Skyrim’s Creation Engine Detailed

By Quintin Smith on January 18th, 2011 at 11:08 am.

Game Informer‘s only gone and posted plenty of info on the new engine powering The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, though the article tells you plenty about the game too, and there’s even a screenshot! Look at it up there. So pretty. If I’m honest, that screenshot might be the single most interesting part of this post. Still, let’s you and me soldier on for appearance’ sake. By the way, did you know the Skyrim’s due out for release this Christmas? So soon!

Alright, the info in the Game Informer article can be summarised as follows:

  • Skyrim is a Nordic location to the North of Cyrodil, replete with glaciers, tundras, steep mountains and thick forests. To this end, with the Creation engine Bethesda are focusing on draw distance, dynamic lighting, foliage and precipitation. I think my favourite memory of Morrowind was pushing through a monster blizzard in Bloodmoon with wolves nipping at my ankles, so this sounds pretty good.
  • The team have ditched SpeedTree in favour of their own, advanced foliage tech.
  • The new precipitation system analyses the geography of an area with the goal of getting snow to accumulate properly on your surrounding environment.
  • The new Radiant AI technology will allow NPCs to seem more intelligent. Does that sound familiar to anybody else?
  • Bethesda drops a bombshell. “In reality, the technology driving NPC behavior [in Oblivion] wasn’t overly sophisticated.”
  • NPCs will react to your actions differently depending on your prior relationship with them. Creative director Todd Howard illustrates this with the following adorable example: “Your friend would let you eat the apple in his house.”
  • The devs are using Havok Behaviour technology for their animations. Anyone who ever played Oblivion or Fallout 3 in the third person should appreciate that this is a giant leap for mankind.
  • The close-up on NPC faces that occurred when you talked to anybody in the Oblivion engine was because they didn’t have any idle animations for when talked.
  • I appreciate how cynical I’m being, but this got me very excited indeed: “Perhaps the most impressive use of the Behavior technology is how Bethesda is using it to create the dragon animations. Bethesda has worked meticulously to make sure the beasts look powerful and menacing when banking, flapping their wings, gaining altitude before making another strafing run, and breathing fire on their hapless victims. None of the dragons’ actions are scripted, and Behavior helps make the movements look non-mechanical, even when the dragons are speaking/shouting. “
  • There’s some really clever-sounding stuff to do with a new, dynamic quest system which alters quests depending on your actions. The example in the article is that everybody might do an assassination mission, but the system can fluidly change who you have to kill and where you do it to make sure it’s somebody you’ve already spent a lot of time with. Likewise, if you’re told to rescue somebody who’s been kidnapped, the game can look at which dungeons you’ve already stumbled across and then direct you to an area you haven’t been yet.
  • There will be a mammoth. Would that I could write that sentence for any game I pleased. The example Howard uses of a random encounter is the player finding a Mammoth under attack from a pack of wolves.

Alright, I’ll be the first to admit it. I am pumped for this game. Pumped like an inflatable camping mattress. How about the rest of you?

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140 Comments »

  1. Moni says:

    Yes, but are there any mammoth/dragon battles?

    • Liquidben says:

      More importantly, will there be cross-breed dramoths or magons?

    • Quentillius says:

      Mammoth’s are confirmed, so I’m sure you can fight them, and Dragons, I think it’s pretty darn likely that you’ll fight them because of the stuff said in the Game Informer magazine article.

    • AndrewC says:

      Mammoth’s what? And will they be physics objects?

    • Quentillius says:

      “You might run across mammoth beset by a pack of wolves.”

      This pretty much confirms mammoths if the design director is saying this.

    • Werthead says:

      More importantly, will you be able to ride around on the mammoth? And if not, why not?

    • DOLBYdigital says:

      I want to know if you can ride the dragons!
      Sure it would be nice to ride the mammoths… until you tame the mighty winged, fire breathing bringer of death. Seriously I would be upset if I can’t ride something :)

    • gjackson85 says:

      ooh and mammoth armour as DLC.

  2. Pie21 says:

    All that tech sounds great, but is a HD4870 going to cut it any more? It’s powerful enough that I don’t want to upgrade it for a game, so hopefully the engine is a little scalable. Hopefully there’s some very smart LOD so I can still see them pretty draw distances.

    • MrMud says:

      It has to run on an Xbox360, you will be fine…

    • Baboonanza says:

      But I’m sure they will have built the engine with the next-gen of consoles in mind. Hopefully there will be some serious PC eye-candy available with some tweaking.

  3. Toby says:

    Gamebryo’s reign of terror is officially over! Let the good times come!

  4. foop says:

    Poor old SpeedTree. Ditched by Total War: Shogun 2, and now by Skyrim. And to think, I hadn’t heard of it until a couple of weeks ago.

