Dishonored EP9: Great Whale of Death

  By Shamus   Mar 21, 2013   104 comments


Link (YouTube)

I said in this episode that I played through the game 1.5 times. Now that I’m thinking back, I actually played through the first few missions, started over and played all the way through, and then played through again to the halfway point. The point being, I played through this section of the game three times and never noticed the Pendleton brothers moving around.

So between the four of us we played through this section no less than seven times, and we never had an instance where one of the brothers wasn’t in the steam room. According to the wiki:

Morgan Pendleton will always be in either the Smoking Room or the Steam Room. Custis Pendleton will always be in either the Gold Room or the Ivory Room.

It sounds like there’s a 1:2 chance of Morgan being in the steam room. So the odds of me playing the mission three times and always having him there are 1:8. The odds of it happening to all of us is 1:128. Of course, maybe Morgan did appear in the smoking room on some of our play-throughs and we just forgot. This is the downside of our format: It’s sometimes months between playing the game and discussing it.

I am now going to make a prediction: I predict that the comments are going to become hopelessly sidetracked in probability theory. Either because someone misunderstands it or because I flubbed it above. (Shamus! You said “chance” when you should have used the word “odds”, which is distinct from “probability” and now we have to haggle over whether the position of Custis needs to be counted in our chart of possible outcomes!)

Mark my words. This always happens. But that’s okay. Probability conversations often get lost in the weeds, but they’re usually smart and interesting and polite. Unlike some topics I won’t mention.

My favorite part was when Josh decided to double back over the entire level to get one lousy bone charm, then we steered him wrong by sending him back to the Golden Cat, then he died in a pointless fight with a bunch of respawned guards. Good times.

Most importantly: The Golden Cat is an amazing piece of environment design. Varied, lush, colorful interior, richly detailed and having multiple routes through. I’d love to know what photographs or buildings they used for inspiration.


A Hundred!4104 comments. Quick! Add another to see if this message changes!


  1. Johan says:

    Rutskarn said this before, how in real life people spend an inordinate amount of time staring in one direction, gaze unmoving (I’m at my computer doing that right now), but still, at 1 minute in when the woman fails to notice the guy robbing her blind behind her back, it always just feels like a stupid AI rather than a realistic one, and I don’t know why

    • czhah says:

      Well, in real life opening that locker would probably make enough noise to make the person in question turn her head.

    • Raygereio says:

      Reality is unrealistic. People tend to really overestimate just perceptive they are.

      As czhah mentioned the lockers did make a lot of noise. But it’s quite possible for a person to not conciously notice that sound if said person is focussued on a task (or just spaced out) and is used that particular noise.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Well in reality when people stare at just one thing,its usually active staring,like reading a book,or watching tv,or admiring a picture.They dont stare randomly at a blank wall.

      Actually,in real life people rarely stand around and stare.They usually sit down.Unless they are on active standing(guard)duty.

    • Tse says:

      In real life having neither peripheral nor three-dimensional vision (you look out of a lens and you see gears in front of one eye) will make you terrible at both sneaking and fencing.

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        Which is why I prefer third person games instead of first person ones*.I used to think of first person games were more immersive when I was younger,but now I find them to be just weird.Like Im a ghost,gliding everywhere,having tunnel vision.

        *I have no money to waste on two additional screens,plus I dont know how well the games implement peripheral vision anyway.

        • rrgg says:

          The only thing I don’t really like about 3rd person games is when they cause abuse of the camera to look around corners or from behind cover without exposing yourself (especially common in stealth games).

          Ideally though I prefer it if first-person games still try to supplement the camera in some way or another. ie indicators that alert you to activity just off the side of your screen, a radar that shows you what direction sounds are coming from, etc.

          • Thomas says:

            There are some things you could do round a corner that would be more subtle than you could manage in game though and you would be able to sense some things games find it hard to put across. Still I think the better designed 3rd person stealth games have a limited look round corner feature where the wall and person end up getting in the way and stopping you from seeing much

          • Jeff says:

            I rather liked how Rainbow 6 Vegas 2 handled the “peek around corners” thing. (If I recall correctly anyway, it’s been a long time.)

            If you were completely behind cover, the camera couldn’t be turned to peer beyond the corner. The center of the view would automatically pan away towards the wall you’re taking cover behind. You’d just barely be able to see stuff that’s closer by.

            If you approach the edge such that your face can peek out, that is when you can actually turn the camera around the corner, but bits of you will be exposed.

        • Lalaland says:

          I would blame the tunnel vision effect in FPS on the modern trend to a Field Of Vision of ~65 degrees versus the old standard of 80 or 90 degrees(widescreen). This is one of the more insidious effects of console FPS design.

          If I’m sitting in front of a PC monitor it’s usually at a distance of roughly 1 metre or so and it dominates the FOV, a TV is usually 3-6 metres away and is a much smaller % of FOV. To compensate and to zoom the view in so recognising screen elements is easier at TV distances developers shrunk the rendered FOV (it also helps with processing requirements).

