Dishonored Devs Try To Pin Down “Immersion”

By Jim Rossignol on September 11th, 2012 at 5:30 pm.


The Dishonored video bombardment will leave nothing standing. Eventually all that will remain of former gaming websites will be a flickering screen and a hyperlink pointing at digital vendors of Bethesda’s next big game. The latest salvo attempts to define that most nebulous of game design concepts: immersion. The key devs on the project show up in this ten-minute mini-documentary to discuss how this concept relates to industrial design, the non-photorealistic art style, and weird alt-not-London that they’re trying to express. There’s a tonne of stuff on the architecture, of course, and it’s inevitably full of lavish new glimpses the Dishonored world, too.

Also, look at the amazing official Tumblr.

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63 Comments »

  1. Premium User Badge

    golem09 says:

    I don’t know what it is, I keep watching the vids and keep checking out the pictures and articles, but this game just won’t excite me at all.

    • Prokroustis says:

      On the other hand I’m already looking forward to the sequel.

    • Zelius says:

      Really? In my case, the more I see, the more I think this will be one of the most interesting games this year.

    • Trithne says:

      Have you also found that life no longer holds meaning?

    • woodsey says:

      Are you perhaps the child-star of a Horror film in which you were robbed of your very soul?

    • Dowson says:

      I was really excited for it, but the constant articles are eroding my interest.

      I really wish they’d just focus on the game, rather than telling us they’re focusing on the game.

      • DuddBudda says:

        I too see a new article with attached video and think this thing

        once I have watched the video I am enthused and worried – they are doing wonderful things but can they really do them?????

      • Drake Sigar says:

        I somewhat agree, it feels like they’re trying to sell me the spectacle.

      • Hidden_7 says:

        The game is very likely feature complete at this point, going through the final rounds of bug testing in preparation for Microsoft and Sony certs, if it isn’t at that step already, in preparation for its October release. High level designers and especially artists don’t really have anything left on the game to do. They may as well try to sell the product they just finished passionately working on.

        Unless you meant the exact specific focus of these videos, rather than the fact that they exist at all, in which case, I dunno, I find them effective, but it’s understandable if you don’t. There sure are a lot of talking heads in them.

        • buluke65521 says:

          Kind of insulting to suggest some of the creators of the original Deus Ex will benefit from the pale imitation that was Human Revolution.
          http://www.tomshardware.co.uk/forum/categories-list.htm

          • Tyrone Slothrop. says:

            You mean a game that surpassed the original in many respects; from the astounding art design, the score, the liveliness of all environs, the conversation mechanics, the inventory, a superior usefulness of typically neglected ideas of the original (there was -one- weak concrete wall in the first game one could break outside of the tutorial and only about four opportunities where the strength augmentation was needed), vastly larger city hubs, more optional readable material, far more side-quests which were also comprised of far more stages, kinaesthetically satisfying combat, superior weapon modding, the greatest hacking mini-game ever invented, superior balance and a level of environmental storytelling and emotional resonance the first never achieved.

            It fell short in other areas, infamously the boss fights but for you to suggest it’s a pale imitation when it’s actually vastly improved in many areas is just nonsensical and you’re a silly person with a silly opinion. Further, how this even came up when the parent post made no mention of Deus Ex or Human Revolution is equally silly.

          • KenTWOu says:

            2Tyrone Slothrop
            I almost agree with you, but that comment belongs to Runs With Foxes, and you are talking to a spambot :)

          • Runs With Foxes says:

            You mention so many things but hardly any of them relate to gameplay, which is where HR is a pale imitation. The Eidos devs completely misunderstood or wilfully ignored what made DX1 a great immersive sim, and they gave us a butchered version corrupted by Metal Gear Solid. Cutscenes everywhere in their quest for cinemmersive emotional storytelling, Pacman-style stealth, and worst of all the level design and tool design that results in (often literally) highlighting 2 or 3 passages players can take. They thought that having multiple pathways was the epitome of Deus Ex gameplay. They didn’t understand it was only the beginning.

            But yeah, you know … nice inventory I guess.

      • magnus says:

        Then IGNORE THEM! (sigh)

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      golem09 says:

      All the artwork and FMVs they show off look so good, slightly disturbed, asymmetrical and wild. The ingame models are all cartoon characters without any edge at all, combined with ultra boring lighting.
      That’s the opposite of Immersion for me.
      I’m also not really a fan of killing bucketloads of innocent guards (in gruesome ways) to fight evil rulers.
      And I hate sneaking.
      But the pure concept of the world always draws me to this game, and makes me watch all videos.

