Guest Author - Lisa Shea
Are you a huge fan of Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind? I know that I am. Come read what the people behind Morrowind have to say when we interview them!
Lisa: First off, let me say that I've been a D&D enthusiast for many, many years and an RPG fan from the early days of playing Adventure (Colossal Caves) on an old thermal-type terminal with acoustic couplings. So it's just amazing to me to see the intricacy of plot, character, and graphics that is available in Morrowind. In addition, you allowed the game to be customizeable, which meant that, really, RPGers couldn't ask for anything more.
Todd - Bethesda: Many thanks. I'm glad you're enjoying the game. We really poured ourselves into it.
Lisa: One thing that struck me was the large volume of books. It was fascinating, in a computer game, to be spending so much time reading books of all varieties, on screen. You have a novel's worth of reading material built into the game! How did that process work, developing the 'in game novel' alongside the game development? Will there be an e-book of the books available? :)
Todd: That's something we started with Daggerfall, having books. And people liked it so much that we decided to expand it even more with Morrowind. We also got a lot of feedback that people didn't really care about the books, so we made many of them raise skills in Morrowind. First, we made a list of books that we wanted to reuse from Daggerfall, and then a list of new ones we wanted, including the skill books. From there we had several writers work on them and they were then edited, which took a while. It's really one of those things that makes the world feel real.
Lisa: Morrowind draws you into the game with its immersive story, video, and sound, but even more so with the development tools. Not only can you get lost in the world, but you can customize it to suit your very own needs. It seems that Morrowind is encouraging people to think of coding as fun and enjoyable. Is this a "Last Starfighter" kind of plot to develop the next generation of game programmers?
Todd: I can't remember the last time someone referenced the "Last Starfighter", which includes one of my favorite lines, "What do we do now?", answer: "Now we die." Anyway. Sure, I hope to hire our next round of developers from the community. Who better?
Lisa: The stories and plottings were worthy of a soap opera, and the player's ability to 'cross streams' made the game quite interesting. One interesting twist was that if you asked a recruiter about his group, but then declined to join at the moment, he became annoyed with you and his fondness rating dropped. Shouldn't he actually be happy that you showed an interest, and maybe send you away with recruitment literature? I would think having a person think over seriously the opportunity would be better than someone who randomly jumps into a situation :) What was the thought behind this?
Todd: We tried to use Disposition, how much they like you, as much as possible and in clear ways, so that saying no to someone usually meant a drop. With this kind of game, the number of scenarios you can make up per quest is mind-boggling, including your example.
Lisa: Just how did all of those goody-goody anti-drug merchants know that I was carrying illict drugs deep in the bottom of my backpack, and refuse to deal with me because of it? :)
Todd: It actually smells really bad. Yeh, that's the reason.
Lisa: The game just cries out to be an on line multiplayer game along the lines of Asheron's Call or EverQuest. Any thoughts in that direction?
Todd: It's gonna cry for a while then. It seems that it would work well, but in actuality would have to change dramatically to be a good online game. Single player and multiplayer are apples and oranges. I'm still in search of perfecting the single-player experience, so we'll leave the online thing to other folks. And that space is very crowded, so perhaps in a few years when the dust settles we'll drop the hammer with an online game of our own. Who knows?
Lisa: I have to admit to being a ranger at heart. When I got Morrowind I immediately created a wood elf archer. Then I noticed that I was spending all of my hard earned money buying more arrows, when my friends were upgrading their armour or weapons. I think you guys are jealous of the elves :) I wouldn't have minded making my own from trees and birds I shot down ... was that a gameplay balance issue?
Todd: Yes, in a sense. In any game, if you can attack at range, you are more powerful, because you can't be hit, so ammo helps limit it, as does the time it takes to reload and so forth. We made the reload time slow so that you were scared using a bow with someone rushing at you. You better hope you kill them before they get to you.
Thanks so much to Bethesda for answering our questions, and I highly encourage any gamer who hasn't played Morrowind yet to give it a try!
Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind Walkthrough