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Bethesda’s Pete Hines: on Dishonored, bugs and apples

Tuesday, 28 August 2012 09:23 GMT By Stace Harman

Pete Hines, Bethesda’s VP of PR and marketing, speaks to VG247 about squishing bugs, pushing the boundaries of in-game freedom and the publisher’s current hot property, Dishonored.

“With Dishonored, it’s not trying to be the scope of Skyrim and is more of a hub and spoke set-up, but within that mission there are lots of different ways that you can go through. The funny thing on Dishonored is that we have been looking at bug reports with a view of, ‘Well, is that really a bug or is that just an unintended consequence that we didn’t plan for?’”

When I meet with Pete Hines on the last trade day of gamescom, he looks a relaxed and happy man. It’s not difficult to guess why: “Dishonored” has frequently been amongst the most popular answers to the oft asked “highlights of the show?” question, which trade visitors have been posing to one another all week between appointments.

There’s a buzz surrounding Dishonored, which has been fed by the opportunity for members of the press to sit with the first-person stealth title for a full hour without being harried by well-meaning PRs. It seems that when it comes to Dishonored, there’s no need for anyone to ensure that we’re “playing it right” because, on current evidence, it’s very difficult to play it “wrong”.

“So, it’s not Skyrim in so far as going wherever you want and doing whatever you want, but it does have a similar thing where you’re in the demo room and you’re looking around the room and seeing 13 or 14 people approaching the same problem in different ways and just embracing that part of the game,” Hines explains.

“The other thing is that people are excited that someone is doing something different this holiday season and doing something that isn’t part of an existing franchise. That’s not to say that games that are part of a franchise are doing nothing to innovate, but obviously when you’re doing new IP you’re starting from scratch and so it’s an additional benefit to Dishonored to be doing something different; to be a breath of fresh air.”

Breaths of fresh air are surprisingly common at gamescom 2012, making it an altogether gusty show. There’s the expected number of solid and steady sequels and games developed for existing IPs, of course – Bethesda itself is showing off the Doom 3 BFG Edition – but there’s also a bountiful supply of titles based on new properties. Titles such as Dishonored, that will likely spawn their own sequels a short way into the next generation.

Being able to fulfil the role of both publisher and developer puts Bethesda in good stead for the next hardware round. It’s able to leverage huge, existing IPs like Fallout and Elder Scrolls as well as branching out with new properties in partnership with studios both inside and out of its parent company, ZeniMax Media. It’s a role that Hines feels works because Bethesda is realistic about which cap it should be wearing and when.

“I think we’re pretty up front with whomever we work with,” Hines says. “We do want to be involved and they welcome that because they understand that we come from a developer background and there are things that we can bring to bear in terms of usability, functionality, pacing and all of those different things; that we can bring some expertise and insight.

“Ultimately, though, we believe strongly that it’s the people that are making the game that still have to make the game; it’s not like we say, ‘Why don’t you sit in that room and we’ll sit here and shout ideas at you while you implement them all?’ I think that’s how developer-publisher relationships go bad: they think they know how to make the game and are telling the people that are actually making the game what to do.

“With Dishonored, we’ve done a lot of stuff with those guys with internal play-testing and having those guys show the game to other studios for them to provide feedback. All of this is with an eye to saying, ‘Look, we’re just trying to fine tune the things that you’re already doing and point out things that are perhaps not quite as clear as they could be.’

Dishonored’s Lady Boyle mission.

“It’s something that’s useful for developers who have an inkling that something may be a problem but aren’t really sure how big a problem something is: having other people that make games try it out can give a great deal of insight on whether something needs to be changed or not.”

Impassioned gamers

As well as providing feedback, Bethesda is no stranger to receiving it. Primarily this feedback comes from its community, a legion of impassioned gamers who make no bones about telling the developer-cum-publisher what they‘re head over heels in love with (such as the freedom that can be experienced in Bethesda’s ambitious, open-world RPGs) and that which gives them the heebie-jeebies (like the bugs that can be experienced in Bethesda’s ambitious, open-world RPGs).