      • Trithne says:

        Luckily for you they’ve made it so you can not kill a single person and don’t have to sneak!

        Although I’d be curious to see how it’d go playing a not-stealthing, no-kills run of the game. I’m genuinely interested to see that.

        • Penicillin says:

          Where are you getting that information? I was under the impression that the game allows for either brutal combat, combat-avoidance via stealth, or some combination of the two. I haven’t seen a single thing about non-stealth + non-violent gameplay options (ie adventuring and talking). Although if it turns out that is a viable option, then that is purely awesome!

  2. DuddBudda says:

    Well I’m not immersed at all; if this were London there would be a ‘u’ in that title

    • Sheng-ji says:

      I thought it was set in a made up place called Dunwall

      • HothMonster says:

        Yeah it is a fictional location in a fictional universe but it’s based heavily off of London. Basically our universe up until the end of the plague and then fracture into dishonored world, that is how I understand it at least.

        edit: commented before watching, it goes into detail on all of this.

  3. Sic says:

    I’m truly exited for the game, but the more footage I see, the more I fear that the PC version will look very much like a console game. I mean, the renderer seems to be working in something like 320 x 240. I haven’t seen such jaggies since the nineties.

    Not that it ultimately matters that much, but I do hope they have thrown in some higher resolution stuff in the PC version.

    • ResonanceCascade says:

      The PC footage that’s out there looks great, no jaggies at all. The texture resolution probably isn’t increased much from the consoles, but that isn’t going to be a huge deal because they’re all done up to look like paintings rather than “real” objects.

      • SelfEsteemFund says:

        Got a link for this PC footage? Been following the game for a long time & all I’ve seen is xbox gameplay & cgi trailers.

  4. Beelzebud says:

    You know Bethesda is behind something when they start spamming the word “immersion” over and over again.

    It got to me when they were marketing Fallout 3 as being more “immersive” than the first two games, because it was using a first person perspective. Now I hear “immersion” talk, and I just want to throw up.

    It’s especially annoying when the hardcore Bethesda fans feel the need to use the word, as if no one notices that they’re just parroting Bethesda’s marketing department. I eagerly await Doom 4 and the IMMERSION we’ll be getting with it.

    • Prokroustis says:

      Bethesda games can’t really be totally immersive since they have loads and loads of the basic immersion killer – loading screens..

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        Wisq says:

        You do realise this isn’t a Bethesda game, right?

        Published by them, yes. Developed, no.

  5. Dreforian says:

    I recently figured out immersion for myself. For me it comes from details. This can be any form of detail; in terms of graphics/level design it’s definitely about quality (what they choose to include) over quantity (fidelity). Games like Zelda, Dungeon Siege and Serious Sam trained me to pick up on visual cues, form suspicions and investigate. Each had their own systems that I learned to navigate. Detailed combat systems can have the same effect. If I learn a few abilities and tricks and then think “x should be possible too” or “I hope I get x ability to deal with that”, a detailed system will reward that thinking.
    Idiosyncratic controls can sometimes do it as well. Mischief Makers for the N64 messed up my dreams with all the wind-up arm spinning I had to do.
    Essentially good detail is about building a different way of thinking, a system in which each experience flows logically from the last, even if the player doesn’t fully understand that logic.
    Of course different players bring different amounts of themselves to the game. My brother brings everything and so he thrives on sandbox games that let him make and do whatever he wants. He gets mad when the game doesn’t conform to his expectations. I bring a bit less, but still some important stuff. Mainly my preference for stealth and non-lethality. Even in strategy games I prefer to win with no losses (in singleplayer), often forcing me down the indirect path.
    What we bring to the game can shape immersion and can break it if either side of the equation is too inflexible to accommodate the other.
    TEXTWALLFACE

    • ResonanceCascade says:

      It seems to me to be about the consistency — or apparent consistency — of the world.

      In Thief, the most immersive game EVAR, everything behaves in a very consistent manner. The game never blocks me off from a path in an intrusive way like using an invisible wall or a small rubbish pile that’s masquerading as an invisible wall. If I’m not supposed to go somewhere, there will be a realistically unscalable obstacle in my way. If an object looks like I could reasonably pick it up, I can. The AI is simulated and doesn’t feel tailored to specific set-pieces or moments. When there are scripted AI sequences, they are interruptable.

