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Default Skyrim - Todd Howard Interview @ EDGE

July 18th, 2011, 21:27
Todd Howard talks to EDGE about various Elder Scrolls things. Topics covered are how much adjustment it took to move back to Tamriel after developing a Fallout game, if we ever get to se an Elder Scrolls game developed by an external studio, if Skyrim will have some of Morrowind's "idiosyncratic otherness" and more.

Here's a sample:
Was Oblivion’s setting weird enough? Will Skyrim reintroduce some of Morrowind’s idiosyncratic otherness?
I think some people, when they go to explore the world, want to be surprised more. I don't know that I'd categorise it as weird per se, but more culturally different. Skyrim has a much more unique sense of culture to it than we did in Oblivion, where one was relatively the same as another, whereas here they're vastly different. If you've seen the trailer, that first city shot, that big stone city is actually an ancient dwarven ruin carved into this mountain. It's one of the main five cities. We wanted Morrowind to feel alien, like you were a stranger in a strange land. Whereas this we want to feel instantly familiar but that it does have it's own unique culture. We kind of walk that line in between the two games, if that makes sense.
More information.
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July 18th, 2011, 21:27
Well… Doesn't sound much like Morrowind… Hopefully there will be another source of "charm" given "alien"-ness is out. Vanilla medieval is getting boring for me.
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July 18th, 2011, 21:38
"Skyrim has a much more unique sense of culture to it than we did in Oblivion, where one was relatively the same as another, whereas here they're vastly different. "

Funny, I remember comments from him prior to Oblivion how each city had it's own architecture and style and was unique, bla bla. Amusing to see him backpeddling on the hype like that. I suppose the next game he will be saying 'ES VI is more unique than Skyrim. Unlike Skyrim where the towns all looked the same, each town will be different here!'
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July 18th, 2011, 21:53
Well they think that non-traditional fantasy doesn't sell as well, and given comments I have read on forums, this forum included, I think they're probably right.

Which is a shame, because Morrowind's sense of an alien culture is one of the big reasons it's my favorite game of all time.
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July 18th, 2011, 22:31
@Motoki, the architecture was different between the towns in Oblivion. Not different enough, perhaps, so wouldn't you rather they improve it?

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July 18th, 2011, 23:18
Originally Posted by Dhruin View Post
@Motoki, the architecture was different between the towns in Oblivion. Not different enough, perhaps, so wouldn't you rather they improve it?
I am just pointing out that he previously made a big point of the different architecture as evidence that the towns were unique and had their own unique culture and now he is making a statement that seems to imply the contrary that the towns really weren't very unique from each other in Oblivion or at least that Skyrim's towns are somehow much more unique from each other than those of Oblivion.

Futher, the example he is using to illustrate the claim that Skyrim's towns are much more unique from each other than Oblivion is the architecture, which is the same example he used to claim in the past that Oblivion's towns had unique cultures from each other. If Oblivion had towns with different architecture that supposedly gave a feel of a different culture and Skyrim has towns with a different architecture that supposedly gives them feel of a different culture, I fail to see the marked difference that gives Skyrim "a much more unique sense of culture to it than…Oblivion".

Basically he will say whatever it is to make the current game sound better than the previous.
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July 18th, 2011, 23:30
I think you're twisting his words to fit your anti-Bethesda argument . He's just saying that Morrowind was completely weird and alien the whole way through, whereas Oblivion had a more cohesive, centralized culture, which makes sense given that it was set in the heart of the empire. And yes, each town did feel different in subtle ways, just not on the same scale as Morrowind. Seems to me that Bethesda has acknowledged that ES fans want more diversity in a similar way to Morrowind, but they aren't going to make it quite as "alien."

I'm actually glad they aren't trying to duplicate Morrowind; that was a "once in a lifetime" type of setting that can never be duplicated with the same level of success, and a new ES game trying to copy it would draw too many comparisons to Morrowind to ever have a chance of standing on its own merits. Each province should feel different than others anyway, in my opinion.
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July 18th, 2011, 23:43
Yeah, like someone already said, the alien feel doesnt sell, people have a harder time to connect to it.. With Oblivion i got the impression that they wanted to make it prettly close to LOTR which was getting released pretty close to Oblivion.

