Dishonored EP2: Rat Traps

 By Shamus Feb 28, 2013 185 comments


Link (YouTube)

The area around the Hound Pitts is amazing. Bright, colorful, decayed, detailed, varied, and open. There’s lots of vertical space to explore and none of it feels copy / pasted. Thought was put into making the layout sensible. Beer barrels just off the bar, places for the help to live upstairs, nice rooms for the owners, and so on. Verisimilitude and such.

And since we’re talking about the 451 code:

  • In System Shock (1994) the very first keypad-controlled door you encounter has an access code of 451.
  • I’ve never played it myself, but I’ve been told that in Sanitarium (1998) the first door code is 451.
  • In System Shock 2 (1999) the first keypad-controlled door you encounter has the access code of 45100.
  • In Deus Ex (2000) the first keypad (for the little com station just outside of UNATCO headquarters) is 0451.
  • In Deus Ex – Invisible War (2004) the game was simplified so that you no longer entered keycodes, but you begin the game in room 451 of Tarsus Academy.
  • In BioShock (2007) the door code of the crematorium is 0451.
  • In Deus Ex: Human Revolution (2011) the code to Sarif’s office elevator (to the tutorial encounter) is 0451.
  • And here in Dishonored the first safe code is 451.

A Hundred!202020205I bet you won't even read all 185 comments before leaving your own.


  1. Supahewok says:

    And in Deus Ex: HR, the first keypad (in Sarif’s elevator) is 0451. /pedantry

  2. guy says:

    The murderous rat hordes are from Pandyssia and are larger, meaner, and more plague-bearing than native Dunwall rats.

    Hey Chris, recognize that game over message from a certain video?

    Lydia works here. The bar owner is part of the conspiracy. I think that the quarantine has stopped regular customers from showing up, but given the way everything to do with plague containment measures is some mixture of corrupt, inefficient, or just nonfunctional, it’s hardly surprising that conspiracy members can come and go as they please.

    • Cupcaeks says:

      Just in case anyone’s wondering, Admiral Havelock is the one who owns the bar, and Lydia, and I think Cecilia as well, are former employees. I’m pretty sure Lydia talks about how things used to be there before the plague if you spam the ‘F’ key enough. As far as where there getting that drink from, I got the impression that some of those caskets were still untapped. The place can’t have been closed for more than a year, 6 months if those quarantine measures weren’t put into place until the Empress died.

    • Neruz says:

      Yeah, one thing I really did like about this game was how they actually go out of their way to point out that the vicious swarms of man-eating plague rats actually are really strange. They’re bigger, angrier and hungrier than normal rats, they appear to carry the plague and nobody knows where they came from (at first at least). These aren’t just rats, they’re an entirely new species of rat which makes the whole “travels in man-eating swarms” part much more believable.

      -EDIT-

      Also Shamus: You can disarm the traps, but you need to disarm the actual trap, not the tripwire. Cutting the tripwire (unsurprisingly) just sets it off. If you want to disarm traps you need to get around the tripwire and disarm the actual trap itself. This makes sense because this is how tripwires work.

      • Indy says:

        Yes, you remove the bolts from the launcher to disarm it.

      • Shamus says:

        Tripwires work when you trip on them. That is, by pulling on them. In other games, (Oblivion, Skyrim, Minecraft) you can cut the line so it goes slack, which shouldn’t produce any pulling. This makes sense to me and is the only contact I have with the concept.

        I suppose you can make a device where the line must remain taught and pulling OR cutting would set it off, but in that case simply fixing one end of the wire in place ought to prevent triggering it.

        I ought to be possible for a human being to circumvent it. Barring that, you out to be able to step over it. Either way, the device is not sapient and it’s just a piece of tight string. They are only an obstacle because the game won’t let you do very simple things to circumvent them.

        • Indy says:

          Aside from going over/under them, of course.

          • Shamus says:

            You need headroom to jump and running space to slide. Otherwise you just hit your head or plow into it like a dunce. It’s silly to need to do all these acrobatics to circumvent a PIECE OF STRING that could be avoided with a simple cut, crawl, or snip. (In particular the idea of sprinting AT a tripwire so you can slide under it is absurd.)

            I’m not saying this is some unforgivable shortcoming of the game, but I’m responding to the original comment that implied that the traps were just fine and dandy and that I was unreasonable for taking issue with how this is set up. I encountered the tripwire, was frustrated with my options, and said so.

            All of this tries back to the comments I made elsewhere about wishing this game was more “thief-like”. I was looking for upgrades that would make me a better infiltrator. That would have been a nice addition to the non-lethal skill set, particularly if there were trap-heavy paths that let you circumvent guards.

            But no, you can get around these strings right from the outset by using gymnastics, and traps only appear a few times.

            • Anorak says:

              In Metro 2033, Bourbon neatly steps over a tripwire. Of course, there’s no mechanic for YOU, the player to do so, you have to jump it. And given the lack of precision for first person platforming….

              this happens

              I loved that game, but that thing with the tripwire irrationally annoyed me.

              CABBAGE MEDAL.

            • hborrgg says:

              To be fair though, Corvo needs those kinds of acrobatics just to avoid knocking over bottles and pretty much anything else with physics, so at least the game world is being consistent.

            • MetalSeagull says:

              I remember standing to one side and just shooting the tripwires. Yes, it discharges the trap, but you don’t get hit.

          • Jokerman says:

            It should be easier to get pass them, i always thought a trap was something to catch you out, if you see it then its not a trap anymore…its more of a jumping puzzle.

        • Karthik says:

          This is tricky. If the wire responds to an increase in tension, cutting it from two opposing points on its circumference (like with a pair of scissors) shouldn’t set off the trap.

          Applying pressure from one point, such as by using a knife, does increase the tension before the wire fibers begin to give, so it’s a toss up. A sufficiently sharp knife and a delicate enough cutting (sawing) process can possibly still keep the trap from going off.

          Not sure, though, just a hypothesis.

        • MadHiro says:

          You would probably want a trip wire to trigger on any change in tension, specifically to make disarming the trap more difficult. If any change, increasing or decreasing, sets it off, you would probably need to fix the wire at two points before snipping the middle.
          -.-.-.-.-.-.
          -x-.-.-.-x-
          -x………..x-

          And then you could pass in the middle. If you only fixed one of the sides, the other side would still be able to register a change in tension.

          It definitely seems reasonable that when in ‘stealth’ mode, it should be possible to just automatically ‘creep’ over/under the things. Trip wires are meant to take out unsuspecting subjects, not alert ones.

        • Deadfast says:

          Or you use a thick fishing line and give very little tolerance to trigger whatever it is attached to. Unless you were to cut it with a laser you’d surely produce at least some pull on the line, thereby triggering the device.

          Another option, sadly only possible with today’s technology, would be to use a laser beam. I did some really heavy research on this subject and discovered that, against all logic, they actually do not glow red!

          • Klay F. says:

            This.

            If your trap is triggered by producing tension, then there is every reason to make your tripwire as thick as necessary to avoid the possibility of it breaking.

            However, if your trap relies on the releasing of tension to trigger it, then you want the tripwire as thin as possible so as to avoid the possibility of it not breaking.

            This is why tripwire traps (in the real world) are nearly all designed to be triggered with a release of tension. The thinner the wire, the harder it is to see and easier to camouflage.

        • decius says:

          Tripwire devices can be made that trigger on increased tension, loss of tension, or either. If you get intricate enough, they can even do different things or use both ends of the wire.

