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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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    Final Fantasy 15 was nine years in the making – and counting. Are we the same people we were in 2006? Final Fantasy 15: Episode Duscae A demo available for PS4 and Xbox One. Offers a couple of hours of gameplay. More if you jump over the borders. Bundled with Final Fantasy 15 Type-0 and […]

  • New multiplayer mode for Splatoon announced

    Nintendo has sent over three screenshots for Splatoon along with information on the Wii U another of the title’s multiplayer modes. Called Ranked Battle, it keeps track of each player’s online ranking. Splat Zones is one of the additional ways to play online in this mode. It differs from Turf War, which is the main […]

  • 2015 WoW Arena World Championship has a $250,000 prize pool

    Blizzard has announced the WoW Arena World Championship will culminate at BlizzCon 2015. World of Warcraft 3v3 Arena teams from around the globe will compete for spot at the 2015 WoW Arena World Championship and for a share in the $250,000 prize pool. Online qualifiers will be held for North America, Southeast Asia, Australia, New […]

  • The Crew two-hour demo now available in US, tomorrow in the UK

    Ubisoft has announced a free trial of its driving MMO The Crew will be available tomorrow, March 25 in the UK. It’s live today in North America. For current players, the Vintage Car Pack and Vintage Live Update, including a new PvP mode, are now available. The Vintage Car Pack included the Chevrolet Corvette C2 […]

  • Minecraft Mass Effect Mash-Up and Pattern Texture Pack out from today

    A Mass Effect Mash-up pack and the Pattern Texture Pack will release on PlayStation 3, PS4 and Vita today in North America and tomorrow in Europe. The Pattern Texture Pack is also available for Xbox consoles today. The Mass Effect Mash-Up pack contains the Mars Facility from Mass Effect 3 plus textures and craftable items […]

  • The Talos Principle expansion pack Road to Gehenna announced

    An expansion for The Talos Principle has been announced titled Road to Gehenna. The expansion follows the narrative of Uriel, Elohim’s messenger, as he explores a “strange, hidden part of the simulation” on a mission of “mercy and redemption.” Uriel is attempting to free the souls of the damned “at all costs.” Road to Gehenna […]

  • Twitch Plays Pokemon finally catches ‘em all – even the rare Mewtwo

    Twitch Plays Pokemon players have captured all 151 original Pokemon which were included in a modified version of Pokemon Red, and this includes the rare Mewtwo. It took 39 days for Twitch players to catch ‘em all. Have a look at the impressive feat for yourself below. Thanks, Polygon.

  • GameStop will have limited units of Majora’s Mask New 3DS XL back in stock

    Those who missed out on the Limited Edition Majora’s Mask New 3DS XL will have another opportunity to purchase it outside of eBay. Tomorrow only, GameStop stores in the United States will have four units in stock, according to and internal memo sent to Kotaku. This is every store in the country, and again, only […]

  • Second phase of Fortnite closed Alpha launches today

    Fortnite’s second closed Alpha test will go live this afternoon, according to the official website. Those currently participating will have until April 14 to test the online aspects for 12 hours per day (noon -12am EDT). All progress from the previous Alpha test will be wiped, and other changes are listed in the patch notes. […]

  • Dragon Age: Inquisition: Jaws of Hakkon out now on PC, Xbox One

    As promised yesterday, the single-player DLC for Dragon Age: Inquisition, Jaws of Hakkon, is now available on PC and Xbox One. It will run you or £11.99 or your regional equivalent. The new content expands the land of Thedas with mountainous regions and forests, and it is full of “vicious enemies.” Players will also be […]

  • Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare trailer shows Ascendance gameplay

    Activision has released a new gamepay trailer for Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare to support the Ascendance DLC which releases next week. Ascendance, will release first on Xbox consoles March 31 and includes the next chapter of the Exo Zombies Saga, Infected, along with four new multiplayer maps: Perplex, Site 244, Climate and Chop Shop. […]

  • Batman: Arkham Knight will be a digital only release on PC – report

    It appears Batman: Arkham Knight will not see a physical release on PC, according to ShopTo. The retailer was told by its buyer the Rocksteady game will only be released on PC in digital form. ShopTo is currently double checking the information. If accurate, it is unknown if this will be case in North America […]

  • Bloodborne patch focusing on load times, performance optimizations in the works

    A patch for Bloodborne which will address load times is in the works, Sony has said The load times were one of the issues noted in Digital Foundry’s report on the From Software title. Sony told Eurogamer the patch would also explore other issues as well. “The development team is currently exploring another patch for […]

  • Gearbox would “love” to have entire Borderlands collection on current-gen

    An Xbox One and PlayStation 4 version of the original Borderlands game is something Gearbox Software is interested in, according to studio boss Randy Pitchford. Speaking in the latest Major Nelson podcast, Gearbox CEO Randy Pitchford said should Borderlands: The Handsome Collection prove successful, 2K Games might consider a current-gen version. “The fact that The […]

  • Wolfenstein: The Old Blood artwork shows the catacombs, dock, more

    Over the weekend we posted Wolfenstein: The Old Blood artwork along with news of a retail release in Europe. Today, we have better quality images of said artwork to share with you. Enjoy. The standalone prequel will be released digitally on May 5 on PC, PS4 and Xbox One in North America, and digitally on […]

