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.
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.
Working at Bethesda, every so often, I find myself getting Jeremy Soule’s theme for Oblivion caught in my head. After today though, I’m hearing the tune in a new light.
Today one of our moderators for the Bethesda Game Studios Forums pointed me to a thread discussing a cover version of the theme music by the band Epinikion. The band, who consider themselves a “Power Metal Guild,” crank the music to 11. Too bad this won’t be in the tracklist for Guitar Hero III or Rock Band.
Here’s two interesting mentions Oblivion received over the long weekend…
Ash pointed me to cool list over on Team Xbox, where they picked their “Top 20 Weapons of All-Time.” Oblivion/Shivering isles made the cut with a mention of the “Dawnfang/Duskfang” blade that becomes available with the Shivering Isles expansion. The sword(s) came in at #5 on the list, and the Team Xbox editors had this to say about its powers:
Per usual, I thought I’d share some interesting things I found in the Elder Scrolls modding communities this week. The above video displays Richard deCosta’s “Oblivion Total Music Conversion Mod” at work. From reading his post, it doesn’t sound like he didn’t like the music in Oblivion (at least I hope not), but rather, it inspired him to make some pretty unbelievable tunes for the game. If you like what you hear, check out his music page.
Also worth noting, the guys over at The Elder Scrolls Source have updated their “Top 100 Most Popular Mods” list. Coming in at first place is Midas Magic Spells of Aurm by Xilver. This mod adds “100 new and unique spell types. It adds beam, spray and projectile attacks. Turn bodies to gold, summon your own magic carpet, or dwemer transformer, or protect yourself with a ring of fire.” Sounds like becoming the ultimate superhero.
If you’d like to see one of your mods on our site, shoot us an email and we’ll take a look.
So Monday morning when I got to the office, I immediately went into the blog’s mailbox to see who would become the winner of our contest. When I left on Friday, we had a couple guys with game times around 600 hours, but it turned out our winner would best these impressive efforts. There were also a few folks sending in multiple screen shots showing total game time across different players, but as the rules noted, this contest was for one game save.
Without further ado, I’d like to congratulate KrisztiÃ¡n KovÃ¡cs of Hungary as becoming the “Oblivion Iron Man.” With a gameplay time of 700:48:55, he was the official winner by nearly 50 hours. If you think about that, that’s like playing for the entire month of February — even if it’s leap year! To quote Pete on the accomplishment, “Da-yum!”
Before jumping into the interview, remember you can always shoot us an e-mail if you have a mod project that you think the world should know more about.
What makes the newest iteration of your Monster Mod stand out from your earlier mods?
MMM 3.1 includes a new Wounding and Wounding Effects system. The former allows NPCs and creatures to get weaker the more wounded they become, while the latter displays this visually through blood textures, bleeding, and staggering effects that appear the more wounded an enemy becomes. It’s a lot of fun to play with as it adds a new dynamic to combat.
Late last week, I exchanged a few PMs with one of our active Elder Scrolls modders, princess_stomper, and she let me know that she was working on a video showing a “dance off” featuring our games, Morrowind and Oblivion, as well as some fancy moves from NCsoft’s MMO, Guild Wars.Well, I got to the office this AM and sure enough, Stomper had already sent me the video, and it’s definitely a winner. Featuring mods from more than dozen community members, the videos’ choreography goes great with the selected tune — Gwen Stefani’s “Wind It Up.”
We have not one, but two deadlines looming on Bethblog. As I announced in the forums yesterday, after this afternoon, we won’t be taking questions for the Fan Q&A for Fallout 3. We’ve gotten plenty of entries. I appointed Blinzler from our forums as the man in charge of compiling the final 20 questions for us to answer. Given that he resides in Jamaica, where Hurricane Dean hit, I’m willing to give him and his cohorts a little extra time to deliver the questions to us, and then we’ll probably take around a week to answer them. Anyhow, send your last minute questions to us via the blog.
In other deadline news, our Oblivion Iron Man Contest will conclude when the clock strikes 12 on Sunday. I’m assuming folks have been trying to pad their game times, because we haven’t gotten that many submissions over the past few days. Just remember, the winner is determined by the single game save with the most gameplay time recorded.
Today’s Inside the Vault is with Megan Sawyer. She spends much of her time on creating the “living” spaces of the world – cities, towns, and landscapes. If our team were to have super powers, one of them would be the ability to create large, beautiful environments for exploration. Megan helps make that happen. For those who might recognize Megan, she had a feature in the documentary included with the Collector’s Edition of Oblivion. What’s your job at Bethesda?
I’m an environment artist. I work on everything from houses tolandscape textures. In Oblivion, I made the houses of Cheydinhal, sculpted the landscape around the whole city, created the bridges and cattails, and made the Dark Brotherhood entry door. I also created the landscape textures and overall feel of the Blackwood swamp region. Currently on Fallout I’ve worked on a few buildings, an area for the main quest, a lot of clutter, and am now working on landscape.