I'm Harvey Smith (Dishonored_Harvey), Co-creative Director of the game Dishonored, along with Raphael Colantonio and Arkane Studios. I've loved video games all my life and I've been working on games professionally since 1993. Specifically, I'm into first-person games that mix action, adventure and story, and that allow the player to determine pacing, creative tactics, play-style and moral approach. This is me too: https://twitter.com/Harvey1966

I’m Raphael Colantonio (Dishonored_Raphael). I’ve always had passion for first person games with depth and RPGs. I founded Arkane in '99 to make our first game: Arx Fatalis.

Go ahead and ask us anything!

And here's our proof! - http://imgur.com/CRTM8

EDIT: Wow, what an afternoon. We've never done this and it was super interesting. (We've done everything else from IRC forward...) We're going to wrap this up now, but thanks to everyone for showing up and asking great questions!

Comments: 702 • Responses: 69  • Date: 

TyroneSlothropPaper132 karma

Thank you so much for doing this AMA. I'm a tremendous fan of Looking Glass productions (Thief and System Shock in particular) and the games which follow in their tradition such as Deus Ex and the FPS-RPG genre more broadly. It's truly wonderful to be a in time where this genre and indeed, some of the same franchises are experiencing a renaissance and I thank you for what looks, and I hope, to be a stunning addition to this heritage.

I do have a few questions about Dishonored:

Firstly, much has been made of the superlative visual design of Dishonored but relatively nothing has been said of the soundtrack, what can we expect of it? Is it orchestrated or more synth-based? Persistent or triggered at certain moments? And what is the philosophy behind the sound design on Dishonored?

Secondly, The Life of the Party in Thief II remains, to my mind, one of the greatest achievements in level design in terms of scope and freedom, whilst it's apparent that Dishonored features dense and open level design, is there any map that has a comparable size or variety?

Thirdly, how much reactivity is there to player agency, outside of the discussed 'Chaos' system, for instance, in the Golden Cat walkthrough video, if you do make an assassination look like 'an accident' (windblasting someone out of a balcony unseen), will it be regarded as such in terms of narrative or NPC feedback?

Fourthly, outside of Dishonored, what upcoming games are you both excited or would like to know more about?

Thank you again for your time and I can't wait until October, just, Harvey, please... don't break my heart again, I just can't take it after Invisible War ;_;

Dishonored_Raphael101 karma

Hi, regarding the soundtrack: The musics are composed by a famous composer that we havent announced yet. more to come :)

thesundeity18 karma

john williams

Dishonored_Harvey34 karma

Haha, no. But that's actually the name of the Bethesda tech director.

Dishonored_Harvey81 karma

First question is awesome and...four parts. :)

If you like Life of the Party in Thief 2, you will like the Dishonored missions in terms of depth, combination, etc. Our missions follow the model of games like Thief or Deus Ex. It's part of our core values and our design lead - the amazing Christophe Carrier, who worked on Arx Fatalis - really shares those values.

Another thing Raf and I (and our leads) pushed for was breaking the patterns...making sure that each mission has its own character.

NeoDiamond98 karma

Has a publisher ever interfered with or overruled creative decisions regarding one of your games?

Dishonored_Harvey203 karma


Yes, in the past we've all worked with publishers who did that. One of the things we actually love about Bethesda is that they believe that a team must have its own creative vision.

NeoDiamond22 karma

Do you have any specific examples? What are the usual reasons for creative changes?

Dishonored_Harvey72 karma

People in roles outside the team (exec roles or whatever) often have very different tastes than the team or the gamers and are used to getting their way. They trust their gut and sometimes it's wrong.

glenitalia90 karma


Dishonored_Harvey195 karma

Hm, Raf and I just consulted across the room on this one...

Probably the power where you could become a shadow, 2-dimensional, and slide along walls.

chautemoc172 karma

Sounds like a game in itself.

Dishonored_Harvey206 karma


dasoeltino84 karma

How much will free running come into play? I know a lot of people including myself do enjoy acrobatic maneuvers in video games (Mirror's Edge). I'm looking forward to this game!

