The more gameplay footage I see, the more excited I become for Dishonored — a game that truly seems to exist in its own little vacuum. As corny as it sounds, I'm looking forward to playing a video game that doesn't signpost every step of the way, or funnel down a series of corridors. Speaking to Games Industry International, Arkane's Harvey Smith provided an insight into the kind of game they hope Dishonored will become, and the kind of game they don't want to make.
"We think about the player experience we want and we go for that - not a cinematic experience, but an interactive experience," said Smith. "[If] you're following a trail of breadcrumbs left by the designer it's the same experience every time, and two different people will have exactly the same experience. The goal is cinematic action, which is a terrible goal for games. Really, if you're making a game the goal should be improvisation.
"There are many ways to be successful. You could go out and aim for a very mainstream story, make it look like a Hollywood adventure movie, have the best dialogue and voice-acting ever, and the smoothest animations ever, and put this likeable American male in a variety of epic situations - hanging from a train, or whatever - and you can capture an audience that way and be very successful. I mean, I didn't like that particular game, but all of my friends did.
"On the other hand, you can be completely rock 'n' roll about it and say, 'Fuck it, we're gonna do everything different from everyone else. We're driven by this one impulse creatively.' You can be successful, or fail, either of those ways. At a certain point, I came to mistrust formulas, because I've seen so many examples of people failing or succeeding by following a certain blueprint."
It's very easy to criticise other games — even top quality productions like Uncharted (which Smith seems to be referring to) but I always get a little narky when a developer insists that one specific direction is the correct way to go. I like variety in my gaming experiences, and there are times when I do prefer the easy, on-rails experience of a game like Uncharted — and I think it's wrong to say that developers can't be ambitious or push boundaries within that template.
That said — I ultimately prefer the kind of emergent gameplay that Arkane is clearly attempting to create with Dishonored, and I admire the way in which Arkane is going about realising that unique vision. Rock and roll, I guess!
Dishonored: No Marines, No Elves, No Bank Heists [Games Industry International]