Bethesda and Dishonored Give Me an Excuse to Run This Lena Headey Picture

You know, as much as I love Bethesda, they don’t exactly have an astounding history of success with original titles.

If you look at their history as a developer, you’ll of course notice their standout titles (“Fallout 3” and the “Elder Scrolls” series) are both of unquestionably great caliber, but only one of which is a true independent property. After that, you’ll see that Bethesda mostly spends their time as a publisher of titles that include “Brink,” “Call of Cthulu: Dark Corners of the Earth,” “Rouge Warrior,” and “Rage”  (which John Carmack recently apologized for). All of those titles share one thing in common. None of them were really, truly great, but they all featured at least one aspect or element that made them stand out.

See that’s the real magic behind Bethesda. Even when everything doesn’t come together as it should, they always manage to attach themselves to titles that never really feel like they are phoning it in. Hell, they even published a “Pirates of the Caribbean” game that wasn’t a complete hack job, and Disney and Johnny Depp have been phoning that franchise in since “Pirates of the Caribbean 2.”

It’s such a consistent enough history of exceptional effort that it makes gamers everywhere stand up and take notice when the Maryland based developer starts a new project. Apparently, gamers aren’t the only ones taking notice as some A-list Hollywood celebrities have jumped at the chance to sign on for Bethesda’s next title “Dishonored.” It was recently announced that Susan Sarandon (“Thelma and Louise”, “Rocky Horror Picture Show”), Chloe Grace Moretz (“500 Days of Summer”, “Kick-Ass”), and Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia…duh), will join previously announced actors Brad Dourif (“Deadwood”, “Childs Play”), Michael Madsen (“Reservoir Dogs”, “Kill Bill Vol. 2”), Lena Heady (“300”, “Game of Thrones”), and  “Mad Men’s” John Slattery as voice actors for the new title.

That’s clearly one hell of a cast assembled so far. What’s got them so excited? Well “Dishonored” is described as a “Steampunk, stealth first person role playing video game” that follows an Empress’s bodyguard, turned assassin who becomes framed for the Empress’s murder and must prove his innocence and find the real killers. “Dishonored” is supposed to support a revolutionary stealth system that boasts that no enemy must be killed, and a non-lethal solution is available for any situation. Along with that, the games steampunk open world promises to offer the traditional Bethesda quality open world, where they claim that every NPC is alive and active even if they are not interacting with you.

If you’re anything like me, that description got all kinds of hairs on you standing up. Like I said, when Bethesda gets behind something, they don’t do it half-ass. Between that description, that cast, and the development team attached to “Dishonored” (Arkane Studios, who previously worked on the incredible “Dark Messiah of Might and Magic” and “Bioshock 2”, and designer Viktor Antonov who helped design “Half-Life 2’s” City 17), this is starting to look more and more like a sleeper Game of The Year contender in the making, that’s causing all of the stars to align.

  

Video Game Documentary “Critical///Path” Looks to Examine the Art of Gaming

In 1954, director François Truffaut wrote a piece called “A Certain Tendency in French Cinema.” It was there he posed the ground-breaking theory that a film director could become an auteur. Essentially, Truffaut was trying to tell people that a true director created a film with complete artistic control, much in the same way that an author creates their stories. If this doesn’t sound mind blowing, you must remember that the film industry at this point was still largely under the thumb of the studio system. It was still strictly show business, and there was little mention regarding the higher idea of the art of filmmaking. Truffant openly challenged this idea with an essay, and then spent a career backing it up with works like the film “Breathless,” a movie so dynamic in its presentation and style, that those who “got” it, didn’t hesitate to call it art.

Of course, Truffaut wasn’t the first director to create auteur works of film. Instead, he was just the one to really stand back and look at this ability that a director had over his work, and lend a name to it. Jean Renoir, for example, had been creating “ahead of their time” works of auteur filmmaking all throughout the ’30s. Furthermore, Truffaut certainly wasn’t the last auteur as men like Alfred Hitchcock, Martin Scorsese, and countless others since proved that a good director really does craft a film, and is able to transcend the idea of movies as mere industry in doing so.

I mention this because the truth is that up until this point, there are very few people who openly use the word auteur when talking about game developers. Fortunately, for anyone truly interested in the gaming industry, filmmaker David Grabias does use that word. Specifically, he says, “There are plenty of people who are known, but they aren’t necessarily known as auteurs. Within every studio there’s always one or two people who are really visionaries.”

Even more fortunate is that David is currently working on a series that looks to express and exhibit that very belief called “Critical///Path.”

Details are slowly emerging about the project, which has apparently been in the works for two years and is a culmination of over 30 hours worth of interviews with some of the leading minds in the gaming industry. Produced by Artifact Studios, “Critical///Path” will feature interviews with gaming developers that include Cliff Bleszinski, John Carmack, Hideo Kojima, Sid Meir, Will Wright and more. Each installment will showcase individual developers covering topics that range from industry specific subjects such as “First-Person vs Third-Person” to broader ideas like “Bonding Through Adversity.” Style-wise, the series is being compared by some to “Inside the Actor’s Studio.”

I love this concept, and the roll call of talent on hand so far is pretty incredible. What I especially love is that, unlike other video game documentaries and similar works, this isn’t a defense of the industry as much as it’s a celebration and exploration of it. When people like the developers mentioned are approached to defend the gaming industry (which happens far too often), they are naturally going to let their passion overwhelm them and come out with closed fists and defensive minds. An open forum like this instead allows them to take that same passion and come out with open arms, allowing anyone with a true interest into the artistic side of gaming, an unprecedented chance to gain an honest look at the processes and ideas that fuel it.

Besides, of course, providing these developers their deserved levels of exposure, that’s the other function I hope this series will ultimately serve. Because much like the film industry at the time of “A Certain Tendency in French Cinema,” the seeds for a true artistic evolution in gaming are well sewn. Really all we need is for everyone in the industry, from developers to fans, to enter the mindset that such a revolution is possible, because it’s already happening.

  

id Software to Release a New iPhone Game Every 2-3 Months

id on the iPhone.The latest in iPhone news (and I know there’s been a lot of it this month) comes from id Software. You may know them as the creators of games like Doom and Wolfenstein and the upcoming Rage. iPhone users will be getting introduced to, or reacquainted with, id over the next year.

id co-founder John Carmack told Joystiq today that he is “passionate about the benefits of the iPhone,” and that his company has a lot of fun porting their titles. He also says it doesn’t require a lot of focus, at least for an established IP like Doom. But there is more to come from Carmack and company, who recently announced their buyout by ZeniMax, parent company to Bethesda.

“I’ve got a slate of iPhone titles, I expect to have an iPhone release every two or three months for the next year,” said Carmack. He made it clear that the benefit isn’t necessarily the money, but rather the level of commitment. When a game doesn’t cost millions of dollars to make and market, it’s a lot less pressure on the development team, which Carmack views as a good thing.

I’m glad to see a major developer taking the iPhone into serious consideration. Titles like Myst have recently been ported as well, but how about some new IP? Personally, I’d love some.

  

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