AC Community Questions: ActualSpider-Man // IMHOZen1 (Writer for TOWCB)
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For this round of Assassin's Creed Community Questions, we invited ActualSpider-Man from TOWCB Writing Team.
Col: Thanks for joining us today! Please could you tell us a little bit about yourself and your role within the Assassin's Creed Community.
ActualSpider-Man: It’s an honor, thank you so much for having me! I go by a few anonymous names online: Some know me as IMHOZen1 (“I am a chosen one”), a few have heard the name “Peter Parkour”, but most know me as Your Friendly Neighborhood Mentor, ActualSpider-Man.
For the better part of 5 years now, I’ve been attempting to untangle the entire twisted, time-hopping web of secrets and history scattered across Assassin’s Creed into a single thread of a chronological, what I like to call “Temporized” timeline. To make a long story short, I try to make Assassin’s Creed make sense in a linear fashion. Now I get to flex those same muscles, writing for TOWCB!
Col: When did you first get involved within the AC Community, and how did it all start?
ActualSpider-Man: Well, to answer that requires a bit of history: The AC obsession originally bit me when getting the first game on PS3 in 2007, and it’s been my favorite franchise to collect ever since. I’ve always loved the incredible depths each entry went to allow us to experience historical events we’ve all heard about, but my self-imposed “responsibility” of unraveling it all was an idea spurred on by the artist of my AC tribute tattoo, who wanted to hear anecdotes while he inked me, and made me realize I had waaay too much “useless” knowledge about this series to not do something with it. However, what truly kicked off my desire to Temporize everything came from seeing many similar questions and confusions from fans on r/AssassinsCreed where I had been a silent lurker for years - specifically about when certain games or media would fit in the timeline. So I took it upon myself to try and answer any and all chronological questions of “who did what when, with which Piece of Eden, for whose cause?” by creating my first Codex Temporis, Latin for “Book of
Time,” in 2018, and people seemed to really enjoy it, along with those that knew more cluing me in on plenty I had missed in that first draft. Non-stop since then, I’ve been expanding and correcting those findings to encompass as much fictional and real-world history as I can, working with other super-sleuths under the mantra, “With great Assassin knowledge comes great responsibility to the Creed!”®
Col: What do you consider to be your top Assassin's Creed Community moment?
ActualSpider-Man: Oh, man! You mean apart from scoring the chance to join TOWCB? I’ve had a few very lucky happenstances, but by far the most jaw-dropping Community-fueled moment to happen to me has to be teaming up with a couple other Isu language aficionados (shoutouts to u/bool0011 and u/bpotatoes for their
invaluable insights!), who helped me build my Isu-to-English dictionary Codex Transferendum, Latin for “Book of Translation,” which we then utilized the words and rules discovered to attempt to say the Assassin motto, “Nothing is true, everything is permitted” in Isu! Our powers combined were shared to Twitter and Reddit, where the developer that built the Isu language for Valhalla, Antoine Henry, not only came to our aid on both platforms with the correct way to phrase it, but even gave us an exclusive word for “permit” (‘zàrh’) that isn’t seen anywhere else in Assassin’s Creed!!!
The implications of the Assassin motto being spoken in Isu are worthy of spinning theories all their own, but for those that may not even know it exists, the full Isu phrase looks, sounds and gets broken down like this:
Col: Have you always enjoyed writing, and how much research goes into one of your Codex projects?
ActualSpider-Man: I’ve whiled away countless hours as an avid artist and word smith since childhood, be it drawings, stories, essays, poetry, music; no matter the form, I’ve found creative endeavors to be the most cathartic ways to express myself - if my rambling doesn’t get in the way, that is. What’s funnier is I used to dread history classes in school, and only through researching the franchise did I learn to love learning about it! If more world history and social studies teachers were as engaging as AC, I think more people would stay awake during lessons! As for time spent on my projects, it might be easier to express in months or years, as daunting as it sounds… Codex Temporis 1.0 was released in 2018 after about 5 straight months of hardcore research, while Codex Temporis 2.0 took another 2 years of compiling to come out in 2020.
My Codex Transferendum was built through 6 months of Isu language practice, and now Codex Temporis 2.01 is about ready to release with another 3 years worth of findings including all that added in. But this series is like a near-infinite jigsaw puzzle: There’s ALWAYS more tidbits to piece together and put in place, to the extent that I can see myself unwinding the tapestry for as long as Ubisoft keeps the franchise going, and probably even then some! If you’re wondering just how much of my week is spent researching & writing though, I’d say for the last 5 years it’s been at least 10hrs/week if not more when something’s really caught my attention! In my defense, I justify spending all that time so other fans won’t have to - and so I won’t need to do it again - so it’s all worthwhile to me!
