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Interview: Why Dishonored is the thinking man's FPS

We talk to Ricardo Bare, Arkane Studios' lead technical designer

Dishonored is a new first-person game from Arkane Studios. It's set in a gloomy, atmospheric steampunk world, and sees you using supernatural abilities to assassinate targets. We talked to Ricardo Bare from Arkane about how the game's complex systems and creative gameplay will work.

What's your goal with Dishonored?

We want to put a lot of control and creativity in the player's hands. Those are the games we like to play, so they're the games we want to make. We have guys on the team who worked on Deus Ex, Arx Fatalis, and Dark Messiah of Might and Magic, which have those same important values, and we want to bring them into Dishonored.

Zoom

Games like Deus Ex and BioShock are more than just shooters because they allow you to be creative using different tools. How does Dishonored fit into this sub-genre of first-person games?

You have to have a world that is rich with interactivity, and that is very coherent. Then you have to give the player a good set of tools to allow for deep gameplay. The player has to come into a situation, look at it, make a plan, and say "This is how I'm going to do it." The rules have to operate in a predictable way. These moments can be sublime. Something you're proud of because you thought of it and implemented it, and it worked within the game's systems. That's what we want you to feel.

There are a lot of systems in the game that smart players can use to their advantage. Can you give us any examples of this that you've experienced during development?

We have lots of powers, gadgets, and spaces, so there's a lot for the player to do. The first time we saw someone jump off of a huge building and posess someone right before they hit the ground, we were like 'that is awesome'. No one had thought of that before. Or the first time someone used double jump and the blink ability to totally bypass a security system, we were like 'there went 30 minutes of gameplay in like 2 minutes', but the player doing that is gonna feel proud they did it, so we don't wanna shut that exploit down. We want the player to be able to express themselves through the gameplay.

Zoom

We loved the part where we possessed a fish. Was possession always a planned feature from the start?

Possession has always been a part of the game, but we started with people. But it eventually grew, and we decided that everything should be possessable. The programmers were like, "Uh, are you sure about that?", and it's been a challenge to get it all working, but we think we've done a good job.

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