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Todd Howard has admitted to the Official Xbox Magazine that attempts to make Oblivion feel more "welcoming" resulted in the loss of "the wonder of discovery" that characterised Morrowind.
"With Skyrim, we're trying to bring some of that back and walk the line between Morrowind and Oblivion. Where it's at first familiar looking, but has its own unique culture and spin on it," said Mr Howard.
The province of Cyrodiil was previously described as a "jungle" in the lore but became a European countryside in the game.
Bethesda provided no lore explanation of why this change took place. Michael Kirkbride, creator of much of the lore for Morrowind and Oblivion eventually provided an unofficial explanation - that Tiber Septim had changed the jungle into what it is today by his power.
The Official Xbox Magazine posted an interview with Todd Howard.
The interview contains no new information about Skyrim but does talk about Mr Howard's views about the Elder Scrolls series.
Mr Howard said that Bethesda game studios treats each game as a new game series rather than a group of sequels.
He said that his favourite game is the most recently released Bethesda game and ranks the other games in order that they were released.
Mr Howard also announced that the Unofficial Elder Scrolls Pages catalogued the lore better than Bethesda themselves had and that the developers often use it as a resource in their work.
More information is available at the OXM website.
Sentinel's Legendary Weapons and Armor won February's TESNexus File of the Month with 32 votes. The mod's author, BGSenTinel, has graciously accepted our request for an interview which you can read below. We hope you enjoy this new feature.QUOTE
Q: What was your inspiration for creating this mod?
A: Everything started by creating one single katana - Sylvan's one. Then I decided to make the Imperial, Pure Steel, and the Emperor's Katana. I thought I should put this in a set, so I started working on Sylvan's armor. In no time the ideas were coming and as a result you now have 5 armor sets with more then 22 weapons. Talking directly about inspiration it would have to be that I'm fascinated by the Asian culture and I found that there are not any decent mods out there which add lore friendly katanas. There are great katana swords made for the game but they are all real life swords. I wanted to add something which might be integrated to TES lore just like the Akaviri swords.
Q: What was the hardest part about creating the mod?
A: Making the mini quest. I'm a total novice when it comes to writing scripts. The CS is not my strongest part at all. Thanks to Hickory (Mike) who actually made the quest possible by writing the scripts for me.
Q: What was your favorite part about creating the mod?
A: Making the new textures and the UV mapping. I really enjoyed creating the Sylvan set. It was the first set I decided to make. I was really pleased that my idea of combining the glass armor with the original silver ornaments from the game worked so well.
Q: Any plans for future projects?
A: I have plans, but I don't have the time to start. I'm planning to make new armor sets + new weapons in a new independent modification but this time I want to actually add some sort of quest for obtaining the items; (something like the Myths and Legends Weapons)
Q: How long did it take you to get the mod to where it is now?
A: About two months with at least 1 hour of working on it every day.
Q: What are the most common tools you used in your development?
A: For the textures, I was using Adobe Photoshop CS5 Extended Edition, and for the armors composition and UV mapping NifScope and Blender.
Q: Do you have any advice for aspiring mod authors?
A: Do what you like to do. The inspiration comes with the work. Modding is done for pleasure, not for fame and glory. In a friendly community like TESNexus, everyone is just trying to share with others their ways to enrich the amazing world of The Elder Scrolls series.
Q: What are some of your other favorite games if Oblivion isn't the only game you play?
A: I don't play many games anymore, but my favorite game ever is Heroes 3 and its unofficial expansion Wake Of Gods. Besides that I used to play a lot of the Warcraft III and Unreal Tournament series of games. I'm also a big fan of the legendary Monkey Island series.
Thanks to BGSenTinel for answering the questions! Check back next month for another interview, and remember to vote for your favorite mod for this month's File of the Month.
As we all wait patiently for the release of Bethesda's Skyrim I thought it would be a good time to remind everyone that you can still currently download the first two Elder Scrolls games for free. These games will allow you to relive the history of the Elder Scrolls series while we wait for our next great adventure from Bethesda. They require DOSBox which is also linked below.
The Elder Scrolls I: Arena
The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall
At the end of a countdown started yesterday, Bethesda has released the first in-game trailer for TESV: Skyrim. The trailer shows some of the new features we've been hearing about: improved combat, dragon shouts, finishing blows, more diverse magic, etc. I also spotted flowing water, NPCs working around a windmill, and some visually unique locations.
You'll also get to see how the new Creation Engine looks and hear a longer version of the Skyrim main theme. Oh, and dragons.