Dishonored_Harvey119 karma

We're not a free-running game, per se. But we've got run, sprint, slide, lean, climb and some supernatural movement options.

dasoeltino77 karma

Good enough for me! As long as I can run on rooftops

Dishonored_Harvey129 karma

You can. I feel the same.

thesundeity81 karma

i ran into one of your developers in cedar park at a subway. i just want to say sorry for getting over excited.

Dishonored_Raphael110 karma

Stevan says hi :)

PointXIV76 karma

This is awesome! I've been relishing the chance to ask some questions about Dishonored. So, without further adieu,

  1. How is working on Dishonored different than Bioshock 2?

  2. Did you draw influence from the work on Bioshock 2?

  3. Is the gameplay flow like it does in the trailers? I've been really excited since I saw the debut trailer, and it just blows my mind if it is that fast paced.

  4. Is Dishonored open world, or linear with a variety of options?

  5. How is it working with Bethesda? I'd assume they'd be great to work with, but one never knows!

I know I have more questions, but I'm blanking from excitement. Thank you for doing this!

Also I'm going to be really stupid if this is a different team than who worked on Bioshock 2.

Dishonored_Raphael92 karma

  1. We only participated to the making of Bioshock2 in the level design field. The work process itself is similar (art pipeline, level design editing), but the game has it's own player tools and values that makes the level design guidelines very different, plus we also are heavy on the stealth aspect of the game, which wasnt the case for Bioshock2.
  2. not really. I mean, obviously the experience is carried over, and we share some values. 3.totally, the trailer was deliberately thought as a game sequence.
  3. No, Dishonored is not open world, it is mission based. Each mission is built as a mini sandbox, so the missions are open and offer several paths and approaches.
  4. Bethesda is great, they have been very understanding of the kind of game we wanted to make, and very suportive. A great collaboration.

buckethead--66 karma

  • Can the game be completed with zero kills?

  • How long would a total stealth play-through take (average, estimate)?

Dishonored_Harvey97 karma

Yes, you can complete the game without killing anyone. (It was a goal of ours.) And the world reflects that to some extent.

The game is about 12-24 hours in length. The variance there is related to how directly you play (vs side quests, exploration, etc).

As players we're always trying to do things we didn't do last time. Our programmers were all trying to do crazy weird variants this week. "The Falling Angel playthrough," where you only kill by using drop-assassination.

Penismonologue32 karma

Seeing this answer I had to ask: why are studios making games so short these days. I've actually stopped buying games that'll take less than ~15 hours to finish.... I miss 30+ hour games, but the only ones these days are jrpgs....

Dishonored_Harvey117 karma

Our answer would be something like this: We are into a very specific gameplay experience that we love above all. The atmospheric hybrid of first-person, stealth, variable powers, etc. And this combination brings by definition some replayability. We squeezed everything we had into this game...we're rather make one highly variable game that takes 20 hours and can be replayed. Dishonored is just the result of our creative drives.

ThatGuyWhoWanks42 karma

What game are you looking forward to most this year and next year? (apart from Dishonored of course? :P)

Dishonored_Harvey89 karma

The Unfinished Swan. Bioshock Infinite. God of Blades.

Sinistersnare42 karma

Hey! I'm a moderator of /r/stealthgames and am so happy that this game is being made, and that you both are here to answer questions.

My question to you is: how do you feel about the lack of stealth games lately? It seems that there are very few in developement, aside from indies. Do you think that AAA's are afraid to make stealth games?

Sorry for bad spelling and such. On mobile, and don't want to miss this opportuntiy!

Dishonored_Harvey50 karma

I think it's harder and fewer players appreciate it, historically.

Audiosmurf33 karma

Just how open world is Dishonored?

Dishonored_Harvey95 karma

Hand-crafted missions. Not open world.

However, within a given mission, things are fairly simulated, with various pathways, powers, approaches and styles available. So you to evaluate the situation, choose an approach and a path, and execute. It feels like your story, rather than simply "following the trail of breadcrumbs left by the designer."

CaffeineIsCrack61 karma

THIS. THIS is what made thief great. This is what makes a great stealth game

Dishonored_Harvey46 karma

Thanks for appreciating that.

