Happy Birthday, Howard Phillips Lovecraft!

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Today marks Lovecraft’s 117th birthday! So who exactly is this guy? Well, he’s the writer of “The Call of Cthulhu,” as well as the “Cthulhu Mythos” — books that inspired our 2005 release, Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth.

With a knack for doing pretty creepy stuff, Lovecraft has been considered an inspiration in the horror genre across comics, books, films, and videogames. According to Wikipedia, the concept of the now infamous Arkham Asylum (of Batman fame) originally came from Lovecraft’s ideas. The king of modern-age horror stories, Stephen King, cites Lovecraft as a major influence to his writings. On the GameCube, Nintendo fans might recall that the cult-hit, Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem, has his influence written all over it (with a good chunk of the game taking place in his hometown of Providence, RI).

Even Oblivion takes a page from Lovecraft’s work. The “Shadow Over Hackdirt” side quest in the game serves as an homage to his short story “The Shadow Over Innsmouth.”

If you have a chance, you should read up on the guy…some pretty fascinating stuff. If you like what you see, feel free to check out our game too.

What we’re playing this weekend

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A quick email survey elicited the following answers. Okay, I admit it, I really wanted to find out who managed to score an early copy of Bioshock. Because if you got it, you’re playing it this weekend (unless you are Craig “The Claff” Lafferty. See, if you’re Claff and you got an early copy of Bioshock by running out to Toys R Us at lunchtime, the first game you play on your Xbox 360 is, of course, Hexic 2.)

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Fallout Geek Previews Fallout 3

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Knowing Will Porter as I do, I don’t think he’ll take offense to being labelled as a Fallout Geek. More like praise, or some sort of a badge of honor. I mean, the picture says plenty.

He’s made it well known how much he loves the Fallout series, so I was curious to read his take on what we showed in the demo. I got to chat with him briefly at E3 after the demo and he seemed to like it, but he’s now posted his lengthy preview over at CVG to give his more complete thoughts. It’s worth a read for what he thought, what he liked, as well as his cavaets.

Plus, the first two paragraphs are hilarious. And yes, Chevy Chase is a real place Will, we promise. He posts fairly regularly over at PC Zone’s blog as well if you enjoy reading his stuff.

Next week I’ll be returning to Leipzig for the games convention, this time to show off Fallout 3 over on that side of the pond. So I’m sure more previews are going to be coming out of that. Should be an interesting show.

Inside the Vault: Brendan Anthony

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Today’s Inside the Vault is with programmer, Brendan Anthony. He’s not responsible for any specific area or systems, per se – its more like we give him a list of cool stuff we want in the game and he makes it happen.

What’s your job at Bethesda?

The standard job description is “I make things blow up.” I’m a programmer and I work with physics, magic, special effects, and lots of general gameplay code. I’m very lucky in that I’ve been able to implement some pretty sweet features over the years — some days, if you were to hang around outside my cube, you would just hear bursts of laughter erupting over and over as I “test” explosions or crazy physics effects.

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New Community Content for The Elder Scrolls

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So far this week, I’ve seen several cool mod additions over at Planet Elder Scrolls. Here’s are a few of my favorites for the week…

The Nazarian Library: Repeal19 has created a mod that builds a library just south of Arcane University. So what makes this library so special? Well, it actually houses EVERY book that can be found within the original quest of Oblivion. So if you’re spending too much time playing the game in the coming weeks when school starts back up, you can at least tell your parents that you’re studying at the library :).

Chargen Diseases: When generating your character, Marbred’s disease mod allows you to make your character suffer from Werewolf disease, Vampire clan disease, or simply no disease at all. Perfect for folks who can’t get enough of Teen Wolf.

Mostly-Mini Todd Howard: Last but not least, and destined to be a favorite around our office, this new Morrowind mod from Fliggerty & Friends adds a “Mini Me” Todd Howard to the game. I’m sure Todd is honored to have his likeness in the game. Now can we just get a new weapon called the “Gstaff” (I’m imagining some sort of staff that has a “G” at the top of it).

Firor Chats with ActionTrip, Ten Ton Hammer

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Two weeks ago, we introduced you to Matt Firor, who is heading up our new MMO division, ZeniMax Online. Since we had a lot of folks ping us interested in what he was up to, we thought we’d keep you up to date on what he’s doing. He’s gone out and done interviews with FiringSquad and Ten Ton Hammer.

