Arkane Studios’ Dishonored is a truly unique game that gives players a whole slew of ways to approach its world. Unfortunately for the developers and testers, that kind of freedom can be a double-edged sword.
As Arkane Studio executive producer Julien Roby told games.on.net, their testers tended to forget how much free reign they had in the game, treating it as if it had common restrictions and walls that weren’t really there:
People would just walk around. They didn’t know what to do. They didn’t even go upstairs because a guard told them they couldn’t. They’d say “Okay, I can’t go upstairs.” They wouldn’t do anything.
We try not to lead the player by the nose, but at some point we found that if we don’t give a little information, people just get lost and don’t know what to do. It’s just overwhelming. So we tried to add this element that gave just a hint, to help a little. But we try to do it as little as possible.
In various developer diaries, the Dishonored team has often described how difficult it’s been to program the game with so many unique enemy behaviors and the open level design. Moreover, the mix of powers available to players, from soul possession to teleportation to stopping time, just adds to the complexity.
But, it seems there’s another lesson learned: when you’re playing Dishonored—it releases on October 9th—don’t simply assume that you can’t (or can) do something just because an NPC suggests it. Tinker with the environments, sneak around a bit, and try to get to places where you’re not supposed to be going.