At this year's QuakeCon, Kirk McKeand from VG24/7 had the chance to talk to veteran designer and writer Ricardo Bare, who boasts game design credits such as Deus Ex, Dishonored and the 2017 reboot Prey, three of the finest archetypes of the immersive sim school of game design. McKeand was curious to know about what the future holds for Arkane Studios, and whether there are any plans to revive their ambitious FPS The Crossing, which was supposed to fuse single-player and multiplayer into a seamless experience. The Crossing was canceled, but its impact on Arkane games has been felt since.
Ricardo Bare said that only ideas and elements from The Crossing would come into play in future Arkane games. He talked about how there used to be pressure from big publishers to force development teams to include a multiplayer mode in games that felt artificial and was resource-draining, which harmed the development of the single-player mode. He sees a difference in what multiplayer is today: "It’s more community-oriented, it’s more about what gives your game legs, builds community, sharing, and things like that. Games are approaching that with lots of different models."
As for Dishonored, it's "resting for now." There's always the chance that "anything could happen" in the future, but with the standalone expansion to Dishonored 2, Death of the Outsider, the series wrapped up its loose ends and concluded in a satisfying manner. He doesn't know if they're going to continue developing immersive sims "like carbon copy," which is an interesting way to put it. When you look at Arx Fatalis, Dishonored, and Prey, there's a clear and obvious influence from those classic immersive sims, Ultima Underworld, Thief, and System Shock. Not quite "carbon copies," but close enough.
What is important to Arkane as a studio? "Coherent, deep world building and environmental storytelling – we’re always going to craft spaces that you feel like you’re visiting, whether it’s Dunwall or Talos 1. It’s just as important a character as the player or the people you meet. Then it’s improvisational gameplay – giving players a bunch of cool abilities and tools, then saying, ‘You figure it out, you be creative, you own the experience’. And, typically, we stick to first-person, though that’s not a hard rule and we might try other things from time to time."
I reached out to Ricardo Bare through his personal website in the hopes of getting more information about some of these topics.
Do you have hopes for a future Dishonored game? Or would you prefer a sequel to Arx Fatalis or Prey? Or maybe something totally new? Let us know in the comments below!