          The problem with fixing one end in place is doing so without adding or removing tension from the wire. I suppose gluing the wire to one of the sheaves would work, if you had glue and could reach them.

  3. noahpocalypse says:

    “Though was out into making the layout sensible.”

    I feel a great disturbance in the Internet; it is as if a thousand grammar nazis screamed in agony, and spellcheck programmers shuffled their feet guiltily.

    • Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

      Grammar aside, after rescuing Emily I took some time to explore. I found no less than three ledges that I suspect I will eventually have to jump off of, just like the escape from Coldridge.

  4. noahpocalypse says:

    “Though was put into making the layout sensible.”

    I feel a great disturbance in the Internet; it is as if a thousand grammar nazis screamed in agony, and spellcheck programmers shuffled their feet guiltily.

    (Typically, I misspelled ‘put’ as ‘out’. #facepalm Sorry for the double post.)

  5. Erik says:

    Aww, no Diecast today? I was hoping to have something to listen to on my commute to work :)

  6. Nytzschy says:

    Is “Cuftbert Shall Prevail” a reference to something?*

    I wouldn’t ask, normally, but it gives me this really strong sense that I’ve seen something like it before. That might just be because it reminds me of those slogan banners from Bioshock.

    *I mean besides Cuftbert’s inevitable victory despite his suicidally short-sighted methods.

  7. RedSun says:

    I think the opening of Baldur’s Gate 2 did a decent job of torturing the player character and at least making it somewhat impacting. It’s not highly distressing, but it is confusing to start off with your PC captured, and it’s ambiguous enough in its presentation that you’re left wondering what he spent the last few months doing to you.
    Imoen’s rescue also really adds to the gravity of the scene-having the one character everyone is guaranteed to have met, who was previously characterized as bubbly and childish, show up battered and afraid and rushing you out of your cell made shit feel particularly real. Her almost threatening to leave me behind was genuinely shocking to me.

    • IFS says:

      I think part of what worked about that scene was that it let you discuss the torture afterwards with a party member who had also suffered through it. Even better the game gave you different options for how you felt about it, such as “He has to pay” versus “Well if it was just me maybe I’d be okay with it to get more power” and such. Even better the character you could discuss it with was one of the most likable characters and a fan favorite from the previous game.

    • Eric says:

      Hmm.

      There are two that come to mind.

      Quake 4 has you captured, then horribly mutilated and turned into a Strogg in real-time from a first-person perspective. It’s pretty gruesome and at least somewhat emotionally affecting simply because of how graphic it is – you really get the sense that the character you play as is being torn apart.

      Another one that is more psychological is Prey. The intro spends a fairly decent amount of time (10-15 minutes) giving your protagonist’s girlfriend and grandfather some character development. They are fairly flat, stereotypical characters, but even so, they had hints of a bit more depth to them, and it was enough to give you a feel for them and their connection to the protagonist. Then you see them smashed into human slurry before your eyes, after a fairly lengthy build-up. The scene mostly works well because of the solid voice acting behind them – it doesn’t feel scripted or “like a movie” but chaotic, inexplicable and terrifying.

      Probably over-selling both of those games a little, but they do hold up well today in that respect. Not exactly torture but it’s the closest I can think of.

      • Michael says:

        I’d actually forgotten about Quake 4, but that one does do a pretty decent job.

        The other use of torture that comes to mind is, arguable, Dead Space 2. None of it happens on screen, and it doesn’t so much affect the player, as it does Strauss and Issac.

        I kinda think there’s a torture bit in Spec Ops The Line somewhere, but I can’t remember.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Wasnt there a pretty gruesome torture scene in one of the ultimas?

    • If one defines “torture” as “Nooo! My character! Maybe I can get out of this… NOOOOO!” then I’d say Fallout 1′s meeting with Lou, the Super Mutant qualifies. If you’re captured early on, you probably won’t survive the interrogation.

    • Grudgeal says:

      I thought that worked mainly because I had played through BG1 and was emotionally invested in my imported character and my merry band of NPCs (which, as luck would have it, was the party the canon wanted me to have, thus making Khalid and Dynaheir’s deaths all the more kick-in-the-teeth-esque).

      That said, if you haven’t played BG1 you also have the option of acting like you’re bewildered and dazed and is more of a “what the heck has happened to me” person than “argh I have been tortured” person, which is justified in-game by the partial lobotomy you’ve gone through. Which I thought was a nice touch.

      Anyway, do we could psychological torture/breaking speeches here? Because I can think of a few effective ones of that type.

  8. Jakale says:

    So, drinking game rule for every time Josh games over by attacking/killing a plot NPC?

    I forgot just how dark the sewers were. For some reason I thought you got some sort of portable light source.

    • StashAugustine says:

      You also get game overs for possessing them. Totally worth it though.

    • Honestly, I hate when games throw me into super dark areas for no reason. It’s infuriating and makes it hard to navigate.

      Though when I played Coolridge Prison, yeah it was dark, but I didn’t have much of a problem with it. Seemed fine to me. I could still see where I was going and didn’t have a problem navigating the area.

      • Eruanno says:

        I played Dishonored on the 360 first time around and found it quite dark, but that’s only because my old (and now broken) HDTV was suuuper dark. Playing the PC version later the gamma was no problem on my PC monitor.

        EDIT: Just to clarify, the console version is not significantly darker, but my TV was a cheap piece of crap and therefore produced a much darker picture.

    • Mintskittle says:

      I do hope you mean attacking/killing plot NPCs that you aren’t supposed to kill, there’s plenty of plot NPCs that you are supposed to kill. There’s going to be plenty of drink-worthy moments without having to add every primary objective to it.

  9. Eljacko says:

    I keep cringing every time they complain about the game’s apparent moral judgments. The only place I really feel that these complaints are relevant is Emily’s behavior and reaction to Corvo, depending on his chaos rating. Those feel a little cheap and emotional-engineering-y. All of the outcomes of chaos ratings are justified in-universe. High chaos is bad, not because you’re killing people but because you’re creating more bodies to feed the plague rats. Low chaos is good because you’re stabilizing the few loyalists who aren’t complete assholes, spurring Piero and Sokolov to create their plague cure.

    The bit about the whales makes sense too. It’s not wrong for them to kill the whales because OH NO, CUTE AQUATIC MAMMALS! It’s wrong for them to kill the whales because Dishonore whales are part eldritch abomination, and killing them weakens the very fabric of the universe.

    What really bugs me is that I can’t fault the Spoiler Warning crew for missing this perspective, because it’s so horribly explained in-game. I only know all this stuff because I’ve done extensive reading of the game’s wiki and TVtropes page, and learned a bunch of minor trivia.

    • Mike S. says:

      That makes some sense on an abstract level. But in practice, you can kill people in ways that don’t leave bodies for the plague rats (toss them through a Gate of Light, or just dump the body in the river for the hagfish) and AFAIK it still ups the chaos rating. Ultimately, your actions shape the future in ways that come across as more moral than pragmatic.

      • zob says:

        Most of those people you kill are cops who have families who are using elixirs which are rationed in Dunwall. If you are sister, wife or child of a cop you get elixir, if you are widow or orphan of one you got less (if not none).

      • BY killing guards, you’re still depriving the areas of military personnel which could help maintain order if they were just knocked out, but not if they were dead (vaporized or otherwise).

        • Anorak says:

          This.

          “Chaos” is not a morality meter by any stretch. It is exactly what it says: it measures how much more chaotic Dunwall is becoming because of your actions.