Watch below or on the official trailer page from Bethesda. You can also download the trailer from the official site in SD/HD and WMV/MP4.
Michael Kirkbride has posted an article on the Elder Scrolls Lore Forum.
The article details a break in fighting between the house of Shor and the other houses of Skyrim. Shor is the Nordic version of Lorkhan the god whose heart the player destroyed in Morrowind.
A extract is provided below.QUOTE"And the awful fighting ended again.
"Kyne's shout brought our tribe back to the mountaintop of Hrothgar, and even our recent dead rode in on the wind of her breathing, for there had been no time to fashion a proper retreat. Their corpses fell among us as we landed and we looked on them in confusion, shaken as we were by this latest battle in the war of twilight. The chieftains of the other tribes still held their grudge against our own, Shor son of Shor; more, they had united finally to destroy us and used skin-magic to trick us into disarray.
"Shor was disgusted with the defeat, and disgusted more when reminded by Jhunal that our withdrawal had been wise, for we were outnumbered eight to one. Shor took on the form of his Totem then, which he used to better shape his displeasure, rather than to shout it aloud and risk more storm-death. His shield thanes, the brothers Stuhn and Tsun, bowed their heads, collecting the spears and swords and wine-knives Shor threw about the broken pillars of the easternmost sky-temple. The rest of us looked away and to our own, not even to acknowledge the thunderclap that signaled our Queen's arrival, who stepped in from the tunnel of her own breath last.
Mr Kirkbride created much of the lore for Morrowind and Bethesda hired him as a consultant for Oblivion, Knights of the Nine, and the Shivering Isles.
Bethesda has revealed some information about the new technology being used for TESV: Skyrim. In a GameInformer article, "The Technology Behind Skyrim," Bethesda outlines four aspects of Skyrim's technology: the new Creation Engine, improvements to Radiant AI, a new collection of features named Radiant Story, and the implementation of the Havok Behavior system.
The Creation Engine
Bethesda has created a new engine for Skyrim named the Creation Engine, which will probably turn out to be the most significant aspect, good or bad, of Skyrim's technology. GameBryo may have problems, but we don't know yet how the Creation Engine will turn out.
Little information has been released about the Creation Engine so far, but what we do know makes me optimistic. Bethesda has created the engine specifically for their games, which seems like a better idea, at least in theory, than trying to wrangle GameBryo (or any existing engine) to accomplish what is needed. SpeedTree has been replaced by a new system that allows greater artistic control over how foliage animates and reacts to the environment. Since the game takes place in Skyrim, snow is of course a necessity, and Bethesda has luckily not returned to the flawed precipitation system in earlier games (where rain and snow fell through, well, everything). Snowfall is now calculated in-game and accumulates on surfaces. The level of detail for distant objects and landscape has been improved, and dynamic lighting and shadows are now "on everything."
Bethesda has been talking about improving the Radiant AI system, which was somewhat restrained in Oblivion. NPCs will now have real jobs or tasks (farming, mining, etc.) instead of simple sets of actions. NPC reactions have been improved to relate more directly to the NPC's relationship with the player. One example given is "a friend would let you eat an apple in his house," which certainly sounds better than every NPC throwing a fit if you touch that inkwell sitting on their desk. These changes look like they will help the world seem more alive, which is always a good thing.
Radiant Story seems to be the feature Bethesda is most interested in hyping, like Radiant AI for Oblivion. Radiant Story is actually a group of features all related to presenting the player with more content. First, Bethesda has created a system of random and dynamically generated quests and events. You may be asked to assassinate an NPC or find an object in a dungeon, but the conditions and objects are not predefined. The game will also attempt to send you to locations you haven't yet explored. Radiant Story also functions as another method preventing quests from becoming inaccessible. In an example given in the GameInformer article, if a merchant with quests is killed, his or her child may take over the store and offer the same quests. Of course, Bethesda warns that if you killed the merchant, the child may seek revenge.
Bethesda has also implemented an omniscient "Story Manager" which works to create dynamic events based on the player's actions. If you drop a weapon in town, an NPC might try to return it to you, or NPCs may fight over it, or maybe nothing will happen. NPCs might ask you for help, training, or a duel. NPCs you become friends with may ask for help later, or even become temporary companions. In the wilderness, you may encounter creatures being attacked by other creatures, or an NPC who directs you to a random quest.
