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 Todd Howard: God of Videojuegos

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PostSubject: Todd Howard: God of Videojuegos   Fri Jul 10, 2009 9:44 pm

Exclusive Interview with Todd Howard


What is your name?
Todd Howard

What do you do at Bethesda?
I’m the executive producer of Bethesda Game Studios and have been the game director on games such as Redguard, Morrowind, Oblivion, and Fallout 3.

How long have you worked at Bethesda?
15 years. I started right after Arena first shipped.

How did the Idea for The Elder Scrolls series begin 15 years ago? (What was the inspiration behind it? What did it develop from? Etc.)
Arena actually started as a gladiator game, and over time morphed into a giant RPG, as more and more elements got added to it. It even featured a party system at one point. The main inspiration for The Elder Scrolls comes from games like Ultima Underworld, Darklands, and Legends of Valour. And of course, D&D. The whole idea was to do a grand RPG, where you could do pretty much whatever you wanted.

Was the lore for The Elder Scrolls written or completely thought of 15 years ago? Or has The Elder Scrolls lore been developing over time? And if so, is the Elder Scrolls lore still in development? Or is it finished?
It was not completely written in the beginning at all. We add stuff with every game. Obviously the main world, races and timeline were set by Arena. Daggerfall gets into the rulers and politics of the world more; kind of the people behind the places. There was a lot of new lore done between Daggerfall and Morrowind. You can see this in Redguard. We made a real effort to make the world of the Tamriel more unique than the standard Tolkien or D&D stuff. I don’t see it as ever finished. We’ll add to it with each new game in some fashion.

How big was Bethesda Softworks when The Elder Scrolls: Arena came out?
Hmm. Maybe 30 people. I forget honestly! When we started Morrowind we had only 6 people left in development, and the team today is around 90.

How has Bethesda grown over the last 15 years? (Size, complexity, product quality, etc.)
It’s certainly grown, but I see that more as the industry’s grown. In the grand scheme of things, we do similar things to what we did 15 years ago, just on different platforms and a different scale. If you look at the span of games that come out in a year, our stuff still sits on the more hardcore and technically advanced end of the curve.

Is there anything at Bethesda that hasn’t changed? (People, offices, etc.)
We’re still in the same building, and there are a good number of folks that have been here for a long time. So it’s really nice to be working with a lot of the same people for over a decade. You really develop a bond, and I think that makes the process of making a game more enjoyable and that translates to the game itself.

After the release of The Elder Scrolls: Arena, was it decided that you would turn The Elder Scrolls into a long series of games? Or was the idea of developing a series something that happened over the years?
It was always the plan to be a series. Arena is specifically noted as “The Elder Scrolls: Chapter 1” on its load screen.

Have previous Elder Scrolls games had an effect on the development of later Elder Scrolls games? And if so, what are some examples?
Of course. So much of what we do is a reaction to the last game. Just listening to people’s experiences with the previous game flavors what we do with the next one. If you look at Oblivion, the big new things, like the AI or the combat, were a reaction to the key criticisms of Morrowind. At the same time, we really try to do something new in each game. We want to keep the series fresh and usually start a game by trying to make the ‘end-all-be-all RPG’, regardless of what came before. I stay away from +1 sequels. Meaning, ‘it’s just like that game – plus this.’ I think that’s a good way to burn out your franchise. Most fans will usually ask for more skills or more races, things like that. But I don’t see those kinds of things adding to the experience. I wouldn’t add a race, I would ask ‘how can playing an Orc be even more unique?’ It’s about meaningful choice, not more choice.

What do you think was the greatest new development(s) of The Elder Scrolls games over the years? (3D environments, lip-syncing audio dialog, physics, etc.) --> also: non-appearance related developments. Actual gameplay changes, or developments in Bethesda’s approach to the series?
Technically, it’s fully realized 3D environments. I think the main character and story in our games is the world around you. What the flowers look like, the chairs, the castles, you name it. Exploring that world is the key driving force, and as 3D graphics have gotten better, so have the games. People usually scoff the importance of graphics, but I feel it’s probably the number one thing in a game like this. It immediately puts you in another world, it suspends your disbelief and makes it feel new, or amazing, whatever you want to call it. We obsess over the world detail, and the art and technology to make that happen. Number two, I’d put the Radiant AI in Oblivion. It’s a really amazing system, and we only scratch the surface of it. What we could do with NPCs made the world come alive finally. Prior to that it was just ‘people as menus.’ They stand in place and you go up and click them. They felt totally dead. As far as gameplay, it’s old now, but the switch from an XP system to a skill reward system in Daggerfall really sets the series apart. The whole idea of getting better at actions as you do them becomes the ultimate gameplay carrot. I think if you put those things together, vibrant world to explore and improvement through action, you get the heart of the series. It just has a certain flow about playing it I love.

