Arkane Studios Game Director Talks About Implementation of Possession Power in Dishonored

Arkane Studios’ first-person action-stealth game Dishonored has a fairly open-ended approach to how players can carry out their objectives. However, with all of that in mind, many of its abilities weren’t easy to implement, especially the Dishonored possession power, according to Harvey Smith, a director at Arkane Studios in Austin, Texas.

“People will come up with situations here…that feel very improvisational, but we’re gonna have to handle so many edge cases, is this feature worth doing? …Cuz it’s so much work to support Possession.”

Smith let all of this information be known on the latest episode of the AIAS Game Developer’s Notebook podcast, where he talked both about how he got into video games with host Ted Price along with stories that he’s acquired over the course of his time working at Arkane.

For instance, while the Dishonored Possession power did require cutting some things in the game to make it work, the emergent stories were worth it, according to him, as he recounted a story of him possessing a rat to avoid being caught by a guard.

“Moments like that that just felt so tense…that was a magical moment for me, because that rat happened to be there at the right moment, and I happened to have Possession, and I happened to knock a bottle over, so it all worked out.”

Possession was actually one of multiple different ideas that was suggested in such a way, where the folks at Arkane would suggest and try out ideas to see how they might work in the game, which helps explain why alongside the Dishonored possession power, there are so many interesting abilities in the game. However, Smith says they didn’t always work out.

“Some of those ended up going pretty far and then getting killed…and then we had some things we referred to as “killing it in the egg.”

Most of these were due to Arkane wanting to make sure every power was the best it could be, rather than spreading its efforts out, but either way it worked out, helping Dishonored to be a great success and one of the best games of that generation.