Some of these features do sound innovative, while others just sound like improvements to existing systems such as the "random" encounters in Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas. The Story Manager actually reminds me of Left 4 Dead's Director. We'll have to see how Radiant Story functions once Skyrim is released, since Oblivion's Radiant AI turned out to be substantially different from the pre-release information about it.
Havok Behavior (Animation)
Bethesda is again returning to the Havok system. Beyond just the usual physics people usually associate with Havok, Skyrim will be using Havok's new "Behavior" system, which allows for improved and more easily designed animations. Havok Behavior can blend together various animations automatically, such as the transitions between walking, jogging, running, and jumping, or the flow between combat animations. NPCs and creatures can become stuck in spider webs and will struggle to escape. The system is also being used for Skyrim's dragons, allowing their animations appear natural instead of "mechanical" or scripted.
Havok Behavior is being applied to improve the dialog system. Instead of freezing time and focusing the camera on the NPC, time will continue to flow. You can look around during your conversation, NPCs may continue whatever they were doing (working, eating, etc.) or even move to take a seat.
GameInformer did ask Todd Howard if Havok Behavior could or would be used for player mounts such as horses or mammoths, but Todd gave a non-response. We'll have to wait and see on that subject...
Bethesda Softworks uploaded 10 screenshots and five pieces of concept art to their company blog on 11 February.
The screenshots and concept art have appeared in print format and on gaming websites before but this is the first time they have been available for viewing and download online at Bethesda's website.
The files can be downloaded by clicking on the pictures to be directed to Bethesda Softworks' Flickr channel. Selecting view all sizes under the actions tab will forward viewers to the download page.
Perhaps one of the most under used features on the Nexus sites is the file tagging and searching system. In a nut-shell file tagging allows files to be categorised much more deeply than just being placed in a single category that may contain thousands of files. It's a great way to drill down in to the thousands of mods on the Nexus sites and look for something much more specific using the "Tag Search" link found in the right navigation.
There is however an issue with the amount of untagged files on the sites. Files can be tagged by both file authors and logged in members; if an author tags a file it becomes instantly tagged where as 3 normal members need to approve a tag for a file before it becomes confirmed. A confirmed tag allows that file to be found using the tag search. The current number of tagged files on the sites is as follows:
- TESNexus: 8,868 tagged files out of 24,393 = 37%
- FO3Nexus: 4,644 tagged files out of 11,049 = 42%
- DANexus: 953 tagged files out of 1,606 = 59%
- NVNexus: 2794 tagged files out of 4,530 = 62%
Those figures would suggest that the smaller percentages on TESNexus and FO3Nexus are a result of the tagging system being introduced after many files had been uploaded and authors had moved on from the scene. These files become the responsibility of the community to tag themselves. As a result I have added the number of tags a file has to the Tags tab on a file page (bracketed as usual). Files that have no tags will be highlighted red so that you know this file needs tagging. Tagging files not only helps the community but, once confirmed, will give you Activity Points on the site.
Having said that New Vegas Nexus was launched after the tagging system was introduced which suggests that close to 40% of mod authors are not tagging their files. Tagging your files increases their visibility in the community so more people can find your files and it takes about 20 seconds to do. There's no reason not to!
As most of you should know Bethesda has released information containing the release date of the next Elder Scrolls game, Skyrim, which is 11/11/11. Easy enough to remember, right? As with every iteration of the series Bethesa are planning to upgrade pretty much all of the systems from Oblivion for Skyrim.
Skyrim will contain a new menu that is supposed to look and feel better than vanilla Oblivion's... well, not so good interface. Other new features include forging your own weapons and some new creatures such as the Ice Wraith and trolls. Similarly Todd Howard has explained the combat system where he confirms that dual-wielding will be possible.
The speed at which the player can run backwards has been reduced so the player can't just walk backwards and avoid hits. Shields will no longer be of much help by just holding it down; you'll have to meet the opponent's strikes with your shield. If you do hold it down, however, it will cause a shield bash which may stagger your opponent. Stealth and bows have also received an overhaul; Ammunition damage has been increased, but in turn has been made more scarce where as a successful sneak attack may do severe damage and kill an enemy in a single hit. Daggers are also getting boosted so the thieves may not be so weak anymore.
Magic is also getting an upgrade. When you hold the same spell in both hands rather than wielding a weapon it gets a power boost at the cost of more magicka. It can also be a stream of magicka instead of a projectile. Mysticism has been removed and it's spells absorbed into the other schools. Duelling with magic is much harder than before and attacking and defending must be timed to be successful.
Let's hope these features all remain in the final game!
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