If you could go back in time and change one thing in one of your games, what would it be? Or would you not change anything at all?
I’d have no level cap in Fallout 3. Oh wait, you probably meant The Elder Scrolls, hmmm. I still regret having Redguard only support Glide for 3d acceleration. We should have made it Direct3D based. We missed the technology window on that one. That killed that game. There are other regrets, but most of those decisions made sense at the time and weren’t game killers, so we fix them game to game.

What has been Bethesda’s goal(s) when developing The Elder Scrolls games over the last 15 years?
Each time out, we want to give people the biggest craziest game they’ve ever seen. A game where you can fantasize about who you would be and what you would do, and this is the one game that will let you do that.
Did Bethesda planned for people to make hundreds of modifications for the games? Or did the modding community encourage the creation of the “construction set” programs?
It was our hope people would do lots of mods, but there really wasn’t any modding community when we made it. I had always loved Stuart Smith’s Adventure Construction Set on my Apple 2, and I wanted our version of that. I even stole part of the name. The whole idea of plugins came from us playing a lot of Myth at the time around the office, and the ‘gamesettings as formula variables’ was inspired by High Heat Baseball’s tune files, another game I was playing a lot at the time, back in ‘99.

Do you think the modding community has had a positive or negative impact on The Elder Scrolls series? And how drastic of an impact?
Very positive. I think it dramatically adds to the entire flavor of, ’this game and world feels like it never ends. You can play forever and do what you want.’ So people get new adventures, items, anything. And then add to that the crazy stuff, like graphical overhauls, gameplay rebalancing, you name it. It makes it feel like an RPG system more than an individual game. You can argue that an incredibly small percentage of people actually mod the games, or ever touch the tools, but those folks feed all the others. And it’s still a small percentage of people that even play with mods, but it still flavors the experience for everyone else. I think they love the idea that they can get online and download so many things, even if they never do. It just changes the conversation about the game to something even bigger.

Has any the community had an impact on the creation of The Elder Scrolls games?
Of course, absolutely. How people feel about the games, what mods they create or play with, all of it matters. We see most of it, and talk about it in the office, and it has a dramatic effect on what we do.

Have comments or criticism from previous games have had effects on how future games were developed? And can you give any specific examples you remember? (ex: Did comments about having to read lots of text in Morrowind lead to voice acting and lip-sync dialog in Oblivion?)
I guess the most recent example would be the static NPCs in Morrowind, going to Radiant AI in Oblivion. That was a major system we did to address that issue. Took us years and years to do it. In regards to voice, most hardcore fans didn’t complain about reading, fans love to read, it’s everyone else who hates it. And that’s something that fans should understand, that we take a very global view of things, and we may do things they don’t like because we’re also soliciting feedback they don’t see, from the 99% of people playing the game that don’t come to our forums. It’s a lot of people, and they just aren’t passionate enough to get online, register, and post, but that doesn’t make them stupid, or their opinions any less valid. There are things they want out of the games that would surprise people. In general, we take a very eclectic view of the gaming world. We’re fans of most genres, and try to cast a pretty wide net in terms of what we’ll try in a game.

Has the Beth Blog changed over the years? And if so, what has changed?
It hasn’t been around that long yet, so I think it’s just getting started. Hats off to Matt Grandstaff, our community manager who put that together. I think he does a fantastic job, and is also a pretty funny guy to be around. I think he keeps the whole community going in a positive direction, and I wish the fans could see how much he pesters me about tiny things he reads online.

For the 10th anniversary of The Elder Scrolls series, ES: Arena was released as a free download. Will you be doing something similar to that for the 15th anniversary? Would you be doing it in 5 years for the 20th anniversary?
I’m happy to say yes! We’re releasing Daggerfall for free on the web today, just like we did with Arena. I have no idea about the 20th anniversary yet, we’ll cross that bridge in 5 years.