          Ghost through an area, leaving all guards alive? Great, you’ve left infrastructure in place, the guards are free to go home and provide for their families, buying them bread + plague-away.

          Kill some guards? There’s now less people actively maintaining law and order, looting becomes more prevalent, people find it easier to break curfew, weepers can start to escape the flooded district, the plague spreads. Chaos increases.

          Yes, this mechanic could be fleshed out some more, beyond “how many people did you kill”, because it does _look_ like a morality meter. But it has in universe justifications for why it isn’t.

          Maybe they could have made it more varied by making the act of killing looters a negative chaos rating. And killing rats. And killing weepers.

          There is a mission from Granny Rags that has you put infected meat in Slackjaw’s distillery. I never did so, because I wasn’t being evil. Did this increase Chaos?

          • Raygereio says:

            “Chaos” is not a morality meter by any stretch. It is exactly what it says: it measures how much more chaotic Dunwall is becoming because of your actions.

            It’s certainly not a morality meter in the Bioware sense of the term. But the gameplay effect of chaos and especially the ending do feel like the game is passing judgement on your playstyle.
            Killing people feels evil because it results in the world becomming a crappy place and turns Emily into an evil dictator. Meanwhile not killing people makes the world a better place and turns Emily into the best ruler every, so it feels like the good path.

            • Anorak says:

              True. I suppose it would have made more sense if you’d have spent more time interacting with Emily and the conspirators.

              Maybe if they’d been telling Emily bed time stories about your escapades?

              Or you brought her home a severed head to play with. Actually – if you’d had to do more of the Golden Cat mission with her watching your actions?

              You’re a role model to her, so it makes sense that your actions influence her own, but only if she sees you doing these things.

              • After talking with Harvey Smith, I sincerely believe that they had no intention of casting moral judgement upon the player. I do believe that they were not going for a good vs. evil dichotomy.

                Having said that, the way Emily changes depending on your Chaos and the way Low Chaos = Happy Fun Times for a Stable Kingdom and High Chaos = YOU’RE A DICK WHO RUINED EVERYTHING!!!! make it appear that the game is judging you.
                It seems that the game really wants you to do Low Chaos, but uses it’s powers and equipment to tempt you into High Chaos.

                • Wedge says:

                  Yeah, after reading that conversation, I understood a little better what they were going for. Frankly, though, if they were trying not to pass judgement, they failed–I felt like the moral choice system was judging me from beginning to end.

                  All of this stuff about how killing people affects chaos and leaving them alive doesn’t…it all feels like post-hoc rationalizations for the system, rather than the chaos system and its effects on the story arising naturally. I think that’s where it really falls flat for me–if they want me to believe that the chaos system isn’t the developer judging me, then it needs to feel like a natural conclusion to what I’m doing, not something that was jammed in and then clumsily justified after the fact.

                  • The Chaos system, to me, seemed to emerge logically and naturally from the gameplay. It’s not like I sat down after I completed the game and thought up this explanation in order to ‘rationalize’ anything. That’s more or less how I understood it from the first time it was mentioned. I think the only misstep was to inform the player about alternate endings in the loading screen, which breaks the suspension of disbelief somewhat.

              • Thomas says:

                Personally, I’d hold the guy responsible who thought it was a good idea to tell little children the story about How Father Figure Beheaded Another Guard Today to help them go to sleep

              • Raygereio says:

                You’re a role model to her, so it makes sense that your actions influence her own, but only if she sees you doing these things.

                Not really seeing as the only thing that influences chaos (and thus Emily) are murders.
                How does it make any sense that telling Emily a story about how you murdered a woman pushes her towards being an evil dictator. But telling her a story about how you condemed a woman to be a sexslave guides her towards being a benevolent ruler.

                • Aldowyn says:

                  I can’t come up with a justification for why the ‘low chaos’ choices for the targets are so terrible, either :/

                  IIRC, according to Smith, their goal was to get people to think about what gamers do all the time without thinking, i.e. killing people, and what consequences that would actually have.

                  • Thomas says:

                    That makes the low chaos stuff even weirder though. So they wanted players to analyse their actions critically and accept killing people or they weren’t thinking through their own criteria?

                    I’m pretty sure people (or at least I do) sort the people you kill in a game into ‘not really people it’s just a game’. It’s one of the reasons faceless mooks are sort of a good idea and why devs often give them masks and lump them into some sort of easy to hit group (ie nazis). It’s not a bad idea to shake that up, but we do it, not because we don’t know killing people has consequences, but because we choose to ignore it to enjoy the game. It’s interesting to mess around with that, but I don’t think it necessarily conveys a moral impact as much as it’s challenging our willing suspension

          • guy says:

            I don’t know if it directly alters your Chaos level, but if you do that, then next time you come back the distillery is overrun by Weepers because some of Slackjaw’s men stole some sips of “pure” elixer.

    • hborrgg says:

      Yeah, those theories like the heart belonging to the empress and the outsider’s true form being that of a whale completely blew me out of the water when I finally heard about them. It’s a real shame that they almost never come up during a play through.

    • Cupcaeks says:

      A lot of this stuff can be discerned in-game through a combination of the books and conversations you can come across, and by listening to the Heart, as well. It is delivered in a (possibly purposefully) very vague manner, though, and takes some piecing together (There’s a book in game that speculates that the Outsider might be a ‘leviathan’, and all the runes and bone charms you find are carved from whale bones). It’s easy to miss, but its still really neat. The maritime aesthetic isn’t something you see used often in video games, and Dishonored is steeped in sailor lore and sea-related mysticism. In the last episode, I think Rutskarn said something along the lines of the water elevator being there just because the devs thought it would be cool. I disagree. I think it was a very deliberate choice meant to highlight Dunwall’s connection and dependence on the ocean that its exploiting. The city’s industry and military depend almost exclusively on products fished out of the sea to operate, and I don’t think it’s an accident that so much about the Outsider is steeped in maritime lore.

    • Naota says:

      It really is badly explained, because I could’ve sworn I read just about every book, poster, and inexplicable wall-scrawling in the game just as I did with the Thief series, and until now I had no idea the whales had this effect on the universe. They were evidently not normal, hence the bone charms, but that’s as much as I ever learned. It’s a Fallout NV: Dead Money situation all over again.

      Aside from that detail, I never understood why the game portrayed killing whales for their for oil as such a definite evil – really all they needed was a way to hold whales captive, keep their numbers sustainable, and turn them into livestock.

      The killing of domestic animals is as evil as you make it I suppose, but that still puts a pig or a cow (which the game has no problem with as ready sources of meat) on the same level as a whale. On the same line of thinking, what about fish? Those millions of aquatic animals hauled up from the sea in nets, left to die, and minced into tins for mass consumption? If the death of a whale is such a travesty, what of them?

  10. hborrgg says:

    On the subject of the non-leathal eliminations. Somewhat interesting mechanically is that that doing the optional routes is one of the few ways in the game to actually decrease your chaos rating (and by a pretty significant amount). So not only is having two men kidnapped by thugs and enslaved within their own mines with their heads shaved and tongues cut out better than murder, it is an act so good that it actually undoes x amount of murders.

    • Naota says:

      The funny thing is that you could make some rationalization that their public murder destabilizes the city with the power vacuum it creates, but…

      -This is just an indictment of Corvo’s ineptitude. He could just as easily kill them and dispose of the bodies in a way that would render them unrecognizable using rats, walls of light, weights and a canal, or dirt and a good old fashioned shovel.