Skyrim is a bit similar to Game of Thrones (nordic / winter climate, dragons). But it could ofcourse also be coincidence that they decided to go with the Skyrim region. I'm pretty sure it's not a bad strategy, if there is one.. Oblivion sold really well, even on PC..
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July 18th, 2011, 23:50
Originally Posted by Nerevarine View Post
I think you're twisting his words to fit your anti-Bethesda argument .
If you want to want to think that go ahead. I do tend to be wary of their statements based on past experience of what was promised vs what was delivered and their tendency to crank up hype machine. If someone has a pro-Bethesda slant I suppose they would take everything he says at face value.

To me though I still read it as past statement:

Oblivion's towns each have a unique culture; we have different architecture in each of them.

Current statement:

Skyrim's towns are much more unique from each other than Oblivion's. We have a different architecture in each of them.
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July 19th, 2011, 00:40
Well, I'm not really pro or anti Bethesda - or at least I try to be neutral - because I think it's really important to judge each game on its own merits. And with a couple notable exceptions (*cough* Radiant A.I.), I really don't think Bethesda goes overboard with the hype - most of that is done for them by people following their games and the media. In this case, I just don't see any over-hyping or marketing b.s. when Todd Howard says that Skyrim will try to be more diverse than Oblivion.

Speaking of hype, I think that some (though certainly not all) people tend to set their expectations for The Elder Scrolls unreasonably high or are blinded by nostalgic feelings for Morrowind, so it's no wonder that some act like Oblivion is a completely terrible game - I personally don't think it's great in its vanilla state, but it's also no where near as terrible as some people claim. For the record, I have enjoyed Bethesda's games and look forward to Skyrim, but when the time comes, I'll try to look at it without comparing it to other Bethesda games - especially Morrowind, as that is currently the best Bethesda game in my opinion, and will likely never be eclipsed by another Elder Scrolls entry.
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July 19th, 2011, 01:01
Radiant A.I is the last thing i would complain about with Oblivion.. Tons better than almost any RPG out there (except the 15+ year old U7 and Gothic1-3). Any Bioware to date is on pair with Pac-man if not worse when it comes to A.I, yet they never recieve any complaints about it. But yes, Bethesda might have hyped it a tad too much, because everyone and his mother is complaining about the Radiant A.I, lol.

They even hyped the A.I for Morrowind, which imo, is funnier considering how awful it is.. Radiant A.I actually does a pretty good job, but it does require a mod or 12
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July 19th, 2011, 04:02
It's obvious that Radiant AI had come a long way by Fallout 3. The characters acted more naturally in that game and enemies grew quite a bit smarter. The problem is that no AI is coming close to the natural intelligence of a human. We can learn from what the game does and adapt. The machine never learns from our strategies and so we quickly get the upper hand. That's why the computer needs the ability to cheat by making us fight more and higher level creatures. The day the computer learns and adapts from our actions is the day Skynet could become real

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July 19th, 2011, 06:46
Originally Posted by vurt View Post
Radiant A.I is the last thing i would complain about with Oblivion.. Tons better than almost any RPG out there (except the 15+ year old U7 and Gothic1-3). Any Bioware to date is on pair with Pac-man if not worse when it comes to A.I, yet they never recieve any complaints about it. But yes, Bethesda might have hyped it a tad too much, because everyone and his mother is complaining about the Radiant A.I, lol.

They even hyped the A.I for Morrowind, which imo, is funnier considering how awful it is.. Radiant A.I actually does a pretty good job, but it does require a mod or 12
I don't remember reading this anywhere, but is Bethesda hyping "Radiant AI" for Skyrim? I'd imagine it will be at least a little step up from Oblivion. Todd Howard is definitely pushing "Radiant Story" though, but that's not the same, right?
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July 19th, 2011, 07:55
They mentioned that NPCs have more animated activities in their schedules now - like smithing, etc. But they are not hypibg it much.
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July 19th, 2011, 09:30
Regarding the "weirdness" issue - I actually kind of like what he is saying here. Morrowind was, in my opinion, not great because it was weird, but because it presented a coherent society, complete with its own myths, religion, social tensions etc. It succeeded in weaving together familar themes (e.g. tribal culture vs. urban culture, occupation versus local tradition, religious dogma and heresy) with the fantastic. Oblivion just failed to do that to a similar extent, inspite of all the potential that the imperial province would have offered for that kind of thing. So for a setting like skyrim, I think it would be a big mistake to just go for weirdness for weirdness sake - the goal should be to again weave a believable picture of the society and its circumstances, weaving together familar "Norse" themes with the fantastic elements of the Elder Scrolls Lore.
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July 19th, 2011, 10:07
Originally Posted by GhanBuriGhan View Post
Regarding the "weirdness" issue - I actually kind of like what he is saying here. Morrowind was, in my opinion, not great because it was weird, but because it presented a coherent society, complete with its own myths, religion, social tensions etc. It succeeded in weaving together familar themes (e.g. tribal culture vs. urban culture, occupation versus local tradition, religious dogma and heresy) with the fantastic. Oblivion just failed to do that to a similar extent, inspite of all the potential that the imperial province would have offered for that kind of thing. So for a setting like skyrim, I think it would be a big mistake to just go for weirdness for weirdness sake - the goal should be to again weave a believable picture of the society and its circumstances, weaving together familar "Norse" themes with the fantastic elements of the Elder Scrolls Lore.
Exactly what I wanted to say. But more eloquent.

