The Animus (plural: Animi) is a virtual reality machine developed, and eventually commercialized, by Abstergo Industries. It allows the user to read a subject's genetic memory and project the output onto an external screen in three dimensions.
The machine was notably used in Abstergo's Animus Project and the Animi Training Program. The former analyzed the genetic memories of several select subjects, usually to gain information on the Assassin Brotherhood or Pieces of Eden, while the latter was used for the training of Abstergo employees.
A newer model of the Animus, known as the Animus Omega, was distributed commercially by Abstergo as an entertainment console. It was compatible with video games consisting of recorded memories, and was intended to be used to influence the general public on the behalf of the Templars.
During the 1930s, the Templars underwent the construction of a mysterious device in Norway using the "Uranprojekt", the atomic program of the Nazis, as a cover for their operation. Led by SS General and Templar Gero Kramer, the project aimed to create a machine that allowed a user to view their ancestors' memories. Using knowledge obtained from an Apple of Eden to develop the device, the Order's main goal was to delve into the genetic memories of captured Assassins, in order to locate the Pieces of Eden with which their ancestors had been in contact.
Initially designed by Nikola Tesla, Die Glocke was an anti-gravity system capable of generating a wormhole, which is a window on the past of the individual seated on the device's chair. Tesla was able to construct the machine by coupling his own inventions with technologies stolen from the Allies by the Nazis. The Apple of Eden was also integrated into Tesla's invention with the energy produced by the heavy-water reactor being channeled into it. A dozen times bigger than what would become its successor, Die Glocke earned its name because its central part had the shape of a bell.
By 1943, the proto-Animus was operational with Kramer using it on himself. However when the Templar tried to use it on the Assassin Eddie Gorm, something went horribly wrong. Due to Gorm's 21st century descendant, Maxime, reliving his memories in the Animus at the same time the machine was activated, their consciousnesses were switched across time and they woke up in each other bodies.
The Animus Project
The Animus was created by Abstergo Industries in the latter half of the 20th century, basing it on previously discovered First Civilization technology. Although at least partially influenced by the discovery of the Memory Seals, the software architecture used by the Animus was not based upon them. Dr. Warren Vidic's leading authority on genetic memory guided the machine's development and so he became the overseer of the Animus Project.
While working in Moscow in 1977, William Miles stole a copy of an early Animus blueprint, but was chased by Templars. Meeting the fellow Assassin Medeya Voronina in the city zoo, William gave her the designs before making his escape, telling her to build the Animus before the Templars could and to keep him informed of her progress. The woman, who was an Assassin scientist in nearby Protvino, was eventually able to build her own machine off of these plans.
The earliest known use of an Animus was in 1980, when Dr. Vidic began his experiments with an unknown male codenamed Subject 1. It was from these sessions that Abstergo was eventually able to extract the genetic memories of Aveline de Grandpré. Unfortunately, the Animus was extremely unstable, causing the subject to go into a fatal seizure. To counter the setback, Vidic wiretapped the offices and laboratories of his colleague Aileen Bock, using her work with the Surrogate Initiative to further his own research.
By 1983, Vidic had developed a more stable version of the Animus and used it to manipulate the genetic memory of Subject 4 of the Animus Project, who was dubbed Daniel Cross. Since then, the machine has gone through several major cosmetic and technical alterations, but even by 2012, Abstergo had not yet managed to perfect it.
Meanwhile, Vononina had successfully constructed her own Animus. From there, she began testing it on her fellow Assassins in her cell. However, most of them lost their minds, unaware of the effects of prolonged exposure to the Animus. In an effort to understand more about the machine, the woman subjected herself to the Animus, but also went mad, leading her to eventually force every member of her cell into the machine. Only her daughter Galina kept her sanity, as the cell quickly became little more than a band of feral killers, losing all contact with the outside world.
By 2000, the appearance of the Animus bore a resemblance to a chair, and required a lot of external wiring to properly function. This version of the Animus was used by Daniel Cross upon his return to Abstergo's Philadelphia facility in November of 2000.
In the two subsequent years, the machine underwent major technological and visual changes yet again. As noted by Vidic's assistant Dr. Sung, subjects who were used to the model commissioned in 2000 would have difficulty interfacing with the newer model. The newer model bore a closer resemblance to a bed and had a chrome-colored appearance, though a cushion was nonetheless used for the subject's comfort.