      All that, coupled with good sound design, is what draws me into a game and makes me feel like I’m there.

      • Dreforian says:

        Verily. What you’re talking about with Thief is consistency with your own expectations as a player. Goes back to what I said about what players bring to their games. There are some games where I explore every last corner for secrets and goodies, while there are others where I’ve learned that the nooks and crannies don’t matter and I can rush forward without fear of missing anything. The really clever games buck those expectations after having built them, without being inconsistent to itself.
        As for sound, yes yes and more yes. In Serious Sam (the First/Second Encounters at least) there’s a unique sound for every flavor of enemy. You could almost play it blind with a little more sound engineering. Also some of the games I enjoyed and remember the most had excellent music. There are even some games I know the sounds and music of that I’ve never played (Xenoblade I’m lookin’ at you).

  6. SuperNashwanPower says:

    What did the irishman say when he saw the humpback-blubber-marinaded sirloin hanging in the butchers?

    “Whale oil beef hooked”

    Anyone? No?
    *Sigh*

    • magnus says:

      Joe Pasquale’s missing a gag writer!

    • Blackcompany says:

      What are you blubbering about..?

    • Tommando says:

      Well I’ll be fraked?

      • Premium User Badge

        tomeoftom says:

        Tommando: It’s “fucked”. The word is “fucked”. Either choose a different word entirely (“screwed”) or don’t say it at all. It’s no less offensive to swap around a few characters, because the reader or listener just recompiles it into “fuck” in their heads, and in the process all the joy, punch, rhythm, and mechanical satisfaction of the word “fuck” is completely bled out. The word “frak” and all similar euphemisms lose the cleanliness without gaining any edge. Trust me, anyone that cares *that* much about swearing will still flinch at the dirty feel. Instead, alter your language before speaking or writing the sentence to make sure that it’s contextually appropriate. Just make sure the swearing’s used for intensity, not punctuation.

  7. Blackcompany says:

    Glad I can differentiate between Devs (Arkane) & Publisher (Bethesda). Because at this point in my life I see Bethesda & Immersion and its stop reading. That combination kills my interest with a quickness.

    Bethesda couldn’t immerse a 5 year old in a candy store.

    • Hidden_7 says:

      Bethesda are well-known, lauded, and incredibly successful on the back of their immersion. It doesn’t work for you, and quite a few other people, which is more than understandable but it’s widely considered one of their strengths. Railing on them for it, especially with extreme hyperbole just looks silly.

      When did it become a problem to just merely dislike something, without said thing needing to have a dearth of redeeming qualities, or vice-versa. Can’t we just dislike things because we dislike things? I don’t like Civilization, this doesn’t mean that Civ is bad, or I am bad.

      Also is “I normally wouldn’t be interested in this for reasons 1, 2 and 3, but 3 doesn’t really count so I suppose it’s okay” the new “I don’t care about this,” in regard to passive aggressive posts you need to make an active effort to write?

      • Beelzebud says:

        They’re known for “immersion” because their marketing department spams the word when they’re self-hyping their products.

        • ResonanceCascade says:

          Many eyes are rolling at you through the internet, sir.

      • Blackcompany says:

        Oh yes, Bethesda is well known for Immersion in the same way the American government is well known for Bipartisanship.

        Some examples of their “Immersion:”

        -Companions who cannot properly utilize Doorways
        -Dogs. That Bark. Ceaselessly and regardless of circumstance.
        -Both of the above too stupid to understand what a pressure plate in a dungeon does despite having stepped on one 766 times
        -5 minute weather cycles
        -”I saw a Mudcrab the other day.” Again. For the 52nd time.
        -”You have my ear, citizen.”

        Bethesda is famous for Immersion because of the age old adage about telling a lie so often it becomes truth.

        They really couldn’t immerse a rock in pond.

        • NathanH says:

          Your Bethesda rage is pretty tiresome, I’m afraid. All of your points are basically piffling things you can find in any decent video game ever made. If you don’t like Bethesda games that’s fine by me, but there’s no need to be a tedious grumpy bastard about it.

          It’d be nice if Bethesda RPGs were more “immersive” (which is pretty much just a meaningless buzzword to start with, but let’s go with it anyway) but there’s not really anything else these days that even tries to do similar things. That’s because I imagine it’s really bloody difficult. I hate sniping at ambitious games for a bunch of piffling little reasons. Ambitious games with wide scope have lots of little flaws. You either have to live with that or not play ambitious games with wide scope. I mean, I don’t even particularly think Skyrim is brilliant and I wish a lot of things were different, but it’s a well-made impressive achievement and I’m not going to mock or deride them for making it.

