A Dry Heat: Austin

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Hi from Austin, Texas. I’ve been down here for most of the week at the Austin Game Developer Conference. AGDC is mostly about massively multiplayer games (MMO), but they do have an interesting track focused on writing in games. Having worked on Elder Scrolls games — which are often described as single player MMOs — I always find sessions of interest. Gamasutra has some great coverage of the conference.

Personally, I am a fan of postmortem themed talks. I love hearing about day to day development details and how other developers grapple with the issues that inevitably come up.

Matt Firor and other folks from our sister studio – Zenimax Online Studios – are also here. I’m actually writing this while listening to a panel discussion that is being moderated by Matt.

If you are someone who wants to break into the industry, you should definitely be attending the game developers conferences here in Austin and the larger one in San Francisco. I can think of no better way to get direct access to developers, HR managers, and industry recruiters.

Melon Madness!

Todd sent me this hilarious video that he found over on Destructoid that I figured I’d share on the blog. The video, created by Elgiggidy, shows him dropping 10,000 watermelons at high-res quality upon a unfortunate “Adoring Fan.” Hilarious.

It should be noted that this isn’t the first “watermelon glitch” video to hit the internets. Previously, other videos have been uploaded showing the wrath of 5,000 watermelons. You can take a look at some of the other fan-made videos over at YouTube.

Conquest “Question of the Week”

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Yep, it’s that time to answer another reader question from our Star Trek forums about our upcoming release, Star Trek: Conquest. Today Lead Designer Frank Arnot tackles a question pertaining to differences between the PS2 and Wii versions of the game. Community member TheWon asks:

Q: When designing the Wii version. What steps have been taken to make the game a quality title? It seems like it is a PS2 game that is ported to the Wii. Besides the control what other things have been used to make the Wii version a superior version?

A: On the surface you’ll notice that the Wii version has shaper visuals and faster load times, but the difference really is in the controls. The game was built specifically with the Wii controller in mind. On the galactic map, you can use the Wii Remote like a virtual mouse, allowing for a true point and click interface. This makes things like selecting planets, building fleets, constructing starbases and issuing combat orders to your admirals both intuitive and simple. If you’ve ever tried to play a strategy game on a console using a dpad to hop from item to item, you will love how this feels.

It gets even better in arcade combat. Here you use the nunchuck to control all of the ship’s movement and speed, while the Wii Remote controls all of the ship’s weapons. Because of this you can quickly aim and fire anywhere in a 360 degree arc around your ship. Combined, the two controls make each ship feel like a true weapons platform, able to move in one direction while simultaneously firing in another.

It’s also worth noting that you can issue orders to the rest of your fleet and switch command to any ship you choose.

Want to ask a question about Conquest? Visit our forums or shoot us an e-mail.

This Week in Modding – KHAAAAAAN Edition!

Shifting gears from our normal Elder Scrolls modding news, I thought I’d share the above video which comes from the Star Trek: Legacy Ultimate Universe Mod team. The video shows the lead up to the beginning of a Wrath of Khan-inspired mission they’re working on for Legacy created using the scripting tools we released a few weeks back.

Speaking with Mindwipe from the UUM mod team, he explains:

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Inside the Vault: Bruce Nesmith

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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.

Continue reading full article ›

Shivering Isles for 360 Coming to a Store Near You

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We announced today that we will be shipping a Shivering Isles disc to retail stores next month. This disc will allow 360 gamers who don’t have access to Live to play the full Shivering Isles expansion as well as the content of the Knights of the Nine faction as well as .

Retail price will be $29.99. No word yet on what we might be able to do on PS3. It’s still being looked into as we speak.

Joel Burgess Mod Interview, Part 2

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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.

Oblivion Theme Gets Power Metal Treatment

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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. :)

Check out their rendition on their MySpace page or on their official site.

Trailer Blazer

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On June 5th — three months ago today — fans may recall seeing the above image on our website – that is, when our servers weren’t crashing in anticipation of the teaser trailer.

Well, everyone’s seen the above trailer now, or so it seems. Today I got word that the trailer has been viewed more than 2 million times off our website (over 1.8 million downloads) and through Xbox Live (over 250K downloads). That doesn’t include YouTube views or downloads off of all the other sites that hosted the trailer.

To put it in context, in the first five months that we hosted the Oblivion teaser trailer, 800,000 views took place. So the Fallout 3 trailer has been viewed more than twice as many times in about half the time. Impressive…most impressive.

If you haven’t had a chance to view the teaser (though I’m guessing any visitor to our site has), check it out here:

Newsletter Offers New Conquest Screens

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With last week’s Conquest “Question of the Week,” we gave you a look at a new screen (above) that gives a glimpse of the tactical gameplay found in the game. In case you missed it, our Bethesda Softworks Newsletter includes two other exclusive screens for the game. To see the new screens, click here to view the latest edition of the newsletter.

We release the Bethesda Softworks Newsletter periodically so folks can get a broad view on what’s going on with the company. If you’re interested in subscribing, it’s easy…just sign up here.