      -The “sudden unexpected disappearance” of the two brothers is liable to create just as much chaos as their deaths. This isn’t a time or place where you need concrete, undeniable evidence to declare someone dead.

      Non-lethal Corvo really does seem just as – if not more – evil than every other iteration of himself. He comes off as an amoral sociopath with a Batman-esque aversion to murder that isn’t rooted in any sort of altruistic belief but rather as an unquestioned code or law that dominates him completely. All that matters is that he doesn’t kill people – if they spend the rest of their life in mortal agony, shame, and disgrace that’s their business to deal with.

      I should write a character like this.

      • In the Dishonored article I wrote that was linked to it in the comments for the first episode, I made that very same assertion. In Errant Signal’s Dishonored episode, so did Chris.

        There is a very strong argument to be made that both Low and High Chaos Corvo are just different flavors of evil bastard. If the key is to reduce the target’s political influence, there are quite a few ways you should be able to go about it.

        Honestly, the only non-lethal option I liked was the one for the Lord Regent himself. No horrible fates. No tricks. Just exposing the man for who he is and letting him reap what he sowed.

        • hborrgg says:

          If you wanted you could even come up with a good excuse for why being a sadistic a hole would reduce chaos. I.e. People respond well to the guilty being punished, so seeing a bad guy’s life reduced to a living hell could go a long ways towards restoring order. But even that doesn’t accout for the targets who supposedly just “dissapear.”

          It’s really the lack of any sort of consistant theme at all with the non-leathal options that makes it look as though the devs just didn’t think things through.

          • Nick says:

            To play devil’s advocate for a moment, I do think people disappearing -would- cause less chaos than everyone hearing that target X was murdered in their own home behind a wave of guards

          • Klay F. says:

            Another wild devil’s advocate appears:

            It should be pointed out that the non-lethal options for your primary targets are completely unnecessary. You can ghost the entire game and save all of your actual murdering for your primary targets and you get the exact same ending (and low-chaos result) as if you chose the non-lethal route.

        • Keeshhound says:

          I thought the one for the High Overseer fit that same justification. If anyone in his order had found out about his… predilections, he’d have suffered the same punishment.

          • While I agree, that might not necessarily happen. He may be branded, or he may simply face a lesser fate or be arrested for his crimes. It’s impossible to tell for sure.

            • Keeshhound says:

              Well there’s also the fact that he had a hand in the Empress’ death, as evidenced by his presence when the spymaster lays everything out for you. And he’s trying to poison a captain of the guard. Even if one of those wasn’t enough, all taken together I think it’s safe to say he’d be in for it.

  11. Kanodin says:

    On horror, I have a phobia of rats. Oddly the many giant rats of most other games never scared me a bit. These small realistic ones really got to me at first, and that turn a valve as fast as possible while they eat the bodies puzzle was scary as hell.

    After the sewers however I acclimated to them with relative ease, and never really experienced any real fear after that. My point being that yeah if someone like me who has a problem with rats can get over them so fast then I can’t picture this game being all that scary to anyone without the phobia.

  12. Deadyawn says:

    Bioshock 2 had the 451 code as well although you would be forgiven for having forgot that (or indeed never playing it in the first place)

    As I understand it, it’s supposed to be a reference to Fahrenheit 451. Which is to say I can’t really think of anything else it could be.

  13. Daemian Lucifer says:

    So,how many times will Josh disband this conspiracy,I wonder.

    Ah,that rat scene.That is where the game has actually hooked me,and I wanted to know more about why they are so wild.

  14. Exetera says:

    The art direction largely looks nice, but unfortunately it’s dinging one of my major pet peeves: all of the lettering in the game is very obviously digitally typeset, even though there are no computers in Dunwall.

  15. Cupcaeks says:

    Wait, so how many people actually made the “Hound Pits = Animal Torture = Evil” connection? Because I didn’t get that vibe at all. It just seemed like an interesting look at what Dunwall’s culture was like before the plague, rather than some indicator about the character of your co-conspirators. Maybe I missed something in game, or maybe I’m just not genre-savvy enough, but it felt to me like dog-fighting was a perfectly acceptable form of entertainment in the city, kind of like the Bear Pits in Thief. Now there are plenty of other little hints that tell you that your conspiracy buddies might not be as trustworthy as they seem, but I didn’t think the hound pit thing was one of them.

    • X2-Eliah says:

      I didn’t. To be frank, hound pits seemed like a rather common and normal thing in a place like Dunwall.

    • Naota says:

      “Ya should’a ben there yeeears ago. I tell ya, the stealth games then, they were somethin’ ta see! Those games, they didn’t need no teleport powers or explodin’ bullets or wrist blades, or all that knifery ya straps to ‘em now!”

      “No teleport powers?! Wha’d they do, just bump into the guard-men? Stick ‘em with a sword?”

      “Naaaah – stealth games back then, they had shadows as long as ya finga! An’ wicked atmosphere! Guards that’d as soon look atcha as kill ya, an’ worse things asides!”

      “Stealthers? Ye’re taffing me. They look pretty mangey harmless… long as ye don’t fight err’thing at once.”

      “That’s why I can’t stand the things now. You don’t know what you missed! They just don’t make stealth games like they used to.”

      “Whoa! Killer stealthers! Would’ve liked to see that!”

  16. Eric says:

    Unfortunately, the chaos system is one of the game’s biggest missteps.

    First of all, for a game with such good reactivity to choices (seriously, you would be surprised how many small, insignificant actions have effects or are tracked in some way), it’s embarassing to see high and low chaos so poorly handled otherwise. The fact that it turns into two different endings is cool, but there is almost no build up to those endings.

    High chaos in particular is really badly developed. The dialogue you get during the game is literally identical to what you get in a low chaos run, yet all of a sudden when you hit the endgame, characters suddenly decide you are a horrible asshole-person and that they hate you and want you dead. When you consider the fact that Corvo gets poisoned later on, high chaos makes even less sense because you’d think they’d just stab him through the neck while his back was turned instead. And then you get rainclouds and lots of violence, and more characters die, because… uh, because!

    I also think high chaos and low chaos is bad for gameplay. I like choices and consequences, but the fact that the game basically says it is outright judging you and that your ending etc. will be affected by your choices, really ruins suspension of disbelief. The scoring system for levels also seems to push you towards a non-lethal play-style, as if taking advantage of all the cool toys and weapons isn’t how the game is “meant” to be played.

    Considering they were trying to make a Deus Ex-style game, this was a pretty bad choice. Deus Ex worked so well because while the characters and game world judged you for your actions, the plot and the game itself did not – not to mention there were characters who were actually in favor of lethal gameplay choices and there were plausible, justified reasons for doing so. A small, but very important distinction.

    Let’s also not forget that non-lethal play styles get far less interesting gameplay. Most upgrades in the game are geared towards lethal players, and you get absolutely no new weapons throughout the game, at most just passive equipment mods like sneakier boots. Yep, sleep bolts and choke-holds, that’s all. Hope you enjoy doing the same tactic 1000 times over. The game could have benefited so, so much from more non-lethal choices, from more ammo types and weapons – noisemaker bolts, gas bombs, magic powers, stun guns, etc., Dishonored had none of it.

    Ah, Dishonored, it’s a game that I enjoyed a lot while I was playing it, but it was probably more a case of me imposing what I wanted it to be on it. Unfortunately it really did not stand up across multiple play-throughs and some critical design-related scrutiny.