          • x1501 says:

            NathanN, the term may be subjective, but it’s far from being meaningless. An immersive game is like an engrossing movie or an absorbing book—you may lack the exact words to describe it, but you immediately know it when you see one. For me, Mass Effect and, say, Fallout II were deeply immersive. Oblivion, Skyrim, or so-called Fallout 3 (also known as The Worst Sequel Ever), on the other hand, were most definitely anything but. I never felt connected with their junk-cluttered worlds or any of their characters, be it “The Hero of Kvatch!” or that “I’m looking for my father. Middle-aged guy” what’s-his-name.

            And was that about them being “ambitious”? Gameplay-wise, they tend to get more and more simplistic and conventional with every iteration (Daggerfall->Morrowind->Oblivion-Skyrim), and with such dumb but highly hyped additions as kill cams and toilet humor, they seem to be aiming directly at the lowest common denominator. My opinion of Bethesda’s games is that they’re all extremely poorly written, voiced and animated; they’re full of immersion-breaking bugs and robotic NPC behavior; they’re very clunky; and they are not that interesting to play to begin from. In other words, “immersive” and “ambitious” are probably not the words I’d use to describe any of Bethesda’s recent offerings. I’m honestly baffled why anyone but younger gamers who grew up on this crap would ever think of them otherwise.

          • NathanH says:

            The main problem I have with the term immersion is not so much that it is subjective but that it is ill-defined and can be used to suit whatever purposes you want. You’re using it pretty much the same as “absorbing” or “engrossing”, and that’s how I’d use it, but I’ve encountered plenty of people who use it to mean something stronger; for them, if they are playing a game and know they’re playing a game then it can’t be immersive. So my main problem with the word is that it’s something that clearly indicates quality (immersive good, breaking immersion bad) but the meaning differs so much between people that it’s effectively just a way of saying “I like this” or “I don’t like this” but attempting to give some sort of extra weight to this opinion that it doesn’t merit.

            For instance, I’d say that I can become immersed in Puzzle Quest. Some people would find that statement outrageous.

            For a relaxed definition of immersion, there aren’t many games that I can’t imagine some people finding immersive. For a strong definition of immersion, I can’t imagine that not being immersive is in any way a bad thing.

            When it comes to the immersiveness of Bethesda games, I’ll defend them because there isn’t anyone even coming close to trying what they try these days. Their ambition is to let you explore and play around in a large area that is pretty detailed and often just fun to explore and poke around at, and have a serviceable light action-RPG system on top. If you want to imagine being an adventurer roaming a beautiful fantasy land, there really isn’t much else to choose these days, or really at all. I have a lot of criticism of Skyrim but these criticisms are mostly about game mechanics and not immersion.

            But I have to say that most of my grumpy reply is based on the fact that Blackcompany is always whining about Bethesda games, usually in poor fashion, and it annoys me.

        • Aatch says:

          On the matter of dogs, clearly you have not spent much time around dogs. I grew up with dogs and I can assure you that they do bark, all the time, regardless of situation. I mean, sure the little dogs don’t really bark much, but the medium-sized ones featured in Skyrim certainly would.

          I agree that the dialogue can be a bit repetitive, but there isn’t much you can do about that, with a budget less than $100,000,000, only so much of that can be for recording dialogue, the other option is people that don’t talk at all, which you could argue is less immersive.

          The companions in doors is annoying, certainly, and they certainly could have put more effort into fixing it. However, out of all the bugs in the game, this is merely a single one, and it doesn’t even crash and/or corrupt the game! Its hardly a bug at all. (I’m not joking, QA looks for bugs from the level of “Killing a mudcrab formatted my drive” to “Casting spell X while wearing armor type B crashes the game” and finally “I can phase through this section of geometry, cause a load of a different level and get stuck because it autosaves”, tiny things like “Companion won’t move out of the way of the door, sometimes” are pushed to the bottom of the pile.)

          I am programmer, so I am aware at what happens at high complexity levels. Some section of AI code that handles one thing interacts with another section something else and something unexpected happens. To be honest, you’re lucky that the follower doesn’t just starting running straight up.