  • Slender: The Arrival terrorizes PS4 and Xbox One this week

    In case you forgot, what with Bloodborne out today and other high profile releases of late, Slender: The Arrival is out today on PlayStation 4 in North America. The scary game will arrive on Xbox One tomorrow, March 25, and in Europe on PS4. Slender: The Arrival is an expansion on the original Slender game […]

  • World of Warcraft’s WoW Token rollout slated after launch of patch 6.1.2

    Blizzard has announced it will start rollout its WoW Token option in the weeks following the launch of patch 6.1.2 on March 24. WoW Token allows players to exchange in-game gold for game time and vice versa. Blizzard will release WoW Token first in realms serving North America, Oceania, and Latin America and will expand […]

  • The Evil Within: The Consequence dated for April, teaser video released

    Part 2 of Juli Kidman’s adventure in The Evil Within will arrive next month with the release of The Consequence. Above is a brief teaser showing some of the “madness” Kidman will encounter. The Consequence will arrive on Tuesday, April 21 on PC, PlayStation 3, PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One. European PlayStation players will […]

  • Bloodborne sometimes “struggles to run at a smooth frame-rate” per performance analysis

    Bloodborne has been analyzed by Digital Foundry and according to the report, even with a 30fps cap the game sometimes “struggles to run at a smooth frame-rate.” The game’s day-one 2.69GB update 1.01 is “essential” as it contains improvements to game performance and stability and the frame-rate tests run by Digital Foundry were in single-player […]

  • Borderlands: The Handsome Collection reviews round-up

    Borderlands: The Handsome Collection reviews are out in the wild so we decided to catch a few of them for you. Borderlands: The Handsome Collection is out today on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. The collection packages Borderlands 2 and Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel along with each game’s DLC content on one disc. Better graphics and […]

  • Evolve, Forza Horizon 2, WWE 2K15 are this week’s Deals with Gold

    Evolve, Forza 2 Horizon and WWE 2K15 are just some of the games which are part of this week’s Xbox Deals with Gold. You can also pick up the Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Pro Edition for 20% off as well as the standard edition for 33% off. For the Xbox 360 crowd, there’s also […]

  • Xbox 360 2015 Spring Value bundles now available starting at $250

    Microsoft is offering a discount on three Xbox 360 bundles with prices starting at $250. The Xbox 360 2015 Spring Value bundles feature various content such as a Kinect, 500GB console bundle and one month of Xbox Live Gold. Xbox 360 500GB Spring Value Bundle: comes with Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare download and Fable […]

  • Rainbow Six Siege beta sign ups now open

    Ubisoft is letting everyone register for the upcoming Rainbow Six Siege closed beta. Rainbow Six Siege is due for a closed beta sometime this year. Ubisoft has opened registration to everyone. All you need to do is enter your preferred platform and log in using your Uplay account. You will be entered into a waiting […]

  • Advanced Warfare: Exo Zombies map Infection is creepy

    The upcoming chapter in Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare’s Exo Zombies mode is called ‘Infection’ and Activision has been slowly revealing bits and pieces about it. A few teasers have been dropping ahead of Ascendance launch this month. The teasers are about the second episode in the Exo Zombie story, Infection. First off, the map. […]

  • This is the Bloodborne press kit in all its glory

    Bloodborne is a gorgeous game so it’s only fitting that the press kit it came in is a reflection of that. The pictures capture the many amazing bits of the Bloodborne press kit. A press kit is what’s usually sent to the reviewers alongside the review copy. They’re usually very ornate and almost all of […]

  • This Hearthstone turn is taking over 40 hours and you can watch it happen

    A very smart Hearthstone player has rigged his game to make one turn take over 40 hours, and it has been going for over 22 already. Hearthstone player Mamytwink set up a game against his friend to try and achieve the record for the longest turn in Hearthstone ever. Basically, Mamytwink set the game up […]

  • The Witcher 3: Geralt’s beard grows over time, but not Gandalf-long

    The beard of The Witcher 3 protagonist Geralt will grow over time, but you can trim it if you choose to. As part of a recently published impressions piece by German magazine Gamestar (translated by NeoGAF), The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt developers revealed that Geralt’s beard will in fact grow over time. Not content with […]

  • Sony mistakenly abandons Bloodborne trademark in the US

    The administration side of Sony Computer Entertainment has not been in the best of shapes recently. Sony has abandoned four game trademarks yesterday, one of which is for Bloodborne. The trademarks were all registered with US Patent and Trademark Office. All of the games trademarks pertain to unreleased games and Sony would’ve had to either […]

  • Payday 2 will be supported until 2017

    Payday 2 developer has announced that it will continue to support the game for the next two years. Payday 2 developer Overkill has revealed today that it’s planning to support the game until 2017. What this means is that more free content as well as paid DLC are in the works for release later. Payday […]

  • These are the top Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare weapons, according to the developer

    Based on their overall kill-to-death ratio, what are the best guns in Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare? Developer Sledgehammer reveals the top 5. Sledgehammer’s Michael Condrey has revealed on Twitter the top 5 weapons in Advanced Warfare based on their overall kill-to-death ratio. Here’s the list: ARX-160 – Hole Puncher Ameli – Heavy HBRa3 – […]

  • H1Z1 has sold more than 1 million copies

    H1Z1 has already sold over 1 million copies on Steam. H1Z1 may still be in Early Access on Steam, but it has already sold more than 1 million copies. Daybreak president John Smedley announced on Twitter earlier. H1Z1 launched in January and instantly became a hit. The game has consistently been on Steam’s top 10 […]