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Bethesda’s Todd Howard on the History and Design Philosophy of the Elder Scrolls Games

by on June 6, 2014

Here’s a nice long interview with Todd Howard, Game Director and Executive Producer at Bethesda. It’s by a German outlet, so there’s a lot of talk about what German food he likes right up front, but he eventually gets into the meat of talking about Bethesda’s goal of “offering you worlds to explore.”

Howard strikes a hopefully note for continuing Bethesda’s tradition of deep games, disagreeing with the notion that gamers only want “casual” games. Instead, Howard said, gamers want deep games that reward them, such as Skyrim.

“I think that audience is large and growing,” Howard said.

When asked what games he was most proud of, Howard mentioned Skyrim, saying its success on both a critical and commercial level is “just doesn’t happen.”

“It feels like one of those once in a lifetime kind of things,” he said.

He also said Morrowind and becoming part of Zenimax saved the company during some “very rough times.” At the time development on Morrowind started the company was down to six people.

“The studio had gotten that small, and I was in charge of Morrowind, but by that time, once you get to that point, there was this element of no fear. Like 2hat’s the worst that’s gonna happen? We could go out of business. Well, let’s go all in. This is the game. Let’s put all our chips on the table. This is the game people want from us, this is the game we wanna do. And there was kind of this, you know, a lot of times when you make a game you’re kind of… maybe you’re afraid how people are gonna like this, let’s only do this, maybe we’ll make money, but we were ‘Alright. We’re gonna do it all.’

And that was kind of the new genesis of Bethesda. You can trace back to that, the stuff we’re doing now—there’s still bits of code in what we do now that was in Morrowind. So that game is special from that standpoint, I think, for all of us,” Howard said.

Howard also said that because of mods and such the PC is the best place to play Skyrim, and Bethesda will remain committed to the PC.

“Our games in the future will be on PC and we’ll take advantage of it, because it can do amazing things,” Howard said.

And no, I watched the whole thing, there’s no stealth Fallout 4 announcement in there.

“We’d rather hold back and wait and just surprise everybody,” Howard said when asked if he could talk about what Bethesda was working on.

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