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Animated Webisode 'The Tales From Dunwall' Paves Way to Release of Revenge Game 'Dishonored'

10.5.12 @ 2:00PM Tags : , , , ,

Aside from the occasional distractions to be found on my phone and a lifelong love of Street Fighter II, I’m about as far from a gamer as you can get, which perhaps explains why I was completely unaware that developer Arkane Studios and publisher Bethesda Softworks were launching the new stealth action adventure game Dishonored next week. What did make me take notice, however, was the craftmanship of The Tales From Dunwall, a prequel webisode series, eerily narrated by Chloe Moretz over Daniel Licht’s haunting score. Comprising The Awakening, The Hand That Feeds, and In the Mind of Madness, digital creatives Psyop firmly set the tone of revenge as a cure to life’s woes which forms the spin of the game world narrative:

Although markedly different stylistically from Dishonored’s game visuals, the Psyop team still drew much of their inspiration from the source material and felt compelled to take a creative approach outside of their typical workflow:

Inspiration was taken from the game’s artistic direction established by Arkane Studios, but with a twist. The three webisodes were predominantly produced by hand. Each frame was essentially a fully rendered style frame, which was then enhanced with 3D elements to add to the painterly atmosphere, dimension and depth of each shot. “Usually when we animate, it is largely a CG production” said Psyop creative director Jon Saunders. “After we saw the story line, we decided to draw each style frame thirty or forty times and create a cell animated look and give it a sort of a painting-come-to-life effect.”

I’m probably not the best person to judge if the finished gameplay will live up to the promise of these prequel films, but from a marketing perspective, they definitely did their job and led me to seek out the game trailer proper, which is in itself a taunt piece of appetite-wetting storytelling:

There’s no getting away from the fact that as the games industry continues to outstrip the profits found in Hollywood — as James Gunn recently discussed on KCRW’s The Business — directors and writers are going to find themselves increasingly tempted to switch mediums for the creative challenges and lucrative rewards to be found there.

What other game properties and associated promotional films have impressed you? Could you see yourself shifting focus from films to games?

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  • This is exactly what America does not need.
    This constant desensitizing of the people lowers the value of life.

  • I tend to agree. I’m a 22 year old male and I found this pretty “horrific.” This is partly why I stopped being a gamer. Games were either childish or pretty dark on mass.

  • Sorry I have to disagree with Daniel and Morgan but I think you guys got it all wrong. After I read this post I got interested and searched some more on the game. It’s actually going to be one of the first games to have a completely “kill free” gamepath. What this means is, you can use force or inteligence, and your strategy will afect the plotline.
    This means that there are various possibilities of gameplay and therefore various possible paths that lead to different endings. They announce the game saying you can get to the end of it without killing one single enemy.

    Plus, I think that one of the principles of a video-game is that you are roleplaying, in a different world, a different reality, with different rules. Same thing happens in a movie, and I think there are probably many more movies, with a lot more violence, and most of them are even PG13. The thing is that, you know it’s make believe.

    That kind of “desensitizing” as you said, also worries me. Some movies (and yes some video games) are so realistic and treat violence with such disrespect and banality that the result is that you can be disgusted, to see a dead animal in the butcher, but you’re pretty OK with a persons head blowing up, even with a close up of the brains spattering all over the place. You’ll probably even laugh.

    That being said, I’m just amazed at the webisodes quality (far more than the game I guess). I wish there were more of them.

    I haven’t played many games recently but I think that if you think of it as an inteactive story, with so much attention to detail and options to immense you in the storyline, you can kinda get the same feeling as watching a series or reading a book.
    I think games are evolving towards a serious way of storytelling and cinematic feel to them.
    I’m not very informed but there are probably a lot of professionals jumping from one area to another on these kind of mixed media projects (as you now have really complex lighting situations, renders, camera movements, even actors and what not).

    Sorry for the long “essay”.
    Anyone agree?

  • Cool visuals. The games itself doesn’t look as good as the trailer (on a PS3) but the depth of character & options make it fun to play. This is something movies can’t touch: choosing a strategy, choosing an outcome, choices with consequences. Having a second and third run-through that is more immersive than the first is also a strong point.

    The quality of writing in this year’s major films was so poor. And many studios relied on sequels for bank. I’m holding out hope for “Lincoln” and “Argo”.

    The violence issue is a problem with kids who lack respect for others. This isn’t a trait one is born with, but one that is developed from weak parenting. To say that video games cause violence and movies don’t is false. If someone of weak character is influenced by a video game, then a violent movie will stir up the same thoughts & emotions.

  • Daniel Mimura on 10.13.12 @ 9:41PM

    I would gladly switch mediums to work with games…at least for awhile, just for the money and the experience.

    Both the cutscenes (for film directors and cinematographers) and the stories (for screenwriters) would benefit from more motion picture people working on them (not just the A list voice talents that games can now afford.) Everyone touting a new game is talking about how “cinematic” it is, either the gameplay, or the silly joke that they actually call a “story”…but rarely has anything lived up to be a truly engaging story…they always seem to be like watching a B-flick where you sort of see what they’re going for, but you are sort of experience it externally b/c it’s not engrossing enough to experience it from within. To be in a 1st person game has the potential to be far more “immersive” than the way Cameron and Jackson and other 3D apologists tout their dim flickery convergence point bending experience.

    The problems lie more with the game studios than anything else. They have the budgets… Cutscenes tend to be given to people who’ve worked longer at game companies…it’s like a promotion, not a merit based thing in itself like giving those scenes to filmmakers. This could be old information—I haven’t known any people working in games for several years now…and I’ve kind of grown bored with most games lately so I haven’t followed that closely.

    And stories…wow…I keep hoping, expecting some game to actually engross me, but it hasn’t happened yet.

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