Dishonored devs wanted to avoid “dogmatic tropes” such as large boss battles

Friday, 5th October 2012 16:12 GMT By Stephany Nunneley

Dishonored won’t have any large boss battles, according to designer Harvey Smith, because the team wanted to avoid “dogmatic tropes that video games are built on.”

Speaking with Kotaku, Smith said: “The thing is, we’re very conscious of tropes in video games that are kind of lazy, frankly. Or dogmatic is the better word perhaps. You know: here’s a boss, he reveals his weak spot, you gotta hit it three times and then three times again, whatever.

“I guess, is that we never really felt the need for boss monsters. And it seems like a dogmatic feature. And sometimes it’s brilliant, right? One of my favorite games of all time was Shadow of the Colossus,” he said. “If you count those as boss monsters, then wow—way to take that whole feature and make it your whole game and do something utterly brilliant. And it’s one of the best 100 games of all time in my opinion.

“But in our case it wasn’t the focus, and we are kind of careful about avoiding those kind of dogmatic tropes that video games are built on.”

Smith said the team also tried to avoid labeling the title as Steampunk, but eventually embraced the term.

“In the same way that we did not call the game steampunk initially, we called it sort of retro future. We’re working with this world class industrial designer Viktor Antonov (Half-Life 2). Our art director [Sebastien Mitton (BioShock 2)], we call him a world class video game art director. Those guys are not just regurgitating steampunk elements seen elsewhere, they are designing things, right? And so Viktor did his thing and Sebastien did his thing, and only then people online started using the term steampunk.

“And internally one of our tenets was no cliche steampunk elements. So no brass and rivets and guys in tin helmets or whatever the fuck. And it’s fine if people see it as a very innovative take on steampunk, that’s great, we don’t mind that, it’s just that one of our tenets was avoid this overly familiar—because god, if you’re gonna spend X dollars on something and X years of your life, you don’t have to do exactly what everybody else has done or what you’ve seen. You don’t have to draw your inspirations from what else is on the shelf.”

Dishonored is out next week on PC, PS3, and Xbox 360.



  1. YoungZer0

    Good. So it’s more like every other game in the genre.

    #1 2 years ago
  2. viralshag

    @1, What would you call this genre? First person adventure or something?

    I mean, I consider this the same as Skyrim, Fallout, Deus Ex and out of those three DX is really the only one that had stand out boss battles that I can remember.

    So, yeah, I agree with you.

    #2 2 years ago
  3. ps3fanboy

    Dishonored THE NEXT BUG RIDDEN GAME FROM Bethesda.

    boycott Bethesda & Dishonored now!!!

    #3 2 years ago
  4. OnionPowder

    @3, Shut up. Not only is Bethesda not developing this, but it isn’t running on the bug-ridden creation engine. This is running on the very stable Unreal 3 engine and made by Arkane Studios.

    #4 2 years ago
  5. roadkill

    Good decision!

    #5 2 years ago
  6. ManuOtaku

    #4 i agree, we should support this game because is a new ip from not a so well known developer (at least to me), therefore it doesnt matter the grudge some gamers feel torwards bethesda, they should support it nontheless, i know they have some good reasons for not liking bethesda, especially ps3 fans, but we should support new ips for not well known developers and new developers as well.

    #6 2 years ago
  7. Phoenixblight


    Try harder there are more bugged games on that engine. Its the developers that create the bugs not the engine.

    This developer likes to talk big and yet they never proven themself. How about after the game releases and it is successful(most likely not) they can talk big. Its like Peter Molyneux only he doesn’t have a game to show he is worth his salt.


    So support new ips even if they are bad games? THat sounds logical.

    #7 2 years ago
  8. ManuOtaku

    #7 Phoenix and exactly how do you know is a bad game?

    #8 2 years ago
  9. OnionPowder

    @7, I don’t know if you know who works at Arkane but the team that is full of vets who have more than proven themselves. Consisting of a lot of devs from Ion Storm and the Deus Ex/Thief team you have Harvey Smith who was the lead designer on Deus Ex and Viktor Antonov who designed the art for City 17 and Half-Life 2.

    #9 2 years ago
  10. Phoenixblight


    I don’t. BUt to get a game because its a new IP is moronic. THe game needs to be fun and worth the 60$ and not just because its a new IP.