Articutus31 karma

How long did it take you to break into the industry and if you had no limit what type of game would you make

Dishonored_Harvey95 karma

About 6 months and honestly games like Dishonored.

Dishonored_Harvey78 karma

About 6 months and honestly games like Dishonored.

Smithburg0131 karma

I'm learning to be a programmer and I've always wondered with video games, what do you start out with? Are you coding basic stuff in C? Do you use a SDK or an established engine? How much planning goes into it before you get to the actual crafting of the game? Do you plan on having the game be closed with a set idea, or do you intend to allow things like modding?

Thanks for doing this, this is a really cool AMA :D

Dishonored_Harvey35 karma

I don't think there's one answer. I'd recommend modding or making small prototypes focused on a single gameplay mechanic. Also, meet with local indie dev groups. In Austin, we have Juegos Rancheros, a great creative social group.

Smithburg0111 karma

How did you do it for Dishonoured?

Dishonored_Harvey31 karma

We started with the Unreal Engine and a large team of tech and gameplay programmers, prototyping specific systems, playtesting and evaluating, homing in on what we wanted.

[deleted]31 karma


Dishonored_Harvey66 karma

Multi-pronged! (I love the word "pronged.")

You can collect coin to buy upgrades for weapons and gadgets.

Bone charms give you minor supernatural perks, like "you can possess white rats for longer."

Runes are the currency that you use to buy active major supernatural powers, like Bend Time, and passive supernatural enhancements, like Shadow Kill, which turns enemies to ash upon death.

BATHULK47 karma

...Are you telling me I can posses a rat and control it?

Dishonored_Harvey59 karma


djcdominic29 karma


Dishonored_Harvey57 karma

I try to stay paleo/primal. When that fails, which is does often: onion...toasted. With tons of cream cheese, salmon with lemon, capers...you're making me hungry.

Madous27 karma

What is something truly unique to Dishonored that you think gamers will love?

Dishonored_Raphael59 karma

For me it is the way the systems generate unique moments that feels unique to the player: Everytime I am surprised by the game, I gain points of happiness

snwborder5222 karma

Favorite RPG of all-time?

Dishonored_Harvey34 karma

Dungeon Master? Underworld?

There are so many great games, but I love games that mix first-person action and RPG features.

And I cite really old games because there's a point in your life where, for the first time, you play one of those and it's entirely novel. Those games blew my young mind.

"The golden age of SF is 13..." as they say.

Dishonored_Raphael25 karma

Definitely Underworld for me, then probably the Fallout serie, and the Ultima serie

zaper0029 karma

What did you think about Fallout 3 and New Vegas compared to the older games (Fallout, Fallout 2, Tactics), better?, worse?

Dishonored_Raphael35 karma

I love both for different reasons. Converting the serie from turn based/2D to realtime 1st person with VAT was brave, and I think they rocked it.

Praise6The6Sun617 karma

How'd you get into the gaming industry? What kind of eduction did you receive

Dishonored_Raphael31 karma

got lucky, it's actually a really funny story: I responded to a competition in a videogame magazine to win a trip to Texas to test a game (Ultima). instead I won a job with EA (it was a trick from EA to find employees to start the french office, there was no trip to win)

Dishonored_Harvey26 karma

I moved to a city with a game company I loved (Origin) and started applying. Once I got an interview, I shared (verbally and in written form) analysis of games and some creative writing samples. I talked at length about what games should be, imo. Also, after the military, I had management experience. It took 6 months to get on.

Technically, I'm a drop-out.

Penismonologue13 karma

Is this the way? I feel I would be an awesome producer or director on games.

Dishonored_Harvey15 karma

There's no one way. Most people these days go to school, dabble in various related disciplines until one sticks, and experiment with making small projects and prototypes (or mods) with a team. (The team component is a huge component...) Universities provide a great seeding place for such pursuits and training.

Conversely, others just start working on indie titles or mods with friends.

[deleted]17 karma


Dishonored_Raphael14 karma

Arx Fatalis still sells, it it on popular online stores such as Steam and gog.

LightningSh0ck14 karma

When did you realize this field was your calling?