          Good PC titles offer a FOV slider and bad ones need .ini hacking or worse you’re just stuffed and stuck with the low FOV. Some folks report sensitivity to low FOV where it makes them feel nauseous as in motion sickness. It can really help with a game, in the ME3 season of Spoiler Warning Josh used a mod to enable a wider FOV and it just helped so much. However if the developers are using off camera space for loading or just don’t animate it you get the weirdness you saw in that ME3 season.

          A wider FOV makes it easier to appreciate the scenery and it simulates peripheral vision much better, personally it’s this lack of a peripheral vision that really frustrates me in a poorly ported PC FPS. It makes situational awareness much more difficult, in a console title I find it acceptable as I am sitting farther away and they’re tuned to work within those limitations.

          Edit: Multiscreen gaming only works if you can set a wider FOV, otherwise you just get the same narrow view stretched wider

  2. Paul Spooner says:

    “times (and) never noticed” typo in OP (fixed parenthetical).
    So, we’re trying to thwart you and go for grammatical pedantry instead of statistics.

    And besides, you played it three times, so it’s actually 1:512 (2^9) instead of 2^7. Come on Shamus!

    Episode comments:
    The “I have a black and white TV” comment gave me an idea. Game graphics designers should have to play through the game with value-only and hue-only visuals. I feel like this would really help to improve graphical presentation.

    Here’s something for all the young folks who don’t get the burning your house down with lemons reference.

    • MrGuy says:

      Nope. See there are 4 of them, not 7. Shamus was already counting his three playthroughs. Like-a so: “So between the four of us we played through this section no less than seven times.

      Shamus plays three times, Chris, Ruts, and Josh at least once each played, then once for the video makes 7. Not 9.

      Shamus leaves open the possibility that one of the others played more than once by saying NO LESS than 7 times, but it’s not required.

  3. rrgg says:

    An interesting detail I noticed about this level on my second playthrough that probably won’t do much to help certain complaints about the game is that any time you choke out a prostitute the game re-textures her face so that it looks like tears are running down her cheeks.

  4. burningdragoon says:

    The Timebend power is also awesome for stealth/nonlethal playthroughs. Especially level 2. You can fire off about 3 sleepdarts out before time kicks back in. It’s even fun just to see your darts hanging in time waiting to go.

  5. Entropy says:

    Possession is also great for stealth. If someone spots you or is about to, you possess, jump out from them, you’re behind them and they’re throwing up. Plus, you know, rats for extra paths and possessing guards to get through gates without too much hassle.

    • newdarkcloud says:

      A lot of the powers have uses for both lethal and non-lethal players.

      Though the passives are all for lethal players with the exception of Agility.

      • Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

        It occurs to me watching these completely different runs that the stealth playthrough’s game variation is the exploring. A lethal playthrough which uses all the emergent violence is going to be so kinetic that there is never a good chance to find all these alternate routes.

    • StashAugustine says:

      Possession is terribly, terribly broken once you can possess humans. No one can tell that you possessed someone, even when you disappear in front of a dozen guards, and then one guy starts acting oddly, locks himself in a broom cupboard, and disappears.

  6. Sozac says:

    My favorite part about the Pendelton Mission is the dialogue of the Pendeltons changes just enough that you can get some unique and ironic dialogue from eavesdropping. If they are unaware of your presence they’ll be talking about a random problem they’re having with aristocrat life or telling what they want the prostitute to do. However, if you’ve been killing all the guards and make a ruckus they’ll say why they aren’t fighting. I remember one Pendelton saying how he could take on Corvo if he had to. I tried many ways to kill him, but ended up just tossing a grenade at his feet. This was my favorite mission.

  7. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Josh,why didnt you knock out granny again?You disappoint.

  8. False Prophet says:

    My playthrough was the same as this: neither brother was in the Steam Room, but one of their bodyguards was in there with one of the ladies.

  9. I’m not a doctor, but I’m pretty sure those stained glass fixtures would at least sway, if not give way, under the weight of a fully grown man, especially one laden with swag.

  10. Piflik says:

    I think the Pendleton’s locations are linked to the difficulty setting. I played through the game on normal difficulty twice and both times he was in the steam room. When I played on the hardest difficulty, he was not. Not sure if it is predetermined by the difficulty, but at least the probabilities are different.

    • X2-Eliah says:

      There may be a link, but it’s not a fixed link – I’ve had playthroughs on ‘Hard’ with the dude in the steam room and not in the steam room. (I think it may be a 3:2 or 4:2 relation for my playthroughs, iirc).

  11. Chris: “Apparently they randomize stuff like this and they hide it from the player.”

    Why is the location of someone being even partially random in an enclosed space, like a building, a bad thing? I’d say it’s a bit more realistic and adds to the challenge. As for announcing it… I’m not sure what the basis of the complaint is apart from it being one that a reviewer would have, perhaps. Finding out something is random on your own (or not at all) is part of the experience, isn’t it?

    • Shamus says:

      I’m sure Chris wasn’t saying it was BAD. The thing in question wasn’t the randomness, but hiding it from the player.

