So you’ve climbed another building? Have you walked around the outside of an entire map looking for objectives? How much time is spent looking for things to do rather than actually doing the things? This is the hallmark of Assassin’s Creed: hours and hours are spent playing the game yet most of the time is spent searching for a purpose or a goal to complete. Certainly, the creators of Assassin’s Creed understand the psychology behind game playing. Give enough information to be intriguing, but give enough to not be totally revealing. This keeps players interested and playing the game. It drives the gamer to want to succeed and accomplish the challenges set ahead. Still, what is it about Assassin’s Creed that keeps the player playing for hours upon hours?
It’s simple really. The concept of keeping a person’s attention boils down to how often the plot or story moves forward. Compare this idea to cinema. The story starts by introducing all the characters. The protagonists and antagonists are revealed and the supporting characters are introduced throughout. Still, that’s not enough to tell a story. The characters have to do something. More importantly, the characters need to do something interesting. The most common way to keep action interesting is to set two character’s goals opposing to one another. The Autobots want to protect and save humans while the Decepticons want to destroy humans and take over the world. This is basic concept behind any story worth telling: the protagonist must meet resistance and must either overcome or fail the obstacle which lies between them and the future. The key is in the action.
The Assassin’s Creed story teller not only accomplish this task in a way that makes their story entertaining, but do so in a way that requires the player to keep playing. How so? Well, as was already mentioned, the basis behind the strategy for keeping the player interested is found in how the story progresses. In Assassin’s Creed, the story only moves forward when objectives are completed. Moreover, those objective do not occur sequentially and automatically like they would in the game Call of Duty. The player must search for the objective, complete the objective, and then again search for the next objective. Even more pertinent here is how the story tellers in Assassin’s Creed tell the story piece by piece and in rather small segments. The player who completed an objective is left hanging in their understanding of the plot until the player completes the next objective. Hence, the game is played for hours upon hours just to understand any segment of the plot.
So climb those buildings; look for those viewpoints; search vigorously for those objectives. The story goes nowhere until these things happen. And the player has complete control over when the next piece of the story will be revealed. The hallmark of Assassin’s Creed is in searching for objectives, but the search for objectives is really a search for plot. Success and achievement are grounded in the need to know the story, and this is how Assassin’s Creed keeps a player playing. This is how players devote themselves to playing Assassin’s Creed for hours and hours.