In an interview with GamesIndustry.biz, Harvey Smith, the creative director at Arkane Studios and a director on Dishonored and Dishonored 2, has spoken about world building and writing in games, saying 'Lots of people have done elves and dwarves. Fuck that.'
Smith's swearily passionate comment is specifically in reference to how, particularly in the Dishonored series, Arkane is striving to build a fantasy world that's also familiar, but without retreading on what's already out there.
'When you're making something you want to be recognisable, if you find yourself doing exactly what has been done before you need to put a twist on it.'
Smith uses the bone charms in Dishonored as an example, describing their use in the game being familiar as a perk system, but slightly diffre in practise, as well as how they have a purpose in the world predating the player using them. The Dishonored world is designed to feel larger than what you see of it.
The whole interview is worth reading to learn more about Arkane's process in particular, and approaches to game design and writing in general. Arkane will be bringing us another trip into Dishonored's world later this year with a stand alone game called Dishonored: Death of the Outsider, out on Xbox One, PC and PS4 on September 15.