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?