What we’re reading….

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Maybe it’s that I spend too much time playing games, or the fact that I’m not a teenage girl — I’d never heard of the whole Twilight phenomenon until after the movie came out. I’m sure there are guys here that have read the books, but looking at the list below — it doesn’t appear anyone was lured in by the hype surrounding the film.

Here are the books, websites, and magazine WE ARE reading. Feel free to let us know what you’re reading, and if you’ve read Twilight, I’m curious to hear what you thought of it.

Kurt Kuhlmann, Designer: KJ Parker’s Engineer Trilogy, Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell (again), Captain Alatriste series.

Nate Ellis, QA: Forest Mage (by Robin Hobb), (re-reading) A Game Of Thrones. Also reading Kotaku and Penny Arcade.

Gary Noonan, Creature Animator: Just finished Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain and getting ready to start The I.R.A. by Tim Pat Coogan. Can you tell I am a non-fiction guy?

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Hall of Fame Mods at Planet Elder Scrolls

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Yesterday Planet Elder Scrolls announced its November Hall of Fame mods for both Oblivion and Morrowind. Congrats to all the modders — including Vality7, who was inducted for two Morrowind mods. Here’s a quick look at the newest inductees:

Morrowind Mods:

  • The Neverhalls by Vality7 and Midgetalien: A dungeon mod inspired by Oblivion’s Ayleid Ruins.
  • Vality’s Bitter Coast Mod by Vality 7: The plugin adds many more trees to the Bitter Coast to give the region a more dense atmosphere.

Oblivion Mods

  • Castle Almgard by Mr. Siika and Centurion: A new buyable castle Southwest of Anvil.
  • Elegant Vests by Kafei (shown above): Divine Elegance in the Imperial Market District gets new threads — including new vests, gloves, and leather pants (yes!).
  • RealSwords — Khajiit by waalx: RealSwords adds 100 new swords, sabers, daggers and knifes into Oblivion.

Great work all!

More updates from Splash Damage

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Here’s the latest developer news over at Splash Damage.

In their latest staff interview, Jamie “Fishbus” Manson takes center stage. A level designer from Scotland, Jamie created the hugely popular cp_steel for Team Fortress 2. a map which was ultimately chosen by Valve to be included in one of the official game updates…very cool. Here’s a snippet from the interview:

What was your first gaming experience?

I remember having an Atari 7800 when I was a young ‘un. I think my parents bought it for my older brother and themselves as purchasing an Atari was all the rage back then. Games like Frostbite, H.E.R.O and Dark Chambers still rattle vibrantly in my head, I also distinctly remember that Asteroids booted up if there was no cartridge in there! WOW!

I think my love for games, and indeed design, stemmed from when I first played SimCity. Once a fan, always a fan!

Elsewhere on SD’s site, they continue to share the games they’re playing. Community Relations Manager Steve “badman” Hessel gave me a heads up that one of their guys, Rich Jolly, became the first guy at the office to get all the achievements in Fallout 3. Nice work!

That’s all for now. We’ll keep you posted on what’s new at Splash Damage over the coming months.

PLAY! concert offers a chance to meet Jeremy Soule!

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Jason Paul, producer of PLAY! A Video Game Symphony, gave me a head’s up this week about a an upcoming concert on January 9 in Edmonton. In addition to a spectacular night of listening to classic videogame themes performed by a full orchestra, he let me know Morrowind and Oblivion composer Jeremy Soule will be attending the concert. Even better, 150 lucky patrons will be randomly chosen at the concert for a chance to meet the famous composer.

While I’ve missed out on attending previous concerts, fans I’ve spoke with have said it’s a fantastic show. For ticket ordering information to the concert, head here.

Around the web: Dreaming about Fallout edition

Here’s the latest briefing on Fallout 3 news found around the web.

As 2008 wraps up, we’re starting to see sites pulling together their GOTY lists. Fallout 3 is included in preliminary lists at The New York Times, Gamespot, and CNBC.

Having trouble surviving in the wasteland? IGN has a new video highlighting three of the most powerful weapons in Fallout 3 — with tips on how to find them.

Wanna know Todd’s ritual on release day?  Kotaku’s Brian Ashcraft got answers from Todd, as well as other notable developers for a post titled “What Game Developers Do When Their Games Launch.” You can check it out here.

