This IS History

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In case you missed it, CVG put up a two-part feature over the weekend titled “The complete history of open-world games.” The staff at PC Zone take a look at the history and appeal of the genre, while talking with folks that make the games — including Todd Howard. Here’s a sample from the section entitled “Grand Theft Scrolls” in part 1:

Beginning with Arena (which you can now download for free at the game’s 10th Anniversary page at elderscrolls.com), which was followed by Daggerfall, Morrowind, Oblivion and many expansion packs, Bethesda’s series takes in the empire of Tamriel and otherworldly realms such as the Shivering Isles, with the player character able to be a number of races (including Orc, Dark Elf, Imperial and Nord) and classes (such as knight, bard and sorcerer).

“I think that perhaps, the Elder Scrolls series has most of all pushed the idea that massive scale can also be manageable,” says Howard. “That all the little details can be done to an extreme, yet the whole world can still fit together and tell its own story as you wander through it.”

To read the rest, check out these links (part 1) (part 2).

New Fallout 3 coverage to follow

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Here at Bethesda HQ, we just got the June 2008 issue of Game Informer, which includes a new Q&A with Executive Producer Todd Howard. Here’s a snippet:

Game Informer: Are there going to be location-based encounters, or events not tied to particular quests or missions — such as the unicorn or goblin caves from Oblivion?

Todd: Absolutely, lots of that. We can’t stop ourselves from squeezing as much content as we can into every inch. I think the density is getting really good.

Be on the lookout for the new June issue of Game Informer on newsstands.

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Todd talks open-world games, Fallout 3 on X-Play

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On Friday we let you know that Todd would be making an appearance on G4′s popular gaming show X-Play.

In other Fallout 3 news, Play.tm posted an interview with Pete discussing the game. Here’s a sample:

Play: What have you learned from Oblivion and how important a release was this, in relation to Fallout 3?

Pete Hines: Every game we make always helps us learn how to make these types of games better. There are lots of things we’re doing differently in terms of quests and gameplay balance based on our experiences with Oblivion, but also realize that Fallout 3 is a different game in terms of scope. There are fewer people living in this post-nuclear world, and so that change alone makes it a lot easier to give everything more depth and meaning that when you make a game like Oblivion that has so many more characters living in this one place, and all these big, thriving cities to account for.

Lastly, Video Game Media has their latest preview for the game up on their site. Here’s a snippet:

“Character creation is a feature that seems to improve as more companies continue to enhance it. Bethesda was able to take it to a whole new level in Oblivion by allowing you to customize almost every aspect of your character, ranging from the shape of your nose, cheeks, and mouth to even your age. This time Fallout 3 will feature a new way of character creation that will be a first in games. Creating your character will literally start from birth. A hazy cinematic sequence will start with a perspective from the operating table as you are being born from your mother. This is where you will choose your character’s gender and name. “

That’s it for now. We’ll keep you updated as more coverage comes out.

Friday News Roundup

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Here’s a few things to check out/be on the lookout for to help get you through your day and into the weekend.

Tonight on G4, Todd Howard will be talking Fallout 3 with the folks from X-Play. For those planning on going out tonight, be sure to set your DVR for 8 PM (Eastern Time).

Speaking of Todd, he’s one of several folks in the game industry sounding off in a feature at 1Up.com called “Chairman of the Boards.” Written by Robert Ashley, it’s an interesting community feature that focuses in on the influence of one particular gaming forum — NeoGaf. In addition to Todd, Microsoft’s Jeff Bell, Newsweek’s N’Gai Croal, and God of War creator David Jaffe are among the other guys “in the biz” that discuss the relevancy of this popular gaming site.

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What if…?

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In the latest issue of Game Informer (May 2008), there’s a feature called “What If” that discusses how developers would tackle projects from other studios. In the feature, Todd shares how he would make the next Final Fantasy game. Here’s an excerpt:

“As soon as the opening credits roll and Uematsu’s score comes on, you’re in control. Everything looks like a movie, but in real-time. Watch Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children and pretend you’re playing the whole thing.”

