Source: Gamestar Magazine, March 2005, from the DVD interview at Bethesda
Author: Morganthefay for Waiting4Oblivion
Before I go any further, I thought it prudent to mention this. This is a written version of the video interview, made by the Gamestar editors at Bethesda Softworks, USA. I will be going into as much detail as I can, bar writing EVERY single word down for you to read! I will add quotes direct from what is said, here and there, but I will mainly be describing what is shown on the DVD regarding the CS and its functions (as far as we can tell!)
Up to now, the info regarding the CS (Construction Set) has been sketchy at best, but in this video, we can actually see parts of it in action! There are several talk-throughs within the interview with several Bethesda staff, outlining specific areas of interest. I am sure in the future all will be able to see this video, but until then, I will endeavour to be your eyes, and fill you in with as much info as I can!
BTW I am only doing a write-up of the English parts of the interview (which is the important stuff anyway!) as I do not speak German! For your info, the parts that ARE in German are brief intros/summary ending of the video, and the main meat of the video IS in English! So I do not think much is being lost in these parts being omitted!) ENJOY!
Firstly I would like to thank Gamestar for doing an interview in the first place! Roland Austinat took the actual time to "go-to-the-Den of Bethesda in Maryland/USA". Glad to see some initiative there!
The start of the video is a talk by Todd Howard (Executive Producer). He states he has been in Bethesda for 11 years working on the elderscrolls and the Terminator games (news to me!)
He describes that they are always struggling with giving us size in the game, while having a lot in it and happening in it. Solution? We are going to get directions (saying "you are succeeding / on the right track / what you should be doing").
We can still have the option of not following these, and still do the "find your own fun" route. This time they are hopefully going to cater for experienced and non-experienced RPG players. i.e. those that that need /want prompts. (I see that this may be an optional function to OB) Todd is hoping that it is a better way in melding the two approaches than before.
NPCs (non Player Characters)
Most of them are in various factions. We are told that quests you do/who you join and what crimes you do! Todd starts cracking jokes about most people will starting killing people/townsfolk) if they are given a weapon! As a 9/10 reaction, that is what we would do in games like this. Most characters will now dislike the player if he/she has done bad things!
The NPCs have jobs/go places/eat/pray/sleep/talk to each other, which means more life in the game, but this has had given Bethesda it's own set of problems! They can go off killing each other! Buying all the stuff from the stores! So they have had to watch what happens and sort it out on the go!
The game is still at heart from Arena and on, "dungeon hackfest"! (I.e. all the extra stuff is fine, but it is basically a dungeon with creatures, and it needs to be made as fun as possible. The "other stuff" is described as "gravy"! The main experience is "hacking through a dungeon anyway you want (sword/magic/stealth) to get treasure and getting more powerful!"
We now get to the interesting parts where the other Developers show us around selected parts of the CS!
Noah Berry (Environments Artist) - section on creating land/trees in the CS!
Noah talks us through creating environments with the CS, while using his CS on the Video! (We can see actual CS footage here!) He tells us that in a scene in the render window (basically a hillside scene with trees/shrubs/grass and rocks) , all the objects drawn in are added in through the "Region Generator List" (this apparently can place them in the area in a seemingly random method. You will still be able to go in and manipulate location and such manually like in MWD. And having control over painting and vertex colouring. We are told that this allows them to place a lot of objects very quickly, and keeping it possible to go in and make it look realistic and "organic"!
(Here, I would like to add in a few observations on the CS screens!) Firstly, the render screen looks like we can blow it up to a much bigger (full screen size) for ease of viewing. The windows for working from the CS are moveable around the screen, but there is always a reference button to them in the toolbar along the top. So even though in the MWD CS you could move windows around, they would hide the view of each other, and not be useably overlappable. There is also a clear view of part of a "cell map" window, which clearly can be manipulated in many ways! Firstly the cell map itself can be scrolled along, thus providing a more magnified view of the different cell in the grid. This is a big improvement on the small "retro-feel" Paint Region box we have in MWD!
We have many TABS visible in the one for the "region generator" window. I will note the ones I can make out!
