The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion Interview

Article Index

Eschalon: Book II

Publisher:2K Games
Developer:Bethesda Softworks
Release Date:2006-03-20
  • Role-Playing
Platforms: Theme: Perspective:
  • First-Person,Third-Person
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GB: What notable changes, additions, or enhancements do you have planned for the game's magic system?

Gavin: Magic is another area where we really want to try and raise the bar from Morrowind. We're taking a hard look at all aspects of it balance, visuals, effects and really doing our best to step things up. We've got a lot of plans here, and you'll be hearing a lot more about it in the future.

GB: Tell us about some of the new environments around Tamriel we will be adventuring through during the game. Any favorite areas you're working on that you can detail for us?

Gavin: I fully believe that even though we're one of the smallest development shops out there, we've got some of the most talented artists in the business working for us. The stuff they're churning out on a daily basis is nothing short of jaw dropping. As far as environments go, a major emphasis for us was to pull off real, fully realized forests. We don't feel like this environment has been tackled in a realistic way in games yet, so we decided that for Oblivion, we were up for the challenge. You can see in some of the screenshots we've released that we're not just blowing smoke. We've gone all out, with hyper-realistic trees, special shaders for shadow and lighting effects, wind playing through the branches, and more. And trust me, the shots don't compare at all to the experience of walking through these environments in the game.

GB: What sort of new adversaries will we be battling in the game and what sort of AI enhancements can we expect when battling such enemies?

Gavin: The Oblivion bestiary is quite large and varied. You'll see the return of old Elder Scrolls favorites, plus the addition of more than a few new critters to smash or sneak by, whatever your preference. One of our new favorite guys we've nicknamed (Codename: Billy.) He's a really awesome variation on a popular creature from past Elder Scrolls games.

The combat AI has been rewritten from the ground up to take advantage of all the new options our improved combat system offers. Enemies will use their weapons effectively, block, dodge, and react to things like you getting blocked. If the fight is going poorly for them, they also have the ability to yield to you, depending on their attitude towards you and their confidence in winning the fight. You can choose to accept their yield, ending combat, or continue to the bitter end.

In addition, we've implemented a system that gives us a tremendous amount of control over a single NPC or creature's individual AI settings. We can alter everything from how likely they are to block, to how long they wait between attacks, to giving bonuses to different attacks, and a huge number of other settings. You can make two identical enemies with two different combat styles, and they will behave totally different in combat. So we can really make individual enemies as smart and brutal or slow and dumb as we want. I think modders are going to really have a blast with things like this.

GB: Due to the advanced features and sheer complexity of Oblivion, will current console systems like the Xbox and PS2 even be able to handle it? Or will we be seeing the game on the PC and next generation consoles only?

Gavin: We've billed Oblivion from the start as a next-generation game, with all the connotations of that designation. So the features we are really trying to push the envelope on for instance, fully realized forests, dynamic around-the-clock NPC AI, unmatched graphical fidelity really preclude the possibility of putting it on a current gen console system. Right from the start we envisioned Oblivion running on the next generation of PC and console hardware, and we've developed it to take full advantage of all the computing muscle those machines have to offer.

GB: Do you have any plans on releasing all supported platforms (console/PC) simultaneously or will there be a staggered release?

Gavin: We're not ready to talk about release dates or specific platforms just yet. We're working as hard as we can to get content in the game and make it fun.

GB: Will we be seeing some of the more popular armor and weapons from the first three Elder Scrolls games in Oblivion? Any plans for totally new armor sets or weapon types?

Gavin: You'll see the return of many of the old favorites as far as types go Daedric, Glass, Steel, etc. Of course, they've all been totally reworked from the ground up, even in terms of concept. The high bar we're shooting for with Oblivion's visuals means that our artists have a lot more freedom to bring their ideas to life, and they've really grabbed the ball and run with it. For instance, we use specialized shaders to simulate the reflectivity and surface properties of different materials. So when you don your steel armor, it will shine like metal. The leather is dull and mottled, and daedric armor has tips that have a subtle, unearthly glow. And yes, you will see armor and weapon sets that were not featured in Morrowind.

Thanks for chatting with us, Gavin!