Yes, and everybody can Wikipedia to verify it. Cesare Borgia died in Spain on a battlefield. We have an internal rule, the 30 second Wikipedia rule, which is if something can be found on Wikipedia within 30 seconds we have to follow that information. If it's something that historians that specialise would argue then we can bend and play with it.
For example, we have a weapons specialist and the mechanism we're using for firearms is ten years too advanced than what were using. We favour gameplay in that case but it isn't that far fetched. For most people it's perfectly acceptable as it is for us, there is the matter of what for example Leonardo would do but you can type that in and its there so we have to follow it.
It's the same thing for who was the Pope. At the end of AC2 Ezio doesn't kill Rodrigo Borgia because it wasn't part of his quest, he didn't have to kill him to bring his family back - he realised that and matured because of it. Ezio is now a mature person, but also at that date we set it up where Rodrigo was poisoned in 1503, we couldn't have killed him, we could have changed the date and set it earlier but...
Do you think it's important not to bend history too much, to have a grounding in reality?
Yes, it grounds the events in reality, which is very important for some of the players. If for them it is believable it's easier to be absorbed into it. A lot of people see stuff and go and search out information on it. It grounds the scenarios to be believable and helps control the wildness of the creators. For us everything needs to set within the rule of that time period, little details like that help build the coherence of the franchise.
How much content do you throw out during development - stuff that doesn't work?
There is, especially with Assassin's Creed 1... there's stuff that I don't want to talk about because there are good ideas that can be exploited later on for our brand.
The conception period was three years... too much stuff was cut from AC1. If you analyse the final product everything was polished but there isn't enough variety. With AC2 and Brotherhood, since we're a sandbox it's different from a linear game. If you have a game like BioShock it's a very controlled experience so it's important to make sure all your mechanics work well together.
Look at GTA - it's more like the overall experience and throwing in enough toys to play with, that's something we failed on in AC1, there weren't enough toys or tools to play around with the AI or the world given. So, we've had a massive list of ideas and made them all happen.
That's been a challenge in Brotherhood, we had all those different types of Assassinations and thought 'what do we add now?' We had a list and we're quite close to that original vision. I know of one change with Brotherhood, the design changed a little midway. After AC2 we asked people to maintain the code for AC2 as we were working on Brotherhood, to keep it working. When you change your project you ditch that stuff and start working new.
There was a point where we had the Brotherhood and the game was called Asssassin's Creed Brotherhood so we were thinking if this doesn't work or it's not cool it could be very bad. We took the Assassin's put them in AC2, played with them, sequenced them with the mercenaries, realised we needed to make some tweaks and were able to simplify the design because we had the chance to play them in the real game. Code hasn't changed much but design has been burned and resurrected.
So you've got plenty of good ideas on the table for Assassin's Creed then?
I don't think a game is a finished project. You have linear experiences like BioShock and you can say 'this perfect' and then add stuff to make it better. With Assassin's there is a lot of stuff that can be worked on, it's a work in progress thing that you can experiment with.