      And the game makes such a big deal about multiple paths (I think it’s told us three times so far, using two different modal popups) but doesn’t mention this, which is more unusual, less obvious, and really only useful if you know about it.

      It’s just a strange thing to not tell the player.

      • Is it? I guess it boils down to gamers wanting to know things like “that chest there has a Sword of Awesome +1 and three pieces of random loot, but THAT chest ALWAYS has the Potion of Virile Heroism and the Ring of Doppler.” It changes the player’s actions, I think, and not in a realistic way. It’s that whole “I’ve done this a million times” vs. “playing blind” thing. Maybe I’m just seeing advertising this feature to people before they’ve played akin to putting “See Luke find out Vader is his father” on the back of a DVD case.

        It’s just my opinion, but finding out specific things are or aren’t randomized ahead of time is like knowing a major plot twist is coming up or exactly what weapons you do or don’t need in the next room. It makes the dungeon crawl a bit more compelling if you don’t know what is and isn’t a random encounter all the time, doesn’t it?

        • Trix2000 says:

          Isn’t it why we have roguelikes? Granted, we expect random in those.

          • Random things don’t have to be exclusively the domain of roguelikes. On a smaller scale, randomness is what makes many scenes in this game so compelling, like the releasing of the plague-infested dog earlier on. The game engine takes over, and the outcome is completely up to how that plays out, and it’s praised (rightly so). Few games these days play up the unpredictability of NPC combat because scripted combat is dull unless pressing X not to die is a pleasure I’m not set up for. Adding some chance to events without making the game “unfair” is something I’ve wanted for a long, long time.

            Minecraft is utterly random, unless you play with the same seed every time, and it’s not a roguelike. MMOs use instanced locations assembled from random parts, and a lot of old RPGs used to be generated on the fly whenever you entered a dungeon.

            That something can be random within a scripted RPG and players don’t notice until they compare notes or replay it sounds like an incredible step forward to me, so long as the bits the game throws together doesn’t wreck the plot or result in an unwinnable state.

        • Shamus says:

          “It makes the dungeon crawl a bit more compelling if you don’t know what is and isn’t a random encounter all the time, doesn’t it?”

          Exactly. And going into this game, the normal expectation is that every single thing is fixed. Just a quick note to the player: “Pssst, hey buddy. Different situations will arise on each play-through.” Then let the player wonder what’s fixed and what isn’t.

          • Hmm… Perhaps, but discovering it for myself is half the fun. That way I’m not trying to listen for the dice being thrown or wondering if the DM is reading from box text.

            To each their own.

          • Nick-B says:

            I wouldn’t mind a game that actually randomized the locations and amounts of health pickups, ammo, ammo varieties, and pathways. Left for Dead did this fantastically, even if it was at the mercy of a stingy prick of an AI that judged my good playing as “not having fun, so throw more hunters at him and make him survive on pills!” mentality.

            I would actually REALLY like it if you could NEVER predict, in a game, that as long as you kill this last foe, that the 2 health packs and 3 SMG ammo boxes are right around the corner. Imagine HL2 if the contents of the loot stashes were randomized. Imagine if the location was randomized (same area, but not ALWAYS behind that one rock).

            It would force you to adapt to the game as it is giving to you, ratcheting up the replay value by a LOT. Being able to redo the same story and level but not knowing if you will have enough ammo to just use one gun. It teaches you to use every item equally, spreading out your weapon use so as not to waste any ammo due to max capacity or to have the wrong gun for the situation (crap, need to snipe a guy, but all I have left is shotgun ammo).

            I’m sure if I play dishonored enough, I may memorize the location of every single coin in the level, every ammo spot, and every food. But then it just becomes a chore to go from A to B. Wait for guard C, move him to location D, loot item E, enter door B. Randomness, to me, can do very little but improve every game anywhere.

            • Pete says:

              Im pretty sure that at least episode 2 did in fact have dynamic (which I suppose is not entirely random, but similar) loot crate contents.

              *hits the G.I.Joe theme*

              • Nick-B says:

                *The more you know*

                Never noticed randomized loot crates in ep2. Always seemed to contain stuff I never needed, like oodles of small med kits and grenades.

                But we need more of this! Some of my favorite games are ones that allow you to progress in a open world with random loot spawned into the world. Skyrim, Fallout NV, etc. Though to be honest, the number of actual open world loot-em-ups like that are VERY rare. Almost exclusively belonging to one game company, in fact.

          • newdarkcloud says:

            I think it would have been a good idea to wait until you’ve finished either this mission or the entire game, then tell people that.

            Although they did mention in press releases that the Pendelton’s and Ladies Boyle are randomized. I don’t know what else is.

            • Sleeping Dragon says:

              If they had to put this info somewhere I agree that once the game is finished would probably be the best place to let the player know about this, it’s not like this is something that would affect the first playthrough and I thought the “different paths” pop-ups were pretty intrusive so I can’t imagine enjoying “this guard could be in a totally different spot” pop-ups or “some elements of this game are randomized between playthroughs” messages in the style of “this game was made by a team of people with diverse cultural backgrounds and religious beliefs” during loading.