Dishonored_Harvey27 karma

Video games?

That's an interesting question. On one hand, I grew up enjoying (actually needing) escapism and activities that allowed for the "mastery of monsters."

I was into role-playing, comics and such from early on, but somehow it never occurred to me that you could set out to do that stuff professionally.

After getting out of the military, I moved to Austin. I (mistakenly) believed that Origin had created Underworld, so I made it a mission to work there. I was 26 yo.

Digital33200613 karma

Hi, games looks great can't wait to try it!

How much liberty do you guys have in creating games? Do the studios put a lot of restrictions and demands or let the creative juices flow?

Keep up the good work and let Bethesda know they make great games and keep at it.

Dishonored_Harvey21 karma

We've been very, very lucky in this regard. Dishonored is a first-person stealth game about an assassin, where you can avoid killing anyone, and it's our own take on steampunk, not set on Earth. Think about that...Bethesda is awesome for supporting our creative exploration here. And for giving the game such great support. We absolutely love Dishonored because it's our style of game and we've put our hearts into it, honestly.

TheLoungeTiki13 karma

Being in the creative sector of video games sounds like a fun job, what are some of the "hidden" drawbacks that might make someone not want to work in the video games industry? Also, what would be desirable for you guys to see from someone who is applying to work in the creative sector of video game development?

Dishonored_Raphael25 karma

Creative director is definitely fun, but it also comes with challenges such as: federating the team when everybody doesnt always agree, representing the game to the full organization, making decisions that can go against the group, etc...
As far as what's expected: other than the obvious creative skills, I would say good communications skills, decision making, taking responsibility for your acts, problem solving...

[deleted]9 karma

As creative director are you also responsible for the script and dialog writing? I assume the story is mostly your baby, but what about the actual legwork of screenplay and voice over direction?

Dishonored_Harvey11 karma

Ultimately, we're responsible for that too. In some cases we authored bits of story, but we also worked with writers who were part of the project. And we directed VO, along with Blindlight.

[deleted]6 karma

How much programming do you require your writers to know? Are they responsible for implementing their dialog/story into the game via coding (Python or Lua is what springs to my mind from my time in the industry)?

Dishonored_Harvey10 karma

More is always better.

brbvengful13 karma

Do you think the downloadable bonus content spread out among distributors will have a negative affect on gameplay? Will players be missing out? I'm not saying this is your fault by the way--it probably isn't. Just curious about your take on it.

Dishonored_Harvey17 karma

We don't think so. The game stands on its own without the extra bone charms and other benefits found in those packages. We'd fight tooth and nail if we thought this hurt the game.

TeenLaQueefah13 karma

I just wanted to say, I've been looking forward to this game for months! It's already pre-ordered, and I'm pretty much counting down the days haha... I was just curious, is there going to be any modding capabilities for PC? Say, if somebody wanted to make their own custom maps and missions?

Dishonored_Raphael13 karma

There is no explicit plan to release the tools yet, but it is not excluded

0pie66611 karma

In dishonored, how many endings the game will have? Also, what kind of replayability the game will offer?

Dishonored_Harvey13 karma

We feel like the missions are very re-playable because there are different pathways to take, powers to use, styles (stealth vs combat), finding hidden areas, a few side missions, morality (lethal vs nonlethal), etc.

One of the things we love most is that this matrix of "stuff" plus our systemic approach to simulating powers and AI equates to little mini-stories that are unique to a specific player's experience.

I_LIEK_GAMS10 karma

I am considering a partnership in a development company with another person, but not sure to take the plunge. It seems like becoming a parent in a way, raising a child together to fruition. As co-creative directors, how do you make the relationship work? When did you know it was the right person? What do you do when you have creative differences.

Thank you for your time. Can't wait for the game!

Dishonored_Raphael11 karma

Great question. It is incredibly hard to find a creative fit for a co-creative director. In our case it comes from the fact that we both were influenced by the same games when we were kids, and we carried these values over with our own games. Also, strong friendship and respect, we've known each other for 15 years. the result is that we usually agree 80% of the time. Whenever we disagree we usually come up with a better solution that we would have on our own, and occasionally we disagree so one of us has to compromise, but it's rare (we take turn ;).

ndog0110 karma

I am counting the days until the release!

