Modding Interview: MentalElf

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This week’s modding interview features Barney Blankenship (known in the forums as MentalElf). Barney is a retired software engineer living out in Kauai. He’s also a big fan of Chihuahuas.

How did you first get involved in the Bethesda modding community?
I wanted to become a graphic artist, so I purchased a student license copy of 3DS Max. It occurred to me Morrowind was the best game at the time, having just earned Game of the Year award, so I began learning about modding and playing Morrowind. I soon found the Elder Scrolls forums and how indispensible the community is. I soon got involved with the Children of the Night III (CON3) Morrowind project, and learned about modding as part of a team.

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Oblivion 360 DLC on sale (most of it, anyway)

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In celebration of the arrival of April, the wackiness of April Fool’s Day, and the upcoming 3rd anniversary of the release of Horse Armor (Friday, April 3), we are pleased to announce that for the next week all Oblivion DLC for Xbox 360 is half price, except for Horse Armor, which is twice as much as usual. So if you’ve been waiting for just the right moment to get The Vile Lair, or Knights of the Nine, or Shivering Isles, now is the time.

As always you can get your DLC on Xbox Live or through the marketplace on Xbox.com.

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Weekend Update: The Pitt trailer at Gametrailers

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As previously mentioned, the trailer for The Pitt debuted on Gametrailers TV late on Friday night. If you haven’t checked it out, it’s now up on their site.

Moving on to other news, nominees for the ELAN Awards have been announced with Fallout 3 receiving nods in the following categories: Videogame of the Year, Best Console Game, Best PC Game, Best Sound in a Videogame Production, Best Art Direction, Best Game Design, and Outstanding Technical Direction.

At PSDTUTS, both Fallout 3 and Oblivion were included in a list of the Top 40 Video Game Covers of All Time.

Finally, Canadian site Game Focus has a new interview with Pete that went up today. Here’s a snippet:

What mistakes and triumphs did Bethesda learned from Oblivion that helped you with Fallout 3?

A lot of it was learning about the big, open-ended experience. What kinds of things did people like or not like? How do we do that better, and different, in the Fallout universe. Technically we learned a lot about how to make the game run better on all these platforms, but much of it comes from the player experience and what they can do, and see, from moment to moment. I’m sure we’ll learn a lot from Fallout 3 we can put into our next project.

That’s all for now. Enjoy what’s left of your weekend.

Around the web — more news on The Pitt

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Plenty of links to share today.

We begin with news on The Pitt. On Friday, you’ll have your first chance to see The Pitt trailer on Gametrailers TV. The show airs Friday night at 1am (or technically, 1am Saturday morning) on Spike. I hope that’s not too confusing — especially with Daylight Savings last week.

Elsewhere on GameTrailers site, you can check out Geoff Keighley’s interview with Todd Howard from this year’s D.I.C.E. Summit. You won’t have to do too much searching, Geoff’s interview with Todd starts within the first minute of the video.

More news after the break…

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New ORE Newsletter

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The most recent newsletter for ORE (that’s Oblivion Real Estate) has been released and there’s plenty of great information. There’s a feature on TES Alliance (a group that works to strengthen the Elder Scrolls modding community) written by DarkRider, an interview with Korana (who was interviewed here on the blog awhile back), and the announcement of a new site, Fallout Real Estate (or FORE). Above are two screens from one of the first featured homes on Fallout Real Estate, Princess Megaton Home Expansion by Princess Stomper.

To read about these and more, check out the ORE newsletter here.

February Hall of Fame Mods at Planet Elder Scrolls

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The latest Elder Scrolls mods to make the Hall of Fame at Planet Elder Scrolls have been announced. Here’s the mods from Morrowind and Oblivion that were honored in February.

From Oblivion:

  • Wayshrines in the University by Rauko Ohtar: This mod adds nine Wayshrines to Arcane University’s garden.
  • FCOM: Convergence by dev_akm and TeamFCOM: One of the more popular mods out there, this mod allows you to run Oscuro’s Oblivion Overhaul, Martigen’s Monster Mod, Oblivion WarCry, and Francesco’s Leveled Creatures-Items together.
  • Custom Race Fix by KyneTarse: According to the author, this mod adds “catch-all” dialogue to the prisoner at the beginning of the game. This dialogue will trigger the beginning of the game for any non-default race.

From Morrowind:

Congrats to the modders honored in February. Elsewhere, congrats to Nehrim, who was recently nominated for Best Upcoming Mod at ModDB for his project, Nehrim: At Fate’s Edge.

Around the web

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It’s been over a week since we last gave an update from around the web, so there’s plenty to catch up on.

We’ll begin with IGN, who are currently counting down The Top 100 Game Creators of All Time. We’re excited to see that Todd made the list at #70. Here’s a snippet of what they had to say about him:

“Where most designers tend to think in terms of simplicity and economy, Howard’s games have been defined by a staggering sense of scale and immersion that few others can match.”

The list is still ongoing, but there’s some of names worth mentioning. Morrowind/Oblivion composer Jeremy Soule cracked the list at #86. Meanwhile, Fallout fans might recognize a few other names on the list, including Feargus Urquhart (#89), Tim Cain (#85), and Chris Avellone (#80).

Sticking with developer news, if you haven’t seen it already, Todd answered questions for G4 while at this year’s D.I.C.E. Summit. In the ten minute interview, he discusses The Pitt, answers reader questions, and more.

Emil is in the news in a few places, too. At Edge, he was honored in their Hot 100 Games Developers list (#17). Meanwhile, a new feature on storytelling in games features him as well. You can read that here.

More news after the break…

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A Word About Chris Mullender

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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.

Three years ago, Oblivion went Gold

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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.

Modding Interview: Phitt

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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!

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