              That said I’m not sure if this doesn’t work to the game’s favour by surprising the player in a good way. For example I will admit I haven’t followed the pre-release materials very closely so I don’t know if this was covered anywhere but I only learned about guards changing their patrol routes to compensate for missing colleagues the hard way. I observed the patrol routes for a little while, knocked out a few guards, stashed their unconscious forms somewhere safe, thought I had free reign of the area… and promptly stumbled into a guard that I absolutely knew had no right to be there. It took me a while to realise what was actually happening and that realisation made the game much more impressive than if it was covered by a tutorial (unless it was and I completely forgot about it).

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Chris wasnt talking about how this reflects on the game,but how it reflects on the discussions about the game.

      For example,you dont need to know who voiced who in this game in order to enjoy it,but if you want to have a meaningful conversation about voice acting,it would be much better to know what else these people did.

      • MORE meaningful, perhaps, but I don’t need to know a voice actor has done better things if their performance stinks in the game I’m playing.

        It strikes me as wanting to know how a magic trick is done or that there was a possibility that the performer could have done a different one before you can discuss how much fun you had during a night out at the theater.

    • Chris says:

      It’s certainly not a bad thing from a challenge perspective, and it definitely adds to replayability. My concern isn’t so much that the game randomly moves targets around in and of itself. From a simple “Let’s play a video game!” angle, sure, it works really well.

      The concern I have is that this sort of unannounced randomization makes discussing the game really really difficult. We have, in essence, a game with multiple optional objectives, multiple approaches to each target that can skip entire segments of levels, multiple versions of levels and conversations based off of high/low chaos ratings, and randomized target locations that deliver completely different content. The result is that every time everyone plays this game the story and the events can be vastly different in ways the player might not even be sure of. We saw this earlier in the game – we weren’t sure if the watch towers were always there in level 2 or if some were there because of our high chaos rating. We only just now realized you don’t always kill a Pendleton with hot steam. Dishonored doesn’t just randomize where the targets are standing, it randomizes how you have to deal with them and even in the case of Lady Boyle’s party it randomizes who they are.

      I mean, imagine if The Walking Dead had different randomized versions events but didn’t tell anyone about them. Sometimes so-and-so character dies one way, sometimes another. Maybe for one specific event it randomizes just who dies! How could we possibly have a meaningful discussion about the plot and what events mean? What happens when one of the randomized people’s deaths could be read as a meaningful sacrifice but if another character does it it’s stupid and nonsensical? How can we judge Schrodinger’s Narrative that’s interesting 50% of the time and badly written 50% of the time?

      Superficially this looks like the ol’ “you can’t tell an interactive story because it ruins the author’s control!” thing, but it’s not. That argument is about a writer relinquishing complete authority over his or her story, and I’m totally fine with that. The problem isn’t that the story is a discussion between an author and a player, it’s that the possibility space of that discussion isn’t really made apparent to the player. The author is rolling dice behind the scenes and taking the story in different directions without letting them know they’ve past a point where things could end up differently.

      Worse, this isn’t a 2 hour film – this is a 6-10 hour game. To realize that Lady Boyle is random or the Pendleton brothers move around or which towers are a result of your actions you’d have to sit through the game multiple times until you experienced those shifts for yourself.

      The result is that it’s an incredibly hard game to talk about in any real sense. I’m not clear on what they’re doing with high/low chaos, I’m not sure whether any target I kill is randomized and whether there’s a version of it that’s better or worse when discussing the game, I’m not sure how much I do or don’t influence the world, and I’m not sure what narrative points are fixed or random or my own doing.

      • Paul Spooner says:

        So, you’re saying this is the game equivalent of the theatrical release of Clue then. Multiple endings where no one is sure which one anyone saw.

        “The result is that it’s an incredibly hard game to talk about in any real sense.”
        Well, at least it’s nebulously good or bad, instead of objectively garbage.

        I agree though, that it would be nice to see the script. Discussing the story of Dishonored is like critiquing Shakespeare’s writing when your only exposure is to one-scene ad-lib recreations that you were asked to act in. Without seeing what is “scripted” and what is not, it’s hard to say how much is skill, luck, or emergent, and what part each party is responsible for.

        Still though, if you want to discuss games, that’s your job! Don’t complain that your job is getting harder! Job security my good man!

        • I almost made the same analogy, but (1) Clue did announce there were different endings, and (2) unless you were watching it on video tape/DVD, you only got to see one for the price of admission, whereas in Dishonored, you can see different outcomes (to a given scene) as many times as you want but without certainty that you’ll see every possible one.

      • “The problem isn’t that the story is a discussion between an author and a player, it’s that the possibility space of that discussion isn’t really made apparent to the player. The author is rolling dice behind the scenes and taking the story in different directions without letting them know they’ve past a point where things could end up differently.”

