Bethesda

Vice President of Bethesda Softworks, Pete Hines, has gone into detail about why game studios need to evolve.

Hines praised Ikumi Nakamura, the creative director behind Ghostwire: Tokyo, saying she worked hard to learn English to present her game, as she felt that her personality would be lost with a translator. Having the creative leads behind the project present the game is part of Bethesda’s new philosophy of openness, which has been partially inspired by the response to Fallout: 76.

As Hines puts it, Nakamura represented a huge shift for the company as they have needed to tackle a cultural and logistical challenge. Meetings between studios would have to be carefully scheduled across time zones and, while cultural significance is important, the overall product still needed to fit within the Bethesda umbrella. Hines also explained that while studios are free to pitch ideas, the teams do not have total creative control as Bethesda can— and does—step in to ensure the game aligns with Bethesda’s style.

In a rather shocking statement, Hines explains that nothing is sacred and the company is willing to strip a project back to the drawing board to make it better overall. An example Hines uses is Oblivion where the team was prepared to completely abandon Morrowind’s mechanics to make it better.

Part of the reason behind the “nothing is sacred” mentality is the goal to keep evolving with the times to avoid games (particularly ones in a series) from becoming too repetitive. While this may be slightly ironic considering the publisher has released Skyrim four different times, this new approach seems to be turning heads, as evidenced by DOOM Eternal and Wolfenstein: Youngblood.

The focus behind the DOOM sequel was to double down on what the fans loved about the previous game by pushing for more demons while making DOOM Guy faster and more aggressive. Even Wolfenstein: Youngblood started as a way to refresh the story mode by introducing BJ’s twin daughters. Originally, one of the twins was simply an NPC that would assist the player; not until much later did the idea to make the other sister playable in co-op spring to life.

This new direction may have been influenced by the backlash against Fallout 76. However, Hines sees the feedback as a unique learning curve. The way Bethesda will be more open with the gaming community, regarding live titles such as 76, is to increase the company’s communication whether that be via more detailed patch notes or by sharing the planned roadmap.

While Bethesda has had a rough patch in the eyes of gamers, the publisher is clearly attempting to make amends by listening to that feedback and acting on it.

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Richard Flint
Part of the UK team, Richard enjoys a bit of everything. From covering news, to meeting up with devs at events, Rich has done it all and loves every minute of it. No task is too big or too small and each new opportunity is a chance to grow as writer.

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    4 Comments

    1. This studio is evolving in a direction that is completely antagonistic to the consumers. Todd Howard sounded absolutely disgusted when he spoke of Skyrim as a game that they just sell to people who play it and there is no further ‘engagement’ with the player base… like that’s a terrible thing. If you don’t want to believe that the next Elder Scrolls and Starfield will be heavily monetized, look at the details for Youngblood and think again.

      1. I’m definitely concerned that TESVI or Starfield might take a model where BGS rolls out new missions regularly (even if for free) rather than just having everything on the disc (download?) on day one, but content to wait for more details.

        What details are you talking about with Youngblood? All I’ve seen is that there are going to be cosmetic microtransactions, which has no impact whatsoever on the gameplay.

        1. Apparently there was some miscommunication between the journalist doing the interview and the Bethesda dev who misunderstood or misinterpreted the question, so they have since corrected the article. And if you missed the Wolfenstein team putting out the tweet comparing gaming press to the Reich and spreading misinformation, then you missed out on some spicy drama.

          Still, I feel like trust in Bethesda is at an all time low. In E3, they spent at least 15 minutes on their incredibly predatory Blades mobile game while at the same time insisting that it provides the authentic ES experience. Not sure about that.

          1. Ah, well… miscommunication is easy. Too bad it gets so virulent sometimes.
            You’re right that Bethesda’s not exactly inspiring confidence, though. Not after Fallout 76 and Blades. Here’s hoping they can turn it around.

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