Col: Hi James, thanks for joining us today. Before we start, could you tell us a bit about your role in the creation of Assassin's Creed Rogue.
James: Thanks for having me! I wrote pretty much all of the present day stuff, the cinematics, the missions, the collectibles (video & audio files, emails), and the ambient dialogue. For Shay’s story, I wrote the War Letter collectibles - and it was a lot of fun connecting Rogue to Black Flag, AC3, Liberation, and Unity – a lot of the ADB entries, and then some ambient dialogue from various soldiers and civilians in the open world.
Col: Have you worked on many other projects since AC Rogue?
James: After Rogue I went directly to AC Syndicate, where I wrote the present day cinematics & collectible audio files, helped Ubi Montpellier with the London Stories sidequests, added the Juno subplot to the WWI section, and pitched in on some Animus Database entries and ambient crowd dialogue. I also wrote the Assassin emails for the Jack the Ripper DLC.
From Syndicate I jumped ship to Far Cry 5. I'm very excited for that game to come out, and I hope all my friends in the AC community will check it out on March 27.
Col: Are you excited to finally see AC Rogue on next gen consoles?
James: Yes! I thought it was already pretty stunning on last-gen consoles, I can't wait to see the Northern Lights again. I also feel there was a part of the community who didn't get a chance to play Rogue because they went all-in on the current gen systems in order to play Unity.
Col: Are there any Easter eggs left in Rogue that are yet to be discovered by fans?
James: I don't think so. A lot of my "easter eggs" are pretty blatant connections to other elements of the franchise. I will say that one of my favourite bits of ambient dialogue I wrote between two random British guards involves the phrase "Where's Charles Lee?" But having said that, if you play FC5, you might find some Easter eggs in there. :)
Col: Several of the characters in AC Rogue and Syndicate (Berg, Voronina) stem from Assassin's Creed Initiates, another project you worked on. How does it feel to see characters from the project come to life in games?
James: It feels pretty good! I inherited a lot characters from previous projects. William, Shaun, and Rebecca, obviously, but Gavin Banks, Harlan Cunningham, and even Otso Berg all existed before I started working on AC. It was fun to develop their stories and push their characters further. My inner fanboy loved writing little bits for Warren Vidic and Daniel Cross in Rogue’s audio files.
I really enjoyed bringing Gavin’s crew to life on Initiates and it's been a blessing to see characters I helped create outlive me after Syndicate. I was thrilled when I saw Galina show up in Charlotte’s first comic series, and even more so when Uprising brought back Arend and Kiyoshi. But then I get terrified reading every issue because I’m worried that my babies aren’t going to make it out of that story alive.
It's also been fun to see characters pop up unexpectedly. I had forgotten that we'd created Deanna Geary for a little one-off story on Initiates and then she was in Origins with Layla. It’s a lot of fun just being a fan of AC again. -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Col: Assassin's Creed Initiates was a great way to expand AC lore outside of the games. Did you enjoy working on the project?
James: It was a lot of fun for me, not just because the team was very good, but also because I feel that like Project Legacy before it, Initiates was an opportunity to tell different kinds of AC stories that kept the action game spirit, but could also be a little quieter and introspective. Stuff like Shaun & Rebecca taking a moment to mourn Desmond’s death, or the silly little emails of random Abstergo employees set during Black Flag’s modern day, or Gavin reflecting on his old Mentor in Japan, or a quick glimpse of Young William Miles in the Soviet Union, etc., I’m not sure these could have be done anywhere other than Initiates.
In terms of expanding the lore, the challenge I set for myself was that every story or character that we introduced should be able to lead their own spinoff or project. I’m not sure if I succeeded every time, but we’ve already seen how a few of my beloved murder children have grown up and spread their wings into books, and comics, and games.
Col: Are there any more characters from AC Initiates that you would like to see explorer further in future projects?
James: From the modern day crew, I’m very fond of Eric Cooper, the steadfast Scottish navigator, and would LOVE to see him in a future game someday. I think Harlan Cunningham and Arend Schut-Cunningham could EASILY lead their own comic. I think Kiyoshi’s Yakuza Brotherhood is also a fun idea just sitting there.
In the past, I wrote a little story about Eseosa, who was Adewale's grandson who had a hand in the Haitian Revolution. At the end of that story he made his way to the Davenport farm to train with Connor, and I think that would have been fun to explore.
Col: Bayek's robes are available in AC Rogue Remastered. Do you think Shay will suit them, or will they look out of place in contrasting environments to Ancient Egypt.
James: All those fan service costumes are just meant to be a bit of fun, so I don't worry about them looking out of place. You can turn your camel into a Chocobo in Origins, so, y'know, just go with it.
Col: Are Ubisoft Montreal hosting a launch party/ celebrating the release of Rogue Remastered, and will you be there?
James: Well, Ubisoft Sofia was the lead studio in charge of AC Rogue, so I imagine if there’s a party it will be in Bulgaria. But for me, there’s lots to celebrate this month: I’ve been at Ubisoft for 5 years, and with the release of AC Rogue Remastered and Far Cry 5 so I’m feeling very grateful across the board.
Col: What can fans of Rogue look forward to with the release of the game?
James: I think it’s going to look great on the current-gen systems. And while the Bayek outfit is exciting I just found out that there’s a Jacob Frye outfit available on the Ubisoft Club as well! I hope everyone enjoys playing Rogue as much as I enjoyed working on it. Thanks again! :)