This week was a huge week with a major leak of awesome Skyrim news coming STRAIGHT from the Elder Scrolls V Game Director, Lead Designer, and Lead Artist. See What Todd, Bruce, and Matt write to us in this sweet interview.
Skyrim Fan Interview
Todd Howard, Game Director
Bruce Nesmith, Lead Designer
Matt Carofano, Lead Artist
1) Can the character shapeshift into different creatures?
Todd: “We’ve done various things like that in our previous games, and it’s something that we probably won’t be talking about specifically on this one. Don’t read anything into that, we just prefer to not discuss this one. We’d like to leave that an open question until the game is out. ”
2) I want to customize my avatar. What sorts of options, like facial hair, tattoos, or body size changes are available? Will we be able to change them later in the game?
Matt: “There is large amount of customization available for each race. You can choose from multiple hair styles, beards, scars, and face paint. Each race and gender has a light and heavy build and you can pick any level in between. We’ve completely redone our facial system, and we’re really excited to show off the results.”
3) Is armor handled like in Oblivion (with each body part being welded together) or in Morrowind (with each body part separate)? Will you be able to wear both clothes and armor at the same time?
Matt: “The armor system is very similar to Oblivion’s. The main difference is that the upper and lower body armors, the cuirass and greaves, have been combined into one piece. This helps create armor styles that have the look we needed for Skyrim. In most of the Nordic designs we created, the upper armor would completely cover the lower armor, making it unnecessary. We get much better visual results combining those pieces, and it renders a lot faster too, so we can put more people on screen, so that was an easy tradeoff for us. We can also make a lot more armors now, so the number and variation types are more than we’ve ever had.”
4) Are the main and faction quests branching or linear? What about side quests?
Bruce: “We’ve focused on telling one story well. There are decision points in all the quest lines that can change things, but overall it’s a single story. Because the side quests are smaller stories, they are more likely to have major branches. For example, you can decide to save or betray someone, which changes the whole end of the quest. Overall the quest structure in Skyrim is closer to Oblivion than Fallout 3, in that there are many more quests, but they have fewer branches.”
5) Are loot and quest rewards level scaled, like in Oblivion? Will there be any powerful un-scaled items?
Bruce: “We’re handling leveling stuff similar to how we did in Fallout 3, but with a few new twists that we hope players won’t even notice. The enemies and loot are based on the “encounter zone” you’re in, so it could be higher or lower level than your current level. We do have a new concept of epic or “special” loot that you can randomly find in many cases, regardless of the zone, and you will still get better stuff in the better zones with your level higher. Same goes for quest rewards. We try to make them appropriate for what you did. Sometimes that is random, sometimes that is a set item. There’s a lot of specific stuff that is very powerful, like the Daedric artifacts.”
6) Will items present in Morrowind but not in Oblivion, such as spears, medium armor, and mark/recall spells, be making a return?
Todd: “They are not in Skyrim for the same reasons we didn’t include them in Oblivion. I’ll address each one. First spears, the truth is we’d love to do them, but it becomes a priority and development time thing for us. We feel it’s better to spend our time right now making sure the gameplay for the other play styles is really solid. That includes sword, sword and shield, two-handed weapons, and bows. You can also add magic to that list. Getting those all working well together, while feeling different, is our priority.
As far as medium armor, that’s not a time or polish thing, it’s a design choice to focus on two armor types and making sure those feel different and the player appreciates them. We try to make your character move and feel different between light and heavy and having a 3rd one in the middle just muddies it up in how it plays, as well as visually. And even now, we still have to tweak those two armor types so they feel different, while remaining fun. Every time we slow down heavy armor more, it feels bad, but it’s the main way of balancing it. We’ve added other ways of balancing it that feel right—like different stamina drain rates when sprinting and such.
Mark and recall is one where it’s a lot of fun, but like levitation, was removed so we could design better gameplay spaces and scenarios. We were really limited in Morrowind because the player could recall or levitate out of many situations and break them. There was a lot of good gameplay and level design work that we just couldn’t do and now we can. Back then it seemed like many good ideas we had were shot down when another designer would say “oh yeah, I just levitate or recall away.” So we got rid of them.”
7) Will we be able to have relationships with the NPCs, romantic or otherwise?
Bruce: “Absolutely! You make friends with people by doing things for them. Friends in the game will treat you differently. Some of them will even agree to go with you into dungeons and on adventures. You can even get married. If you own a house, your…