    • Bhazor says:

      I’d only heard of it in a Consolevania bit where J Allard was talking about “You don’t need hundreds of artists to make each tree. The computer does it for you”.

  5. WMain00 says:

    Will they employ more than just 4 voice actors?

  6. RedViv says:

    *Gasp*
    Zenimax allow you to use those screens!?

    On a more serious note: I’m excited as can be. The perks might bring more specialisation options than Oblivion, even with reduced skills, the system used is a far better – and easier to use – base for good animations, and their art direction is thoroughly good-looking.
    Now it only needs full body awareness in first person, and I’m completely bloody sold.

  7. kikito says:

    I will be very disappointed if the breasts don’t look powerful enough at the end.

    Sorry, I had to say it.

    More seriously, I’m a bit worried that they don’t mention the bugginess of their previous iterations and how are they dealing with that on this new game. I guess admitting that much was too much to ask.

  8. MrMud says:

    please,please,please,please let it be moddable like their previous games.
    I really like morrowind and oblivion but oblivion in particular is practically unplayable without heavy modding.

    • rmtx97 says:

      Any mod recommendations?
      I plan on replaying Oblivion here shortly.
      I think any new spice will help me get over the “bleh im bored with this and quit 5 hours in” hump.

    • durns says:

      Nehrim Nehrim Nehrim. Just make sure you have a spare 50 hours.

    • Shih Tzu says:

      I borrowed Oblivion from a friend a while back to test out a new system, and I wound up having more fun trying out mods than actually playing the game. (I just wasn’t all that interested in the core combat mechanics. Maybe I should have looked into a more magic-centered character…) There are a number of good mod lists out there. Arwen’s list seems up-to-date and comprehensive, although of course they’re just suggestions and you’ll want to read up on them first:

      http://amito.freehostia.com/Oblivion/OB-mods.htm

      Here’s another starting point, with links to other lists:

      http://www.uesp.net/wiki/Oblivion:Recommended_Mods

      Basically, the “Unofficial Patch” bugfix mods are the most essential. The “DarkUId DarN” UI-enhancement mod is also very handy. Streamline seems to improve performance overall. After that, I added a lot of cosmetic fixes: the texture packs, Enhanced Weather, Enhanced Water, Really Almost Everything Viewable When Distant (lets you actually see landmarks and structures from miles away). Better Cities overhauls the architecture of all of the cities (there’s also an “Open Better Cities” mod if you like the idea of cities and overworld existing in the same space).

      One of my favorites is the Unique Landscapes project, in which various modders stake out tracts of land in the overworld and make them much more interesting to walk around in:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cCxVoyiSVFI

      (There’ve been several additional releases in the two years since that video was uploaded.)

      I didn’t actually touch too many of the gameplay-changing mods, but if you’ve already played the game and want a different experience (for instance, a lot of people don’t like how enemies match your level), definitely look into some of those like Oscuro’s Oblivion Overhaul. And if you do any modding, you -will- need to use the Oblivion Mod Manager utility.

      Have fun!

    • 12kill4 says:

      Oscuro’s Oblivion Overhaul covers most bases…. Morrowindesque balance, huge additions to items, weapons, armor, enemy types, etc. Also some really cool epic treasure hunt quests…

      http://planetelderscrolls.gamespy.com/View.php?view=OblivionMods.Detail&id=3953

    • brulleks says:

      durns says: “Nehrim Nehrim Nehrim.”

      I disagree.

      Nehrim Nehrim Nehrim Nehrim.

  9. Negativeland says:

    Hopefully dragons won’t be playing a major role in the plot. They’ve been done to death several times over already.

    • RedViv says:

      Uh, you might want to check out more stuff about the game then. And the lore of the world, which has been written down for more than a decade, though.

    • Negativeland says:

      I know about the lore. I’ve been playing the series since Daggerfall. I know there are dragons in Tamriel. One of the Daedric princes even usually shows up in the form of a dragon. I don’t mind there being dragons in the game, but it’ll be a major let-down for me, if they’re featured heavily in the main plot. I’ve been fighting the damn things in every game since the red box pen&paper D&D days, and they’re boring as hell.
      I’ve kept myself deliberately in the dark about Skyrim so far, since it’s nowhere near to being released, but I guess I’ll need to read up on it then…

    • AndrewC says:

      I think perhaps you should avoid the fantasy genre entirely if ‘things being done to death’ is an issue for you.

    • RedViv says:

      Well, yeah. If you’ve not started looking it up, just read up about Alduin. That’s the only name you really need to know for Skyrim. ^^

    • Negativeland says:

      *Reads the Elder Scrolls Wiki page on the game*

      *Slams face on desk*

    • SanguineAngel says:

      heh, ouch.

