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Made in Singapore – The Secrets of Assassin’s Creed Valhalla

Stealth is a huge part of being an assassin, so it’s perfectly natural that our long-time Assassin’s Creed devs have become masters of mysteries and secrets. Nothing tickles them more than sneaking in a few surprises to stump players when they least expect it, peppering the vast open world with strange and memorable marvels. We’re sure you’ve come across one or two yourself.

But the most marvelous secret of all? Many of this hidden content is made right here in Singapore! Our creative geniuses Antoine Henry (Associate Game Director), Rika Lim (Lead Game Designer) and Zoel Gan (Senior Procedural Artist) are here to give you a peek behind the scenes. But of course, secrets mean spoilers – you have been warned!

This Strange Lake, That Strange Statue

Looks familiar? If you’ve ever wandered to Eurvicscire and ventured to the northmost part of the map, you might stumble across this oddly shaped lake. (Hint: there may or may not be some juicy loot there.) It’s easy to tell that it’s in the shape of Singapore, but did you know that it also bears the approximate coordinates of the Ubisoft Singapore studio? Handy for your next job interview?

Mastermind Zoel Gan (Senior Procedural Artist) says that the whole point of making a game is to have fun yourself. The players who spot it and get the reference will have a nice little surprise, and the developers can give a small tribute to the Singapore studio. His team was also responsible for tidbits such as the reference of the Statue of Liberty next to Jorvik. This easter egg came about because they noticed that the map of Manhattan Island (New York) looks similar to York (England). That’s a discreet one – kudos if you actually caught it.

The Language of the Gods

It’s not just tidbits that our developers love to weave in – sometimes it’s a whole made-up language. In your Assassin’s Creed journey, you may have come across the god-like Isu race or even tried to decode their mysterious glyphs yourself. Constructing the Isu’s language and culture meant reimagining a time of superhuman beings, creating fictional precursors to modern concepts and reality. But maybe some of us do have the sixth sense, because the Tolkienesque feat of inventing a whole language was accomplished by none other than Associate Game Director Antoine Henry from the Singapore studio!

Antoine has been creating fictional languages for years, and couldn’t be happier at the opportunity to make a significant contribution to canon Assassin’s Creed lore. And in the process, he made a few surprising discoveries of his own. “As I was studying Proto-Indo-European and other ancient languages, I stumbled upon some words that resulted from the de-evolution process,” Antoine says. “I felt like I was unearthing an ancient language rather than creating a new one.”

All languages require practice, and unsurprisingly, there’s no one Antoine can practice with. He doesn’t speak Isu all that well, but he is extra-impressed at how some players managed to decode his fictional language with just a few reference points. Isu Language 101 class, anyone?

Vikings in North America? It’s more likely than you think!

With talents who know how to build both the physical and narrative aspects of game worlds, can we create a whole area by ourselves? You bet – and we’ve been doing it since the early days of Assassin’s Creed. Since we’re on the topic of secrets, we’ll let you in on another one - there’s a hidden location in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla unlike any we’ve built before. It’s called Vinland (or North America, as we know it nowadays) and it’s created by Ubisoft Singapore.

Lead Level designer Rika says that she wanted players to take a breather from what they do in the mainland and experience some survival-like gameplay. Eivor arrives at Vinland with barely anything on them and must deal with every new challenge with what they can scavenge along the way. Players can complete exclusive challenges like rowing a canoe against river rapids or trading resources for gear to prepare for the final showdown. They meet the Kanien'kehá:ka people and learn about their culture and language, discovering stories as they navigate and survive dangerous locations.

“It’s like building a huge playground part by part,” says Rika. “There are pools of unique locations with different gameplay – many of which are challenging enough to become mini-games for us developers. I also loved creating the small moments and places that feel out of this world – places that players will remember them long after they’ve ventured on.” We could go on for ages, but nothing beats hopping onto Drakkar and setting foot in Vinland yourself.

There are no mistakes, only happy accidents

Behind all these impressive big-brained creations, Zoel, Antoine and Rika are ordinary people who deeply understand that when it comes to creativity, everything is permitted. No idea is too whacky, because what are video games but the glorious amalgamation of some of the craziest ideas and personalities?

If you’re delightfully weird like us and are itching to surprise millions of players with your own mysteries, you might just find your true calling in the world of video games. It all starts with a leap of faith.

1 Comment

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