Dishonored Designer: ‘No One Ever Pressured Us’ To Add Multiplayer

Dishonored Designer: ‘No One Ever Pressured Us’ To Add Multiplayer

Dishonored has no multiplayer. At all. That’s right: it’s both an original IP and a singleplayer-only experience. It’s the unicorn of the gaming industry.

In a world where multiplayer is viewed as the only way to make serious money off video games, Dishonored seems a strange exception. So when talking to Dishonored director Harvey Smith during a phone interview last week, I had to ask: did he ever feel pressured to add multiplayer?

“I’ve been at a lot of publishers,” Smith said. “I’ve worked in games for 18 years. I’ve worked independently at times; I’ve worked in big teams, small teams. And I can honestly tell you, no smoke, that this is the smartest group of executives I’ve ever worked with.”

He’s talking about Bethesda, the publisher that financed and helped put out Dishonored. And he attributes part of Bethesda’s success to the way that they work with creative designers like Skyrim auteur Todd Howard.

“If you look at the success of Fallout and Skyrim and games like that, this is a group of people who have just sort of grown up in the industry trusting creative talent,” Smith said. “And it was such a good fit for [Dishonored developer] Arkane, we still are pinching ourselves. And so when we walked into meetings with all these guys… and we started talking about Dishonored, you know, it was very strange. Like it’s clearly outside their comfort zone at times. And so it’s a first-person action game with RPG elements and a stealth system. We talked at length about why view cones and simulation were important to us. We started making this art style that everybody was like, ‘Wow what is this?'”

“It was very nerdy and very weird and very novel I guess,” he said. “And at every step along the way those guys have supported us… This is as close as you’ll get to me saying that I have not had that experience with other publishers I’ve worked with, who forced us to bolt on multiplayer, or who said inane things like ‘First-person perspective doesn’t tell!’ or ‘RPGs don’t sell!’ I can tell you from the inside, 18 years, that this is a crazy, crazy business.

“Long story short: No one ever pressured us to do that. We told them that this was an aggressively single-player game, and they said alright, we moved forward, and that was it.”

OK, but did Smith himself ever think multiplayer could be an interesting addition to a game like Dishonored?

“I never — [co-designer Raphael Colantonio] and I, once in a while we’d start meetings with the team by saying ‘Well, guys, we have an announcement: we’re going third-person and we’re gonna add multiplayer!'” he said.

“We could probably envision the kind of game that would be fun to do co-op or whatever, but frankly, we are driven mostly by what we’d like to play… We’re going after a specific experience that we think we a hard sell 20 years ago, but moving forward, people are hungry for depth. And adding multiplayer to that might harm that in some way, I dunno. Our goals all along were singleplayer.”


  • To be honest I thought Bethesda had lost it when it came out they were making a Elders Scrolls MMO. Good to see they aren’t entirely looney yet.

  • Co-op can ruin a good single player game as much as full on PvP multiplayer.. glad to see they and their respective publisher had the balls to push for a single player only game. Skyrim did it and is still seen as a major success. Borderlands 2 is a great single player game.. having the option to co-op is nice but whenever I had done co-op it’s changed the game experience dramatically… the story generally gets ignored altogether..

    Far Cry 3 is another game that is going to be single player only with multiplayer elements separated. The co-op mode is going to be a completely separate 6 to 8 hour campaign and the PvP also separated.. maybe they could do this for Dishonored at some point if there is enough “pressure” from the fans.

  • Dishonored is great as a single player game, i think in most cases MP takes away from the main story or the drive behind a good story driven game, i have to admit tho that borderlands 2 has done the co-op rather well (apart from the issues with baddas ranks).

    Dishonored Co-Op would be interesting thats for sure, allowing syncronized assasinations, or traps.
    but i think any sort of competitive MP would would take away from the feel of the game.

    games dont need multiplayer, sure i’ve sunk hundreds of hours into Cod4/blackops/borderlands 1 and 2…. but if you add up the hours i’ve spent playing Fallout 3/new vegas, morrowwind/oblivion/skyrim, deus ex:HR and now dishonored it would be well into the 1200 hour mark.

    Not to mention the time i spent playing the jrpgs back in the day.

    Multiplayer has its place and time sure, but a game doesnt need it to be more entertaining.

  • Those first two paragraphs are a bit hyperbolic. It’s really only a couple of big-name companies that have that problem. I understand the sentiment though and it’s good to see that people actually think about these things rather than just let the dollar symbols guide them.

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