Objects (more) Weather/map/landscape/grass/sound
The addition of tabs of weather/grass/and sound, intrigue me more, as this implies we have much more control over the environment than in MWD! There are coloured in cells in the map, (with a larger range of graded/usable colours!) Some areas have sort of singular contour line/boundary line drawn out on top of the cell grids, in several areas. As I am coming back in to this write up to ensure I have not missed anything, something has struck me as an added extra to the CS Region map system. I have a feeling that this detailed cell (coloured box) map, MIGHT be on the smaller scale. I.e. we have more cells to the current BIGGER cell size in MWD. This would give modders greater flexibility to change things on a finer scale IF this is what is shown here! Note there is no scale on the cell map (which I think we should have!) so I can not be sure, but only throw the possiblity out to you all!
There is also a generated object box with a list of objects being used in the area. They give entries like:
The textures used in the CS were muted compared to some of the current screenshots, but that is only to be expected. I would expect some "holding/WIPE" textures for the land/stones etc. Notably are the lovely trees that Noah is putting in! They look BETTER than the speedtree demos! He is blending a whole HEAP of different colours/shapes/textures into the leaves and trees! Even as he was panning around in the render window, I could not make out anything that jumped out and said "I am a copy of my neighbour".
Matt Carofano (lead Artist): - on Imperial City scenes in the CS
First up, is a brief description of the overall map of this city on the PC screen behind him! We basically have a large island with a central walled in circular city, with 4 smaller islands off the main one, also with smaller walled settlements. It looks like there may be bridges connecting them to the main "hub" island.
This the Imperial Capital City of the Province (Cyrodiil!)(We zoom into a PC screen with a Birdseye view of the city in 3D. At the moment it looks like a concept art drawing, in muted blue/grey/greens. Until he starts moving the camera around and you can then see the detail is excellent! There appears to be a new small, mouse cursor of an acute vertical oval, superimposed over an acute horizontal oval. On the screen, which seems to interact with a yellow "tool circle". As this is moved within the larger, yellow circle, the camera view moves with it to reflect the direction it was moved to!
There appears to be a sort of "click and drag" movement with this tool. Looks like it might be more fun and easier to use than the current easy to move the camera around! All the movement is done within the yellow circle, combined with probably a zoom in/out hot key. Very nice!)
The actual scene appears to have a Romanesque feel to it. We have tall, domed buildings, and circular plazas with circular monuments, which are pillared with a top circle in stone (These are open structures). Also it appears that the name of the "object" highlighted by the icon is labelled on the screen by it too. The overall layout of the city streets/houses seems to be on a circular theme. Spokes of a wheel spring to mind! The main streets are curved around to follow the curve of the outer main wall of the city (bit like the Crescents of Bath/Glos/UK).
Now I am not sure if we are also going to get this feature in the packaged CS, but he was able to drag over the render window of the 3D city, a drawn map of the area he was making!
Istovan Pely (Senior Artist) Talks about the dungeons
We see a similar sort of dungeon camera view that you get in the current CS, and we are shown that the Max pieces are "snapping together" but these are in much more detail.
The lighting can be turned on or off. (I.e. turn it into a sort of 3D negative with all the walls ghosted in as well!) He moves around the dungeon, clicking an dragging stuff around. For some reason his CS does not appear to have the same cursor and yellow manipulation ring to move around the view! Not sure why, and on reflection the stuff with Noah, also did not have this function to roam around the scene. It could be in a different phase of CS development or the functions/tools are modified for the city overviews. There does still appear to be a click and drag the screen around element to moving around the area.
Istovan talks about interactive elements in this dungeon such as traps. One is shown suspended in a ceiling square in the form of spikes pointing down and that the player would come in and set off the trap when you walk onto the centre of the floor square below the trap, and this will force you up into the spikes! The dungeon pieces I can see in this part, are all angular, and structural with pillars and arches. More of a "crypt" make up than a rough-hewn dungeon. They may also be in, but not in this demo!
Also of note is the actual shading/shininess of the stone floors and walls. It gives you a good idea how the light is going to reflect of surfaces in game
Christiane Meister (lead Character Animator): - character creation/manipulation in the CS!
(Before I go into what Christiane shows us I thought it would be nice to mention that while she is introducing herself, in the background on one of her PC screens she has a VERY nice shot of a light brown horse! It is a frontal head shot with a full mane and lovely eyes! Now it "could" be just a screensaver, but as we know horses are in, it could be that Christiane worked on the horse/this is a horse concept art/in game shot! I let you carry on the speculation!)