    • Wraith says:

      I think the problem is that you as Corvo don’t directly interact with the support cast enough to seem like you are having a direct effect on their personalities. For most of the game you’re sunshine and daisies happy family with each other, but in a High Chaos run every suddenly becomes back-stabby and mustache-twirlingly evil for seemingly no reason. I certainly like the idea of “killing people is generally a bad thing, not killing people is generally a good thing” but DX:HR pulled it off in a better way by giving you more XP for non-lethal gameplay (though it had practically no pay-off in the story, unfortunately).

      The crew got it on the nose with this simple statement: “It really is High Chaos or Low Chaos in that it uses the words ‘High Chaos, Low Chaos,’ but it judges you as if it were a moral choice system.”

      In the ideal game that discusses morality, the player would not be judged by the game itself for his/her choices. Judged by the game’s character’s perhaps, but not by a game mechanic. It is one of KOTOR II’s great failings in my eyes – for all the fantastic philosophizing about the nature of the Force and the false duality of Jedi/Sith philosophies, the player was still required to choose one extreme to get reach the full extent of his character’s power and potential. In a perfect game, the game’s characters would judge you based on their own personalities rather than the writers’, and the game itself would not judge you at all. Let the players decide what is right and wrong, and perhaps in the end show them what other players chose to do like in the Walking Dead.

      • Eric says:

        I disagree about Deus Ex: Human Revolution.

        Let me put it this way: Deus Ex and Dishonored are games which revolve around “emergent gameplay” by way of giving the player a set of tools (skills, weapons, abilities) that they can use within the confines of a virtual world filled by AI characters with predictable and manipulable behaviors.

        In such a game, developers should be encouraging players to interact with the game systems in free and open ways, placing equal value on mechanics.

        Deus Ex the first does this. You will see consequences for in-game actions, both positive and negative, no matter what gameplay choices you pick. These consequences extend both to gameplay AND story AND characters.

        Human Revolution does this halfway. It does give you some story and character moments that reflect your methods (though they tend to err on the stealth = better side), but by providing more XP for doing stealth melee takedowns, the developers use those mechanics to encourage you into one particular play-style in a game that should be a “mechanics sandbox.” In other words, they attach a value judgement to the way you want to play the game.

        Dishonored is worse because there are no significant gameplay benefits to using stealth at all (one of the best powers in the game, Shadow Kill, relies on killing and removes dead bodies from the stealth equation), and killing people is overall far faster, easier and more fun. Yet the story says you’re a monster for taking lethal options, characters all hate you, and the statistics screen holds the numbers above your head, providing another form of grading. It provides you all these toys to play with and then tells you you can’t use them if you want to get the “ideal” outcome and to have played the game “correctly.” In a word, that’s bad.

        • Michael says:

          I’m going to run against the grain here a little on DXHR… the extra XP for non-lethal approaches never really bothered me much because of one simple detail. Non-lethal is MUCH HARDER. The extra XP isn’t a moral judgement, but a reward for rising to meet an additional challenge.

          It is pathetically easy to play Deus Ex like a Rainbow Six: Vegas or any other highly lethal cover based shooter, with little to no stealth involved.

          Instead non-lethal is designed, simply to be harder. Enemies can (theoretically) be woken back up. There is no way to deal with rooms full of enemies non-lethally, that doesn’t involve carefully moving through the environment to avoid detection, and to avoid letting the enemies realize they’re being picked off.

          Unlike in the original Deus Ex games there’s no way to take someone out that doesn’t consume resources, takedowns require energy cells, the stun gun and other non-lethal weapons all require ammo that is far more scarce than their lethal counterparts. The multi-shot non-lethal weapons from earlier in the series are gone, like the mini-crossbow. The only way to non-lethally deal with a crowd is a gas grenade and those are pretty rare.

          In contrast, grab a 10mm pistol, and you can clear that same room quickly and easily with one gunfight. And later in the game you can get upgrades that allow you to kill people without even having to aim.

    • swimon says:

      Actually this Errant Signal makes an interesting case for why the non-lethal play style was intentionally made to be less engaging than the lethal one.

      That said my biggest problem with the games morality is how ego-centric it is. You never meet anyone you can kill yet has any real reason to spare, unlike Deus Ex where most enemies are still people with lives, friends and families all the enemies in Dishonored is pure evil. Admittedly I never finished the game but I never saw anyone depicted with any sort of humanity.

      In Dishonored murder isn’t evil because everyone deserves to live it’s evil because it makes you look bad. “Your maybe daughter will think less of you” is the games main motivation for why you shouldn’t kill people.

      • Wraith says:

        Chris’s argument in that video – that gameplay is less fun and more tedious when non-lethal to emphasize a message of “power corrupts” – is a compelling one, but I personally doubt that was intention of the developers of Dishonored. It seems more like they wanted multiple endings based on some sort of player input, but didn’t want to go with the bog-standard “this good this evil hurr-durr” system that has been abused so often in the past. Nevertheless, exploring the concept of (in more detail): “You have great or even absolute power – you can abuse it or restrain yourself from abusing it” would be a fantastic concept for a future game to explore in detail as its main focus; it is a prime candidate for utilizing gameplay and mechanics to emphasize the message.

      • Raygereio says:

        Actually this Errant Signal makes an interesting case for why the non-lethal play style was intentionally made to be less engaging than the lethal one.

        That remains one of the dumbest things I’ve read.
        Sure, it’s neat interpreation of the game. But if that truly was the intention of the developers, then they need to be bitchslapped into unconciousness for the crime of purposefully making their gameplay bad.

        • AJax says:

          Couldn’t agree more. They could’ve done a lot to actually make the non-lethal playstyle an interesting one. Arkane should look at Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory to see at how it’s done properly.

        • Wedge says:

          Yes, this, a million times this!

          Look, I get that the developers were trying to explore the idea that violence has consequences, which is pretty admirable considering the state of modern AAA game development. But they did so in a way that seriously compromised the gameplay itself and my ability to engage with it. They could have done a much better job with that theme if they had instead had *better writing* and put more effort into making the non-lethal approach as deep and engaging as the lethal mechanics.

          • swimon says:

            I don’t think that that was what they were trying to explore at all. Rather it explores corrupting power, if the lethal mechanics are more engaging will you give in to that temptation or choose a less engaging more moral play style. This is why the ego-centric morality bugs me, the game makes a very poor case for why you shouldn’t murder everyone. The temptation angle isn’t very strong if what you’re tempted towards isn’t framed as being all that bad.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      I dont think the game is judging you with high/low chaos.To me it feels like it is giving you what you want.Low chaos means you prefer sneaking around,therefore you get less enemies to worry about.High chaos means you prefer dealing with enemies in a bloody manner,therefore you get more enemies to toy with.

  17. Eric says:

    Oh, regarding voice acting, I think that most of the actresses did a good job. I also got the sense Piero’s performance was basically because his character is extremely eccentric and probably has autism or some other disorder, as he is extremely socially awkward at all times (a defining part of his character).

    The others… eh. Havelock was by far the one who was most obviously phoning his performance in, as his complete lack of emotion and monotone voice really killed what could have been a likable character (which in turn would have made later events more affecting). I actually thought Pendleton’s performance was fairly good, though; his audio diaries are quite neurotic.

    I think a “problem” with Dishonored’s characters was that they were dry and subtle by videogame standards. In order to understand their motivations and personalities you also have to do some digging and thinking yourself. For example, Pendleton’s personality and actions during the game make perfect sense once you realize he is the under-achieving youngest son who was constantly tormented as a boy by his older brothers and wants to succeed just to spite them, yet lacks the ambition or drive to actually do it. None of this is explicitly stated, you have to put a few pieces together. Havelock is still a very weak character because he basically just goes crazy and stupid in the endgame, but everyone else is pretty believable.