By 2002, Abstergo had also begun to produce Animi in greater numbers. A large Animi room had been created in their Philadelphia facility, and another one later in their Rome facility. The Animi room in Philadelphia was utilized to relive the memories of Assassins captured during the Great Purge, including Paul Bellamy.
Over the course of the next ten years, the appearance of the Animus only received minor updates. In 2002, the Animus had been updated to version 1.28, and was created to be more comfortable than previous models. This model was notably used for the Animus Project inside the Rome facility's laboratory, and later in the Animi Training Program in the Rome facility's Animi room.
When in use, the Animus rotated a glass panel over the head of the user, on which the genetic memories being accessed were projected. The Animus 1.28 was not very energy-efficient, however, and was prone to overheating after extended use; upon overheating, the machine's blue lighting flashed orange instead. Despite this, the model remained in-use without any upgrades for a decade, other than cosmetic changes.
The Animus 2.0 was an upgraded model of the Animus that had been developed by the Assassins in 2012. According to its developer and maintainer, Rebecca Crane, who affectionately nicknamed the machine "Baby", stated that her version of the machine was much better than the ones which were used at Abstergo. She had began to develop it with partial schematics sent by Lucy Stillman, the Assassins' spy at Abstergo, and had improvised on the rest.
The Animus 2.0 was different in many ways to the Animus 1.28, both physically and within the three-dimensional reality it projected. For example, the background color of the loading sequence changed from an icy blue to white, with the entire region of a memory slowly loading up each time one was accessed.
The external properties of the Animus also changed greatly, with the 2.0 returning to a chair-like configuration, while offering increased comfort to the user. However, due to this, a catheter in the user's arm was required, in order to access genetic memories and link the user into the Animus itself. Despite these improvements, the Animus still suffered from lagged translation software, and was unable to prevent the Bleeding Effect over prolonged use.
The new Animus model allowed for remote interaction from an outside source, which included uploading database-like information packets for the user to view. During Desmond Miles' time with the Assassins in 2012, Shaun Hastings, a historian and tactician for the Assassins, made great use of this utility, providing countless files on historical figures and locations.
The Animus 2.03 was also used as a life support system for Desmond after he had fallen into a coma, despite Rebecca's warning that the Animus was never designed to be used in this manner. At this time, Clay Kaczmarek's virtual intelligence took over the role of writing the Animus database articles.
Upon waking from his comatose state, Desmond entered the Animus 3.0 to relive the memories of yet another of his ancestors. As he did with the Animus 2.0, Shaun continued to write database entries for the Animus 3.0 system. The 3.0 upgrade was made during Desmond's time in a coma, and was mainly a software upgrade which included a new user interface and changes to the puppeteering motion controls. However, the hardware of the Animus remained the same as before.
The Animus did go through cosmetic changes, though nothing drastically different from the Animus 2.0. The main difference was that the Animus equipment, namely the head and arm rests, no longer needed to be attached to a chair in order to function, meaning that the Animus could be set up on almost any flat surface. This made it much more portable, being able to be carried down into the Grand Temple in a trio of boxes carried by Rebecca, Shaun and William Miles.
By late 2012, Animus and DDS technology had progressed to a point where it was possible to allow anybody to view the genetic memories of another individual, provided DNA was in storage.
Abstergo Entertainment, a public division of Abstergo Industries, utilized this technology by having consumers explore points of interest across history in order to obtain information, or to explore and upload their own genetic memories.
The Animus was available as a game console, offering an interactive experience similar to the Animi Training Program, or as a visor, offering a heads-up display of how people or locations appeared in the past, enabling a person to identify someone they had not seen in years. Abstergo also doctored information on the lives of historical figures they presented, leading to Erudito hacking the network to present the truth to players.
In 2013, the Abstergo Entertainment division in Montreal utilized the Animus Omega in their research and analysis of genetic memories harvested from the DNA of Desmond Miles. The project was known internally as the Sample 17 Project.
The employees of the Montreal division were told the memories would be used to explore possibilities of new settings for Abstergo Entertainment's game products, while in reality, the data was being used by Abstergo Industries to locate information on the First Civilization and the Pieces of Eden.