Hines acknowledges that, sometimes, things happen that shouldn’t and bugs that really should be foreseen and squished, escape undetected: such as the GPU driver incompatibility issues that afflicted the PC version of id Software’s FPS, Rage. However, on other occasions, Hines feels that it’s simply not practical – or even possible – for the team to adopt the Pokémon mentality of catch ‘em all.

“With something like Skyrim there are literally an infinite number of permutations,” Hines ventures. “Or if it’s not literally then it might as well be in terms of the ability to test every possible permutation of every single thing. We do the best we can to try to kick out all the things but there are inevitably going to be things that pop out.

“With Dishonored, it’s not trying to be the scope of Skyrim and is more of a hub and spoke set-up but within that mission there are lots of different ways that you can go through. The funny thing on Dishonored is that we have been looking at bug reports with a view of, ‘Well, is that really a bug or is that just an unintended consequence that we didn’t plan for?’

“So, is it something that’s odd or funny but within the game it’s actually OK and if so we’re just going to leave it alone. That comes from the fact that you can just do so much crazy stuff that we didn’t necessarily plan for, but that still works within the framework of the game.

“I would say that rumour and speculation have rarely, if ever, piqued our interest in doing or not doing something. We have a pretty good idea of where we want to go and what we want to do.”

“Certainly, when you give players freedom they want to explore the boundaries of that freedom, to find out how much they’ve been afforded. I think that’s why games like The Elder Scrolls and Fallout have done very well because the audience does appreciate that freedom, because not every game gives that to them. Sometimes that might involve the player saying, ‘I’m going to set up a thousand apples at the top of this hill and let them roll down, just because I can.’”

It’s this freedom that fans of Bethesda respond to and why a great deal of people are excited by the recurring rumour that Bethesda has acquired the development rights to GSC Game World’s S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Unsurprisingly, despite his current chirpy mood, Hines is not playing ball when I ask if he can clarify Bethesda’s position on this succulent claim, merely repeating the expected line that the company does not comment on rumours and speculation.

With time running out, I try another tack: in light of the level of interest in the rumour expressed by the press and gaming public, if Bethesda hasn’t acquired the rights to S.T.A.L.K.E.R., would it consider it a missed opportunity?

“I would say that rumour and speculation have rarely, if ever, piqued our interest in doing or not doing something. We have a pretty good idea of where we want to go and what we want to do.”

So, that’s a maybe, then?

PS3, PC and 360 owners can expect Dishonored Doom 3 BFG Edition to release in October. PC and Mac owners can expect The Elder Scrolls Online next year.

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5 Comments

  1. JimFear-666

    bethesda doesnt have any quality standart in the games they do. Everything with the tag “bethesda” on a game is doom to be bullshit and buggy as fuck

    - Oblivion
    - fallout 3
    - Fallout new vegas
    - Brink
    - Rogue Warrior
    - Skyrim

    All of these game are shit or a buggy mess… They cant do a game right, they dont know how. They are the most incompetent studio ever. You know what? I dont know how to repair a car, im not a garage owner and if they dont know how to do a 60$ game playable on day 1, maybe they should stop doing games.

    I hate bethesda and i think its sad to see they have a legion of fanboys behind them when they clearly dont care about giving a quality product.

    #1 3 years ago
  2. Pytox

    @1 Forgot to add -Hunted & -Rage

    #2 3 years ago
  3. tommygunzII

    @1 I dont play games to see the pretty textures and seamless animations, or whatever your definition of a quality game is. I play them to have fun.
    Bethesda can build a house of cards better than ANY other studio out there, even Rockstar. Finding bugs in a game like Uncharted compared to Bethesda’s ambitious projects is like comparing cleaning a house to cleaning a skyscraper.
    What I hate is seeing ignorant shit from simple minded people on every gaming website. People like you are a disease to the industry and half of the reason publishers run the show in certain studios.