    Compared to your standard BioWare stuff, i.e. “hi, I’m a two-dimensional character defined solely by my looks, accent and niche audience appeal, here’s my life story and all my interests… wanna have sex?” approach, I much, much prefer Dishonored.

    • Wraith says:

      While not all the voice acting was bad, there were certainly some bad points. Pendleton was generally alright, but I personally felt that he was way to restrained and dull when referring to his brothers, and especially their deaths. They may have been horrible bastards, but family ties are some of the strongest in existence; he should have at least been broken up about having to order them murdered. Nevertheless, it’s not necessarily the VAs, the failings in the writing are also to blame. In Pendleton’s case, it should have been less ambiguous (ambiguity is great when pulled off, but confusing and lacking when information is necessary) – in a Low Chaos run, Pendleton should have been quite disturbed and horrified by the necessity of his actions despite his brothers being terrible people (especially if Corvo went the non-lethal route); in a High Chaos run, it should have been made subtle but very clear that Pendleton’s half-assed “grieving” is merely a show he puts on, when he is in fact completely ruthless and power-hungry.

      I also had a problem with Piero. While I get what the VA seemed to be trying to convey – that Piero is rather awkward and/or eccentric – his delivery just feels very…off so very often. The peeping tom scene in particular was especially jarring because of how strange and soft-spoken his delivery was (and the poor writing when it comes to him demanding payment for the brandy a moment later certainly did it even fewer favors).

      I did like Chloe Moretz as Emily and April Stewart as the Empress/the Heart. The VA for the Outsider also did a pretty slick job in seeming simultaneously like a fascinated scientist and a devil in disguise in his monologues to Corvo. And Michael Madsen did a generally good job as the disillusioned and jaded Daud. Nevertheless, most of the other VAs had a persistent problem of dull surprise and not emoting during what should have been particularly emotional moments.

      • X2-Eliah says:

        Outsider’s VA did a slick job?

        Ugh. No. No. Completely and utterly no. Outsider’s VA performance was by far the worst in the whole game, *even if* the intention was to make a soulless, uninterested monotone robot.

        • Eruanno says:

          I agree. The Outsider was a letdown for me. Seeing the previews of the game and devs talking about him, it seemed like he would be more of a devil/angel-thing, sitting around in the shadows twirling his moustache and judging you with a dark, booming voice. What I got was a random dude hovering in the air and telling me what I had just done and basically asking “what will you do next, oh great and wise player?”

        • Wedge says:

          He wasn’t helped by the drivel he was given to deliver. He was my least favorite “character” in the entire game, because none of his lines ever actually said anything. All he ever did was give meaningless exposition on plot points that you were already aware of (“Wow Corvo, are you going to kill [current target]…or AREN’T you?”) I honestly can’t tell what his purpose in the game was, because he never says or does anything of consequence.

          • His purpose is to justify Corvo’s powers. That’s it as far as I can tell.

            He gives Corvo powers b/c he’s “interesting” and bound to play an important part in Dunwall’s fate. He just wants to watch and see things unfold.
            Aside from magic, I can’t see a reason for him to be there.

      • Ugh. The peeping tom scene. The more I think about it, the more confused I am. Why is that scene in the game? Why did they choose that particular moment to have him do it? Why couldn’t you use that as blackmail to MAKE him give you the brandy? What does it tell us about Callista and Piero that we didn’t already know?

        Just… ugh.

    • I believe that Havelock truly wanted to do the right with the Loyalist Conspiracy at first. However, once the Lord Regent was defeated and he realized that he could possibly take the entire Empire for himself, the temptation was far too great for him.

      Of course, it’d be great if we saw more of this temptation playing out as the game went on, but I think it is there.

      • Eric says:

        I actually think the “twist” of Havelock deciding to turn on everyone works in the game pretty well, however, as I said, the writing in Dishonored tends to be subtler than what we get in other games and therefore you do have to think for a second about his motivations. In reality, people do not wear their intentions on their sleeves, they do not just outright say “this is my big evil plan, muahaha!”

        Whether or not this subtlety and “realism” is actually intentional is another matter to debate, of course. Once I keyed into it with Dishonored, however, I really did not have any problems with the characters or plot events (though themes, tone, etc. are a different story).

        • Wedge says:

          I can appreciate “subtle” but frankly, what we got with Dishonored could more accurately be described as “bland” or “flat”. The characters are so flat that it’s really hard to read between the lines because there are very few lines to read between. You’re right, there wasn’t really anything wrong with the plot by itself; it’s that the plot was driven by characters with almost no characterization or motives for what they were doing.

  18. hborrgg says:

    Anyways, another place 451 shows up in this game is 3 feet away form the safe, on a wall, behind some whiskey bottles, underneath the word “Whiskey.”

    —–
    Admittedly, it’s kind of hard to tell on the video but I don’t seem to remember nearly the kinds of problems josh was having with the darkness. In the beginning did he set the slider so that he could see all the symbols or just the last three.

    • Wraith says:

      He didn’t, and that’s why the game is so freaking dark right now. It’s not really the game, it’s the brightness settings he put it on (I don’t know if those are the default brightness settings or not, but they really make a lot of these levels borderline unwatchable)

      • IFS says:

        I played on the PS3, and I remember the game having me set the brightness when I started. I set it according to how it recommended I do so and I had no problems with it being too dark. The whole sewer level was dim sure but nowhere near the pitch black that Josh seems to have going on.

      • Nick says:

        To be fair to Josh when I first set that slider I thought I could see everything. Then I tried to see notices in game, realised it was too dark and upped it

      • Wandring says:

        Game-play footage uploaded to Youtube always looks darker than it does for the person playing. It usually benefits the viewers if the game is played at a brighter setting than normal.

  19. Jokerman says:

    I dropped the whale tank by accident and killed this guy in my first play through somewhat like that…

  20. Mikeh5 says:

    There is a torture scene in Condemned: Criminal Origins that was freaking terrifying.

  21. silentStatic says:

    I always wince when Perio nonchalantly moves his head closer to the live drilling machine, and brushes the excess material away from the mask with his bare, unprotected, hand.

    It is a good scene to set up his character as a weird inventor/natural philosopher, but the appealing lack safety always gets to me.

    • anaphysik says:

      “the appealing lack safety”

      Well now isn’t that a funny typo XD
      Up til now I haven’t noticed how similar those two words look; must use this in the future.

    • Tom says:

      Agreed, but I’ll skip over that because I have a real thing about games that portray engineers or machinists actually doing what such people are supposed to do; it’s so rare you ever get to see or do anything creative in a medium that usually runs on wanton destruction (Errant Signal did a really nice vid on violence in games that touched on this). Remember Breen’s “Can you name even one thing?” or Karras’ “What hast thou built?” Speeches like that get to me. I also love that bit in Cryostasis, for example, when you get to take a break from fighting to frantically machine (remarkably realistically, by game standards) a replacement part for the fire extinguishing system before the whole workshop goes up in smoke – that was a quite novel mechanic I’d like to see a lot more of. The machines in the final level of Thief 2 that let you build powerups and ammo were also a nice change from the usual practice of just finding useful stuff stashed in various places through the level.