What is most exciting for the creators of this game that you want the players to experience?

Looking forward to a great new RPG.

Dishonored_Harvey17 karma

Atmospheric pleasure, exploration; playing at your own pace; experimenting with your own goals (like playing on Very Hard nonlethally, which often forces you to get creative). Also, that little magic moment where something action-oriented happens and you feel like your decisions drove it.

ndog014 karma

Thanks for the reply! I have been excited since seeing the trailer the day it released. Your hard work will definitely show.

Dishonored_Harvey6 karma


sunper10 karma

Can you tell us about how player's actions and Chaos affect the world and narrative? Is it pre-scripted or more dynamic like low and mid-level gameplay?

Dishonored_Harvey14 karma

Great question!

It's a bit of both. For most players, the effects over the course of the game will be fairly subtle. The mission checks the current level of Chaos so far and the following can happen: More pools of rats, more people with the plague (weepers), lines of dialogue/attitudes changed, additional scenes here and there, and different endgames. Things like the rat pools feel like "mid level gameplay" as you say. Lines of dialogue are obviously a scripted reaction.

There are two main endings, but each has variations based on who lived or died.

Some of the Chaos effects are meant to be 'felt' more than overtly identified as they're happening.

It's a weird hybrid system. We tried to make it matter some in terms of making the experience your own, but we also didn't want it dominating the game. We're hopeful people will like the game.

Mark_Medeiros_Lisbon8 karma

Hey guys! Firstly, I'd just like to say how much I love the immersive sim genre, and particularly the Looking Glass/ Ion Storm legacy that we have been left. The glory days of immersion and player agency are not forgotten by this old gamer, who thought we were looking into a bright future when he played Deus Ex.

I have a few questions, if you would indulge me:

Firstly, I am a little concerned about the game's advertised length. I applaud Arkane for rejecting the path of useless filler content, but 12-20 hours doesn't seem very long for a game of this type. I remember that Deus Ex 1 took me 28 hours at a considered pace, and Thief 1 also certainly took a while. Rather than put the length in terms of arbitrary hours, which of course vary from gamer to gamer, could you suggest how long the game is relative to something else? Deus Ex would be a good starting point, as I know that game's timeline pretty well.

Secondly, for a slightly more odd question: are quest objectives always explicitly marked in the quest tab (or whatever they are referred to in in-game vernacular), or are there some that can be stumbled upon without being told to? My favourite part of Deus Ex 1 was unquestionably when JC is dropped into Hong Kong with no idea who to trust or what to do, and must piece the truth about Tong/Chow together through detection. Is this kind of uncertain morality ever a facet of Dishonored? I always like having to root around for what to do, and who to trust.

Finally, I must ask about the size of the levels themselves. Obviously I would never ask you to state a specific example, or comment on any other game team's work, but this was my principle disappointment about Human Revolution (which was still a great game). I felt that, apart from the hubs) levels were too constrained, and tended to fall into multiple, discrete paths rather than a simulationary space. Are there any levels in Dishonored that resemble in size and complexity the sprawling ones we got back in the Imsim days of Thief and Deus Ex? I appreciate that 7th gen console RAM limitations are an issue, but other games find clever streaming ways to get around this, including of course Bethesda's own Skyrim. Moreover, are there exfilitration as well as infiltration objectives? I always love to break out of a place, as well as break in.

Thanks so much for your time, I am absolutely buzzing for the release of what I think could be an abiding entry in the pantheon of imsims (my favourite games). :D

Dishonored_Raphael9 karma

1/considering that you son't be able to see all the content in one playthrough (some of it has mutually exclusive content) and that the game is replayable, you could actually end up playing way more many hours. 2/great question: some of the objectives are only revealed if you 'stumble' into them. Good for the explorers. 3/another very good question, specifically the multiple discreet path vs simulationary space: we're definitely more into offering a space where the player creates his own path than offering a space with 3 obvious linear paths. As far as the size: some of the missions are huge. it's hard to give references to other games, but we've litterally had to reduce some of the missions because they were too long

Mark_Medeiros_Lisbon6 karma

Thank you very much, sir! I cannot overstate my excitement for your game.