      Although I watched a todd howard interview in which he discussed REALLY not wanting to do typical dragons. so there is some hope for you.

    • Commissar says:

      God forbid they do something different like using Chinese dragons

    • Walsh says:

      What was the last game where you fought a dragon in the first person?

      I can’t remember one.

    • Ravenholme says:

      Dark Messiah of Might and Magic.

      Well, admittedly, it was an undead dragon-esque creature, but my point still stands.

    • MajorManiac says:

      There used to be a great fantasy game where you had a pet dragon that you could ride and shoot down other Dragons with. You could also get of and just have it follow you burning Orcs on the way. Can’t remember the name but it was great fun.

    • bildo says:

      People actually played, and took seriously, the heap of crap that was Dark Messiah made on the source engine? What’s another example…I’m having trouble thinking of one myself.

    • The Hammer says:

      “Dark Messiah of Might and Magic.

      Well, admittedly, it was an undead dragon-esque creature, but my point still stands.”

      That was released in 2006.

      Hey, it’ll be time to play WW2 FPSes again soon!

      On a less flippant note, the dragons we’ve seen so far in games have been nothing like the ones described here, which sound… more plausible and interesting. The key word there is “sound”, of course. I’d really love for Bethesda to get them right, because they could become the cornerstone of the game, if so.

    • Kefren says:

      My favourite dragon game is Thanatos. In fact, playing Goblin War Machine the other day (ta RPS) reminded me of that. Caves with rocks falling = no fun though.

    • MultiVaC says:

      I agree, dragons are boring. When I hear the name “eater of worlds” or whatever, I think of some sort of Cthulhu-like unimaginable horror. But it’s… a dragon. They’re so familiar. The Elder Scrolls series seems to be getting progressively further entrenched in generic fantasy. It’s hard to believe this is the same world and lore as Morrowind.

    • outoffeelinsobad says:

      @MajorManiac: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drakan

    • Jeremy says:

      Just wingin’ it here, but Dragon Age. I mean, it even has Dragon in the title.

      Edit: I am ashamed. DA is not first person, and I am a twit.

    • DarkFenix says:

      Dragons we’ve seen often enough, but have we ever seen dragons done well? Not as far as I can remember, in which case Bethesda might manage a first.

      I doubt it though. Personally I read “None of the dragons’ actions are scripted” as “Dragons will fly into walls/cliffs and get stuck” or “Dragons’ AI will break and they’ll circle aimlessly or fly off into the distance/skybox”.

  10. Jonathan says:

    Christmas is not soon! *cries*

  11. Ian says:

    I think the quests thing is probably what interests me most at the moment.

    I’m also a bit torn between wanting good AI and wanting to keep some of the hilarity/awfulness from Oblivion for comedy value. And to think it could even have been better. I liked when I read that one of the things that apparently caused them to tone down the radiant AI a bit was when they did a test of two NPCs, a raking NPC who had a rake and a sweeping NPC who had a broom (or some such) and when they switched what tools they had the two had a fight to the death to get their correct tools back.

    Also that the skooma dealer kept turning up dead when junkie NPCs with no money killed him for a fix.

    • SanguineAngel says:

      I am concerned about the quests thing actually. I am worried that this is an indication of procedurally generated cookie cutter quests. Although the Assassination example sounds more interesting than “changes location depending on where you have or haven’t been” but I am concerned that it still represents cookie cutterness and if it doesn’t tie into any of the other game systems then it’ll be a bit gimmicky perhaps.

    • Ian says:

      I’m really not sure whether I think they’ll do a good job of it or not.

    • Harlander says:

      Daggerfall’s quest system was almost entirely randomly generated cookie-cutter quests, and a lot of people think on it with very fond recall.

    • Nick says:

      Yeah, but generally not its random quests =)

  12. Swanky says:

    I never understood the nerd rage that got directed at Oblivion. Sure, it had some personality flaws but it was still a fun gameworld to explore so long as you had an imagination to help keep the disbelief suspended. So yes, count me equally pumped.

    However, are we not all agreed that Skyrim is a shit name?

    • ross_angus says:

      Surely the name is to reflect lovers of sky-boxes everywhere: “I’d sure like to rim that sky”.

    • GenBanks says:

      Should have been ‘TES V: Dragon Age’…

    • Zyrxil says:

      You could disagree with the nerd rage, but to not understand it? The complaints have been bullet-pointed countless times over the last 5 years. To bullet-point the bullet-points:

      -Less alien and less interesting world than Morrowind, with less interesting characters, plus worse dialogues for everyone because 100% of it had to be voiced.

      -Skills removed, spells removed, item slots removed, fast travel added, everything simplified.

      -No choices whatsoever, become guildmaster of everything with ridiculous ease.

      -Insanely aggressive level scaling that made playing the game a chore.

