The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Interview

While attending the D.I.C.E. Summit in Las Vegas earlier this month, Game Informer had the opportunity to grill The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim lead designer Todd Howard about the game's amazing success, whether the title remained true to its original vision, the bugs that have crept up since its release, and more. A sampling from the interview, as usual:
As far as sales goes, Skyrim is the best-selling game in Bethesda history. Is there something about the game from a design standpoint that made it more popular and mainstream? The Elder Scrolls series has been typically thought of as very hardcore RPGs.

Todd Howard: The short answer is "I don't know." I can give you my guess, which is people underestimate how many core gamers there are; people who want a lot of depth and will play a game for a long time. There are a lot of them. If you give them something unique and good, you don't have to dumb it down.

There are things we changed to make the game better, but not to appeal to a wider audience. I think we always benefited in Elder Scrolls early on, the fact that it is first-person and kind of walks this action line sometimes. We've always benefited from that. Even our own lofty expectations for how the game would be received or sell, it's way, way beyond that.

I don't have a way of explaining it.


Before Skyrim came out last November, how aware were you of the bugs that people began to run into shortly after release? Is the game just so big that trying to test it to perfection is nearly impossible and you just have to wait until millions of people begin to play it to get additional feedback?

We can always do a better job. All of our internal and external data show that it's our most solid release, including the PS3 version. But it's also our most successful. The percentage of people that have a problem on any particular system ends up a low percentage, but the raw number ends up being larger than we would have expected.

We learned a lot about this. In particular with the PS3 version was,)Why aren't we seeing this?) We saw some of [the bugs] that we were able to solve very quickly, but we eventually had to go to the consumer and ask for their saved game files. You're looking at saved games where, not everybody, but certain people played for 100s of hours, and lots of different reasons it was happening. Fortunately we were able to fix it with the latest update.

It's hopefully a much smaller number now. When you put all this time into something and someone can't play it, you feel terrible. They have every right to be pissed off. We already have more updates out for this than Fallout 3 and Oblivion in their lifetime. So we're really committed to fixing everything.