Dishonored_Raphael6 karma

thank you

Camay8 karma

Hi, firstly thanks for doing AMA, hopefully it will provide some insight into an already attractive looking game. I was just wondering whether the actual world for dishonoured will be a free-roam/open world or have a more linear structure? Also will be there any veichicles if the world is free-roam.

Dishonored_Harvey13 karma

Hand-crafted missions, not open world. But inside each mission there's a lot of variation and different pathways. Rooftops, swimming, etc.

No real vehicles, per se. Twice you can ride on a cart...

epiicxhunter8 karma

Dishonored looks amazing and thank you so much for this AMA!

I was wondering how did you guys come up with the concept for this game? Also what made you want to do this in first person?

An assassination style game where stealth is key you would figure 3rd person would be great because it reveals more area for the player but after seeing the videos it looks like this could be tons of great fun!

Thanks in advance if you respond! If not well then thanks for the AMA anyways!

Dishonored_Harvey8 karma

For the game form itself as you're asking - first-person stealth - the truth is this: We're very specifically passionate about a particular type of game that mixes first-person, RPG features and more fuzzy enemy awareness. We love games like Thief, Bioshock, Deus Ex, Arx Fatalis, Far Cry 2, et al. So for us Dishonored is a natural creative course.

abccf7 karma

Thanks for taking time here. The game looks fantastic. You've mentioned that the campaign can be completed without killing anyone, and I love that. If I choose to take that course of action, will I be missing out on any particularly satisfying skills or abilities? I'd imagine some of the cooler "powers" are the more violent ones. Thanks again!

Dishonored_Harvey7 karma

Well, by definition, yes. You'll miss the assassination anims and a couple of powers like Devouring Swarm and Shadow Kill. But playing nonlethally (and with total stealth, on a higher difficulty) often forces very tense cool moments...sublime tension as my friend Randy Smith (from Thief) likes to say. So it's a trade-off.

KiZEETA7 karma

How hard is it to implement an idea into a game and make it work? Take for example the ability to possess rats/fish; is planning how it's going to work and what the general concept is more time consuming than actually turning it into a gameplay mechanic and making it work within the game?

This is my most anticipated game of the year, btw. Keep up the good work.

Dishonored_Raphael15 karma

The way we like to work is very organix and iterative: we design our systems 'out of context', just based on generic rules and expectations. Then we put them in the context of game, we let them live with other existing systems and see what happens: usually new ideas emerge from the unplanned interactions between the systems (and bugs of course), we fix the bugs, support the cool ideas, suport more context, and iterate this way until the end. It's a methodology that freaks out many developers at first because it relies on the unexpected.

physicalred6 karma

Where can I get a copy of the "Drunken Sailor" song you used in the trailer?

It's absolutely magical.

Dishonored_Harvey13 karma

Keep your eyes and ears peeled for a while.

: )

zavaro6 karma

Hi Harvey, and thanks for doing this. I've been a big fan since, well, Fatalis, and I'm very excited for Dishonored.. but I can't help but still wonder if The Crossing might see the light of day.

Are there any plans to return to that franchise if Dishonored makes the sales grade? Has there been any contact with Valve on the subject? Will there be a chance to see "crossplayer" interactions in any future products?


Dishonored_Raphael6 karma

The Crossing was shelved for now

Dishonored_Harvey3 karma

And Arx Fatalis was done by Raf and Arkane before I was part of the team.

dexemplu5 karma

Thanks for doing this!

What do you think about Legends of Grimrock? I thought it "felt" similar to Arx Fatalis in a lot of ways.

Would you ever consider remaking Arx Fatalis, maybe with better controls :) ? Or maybe giving it a sequel?

Also, right now, go give the man who was in charge of making this trailer a high five.

Dishonored_Harvey5 karma

It's an homage to Dungeon Master, a game both Raf and I truly love!

sexpansion5 karma

I love that some of the objectives can pop up in different locations per play through. How far are you taking this randomized element in Dishonored?

