Q: The big thing that separates films and games is, of course, gameplay. Watching a film is a passive experience whereas playing a game is an active one, and a lot of people are worried that as films and games converge, it'll be the gameplay that will suffer - that the hardcore elements will die out. Are you worried that will have an impact on games like Assassin's Creed?
JFB: I think there's always going to be a market for hardcore players, but there's obviously going to be a much larger market for people who are not hardcore players. To bluntly answer your question, no I'm not afraid that the mechanics will be sacrificed for storytelling and whatnot. I think we'll always find ways to challenge the hardcore players. For example, Fallout would be a great movie, and if you play on hard level Fallout you're a pretty hardcore player. So there are ways that you can merge them, but it's a one step at a time thing. I don't think it's going to happen any time soon, where we have that kind of merging, but I see that happening in the next 10 years, for sure.
Q: Well, before then... I wanted to talk to you about the multiplayer in Assassin's Creed Brotherhood. I'll admit that I was a bit sceptical about the idea, but you guys seem to have pulled it off! Did you have any reservations about your approach to that side of the game, that it would be a difficult thing to pull off?
JFB: Well yes, of course! The core of the thing is that we had to keep it true to our universe, to our four pillars: steal, social, navigation and fighting. We've been thinking about it for a couple of years, we went back to the drawing board many, many times, played around with a couple of concepts and figured out what worked. I think there's this dichotomy in the gaming world, that the people who are sold to multiplayer don't care about single-player, and the people who are sold to single-player don't necessarily care about multiplayer. The wink we give to that in our universe is that the single-player [game] is Assassins, and the multiplayer is The Templars. I think in the end we're giving a lot to the single-player, because we're giving a full single-player campaign - so they won't feel cheated with Brotherhood, because they had what they wanted. But at the same time the multiplayer is not a shooter-type. It follows the core mechanics of Assassin's Creed, so if you're really good at Assassin's Creed this multiplayer would probably be something you might be interested in playing, because you already know how to play. And on the other hand, the hardcore multiplayers might say "I'm going to try this multiplayer. Hey, this universe is kind of cool! I might look into the single-player." So I think it's a win-win for Assassin's Creed as a whole.
Q: Do you anticipate multiplayer becoming a core part of all future Assassin's Creed games? I know you can only speculate now, as it'll surely be based on how well Brotherhood is received...
JFB: I think so. It is speculation, but I think we've done a really good job doing the multiplayer, and there's a lot of room for expansion in that universe, so I see a multiplayer component being there for a long time.
Q: It's tough for people making multiplayer modes. Bobby Kotick claimed the other week that 60 per cent of the people on Xbox LIVE are there to play Call of Duty, and while that was pretty arrogant you know that he has a point, in that so many people just stick to shooters. Do you find that off-putting when you're designing something that's deliberately not just another shooting deathmatch game.
JFB: Exactly. We didn't want to do that. We didn't want to emulate Call of Duty. First of all it would be highly pretentious for us, coming into that area, to go head-to-head or compete with Call of Duty, because they are so good at what they do. They are perfect at what they do. It would be a disservice to our fanbase, it would be a disservice to our franchise to try to emulate something like that. We need to stay true to what we are, and we need to stay true to our core values. That's the way we're going to respect our core audience and that's also the way that we're going to attract new players. Because our game is so unique at the very core of it, Assassin's Creed as an action adventure is very unique - just the setting, and whatnot - and that's the way we're going to shine and make our own space. Philosophically, you never shine when you're riding somebody's coattails. You always have to do your own thing in life, and you can see that in history, you can see that in business, you can see that in technology, you can see that in art. You can see that in human evolution, biology. As soon as you start doing your own thing, that's when you have a chance to shine and survive, and then flourish.
Q: There's a lot of coattail-riding, though I guess that's understandable...
JFB: It's a recipe, of course. Big Macs are arguably the largest-selling hamburger in the world and everybody's trying to make their own version of the Big Mac. Who's being really successful at it? Not that many people.
Q: So you're making pizza. Or perhaps lasagne?
JFB: Yeah, I think so. I think we're making... Not to say...It's a hugely bad analogy to say... You're putting words in my mouth! I don't really like it. I never said that Call of Duty or shooter multiplayers are Big Macs!
Q: No, it's fine - you were drawing a comparison, I understand.
JFB: It's just the clout of the Big Mac. Everybody knows what the Big Mac is, right? Everybody's trying to imitate it, and nobody's been that successful doing it. It's just an analogy.
Assassin's Creed will be released on November 19 on PC, PS3 and Xbox 360