Back in 2004 no one who would later design the hugely popular Assassin's Creed franchise even knew what they would finally end up creating. Though Assassin's Creed 1 didn't hit stores until 2007 it was three years earlier that Ubisoft began exploring several ideas that ended up eventually becoming AC.
Courtesy of artist Khai Nguyen comes a whole slew of Assassin's Creed concept art that shows that, even early on, the developers at Ubisoft had a clear idea of how they wanted their protagonist to look. This protagonist, at the time, wasn't going to be Altair necessarily — as indicated by the image with the female assassin — but the signature white robes that have pervaded the series were there from an early state, along with the series' signature weapon, the hidden blade.
It's actually funny to note that Assassin's Creed was originally going to be a Prince of Persia offshoot, with the assassins serving as the bodyguards to the prince. That idea, obviously, never took off, but a few of the concept art pieces share a similar design palette to Sands of Time.
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Another thing that's worth noting is the prevalence of horse riding and horse battling that takes place in the images. While the artists didn't know if such sequences would be possible back in 2004 they were able to create a certain sense of how battles would take place in their world both on an off a horse.
While this very Prince of Persia-inspired version of Assassin's Creed would have been interesting to play, I think fans are extremely happy with the product Ubisoft eventually put out in 2007. Many of the hallmarks of that first game, concepts that might have first been approached through these images, have continued on through the franchise — even as it changed protagonists — to the point that it would be hard to recognize an Assassin's Creed title without them.
Would you have liked Assassin's Creed better if it had been inspired by the design of Prince of Persia? Does the Prince of Persia brand still have relevance today?