Dishonored_Raphael7 karma

We do that in some of the missions, whenever it makes sense. It definitely adds to the replayability. Also, in some missions, based on your play style, the target might hide in a different room (if you triggered the alarm for example).

SeanTM225 karma

We already know alot about Dishonored through the various interviews and gameplay walkthroughs; Is there anything that you specifically kept a secret about the game in order to make sure its a suprise to everyone once the game launches? Is there any unique feature that you guys are really proud of that we wouldn't expect? Thanks, and I cant wait to play the game!

Dishonored_Harvey4 karma

Story, mission encounter setup, little puzzles and interactions. Things like that.

ImpudentDog4 karma

About Dishonored, if you stop time and bump into a character, do they start moving again and stop after you break contact. If so is this an amusing way of messing with them?

Dishonored_Harvey7 karma

Initially, yes, but it was frustrating, moving around and accidentally triggering people. Now, it's "anything you interact with moves into your time" in the words of our lead programmer, Stevan Hird. Dynamic objects fall again briefly if you bump them, but for enemies they don't move again unless you attack; then an enemy frozen in mid-swing will hit you.

Nova1783 karma

I read (I believe in Game Informer) that you guys had to really re-work and somewhat weaken some of the powers in Dishonored. Will it be noticeable that some abilities are useless compared to others? And what are your favorite powers to use?

I can't wait for the game, by the way. I've been super excited for it since it was announced!

Dishonored_Harvey5 karma

I think you read the opposite: We said early on that our goal was to really empower the player and lock those effects down, then change the rest of the game to support the powers. Our powers allow you to possess people and animals, stop time, etc.

Toikka3 karma


Dishonored_Harvey7 karma

Biggest challenge? The answer might change from week to week. Right now I'd probably point to our stealth system, and mixing stealth plus fast paced movement and combat.

Our stealth is occlusion/view cone based. Shadows only matter at a significant distance. But it was all hard to get right. Make enemies too perceptive and testers complain that the game is too hard; make the player too hidden in the corner of a semi-dark room and testers thing the AI is blind.

postExistence3 karma

Okay, fledging game designer here. Want to get into the game industry desperately. Wanna ask questions:

  • Don't you think it would be a cool idea to do an AMA a month or a week after Dishonored has been released?

  • Raph (and Harvey, too): Have you ever played Final Fantasy Tactics or Vagrant Story? They're linear, but their gameplay give them excellent replay value. I love writing reviews for those two games as a way of testing my critical evaluation skills. They're my favorite RPG's. What are yours?

  • How do you approach game development pre-prod and planning? I'm interested in knowing how you can keep huge games moving forward.

  • Programming-wise, how does working with Unreal Engine 3 or similar engines compare with building games from scratch? I know UE3 has its own scripting language, but are you also able to create in-game software or logic via other languages (C/C++/Lua/etc.)?

  • With so much of game development these days being dedicated to the construction of high-resolution artwork and resources, does that constrain the amount of time and money that can go to design?

  • Holy shit you're in France! Does the country subsidize your development somewhat?

  • What is your approach to game design? Do you align your game design methodologies to such titles like "Object Oriented Ontology" or "Procedural Game Design" that have come up in recent years?

  • Do either of you have an opinion on the rise of scholarly thought in game design and development like the kinds of philosophies mentioned above?

  • How do you guys prototype your game ideas? Do you do primitive stuff in the Unreal Engine, or do you use other platforms to try out your ideas?

  • The next time you are at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, give those guys and gals in bright colored shirts a big thank you and handshake! They love the game industry and everyone who works in it!

Thanks so much, I can't wait to get my hands on your game!


  • What indie games have you heard of in the grapevine that interest you, and what about them makes them so interesting?

Dishonored_Harvey3 karma

To the Bonus Question: Some friends are working on God of Blades, which is very cool.

Dishonored_Harvey3 karma

Our team is in Lyon, France and Austin, Texas.

tr3sl3ch3s3 karma

How varied are the enemies? I have noticed in the trailers a lot of similar looking guards plus the tall boys.