Col: Do you have any project plans for 2023?
ActualSpider-Man: Even if you’ve only heard of me up to here, you might guess by now I’m always spinning several plates, trying to balance my many avenues of relaying AC fun-facts and such, though “Parkour luck” often skews to my best laid plans’ detriment… So without dedicating any hard dates to anything just yet to avoid Murphy’s Law, I do have enormous updates to both Codex Temporis (2.01) and Codex Transferendum (2.0.2) in the works, alongside more focused articles for TOWCB, as well as those findings turned into scripts to revamp visually for my YouTube channel, so stay tuned for more on all that!
Col: Do you have any personal AC goals you would like to achieve?
ActualSpider-Man: I’ve always wanted to have my PSN profile show platinum for every AC that has trophy support on PlayStation. I have a 100% sync save for AC1 before trophies were implemented - I never owned it for Xbox 360 for the achievements - and my first ever platinum trophy was for AC II back on PS3, having since gotten the platinum again for AC II and Brotherhood in the Ezio Collection and Origins & Odyssey’s platinums on PS4. While I’ve spent dozens if not hundreds of hours beating all the rest, I’ve still got a long way to go to re-complete and earn every trophy out there, with some of my saves in the past going to other friends’ or console’s profiles, so that’s something I’ll have to one day grind back out to get full synchronization!
Col: Which game would you consider to be your favourite?
ActualSpider-Man: While I’ve grown to adore every entry for differing reasons, from AC1’s foundations, II’s literal birth of an icon that punches the Pope, Revelations’ seamless blend of stories across centuries, III’s history hitting close to home, Black Flag’s blue-watered beauty, Rogue’s enigmatic secrets, Unity’s parkour, Syndicate’s campiness, Origins’ emotional moments, Odyssey’s meme-able moments, through to Valhalla’s Isu Era history and language, I always circle back to how - in my humble opinion - even compared to games today, Brotherhood is a master class in quest design. The scope of the locale was big, and goes beyond Rome’s borders, but wasn’t as gigantic or filled with fluff as the newer titles. Every memory, whether main story or a contract or side content, even the ones set before the main events like the Cristina memories, all have direct impact on the narrative whole, and fill in holes and questions left by AC II in a way that isn’t just “filler” or “more AC II”, but a BETTER AC II. One where Ezio’s at the top of his game as an unstoppable killing machine, who’s also a less brash and bold, more level-headed, philosophical, pensive and wisened Mentor of the Brotherhood. We got to see Ezio grow to surpass his father’s greatness before him, and got to feel like WE built and trained the Assassin recruits to be as deadly as him, culminating in some of the most important beats in the Modern Day storyline like witnessing the last time we’d hear Kristen Bell voice Lucy Stillman - and that’s without mentioning the best multiplayer in the series - certainly cements Brotherhood as my #1 favorite of the franchise. So much so that I have 3 different PS3 variants (a regular cased copy, a sealed Dr. Malfatto Jack-in-the-Box edition, and the Codex Edition), and didn’t mind buying it a 4th time for the PS4’s Ezio Collection!
Col: Do you have a favourite piece of Assassin's Creed merchandise?
ActualSpider-Man: Actually, I have “2” - or “21” if you wanna get technical - that are too special to me to split up here: I made a friend across the pond in the UK through my research that was kind enough to buy 16 of the Official Collection figurines and ‘zines and send them to me in the States. I then of course immediately paid them back in full, but this was the only way I could get some of those elusive reads and hand-painted figures in my own collection, having only been released in that side of the world. The other are the 5 Brotherhood of Venice figures another good friendo I know state-side painted for me, the posse of Ezio in Altaïr’s Armor and the core Venetian crew of Alessandra, Benedicto, Claudio, and Dariâ done up to look game-accurate in their black robes, and I’m utterly amazed by the details on my painted mini Assassins Brotherhood!
Col: Have you visited any of the locations from the games?
