Bethesda Underground Presents: The Evil Within – The American

As we draw nearer to “The Evil Within’s” release date (October 14 in North America, October 17th in Europe), we’re giving you a closer look at the names and faces of Tango Gameworks — the developers behind Shinji Mikami’s return to survival horror. These videos come from a recent trip to Tango’s office located in Tokyo, Japan.

Meet Tango Gameworks’ Level Designer, John Johanas – AKA ‘The American’.

For more Bethesda Underground videos, check out playlist here.

Around the web: Pre-E3 Edition

Before hopping on a plane to Los Angeles for E3 2014, here’s some videos and articles we thought you’d enjoy this weekend.

While in Munich to receive the LARA of Honor award, Todd Howard chatted with GameStar on a number of topics: career highlights, gaming philosophies, favorite German cuisine, and much more are all covered in the video above.

Elsewhere…

“Turn the pain into something positive. Use the darkness to make good art.” — Those words mean a great deal to Wolfenstein narrative designer Tommy Tordsson Björk. Find out why in a heartfelt column this week on The Huffington Post.

Next… err current-gen gaming is all the rage these days, but IGN recently took time to share their 100 favorite games from the previous generation. Bethesda published games make quite a splash in the list — with five games making the list: Dishonored (#67), Oblivion (#40), Fallout: New Vegas (#26),  Fallout 3 (#5), and Skyrim (#4).

The Skyrim Mash-up for Minecraft on Xbox 360 recently won the “Coming Back for Seconds” award from the Xbox community. Thanks to everyone for voting.

If you’ve ever eaten at Nando’s, you know their chicken is peri peri good! It’s so good that MachineGames developers flew from Sweden to the UK to celebrate their first paycheck. Learn more on this and other tidbits about Wolfenstein: The New Order’s development at Shortlist.

Are The Evil Within and BATTLECRY your most anticipated games of E3? Share your support in a new poll up at FavsList!.

Here’s some scary thinking: A new feature at Games Radar focuses on eight bizarre parallels that can be made between the real world and the world of Wolfenstein. Yikes!

Do you know what time it is? It’s time for a Wolfenstein Penny Arcade cartoon!

Finally, a little love for Dishonored. Below you can watch a jaw-dropping play-through of the Lord Regent assassination mission — courtesy of StealthGamerBR. The video is an awesome reminder that you can always find new and creative ways to play through the game.

Have an awesome weekend!

The Iterative Level Design Process of Bethesda Game Studios

Back in March of this year, BGS senior designer Joel Burgess made the trek out to San Francisco to be apart of the 2014 Game Developers Conference. During the week, Joel presented the following presentation to industry peers focused on level design.

For the prospective game designers out there, Joel was nice enough to bring his presentation, “The Iterative Level Design Process of Bethesda Game Studios”  to Bethesda Blog. Here’s Joel…

A note about author voice in this article: As per the usual disclaimers, the views and opinions expressed within are my own, and may not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Bethesda or Zenimax.  Those views and opinions are intertwined with the interests, history and objectives of Bethesda Game Studios, however.  While I am reporting on the practices of the studio, some of the particular reasons behind these practices are my own opinions, which only have partial impact on the actual adoption and implementation thereof.  For this reason, I will try to use “I” to express my opinions, where “we” will usually express a fact about the studio.

Iteration, as it’s generally known within game development, is the progressive process of planning, creating and testing content.  This is typically expressed as a cycle, where a process is repeated, with each repetition applying lessons learned from the prior.  This cycle is progressive, with each iteration building upon and refining the last.  This concept is widely embraced: many game developers have espoused iteration when discussing the design process.

There’s good reason for this.  Iteration works.  Studies such as this one from J. Nielsen show that when developing interfaces for software such as a banking application, polling users on the UI experience can provide designers with findings which then inform their next UI iteration.  The result is that early iterations see major gains in usability.  These finding are echoed in other studies, as well as being supported by observing everything from how an artist develops a painting to the scientific process.

Like any broadly-referenced term, there are many interpretations, scopes, and applications of iteration. An annual game franchise such as Madden Football, for example, can be seen as a very long-form iteration, where each game sees entire features added, removed, and improved upon.  Spelunky, which originally came into existence as a fairly low-fidelityGamemaker game would later be released as a commercial title with entirely new art and codebase which largely mimicked and refined that seen in the original release.

Individual assets within a game are frequently iterated upon, too.  The look of the original Team Fortress Spy is a far cry from his modern TF2 incarnation.  The gameplay design of the Spy has also been iterated upon over the years, even though the core class role has remained fairly consistent.  The visual design of the spy also demonstrates that elements, such as his balaclava, can stand the test of time over many iterations, while other aspects change radically.  TF2 is also a game which has seen a great deal of publicly-observable iteration over the years, as Valve has introduced many new gameplay-altering items and game types.

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Jens wants to answer your Wolfenstein questions (and more) tomorrow on Reddit (Updated)

Update: Jens’ AmA has begun. Ask your questions here!

Wolfenstein: The New Order’s Jens Matthies will be participating in a Reddit AmA this Friday, May 9th beginning at 9:30 am est. As the game’s creative director and one of the founders of our Uppsala, Sweden-based studio, MachineGames, he can answer plenty of your Wolfenstein and game developments questions.

