During The Develop Conference, the art directors of Dishonored explained that the game wouldn't exist without years of pre-production.
Art director at Arkane Studios Sebastien Mitton and visual design director at ZeniMax Media Viktor Antonov have discussed how they came up with the world of Dishonored, and how without hours of pre-production and research the game would not exist.
"Pre-production was the crucial element," Mitton explained. "It is why the game is here today." He continued to reveal that for two years a group of staff was researching and conceptualising the game before they even considered showing it to publishers.
While the style of Dishonored has been compared to other games the pair are working on, Antonov said, "there were no specific game references. Not many people spend a lot of time to do a realistic city and then a futuristic one."
Rather than look to other games for ideas and inspiration, Mitton and Antonov traveled to London and Edinburgh taking photos of people, places objects and buildings.
Avoiding main streets, the pair stuck to alleyways and side streets, because they felt those areas best suited the game world they wanted to create.
Before choosing London as their point of reference, Mitton first asked, "how can we make something that is contemporary and cool, but also a period piece?"
London seemed the most obvious answer due to its murderous past - Jack The Ripper - and it had "a lot of Steampunk and a lot of science fiction associations, but hadn't been used much recently. London is both exotic and familiar to Americans and Europeans."
The focus of Dishonored lays in the city, but the city does not constitute the entire gameworld. "We were trying to design the game from a rat's viewpoint," said Mitton. "If we have a small city, from a constrained viewpoint, what are all the different angles that we can explore?"
Antonov describes Dishonored as being "not about quantity but instead quality and density of experience."