Hines Does Gamasutra

Image by Jörg Spielt

New interview with Pete Hines at Gamasutra:

Where are you guys now, and how much do you have left?

PH: Where are we… We are still in alpha, so right now we are in the part of the process where we are ripping things out, putting things in, fixing stuff that’s in and making it better, or fixing stuff that’s in and making it work better, with the goal that within the next couple of months, we’re going to get the content complete where we stop adding or changing content, and just focus on fixing the game problems, the balance in the game, the relationships.[…]

Are there any major – other than improving things in an organic way – are there any major new things in your tech since Oblivion? Or is it just refining what you guys established?

PH: Yeah, a lot of it’s just refining things. The Radiant AI is something we came up with on our own, and the closer we got to being done on Oblivion, we had to dial that back more than we had anticipated, just because it was causing problems.

It’s sort of like… We’d tell stories about wacky things we saw the AI doing, and it’s funny until it interrupts your game. Where, like, you’re out in the middle of a forest, and some key character went off and got himself killed, because he saw somebody stealing food and tried to stop them, and then got himself killed. That’s cool, but that’s not fun, when you have to restart your game because now this guy is dead.

So we had to scale that back, at the time, and I think we’ve been able to take that now and move it forward to doing more of the kinds of things that we want. So it’s not a big leap, necessarily, but we certainly made big improvements to what that does, and how that translates to the player.

Like having somebody go off and get themselves killed while you’re in the middle of a forest isn’t fun, but it is fun if you walk into a town and everybody is acting in a believable fashion. And when you overhear conversations, they’re referring to each other by their first name. Like, it just adds another level to the realism.

So I think we’ve tried to focus on putting more of that stuff in front of the player, and less stuff like, “Oh, this happened two towns away from you!” Just, hey, by the way. That doesn’t mean anything.[…]

In regards to the Fallout license: What has that been like for you guys? It’s not as common for a license to be acquired that way in this industry – a license that was created in the games industry, but you didn’t actually acquire that developer or get it as part of a publishing deal. It was just, wholesale, now the license belongs entirely to you. What was that like? What was involved with that, and what are your plans going forward with the license?

PH: It’s not the most common thing, although I think we’ve seen some examples of some other folks that have done stuff like this recently – that they’ve seen something that they’ve loved, or that they’ve liked, and it was sitting there unused, and so they wanted to pick it up and make something out of it.

You know, truth be told, there was no developer to acquire, so that wasn’t even an option. And as we joke, sometimes, internally, we’re very much in keeping with the history of the franchise, because every game in the series has been made by a different developer, in terms of the people. Even when it was Black Isle on 1 and 2, the people were almost entirely different.

So, you know, it ended up being something, Chris, where we said, “We want to do another kind of game, and here’s the kind of game that we want – and if you really want to know the truth, if we could make any game, here’s the game we’d want to make.” And they went out and got it.

And so I think our intention is to continue to work on it, and bring it forward, and have it be another franchise like The Elder Scrolls, that is something that we are really well known for, and that hopefully is a really great game, and a gameplay experience, and something people really look forward to. “When’s the next one of that coming out?”

Interesting interview this time, but nothing new about the game.

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