“The Feel-Good Hit of the Summer”

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In post-apocalyptic news, Emil dropped me a note that over on Dark Horizons there’s a post referencing an Entertainment Weekly story that Viggo Mortensen is in talks about playing the role of the father in a movie adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road,” a book that has been very popular around the office. I borrowed a copy from Josh Jones and finally got around to reading it during my trip to Leipzig.

Anyway, Viggo would be fracking awesome. He’s perfect. Hope they get him, and can’t wait to see who they get for his kid. Not familiar with the work of the guys they have doing the adaptation (Joe Penhall) or directing (John Hillcoat), but I’d love to see this movie happen. As bleak a picture as has ever been painted of a post-nuclear world.

If you haven’t read it already, you need to. It’s that good.

Inside the Vault: Mike Lipari

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Today’s Q&A is with programmer, Mike Lipari. How important is Mike? Whenever we have a day that Mike has to leave early, we all get nervous that something will go horribly wrong while he is away. Nothing we ship leaves this building without going through Mike’s hands.

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Joel Burgess Mod Interview, Part 2

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So a while back Joel did an interview about modding Oblivion and answered a host of questions from Oblivion Mod site Silver Rose Studios.

They’ve sent over a host of additional questions for Joel and they posted the entire interview today. Here’s a snippit:

1. What exactly are your duties? Do they include more than just object placement and interior design?

Level design is a little different at every company. Ultimately, we’re responsible for the player’s moment-to-moment experience, particularly in combat spaces, so we handle the layout, scripting, and population of an area. Artists get involved polishing some of our clutter placement and lighting, and quest designers handle scripting where it’s relevant to their work. We also do some writing; things like notes left by previous residents, usually where they include some hint at the backstory or gameplay of a space.

Their server is undergoing maintenance and the site can be hard to load right now, so head over to the Silver Rose forums to read the full interview.

Laboring Over Games (mostly Bioshock) this Holiday Weekend

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For many, Labor Day marks the end of summer, the return to school, and at least for me, it brings the dawn of another season of college football! Just as important, however, it provides us with a nice, relaxing 3-day weekend for catching up on games.

Looks like Bioshock is still the most played game around the office, with at least 30 guys planning on playing it this weekend (some for the second time through). In addition to this instant classic from the artists formerly known as Irrational Studios, there’s plenty of other games being played this weekend, including the Call of Duty 4 Beta, Two Worlds, and Metroid Prime 3. Anyhow, here’s the list:

Welter Almeida, QA Intern: Starcraft: Brood War, Lair, Super Puzzle Fighter 2 Turbo HD Remix, Nascar ’08 Demo

Josh Anderson, Programmer: Bioshock (Xbox 360) while I can and Marvel Trading Card Game (PSP) on my long flight to Utah this weekend…

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Now, With Even More Hiring!

So apparently we’re not only going to do the job fair thingy that I mentioned the other day, but we’re also going to be taking applications and meeting with interested applicants at the upcoming Austin Game Developers Conference.

Once again, they (meaning our recruiter folks) will be talking to anyone interested in the list of positions that we’re currently looking to fill at Bethesda Softworks (list) and our sister company, ZeniMax Online Studios (list). So if you’re in the area or are going to GDC and are looking for employment in any of those areas, do stop by.

I know that Ashley and Matt are both going to Austin, but don’t know if either will be in our meeting room during the show itself. Maybe if you’re lucky you can snag an autograph from one of them. (Usually a Benjamin will coerce Ashley into giving up his, but you didn’t hear that from me.)

Want a Job? Come to the Fair.

Apparently we’re having a job fair next month, or ZeniMax is anyway. At least, that’s what the email I just got says. I thought I’d pass it along for interested parties.