        I guess we’ll have to disagree on this, as not knowing where things could end up is half the fun of a game for me. At least once in my playing a game like this, I shouldn’t know the limits or boundaries of an area beyond my assigned goal. With proper suspension of disbelief, the game should have the same “I need to figure out what to do” feeling whether or not I’m aware that something is scripted or something is random. I haven’t seen the end of this movie, I haven’t read ahead or consulted a wiki; I’m going into the unknown and if I discuss it later, I’ll base it on my experience. If it was bad, how is that different than playing a game with a horrid glitch?

        And does this really change the narrative? As far as I can tell, this just affects how you get from point A to point B, not the eventual outcome vis-a-vis the plot. If I watch a movie where with each viewing, a car chase follows a different path of mayhem, is it really that different if the same characters survive each time?

        I guess I find it a strange thing to say that not knowing it’s there detracts from the conversation because everyone expects it to always be the same setup every playthrough. I mean, half of this show’s content is complaints about railroading or choices not having any significance to a game. Was that discovered by reading wikis or by playing it several times? Was it more meaningful when you went through it without knowing which choices were false and which ones weren’t? Since Fallout comprises a lot of this sort of thing, how immersion-breaking has it been for games to announce “beyond this point be ye olde endgame, so go out and muck around if ye wish to do so even though we’ve said this last mission is urgent,” allowing you to go take a few months to blow things up?

        Maybe it’s fodder for a discussion of games giving you the illusion of choice vs. having events that change up a few things about how you’re going to interact with the game’s elements, and whether or not your consciousness of that difference is important.

      • rrgg says:

        What’s more is that the game still doesn’t do a whole lot with the randomness it does have. There’s a little bit if you really want to but the Boyle level still doesn’t have much actual sleuthing. The walkthrough no matter who the correct person is will still always be.
        1. talk to creepy guy (not hard to miss, he grabs your camera)
        -He will tell you her name is
        2. Get drink for moth lady.
        -She will tell you which name goes to which color dress.
        3. Talk to each Boyle until one gives you speech options
        4. Ask her to come downstairs with you.
        5. Murder her/trade her off as a concubine.

        Even any events that move their targets around get rendered sort of mute if they still have arrows above their heads.

      • newdarkcloud says:

        I fundamentally disagree. I mean, just look at what happened during this episode. Figuring out through discussion and playing again that certain details are randomized and affected by Chaos really adds to the discussion and adds to the conversation. I don’t think not announcing it hurts discussion at all.

      • Eric says:

        I can’t find the article now, but I’m almost certain I remember reading in various previews that there would be randomized elements, such as where people were or who you had to kill.

      • MrGuy says:

        Chris, I love you, but this is frustrated art school crap.

        This is like demanding everyone watch movies they’ve never seen with the directory commentary on, and asserting it’s for their own good because they can’t talk about the movie properly without understanding this stuff.

        As if being able to write a 7 page critical essay on the director’s artistic choices was the point of the exercise.

        Really? You want the game to announce to players that some events are randomized? And which ones? With precision? What could be more immersion breaking than the game keeping up a steady stream of “Hey, just so you know, we totally ramdomized that guy. The next time you play, he might be somewhere else!” Thanks, game, for breaking my immersion in the experience I’m trying to have to talk about what I might see on a different playthrough.

        Sorry if their decision here makes your job as a video game critic harder. If making your life easier comes at the expense of my ability to immerse myself in and enjoy the game, I’ll take that every time.

        • Asimech says:

          What Chris said is essentially “man, the coating on these nails makes taking apart this shed really difficult.” Now imagine what your response would be in that situation.

  12. I quite like that idea that things are randomised, with or without telling the player.

    With an RPG, I dislike the idea that you can read wikis and develop and ideal approach before you have even played the game.

    As to Chris’s comment that it makes discussing the thing more difficult, it also means that you get to talk about all the different ways that a quest unfolds. Given that this is a rich single player game, I think developing the single player experience is more important than multiplayer by social proxy.

    • Thomas says:

      Isn’t the wiki thing such a specific and out of the way behaviour that restricting it is a bit of a ‘You’re not having fun properly guys’?

      There is no way someone who doesn’t get a lot of enjoyment out of it is going to load up a wiki and preplan their game. This isn’t even like quicksaving and saying ‘Well if you quicksave too often that it stops being fun, stop doing it’ because loading up a wiki is a really deliberate unintuitive action that the game doesn’t suggest doing. So why spend effort making sure that people can’t enjoy the game in a way they can with others?

  13. Hal says:

    No, the best way to describe his location is as a super-position of both locations, which collapses when you enter one of the rooms.

    I mean, really, doesn’t Schroedinger’s Steam Room have a much better ring to it?

  14. And Chris, I can’t believe nobody picked up on your “Fudgie the Whale” reference. You need to hang out with a better class of people who at least know their Patton Oswalt routines. :)

  15. Lame Duck says:

    Metal Gear Rising: Revengeancenessful also has a detective mode equivalent.

  16. Keeshhound says:

    “Probability conversations often get lost in the weeds, but they’re usually smart and interesting and polite. Unlike some topics I won’t mention.”

