The Propaganda and Branding of ‘Dishonored 2’
<b>Presented by 'Dishonored 2'</b>. Jean-Luc Monnet, the game's assistant art director, explains a little about the game world's posters and advertisements.
All artwork courtesy of Arkane Studios/Bethesda Softworks
Presented by 'Dishonored 2'
Jean-Luc Monnet, assistant art director on Dishonored 2, explains a little about the game world's posters and advertisements.
It has always been our goal to create propaganda that's more than posters that cover the walls. It is thought of as a narrative element, informative and beautiful, and has to be ubiquitous and look really good. It was great to create these propaganda posters in this vintage style. We gave a lot of love to each poster, and each line.
Speaking of beautiful things, and propaganda, we love Shepard Fairey's work. His analysis of propaganda of all types creates a kind of universal language to convey his messages. We did a lot of research on propaganda through the centuries from different countries, and despite the various eras, different cultures, or totally opposing ideas, we noticed the same reflexes, codes and iconographic elements.
In the original Dishonored, the Lord Regent's propaganda was based on clear, oppressive slogans, some with military inspiration. In Dishonored 2 we pushed further, being more subtle in the integration. For example, the Duke of Serkonos prints pretty and expensive posters, in large formats and quantities, announcing projects that will never happen. This shows a character trait through his propaganda – it shows the government's style, what they do with money, and the Duke as an indecent tyrant. The Bloodfly Control Edict and Food Ticket Program posters demonstrate this well – they show hope for the population, but also the real truth of what the government and Duke are like.
Propaganda is used to obtain power and to consolidate it. In Dishonored 2, we are dealing with a tyrant more than a dictator, so propaganda comes and goes depending on the Duke's feelings at the time. It's more colourful, less basic than the Lord Regent's, and has more of a southern feel.
We think about the graffiti, people's reactions and claims which all help make the world feel more real. These posters are a source of information for the player on different levels, giving clues and information on the type of political regime – it's a part of the world's consistency. Propaganda in games can be used in many different ways, and not purely as a decorative element.
We started to develop brand imagery in the first Dishonored for typical products that could be sold in the game, such as delicious canned jellied eels or whale meat in tomato sauce. This continues in Dishonored 2, but we've taken it up a level so you feel as if you're in a spa resort on the Bay of Karnaca; painted on the walls is the logo for a local brand of cigars, and there are imported beverages.
At first, our crazy cool narration team gives us a product and a name, and then we have questions: this fermented red shark, what was its journey from its natural environment to this tin can? Where will it be sold, and to whom? Is it widespread in the city? What does it say about the trade development state of this world? Some answers are obvious, and some are less than they seem to be. By answering these questions, we define what the iconography, tone, treatment and quality will be.
Posters and shops share the same fate. Where will we put this or that poster? Is it a single piece, or printed as part of a series? Black and white, or colour? How many? What size? And for whom? Does this trader have one shop or is it a franchise?
From the handwritten menu board, to the common can found everywhere, we must think about placing each item in the right context.
It was pretty cool to do this – creating logos for each fresh old-school mood poster, inspired by a time when signs were hand-shaped with great craftsman providing incredible lettering, mostly unique or produced in small scale. This is close to what we love, so it was super exciting.
Dishonored 2 is released on November 11th for PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. For more information, and to order the game, visit its official website.