Here’s a sample from the Ten Ton Hammer interview:

Ten Ton Hammer: MMOGs continue to rise in the gaming landscape, how do you see the industry changing over the next few years? Where does ZeniMax fit into that change?

Matt: Instead of trying to “game” the market by figuring where everything will be in a few years and develop a product that will fit in an unused niche, we’re just going to try to make the best MMOG possible.

And from Firing Squad:

FiringSquad: How did ZeniMax approach you when they said they wanted to launch a new MMO game studio?

Matt Firor: They told me that they wanted to give me all the resources I needed to make a great MMO. After meeting with the company’s management, I felt very strongly that this is the “once in a lifetime” opportunity that one shouldn’t pass up.

Edit: Shacknews has added an interview with Matt as well.  http://www.shacknews.com/featuredarticle.x?id=518

Conquest Question of the Week

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So within our in the Star Trek: Conquest forums last week, we set up a thread for fans to ask questions about the game. Our first “Question of the Week” comes from member Joelteon7, which Lead Designer Frank Arnot was kind enough to answer.

Q: Can you provide some examples of the special weapons?

A: There are six unique special weapons in the game. One of the nastiest is the Wormhole Generator. With this you can launch a surprise attack transporting an entire fllet across the galaxy. But it can also be used to for defense to instantly bring in reinforcements to defend a friendly system that’s about to be overrun.

Come back next week for another Conquest Question of the Week. Keep the questions coming on the thread or email us!

Get Your Questions Ready!

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So we’ve let the journalists do the talking through their articles, but now we’d like to field some of your questions. That’s right, Todd and Co. are going to be willing to talk about more than Batman and their favorite color. If you’ve got something you’re dying to know about Fallout 3, take your suggestion to the forums here. If you want to send them directly to us via the blog, that’s fine too.

In addition to pulling together a list of questions that covers all the things people want to know about, we’ll keep an eye on other questions that get sent to us and pull in a developer every now and then to answer a few questions. You never know when a dev may stop by to answer a question or two from the mailbag, so send in your questions about Fallout, The Elder Scrolls, Star Trek Conquest, or whatever it is you want to know and we’ll get to work.

Interview with ‘Undernethe’ Modding Team

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A little more than a week ago, I was reading about Undernethe Prequel mod project in the works for Oblivion over at FileFront’s Oblivion Files site. The mod will open up a new underground quest featuring new NPCs, music, creatures, weapons and more.

The folks working on the project are currently seeking help from others, but in the meantime, I thought I’d check in to find out more about the project. I asked some questions for some of the guys working on the mod to find out more.

First, some introductions. Fire Legion is the project lead of the Undernethe mod, and works with all aspects of the mod, as well as promotion and team management. Mr.E is the loremaster, and leads the writing and quest departments. Sheogorath is the lead scripter and worldbuilder, and also works heavily in modelling and texturing.

For those unfamiliar with your mod, tell us what folks can expect with Undernethe?

Mr.E: The Undernethe is all about adding a grand scale to the land below Cyrodiil. We plan for there to be be caverns so large and intricate that you can’t help but get lost (and scared), civilizations with lore and quests so involved that you’d swear they were a part of The Elder Scrolls mythology, and items and creatures that will make dungeon delving as fun as possible.

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Star Trek Legacy Tools Released

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We’ve released the beta for the STL Mission Editor for Star Trek Legacy, along with the source code. We also plan to launcha STL Wiki page to give modders online documentation that can be expanded on easily. Our experience with the Elder Scrolls modding community tells us that fans love making their own stuff. Legacy has a small but vocal modding community and I hope this helps it grow even more.

A few caveats – the source code is only for the Editor and NOT the game. The toolset is a beta and not officially supported by Bethesda Softworks. We’re hoping there are programmers in the community who can take over maintenance of the Editor and source.

Special thanks to Ryan Lea, Jason Hammett, and Shannon Bailey (pictured above). This effort was entirely on a volunteer basis done in their own free time because they wanted to help and get this tool released. So kudos to those guys for stepping up and helping out. Following is a post mortem that Shannon wrote up. Good read if you plan on modding Legacy, or if you are interested in development, in general.

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