    Poor, poor, unfairly reviled politics. Some of the best discussions I’ve ever had were about politics. Hell, The Republic was an entire philosophical screed about one man’s political beliefs (which he then tried to hamfistedly shove into his dead teacher’s mouth, but that was par for the course with Plato, and it was still an interesting read). And yet now everyone’s terrified to even bring it up because people can’t be civil about something so important as how a country should be run. It’s shameful, really.

    • Rutskarn says:

      The difference being this is isn’t a stoic clan of greybeards gathered ’round the Areopagus, but internet commenters who a.) find it harder to strike a visibly neutral tone in text only, and b.) don’t see their opponent as a real person.

    • Shamus says:

      Adding to what Rutskarn said:

      Politics is more interesting when we’re all just talking in theoretical terms. Like on this site, we discuss videogame design all the time.

      “I love this design for Corvo. I love his terrifying visage and the entire concept of a desperate man who is blamed for destroying everything he loves.”

      “I hate Corvo and think he’s a boring bowl of cold oatmeal, a derivative and unimaginative cookie-cutter assclown. He should be replaced by something completely different.”

      This discussion is fine since we’re all armchair designers talking about something that’s already been done. It becomes a lot more difficult to keep a cool head if our opinions diverge like this and we’re both working on the game. And only one of us will get to see our vision realized.

      Politics is like this latter thing. We’re often talking about future policies, and we’re always talking about mutually exclusive outcomes. Either my party (the good guys, naturally) win and get to force you to abide by laws that I like or you win and force me to abide by laws that you like. Of course I’m just working to improve the public good with my sensible, virtuous laws that only result in prosperity and good. At the same time YOU are fighting for laws that will take away my freedoms, you heartless tyrant!

      This is all political debate. My perfectly reasonable laws vs. your autonomy and sense of self-determination. It’s like a machine devised to make reasonable people hate each other and pit them against each other.

      Politics is more fun when we’re talking abstract things and philosophies and not fighting over which one of us gets to control the other.

      • Paul Spooner says:

        (feel free to nuke this comment without regret)
        “My perfectly reasonable laws vs. your autonomy and sense of self-determination.”
        It would seem to follow that anarchist sentiments are the only acceptable political views to voice here. “May they reject all systems, and try liberty…”

        And yet, this blog is run on very totalitarian grounds indeed. I agree that it’s much safer to discuss things out of our control, but your moderation policy demonstrates that your own personal views have some bent toward the exercise of unilateral authority.

        I know there is a method here, yet it seems (or could seem to an observer) internally inconsistent. Since you have fanned this discussion, do you care to elaborate?

        • Keeshhound says:

          Hypocrisy is the grease that lubricates the wheels of social exchange, after all.

        • Nimas says:

          I believe Shamus’ method is pretty much whatever he feels like at the time (maybe he had a bad day and isn’t in the mood for some ugly discourse, or maybe he just watched a documentary and decides it might be interesting to see things run their course).

        • Duneyrr says:

          This blog is not a nation of people under a government, it is the possession of an individual. I’m pretty sure Shamus would treat moderation differently if the site itself was run by the collective fanbase.

        • Shamus says:

          Yeah, I’m openly tyrannical here. (Although I do strive to run a gentle tyranny.) We’re in my house. I would never presume to impose my mod style on someone else’s domain, and certainly not the net as a whole.

          More importantly, I don’t want to be seen as advocating anarchism. Or against it. I’m just outlining problems here, not trying to evangelize answers. I mean anarchy would indeed be a system where you wouldn’t have the problems I described, but that doesn’t mean it would have no problems.

          I suppose that’s one of the interesting things about political arguments is that too often we assume there’s a “right” answer that can be known.

          The situations that always make me crazy go like this:

          “We must outlaw substance X in food because it causes N1 cases of cancer every year. If we can save just ONE LIFE it will be worth it!”

          “No! X is needed to kill this other bacteria, which [does/could] kill N2 people a year. You’re threatening the lives of people who are protected by X!”

          Each of them thinks they’re saving lives. But what if both are right, and this is basically an argument over whether people should die of random bacterial infection or random cancer? And what if N1 and N2 can’t be known precisely because the data is too noisy? And perhaps the survival rate for the cancer and bacterial infection are difficult to compare. And the cancer hits sympathetic group G1 (say, old people, babies, or the poor) and the bacteria mostly hits sympathetic group G2. And the company that makes X gives to the Lavender party and the competition for X gives to the Yellow party and both are paying for studies to support their positions which floods the discourse with suspect (but not necessarily false!) data.

          And then some poor sod is there on Facebook, reading an nth generation repost of an old article based on 1995 data about the dangers of X in baby formula, even though X hasn’t been used for that since 2003. And they think they’re saving lives by joining the cause to ban X. And then they get embroiled in long angry threads about the evils of “Corporations Who Want To Poison You For No Reason” versus “The Government Who Wants To Destroy The Economy and Control Your Food”.

          And of course everyone feels obligated to take a position on X, because THE LIVES OF [G1 or G2] ARE AT STAKE! And then I want to go and hide in a mountain somewhere.

