The Elder Scrolls
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Team Diary
 
A BRIEF HISTORY OF CYRODIIL
 
A BRIEF HISTORY OF CYRODIIL
 
IT'S QUIET ... ALMOST TOO QUIET
 
IT'S QUIET ... ALMOST TOO QUIET
 
OBLIVION COLLECTOR'S EDITION
 
OBLIVION COLLECTOR'S EDITION
 
MAGICAL MYSTERY MEAT
 
MAGICAL MYSTERY MEAT
 
THE DARKER SIDE OF CYRODIIL
 
THE DARKER SIDE OF CYRODIIL
 
E3 - FEAR AND LOATHING IN LA
 
E3 - FEAR AND LOATHING IN LA
 
TO THE DEATH, OR TO THE PAIN?
 
TO THE DEATH, OR TO THE PAIN?
 
NOW YOU SEE ME, NOW YOU DON'T
 
NOW YOU SEE ME, NOW YOU DON'T
 
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The RPG for the Next Generation
 
Todd Howard, Executive Producer
 

Todd HowardLast month we revealed that our next game is indeed, The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. And information is starting to flow on just what we've been up to. So, what have we been up to?

(Quick sidebar so you won't miss this below -- Oblivion is larger than Morrowind. Ok, read on now.)

Well, we started the project soon after Morrowind, and our team was split into two groups -- one working on technology for Oblivion, and one working on expansion packs. The Oblivion group was mostly comprised of programmers and the expansion team mostly artists and designers. But we were still one big Elder Scrolls team. We were also fortunate to add a lot of new talent during this time as our profile as a strong developer grew. After the expansions were done (Tribunal and Bloodmoon) the entire staff was full steam ahead on Oblivion.

The first thing we do when we start a game like this is say -- "What did the fans like about the last game? What do they want improved?" Over the years we've gotten thousands of letters from you all, and we can't thank you enough. Yes, we read them all. Our forums are an endless source of inspiration to us. From Arena to Daggerfall to Morrowind, we've had the best fans you could ask for over the last 10 years. They're smart, engaged, and full of wild excitement. Keep it up.

But there is a key part of this plan that has guided The Elder Scrolls every time we do a new one, and that is "Reinvention." You see, even though each game has been a sequel to the last game, our goal is to always make a new game that stands on its own, that has its own identity. Even down to the naming of them, our games are generally known by their single name, and not their numbered sequence. How do we create the definitive "RPG for the Next Generation?" Not just in terms of technology -- but how it plays?

We go back to the main theme of the series -- "Live another life, in another world" -- and think about how we can make that come alive for the next game. To simply add onto Arena would never have yielded Daggerfall, and to add onto Daggerfall would never have yielded Morrowind. To present the best game we can each time, we must reinvent it for the next generation of hardware and gameplay.

So we reach all the way back to Arena, see what worked then. Replay Daggerfall -- what worked well there, and of course Morrowind. We then look at what games of the future could do. Not just RPGs, but what could any game do? What are the key elements that make a great RPG and how can they be done in the future?

There is not a single system that has not gone through a change. Combat, dialogue, exploration, magic…you name it. That change could be a small tweak, major addition, or major deletion. Tweaks include things like rebalancing the skills to get better class progression. Major additions include all new AI, forests, combat, mounts, and more. One major deletion is thrown items and crossbows.

What!!?? No thrown items and crossbows? Hear me out here, because it will let you into our thought process. When we look at characters that like to do ranged combat, they mostly want to use bows and arrows. So instead of doing many types of ranged combat, we decided to stick with bows and arrows -- but -- it's a grand implementation of bows and arrows. You feel the string draw, arrows arc properly, bounce realistically, and stick deep into the right materials. You can see the quiver on your back and type of arrows you have and there are tons of different bows and arrow types. So we trade having several types of ranged combat done in an average way, and get bows done in a grand way.

One major assumption everyone makes when we do a new Elder Scrolls game is that it will be small. Everyone thought this about Daggerfall and Morrowind as well when we talked about them "being more focused." No Elder Scrolls game will ever be small. Ever. We make 'em big folks. We super-size them. Why? This is a question everyone asks us, "Why make them so damn big? You could make it small and most people still wouldn't finish it."

My answer is this -- For the time you did play it, it wouldn't be as fun. The Elder Scrolls is about choice -- player choice to do what you want in any way you want. You need a certain amount of size and choices so that experience is actually meaningful.

Now, we do change scale in each game, because certain things you do cause the game to flow differently. Even though Morrowind is about 0.0001% the landmass of Daggerfall, the way you play it makes it feel even richer. Oblivion's landmass is larger than Morrowind's, but you can fast travel around much easier. It still has Morrowind's feel of open exploration, but Arena's feel of ease of travel and, well, it's more fun.

So what do we actually mean when we say Oblivion is more focused? The quests and NPCs are more focused. Are there less NPCs and quests than Morrowind? Yes, but still too many to count. If we hadn't told you, you'd probably never notice. This is still a game measured in the hundreds of play hours. We're trying to stay away from mindless filler (something, Ok, we've been guilty of in the past) and create quests and NPCs that are dynamic, alive, and more engaging than anyone's seen.

I could go on and on for 100 pages here, because the depth of Oblivion and our excitement to bring it to all of you is huge. You'll start seeing more and more info about the game in the press everywhere and on elderscrolls.com. We'll do our best to create the best game we can for you.

 
 
Pre-order Now!
 
Preorder Oblivion for PLAYSTATION 3
 

Pre-order The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion for PLAYSTATION®3 at GameStop.com

 
 
Pre-order Now!
 
Preorder Shivering Isles for Windows
 

Pre-order The Elder Scrolls IV: Shivering Isles for Windows at Take2games.com

 
 
Now Available!
 
Official Oblivion Plugins at www.OblivionDownloads.com
 

Download official Oblivion plug-ins for PC at OblivionDownloads.com

 
 
Soundtrack
 
Morrowind and Oblivion Soundtrack Available through DirectSong
 
The Oblivion and Morrowind soundtracks are now available to buy for the first time anywhere; exclusively through DirectSong.
 
 
Marchandise
 
Visit the New Oblivion Store
 
 
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Art
 
Art
 
Screenshots and concept art for Oblivion, Bloodmoon, Morrowind and Tribunal.
 
 
Downloads
 
Downloads
 
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