She starts by diving straight into a character creation window in the CS This might interest a LOT of you. Here is what I can make out of the different elements to the window that she has up! Firstly, we have the tab "face Gen. data" showing just a close up of the face (no hair) of an imperial male.
We have two click box areas.
- "Control type" and gives us an either/or of two options:
- Symmetry type
Below this is a scrollable list of different parts of the face to move about. (Yes you read right! MOVE ABOUT!) we have entries like:
- Cheekbones: low/high
- Cheekbones: shallow/pronounced
- Cheek: round/ gaunt
Also to the left is a scalable bar which although she does not show us in action, I would assume you can click on the relevant face- part and manipulate, +/- from the norm 0. We also have a "create Face" and "reset Face" button too. Christiane then astounds us all, by physically clicking on any point on the face and dragging it about! As she had the "symmetry" selected, if she dragged the nostril around, it would also drag the nostril on the other side. (So by deduction, I would say having "Asymmetry" checked would enable you to manipulate only one side of the face!!!)
I LOVE THIS BIT OF THE VIDEO!
Other things to glean from this part of the CS are: The other tabs across the top of the window. We have:
- General Data
- Body data
- Face data
- "FaceGen Data" (as described above)
- Text data? (Could this be where we link the voice to race?)
The entry of Reactions as a tab is quite interesting. I am hoping that we hear more on this part in the future! This is another bit that will get you jumping up and down!!! To the far left of this window we have the list of races!!!
There are 11 to date on this list!!
I have just heard your jaws drop collectively on the Floor when you saw number 4... DEMORA/ DEREK!!!!!! "Yahoo! Another playable race!" I hear you all cry!
(Note from the editor: Sorry if I'm being a party pooper here, but this might just as well mean that some monsters (Demora? Dremora? have more variable faces, too...)
Now number 4 was entered in red type on the CS screen (as apposed to the black text in the rest of the list). All of the other race names are named the same in both columns (but this one is not!). Also I will state here and now I have not misspelt the entry. It does indeed say Demora, not Dremora (the derek entry is anyone's guess! And yes it is up there staring with a 'de' not 'DE'!).
As far as I can see there is NO mention of Demoras in the past games, but we do have Dremoras (from the Oblivion Realms!) so it is highly possible that this IS supposed to be Dremora and Christiane has miss- spelt it on her character race list!!(Naughty girl!) So as well as knowing we have a new race, ALL of the others appear to be in, as playable classes!
Really good news for the Khajits/Argonians/orcs out there!
I think it is also worth noting here that the interface with the CS seems to be a bit more user friendly route-wise. Think of the file trees that you use to find a file on your PC, in windows. With the +/- boxes to expand/ minimise the list. I can see something on the far left, almost cut off by the camera view. The list of entries can be read as:
All entries with a * are spaces that can not be seen.
The way this is laid out, and some are bold, makes me think the +/- system is in place with this list. This is most definitely a departure from the current CS screens.
Next CS face Gen window!
Christiane goes onto another CS screen, which this time has a female Dunmer head in the preview window, with medium length white hair. We are told we can scroll through CS created faces combinations here too. This window appears to be separate from the other Race window. I think this is more specific to a particular NPCs settings. As it is allowing you to change several factors that affect the overall look of the face.
These are slider bars for:
- Hair length
So we should be able to play around with quite a few settings and get completely different looks. Christiane demonstrates actually doing that too, i.e., making the skin lighter, her younger/older.(the interview stops JUST as she was about to show off the Hair slider! DAMN! I am really intrigued as to how the hair length one will work!) On the bottom of the window there is a checkbox for "eyes" so it looks like we can change the eyes themselves too! Next to it is another checkbox which is partially out of the camerashot. BUT I can make out an option of "Style" selected. This could very well be a hair style selection box, which would make sense.
The TABS on the top are also interesting in their presence! We have:
- **actions (factions or reactions?)
- Spell list
- Face(the one we are shown!)
I like the fact we have a separate tab for animation of a character, as it is possible we have some flexibility over the types of animations we can use! Speculation?.. yes farfetched? No! Given the ability we seem to have to play with things like the face/age and such...
We then have a brief summary (in German!) from the editor of the mag.(sorry again ! NO DO GERMAN!) But I think you will agree I have given you enough to chew over for a while!
(Note from editor: it's just blah blah anyway, you didn't miss much :))
ENJOY MY INFOFEST!