          Disclaimer for all: I worked very hard to create a hypothetical that should be abstract and non-partisan. Please don’t undo that by linking it to some actual debate. And I admit this sort of discussion is fun when it DOESN’T become that hypothetical Facebook post.

        • Syal says:

          I know there is a method here, yet it seems (or could seem to an observer) internally inconsistent.

          That’s because the original statement was about two people who both have a say in how things go. Knowing a third guy is in charge of what happens and he doesn’t care what either of you think will make the whole conversation friendlier.

          Also it’s pretty easy to leave this site if you don’t like its policies; a country, less so.

          (Good call on paste triggering moderation, whoever it was that called that.)

    • Paul Spooner says:

      Just to be clear, I completely support Shamus’ policy, and wouldn’t have it any other way. Some day, I would love to sit down with these friends (and a pint perhaps) and have a REAL philosophical discussion, from first principles, and on all topics. I feel that many others want the same. But this is not the time or place.

      “And yet now everyone’s terrified to even bring it up because people can’t be civil about something so important as how a country should be run.”
      Whether this statement is true or false is beside the point, the which being: Shamus has a limited amount of energy to spend tending the comments. Thus, he is not going to introduce anything so intense as politics (even though it has value). Granted, those discussions are important. Granted they may be addressed without ire. But one does not forge iron in a well tended garden. One does not make mires in a park. One does not discuss politics (or religion) on Twenty Sided. This is not done for fear, but for economy. The cost of it outweighs the gain.

  17. rrgg says:

    “Remember guardsmen, the monster in the creepy skull mask holding the bloody sword and human heart is more afraid of you then you are of it.”

    ————–

    This doesn’t pertain to Dishonored in particular, but I am one of the people who thinks that randomness tends to be severely underutilized in a lot of games. Not just because it can be a simple way to provide a lot of replay value, but in many cases including some randomness or unknowns can really do a ton to accent the core gameplay.
    Take the Boyle level for example. The challenge of the party isn’t just figuring out a way to lure Lady Boyle upstairs/downstairs. It’s playing detective and actually trying to figure out who the right person is. If they didn’t randomize which Boyle it was then you would only get to experience that whole detective game mechanic once if at all (admittedly though it’s still sort of shallow, talk to the creepy guy and talk to the moth lady and you will always know who the right person is).

    Even when it comes gunemdown FPS games, yes, on one level their gameplay is simply “click on the peoples until they dead,” but on another level you also have a lot of room for a deep, strategic, on-your-toes experience. “What weapon should I have out at this moment in case I need to react quickly?” “Is it worth leaving a mine here to cover my flanks?” “How can I constantly stay aware of my surroundings and avoid surprises?”
    For me the best part of any new shooter is about halfway through when I suddenly start doing well because gotten used to the mechanics and I’m starting to hone my tactics as I encounter new scenarios. But that magic no longer exists the second time I start to play or it gets broken the very first time I die and I suddenly find myself putting land mines in front of enemy spawn points or pulling out my rocket launcher on the way to the next room even though my character would have no justification whatsoever for doing that unless he was psychic.

    • Paul Spooner says:

      So, the elements where the setup is randomized tend to produce novel challenges? The strategy of most “video games” is a puzzle to be solved instead of a game to be played? Games would be better with more proceduralized situations replacing static content?
      Can’t argue with that. Welcome to the club!

  18. bloodsquirrel says:

    “But that’s okay. Probability conversations often get lost in the weeds, but they’re usually smart and interesting and polite.”

    Oh yeah?

    Take this!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monty_Hall_problem

    • Shamus says:

      I’ve always suspected the reason the Monty Hall problem is so lively is that it’s often the result of confusion over the parameters of the problem. It looks like a coin-flip, but it’s not, and getting someone to understand WHY it’s not a 50/50 coin flip is the key to getting them to understand the non-intuitive answer. It’s almost a wordplay problem more than a probability one.

      • newdarkcloud says:

        Shamus… have you been watching Mythbusters again?

        • Shamus says:

          Since I watch through Netflix, I don’t always get to see the latest. Why, did they cover MHP recently?

          • newdarkcloud says:

            No. It’s been awhile since they covered it. I just remember that they did and it was awesome.

            They proved that it was a Confirmed myth. This is because when you make the initial choice, then the odds are at 33%. Once they reveal one door is fake, then ask you if you want to swap doors, the odds don’t become 50/50, they are still 66/33 AGAINST the door you initially chose. Choosing to switch doors has a higher chance of paying off.
            They tested it by setting up a device to simulate Let’s Make a Deal. They set up two runs, Jamie always staying with a door and then Adam always flipping doors and found that Adam had a significantly higher success rate.

            I freakin’ love that show. I don’t watch it as often as I used to, but it’s great!