Just as the sun rises in the east, we’ve got Fallout 3 reviews featured in “around the web.” New reviews can be found at ABC News, Just Press Play, GameZone, Quiet Earth, Neotaku, PALGN, Exclaim!, Gaming Trend, Game Freaks 365, and GameGirl. While I haven’t seen the review, nor would I be able to read it, 1Up reports that Japanese magazine Famitsu awarded Fallout 3 a score of 38/40. According to this report, the score would tie Oblivion for the highest non-Japanese RPG score ever in the magazine.

Finally, of all the Fallout 3 coverage I’ve sifted through, this has got to be the weirdest. At GameGrep, I found this clip where a guy is discussing his dreams on a radio station. Give it a listen, and within a few seconds, you’ll realize he’s pulling the DJ’s leg. I bet Three Dog is having a good laugh about this somewhere.

New coverage of Fallout 3 voicework

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Ever wondered what it’s like to be a voice actor for a game? A couple of new Fallout 3 stories have popped up that shed some light on the topic.

This week at Planet Fallout, there’s a great interview with Wes Johnson (shown above), known for his memorable voice work in both Oblivion (Lucien) and Fallout 3 (Fawkes and Mr. Burke). Having met Wes at our Best Buy midnight launch event, I can tell you he’s a riot. Here’s a sample from the Planet Fallout interview:

Planet Fallout: Do you have space for ad libing or is everything very strictly scripted?

Wes Johnson: Sometimes. But for the most part, it’s all there in the scripting. Emil Pagliarulo is one of the best writers in games today. He has such a wonderfully dark sense of humor, and he writes games that he HIMSELF would want to play. Now, in regard to how you PLAY those lines, that’s another story. Bethesda has suggestions on how I should approach these characters, but they’re great at letting me experiment, and bring something new to the table. In Oblivion, I was asked to bring a Robin Williams manic quality to Sheogorath. But after thinking about the character, I felt a more Billy Connolly approach might work better. And since he was a schizophrenic character, and a Daedric Mad God to boot, I mixed the accents.

In addition to Planet Fallout, Wes and another Fallout 3 voice actor, Craig Sechler, were featured in a recent story in the Washinton Post entitled, “The Voices of Video Games.” If Sechler isn’t a household name for you, just check out his always-popular Oblivion character, The Adoring Fan.

Morrowind House Modding Invitational: The Revenge

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Back in June, BGS forum member Fliggerty arranged a Morrowind modding competition aimed at encouraging newcomers to the game’s ever-popular modding scene. With the success of the competition, he started up a second invitational, which runs through January 5, 2009.

Like the first invitational, this one centers around making a house mod. But wait — there’s new categories and rules. Interested? To find out more, head to the Morrowind Mods board.

Community Scrapbook: Funniest Characters

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Recently, I’ve received requests — both from within the community and even at our office — that we should start posting screenshots taken by community members during their adventures playing our games — whether it be from Fallout 3, Oblivion, Morrowind, or another one of our games. So from time to time, we’ll be seeking themed screenshots for our Community Scrapbook.

This week we’re asking that you send along screenshots of the funniest character you’ve created in the game. Additionally, if you’ve got ideas for future editions of the Community Scrapbook, let us know.

Giving thanks

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Happy Thanksgiving everyone! As we spend time with our families — stuffing our bellies with turkey and watching the Lions get trounced by the TItans, we’d like to give thanks to all of you for supporting us. THANK YOU!

Below are some additional reasons we’re thankful this holiday season.

Todd Howard: Big thanks to everyone out there who supports our games. And to all my teammates, thanks for making work a joy. We’re so lucky to be able to make games we love to play.

Pete Hines: This year I am giving thanks for the great people I get to work with,
 Chick-fil-A, the start of college basketball season, Firefly vodka, Five
 Guys’ cheeseburgers, The Foo Fighters, finally having time to actually 
play games, and for having survived the last year and getting Fallout 3
 out the door.

Matt Killmon, Video Producer: Thanks to my family, friends, and loving girlfriend for bringing me back to this coast. Thanks to Bethsoft for giving me this job (and my friends in QA who suggested I apply). Thanks to my co-workers for being severely awesome and making my first six months here an absolute blast. And of course thanks to all our fans on YouTube, GameTrailers, and around the gaming web for all the positive comments on the trailers, gameplay demos, and other videos I worked on — the encouragement is appreciated. Happy Thanksgiving!

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