    #3 3 years ago
  4. MidlifeAxe

    @1 I don’t think Arkane Studios made any of those games that you listed.

    #4 3 years ago
  5. Telepathic.Geometry

    I don’t think that they should be demonised for making bug-ridden janky games, because by enlarge they’re pretty interesting and fun games. Also, it has to be said, they do come by their jank honestly I think.

    That said, it’s also unacceptable to me to pay for a piece of software as broken as Fallout, Skyrim and New Vegas were. I had save files disappear, severe frame rate problems (making my late game basically unplayable) and all manner of shitty bugs. Not cool at all.

    Still, I always end up shelling out, and experiencing those highs and lows… /shrugs

    #5 3 years ago

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    Blizzard is heading to gamescom 2015 in August and it will have 500 game stations set up for attendees to get their hands on five of its titles. The developer will be set up in Hall 7 and those who stop by will be able to get hands-on with the latest content for Heroes of […]

  • PS4 price cut to £299 in UK

    Sony has dropped the price of the PS4 in the UK. For a limited time only, you can grab the console for £299.99 from Argos, Game, Tesco and Very. Go to Amazon.co.uk and you’ll get it for £289. You’ve only got until April 28, then it goes back up to £349. Go, go, go. For […]

  • Mad Max: first ever gameplay footage revealed

    Today, we get to finally take our first look at gameplay from Mad Max. Avalanche and Warner Bros. have shown off the first gameplay trailer for Mad Max today. The trailer below offers a look at melee combat, car combat, customisation and much more. Give it a watch below: There are a few new screenshots […]

  • Overlord: Fellowship of Evil has four-player co-op like we figured

    Codemasters has pulled the veil back on the next Overlord game, and its a four-player co-op game called Overlord: Fellowship of Evil. Rhianna Pratchett is back to write the story. The game may be co-op at its core, but it can still be played single-player. Each of the four playable character have strengths and weaknesses, […]

  • Update now available for Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, Pokemon X and Y

    Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire along with Pokemon X and Y are being updated by Nintendo to fix a few bugs and in-game text. There’s also the possibility of a few hacks and exploits being fixed. Per Nintendo Life (via Serebii), both patches are 250-270 blocks in size, and it’s a mandatory update which […]

  • Side-scrolling cover shooter Not a Hero gets a demo

    Not a Hero, the upcoming game from OlliOlli developer Roll7, has received a demo. The demo for Not a Hero was made available today on Steam. In the game, you play as Steve, the campaign manager for BunnyLord. A time-travelling rabbit who’s running for mayor of London. Think this is an absurd premise? This trailer […]

  • You have until April 30 to export your Green Day: Rock Band tracks to Rock Band 3

    Harmonix has announced that those looking to export their song collection from Green Day: Rock Band into Rock Band 3 can only do so until the end of the month. April 30 will be the cutoff date for anyone who wants to export tracks from Green Day: Rock Band into their Rock Band 3 library, […]

  • Batman: Arkham Knight minimum, recommended, and ultra PC specs revealed

    Batman: Arkham Knight is looking like it’s going to be quite a taxing game. Nvidia has released a list of the minimum, recommended, and ultra PC requirements for Batman: Arkham Knight. Here’s the full thing: Minimum OS: Win 7 SP1, Win 8.1 (64-bit Operating System Required) Processor: Intel Core i5-750, 2.67 GHz | AMD Phenom […]

  • Bloodborne patch 1.03 is live, reduces loading times, fixes suspend/resume bugs, more

    Patch 1.03 is now live for Bloodborne. The patch reduces loading times, adds item descriptions to loading screens, and fixes other various bugs. From Software has pushed update 1.03 live to all Bloodborne owners. As promised, it reduces loading times by approximately 5 to 15 seconds. Another new addition is showing item descriptions instead of […]

  • Battlefield 4: first look at Community Map in action

    Get your first look at the map designed by the community of Battlefield 4. Battlefield 4′s community-designed map is a reality. DICE has recently updated CTE to include an early version of the map. It’s not fully textured as Westie is about to show you, but the layout is nearly finalised. Westie goes over the […]