Dishonored_Harvey6 karma

We're not the "million enemy types" game, to be honest. But there are rats, fish, river krusts, various types of human enemies (and sub-types), hounds, plus lots of specific named characters. Among the human enemies, there are different weapon and attack types. The strong variation in Dishonored is found in what can happen and what path the player can find.

Jenkey1363 karma

What gave you the idea to use a steampunk-esque setting for the game?

Dishonored_Harvey7 karma

We started with "London 1666, the year of the great fire and the last year of the plague, not coincidentally." But eventually moved closer to the 1800s and made tweaks that made the world weirder. Finally we said let's set it in our own world. It just drifted as we went with our passion. Plus art director Sebastien Mitton and visual design director Viktor Antonov added stylistic elements that led us toward "our own version of steampunk." (Or for the hard core, gas lamp, since we incorporate magic.)

ktbluear3 karma

a) Regarding the marginalization of videogames as a media:

  1. Why do you think games and game experience are underrepresented within the media and academia? When will NPR (for example) have a show dedicated to talking about games, or even correspondents that cover them? When will games and the philosophy of games become a part of media classes in the same ways that film and literature are?

  2. Should this cultural shift occur in your opinions, or are games safer or better served avoiding the spotlight (despite being nearly mass-market)?

  3. If so, what are ways that the industry could shift the perception of games as marginalized, or at the very least, encourage a dialogue about games and their importance or role in our culture at large?

  4. If not, how do we promote rigorous discussion of the experience and philosophy of games in a non-insular way. That is to say, outside of the relatively small circle of gamers and game makers.

  5. Do these questions actually matter?

b) How're you guys liking living/working in Texas? (particularly Raphael)

c) I appreciate the time you guys are spending to answer these questions, and I hope you aren't crunching TOO hard to get this title out.

Dishonored_Harvey14 karma

I believe it took photography 100 years to be considered an art form. There's great art in the system dynamics of classic games, of course. Video games are very young. Currently, we're seeing them widen in terms of audience and goals. I have faith that over time games will continue to fragment into different sub-genres related to gameplay, subject matter and artistic ambition. The world has great novels and trashy-but-fun novels. I think games will eventually have that range.

Dishonored_Harvey9 karma

But part of this could be aimed back at your examples: When a new literary novel comes out how does it fair in terms of public attention compared to a new Harry Potter novel? I read Winter's Bone last year and it made me weep, but I have trouble getting anyone to read it. Ali Smith's novel, the Accidental, is amazing. But how does it sell compared to Fifty Shades of Gray? Which has been discussed on NPR more? Some of this is a "by definition" thing; great media works are rare...at the end of the bell curve. And "readers" gravitate toward things based on their interests. Making great work that is also accessible and advances the medium is not easy. (I bet it's easier in a new medium than an established medium. See Sterling's commentary: "Writing has been around a long time. My books have to compete with Homer and Shakespear.")

Dishonored_Harvey7 karma

I'm in favor of the spotlight for games. And such questions help the medium, imo. For comics, we still have Spiderman, but we also have Alison Bechdel's amazing Fun Home.

Btw, NPR does periodically cover games.

Dishonored_Raphael3 karma

a) 1. Games are still considered entertaiment. Personally I think the attention gets stronger every year. Also, we're probably only one generation away from having a president that plays videogames, so sooner or later, all decision makers and taste makers will be familiar with games. 2. 3 and 4. it will naturally I believe, based on 1/ 5. Of course, but at the end of the day, we can't force perceptions. b) I love Austin, it's a very open/laid back /art oriented city.

xZimnii3 karma

Thanks for doing this AMA! After seeing the trailer, I absolutely cannot wait for Dishonored. As for my question, do you know an average of how long this game will go on? It looks like it has great replay value, but how long do you think an average playthrough would take? edit- I see now you've already answered this question. Sorry about that :P

Dishonored_Harvey6 karma

No worries. 12-24 hours. Big range based on play-style.

The_Iceman22883 karma

Can you tell us anything about what sort of achievements/trophies the game has?

Dishonored_Harvey3 karma

I wish. We like ours. But they're not announced yet. In general, we try to reward clever play, exploiting the systems, special moments, things off the beaten path.