It was also possible to hack into the Omega model's computer core, provided the hacker possessed the proper programs to do so. From October to December of 2013, the head of the Montreal facility's IT department, John Standish, instructed an Abstergo Entertainment research analyst to hack into an Animus and download a video file for the Assassins' benefit. Afterwards, it was possible for the analyst to hack into any unguarded Animus, revealing several hidden files throughout Abstergo's mainframe.
In late 2013, Abstergo Industries made a multi-million dollar deal with Indian company MysoreTech, to release the Brahman V.R. onto the Asian market. It functioned similar to other Animus types, with the exception of being portable, and uploaded the genetic memory of all of its users into the Abstergo Cloud.
- "Looks a bit like something the Inquisition might have used back in the day, doesn't it?"
- ―Simon Hathaway on seeing the Animus 4.3, 2016[src]
In 2016, the Templars at the Abstergo research facility in Madrid were using a new kind of Animus that discarded the chair design, allowing its user to physically relive the memories of their ancestors. Anchored at the waist to a mechanical arm in a large room, the test subjects were now able to jump, run or use weapons while being in the simulation. However, it was an invasive process, requiring the use of a subcutinous epidural applied to the cervical vertebrae. The 4.3 simulator was an essential part of an Abstergo project led by Dr. Sofia Rikkin, which involved Assassin descendants such as Callum Lynch and Moussa.
By October, the Abstergo site in London was testing a prototype Animus 4.35 which, while limiting headaches, nausea, and removing the need for a needle altogether, was less immersive. It required a helmet and exoskeleton which could not be safely used without assistance, as the unpredictability of an ancestor's movements risked serious injury. The Aerie in North America later acquired a version of the 4.35 which was used as part of Abstergo's efforts to hunt down the Trident of Eden.
In September 2017, Abstergo Entertainment released a small and mobile Animus connected to the Helix servers, which was dubbed the Mobile Animus 4.38. They also released a mobile game named Rebellion along with the device, which allowed users to follow the life of the Spanish Assassin Aguilar de Nerha and his Brotherhood in the prelude to and immediate aftermath of the Granada War during the Spanish Reconquista.
By 2017, the Animus had created the HR-8 model, also called the Sarcophagus, which was a portable version of the Animus developed by the Abstergo facility in Madrid under the direction of Dr. Sofia Rikkin. Layla Hassan used this model in Egypt while exploring the genetic memories of Bayek of Siwa and Aya of Alexandria.
According to the Abstergo Animus Guide, the HR-8 could be compacted into a suitcase. For safety purposes, the epidural connection was replaced with a hematological link. Instead of relaying information solely to a user's brain like the Animus 4.3, the HR-8.5 sequenced the information stored in the user's red blood cells and transmitted data to every organ. Notably, the Isu beings known as The Messenger stated that Layla's Animus was closer than others to being able to change the past rather then just relive it as older Animi did. However, Layla dismissed this notion in her notes, insisting history was set and that the most her Animus could do would be to explore simulations of what might have been, thereby altering "historical" experience for future users.
As stated by herself, Layla built the HR-8 to enable her to access anyone's memories, "even ancestors not [her] own". She also implemented the Animus Control Panel, allowing her to modify the parameters of the simulated environment.
The Animus HR-8.5 was an updated version of the HR-8, and was co-developed with Victoria Bibeau. It featured more user-friendly options, such as the ability to further intergrate the user's sensory data, and had increased computing power and was equipped with a Brahman V.R. headset.
In October 2018, Layla Hassan used the HR-8.5 to relive the memories of Kassandra, a Spartan mercenary, in order to find more information on both the Spear of Leonidas and the Staff of Hermes Trismegistus, Isu artifacts dating back to the ancient Greek world. Two years later, she used it in a North American forest to relive the memories of the Viking shieldmaiden Eivor Varinsdottir in hopes of finding a way to stop the constant earth tremors and global aurora borealis which had persisted since the Second Disaster was prevented in 2012.
Data Dump Scanner
- "The DDS is now in sync. Thank you for your patience. We hope you'll enjoy your experience."
- ―A DDS welcome message.[src]
The Data Dump Scanner, created in 2009 by Álvaro Gramática and more commonly referred to as the DDS, was the software that, in conjunction with the Animus, allowed the user to relive extracted memories. The DDS could allow the user to relive any pre-recorded memories, regardless of whether they were blood related, through uploading the extracted memories from another person's genetic memory.
