Inside the Vault: Bruce Nesmith


Today’s Q&A is with Bruce Nesmith, our Director of Design. I first met Bruce over a decade ago working here at Bethesda (pre-Zenimax). I remember Bruce and Todd Howard shared an office together back then. Bruce did a lot of system design and also worked on the Thieves Guild in Oblivion.

What’s your job at Bethesda?

I am the Director of Design, and a Senior Game Designer. It sounds cooler than it is.

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Joel Burgess Mod Interview, Part 2


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.

Interviews Piling Up…


If you haven’t been looking around, there’s some interesting coverage for Fallout 3 this week…

Apparently there will be an interview with Emil on GameTap this weekend (I’ll update the blog when it surfaces). This morning, ActionTrip posted an interview with Lead Producer, Gavin Carter. Here’s a quick look at it:

ActionTrip: As we understand, the team is also keeping itself busy with balancing combat in the game. If you can, please tell us about the advantages of V.A.T.S. Do you think hardcore RPG fans will enjoy the cinematic aspect of it?

Gavin: A big advantage is that during VATS mode, time is paused and you’re given a wealth of information about your situation. Every targetable enemy and object is highlighted and you can pan around and get a sense for where things are coming from. For each individual target, you can see their overall health, and the condition and the likelihood of landing a shot for each body part. This is the part that I feel separates VATS from standard “real-time with pause” systems in that it gives you information to base a tactical choice on. You may find that you have a high chance to hit a mutant’s torso, but then you notice that landing one more risky shot to the arm will cripple him, severely reducing his ability to aim. Recently I’ve been replaying Oblivion and find myself hammering the VATS button unconsciously whenever I get jumped by an enemy.

Elsewhere this week, Eurogamer has followed up their E3 preview with an interview with Pete from last week’s GC in Leipzig:

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1Up Chats with Emil


Joe Rybicki did a 10 question interview with Emil, which is now up 1Up. Here’s a sample…

1UP: The “Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting System” allows for very methodical combat. But you’ve mentioned that you don’t need to use VATS at all. How viable an option is run-n-gun? EP: You can play the entire game in first- or third-person without ever going into VATS. We never actually force you into VATS for combat. So if you just want to point your weapon and pull the trigger, go for it. That said, the game is very much an RPG and not a straight FPS, so your effectiveness with any weapon is dictated by your skills, as well as the condition of the weapon. If you find a crappy laser pistol and you’ve completely ignored the Energy Weapons skill, don’t expect to pull a Han Solo anytime soon, in or out of VATS. Personally, I use the run-n-gun method to take care of the weaker opponents, like Radroaches, and VATS for just about everything else; mostly because I’ve become addicted to the gory cinematic playback stuff.

Guten Morgen from Leipzig


Really hadn’t had any time to put together an update from here in Germany so I thought I’d let folks know what’s going on here at the big games convention in Leipzig.

I’ve spent the last couple days, and roughly half of today, showing the Fallout 3 demo and giving interviews over here to a lot of European press that didn’t get to go to E3 (as well as to a number of folks that came back for a second showing). There’s a video interview up over at Gamestar* I’m told, ‘though I haven’t had a chance to watch it myself. Continue reading full article ›

Firor Chats with ActionTrip, Ten Ton Hammer


Two weeks ago, we introduced you to Matt Firor, who is heading up our new MMO division, ZeniMax Online. Since we had a lot of folks ping us interested in what he was up to, we thought we’d keep you up to date on what he’s doing. He’s gone out and done interviews with FiringSquad and Ten Ton Hammer.

Here’s a sample from the Ten Ton Hammer interview:

Ten Ton Hammer: MMOGs continue to rise in the gaming landscape, how do you see the industry changing over the next few years? Where does ZeniMax fit into that change?

Matt: Instead of trying to “game” the market by figuring where everything will be in a few years and develop a product that will fit in an unused niche, we’re just going to try to make the best MMOG possible.

And from Firing Squad:

FiringSquad: How did ZeniMax approach you when they said they wanted to launch a new MMO game studio?

Matt Firor: They told me that they wanted to give me all the resources I needed to make a great MMO. After meeting with the company’s management, I felt very strongly that this is the “once in a lifetime” opportunity that one shouldn’t pass up.

Edit: Shacknews has added an interview with Matt as well.

Get Your Questions Ready!


So we’ve let the journalists do the talking through their articles, but now we’d like to field some of your questions. That’s right, Todd and Co. are going to be willing to talk about more than Batman and their favorite color. If you’ve got something you’re dying to know about Fallout 3, take your suggestion to the forums here. If you want to send them directly to us via the blog, that’s fine too.

In addition to pulling together a list of questions that covers all the things people want to know about, we’ll keep an eye on other questions that get sent to us and pull in a developer every now and then to answer a few questions. You never know when a dev may stop by to answer a question or two from the mailbag, so send in your questions about Fallout, The Elder Scrolls, Star Trek Conquest, or whatever it is you want to know and we’ll get to work.

Interview with ‘Undernethe’ Modding Team


A little more than a week ago, I was reading about Undernethe Prequel mod project in the works for Oblivion over at FileFront’s Oblivion Files site. The mod will open up a new underground quest featuring new NPCs, music, creatures, weapons and more.

The folks working on the project are currently seeking help from others, but in the meantime, I thought I’d check in to find out more about the project. I asked some questions for some of the guys working on the mod to find out more.

First, some introductions. Fire Legion is the project lead of the Undernethe mod, and works with all aspects of the mod, as well as promotion and team management. Mr.E is the loremaster, and leads the writing and quest departments. Sheogorath is the lead scripter and worldbuilder, and also works heavily in modelling and texturing.

For those unfamiliar with your mod, tell us what folks can expect with Undernethe?

Mr.E: The Undernethe is all about adding a grand scale to the land below Cyrodiil. We plan for there to be be caverns so large and intricate that you can’t help but get lost (and scared), civilizations with lore and quests so involved that you’d swear they were a part of The Elder Scrolls mythology, and items and creatures that will make dungeon delving as fun as possible.

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Interview with Star Trek: Conquest Lead Designer


Last week I was able to chat with Frank Arnot, lead designer for Star Trek Conquest. The following Q&A should help you learn a bit more about the game and what it’s all about.

How would you best describe Conquest?

Conquest is a game of galactic domination that mixes turn-based strategy game with arcade elements.

What’s back story for the game?

Because of the nature of the game we have a very straight-forward back story:

It is a time of unrest, all the major races are at war. Age-old alliances are forgotten, diplomacy is dead. Powerful fleets prowl the galaxy establishing outposts and vanquishing indigenous and enemy fleets alike in the pursuit of the ultimate prize – the capture of all home worlds and galactic domination.

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OXM Podcast Featuring Todd Howard


On Friday, the latest Official Xbox Magazine podcast went up featuring an interview with Todd. During the podcast Todd discusses Fallout 3, Oblivion Game of the Year and more.

To listen to the podcast, visit here or download it on iTunes…

UPDATE: In other podcasting news, PSM 3 Blog talks about Fallout 3 in their most recent podcast. You can hear what they have to say about the game about 15 minutes into the podcast. It’s a good show though, so don’t skip ahead :)