      -All quests uninteresting except thieves and assassin guild quest lines.

      -Terrible UI.

      -Crappy plot overall compared to the mysterious/morally ambiguous Morrowind plot.

    • DrunkDog says:

      An anagram of Skyrim is “My Irks”

  13. MartinNr5 says:

    I might actually play this.

    Nah, who am I kidding – real life won’t let me spend stupid amounts of time on a game. :(

  14. Phoshi says:

    What I want to know is whether levitate is back in. Not through some weird morrowind fetish, I want to fight dragons in the sky!
    (No I shan’t slow down!)

  15. Plankton says:

    I am not really convinced by the Radiant Story system. Sounds like a bunch of glorified fetch quests. It can only work in addition to “handmade” quests. Interesting quests are created by people who put thought into it with the proper amount of care and attention to detail. I am sure that’s what is going to happen, but they really need to understand that some cool algorithms can’t make an interesting experience; they merely add to it.

    • Shivoa says:

      I’m excited by the potential for the combination of the two quest systems. Hand crafted quests but dynamically generated into the world.

      You may have a series of recorded voices, characters, and events planned out by a story writer but if some of it happens in a cave then why must the cave exist and be fixed at location X before you get to it? Why must you be able to walk into a narrative point at the wrong time and just see some guys who you won’t be able to do anything interesting with at this time? Make that dynamic, look for places in the general area the quest writer wants it to be in that the player hasn’t explored and put the quest there. Add in suitably difficult ‘trash’ enemies for the encounter based on how far you’ve levelled and set up the scene and direct you towards this unexplored area.

      Yes, it can be used to add cookie cutter quests to give you levelling fodder and help you explore more of the map while you’re at it but it could also utilise the incredible dynamic nature of computer games to build the world as you explore it. The story has been crafted but the fine details of where everything happens could be pushed around based on how and where the player is taking their personal playthrough. I’ve always wanted an urban exploration game based in a city of high rises (think Subversion) that dynamically builds the details of the world as you explore it. The story is pre-written but the world is randomly generated at the start of the playthrough and the details and locations are tailored to each player as they explore and find different locations of interest.

    • Plankton says:

      Yeah, I mean it has to be seen how well they implement it and it could turn out really well in the way you describe it.
      I’ve always wanted an urban exploration game based in a city of high rises (think Subversion) that dynamically builds the details of the world as you explore it. The story is pre-written but the world is randomly generated at the start of the playthrough and the details and locations are tailored to each player as they explore and find different locations of interest.
      Damnit, now you reminded me of Hellgate: London and that makes me even more sceptical … XD

  16. Hunam says:

    If someone can confirm they have added a diagonal run animation I will pre-order it right away.

  17. Quine says:

    Mountains, eh?

    Forget levitation- I want to fight dragons on a hang-glider!

  18. Alex Bakke says:

    Skyrum.

  19. drewski says:

    I don’t even have words for how excited I am about this.

  20. Javier-de-Ass says:

    so, can they have windows on buildings now? doors into buildings without loading screens? this would be an insane technical accomplishment

  21. brog says:

    There will be a mammoth! Pretty keen.
    And in the game? We’ll see.

  22. Giant, fussy whingebag says:

    “Your friend would let you eat the apple in his house.”

    I do hope that there’s some common sense going on there, otherwise he’ll also let us take that rather fetching set of daedric armour he has lying about…

    • SanguineAngel says:

      It would be really cool if it was value related. Also a sliding scale of negative reactions based on value too perhaps. Like, take an apple and it’s “hey help yourself”, pocket a book and it’s “you can keep that if you like… ask next time though” and try to nab the armour and it’s “Hey… NO! put that back.” Plus there could be items that are flagged as exceptions either way.

    • thebigJ_A says:

      It says later in the same paragraph that how they react to you stealing expensive things will also depend on his attitude to you. That implies that his reaction, even if he’s your friend, will be different depending on whether you take an apple or take something expensive.

    • mwoody says:

      That comment actually worried me. I mean, how will you know? Will it be a matter of pick item up, and if he calls the guards you reload? If they say “put that back” will you be given a button option to do so? Will it devolve into “I want that armor, so bribe NPC, quicksave, try to pick up armor, quickload, bribe NPC again, quicksave…” It’s one of those features that sounds good in an interview, but I can’t even imagine a way that it wouldn’t be annoying as hell in a game world.

      In the real world, the realities of when and where you can take an item are a complex web of social nuances and location-specific customs. Like, at a friends’ house, taking an apple from a bowl would be alright for certain types of friends. But taking it from a counter would be rude, and taking it from a closed pantry might be even more rude. But again, the latter might not be an issue if you’re staying with someone, or if you stay at their house frequently. But even then, taking it off a plate wouldn’t be acceptable, as that’s intended for a specific meal. And what if you’re in a house owned by multiple people, and you’re friends with only one? What if your stay in the house is growing too lengthy, and taking the apple is specifically annoying because it signals your extended stay?

