Guardian Unlimited is the latest website to feature an interview with Bethesda's Pete Hines about their The Elder Scrolls IV: Shivering Isles expansion pack.
Q: One of the joys of Oblivion (and Morrowind) is wandering off the beaten track, seeing what is over that hill or round the corner. From a design point of view how do you marry this sense of freedom with a strong
narrative and a core story?
A: I actually think the strong narrative and core story play a vital role in that. You have a main quest and faction quests and all these other quests you know you can come back to and they're easy to pick up where you left off, so you're more comfortable with going to wander for a bit and see what's out there. I actually think more people got into the freeform aspect in Oblivion rather than Morrowind, because the quests are so much easier to get back to and keep track of. In Morrowind, it was sometimes hard to stay with the quest you were on as you were trying to do it, much less if you took a right turn in the middle of nowhere to check out a dungeon.