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Skyrim's Creation Engine Detailed

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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Quintin Smith

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