The software was invented and used by Abstergo Industries, who used it in their Project Legacy to obtain information on the Assassins and Pieces of Eden, among other things, and in their Animi Training Program to train their agents. Memories used in the projects had been previously extracted from certain individuals by the company. When combined with the Animus interface, the DDS technology paved the way for the creation of Helix.
- "When we switched the Animus control scheme to use standard videogame controls, I guessed that the subject's learning curve would improve; but the increased acclimatization rate we're seeing with these slacker types is astounding."
- ―Warren Vidic.[src]
At first, Abstergo found their test subjects having difficulty adapting to the Animus control scheme, so they changed the controls to match that of gaming consoles, projecting the controls into the users' mind and significantly improving their response rate, allowing for quicker adaption.
Despite the core of the technology merely allowing the user to view genetic memories encoded into their DNA, the Animus also allowed the user a degree of interaction with the environment they were viewing. Although this was limited in the Abstergo model, the level of interaction increased greatly in the Animus 2.0, allowing the user to choose the pace at which they progressed through the memories.
- Main article: Synchronization
As the user of the Animus was able to interact with the environment in which they were viewing, the concept of synchronization was brought into play.
Failure to follow the memories of an ancestor exactly often resulted in a temporary decrease in synchronization with said ancestor, and continuing such actions would lead to complete desynchronization. This in turn forced the user to reload the memory from an earlier point.
The Animus was designed to put up barriers when the user attempted to interact with an environment the ancestor had not entered at that particular moment in their life, and was also capable of ejecting the user in extreme cases of desynchronization.
- Main article: Bleeding Effect
Use of any variation of the Animus technology was prone to cause mental instability within its users. Prolonged use caused a condition known as the "Bleeding Effect", which blended the real-time and genetic memories of the user, transferring thoughts, skills and experiences from the ancestor to the descendant.
Time in the Animus 4.3 caused a Bleeding Effect to manifest in Callum Lynch where he perceived his ancestor Aguilar de Nerha as a phantom attacking him in his room. It even included the side-effect of temporary paralysis caused by a neurological split, which also induced a severe shock to the biology of Callum Lynch upon exiting the Animus in a sudden manner.
Animus features and functions
Beyond simulating the environment surrounding a specific memory, the Animus provides a suite of other features and functions for the users to interact with or monitor. Many of these carry over from model to model but a few are specific to certain simulations.
Animus Control Panel
The Animus Control Panel allows the user to change certain parameters within the simulation as well as select which elements show up on the Heads Up Display.
Heads-up Display (HUD)
The Animus's Heads-up Display is an overlay that allows the Animus user to monitor pertinent information without diverting attention away from the simulation.
Animus Memory Specific Heads Up Display
This overlay of the HUD allowed for passing specific constraints to a memory's synchronization.
This is the system in which the Animus user controls the simulated person's actions. This system is reflected in the Animus HUD showing the actions available given different contextual situations. Originally inputs were generally mapped alongside the body parts they controlled however later versions began mapping multiple types of interactions to a single input.
Animus Profile Concept
Through this system the Animus user can control the intensity of the simulated person's actions. By default the system is in low profile. Low profile actions are more socially acceptable, stealthy actions, while high profile actions are faster, more aggressive actions. This system dictates which actions are available through the puppeteering system.
Animus Feedback System (AFS)
Sometimes called the Animus Feedback State system, this system provides useful information about the simulation. This includes memory objectives and warnings, contextual and tutorial information, and updates which are visible on different parts of the HUD.
Animus Memory Briefing
This is a communication relay that sends mission objective information to the AFS.
Social Status Indicator (SSI)
The Social Status Indicator informs the Animus user how certain simulated characters are reacting to actions performed.
This was the default Animus menu when pausing a simulation. If a specific memory was active at that time it displayed the memory objectives. From this menu the user could interface with other menus.
This menu tracks the level of synchronization within the simulation. It lists various memories, their Synch Constraints, and various other activities and items the user needs to complete or interact with to up their synch percentage. This has been phased out in some later models, such as the Animus HR-8.
The Animus creates a map of the simulation marking points of interests for the user to peruse. It is filled out as the user explores the simulated environment. These maps and the simulations they portrayed are sometimes distorted from their real world analogues.