      Besides, it’s sadly not at all uncommon to still see people today doing such dangerous things, especially in developing economies; in a steampunk setting, you can bet that health and safety at work and enclosed moving parts are concepts that haven’t really caught on yet – that element of living dangerously with semi-experimental “frontier engineering” is often an inherent part of the aesthetic.

      • Tom says:

        On the other hand, they completely missed out on a golden opportunity to have a character be wearing brass goggles, which are a steampunk cornerstone, for an actually valid reason!

  22. Wandring says:

    Do you know how to tell that the woman dressed as a maid isn’t really a maid?

    That whole building is completely filthy! :P

  23. Raygereio says:

    Josh, if you haven’t done so already you may to check out your brightness settings.
    The game wasn’t nearly this absurdly dark for me. And when the game prompted you to check that setting when you hit new game, it looked in the video like you needed to make it brighter.

    • Indy says:

      I thought it was just Fraps making it a bit dimmer but since Josh is having trouble seeing… Brighter might help.

    • Eric says:

      The game brightness settings are weird. When it tells you to calibrate your monitor so they the last symbol is ‘barely visible’, things look pretty good for a while… levels have moody, atmospheric lighting with good contrast. Dark is dark, but not too dark to be difficult to see in.

      Yet, a level or two in, you start coming across areas that are WAY too dark and nearly impossible to see in while using the recommended settings. The Flooded District late in the game was literally unplayable for me because it seems to have unique brightness and contrast levels from every other part of the game.

      Meanwhile, the default settings are way, way too washed out. Very little contrast to be had and it negatively impacts the art style.

      I really am not sure why they have it set up the way it is. The problem with brightness, contrast and color settings in games is that the displays people use are so variable. Most TVs and PC monitors have a really cold/blue white point compared to print media, for instance, and almost all artists (and people with well calibrated displays) use a much warmer/neutral/grey white point. That doesn’t even begin to get into contrast ratios, black levels, etc. (though it does explain why every game out there uses “dark blue sky” for nighttime and why nights are rarely actually dark – it would be impossible to see properly on your typical shitty TV or PC monitor). Yet, if you want to get your game to look good on consumer TVs and computer screens that are probably very badly calibrated, you have to test it extensively across those displays.

      I almost get the sense that some of the developers in Dishonored had their displays set one way and some had them set differently… could explain the lack of consistency.

      • MetalSeagull says:

        I tried to play it at the recommended gamma, but didn’t get very far. I couldn’t see a flipping thing, so I started over and turned up the gamma. I thought it might be just my age showing (about the same as Shamus, I think). I’m kind of relieved to know it wasn’t.

  24. Ygor says:

    One thing I thought about since yesterday’s episode was that the story would definitely be better if Corvo was not a silent protagonist and if the bald guy (name escapes me at the moment, the first Villain who blames you) was genuinely convinced that you did the deed. Like, it was all a setup from Havelock’s all along. He sent the assassins after the empress, you were blamed for the murder and the authorities really believe you did it, while Havelock would manipulate it all from the shadows.

    • Jokerman says:

      He would have to be pretty dumb to think you kidnapped Emily though :D

      • Ygor says:

        Well, since he has no way of knowing you didn’t do it, it wouldn’t be that stupid, since for all he knew you killed her/sold her to slavery/whatevs.

        • Jokerman says:

          In the 5 seconds or so he left you for?

          • Ygor says:

            See, for all he knows someone took her. You don’t know where, he doesn’t know where, but all he finds after the attack is you, a dead body, and heir to Dunwall nowhere to be found. I guess it could be safe to assume that you had some sort of complices in that matter. You were, after all lord protector, responsible for security for the royal family, you could snuck someone there.
            It would actually explain the torture scene too, it would be that they are seriously concerned about the young empress and they are trying to interrogate you, get info from you.
            It would make more sense than gloating about evil masterplan.

    • Corvo as a silent protagonist really did hamper the story. Even if they didn’t want to give him spoken lines for dialog, those dialog choices they give you imply that he’s not mute, so why weren’t there more of them that players could use to both better fill in the role and better connect with the character.

  25. scowdich says:

    Josh Viel: Last rat standing

  26. Somniorum says:

    Regarding acting – it strikes me as problem endemic to Bethesda in general, and I’m not *precisely* sure why. It’s not like I think all the actors *all* the time give poor performances in their games, but typically people give unremarkable, and often embarrassingly bad performances.

    Originally I’d assumed it was due to bad voice actors, until I played Fallout 3… I remember thinking about how disappointing so much of the acting was, and one example that stood out in my mind quite starkly was your father in the game. Then I looked up who played your father, and was shocked to see it was *Liam Neeson*, who is a very fine actor.

    There has to be something going on, and I see three possibilities.

    1. The voice acting director is doing a really poor job.
    2. At least certain of the actors are phoning in their performances (but if this is the case, then the acting director should be spurring them to do better, so it inclines me to think it goes back to #1).
    3. There’s something particular about the format of these games which makes decent acting difficult.

    On the final point, *part* of this could still be down to the director, as they ought to be figuring out ways to work around the difficulties (one obvious thing is that it’s likely much of the dialogue will just be read off a script, completely out of context, which should never be done. It should be performed as if they were actually doing their back-and-forth in the game, and they ought to be given some sorts of visual and auditory aids so that the actors know what’s happening). Unfortunately, one thing that the acting director could *not* fix him or herself is the difficulty of acting poorly written lines. Some lines are just awful, and who on earth could manage to make they sound right? And unfortunately, while Bethesda is *great* at coming up with backstory, I find they’re often less remarkable with their writing for the main plot and dialogue.

    … in regards to Dishonoured itself (which, for the record, I didn’t get that far in to so I can’t make a thorough criticism of this game), I was often disappointed by the acting, often found the performances to be very flat (I remember being quite upset with the Queen when I came across her, such an emotionless, flat performance). And… while I accept that the game doesn’t take place in our current world, and that current accent trends would not *necessarily* apply… I’m nonetheless disappointed that most of the people in this game have very dull accents, nothing particularly maritimey. Given the setting, I figure that at least the regular working class folks (including many guards) ought to have more proletarian sorts of British accents, or… what I’d actually kinda like more… Newfie accents (I was shocked when I found myself thinking this, as I’m not a huge fan of Newfie accents anyway : P But it’d FIT). Instead, most people talk with a super-dull California-office-worker accent (including the Queen -_-).

    I mean, Bethesda… you’ve spent so much time building this richly detailed, interesting setting – why not go *all* the way so that we don’t have immersion breaking moments when someone opens their mouth?

    • False Prophet says:

      I think it’s a combination of the three, but I wonder how much goes back to celebrity stunt-casting.

      Maybe some of these screen actors are phoning it because they still see video games as an inferior medium, as clearly big animated blockbusters from Pixar/Disney/Dreamworks don’t have these issues with their celebrity voice talent. Or maybe they aren’t used to or comfortable with the exposition-heavy dialogue (e.g., NPC runs up and tells you life story, or explains the plot). That saying about an actor being so good, you’d listen to them read the phonebook? Having Christopher Plummer teach me Dragon Shouts in Skyrim a year after I’d seen his Prospero in The Tempest made me question that assumption. It was a waste of a dramatic talent.

      Does celebrity voice-casting actually help with a game’s marketing? Was any non-gamer compelled to check out Mass Effect 2 because Yvonne Strahovski was in it? Did any gamer decide they weren’t buying Modern Warfare 2–until it was revealed Lance Henriksen was doing a voice? I’m skeptical.

