assassin's creed books in games

The Ravensthorpe Library — An Assassin’s Creed Valhalla Fan Project

A mysterious book with a hidden message. Find the PDF here.

Eivor sure seems interested in books. Just how many “books of knowledge” are in this game? What real-world books might they be? And what the heck happened to them all?

The Ravensthorpe Library is a fan fiction piece encoded and hidden in a collections of texts inspired by the ridiculously deep and wide bookishness of AC: Valhalla.

Legends, history, folklore, myth — for a book nerd, this game is Valhalla indeed. It seems like every other line is a reference to something, and that’s not even counting all of Eivor’s Havamal quotes. (Spoiler warning: what better way to learn the wise sayings of Odin than to jack into the animus and hear them first hand?)

Right from the beginning, the fan base got into linguistic fun. Someone translated the runes in the teaser shortly after it came out. The Isu language was just cracked. There’s plenty for a language lover to get into in AC: Valhalla, be it ogham text, norse runes, Latin church chants, or apparently inscrutable Welsh.

The Ravenshorpe Library is a collection inspired by the world of the game. The gnostic texts Eivor finds, poetry she reads, saints whose legend she hears, mythic events she witnesses — there was plenty to choose from, and it was an absolute blast to gather.

And hidden in the text is an encrypted message, a tale of the Assassins and the fate of Eivor’s personal library (which, by the way, deserves its own building). The little volume is part puzzle book, part fan fiction, and 100% a labor of respect and love for the amount of work the team put into the text of AC: Valhalla and the faith they show in the players by leaving us breadcrumbs which lead to a better understanding of the setting. I mean, Guthlac A and B? Harek Gand? These are some deep cuts I never would have even come close to hearing of were it not for the clues left in-game.

Now, I did a similar project for AC: Revelations an age ago. Pulling together The Sartor Classics was a bit different, since the list of books was given explicitly. This one had more of a feeling of sleuthing and discovery as I scavenged dusty corners of the internet looking for the texts being referred to. I hesitate to say how much time I spent trying to figure out which translation of the Bible was used for the quotes in-game. (Note: I’m still not sure). I can only hope got some benefit from the clicks.

For Sartor, I sent a copy of the book to Ubisoft. I had no contacts, so I picked a person from the credits whose job seemed like it might be the best bet. It made its way to the narrative team and Darby McDevitt, which was great fun. That odd stunt may have been a one-time deal — with lockdowns, who knows if anyone is even in the office these days?

Either way, I’ve got some reading to do!

books in games

Three (More) Literary Works Worth A Play-Through

You really must get over to this blog and read the author’s response to the hope-chest which EA’s Dante’s Inferno has ope’d.  5 books he’d like to see made into games, albeit with tongue firmly placed in cheek.  He asks “Which great works would you like to play through?”, and I, of course, live to serve.

Around the World in 80 Days, Jules MF Verne  Play as intrepid adventurer Phineas Fogg as he saves beautiful women, dodges lawmen, and sails across the Great Plains.  Think Uncharted, but with more gentlemanliness.

Utopia, Sir Thomas More.  The city-builder title.  Convince the citizens they are happy while you take their children away and enslave all the criminals.

Histories, HerodotusCall of Duty + 300 – naked dudes = awesome.

books in games

The DSi XL: Nintendo’s E-book Reader?

I don’t know if you’ve heard, but Nintendo is releasing yet another version of the DS this year:  The DSi XL.  If the name doesn’t give it away, allow me to explain: it’s the DSi, but bigger. 

The latest in the Iwata Asks series of interviews has some info as to the design concepts, including a bit of discussion as to the name:

Iwata: I feel that I owe everyone an apology with regards to the name. Just when the ship was getting ready to leave harbor, I caused it to capsize. If you want, you can disclose here the terrible state we got into regarding the name. (laughs)
Kuwahara: (laughs) When Fujino-san, another designer and I were coming up with the name, we thought about it together in secret.

Fujino: We considered a lot of names, didn’t we? Nintendo DSi Comfort, Nintendo DSi Executive…

Kuwahara: Nintendo DSi Premium was also suggested.

Iwata: I seem to remember that Nintendo DSi Living was also suggested… (emphasis mine)

Kuwahara: But none of those names were really any good…

Iwata: Right. I don’t mean to be rude to the people who thought up those names, but that’s how I felt. There’s also the fact that when Japanese people think up names in English, they are going to sound strange to English native speakers but then when people from overseas suggest things, they won’t quite sound right to Japanese ears. That’s how we hit upon one name to use worldwide: Nintendo DSi XL, at least at one time.

Ok, cool.  There’s some discussion going on about the DS as a lifestyle product, and I assume it comes as no surprise that I’m geared up about this.  There is certainly some media buzz about the DSi XL possibly being Nintendo’s attempt to break into the burgeoning e-reader market.  This site (en francais) has posted a hands-on video using the 100 Classic Book Collection software (which is still not released in the US, presumably to piss me off).

This is all well and good, but what about actual e-books?  If Nintendo has any sense, they’ll at the very least include a PDF reader and at best include all of the compatibility features of the Sony e-reader.  The SD card slot should make storage a virtual non-issue, and the dual screens could provide a unique e-reading experience — one that feels more like reading an actual book.

The DSi XL will not do particularly well in the US if it is not an e-reader.  The reaction of most potential consumers will be “Bigger?  Why would I want that?”.  Some of the more hardcore will be excited to see their favorite DS titles on a larger screen, but not many.  But if we’re given a reason to buy a Nintendo product instead of the Nook or Kindle, you know we’ll bite.

books in games

More facets of the same jewel

I’ve posted several times now about the natural combination of my two hobbies — the written word and videogames — and how I can’t seem to separate the two. During my brief but passionate stint in Second Life, I found myself in digital libraries holding digital book-readings. My ardor for the Final Fantasy series reached new heights when FFIII let me use weighty tomes as weapons. The codex-toting archaeologists in Lego Indy found themselves in heavier rotation than was really necessary. On the Rain-slick Precipice of Darkness features Tycho reading at all times, even when shooting evil in its grinning maw, and I just naturally had to unlock his super-weapon.

So, what about Warcraft? Oh yes, gentle reader, I have found a way.

When you’re not killing things in Warcraft, you have a profession. That’s right, a job in a fantasy world. Where’s the fantasy in that, you ask? Well, my profession is Inscription. I make ink and write runes on scraps of paper. These “glyphs” have, unsurprisingly, magic properties, and I sell them for a more-than-tidy profit.

And, as if that wasn’t enough, with the right training and some luck, a scribe like myself can make books. Big old grimoires that lend mighty powers to their holders. For example, I now carry around a book that lets my breathe fire. Fire breath! From holding a book! Marvelous.

The trouble is, sometimes my digital adventures creep into my waking life*. It’s all I can do to take my bright, modern-feeling home office and redecorating it like this:

It’s actually not all that far off, now that I think about it.

*videogames are far more restful for me than sleep. Ask around.

books in games

Lost in his own museum

Not all that long ago I was hooked by a game that allowed me to play as a character who liked books. Now I find myself deep into LEGO Indy, in which archaeologist characters can get by certain puzzles by decrypting hieroglyphs. They carry books around. I… I just can’t stop.