He’s also got a pretty amazing collection of movies and TV series, so feel to test his movie knowledge. Or ask him about Swedish cuisine or jet skis. Or… um… ask him about anything else!

Look for Jens_MachineGames tomorrow morning in /r/IAmA!

The Jaeger-meister: id software’s Hugo Martin

This Saturday at QuakeCon (and streaming live at Twitch.TV/Bethesda), id Software’s art director, Hugo Martin, will be speaking about his career in games and films. If you’re not familiar with his work, you need only visit a movie theater and check out (the totally awesome) Pacific Rim. For the film, Martin was part of  director Guillermo Del Toro’s core concept team.

While in Texas, we had a chance to catch up with Hugo. Read the interview below…

How did you get started as an artist (include brief history of career highlights)?

I studied Illustration at Pratt Institute and Transportation Design at Art Center College of Design.

I started my career as a pose to pose animator and storyboard artist at MTV animation in NYC, but my first true concept job came after that when I worked in the IP development department at Wizards of the Coast. I went on to work at Naughty Dog as a concept artist on Jak X Team Racing and Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune, and then on to Blur Studios doing concept work on a variety of film, commercial, game and animation Projects.

After Blur I decided to go freelance. For 3 1/2 years I worked as a contract concept artist out of my studio and on-site whenever possible — primarily doing design work on films and games — the most notable from that period being of course PACIFIC RIM :).

What was your principle role on Pacific Rim?

I had the privilege and honor of being a part of Guillermo’s core concept team. My primary focus was on the design of the Jaegers, and from there I moved on to key frame illustration and then prop designs. I also had the chance to work on the Blade head Kaiju you see fighting Striker Eureka in the film.

Continue reading full article ›

Around the web

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Start your weekend off right with an inside look into the creation of the The Evil Within live-action trailer. Creative Agency Prologue talks to Polygon about designing the dark and unsettling trailer for the newly announced Survival Horror game.

Delve even further into The Evil Within’s terrifying world. Shinji Mikami and the team at Tango talks to Famitsu (via Polygon) about their game. “I want users to get so scared that their hands are in a cold sweat on the controller.”

Youtube user and Bethblog familiar Tyrannicon has put Ironman and Skyrim together. The results are pretty much epic.

Gamespot’s Cam Robinson and Seb Ford discuss their Top Five Skyrim Mods of the Week. Speaking of mods, ever see a Mudcrab and think, “Wow, I wish that was the size of a mountain?” Well, wish granted. Enjoy the enemies of Skyrim in Giant form.

Minecraft and Wolfenstein go hand in hand thanks to Youtube user thornofnight’s recreation.

And finally, Senior Designer Joel Burgess and Senior Environment Artist Nathan Purkeypile explain in depth the modular approach to level design.

Bethesda Underground: Know Your Devs – MachineGames’ Jerk Gustafsson

Today we kick off our series of Bethesda Underground videos from our recent trip to Machinegames HQ. Up first, we meet one of the principal founders of MachineGames, executive producer/managing director, Jerk Gustafsson (pronounced Yerk).

In the video (it’s not a dev diary), Jerk discusses working on Wolfenstein, how he got started in the industry, and what he almost got instead of his first computer.

Critical///Path

If you’re here on Bethesda Blog, it’s a given you care about video games. And if you care about games, you owe it to yourself to visit Artifact Studios’ years-in-the-making look at game development, CRITICAL///PATH. Over the past few years, they’ve talked to some of the industry’s brightest and most influential minds — a list that we’re proud to say includes both Todd Howard and John Carmack.

John Carmack: First Person vs. Third Person, What An Artist Sees, I Supply the Plumbing, Rediscovering the Magic, No Apologies, Diverse Spectrum of Games, The Elegant Design

Todd Howard: Beware of the Long Design Doc, Character Customization, Omniscience, Less Fail Modes Today, Edge of the World, Cutscenes as a Reward

Check out their segments, and for that matter, take a break from what you’re doing and watch all the segments.

Artifact promises that the CRITICAL///PATH Project will continue to be updated, so we recommend bookmarking it and seeing where its path leads.

RAGE Weekend Roundup

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Last weekend’s Eurogamer expo saw daily stage presentations of id’s RAGE, and the folks there were pretty fired up for it. As Eurogamer wrote:

Every day at this year’s Eurogamer Expo, Tim Willits takes to the stage in our massive auditorium to show and talk about RAGE, the latest first-person shooter to issue forth from the legendary id Software. To understand how exciting we find this, it is worth noting that without id’s games Eurogamer literally would not exist – several of the founding staff only do this because they grew up on Doom and Quake.

That paragraph precedes a long interview with Willits that can be digested here. A number of sites also talked to Willits, including Games.On.Net, VG247, AtomicGamer, GameRant, BrutalGamer, Critical Gamer and GameShard. And if you’re looking for a write-up of the presentation, head to VG247 for a live blog recap.

Finally, in general id news, Next-Gen wrote an excellent bio on John Carmack’s Legacy. Amongst other interesting anecdotes, it mentions that Carmack’s son has ambitious plans for robotic domination. Somehow we are not surprised.

Update: Check out a preview, as well as a new video interview with Tim at GamerCast.