship one game a year. So depending on the setting, depending on what fans want, we've given ourselves room to fit more in this arc. But there is an end."
So there is an end but also plenty of room for padding between now and then. He continued, speaking of how useful it is to have multiple development teams whilst writing.
"We're now able to seed stuff earlier and earlier in our games. So for example in [AC4] we have Edward, who was seeded in AC3. But there's a lot more stuff in our game that is hinting at other possibilities."
Because of the longevity of the series, another positive is that features that don't make it into one game, rather than being lost forever, are usually implemented in the next. So, for instance, real-time ship boarding wasn't ready in time to make an appearance in AS 3 but will be ready by the time AC4 comes out. Ismail added:
"The biggest cut we made – which we were pushing hard for but we felt we couldn't achieve at a high enough quality – was multiplayer with naval [battles]. We had really cool prototypes but to get it to work and to balance the systems – the balance of naval is tricky – to do that in multiplayer... we just couldn't do it in this iteration."
I bet all you naval nerds are looking forward to Assassin's Creed V already. But alas, that is some ways in the future. However Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag will be setting sail November 1st.