    The gameplay videos doesn’t look very entertaining. The art and lighting is very bland and the gameplay looks to be a chore as well. I am not buying it based on that.


    So Vets who had a successful game 10+ years ago doesn’t prove anything. Look at ID with Rage based on their success of Doom and Wolfenstein that game should be good too right? Right?

    #10 2 years ago
  11. OnionPowder

    @10, RAGE was a fantastic game. Disregarding the ending, it was an amazing piece of technology that ran beautifully even on the current underpowered consoles and was well designed all-around. Just because an ending sucks doesn’t mean the whole game was crap.

    Don’t dismiss the entree based on the dessert.

    #11 2 years ago
  12. Phoenixblight


    I am not talking about just the ending the ENTIRE game was crap. The original BOrderlands had a horrible ending but yet I still have 100+ hours of gameplay on it.

    BTW Harvey Smith also worked on Invisible War and Area 51. SO he has just as many horrible games as he does good ones.

    1 Artist and 1 Designer from previous games doesn’t magically make it good. THe games were successful because of the dynamics of the team and them coming together to make a game. THe videos of Dishonored’s gameplay do not sell the game for me so your evidence of vets from previous games proves diddly squat.

    #12 2 years ago
  13. ManuOtaku

    #10 it might be moronic, but i dont have any problems given support to new ideas/games, even if those ideas doesnt work well the first time around, with the proper support they can work it on them, and make a great series out of it, and also make the game shine all the way trough, theres a lot of great games/series we have today because of this, and because people supported them, and since then the game shined and become industry examples to follow, i think if you like the concept, ideas and gameplay style, you should give a chance to new games, because that way we will be supporting the gaming gems of the future.

    #13 2 years ago
  14. Phoenixblight


    A good game makes a good game. THe franchises we have today is because they all started out as good games and were supported for it not just because they were new IPs.

    #14 2 years ago
  15. absolutezero

    Arkane created Arx Fatalis and Dark Messiah of Might and Magic.

    Both of which were superb. Im not buying this because of Antonov or Smith, Im buying it because it reminds of System Shock 2 in alot of respects and Arkane are a fucking great developer. Arx Fatalis still has a dedicated fanbase to this day.

    #15 2 years ago
  16. ManuOtaku

    #14 so you dont have any game that you thought it had potential while playing it, and then in second installenments, saw an improvement and then a better whole experience, and while doing that becoming some of the greatest games in this industry, i have felt this experience with a few games from this gen and previous gen, hence why i do think this way, sorry if thats not the case to you, but there are examples of this.

    #16 2 years ago
  17. Phoenixblight

    Yeah I have gotten games that are new IPs but they were also good games. Dead Space was a fantastic game.

    THe game has to be good too just can’t buy games because its a new IP.If Dishonored gets rave reviews and my friends say its the best game ever, I will look into getting it but from what I have seen, the videos aren’t doing it. I will not buy this game just because its a new Ip, its simple as that.

    #17 2 years ago
  18. revolting

    Played it at Eurogamer Expo, was a lot of fun, but I’d say the System Shock 2 comparison is a stretch. It’s a lot more simplified than that, closer to Bioshock, which was very much System Shock Lite. That said, what I played was very enjoyable, with a lot of versatility in the way you approach any given situation. If anything, it felt more like Thief to me, minus the light-based stealth mechanic.

    It’s not revolutionary, but I’m definitely looking forward to the full game now much more than I was before playing it at EG.

    #18 2 years ago
  19. absolutezero

    Oh yes Im not expecting anywhere near the same level of complexity as System Shock 2, I just get a similar feel from this.

    At this stage in the industry its a given that its going to be more simplified and alot more hand-holdy. Especially when your audience does things like this :

    “People would just walk around during playtesting of the ‘Lady Boyle’ mission,” Dishonored executive producer Julien Roby said. “They didn’t know what to do. They didn’t even go upstairs because a guard told them they couldn’t. They’d say, ‘Okay, I can’t go upstairs.’ They wouldn’t do anything.”

    Its almost as if immersion and believing in a game world is completely dead.