I'd like to add that to me the weirdness of Morrowind wasn't just the superficial things like archetecture but also the xenophobia of Morrowind's people. Obviously doing that again wouldn't make sense. But I hope that with Skyrim we get again a sense of the people of the province. After Oblivion I didn't really feel I knew Imperials the way I got to know Dunmer after Morrowind. I just hope Skyrim does a better job of it.
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July 19th, 2011, 10:19
I don't think Morrowind was THAT weird. Well, it was very "alien" - but it wasn't something that felt out of place or particularly strange given the setting.

I found it fitting.

My problem with the setting was the huuuuuge volcanic area - which was just downright dull. Oblivion's "hell" reminded me of that - and after clearing a couple of gates - I started hating that environment with a passion.

The best thing about the Morrowind art, to my mind, was the city designs. Really creative and visually amazing.

The worst thing was the brown/dark palette. Simply too much of the same color.

I prefer Oblivion's environments because they're lush and vibrant. Actually, variety is the spice of life - so a mixture of traditional and untraditional landscapes would probably serve me best.

Skyrim looks fantastic to me, but I have a feeling I'll get somewhat tired of the barren/snowy landscapes after a while. I like Norse environments - but I don't think they can carry an entire game of this size.

The best game I've ever played in terms of landscape/area design is actually…. World of Warcraft. Even given the primitive technology - the environments were just beyond incredible from an art direction standpoint. Furthermore, there was SO much diversity, and a shitton of unique atmospheres.

I want a world like that with Skyrim technology and a singleplayer design.
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July 19th, 2011, 10:26
Originally Posted by GhanBuriGhan View Post
Regarding the "weirdness" issue - I actually kind of like what he is saying here. Morrowind was, in my opinion, not great because it was weird, but because it presented a coherent society, complete with its own myths, religion, social tensions etc. It succeeded in weaving together familar themes (e.g. tribal culture vs. urban culture, occupation versus local tradition, religious dogma and heresy) with the fantastic. Oblivion just failed to do that to a similar extent, inspite of all the potential that the imperial province would have offered for that kind of thing. So for a setting like skyrim, I think it would be a big mistake to just go for weirdness for weirdness sake - the goal should be to again weave a believable picture of the society and its circumstances, weaving together familar "Norse" themes with the fantastic elements of the Elder Scrolls Lore.
Very well said. I think that perfectly summarizes what it means to describe Morrowind as "weird" or "alien." Your comments regarding how Skyrim's atmosphere should be handled are a much better description of what I was trying to say: they shouldn't just copy Morrowind, but they absolutely need to nail some form of uniqueness for the province and bring back the mystique of exploring a strange new land. That mystique, along with the mix of familiarity with the unknown, is what made Morrowind so special and inviting to explore.
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July 19th, 2011, 10:44
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
The best game I've ever played in terms of landscape/area design is actually…. World of Warcraft. Even given the primitive technology - the environments were just beyond incredible from an art direction standpoint. Furthermore, there was SO much diversity, and a shitton of unique atmospheres.

I want a world like that with Skyrim technology and a singleplayer design.
That'd be pretty incredible indeed, i have so many fond memories of WoW's level design.. Imo Gothic 2 has great level design too, you can tell it's completely hand made, not generated from a a height map (which is quite common), all areas are quite interesting to explore.
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July 19th, 2011, 10:47
Come on Morrowind was very weird from the giant grab in Ald-Ruhn to Cthulian Bal-Fel and from Tel-Fir to mushrooms and flying jelly .

Oblivion cities were much different but because of their closed nature they looked too small ; with the exception of Skingrad and IC all the others are less interesting from an Ashlander's camp ,

Skyrim can be good without much weirdness , Gothic 3 wasn't weird at all but the places were very interesting .
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