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Dishonored was never pressured to add in multiplayer

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Under pressure

Dishonored is out this Friday, thanks to archaic scheduling systems, which has meant that our more American gamer friends have been enjoying the game for a few days already. It’s got all the ingredients for a winning title, from an intriguing story through to a world which asks players to choose their actions wisely. One thing that is doesn’t have though, is multiplayer, something of a rarity in games  these days, where violence is carried out from the first person perspective.

Working with Bethesda to publish the game, Dishonored director Harvey Smith explained to Kotaku how there was no pressure whatsoever to include a multiplayer section to the title. “I’ve been at a lot of publishers,” Smith said. “I’ve worked in games for 18 years. I’ve worked independently at times; I’ve worked in big teams, small teams. And I can honestly tell you, no smoke, that this is the smartest group of executives I’ve ever worked with.”

Smith says that it thanks to Bethesda having people such as Todd “Skyrim” Howard in their creative departments, that Dishonored could go ahead and focus solely on the single-player experience;

If you look at the success of Fallout and Skyrim and games like that, this is a group of people who have just sort of grown up in the industry trusting creative talent. And it was such a good fit for [Dishonored developer] Arkane, we still are pinching ourselves.

And so when we walked into meetings with all these guys, and we started talking about Dishonored, you know, it was very strange. Like it’s clearly outside their comfort zone at times. And so it’s a first-person action game with RPG elements and a stealth system.

We talked at length about why view cones and simulation were important to us. We started making this art style that everybody was like, ‘Wow what is this?’

It was very nerdy and very weird and very novel I guess. And at every step along the way those guys have supported us… This is as close as you’ll get to me saying that I have not had that experience with other publishers I’ve worked with, who forced us to bolt on multiplayer, or who said inane things like ‘First-person perspective doesn’t sell!’ or ‘RPGs don’t sell!’ I can tell you from the inside, 18 years, that this is a crazy, crazy business.

Long story short: No one ever pressured us to do that. We told them that this was an aggressively single-player game, and they said alright, we moved forward, and that was it.

And in an industry where multiplayer is usually seen as a value added and mandatory incentive, Dishonored managed to skip that entirely. However, does SMith think that adding such content could have benefited the game overall?

“I never— [co-designer Raphael Colantonio] and I, once in a while we’d start meetings with the team by saying ‘Well, guys, we have an announcement: we’re going third-person and we’re gonna add multiplayer!'” Smith said.

We could probably envision the kind of game that would be fun to do co-op or whatever, but frankly, we are driven mostly by what we’d like to play… We’re going after a specific experience that we think we a hard sell 20 years ago, but moving forward, people are hungry for depth.

And adding multiplayer to that might harm that in some way, I dunno. Our goals all along were single-player.

Whether it’s a smart move, remains to be seen, but it can’t hurt the reputation of Dishonored to value that specific form of gameplay over the other. Spec Ops: The Line, while having a brilliant story and capable gameplay, is one such example of this, as the multiplayer that was tacked onto it felt shallow and cheap.

There’s quite a few people who believe that single-player games are dying out, but when such superb titles such as Darksiders 2 and The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim appear on the market, that idea always manages to seem redundant.

Last Updated: October 11, 2012

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