      • Aldowyn says:

        Mass Effect 2 had a lot more than just Yvonne Strahovski :P There was a trailer for ME2 showing off the cast, it’s actually pretty impressive and I can imagine someone giving it a second look because of it.

        Anyways, video game voice acting is totally different in presentation and david gaider (lead writer for Dragon Age) wrote a blog post about it that might illuminate some people as to how the process works.

      • Somniorum says:

        Re-celebrity voice acting and marketing – Yes, absolutely… how much can celebrities really help the marketing for these games, *especially* when these celebrities are rarely even mentioned in the marketing? There have been loads of games with big-name actors that I didn’t realise were there until I bumped into them in the game… or, in many cases, after the fact (as was the case with Neeson in FO3).

        With movies, they make a big deal out of their celebrities, they get billing on the posters and covers of the movie and all that. With games, all they get is a mention in the end credits, and *rarely* a mention before the game’s coming out from game journos.

      • X2-Eliah says:

        Voiceacting – with animated movies, the actors often are played back the video in a half-done form, so thya already see a lot of the motions and circumstances of the dialogue. Afaik game VA’s don’t have any of that – instead, a few brief guidances from the directors is all they have. That might be a reason why there’s a difference in VA quality.

        • It kind of plays into the “good directing” angle. I remember Ellen McLain mentioning that one of the reasons her GlaDOS role turned out so well was that she had excellent coaching. Like you say, giving the actor something to work with helps whether pre-vis, or comparison shots, or a mood-setting environment, or just good coaching. In an acting role (of any kind) the quality of the directing really does make a difference. It’s the director’s job to have the big picture in mind, to give the actors the emotional and environmental cues that really sell the performance. Of course, either party (the actor or the director) can wreck it, but if all of the acting comes out poor… makes you wonder.

    • Wedge says:

      Bethesda didn’t develop Dishonored, Arkane did. Bethesda just published it.

      • Somniorum says:

        Oops, you’re right, I’d forgotten about that…

        *Nonetheless*, this game feels very Bethesda in many regards, including the writing and the voice acting. In fact, I’m fairly certain that they use a ton of the regular stock actors that Bethesda normally uses, I’m hearing a lot of familiar-sounding voices in there. I suspect that Bethesda might’ve had more of a hand in the voice acting on this game they they have in other games… for instance, while Bethesda published New Vegas, I generally found the acting in that game to be rather better (at least for most of the main characters – there are still a lot of nobodies in the game who have flat and inappropriate performances. Matthew Perry was *awful*. On the other hand, nobody in FO3 came close to basically *any* of the performances in Old World Blues). I suspect that Obsidian had a closer influence on the acting in that one.

    • Wedge says:

      I guess I could also add something of substance to this conversation :)

      It’s definitely very different doing video game voice acting from other kinds of acting. Most of the time when you’re acting, all of the actors in a scene are in the same place and play off of each other’s delivery–even in voice acting for TV, etc. In video games, however, individual lines have to be recorded separately, because they are stored as separate files on a computer; this means that actors are usually in a sound booth reading lines by themselves. That’s a different dynamic, and it can be hard for even talented actors to give good performances in that circumstance.

      At the same time, it is still perfectly possible to get good voice acting in video games–see The Walking Dead. When you have one actor give a bad performance, it’s the actor’s fault; but when you have bad performances across everyone in a work, then it’s pretty fair to suspect that it’s the director who’s doing a bad job. Especially when you’re getting flat performances out of fantastic actors like Liam Neeson.

      And yes, it also doesn’t help how much *terrible* writing there is in videogames. It doesn’t matter how good an actor you are, bad dialogue is bad dialogue.

      • guy says:

        I’ve also heard they don’t really do multiple takes of dialogue in the normal course of events. If the VA says the right words in the right order, they use it. Also, while the recordings do have to be done separately, video games are apparently pretty bad about not giving the actor much context. They’re apparently normally just handed their part of the script and told to read it.

  27. Josh, you can drink from the bar tap. Enjoy.

  28. Brandon says:

    It would have never actually occurred to me to attack the rat swarms with my sword, that’s.. actually kind of lame that that works. I guess the rats are still dangerous enough to be a threat even if you can just attack them, but I think they work better as an obstacle that you MUST find a way to circumvent.

  29. mixmastermind says:

    “Yeah, how DO they get all that beer?”

    *Immediately walks into brewery*

    “Oh well then…”

  30. guy says:

    The big thing that gets to me about the whole High/Low chaos thing is how incredibly binary it is. For all the “not a morality meter” statements, the game basically treats High Chaos Corvo as a sadist who kills for fun and Low Chaos Corvo as a good, just, and wise person. This led to some particularly jarring lines on my High Chaos playthrough, where I only ever killed plot-mandated targets, armed people, and Weepers (which apparently counts as murdering innocent civilians for some crazed reason). And I only killed guards if their patrol routes threatened to interfere in my mission. I’ll grant that killing guards serving what they have reason to believe is the legitimate government isn’t exactly on the side of the angels, even if their tendency to dump plague-infected corpses in random sewers outside of quarantine zones has probably killed more people than Corvo ever will, but it’s not random unmotivated sadism, either, yet the characters all react as though it is.

    Incidentally, it’s kind of shocking how bad at actual plague containment the Lord Regent’s quarantine measures are. There’s rat swarms in every level. That might be related to my chaos rating, except that one of the levels is in a place that really, really should be free of rats considering how incredibly hard it was to get there in the first place and the Walls of Light along the way. Then there’s the place where the plague was “cleaned up”, but there’s still rooms you can get to with corpses and rat swarms.

    • I have absolutely no idea why Weepers count against your Chaos. That’s just dumb, especially if you argue the stability or spreading plague justifications.

      Spreading plauge: One less weeper to worry about
      Stability: Again, one less weeper for the guards.

      It’s not even like they’re people. They’re essentially zombies.

  31. djshire says:

    Josh, in case you haven’t seen this yet, someone who shares your many love of things to do in games
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lo4JH96KcgQ

  32. I’d like to see a game that hypes up a character with a celebrity voice-over, someone whose design and physical animations are really expressive… and then have the voice actor deliberately recite the lines as bored-sounding as possible. Phoning it in on purpose, as a wink to all of the times it happens in games incidentally.

    It could work in a game with a sense of humour. Maybe something by Gearbox. That sounds like it’d be right up their alley.

  33. Astor says:

    You have never played Sanitarium??? Shame on Shamus! It kinda caves in towards the end, but it provides *quite* an experience before that happens.

  34. Nalyd says:

    Guys, if the darkness bothers you, turn up the freaking gamma. You know it’s there. It prompted you for it. You left it too dark. Turn it up. :p

  35. Artur CalDazar says:

    Failing to make you feel real anger at what happened is strange, because its not that hard to make the player hate somebody, or at least have most players feel that way.

    Dishonoured does do several of the things that should make you angry, they blame you for something you didn’t do, they take your stuff and so on. But since it all happens the moment the game starts, even this basic stuff doesn’t have any grounding. Its not like you need a lot of time for these things to work, they are kinda cheap in how effective they can be.

  36. Ateius says:

    What’s really interesting about that scene everyone burst out in joy at – the outside of the dog-fighting area as you first pull up to the dock – when that came up on the screen, my first thought was “half-life 2″.

    Industrial decay with bright colours and strong art design. On the water. It puts me very strongly in mind of Route Canal, nestling the airboat up against the docks at one of the many stopping-points where you have to dismount to deal with some baddies and flip a switch.

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