Don’t get too excited — it’s purely hypothetical and all in good fun. In addition to talking Final Fantasy, Todd sounds off on a dream project of his. To find out more, check out the May issue. Where does he get those wonderful ideas? :)

OXM Interview with Todd and Istvan on Xbox Live today

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When the folks from Official Xbox Magazine (OXM) came to our office to cover Fallout 3 for their April cover story, they also shot some footage with Executive Producer Todd Howard, as well as Lead Artist, Istvan Pely. Originally, these interviews were planned to be included on the disc that comes with OXM. Instead, they were able to work something out with the guys over at Microsoft to put it up on Xbox Live.

So today, if you’re logged into Live, head to the Xbox Live blade, then select Inside Xbox to watch the footage. There’s some interesting stuff — plus it gives you a chance to see some of the OXM screenshots in HD.

Todd discusses PlayStation 3 development

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Today I received the April 2008 issue of PlayStation: The Official Magazine and noticed that Todd wrote up this month’s POV (that’s Point of View) about developing games for the PS3. If you’re a PS3 owner, you might find what he has to say encouraging. Within the column, he discusses some of the advantages of the PS3 hardware, as well as how new tools have improved the development process for Fallout 3. Here’s a snippet:

“you can use the Blu-ray’s massive storage capacity to place multiple instances of your game’s assets on the disk. Having multiple copies on the disc greatly reduces seek times off the drive, and your load times shrink even more. Small things like this can make a huge difference over the course of a game. That kind of learning has helped us move from Oblivion to Fallout 3.”

To find out more on Todd’s thoughts about developing games on PS3, be on the lookout for the April issue.

Around the Web: Podcasts and Opinions

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Here’s a few interesting reads I thought I’d share that I’ve come across in the past few days.

The latest 1Up Yours podcast brings up Fallout 3, as well as practically every Elder Scrolls game ever made during their community segment of the show. During the segment, which starts about 53 minutes into the show, the 1Up crew uses these games as examples in a few of their debates. Fallout 3 and Oblivion are brought up several times in a discussion about the “no name characters” and the choices your characters make in games. Later on in the segment, they also bring up the Elder Scrolls and Fallout in a discussion of how Japanese RPGs compare with western-developed RPGs like Oblivion. To download the podcast, head over to 1Up’s podcast site.

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Todd Howard on OXM Podcast

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Todd Howard is featured in this week’s OXM Podcast. In the podcast, Todd chats with our friends, Ryan McCaffery – he wrote the review of Oblivion for OXM – and Dan Amrich – he wrote the awesome Fallout 3 cover story in the latest OXM. Fun podcast to listen to – if you want to cut to the chase, skip to 35:00 minutes in.

Lots of great new details about the game so don’t miss this.

Todd talks D&D on Level Up

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Two weeks ago, the gaming world lost one of its most influential creators in Gary Gygax — one of the co-creators of Dungeons & Dragons. Over on Newsweek’s gaming blog, Level Up, N’Gai Croal has interviewed several folks from the videogame industry to hear how D&D impacted their lives — both personally and professionally. Today, Todd Howard’s interview with N’Gai went up. Here’s a sample:

Q: What do you remember about your first experience with Dungeons & Dragons?

A: My earliest memory was going with my brother to a game store called Conflicts and my parents dropping us off on a Tuesday night to play this “D&D” game. The next three hours were a revelation. It was like a new gateway into awesomeness was opened for me. This was the summer of 1978, if I remember right, and I was eight. I can recall counting the days until each Tuesday. It’s one of my favorite memories, of real bonding time with my brother and others.

You can read the rest of N’Gai’s interview with Todd here. Additionally, you can read interviews with Denis Dyack (Too Human), Harvey Smith (Deus Ex), and John Smedley (EverQuest).