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Ubisoft Assassin s Creed v3

Ubisoft Assassin s Creed v3

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Published by: cristiantrapani on Nov 19, 2010
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Over our years in the making, Ubisot’s Assassin’sCreed is one o the most highly anticipated gameso the 2007 holiday season. In its pre-releaseorm, Assassin’s Creed won over ive industryawards, including honors rom IGN, Games Critics,GameSpot, GameSpy and others. Ubisot hasbeen using Autodesk
3ds Max
and Autodesk
 MotionBuilder™ as key components o its gamespipeline or many years, and this release marks therst title that has incorporated use o Autodesk
or seamless integration o characteranimation into the game engine.Assassin’s Creed is set in 9 AD, when the Holy Landis being torn apart by the Third Crusade. Ruthlessassassins attempt to curb the crusade by suppressngboth sides o the conict. Players take on the role o main character Altaïr, a disgraced master assassinwho embarks on a quest to restore his status withinthe Assassin Order. In order to redeem himsel, Altaïrmust venture into the Holy Land and rid the men saidto be exacerbating the battle. In doing so, he will worktowards stabilizing the region, allowing the assassinsto usher in an age o peace.
HumanIK Extends Creative Reach 
HumanIK is middleware that Autodesk developedto allow programmers to translate motion decisionsrom animators into runtime libraries, simpliyingthe creation o motion sets. HumanIK also solvesthe potential inaccuracies and hurdles o transerringpre-established or “baked” animations into gameengines by delivering code that people run in theirgame to create motion on the y.The Assassin’s Creed programming team usedHumanIK to create a ramework within Ubisot’sproprietary game engine so that the animatorscould identiy rames within a character sequencethat needed IK, and the game engine could interpretit exactly as the artist envisioned. HumanIK wasused to acilitate all o Altaïr’s complex climbinganimation throughout the game which provideda huge time saving or the artists.“HumanIK allowed us to get results very quickly.The game has an impressive climbing system wherethe characters can mount anything that sticks outrom a wall two inches or more using both theirhands and eet. This enabled us to develop a totallydierent type o level design because we couldcreate a path over anything in the scene using thisclimbing system,” explained Elspeth Tory, ProjectManager or Animation, Ubisot.HumanIK was also used to animate Altaïr as he’spushing through crowds and to animate a horsethat travels throughout the kingdom. “Essentiallyanytime Altaïr needed to keep his eet on the
Ubisoft Studios
Customer Success Story
3ds Max
HumanIK allowed usto get results veryquickly. The game hasan impressive climbingsystem where thecharacters can mountanything that sticks outrom a wall two inchesor more using both theirhands and eet. Thisenabled us to develop atotally dierent type o level design because wecould create a path overanything in the scene usingthis climbing system.
—Elspeth ToryAnimation Project ManagerUbisot
Image courtesy of Ubisoft.
 Assassin’s Creed 
Autodesk 3D Pipeline Helps BringCenturies-Old Tale Into the Modern Age.
ground, or to climb or to push through the crowd,we used the HumanIK setup, which was directlyintegrated by our programmers into the engine.The IK was essential or hands, eet, the horse’seet and more. It was great because the artists setup their animations, we agged them as needing IK,and the IK would automatically be interpretedin the engine. It allowed us to see spectacularanimation right o the bat. We didn’t have todevelop our own animation systems or manyo these complex actions,” Tory continued.HumanIK aorded the team immediate eedbackon whether a system was working or not. Thishelped tremendously with knowing where toplace objects in a scene and how to build the 3Dsets and structures, eliminating a lot o the trialand error o scene setup where all the animationsystems are built rom scratch. It also acilitatedgood collaboration between level designers andlevel artists, with the animators ensuring that themovements worked within the environments.Most importantly, HumanIK allowed or quickprototyping, which is what the team needed withsuch a big and new game concept.“We built 150 dierent bodies and many dierentheads—each body was built to stringent specicationsso that we could combine the heads and bodies inendless permutations, along with over 1650 dierenttextures or unique hair, clothing, accessories,physical characteristics and more. This enabledus to populate a rich or poor district and give thecharacters distinct traits that made them looklike they belonged in each environment.”This unique engine ensured that all the heads andbody types, modeled in 3ds Max, could be mixedand matched to work together. There was a lot o optimization done to make sure that all the characterswere perectly designed to be integrated seamlesslyinto the game engine. To urther create varietyamongst the crowds, there were various dierentsets o animations (i.e. movements or an old lady, atman, soldier and more) integrated into the engine toadd variety and lie to crowds quickly and easily.
Productivity Boosting Pipeline
 With a team that grew to 150 over a productioncycle that lasted our years, optimizing theproduction pipeline was a major priority.“For games that use a lot o motion capture likeAssassin’s Creed, the pipeline o MotionBuilder to3ds Max is a really efcient one. We capture dataon our motion capture stage, tweak and clean upthat animation in MotionBuilder and bring it into3ds Max. We have been working with 3ds Max ormany years—people are very comortable withthe sotware, they know the pipeline and they relyheavily on Biped because it produces great qualityanimation. 3ds Max is perectly designed or gamedevelopment and helps us produce large quantitieso assets at a breakneck pace. And with this game,we had so much volume that having a pipeline thatwas exible and that our artists were comortablewith was essential,” said Tory.Standardizing on 3ds Max also provided an advantagewhen building such a large development team, asit was easy to source a trained and talented pool o animators well versed in the package.“Our Character and Animation Technical Directorstake advantage o the extensibility aorded by3ds Max via MAXScripting and can easily tailorthe pipeline to a speciic project need, urthermaximizing efciencies. It’s also really benecial thatwe have a direct link between 3ds Max and ourgame engine which allows us to get data rom thegame engine into 3ds Max and conversely get datarom 3ds Max into the game engine,” Tory continued.
Create, Animate, Integrate 
The creative process at Ubisot starts out with aconversation between designers, artists andprogrammers to break down a system and gureout exactly what animations will be needed to helpthe story progress in a given sequence. At thispoint characters will have been modeled and riggedin 3ds Max and MotionBuilder. From there, theanimators might start capturing some video ootageto get idea o what they want things to look like.Once a good understanding has been establishedbetween the designers and the animators, theteams go to the motion capture studio and startrecording data. The data is tweaked and rened inMotionBuilder and brought into 3ds Max or cuttingout rames, inserting start and end poses, and breakingthe animation down into parts to create a systemthat works. From there, the process involves a lot o collaboration between the animators and programmersas sequences are brought into the game engine.
Automating with MAXScript
 Assassin’s Creed eatures approximately 20 maincharacters and hundreds o secondary and crowdcharacters. Ater being modeled at very highresolutions, hero characters are reduced toapproximately , polygons with 3 MB o textures each, while crowd characters have about3500 polygons each with 1.5 MB o texturesattached. In order to generate high volumeso crowd characters, the Ubisot team createda custom engine builder using MAXScript, thescripting language within 3ds Max, to standardizethe necks and skulls o our crowd characters whichhelped to enable automated creation o multiplevariegated characters on the y in the game engine.“We created an engine builder using MAXScript thatenabled us to populate worlds with hundreds uponhundreds o characters with enough randomizationthat they all look dierent,” said Francois Levesque,Animation and Character TD or the game at Ubisot.
Image courtesy of Ubisoft.Image courtesy of Ubisoft

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