  • Microsoft apologises for uploading misleading Witcher 3: Wild Hunt footage

    Xbox’s YouTube channel uploaded a video of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt yesterday that was captured from the PC build. The most recent gameplay video for the The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt appeared on the Xbox YouTube channel and showed a quest from the game’s opening section. A few minutes after it had gone live, […]

  • Assassin’s Creed creator’s new game is Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey

    Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey is the game Assassin’s Creed creator Patrice Desilets has been working on. Patrice Desilets has just announced that the next game his indie studio Panache Digital Games is making is called Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey. The announcement comes from Desilets’s keynote at the Reboot Develop event in Croatia. The trailer started […]

  • Bloodborne: Cathedral Ward closed door mystery solved

    The mystery of the locked door at the bottom of the Cathedral Ward in Bloodborne has been solved. Bloodborne, like earlier From Software games, is filled with doors that don’t open the first time you try them. Some will give you “locked” messages, others “does not open from this side”. Some of these will open […]

  • Assassin’s Creed creator Patrice Desilets is revealing his next game now [UPDATE: ended]

    Patrice Desilets, one of the original creators of Assassin’s Creed is hosting a presentation where he’s expected to talk about his next project. Patrice Desilets has emerged once again. This time he’s attending development conference in Croatia. Desilets is giving a live keynote and there’s a good chance we’re going to hear about his next […]

  • Destiny House of Wolves: everything you need to know about gear upgrades & The Reef

    Bungie revealed plenty of important details in last night’s Destiny stream. Let’s go over everything. Alex wants to make sure you don’t miss any of the information revealed yesterday. Most of it affects all Destiny players too, even those who don’t intend on buying House of Wolves. During the first stream, Bungie explained the armour […]

  • Mod-friendly Galactic Civilizations 3 will leave Steam Early Access in May

    Galactic Civilizations 3 will leave Steam Early Access next month for a full release, Stardok has announced. The developer called the game the “largest and most diverse strategy sandbox to date,” as players have a variety of tools such as diplomatic treaties to resource exchanges, and United Planets resolutions to hundreds of research directions for […]

  • Ys 6: The Ark of Napishtim is out next week on PC – here’s the pre-order trailer

    Ys 6: The Ark of Napishtim will be released next week on PC, and today, we have a pre-order trailer for you. The game will be made available on April 28 for $19.99/€17.99/£13.99 on GOG, the Humble Store and Steam. Along with improvements over the original PSP version, it will contain less backtracking, controller support […]

  • Destiny: House of Wolves – full gear set up to level 34 in PvP and PvE, upgrades, more

    The Destiny: House of Wolves livestream this afternoon was chock full of information. Read onward for our full report. According to Bungie, Petra Venj, who serves the Queen, is the main story agent who leads the player through the main series of quests. Players who complete bounties will be able to level up in her […]

  • Destiny: House of Wolves – watch the livestream right here

    Bungie will host a Destiny: House of Wolves livestream at 2pm EDT today, and you can watch it right here. Watch live video from Bungie on www.twitch.tv The stream will introduce the new social space, The Reef, as well as gear upgrade paths. House of Wolves contains new Strike missions, The Prison of Elders three-player […]

  • FIFA Ultimate Team: week of April 22 team includes Barcelona, Chelsea players

    This week’s FIFA 15 Team of the Week is now available for FIFA Ultimate Team players. Each team member, as with previous weeks, is selected base on the previous weekend’s matches. Here’s the list of players now available: Starting GK: Claudio Bravo – FC Barcelona (Spain) CB: Leonardo Bonucci – Juventus (Italy) CB: Ömer Toprak […]

  • Sony’s Spring Fever Sale winds down with Shovel Knight and Call of Duty discounts

