We lost a good friend last week. Chris Mullender, a programmer at 4J Studios, passed away suddenly last Monday morning. Chris was instrumental in development of the PS3 version of Oblivion and also worked on Star Trek: Conquest. Everyone here at Bethesda respected Chris and his work tremendously.
Paddy Burns, who worked with Chris at 4J, summed up Chris for us:
“He was a brilliant programmer who loved making games and bringing up his three young sons. He was very involved in his local community, where he was proud of his work in getting Dunbar’s Christmas lights up, and setting up a few websites for local schools and charities.”
As I said, we were saddened to find out this great guy, programmer, and father of three had passed away so suddenly. Our thoughts go out to Chris’ family and friends.
Today is Oblivion’s anniversary gold date on PC and Xbox 360. What does going gold mean? When a game is ready to finally go to the replicators and get printed onto millions of disks — that is when the game has gone gold. That is, we have gold master disks ready to send off to replication. For consoles like Xbox 360 and PS3, going gold means we’ve passed certification and Microsoft/Sony has sent the gold master disk to the replicators.
Fun fact: the number of people playing Oblivion has gone up since this past December. While I can’t give the actual numbers, the number of folks playing Oblivion while logged onto Xbox Live has increased back to late 2006 levels (roughly 8 months after Oblivion shipped). There are lots of reasons why this may be – 360 user base is larger now, Fallout 3 fans going back to Oblivion or trying out Oblivion, Oblivion is cheaper/on sale, etc…
Anyhoo, thanks to everyone who bought Oblivion and keep playing it to date. Check out the downloadable content or the expansion pack, Shivering Isles, if you are one of the folks still playing it. Be sure to try my personal favorite, Wizard’s Tower.
This week we’re talking with Elder Scrolls/Fallout 3 modder, Philipp Termeer (known in the forums as Phitt). Phitt is a resident of Wiesbaden, Germany where he works as an engineer. Phitt has been playing our games since Morrowind, and began modding with Oblivion.
Phitt is currently working on a very impressive Oblivion, Sheogorad, using thousands of meshes made from scratch. Pretty impressive homage to Morrowind!
GS_Seyda Neen Complete by Gianluca: This mod gives the port town of Seyda Neen a more authentic look — adding shops, a tavern, various homes, and more.
Cobl by Cobl Team: Abbreviated for Common Oblivion, Cobl adds a world enrichment mod that adds lots of little things that enrich your gameplay experience, as well as a shared library that serves as a resource for other mods, and an integration tool that allows different mods to “talk” to each other. Read the full details here.
Downloadable content has been a tremendous success for us and we’re excited to be offering it up for Fallout 3, beginning with Operation: Anchorage. I recently put together a presentation about downloadable content, here are the highlights.
The main thing to note is this: you guys LOVE Oblivion. To this day, 2 years later. Looking at our Xbox Live reports, every day, tens of thousands of people STILL play Oblivion and they purchase thousands and thousands of downloadable content — again, every day. Yes, even Horse Armor continues to sell daily.
So here is Oblivion’s downloadable content, ranked by Purchased Downloads on Xbox Live, since launch:
1. Wizard’s Tower
2. Thieves Den
3. Mehrunes Razor
4. Spell Tomes
5. Vile Lair
6. The Orrery
7. Knights of the Nine
8. Shivering Isles
9. Horse Armor
10. Fighter’s Stronghold*
*If we rank by pure downloads and include the free promotions we’ve had, Fighter’s Stronghold becomes #1.
One of the interesting data points we receive from our Xbox Live reports is how many players have earned each achievement. This, in turn, helps us figure out how are most people playing the game. So now that we’ve had several million people play Oblivion (while logged onto Xbox Live), this gives us a good pool of data to look at.
What did they play? Here are the quest lines in Oblivion, ranked by percentages of players who finished them.
2. Dark Brotherhood
3. Main Quest
4. Mages Guild
5. Fighters Guild
6. Thieves Guild*
7. Shivering Isles
*Note – Fighters and Thieves were 1 percentage point apart, very close.
For over a year, Thorlak Island Team have been working on a pretty expansive Oblivion project, entitled Thorlak Island: Blood in the Snow. This mod offers a new (snow covered) island to explore, all new NPCs and towns, nine new quests, and more.
Here’s one last round of Hall of Fame mod entries for the year 2008 at Planet Elder Scrolls.
For December, four mods met the criteria necessary to be honored.
Vality’s Bitter Coast Mod: Now in Version 4.0, according to Vality, this mod, “replaces all the ‘leafy’ Bitter Coast trees with my own ‘speedtree’ like trees, a similar technique to what was used in Oblivion.”
This week we’re checking in with Sam Mangham, otherwise known as TheTalkieToaster within our forums. Sam is a 21-year-old student at the University of Bath in, where else, Bath, England. When he’s not modding or studying Physics and Chemistry, he spends his time walking, seeing movies, and baking cakes.