Gaming Vision recently had the chance to speak with Bethesda’s Gavin Carter, who told us all about their latest and greatest game, Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
Gaming Vision: In all previous Elder Scroll games, there was a known hatred towards (dark elves not being accepted anywhere else besides Vvanderfell) other races in the game, which affected how a character progress in the game. Will those same attitudes continue to exist in Oblivion and affect the player’s outcome in the game?
Bethesda: Racial prejudices are built into the dialog system as disposition modifiers. So you’ll find, for instance, that if you play as an Argonian, Dark Elves will be more hostile to your character. On the other hand, other Argonians will like you more. Since disposition figures into just about every gameplay system somehow, it can have a wide range of effects, from affecting prices at a store, to varying the amount of information characters are willing to give you about a quest.
Gaming Vision: As mentioned in history books and journals, the adventures in Morrowind, the native Dwemers (dwarves) were exstinct with only one survivor. Will there be any other Dwemers artifacts, journals or other survivors that we will come across in our journeys in Oblivion?
Bethesda: The Dwemer storyline does not factor into Oblivion in any major way. However, you will come across some Dwemer artifacts in the form of weapons and armor during your adventures.
Gaming Vision: Will it be possible in future Elder Scroll games that we will be able to play as a Dwemer race character if the story was in the past?
Bethesda: I’ll have to keep any of our plans for future games under wraps right now. Who knows what the future could hold?
Gaming Vision:How important will factions play a role in character development as opposed to the previous games? Would I have to accomplish some goals in order to get accepted into certain factions like murdering random people to get into the famed Dark Brotherhood?
Bethesda: Certain guilds have requirements other than simply signing up to join. Joining the Dark Brotherhood requires that your character engage in some actions that might be deemed less-than-moral by any law enforcement characters in the area, and the only way to join the Thieves Guild is to let them come to you. You have to figure out a way to let them know you’re interested, though.
Gaming Vision: In Elder Scroll history, most of the Khajita (the cat people) race were often enslaved . Will we be able to see some of examples of this or any other kind of race interaction?
Bethesda: Slavery is not done in Cyrodiil. It is specifically outlawed by Imperial law. Special dispensation was given to Morrowind in order to bring them into the Empire. You will see some racial tension in the game, however. The town of Leyawiin sits right on the borders of Elswyr and Black Marsh, and the town is somewhat divided into Khajiit and Argonian factions.
Gaming Vision: Shifting over to the development side of things, how did the team approach this title, given the enormous success of Elder Scrolls III? Essentially, how did the team say, “Ok, we made one of the most addictive games ever. Let’s do it better”?
Bethesda: Your description is fairly accurate, actually. We always start by looking back at our previous games and evaluating the areas that we know we can improve. We generate a list of improvements to research and explore, and get to work. From there the process extends out organically as features emerge and build on one another. We also have a very strong emphasis on an iterative process where we keep hammering on something until we’re certain it’s fun.
Gaming Vision: Compared to Elder Scrolls III on the Xbox, how difficult was it working with the Xbox 360?
Bethesda: It was more a little more difficult this time around to get the game up and running, as the original Xbox was basically a mini-PC stuffed into a box. That said, every new technology brings new challenges to the table. With the original Xbox, we wrestled with fitting Morrowind into the available memory. With the new box, memory was far less of a worry but the multithreaded architecture required us to think about the game’s programatic flow in very different ways. Challenges like those are what we thrive on, and in the end they make the game better on both platforms.
Gaming Vision:Back when the game was covered in Game Informer in October of 2004, it was listed as a PS3/360/PC game. Obviously, it’s currently only slated to appear on the 360 and PC, so the question is: was this merely a print mistake or was a PS3 version scrapped? In a related question, are there any plans to port this game to other consoles in the future (PS3, Revolution)?
Bethesda: For now, Oblivion is an Xbox 360 and PC game.
Gaming Vision: On a more general topic, how does the team at Bethesda view next-generation development? Are there any concerns?
Bethesda: Like anyone else who plays and loves games, everyone here is excited about all the advances that the emerging next generation of games and hardware will bring. The potential for improvements on the standard gameplay formulas are great and also daunting, but we’ll all be rewarded as players when someone steps up and takes advantage of all that next-gen development has to offer.
Gaming Vision: Finally, what’s next for Bethesda now that Oblivion is nearing release?
Bethesda:Aside from Fallout 3 and supporting Oblivion post-release, we have a couple of unannounced projects in development.
--On behalf of Gaming Vision and its readers, thank you for your time.