    • Paul Spooner says:

      But, what if I really want a goat? What is the probability that the value of the goat is greater than the value of the car? What is the probability that doing this analysis now instead of when the situation arises will benefit me in any way?
      Does the gameshow host always have to open a door? If he only opens the door when he knows I’ve chosen the most valuable option, then I need to know something about his psychology. Are you the kind of man that is used to having people not trust him, as I am not trusted by you? Are you the kind of man who would put a goat in his own goblet, or in his enemies?

      (poisons both goats)

      • StashAugustine says:

        There was a brilliant sketch on the Now Show on BBC Radio about a similar logic puzzle- something along the lines of one door lets you free, one door has a new car, one door has a dragon, I think there’s guards that lie and tell the truth. The escaping guy starts trying to figure out the relative values- if he has the car, maybe he can bash down the door, and maybe the dragon also wants to get free, and so on, and then it throws in the fox, chicken, grain problem and kinda goes off the rails. It was like 6 years ago, I wish I could remember it better.

      • MrGuy says:

        (snifs)

        Monty Hall. I’d bet my life on it.

  19. Alkydere says:

    But…the tranq darts work even in combat! It’s just the target takes about 10 seconds to finally fall over asleep instead of instantly being knocked out, enough time to take a swing or two at the player.

    That being said, the upgraded tranq darts are hilarious and make sneaking trivial as long as you have a few. Saved me a few times in the later levels when I’d try to peak through a keyhole only for someone to open the offending door.

    • rrgg says:

      Oddly enough, the sleep darts can be fairly useful even for a lethal run since it only takes one to knock out a guy as opposed to usually 2 of the standard bolts.

  20. Nytzschy says:

    I just realized that this Spoiler Warning season is “the one with the whales”.

  21. Dev Null says:

    Heh. I know it says “Twenty-sided” at the top of the page, but this blog tends mostly to be about video games these days. Try bringing up probability in forums dedicated to a game based on dice still…

    • Thomas says:

      There is nothing more insidiously good at destroying people’s understanding of probability than dice RPGs. ‘You roll for initiative because you’ve been sucking lately’ ‘Great I used my crit up on a goblin with 1hp’

      • Cybron says:

        it is amazing how you can take some very, VERY smart people, sit them down with dice, and watch them immediately turn into superstitious fools. For instance, some buffoons place all their dice with 1s face up, so as to not ‘wear out’ the better sides. This is clearly nonsense – any reasonable man knows it will have no effect. The correct way to place your dice is MAXIMUM side up.

      • Asimech says:

        This kind of thinking is why a deck of cards works “better”. You got a “critical” and use it? You did actually use up a critical until a reshuffle. A string of bad cards? If the deck isn’t shared you actually are “due” for better cards, since the bad ones are in your hand or used.

  22. arron says:

    I noticed that the game cheats. If you clear out the Golden Cat before walking up the stairs to the upper floor in the main brothel area, then you suddenly find yourself with two members of the guard appearing to attack you. In fact, you can walk backwards up the stairs and see them appear behind you! It’s the worse kind of Teleporting Squad ( http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/TeleportingKeycardSquad ), where the developers don’t make an effort to hide these guys behind you, and given they spot you immediately, it screws up your attempts to be stealthy.

    The other thing about this level is that the background noise is of various sexy sounds, but if you’ve killed everyone off..then where are they coming from? Would it not have been more realistic to reduce the volume of the sexy noises with the death of every prostitute on the level? When they’re all dead, then the the sounds of carnal pleasure should no longer be heard..

  23. StashAugustine says:

    The best way to do this mission is to wait until one of the brothers is talking to a prostitute, possess her while he looks away, and then jump out and stab him. I go for the showy kills.

  24. Brandon says:

    You kill that guy with hot steam! Children in Africa will never get that chance, you’d damned well take it and better appreciate it!

    I think the thing I don’t like about the randomized locations is that there isn’t a fancy way to kill the Pendletons in the suites. There should always be the option to shoot/stab an opponent, but I think there should always be an environmental way to kill enemies as well.. like the poison glasses for the high overseer, or the steam room.

    The “Whoops, what an unfortunate accident” type of kill. That seems so much more satisfying to me. I remember my favourite Dark Brotherhood quest in Oblivion was the one where you loosen the guy’s stuffed moose head above his favourite chair and drop it on him while he’s reading. I like stealth murder where you don’t have to get your hands dirty, I guess.

  25. X2-Eliah says:

    @Rutskarn Re:Tranq dart upgrade: Um, yes and no. The upgrade increases the speed at which combat-people drop asleep. Without the upgrade, in-combat targets take a few seconds to go down, while with the upgrade, they drop just as instantly as non-combat targets.

    As for immunity – no, no upgrade changes what it immune and what isn’t to tranq darts. And there *are* certain targets that are conditionally immune to tranq darts – namely, overseers with masks / musicboxes. Those things shield them from normal and tranq darts completely, which is a bit of a pain.

    (Also, tranq darts are very useful for a ghost/shadow/cleanhands run).

  26. Irregular says:

    Ha. I wonder when the the SW crew will discuss Daud and how underutilized he was. Plus that DLC that stars Daud trying to be a better guy while Corvo is busy enacting his bloody vengeance.

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