          Similarly, the traps are a nightmare for the AI since they need to be conditionally aware of them, and when you have a list of 40 bugs that cause the game to crash, saves to corrupt, or the game to become unplayable, it is a choice between clairvoyant AI or stupid AI, they went for stupid AI and moved onto stopping casting firebolt on skeevers making them immortal.

          Question: What is more immersion-breaking, a follower that won’t move out of the way, or a follow that moves out of the way by moving through you.

  8. televizor says:

    I just checked the system requirements for Dishonored. What bugs me:
    Processor: 3.0 GHz dual core or better
    Memory: 4 GB system RAM
    Seems like I won’t be able to play it. Just found that out. Today.

    • Hidden_7 says:

      That’s a shame you won’t be able to play the game you were looking forward to but a) those system requirements aren’t exactly bleeding edge / high end. I have that and my system was mid-range maybe upper-mid two years ago, and b) chances are it won’t actually need that. It’s unreal engine designed to run on modern consoles. If you’re just a little short of the mark, I’d wager it would probably run. Try a demo if one comes out.

      If you’re well short of the mark, it really might be time to upgrade. I understand that money can be tight for some people, but gaming is a hobby that costs money, particularly if you want to play the newest games just coming out. Maybe start a computer upgrade savings fund. It shouldn’t cost that much for something that will reliably run every game of this console generation and even decently into the next.

    • Noise says:

      Don’t listen to system requirements they’re usually wrong these days. 4GB RAM is probably required, but “3.0 GHz dual core or better” is just a vague thing to make sure you have a reasonably modern CPU. I’m sure a Q6600 could run this game on low settings, and of course it depends on the other specs of your computer, like your video card which is often the biggest factor. Since most games have to run on Xbox or PS3 as well as PC, you can be sure that even an old piece of shit PC could run them on low settings.

      It’s a modern game so you need a decentish computer, but they just pull these requirements out of their ass.

  9. Iskariot says:

    The Antonov design alone is enough for me to want this game.

    • Godwhacker says:

      The way he describes it is wonderful. I am fully sold on this game.

      Incidentally, there are a lot of people complaining here. I have a horrible feeling this is going to flop in the US for being too French.

      • ResonanceCascade says:

        I think it’ll do relatively well. It has some momentum from Human Revolution and it’s also one of the first big action games to come out after a long dry spell.

        If it doesn’t do well, games with this ethos will probably be relegated to Kickstarter — and that’s if we’re lucky — for another decade.

        • Runs With Foxes says:

          Kind of insulting to suggest some of the creators of the original Deus Ex will benefit from the pale imitation that was Human Revolution.

          • ResonanceCascade says:

            I bet if you used that big ol’ primate brain of yours, you could ascertain the meaning of what I actually said.

          • KenTWOu says:

            Deus Ex: Human Revolution wasn’t pale imitation and creates huge immersive sim/cyberpunk momentum in video game industry. Deal with it!

          • tetracycloide says:

            In your rush to insult Human Revolution you completely missed the point: it was popular, Dishonored is similar enough for consumers to draw parallels, and it was recent enough for consumers to remember. How it compares to the original is completely irrelevant to what is being said.

    • Dances to Podcasts says:

      I agree. That suit and those sideburns are amazing.

  10. Danorz says:

    i really like this game and i really want to play it but the frankly ridiculous preorder thing (that they have no excuse for at all being their own publisher) has ensured the only way i play it is through a mostly inevitable GOTY edition

    • HorzaEdeo says:

      Or you could just get it on Steam, which doesn’t have any of the pre-order silliness going on.

  11. Haxavier says:

    Sure is cynical grumpy-types and trolls in here.

    It’s going to be a very long 3 weeks starting from now, that’s for sure.

  12. KDR_11k says:

    Immersion? That’s easy. Immersion is when all the window dressing starts fading away and all you see are the raw game mechanics. Guards are no longer guards but moving vision cones and weapons and reaction times, ladders are vertical travel with certain delays and a chance to be attacked, reinforcements are blips that spawn according to a specific logic, the story is a sequence of videos triggered by tripwires, etc.

    • kament says:

      Funny story, it’s quite the opposite fo me. Like, totally.

    • Haxavier says:

      My sarcasm detector is broken.

      Also, your assessment is backwards. That’s what happens when you’ve played the game so many times that the setting no longer has any impact on you psychologically and you treat it like a bundle of gameplay mechanics that exists to be bested.