This feature was an insert into the HUB that pulled from the Animus map while populating it with additional elements. It has been phased out of later Animi models, such as the Animus HR-8, and replaced with different navigation overlays.
Rome Upgrade System
This system was specific to Desmond's second simulation of Ezio's life. It kept track of the establishments and structures that Ezio renovated as he wrested Rome away from Borgia control.
Black and White Rooms
These are digital spaces that a user's avatar is placed while not in the simulation proper. Memory Corridors are loading areas that make use of the White Room while the simulation is being constructed. This is also used for an aspect of Eagle Vision where a full length discussion takes place during the moment of death. A safe mode and original testing program for certain simulated features like physics and weathers make use of the Black Room. This space is not for memory simulations nor is it intended for direct human interaction.
Virtual Training Program
This feature was included in the Animus 2.03 by Rebecca Crane to help Desmond familiarize himself with the changes from the previous system. It utilized the White Room.
This was a repository of historical information provided to the user for historical context. Many teams using an animus had a dedicated historian writing these entries as their subject matter appears in the simulation.
- Animus is a Latin term referring to "the mind" in a variety of senses, ranging from the intellect, the will, or the soul.
- In Assassin's Creed, the Animus acted only as a machine and plot element, allowing Desmond to play through Altaïr Ibn-La'Ahad's memories; in Assassin's Creed II, its use was expanded. The Animus became an interface to a new world, including information about historical locations, people, and time periods. It was also developed as a modular tool, allowing Ubisoft to explore any aspect, be it additional memories, multiplayer or other content.
- A different design of the Animus was used by Jonathan Hawk in the third volume of the Les Deux Royaumes comic series. However this design is not canon.
- In the Animus 1.28, sprinting long enough during the interactive loading sequence would rid the Animus of the random pieces of data flickering around, showing only a blue, foggy expanse. Additionally, Altaïr could hit an invisible barrier.
- While replaying memory blocks in Assassin's Creed, an unusual red-beige tinted abnormality showed itself for one frame as the memory was initiated. This was the inside of Desmond's face, as the camera for the initiation sequence was shown in three ways: starting back and moving forward, starting front and moving backwards, and upside-down. When the camera moved slightly backwards, it glitched into Desmond's face. His eyebrows, nose, and lips were easily seen if the screen was frozen.
- At one point, Desmond praised the Animus 2.0 for having subtitles to make up for the laggy translation software. This was a reference to how there was no option for subtitles in the Animus 1.28. 
- Once Ezio Auditore's story was completed in Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, the option to leave the Animus was removed from its main menu due to Desmond's comatose state. 
- The option was also removed after the end of Assassin's Creed III due to Desmond's death.
- The Animus 1.28 made an appearance in every main game, up until Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag; it was used by Desmond in Assassin's Creed and Assassin's Creed II, and then by Abstergo employees in Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, Assassin's Creed: Revelations, and Assassin's Creed III. It was also showcased among the older Animus models, in the files obtained by the Abstergo Entertainment research analyst, in Black Flag.
- Assassin's Creed: Conspiracies
- Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag
- Assassin's Creed
- Assassin's Creed Initiates
- Assassin's Creed: The Fall – Issue #3
- Assassin's Creed: The Chain
- Assassin's Creed II – Modern day
- Assassin's Creed: The Essential Guide
- Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood – Modern day
- Assassin's Creed: Revelations – Modern day
- Assassin's Creed III – Modern day
- Assassin's Creed III: Liberation
- Assassin's Creed: Brahman
- Assassin's Creed film
- Assassin's Creed: Heresy – Chapter 3
- Assassin's Creed: Last Descendants – Tomb of the Khan
- Assassin's Creed: Rebellion
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- Assassin's Creed: Origins – The Empirical Truth: "Oun-mAa Niye Rassoot"
- Assassin's Creed: Valhalla – The Messengers: "Isu Messengers VI"
- Assassin's Creed: Origins – Modern day
- Assassin's Creed: Odyssey – Modern day
- Assassin's Creed: Valhalla – Modern day
- Assassin's Creed: Syndicate – Database: Álvaro Gramática
- Assassin's Creed: Project Legacy
- Assassin's Creed game manual
- Asfahani, Tamer (11-10-2009). IGTV: Behind The Scenes - Assassin's Creed 2. Inc Gamers. Archived from the original on November 14, 2009. Retrieved on January 15, 2010.