The Boats In Assassin's Creed Liberation Are Actually Alligators
Modern video games look and feel so real, so full of life and nature and physics that it’s easy to forget that literally every piece of the world is created from scratch. A single leaf on a tree, multiplied to a forest's worth of foliage, all crafted by loving developers, who are probably slightly insane from the god complex that must accompany creating a whole ass world. And when it’s time for the leaves on those trees to move, and the challenge of creation reaches a different magnitude. To make a unique asset and code individual movement animations for every part of the world is simply not possible for human developers to realistically achieve. But what they can do is make things invisible and re-purpose code already in the game. Which is how you wind up with alligators piloting canoes.
Assassin’s Creed Liberation is a spin-off of Assassin’s Creed III, following a member of the Assassin order fighting for freedom in 1700’s French colonized Louisiana. AC III had a two and a half year disjointed and hellish development cycle. A combination of a new game engine and pressure to put out an annual AC title led to both games being less than perfect. While Liberation is not the most popular entry in the series, it nonetheless had some highly praised aspects, like a lady protagonist (neat!) and the series introduction of the chain kill (fun!).
Most of the assets in AC III were re-used for Liberation. Though canoes didn’t make the cut for AC III, they were put into Liberation… with hidden alligators underneath. It’s not uncommon for developers to re-use assets, and the Assassin’s Creed series even has a well-documented history of doing so; like stretching and warping the movement rigging on a in-game human skeleton into a horse for example. The assets for alligators were already coded to move through water near the surface. So when it came time to make the canoes zip around the Mississippi and its tributaries in AC Liberation, the team turned to the already coded animal kingdom and popped a canoe on top of the apex predator.