ActualSpider-Man: I have been to a handful of spots in my home country! I’ve passed through Louisiana on a family trip as a kid, had a layover in Denver International Airport and walked some of the Revolutionary War battlefields in a couple of our 13 colonies on the eastern seaboard. But sadly I did not find the Fountain of Youth when I went down to Florida, nor have I had the chance to visit the Grand Temple in Turin, and haven’t travelled across the Atlantic to any AC locales below or further to the east… yet, fingers crossed! I would absolutely leap at the chance to sight-see Egypt’s many wonders, or backpack across Italy, especially to visit Monteriggioni, Il Colosseo and Il Vaticano!
Col: Which Assassin's Creed character would you say you have the most in common with?
ActualSpider-Man: I’d like to think Desmond and I are somewhat kindred spirits, having a take on his tattoo on my own skin; we both were so naive to all the history until it was flooded into our brains so quickly that there was no way not to come out on the other side a lot more analytical and understanding. And if you know about the aftermath of his fate, I kinda feel like The Reader too, now being able to use all my findings to pluck at the branches of the Calculator of Futures and peer into time whenever and wherever I please, thwipping through my Codex projects.
Col: If you could retcon / change a piece of Assassin's Creed lore, what would it be and why?
ActualSpider-Man: I could go the extra-cheesy route and say that Ubisoft should’ve let us defeat Juno in-game in the Modern Day rather than reading about it in Uprising - though if my handle isn’t enough giveaway, I’m a huge comic nerd too, so I really didn’t mind that all too much, having been in the major minority of those who followed the comics during releases. Or that there’s a handful of things I consider “wrong” written on the fandom wiki. But there is a small, offhanded bit of lore from the words of narrative director Darby McDevitt himself that I wholeheartedly disagree with, and refuse to acknowledge in my headcanon of Isu geography: Darby once said, “Jotunheim is not in North America.” I disagree. There are simply far, far, FAR too many numerous allusions and outright canon connections to the Grand Temple being referenced and visited in Jotunheim’s citadel of Utgard, along with landmarks that line up when overlayed with Vinland, that I can never concede to his “opinion” on that front. In my Codex, Jotunheim, Vinland, and Turin, NY are all the same place, and I go into more depth on that “debate” as well.
Col: Are you excited for the launch of Assassin's Creed Mirage?
ActualSpider-Man: I am very excited for what they say will be a return to form with a more focused narrative on a reasonably sized map, and of course I’m intrigued to see where they go with the Modern Day and Isu plot lines with so much cliff hanging off Valhalla’s endings, but I am still trying to keep my excitement tempered with all the too-good-to-be-true news floating around this early in development without gameplay to go on. Though I can’t deny, an Aladdin-style AC revolving around a young street-urchin Basim sounds like more fun than 40 thieves!
Col: What would be your dream setting for the upcoming AC Netflix TV series?
ActualSpider-Man: This is tough… There’s so many good choices they have yet to cover! My overly-analytical self wants to factor in that Michael Fassbender has been claimed to be on the live action Netflix project, but there was also tellings that he wasn’t going to reprise his role as Callum Lynch in this series, which makes me kinda wanna see him try the Spaniard accent some more for something fresh. Like maybe instead of Aguilar, we could see a different descendant between Aguilar and Cal? Maybe a Spaniard Assassin that gets mixed up in the conquests of Aztec/Incan/ Mayan areas in 16th century Mesoamerica? Or in a perfect world, he’d use his natural Irish accent to fill the open shoes of the 1919-1921 Irish War of Independence Assassin that headlines the once-mentioned Helix project, ‘Hell in Hibernia’! If either of these grain of salt context clues line up in the finished product, I’ll eat my mask, but I’d enjoy each bite!
Col: Where can our community members find you online?
ActualSpider-Man: You can thwip on over to my Twitter @Spider_Mentor, wall crawl into the shadows of my subreddit at r/CodexTemporis for more frequent updates on all my projects or to posit your own queries and theories, tune in to a few early lessons and listen to a few Ezio’s Family mashups on my YouTube channel @actualspider-man9004, or subscribe and all that jazz for much more to come on Isu Geography and Language 101, as well as deep lore dives there in the near future - I swear, they’re coming! I might randomly swing in to stream on Twitch @ActualSpider_Man, or if you ever wanna play a friendly round of Rocket League, my PSN handle is ActualSpider-Man, ditch the space, respect the hyphen!
Thanks again, Col and TOWCB for the opportunity to share my insanity with you all, and always remember:
ṇoænos wahæáid oænosr zàrhṇdichṛ
• Your Friendly Neighborhood Mentor ;)
We would like to say a huge thank to ActualSpider-Man for joining us for this interview!