BT: It was stated in previous interviews that the landscape was created through advanced algorithms that simulated millions of years of weathering. Can you tell us more about what to expect from that? Will there be any further dynamic additions to the landscape (potholes filling with rainwater as the weather changes, ruts from carts, hoof prints, etc) once in game?
GC: The weathering system is pretty nice looking. Whereas in Morrowind, "mountains" were basically big, smooth lumps on the landscape, now we can easily create realistically deformed terrain. So in the distance you’ll see nice, craggy mountains. They make for some great terrain exploration as well. We don’t do a lot with dynamic landscape changes beyond things like grass swaying in reaction to the weather.
BT: The backbone of the Elder Scrolls series having such a lasting appeal has often been attributed to the player-developer community. I understand there are many challenges in bringing modifications to your game to bear on the Xbox 360. Has there been any headway as to how that will be done - via Xbox Live - or is the focus for the time being just on creating the best game possible and let that detail sort out later?
GC: We definitely plan to add on content to the Xbox 360 version and make it available through Xbox Live. There are more issues with making user-created content available for download, and we’re still looking into them. Of course, we’re doing all this while focusing on creating the best game possible, as well. :)
I'd like to thank Gavin Carter and all our wonderful contacts at Bethesda Softworks for their efforts in bringing us first news on some of the technology behind their next instalment, Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion.
Personally, I am amazed at the progress they've made developing a game that could be so rich and spacious, as we have seen, yet so at home on each system. We'll be watching to see how they work around the user created content, as it can't be sanctioned by Microsoft and Bethesda, and therefore won't be distributable currently over Xbox Live. Without such content on the Xbox 360 version, I know that I will be happily parked in front of my PC monitor a little while longer...
Since giving this interview, the game was officially put back to a 2006 release. Bethesda Softworks' Pete Hines posted this statement:
So Todd and I were talking last night and decided that we, or I, should post something on the forums to try and bring fans up-to-speed on what's up. So here goes.
In short, the game is coming out in early 2006 because it isn't done yet. We still have things that need to be done before the game is released. So we continue to optimize, test, balance, etc. We've already gone way beyond what we did in any game previously in playtesting and balancing this game. Way beyond. But there is work that needs to be done and so development continues to go on pretty much around the clock. We will not put out a more specific date until we are certain we will be ready then. Like system specs, we aren't fans of putting out info that changes later on and only confuses or annoys our fans.
We have a number of site updates planned between now and the game's release that we hope to do on a regular basis each week. We'll do the best we can to make it every week, but understand that sometimes PR/marketing stuff gets in the way of game development and so it has to get set aside sometimes for the good of the game (and the people making it). We'll be updating the Codex in stages, adding new concept art, screens, etc. in the coming weeks and months. We're open to doing another fan interview in the coming weeks as well to let you ask what it is you think we aren't telling you. In short, we aren't holding out on you, we just don't want to be done telling you about the game before it comes out.
We appreciate your patience and continued support and ensure you that your dedication will be rewarded with what we think is the best RPG you've ever played.
Pete (and Todd)
While this news will certainly be disappointing to everyone anxiously waiting for the game's release, there is no doubting that Bethesda have a proven track record of creating great games. If they say they need more time, we owe it to them to wait patiently. Far too many games are rushed onto store shelves in order to hit the Christmas shopping window, and we commend Bethesda for not succumbing to this pressure in favour of producing a game we can all spend another 175+ hours enjoying.
Until then, we have assembled a gallery of screenshots for you to drool over...