AC: Origins Game Director Discusses NPCs; New AI Framework Allowed Studio to Create “Thousands of Persistent People”

NPCs will be more interactive and lively in Assassin’s Creed: Origins thanks to a new AI framework.

Assassin’s Creed Origins brings the franchise to the ancient land of Egypt and allows players to unravel its mysteries, and luckily, Ubisoft managed to create more lively and interactive NPCs.

Game Director Ashraf Ismail was recently featured in an interview in Play’s latest issue, via WCCFTech, where he discussed the studio’s effort in revamping NPCs and their interactions with both the player and the world around them. Thanks to a new AI framework, Ubisoft was allowed to create “thousands of persistent people living” in the game’s world.

“We created a new AI framework that actually allows us to have thousands of persistent people living in this world,” Ismail explains, noting that all of the AI – all of the human and animal NPCs that inhabit the sprawling Egyptian space – are “virtualised”. That is to say, they function away from the immediate gaze of the player. “NPCs actually have a life out in the world,” which, we’re assured, will mean that players will no longer be forced into a reload if an objective goes awry. That’s because Origins will generate new scenarios and gameplay opportunities as you move and interact with the environments and its inhabitants; it will react to your successes and failures in real-time, without punishing you for being creative or stumbling. “It means that all of those constraints are gone, completely gone. These were,” he tells us, “frustrations that we wanted to remove.”

He continued to discuss how NPCs will actually affect some missions and try and distract you from your main target.

“The point is this, we give this information to the player, that this AI is really living out in the world, doing whatever it is that they are doing, and as a player you get to make the choice of ‘what kind of experience do I want to have?’ When we ask you to do something in the game, the objective is now far more open ended… So yes, you do still have assassination targets but, technically, you can do whatever you want to get to your target.

“We have a target in the game who has decoys in one of the cities. You have to learn about him and his schedule. You actually have to pay attention to him, and the decoys – the ways they are living their lives – to figure out which one he really is, because the decoys are innocent people,” we’re told, though the open-ended play doesn’t end there. “The gameplay experience can change, even as you’re in the flow of chasing him down,”Ismail teases, explaining that how you approach the target once you’ve figured this puzzle out can drastically change depending on a number of factors.

Assassin’s Creed Origins releases on October 27th for PS4, Xbox One and PC.