Bethesda’s top creative mind, Todd Howard, is currently overseeing development on Fallout 76 and new IP Starfield, as well as many other titles. He’s not on social media, and the company tends to play it cards close to its chest, so it’s rare for him to speak at length pin public.
Last week at Gamelab Barcelona though, the director and executive producer at Bethesda Game Studios, spoke to Geoff Keighley about his career and current projects. Transcription of the interview comes from Gamesbeat’s Dean Takahashi.
Howard discussed the new IP Starfield, announced at E3, which as Keighley points out is the first entirely new IP that the team has worked on, with Howard replying: “I’m excited a lot. I’m very excitable,” adding though that “even with our other games, we always want to do something new.”
“There is no previous anything, whether we created it or not. That’s the part where our ideas were just all over the map. Maybe? Yes? No? Definitely not? Yes! It took us a while to get that cohesive sense of what Starfield is. Now that project is off and running in a good way. That was also why we felt good announcing it.”
He then expanded on that point to talk about franchises and sequels:
“I like to stay from what I call 'plus one sequels'. I enjoy playing plus one sequels, as a player. I don’t enjoy making them as much. A game that’s just the last game with a little extra. Fallout 76 is a very different Fallout game. We’re very aware of that. We think a lot of people will like it, because we like it. But a lot of people probably won’t. We need to balance that. This is an idea we have, and there’s a lot of old Fallout stuff in it, but it’s a very new experience.”
They then discussed how both Fallout and Elder Scrolls were inherited from other studios. With Howard noting that the team has a huge steer on the direction of the franchise from there on in. “Elder Scrolls, when we started, it was a very generic fantasy. It had its parts. We pushed it to have more of its own unique identify. We’re proud of the work everyone did there.”
Before going on to talk about Fallout: “Fallout, again, we’re not the original creators. All credit goes to Tim Cain and Leonard Boyarsky and all the people at Interplay that did that game. We loved it, though. That was something where we felt we could do something special with that. But it goes through our filter. We did make it our own. I’d say it this way. Whenever we do a game, whether it’s one we made, or looking at Fallout, we’re going back and looking at that and reinterpreting it. Even if we did it. When it comes to Elder Scrolls VI, you’re looking at Skyrim and Oblivion — I replay all the old games. How do we want it to feel this time?”
There’s an interesting lesson in that, that while franchises have to look forward and change significantly from version-to-version, there’s should always be time taken to look back at what’s come before to see why the game was popular in the first place and how that should inform your current efforts. Howard even says that he reads reviews from