      Even the value of an item can’t be used reliably. Would certain friends have a problem with you going into their bathroom cabinet for a q-tip? How about under the sink? In a travel bag? Would these circumstances be different for man/man, man/woman, woman/woman relationships? It’s an item worth a cent or two at most, and yet the circumstances surrounding when and where you can take one are many and varied. And will the game allow you to ask permission before taking something? Will you be able to assure them you’re borrowing an item?

      Much better, I think, to stick to Oblivion’s simplistic system, if only for this small implementation. Houses have one owner, either a person or a group. If it’s a group, your faction rep determines what you can and can’t take. If it’s a person, you can’t take things, ever, and they’ll call the guards if they detect you when doing it. It’s a simple, learn-able system, and it’s close enough to real life to suffice.

  23. Casimir's Blake says:

    Near-photorealism = not exciting.

    Morrowind’s unrealistic but dark architecture and land invited exploration because they were unknown quantities. Daggerfall’s low-res worlds provided that very special sense of abstractness that was also present in Ultima Underworld, and encouraged exploration. There could be secrets anywhere.

    That screenshot? Oh it’s a water mill and some steps. (Probably) Pretty, but I’ve already guessed what will be there. Not exciting, inspiring or encouraging me to want to explore it.

    • skinlo says:

      Disagree personally, Morrowinds dark bland terrain made me want to stick to the path, not explore.

    • thebigJ_A says:

      I doubt you guessed what’s in there, seeing as you couldn’t even tell what the place was. It’s a giant ruin with a tower in the middle.

      Watermill. Lol.

    • drewski says:

      There’s a nest of baby dragons in there. Did you guess that? If you did, it’s actually penguins.

    • Casimir's Blake says:

      Ah! One thing I concede, I couldn’t possibly have guessed that this game is targeted at cretins. Well go nuts guys, I’m sure they’ll leave the quest arrows in for you!

    • RQH says:

      Now that you’ve insulted them, I’m sure they’ll change their minds. I’m going to take the incredibly open-minded position of not judging the entire game’s aesthetic and setting on a single screenshot. I liked the weirdness of Morrowind, but I certainly wouldn’t have minded it being a little easier on the eyes.

  24. Brumisator says:

    “The story manager is always watching you, which can leads to strange random encounters as well. If you drop a sword in the middle of town, someone may pick it up and return it to you, or two guys may get into a fight over who gets to take it. If you’re really good at a particular skill, like one-handed weapons or destruction spells, a stranger who knows of your reputation may ask for training, challenge you to a duel, or beg you for a favor that will require you to show off your skill.”

    I can smell the bullshit.

    • Giant, fussy whingebag says:

      It is somewhat reminiscent of Molyneux, isn’t it?

      What I want to know is whether all their fancy new animations mean that the characters will finally have rubber masks for faces, instead of wooden ones…

    • Giant, fussy whingebag says:

      Backing up a bit… wasn’t the RPS Electronic Wireless Show (LIVE!) just lamenting that there weren’t more games using a Left 4 Dead style AI director, which is essentially what this is?

      I say go Bethesda! I hope it works and works well. If not, I applaud them for trying.

    • Nidokoenig says:

      Some of these actually sound almost doable in the current games:

      “If you drop a sword in the middle of town, someone may pick it up and return it to you, or two guys may get into a fight over who gets to take it.”

      All this needs is an ownership tag that says who the item belongs to and AI to claim dropped gear. Fighting over it might not make it in, but someone with a high enough responsibility stat returning it to you like the present givers in Fallout 3 and New Vegas sounds doable.

      “If you’re really good at a particular skill, like one-handed weapons or destruction spells, a stranger who knows of your reputation may ask for training, challenge you to a duel, or beg you for a favor that will require you to show off your skill.”

      This sounds almost exactly like the present givers, only instead of checking your karma, they’re checking your skills. I’d assume they’d check reputation, infamy and your relationship with various factions, too. Hell, bounty hunters in Fallout 3 would show up, have a little dialogue with you, then fight, so that’s a working duel mechanic.

      Simplest way to do it would be to have an NPC who’s disabled by default, with a script running that checks your stats. Once a stat gets high enough, the NPC is enabled next time you’re in his cell and he runs to you to give you his procedural quest. Aside from the procedural part, it could be done in Morrowind, and probably has been, millions of times.

      Sounds like a great game, and half the stuff they’re announcing sounds achievable today. Too bad it’ll be at least two years before it’s fully patched and grown the beard. I’m a customer, not an investor, so that’s the earliest I’ll play it, given Bethesda’s track record. Well, at least I’ll be enjoying New Vegas when this comes out so I won’t have to mope.