    #19 2 years ago
  20. ManuOtaku

    #17 Yes Phoenix i understand and i agree with you at a some extent, let me try to find the right words conveying what i think, if you find a game with interesting mechanics, new ideas, and under your prefered style, lets say for instance a FPS, the gamer should give the benefit of the doubt, support it, the best way they can, and then if the game has potential for future installenemts (not broken or something bad), should be receiving more of that support, i prefer to support interesting new ips, like bulletstorm or vanquish , back in the day, than insert any FPS or TPS in their respective 20 interation, because at least with the new IP, i will have the promise for something new in the setting, story, gameplay mechanics, art, etc, i just wish bulletstorm and vanquish had this benefit of the doubt, becuase with a few improvements they could become great games, and maybe better than any other game on their respective field, i dont know if you get my point, even if you dont agree with it, i hope i did explain the way i feel in the right way.

    #20 2 years ago
  21. Phoenixblight


    We are on the same page. Yes if the game has interesting mechanics, story, gameplay and art that I like and it is a new IP. I will get it thats why I bought BUlletstorm,Dead Space,Darksiders, etc.

    Dishonored doesn’t for me, the art and gameplay look boring and doesn’t look like I will enjoy it at least from the videos,previews,articles I have read and watched.

    #21 2 years ago
  22. absolutezero

    Surely the reverse also applies though, if theres a title from a franchise that looks sub-par you should never buy it simply because its a continuation.

    #22 2 years ago
  23. Phoenixblight


    Of course. THats why I didn’t buy Resident Evil 6. I did however rent it to see what the bad reviews were about.

    #23 2 years ago
  24. absolutezero

    Did we just describe a perfectly normal person here?

    #24 2 years ago
  25. ManuOtaku

    #23 Phoenix If i may ask, your opinion is? ( i mean resident evil 6), i ask because iam also curious, and even curiouser with the so mixed reviews this got.
    #24 absolute, absolutely (pun very intended :) )

    #25 2 years ago
  26. Phoenixblight


    THe controls and the camera are as bad as the reviews have said sadly. There is no exageration there. THe game does have more action than the latest Mich Bay film. Leon’s area does have some parts that are reminiscent of Resident Evil 4 but they leave as quickly as they came.

    I would say the game for me is between a 7 and 8 but I am not seeing why reviewers are gutting it completely other than because its not Resident Evil 4 or the previous iterations.

    #26 2 years ago
  27. bitsnark


    Same with me too actually, I got a chance to speand an extended time with this at the Eurogamer Expo at came away hugely impressed by it (even more so with what they showed off at the off-screen developers session).

    I think people are going to be really quite surprised at how well this bad boy scores.

    #27 2 years ago
  28. DSB

    @19 That just sounds fishy to me. You can only set the bar so low.

    I could understand maybe a 60 year old person playing a game and acting that way if he had literally never touched a videogame, but at some point you have to accept the fact that if you’re too stupid to grasp the concept that you’re an assassin, and that you are indeed there to “puh!” at things like guards, then you deserve to be stuck downstairs.

    Forever, if that’s really what you intend to do.

    There’s a world of difference between gently guiding the player, and simply treating him like he’s a lobotomized alcoholic retard.

    #28 2 years ago
  29. Len

    Anyone know when the review embargo lifts?

    Can’t wait for this next Tues… :)

    #29 2 years ago
  30. TheWulf

    I really don’t like this recent idea that boss battles are bad.

    Bad boss battles are bad.

    If you can have good ones, and provide enough variety as to how you can defeat bosses, then they’re welcome. It’s obvious which game they’re hinting at, here, and that’s Human Revolution. The problem with HR wasn’t that it had boss battles, but that it had bad boss battles.

    The problem with HR was that it was a game that promised variety of play, and then it had no variety with which to take down the bosses. You couldn’t defeat them by hacking robots/turrets, or by talking them down (which can be dramatic and amazing if done right), you couldn’t study them throughout the level and then use your SCIENCE! to devise a brilliant gadget that would weaken them… noap. You just had to kill them, as you would in any game with bosses.

    But due to the way that HR worked, its gameplay, and its combat, these bosses actually turned out being not very fun at all. Since they were bosses from games which excelled at combat, which HR really didn’t. So they were bad, ill-fitting bosses.

    But to say that bosses are bad is to say that Shadow of the Colossus is a bad game, because that game was absolutely nothing but bosses, bosses, and more bosses. And it was an incredible experience. I think anyone who’s played it can agree on that, no?

    So this PR speak is just silly. Rather than “We’re removing bosses!” I’d rather have heard “We’re making bosses which are relevant to our game and how you play it.”

    #30 2 years ago

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