Ubisoft has patched the troubled Assassin's Creed Unity for a fourth time this week, changing certain parts of the gameworld to better perform. One of the changes, however, has to be seen to be believed. First, some backstory: the central conceit of the Assassin's Creed franchise is that you, the player, are actively playing a simulated experience based on historical figures through a complex computer system called the Animus. The world you see onscreen is literally meant to be a digital creation. Start the game up for the first time and you'll see an animation welcoming you to the Animus technology, for instance. During key story moments, the gameworld may digitally break down and glitch to heighten drama. Now, this new patch deals with the technical problem regarding non-playable characters popping into existence. Instead of NPCs suddenly appearing in virtual Paris as they are loaded into memory, they now fade in with an animation effect that implies it's the Animus itself (and not your game console or PC) that's struggling to keep up with the simulation. It's not a bug, it's a feature!
I can almost imagine Ubisoft's Unity patch team sitting around a table trying to solve the pop-in problem when one of the developers snaps her fingers with the big "Eureka!" moment. By reframing the technical problem as an in-universe issue instead of a real life issue, they can write off the situation as solved and move on to other things. Frankly, that's absolutely brilliant. I've seen lots of creative problem solving over the years, but this is my new favorite example of how to fix something that's broken by changing the definition of what "broken" means. Ubisoft, you and I may not always see eye to eye on things, but I'll give you this one. It's a clever fix. Good job.
(Image via NeoGAF)