The Story Behind Building Truly Authentic Baghdad in Assassin's Creed Mirage

Assassin's Creed Mirage offers an incredibly authentic and immersive ninth-century experience in the city of Baghdad, with its faithfully portrayed language, beautifully designed mosques, and the culturally significant presence of veiled women reflecting the deep influence of Islam.

Assassin's Creed Mirage, developed by Ubisoft Bordeaux and published by Ubisoft on October 5, is an action-adventure game that serves as the thirteenth major installment in the famous Assassin's Creed series. It follows in the footsteps of its predecessor, 2020's Assassin's Creed Valhalla, continuing the immersive and thrilling gameplay experience that fans have come to expect from the franchise.

If you have already dived into the new world of Assassin's Creed Mirage, you probably have noticed how beautiful the city of Baghdad is. Recently, Ubisoft has shared details about the development process behind the creation of authentic ninth-century Baghdad.

Image credit: Ubisoft, Assassin's Creed Mirage

During the development of Assassin's Creed Mirage, Ubisoft Bordeaux sought to create a true-to-life representation of Baghdad during the Abbasid Caliphate, a golden age of Islamic civilization. To ensure cultural, religious, and historical accuracy, Ubisoft enlisted the expertise of three employees: Mohammed Alemam, Localization and Social Media Manager at Ubisoft MENA, Malek Teffaha, Diversity, Inclusion, and Accessibility Senior Manager of Project Management, and Maya Loréal, Senior Manager, Inclusive Games and Content.

Working in collaboration with Ubisoft's Humanities & Inspiration taskforce, led by Thierry Noël, the team also invited historians Dr. Raphaël Weyland and Maxime Durand, as well as Strategic Alliances Director Amy Jenkins. Alemam and Teffaha served as consultants, providing crucial insights and guidance throughout the game's development process, while Loréal handled relationships.

Rather than simply checking existing work, Alemam and Teffaha were involved in building a comprehensive lexicon of authentic expressions, words, pronunciations, spellings, and audio recordings. They meticulously reviewed scripts and voice actor recordings to ensure accuracy in the portrayal of the game's cultural and historical elements. The development team placed great trust in their expertise and valued their contributions.

Image credit: Ubisoft, Assassin's Creed Mirage

Alemam and Teffaha emphasize that their work would not have had such an impact without the dedication and commitment of the Ubisoft Bordeaux team. The development team prioritized authenticity and actively sought guidance when encountering uncertain elements. Alemam and Teffaha felt like true partners in the creative process, collaborating with the narrative, art, and gameplay teams to bring an authentic experience to players.

Image credit: Ubisoft, Assassin's Creed Mirage

Ensuring authenticity in Assassin's Creed Mirage's storytelling involved accurate Arabic pronunciation, even in the English version. Mohammed Alemam, a localization manager with extensive Arabic language expertise, recorded audio of himself pronouncing every Arabic word and had a dialect coach present during recording sessions to assist actors. Additionally, actors of various Middle Eastern nationalities were chosen to portray key characters, allowing them to naturally infuse Arabic nuances even when speaking English.

The decision to cast Lebanese-born actor Lee Majdoub as the younger Basim in Mirage was driven by the desire for authenticity. The team sought an actor who could better represent the character, particularly in situations where he is more likely to speak Arabic. This choice ensured a more genuine portrayal of the character and his cultural background compared to his appearance in Assassin's Creed Valhalla.

"It's the most ambitious Arabic localization in games, period. The goal for us is that when you play it in Arabic, you're not going to think 'this was translated from English' it's going to sound and feel as if it was done in Arabic from the beginning," stated Alemam.

Image credit: Ubisoft, Assassin's Creed Mirage

Assassin's Creed Mirage creates an immersive world deeply influenced by Islam, featuring mosques, veiled women, and characters reciting the shahada. The game's portrayal of the Adhan, played once a day instead of the real-life five times, communicates its scheduled nature. Mirage also educates players through its History of Baghdad feature, covering topics like the five pillars of Islam, marking a milestone in AAA productions.

The game's commitment to cultural authenticity goes beyond narrative, with Layth Sidiq's Grammy-nominated music, Arabic calligraphy by Hatem Arafa for the Assassin Crest, and ninth-century art-inspired wanted posters. This attention to detail and authenticity resonates with Mohammed Alemam, making it more than just a job but a passionate endeavor. Players are captivated by Mirage's rich open world, where the sounds of the oud and diverse cultural influences create an unparalleled immersive experience.

For more information, you can read the original article here. Also, Ubisoft Toronto is hiring, if you'd like to join the team and work on truly remarkable projects, here are the current openings

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