It’s going to be held from 11am – 8pm on Wednesday, Sept. 19 at the Baltimore Marriott in Hunt Valley. Given the location, the focus is obviously on people interested in joining ZeniMax Online Studios up in Hunt Valley, MD, but they’ll also be accepting applications and reviewing qualified applicants for positions here at Bethesda Softworks/Bethesda Game Studios.

ZOS is currently hiring in the areas of arts, programming, design, content, production, and so on. You can see the full list of positions here. Bethesda is currently hiring for a couple of positions including several programming positions, a character artist, an animator…and you can see that full list of positions here.

Be sure to bring a copy, or copies, of your resume/portfolio/etc. Wear a clean shirt. Good luck!

Ew, gross

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So if you were to wander by the cube of Grant Struthers (one of our artists) you would notice that Grant has a sign up outside his cube that is rather, ah, unique.

You see, Grant gets involved in some pretty different sorts of projects related to art and special effects and so forth. As was covered in his Inside the Vault interview, he was one of the driving forces behind the room that disolves into butterflies for the opening sequence in Shivering Isles. He also worked on the big nuke explosion we’re doing in Fallout 3 that is featured in the demo, etc.

Well current he’s working on Fallout 3 (blood effects, stuff like that) and apparently was getting comments/complaints from devs who were innocently dropping by his desk to chat about this or that and were completely disgusted by whatever happened to be on Grant’s screen (e.g., reference photos of cadavers, body parts, etc.).

So Grant figured he’d come up with a way to warn people about the dangers of looking at whatever he was working on or looking at at that particular moment, and came up with his own system for warning the unsuspecting.

I love this place.

Legacy Mission Editor Updated

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Two weeks ago, a small team from the office released scripting tools that allows modders to create their own missions for the game. After releasing the tools, I had Shannon Bailey, the project lead, sit in on a Teamspeak meeting with Legacy modders.

During the meeting, some requests and suggestions were made that Shannon thought could be added. Today, we’ve uploaded amended scripting tools for the Mission Editor as Shannon explains below:

“After talking to members of the mod community, the need for a couple of small additions became apparent. Included in the newest version of the archive is the source of the four non-campaign missions that ship with Legacy — Vanguard, Escort, Raider, and CoopWave — as well as the ability to edit their script and rule files from the front-end. Also, when creating a new mission you are no longer limited to using STL12 as your template; any existing mission (including those four, which make excellent templates) can be cloned and modified.”

Special thanks to the team for such a quick turnaround on the amended changes. To download the new Legacy Mission Editor, visit here. For those just getting started with the tools, we’ve created a Wiki to help out. You might also want to check out the following screencasts created by Chris “ChessMess” Koerner, who worked on the game. They can be found here and here.

What we’re playing this weekend

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A quick email survey elicited the following answers. Okay, I admit it, I really wanted to find out who managed to score an early copy of Bioshock. Because if you got it, you’re playing it this weekend (unless you are Craig “The Claff” Lafferty. See, if you’re Claff and you got an early copy of Bioshock by running out to Toys R Us at lunchtime, the first game you play on your Xbox 360 is, of course, Hexic 2.)

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Star Trek Legacy Tools Released

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We’ve released the beta for the STL Mission Editor for Star Trek Legacy, along with the source code. We also plan to launcha STL Wiki page to give modders online documentation that can be expanded on easily. Our experience with the Elder Scrolls modding community tells us that fans love making their own stuff. Legacy has a small but vocal modding community and I hope this helps it grow even more.

A few caveats – the source code is only for the Editor and NOT the game. The toolset is a beta and not officially supported by Bethesda Softworks. We’re hoping there are programmers in the community who can take over maintenance of the Editor and source.

Special thanks to Ryan Lea, Jason Hammett, and Shannon Bailey (pictured above). This effort was entirely on a volunteer basis done in their own free time because they wanted to help and get this tool released. So kudos to those guys for stepping up and helping out. Following is a post mortem that Shannon wrote up. Good read if you plan on modding Legacy, or if you are interested in development, in general.

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