    It’s the final week of Sony’s Spring Fever Sale which means more games have been added to the mix. Shovel Knight, which launches today is one offer, and the rest are all Cal of Duty titles. The Taken movie series is on sale as well. With Shovel Knight available today on PlayStation 3, PS4 and […]

  • Drivers for Xbox controllers, voice messages, more features available in Xbox One preview

    Microsoft has announced new features coming to Xbox One and the Xbox App on Windows 10 through the preview program this month. Some of the new features have been requested by the community for both Xbox One and Xbox One SmartGlass. Here’s what to expect, straight from the horse’s mouth: Xbox on Windows 10 Game […]

  • Total War: Warhammer has been announced for PC, Mac, SteamOS

    Total War: Warhammer has been announced after previous teases from The Creative Assembly touched upon it. The game will contain “gigantic monsters, flying creatures, legendary heroes and storms of magical power.” It is also the first in a trilogy which includes two additional standalone titles and extra content packs. It will feature thousands of warriors […]

  • This video for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt features a quest from the prologue

    A new video for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt has been released, showing off the Precious Cargo quest contained in the game’s prologue. The quest tasks Geralt with helping a merchant retrieve a mysterious box from the swamps. The scene looks familiar, but we’ve seen so many videos for the game it’s hard to tell […]

  • Limited public beta for The Elder Scrolls Online kicks off tomorrow on consoles

    The limited public beta for The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited will launch on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One tomorrow, and Sony has provided details on the tester for those who’ve been invited to participate. The beta test contains the full version of the game and will run from April 23-27, and will start and […]

  • Dying Light debuts in second place on Media Create charts

    Techland’s Dying Light made its debut in Japan lats week, coming in a respectable second place behind Nintendo’s Girls Mode 3: Kirakira Code. The zombie shooter sold 25,530 units on PlayStation 4, while the top earner for the week moved a little over 55,000 units on 3DS. Another western release when landed on the chart, […]

  • Lord of Magna: Maiden Heaven will release in the west this June

    Lord of Magna: Maiden Heaven has been given a release date by XSEED Games, which announced the localization back in February. The title will launch for 3DS in North America on June 2 digitally and through retail. It will be an eShop only title in Europe and Australia when it releases on June 4. A […]

  • This Overlord video teases four new faces of evil

    A new Overlord game is in the works, going by the previous teasing and this video – which teases the possibility of four-payer co-op. Or just four characters to choose from. We don’t know just yet – all we know is the team is asking you to “join the fellowship.” A new entry in the […]

  • GTA movie will star Daniel Radcliffe as Rockstar’s Sam Houser, the BBC confirms

    The GTA movie Game Changer will star Daniel Radcliffe as Rockstar co-founder and president Sam Houser, theBBC has confirmed. The BBC also confirmed Bill Paxton will play Jack Thompson, a role Paxton already confirmed last week when speaking with Deadline. Here’s the synopsis per the BBC: “Conceived for an adult audience, this special 90-minute drama […]

  • Take a look at Etrian Odyssey 2 Untold’s Classic Mode

    Etrian Odyssey 2 Untold’s Classic Mode has received a trailer today. Etrian Odyssey 2 Untold will come with two modes, Classic and Story. Classic Mode was trailered today and in it, you’ll get to make your party by choosing from 13 classes. You’ll be able to customise them too using the character creation tool. Revamped […]

  • Shovel Knight: Plague of Shadows to come with new challenge mode

    Shovel Knight’s upcoming expansion Plague of Shadows will bring with it a new challenge mode. Shovel Knight developer Yacht Club Games has revealed the challenge mode, one of the new additions coming to the game with the free Plague of Shadows expansion. “Are you more into digging than distillation? Already have your Feats book long […]

  • Nvidia releases complete graphical guide for GTA 5

    Those with GeForce cards will be happy to know that Nvidia has released a comprehensive graphical tweaks guide for GTA 5. Nvidia usually produces graphical guides for the big AAA games, and GTA 5 is no different. Their guides offer in-depth coverage of each in-game setting, how much they affect framerate, if they can be […]