The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - Dawnguard DLC Interview

While we wait to read for the detailed feedback that will doubtlessly come from reviewers who are playing the Xbox 360 version of the DLC in the next few days, blog I.Eat.Games is offering an interview with Bethesda's lead artist Matt Carofano about Dawnguard, which, among other things, offers some insight into the process the studio has adopted to develop Skyrim's DLCs.

Here's a snip:
When did production begin on Dawnguard?

After we shipped the game we did this Game Jam video I don't know if you've seen it but that's sort of what started what Dawnguard ended up becoming. A couple guys on the team got together and were really excited for Vampires, so they made a prototype of the Vampire Lord. We were like (Oh that fits in really well!) We want to expand and add to the game to make it better, and Vampires were something that we really hadn't told a good story with hadn't really developed much so we wanted to focus the DLC [Downloadable Content] on that. We just wanted to do a good job and make it the focus of the DLC.

Creating additional content for a AAA game like Skyrim well after it's shipped doesn't appear to be the norm in the industry. Does this speak to the culture at Bethesda Game Studios? Do you think future DLC is going to develop this way too?

When we were looking to do the Dawnguard DLC we were just looking to see how we could make the game even better, how we could add to Skyrim but tell this specific story. It was something we didn't plan when we were working on Skyrim, it actually happened afterwards. You know, we kicked around a lot of ideas so we could see what would be a good fit. For future DLC maybe we'll do something like that again.

Did Bethesda Game Studios learn anything from the development of Skyrim proper that was incorporated into the production of Dawnguard?

Well I guess the focus was (Hey let's tell a new story and sort of react to the game), so a lot of the additions to Dawnguard are things we thought we should add to Skyrim. We have some new encounters like the addition of the new high level dragons and the Dragon Bone weapons you can forge. We really wanted to expand the high level stuff too. Skyrim just took off way more than we expected and people are still playing it a ton, so we just wanted to give them some additional content.

Plus we're looking at the Vampire Lord form because that would offer a way to play the game differently. So now you can jump into the story and play as a Vampire Lord or join the Dawnguard hunters. So you can experience the rest of the game as a Vampire or with crossbows. So yeah we added a lot of new content to the game.