    • 3lbFlax says:

      I like to imagine I’ll be able to walk through a nice, peaceful town, ‘accidentally’ drop a sword in the town square and then come back a week later to find it a smoking ruin with a haggard sole survivor who points at me and screams “You’re the one who dropped the sword!”

    • mwoody says:

      Yeah, I mean, I’m not overly enthused about this quote because I dislike world-tailoring, but I don’t for a second doubt it’s possible. The being-approached-by-questgivers thing already happens in FO3 and NV: people will approach you based on quests and the like. Hell, it happens in Oblivion! It’s not exactly hard to imagine a questgiver might approach the player based on SKILL_LEVEL>=90 instead of QUEST_PROGRESS==5.

      As for people fighting over a sword, that’s not hard to implement, either. The old engine already allowed NPCs to run to an item, pick it up, and equip it. Add in a system wherein two NPCs in range of an item that both are in a “retrieve” state recognize their conflicting intentions and flag each other for combat and there ya go.

  25. Jimmy Z says:

    Given how much outright lies and bullshit they spouted back when they were building up hype for Oblivion, I reserve the right to remain highly sceptical about *anything* they say regarding Skyrim…

    • Mungrul says:

      Yup, I’m with Jimmy here; in particular, the stuff about the precipitation code stinks of the same bullshit they spouted about the erosion engine in Oblivion.

      Also, I don’t think implementing new animation code will fix the main problem, the character artists and animators themselves. While they’re reasonably good at constructing worlds, their character artists are abysmal and the animators, incompetent.

      And finally, an adaptive, automated quest system looks to me like a short-cut by a company who doesn’t want to invest in proper quest writing.

    • mwoody says:

      Let’s be a bit fair here, though: with Oblivion, they had that stuff, and had to cut it out because it sucked. It wasn’t lies, it was shit that they thought they could do but ultimately couldn’t pull off well enough (i.e. a Molyneaux).

      What’s different here? Simple: the game is due out in under a year. They’ve waited until, by gaming standards, the eleventh hour to announce even the tiniest bit of information.

      Is it possible that even this close to release, major features will get cut? Certainly. But, for me at least, I’m more likely to trust these last-minute previews than the old-school Nostradamus-like predictions from developers still in the design stages.

  26. EBass says:

    Of course I’m going to buy this but I gotta admit what I’ve heard about the story leaves me a bit cold. Dragon threatens tamriel, chosen one goes to whack dragon with sharpened stick. I don’t know about you but I genuinly enjoy RPGs more when theres no obvious bad guy which the main plot centres around beating. Its not a deal breaker, Dragon Age was mostly the same, as was Oblivion but still. Mass Effect I kind of let get away with it because its so clearly and unashamedly cinematic space opera.

  27. The Great Wayne says:

    “The new Radiant AI technology will allow NPCs to seem more intelligent. Does that sound familiar to anybody else?”

    Notice the choice of word… “seem”. I’m betting on NPCs with long beards and a lot of chin stroking.

    Also:

    “Your friend would let you eat the apple in his house.”

    Is that a metaphor ? IS THAT A FREAKING METAPHOR ?! Please, no more awkward sex in RPGs, we’ve had our share with DA…

  28. Starayo says:

    I’ll let myself get more excited when I see the jump and diagonal run animations.

    Really, the only things they’d have to do to make it infinitely better than Oblivion in my opinion:

    *JUMP ANIMATION
    *DIAGONAL RUN ANIMATION
    *MORE THAN THREE VOICE ACTORS
    *Keep the extensive mod-ability.

    • durns says:

      I played the whole game in first person and thus don’t care about these animations. More voice actors would be good.

  29. Commissar says:

    It’s too bad they’re being severely handicapped by the current level of console hardware.

    When will this console generation end?

    • skinlo says:

      I think we are right in the middle. So not for a while :(

    • Commissar says:

      PCs will be no less than a trillion times more powerful by that time

    • MajorManiac says:

      I just hope someone works out how to add scalability to the engine to make it compatible for consoles and PC-proof. Things such as a draw distance slider etc…

    • Lack_26 says:

      I believe Microsoft stated that they wanted to keep this generation going till 2015, but I’m not sure how true that is.

  30. CaLe says:

    From reading it, it does seem like they are very aware of the weaknesses of their previous games and are trying to improve on them, which can only be a good thing really.

  31. Navagon says:

    This is sounding gooood. For me, Fallout 3 fixed all the problems I had with Oblivion. So essentially I’m just hoping those lessons stay learned. The information we’ve received so far would seem to confirm that and then some.

  32. Unaco says:

    “The Italians having a Proverb, He that deceives me Once, it’s his Fault; but Twice it is my fault.”