What is your favorite story from working at Bethesda over the years?
Pete Hines won’t let me tell it. But it’s awesome. So awesome.

These next questions are about where Bethesda will go from here:

Is there an Elder Scrolls 5 being made? And if so, is there anything you can tell us about it?
I can’t talk about what we are or are not doing at this time.

Do you expect Bethesda to continue to grow over the next few years?
Yes, both in our development capacity and our publishing business.

Does Bethesda have any big plans for the future?
Doesn’t everyone?

What do you hope Bethesda will continue to do (or be) over the next few years?
I hope we continue to make games that try to do something special. I think there’s a part of every Bethesda game that says ‘this game tries something crazy you haven’t seen before.’ It may not always succeed, but it tries.

What would you like to see from The Elder Scrolls fan and mod community?
I’m a fan of the larger, group mods that fill out a whole adventure. The ‘I can’t believe they pulled this off’ type.

What do you hope Bethesda will have done or accomplished in 5 years?
Hopefully we make some games that are even better than our last ones. I hope we learn and continue to improve.

Are there any additional comments or statements you would like to say for the readers of this article?
Just a big thanks for everyone who has stuck with our games for so long. We’re incredibly lucky to make games we’d love to play and have them find such a large and great audience. Thanks again!

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PostSubject: Re: Todd Howard: God of Videojuegos   Fri Jul 10, 2009 10:04 pm

I think that's an official announcement of Elder scrolls 5

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PostSubject: Re: Todd Howard: God of Videojuegos   Fri Jul 10, 2009 10:10 pm

They would be damn fools not to make it. I'm sure we'll get an official announcement soon. That game series is the best, they need to make 10 more so they have more than Final Fantasy. This game series is better, they need to show it by making an amazing game every two years.

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PostSubject: Re: Todd Howard: God of Videojuegos   Fri Jul 10, 2009 10:11 pm

Bioware's pretty damn ballin' as well
Although the sell value for mass effect is like $0

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PostSubject: Re: Todd Howard: God of Videojuegos   Fri Jul 10, 2009 10:14 pm

Well they made like 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,001 copies of it. And Mass Effect 2 comes out early next year. I bought Mass Effect like 2 months after it came out for 60 dollars, now you can buy it used for like 10. FUUUUUUCK

Bioware kicks ass though. My only hope is that playing mass effect 2 will keep me happy till the next fallout, and hopefully the next Elder Scrolls game

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PostSubject: Re: Todd Howard: God of Videojuegos   Fri Jul 10, 2009 10:16 pm

Apparently if you killed Wrex in the first one he wont be around in the 2nd

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PostSubject: Re: Todd Howard: God of Videojuegos   Fri Jul 10, 2009 10:17 pm

Yeah that's what I heard. I think I killed Wrex...

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PostSubject: Re: Todd Howard: God of Videojuegos   Fri Jul 10, 2009 10:18 pm

I did both ololol
I played it so much haha

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PostSubject: Re: Todd Howard: God of Videojuegos   Fri Jul 10, 2009 10:21 pm

It's about time I play through again...

I didn't get any of the achievements for partners, that I need to get. And there is an achievement for playing twice, and for playing on Insanity difficulty.

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PostSubject: Re: Todd Howard: God of Videojuegos   Fri Jul 10, 2009 10:23 pm

the parent one is bs. You cannot switch ever. ANd you need to complete pretty much everything with that partener

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PostSubject: Re: Todd Howard: God of Videojuegos   Fri Jul 10, 2009 10:26 pm

Which sucks because you don't get Dr. Liara T'Soni until like halfway through. /facepalm

I like hard achievements, but there are some achievements that are just plain frustrating and not worth it. In Oblivion, there are achievements for becoming Duke Mania and Duke Dementia, but you can only be one. That means you will get every achievement on your master file, then you will have to play through another time for one 30 point achievement

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PostSubject: Re: Todd Howard: God of Videojuegos   Fri Jul 10, 2009 10:29 pm

Haha, who would make a new account for that?

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PostSubject: Re: Todd Howard: God of Videojuegos   Fri Jul 10, 2009 10:35 pm

Exactly! But the thing is, I will probably play that game 20 times before I die so I'll get it eventually

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PostSubject: Re: Todd Howard: God of Videojuegos   Fri Jul 10, 2009 11:16 pm

lol follow this link and go all the way to the bottom and look at their games

https://orders.bethsoft.com/store/

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