    After Oblivion I am not going to fall for their hype. I am not going believe their claims. I am not going to buy there game… well, I might buy it. Cheap, 9 – 12 months after release, when people have modded a decent PC UI, someone has gotten rid of the level scaling present throughout the world (and replaced it with OOO or MMM or Morrowind style), maybe Kobu Character Advancement is available, along with much slower levelling (level 15 by the time Kwatch is done?), the Better Faces and Better Bodies mods are finished for it, a crafting system has been added, an Unofficial Bug Fix mod has been released (maybe not finished, that would be an almost impossible task), and some Survival aspects have been moddded in (eating/drinking/sleeping needed… otherwise, why would I care if my ‘friend’ was letting me eat his apple?).

  33. Plankton says:

    My thoughts exactly. The first 2 Gothic games had a very believable and lively world before Oblivion even. The lanscapes were handcrafted and not the hightmap and speedtree bullshit.

  34. DarioSamo says:

    I think you guys should read this back, just to refresh your memory.

    I never believe anything that comes out of Toddie’s mouth. : /

    • bildo says:

      I didn’t read the whole thing, however I did read some select devs which were highlighted by the users. One guy claims Mr.SmileyFaceDude was the biggest liar. However, I can say I saw a lot of what he said in the game :X

  35. malkav11 says:

    That one screenshot does a great deal to make me think this one may actually have a unique and interesting visual design (compared to Oblivion’s blandositous generic fantasy landscape).

    • Wulf says:

      Yeah, it might. But the cliched storyline of goodie Nord versus baddie dragons, the sort of thing that belongs in Saturday morning cartoons, does not exactly fill me with confidence that the game’s setting is following suit. Which would be a shame, an incredible shame.

    • DiamondDog says:

      I think it’s a bit early to be writing off the entire setting of the game based on the admittedly cliche main arc. I mean, the main plot of Morrowind was about a resurrected hero prophesied to defeat an evil God. Not exactly the most original of ideas, is it. Doesn’t stop the rest of the story being compelling.

    • Urael says:

      Well I can’t remember the last game that let me face a dragon that wasn’t written for Dos so colour me excited.

      Wulf, for someone who seems to have been absolutely down on the game since the 40-second CGi trailer, you sure spend a lot of time on these threads telling people how much you’re not going to enjoy it/don’t like it or Bethesda. Is it really necessary?

    • The Great Wayne says:

      @Urael: You’re new to the Internet. This is refreshing.

  36. ts061282 says:

    Reading Bethesda’s promises is the quickest route to disappointment.

  37. KillahMate says:

    Wait, RDR was Gamebryo?

  38. trjp says:

    I’m just relieved they’ve dumped the shitty engine which caused nothing but performance problems and crashes for PC owners the world over – usually right in the middle of…

    • Skyfall says:

      That was very gracious of your computer to insert an ellipsis into your current post before crashing.

  39. Aggressor says:

    Am I the only one not moved by the graphic quality displayed in the picture? I mean, I like the art direction and the setting, but the engine itself looks like something Unreal Engine 3 was able to put out four years ago. Lighting in particular is dismal. So much about the new engine.

    • drewski says:

      No, it’s just that nobody else cares about whether the graphics are +17 of shiny wankery.

    • Wulf says:

      I care more about environmental immersion to than whizzbang effects.

      So hopefully they have shorelines this time. The obvious lack of shorelines in almost every Gamebryo game ever was something that made me seriously tweak out. The water was always so eerily still. Give me Gothic III’s water any day over that, which actually had proper waves and everything.

    • MajorManiac says:

      Don’t think I’ve ever seen waves-on-a-beach before in a game. I must try Gothic 3 out sometime.

    • omicron1 says:

      See also: Risen, Just Cause 2.

      There are three levels of “water detailing” you can put in your shader. Level 1 is just a flat reflective plane. Level 2 has the water effects fade out right next to the shoreline – easy as pie if you pass the heightmap to your water shader, and it doesn’t take more than a pinch of extra processing power. It can also easily be done procedurally. Oblivion uses this method.

      Level 3, meanwhile, involves actual wave objects, and is a lot more complicated. Unless your heightmap uses a linear slope past the waterline, you can’t compute really good waves in the shader; you have to either place them by hand (as Age of Mythology did, and I suspect Risen/Gothic 3 do as well) or you have to have complicated additional code (as I presume Just Cause 2 uses).

    • Aggressor says:

      “No, it’s just that nobody else cares about whether the graphics are +17 of shiny wankery.”

      Much as I’m also a proponent of gameplay>graphics statement, I can’t quietly go past the bad visuals. Having lots of experience with 3D graphics doesn’t help, since I get to spot every little detail and yes, it may deter me from enjoying the game sometimes. But still, not that much, since I did manage to thoroughly enjoy New Vegas, despite the old engine.

      The problem is, they’re advertising this new cool graphics technology, but in essence it’s pretty old stuff. It IS going to get judged against other contemporary games, plain and simple. Granted, we’ve only seen a single image, but I’d say they wouldn’t give GI the worst looking scene, would they?

  40. MadTinkerer says:

    “Your friend would let you eat the apple in his house.”

    So the A.I. in the fifth Elder Scrolls game has finally reached the depth of the A.I. in Ultima Underworld II, a game old enough to get a driver’s license. Good to know.

    (I kid: I’m sure it’s more complex than that, and UW2 didn’t have dynamic relationships like Skyrim probably will.)

    • Wulf says:

      You can go back further than that.

      Ultima VII.

      It trumped Radiant AI in every way, and was capable of everything described about this new AI, it was also capable of everything described about Oblivion’s Radiant AI that they never delivered on.

  41. Wulf says:

    And no mention of modding capability.

    Ominous.

    So often I find Bethesda games to be entirely bland. They need mods to spice them up. Let’s be honest, the official content of Fallout 3 was nowhere near as good as Puce Moose’s mods for the game. Anyone who’s played his stuff will most likely agree with this assertion.

    Beth tend to suck at story, quests, and actually making a task compelling. Some games are good at making their tasks entirely mesmerising, drawing you in and not letting you go. Ego Draconis and New Vegas to name two recent entries. But Fallout 3 was yawnorama. It was about as compelling as a televised soap, and I don’t find those all that compelling at all.

    Bethesda, you need mods. Honestly you do. You cannot live without them. It’s a symbiotic relationship. Don’t actually drop the ball on this one and forget that, it will be your undoing.

    • Urael says:

      Wulf, mate. How about you don’t show up at the next tSkyrim thread. We get it. You don’t think the game’s going to be any cop. How about you free us from having to listen to that opinion repeated ad nauseum?

  42. Alaric says:

    I hated Morrowind. There. I said it.

    Should anyone feel insulted, I a) spit on you, and b) challenge you to a duel as is customary, with a non-exotic weapon of your choice.

    With that said, I happened to enjoy Oblivion, and Fallout. I also have a soft spot for northern nature, so I am pretty damn excited about this game.

  43. New Player says:

    At least Bethesda is about honest fantasy and not these disgusting pop/lifestyle hybrids (à la conquer the world with your facebook-friends) with which Bioware is trying to appear hip.

  44. terry says:

    I’m curious as to how exactly they decided that the trees of all things needed improvement.

    • Nidokoenig says:

      I vaguely remember something about how the trees or some other form of vegetation used more polygons than they spent on faces and was one of the reasons why Oblivion’s recommended specs were vicious lies, which is a problem that could lead to lawsuits if it was repeated. There was a mod that made them look a damn sight better, used fewer polys and made the game run a lot better. or I could have misremembered everything and I’m talking out of my arse.

  45. nuh uh no way says:

    Why is everyone so worried about this supposed lack of mod-have? Morrowind, Oblivion and the Fallouts all supported mods. I see no reason why this game won’t. Come on.

    • mwoody says:

      I believe it stems from id, currently owned by Zenimax and assumed to be in some way corroborating on Creation for Skyrim, have said that their new engine – id Tech 5, the one used in Rage – is not moddable.

  46. The Sombrero Kid says:

    They’ve already mentioned the new Construction Set btw.

  47. Alaric says:

    Trees in all games need improvement. I mean we’ve come a long way, but still, I don’t believe there has ever been a genuinely good tree in a game. Even games like Crysis, which made a valiant effort, still fall short of what an actual tree or a bush looks like, at least close up.

    • omicron1 says:

      Risen would like a word with you.

    • Alaric says:

      Yup. Look at that tree. Just more of those meshes of flat surfaces with camo cutouts on them. I want real trees with branches and leaves. That’s hell of a lot of polygons though, so I’m not holding my breath for it anytime soon.

  48. Basilicus says:

    Let’s see:

    Arena
    Daggerfall
    Battlespire
    Redguard
    Morrowind
    Tribunal
    Bloodmoon
    Oblivion
    Knights of the Nine
    Shivering Isles
    Fallout 3
    Operation Anchorage
    The Pitt
    Broken Steel
    Point Lookout

    It’s obvious Bethesda has no idea what they’re doing. They should really leave this sort of pioneering to a company that has some experience in open world games. They should’ve gotten Stellar Stone when they had the chance. Big Rigs: Over the Road Racing is way better than Elder Scrolls.

  49. ScubaMonster says:

    I have a feeling my 8800 GT and core 2 duo will not run this. I am a sad panda.