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The Elder Scrolls IV: Shivering Isles Preview
publisher: Bethesda Softworks
developer: Bethesda Softworks
PIV 2000, 512MB RAM, 4.6GB HDD, 128MB video card
|ESRB rating: M
release date: Mar 26, 07 (released)
|» All About The Elder Scrolls IV: Shivering Isles on ActionTrip|
We got in touch with the nice folks over at Bethesda to ask them about their latest project, The Elder Scrolls IV: Shivering Isles. The highly anticipated add-on for last year's incredibly popular RPG is a perfect opportunity for the development team to improve upon the immense world which they have created. Mark Nelson, Lead Designer for Shivering Isles, expressed his thoughts on the subject and talks a bit about the company's efforts towards making a worthy expansion pack.
Yeah gold is awesome, but I think you overdid it.
Come and say 'hello' to my sword.
ActionTrip: It took you a long time to create The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, but in the end it won the hearts of many gamers. How does it feel working on such a hugely admired project?
Mark Nelson: There's a tremendous sense of accomplishment and pride that comes from working on a game that has been so widely praised and received so many accolades. It's also a bit daunting, as you have to constantly ask yourself, "What can we do now to make an even better game?"
ActionTrip: When did you first start working on Shivering Isles?
Mark Nelson: We began work on the expansion soon after the release of Oblivion.
ActionTrip: I seem to recall that Elder Scrolls III add-ons (both Tribunal and Bloodmoon) were quite challenging. You needed to achieve a certain level before you can measure up to the new foes. Is the development team following the same principals with Shivering Isles?
Mark Nelson: Not exactly. The Shivering Isles material doesn't require that the player be high-level at all. It's completely approachable for any level character. In general, though, the quests are longer and more complex, and experienced players will probably have a slight edge when it comes to completing them.
ActionTrip: What are the main things you felt were missing in Oblivion? Are we going to see any of that in the expansion pack?
Mark Nelson: Because of the sheer scope of Oblivion, and the number of NPCs involved, I never felt like we had the chance to really develop enough of them, to give them all stories and a real place in the world. With the Shivering Isles, we are working with a much smaller group, and it's really allowed us to develop them more fully. I think it makes the world a more interesting and believable place.
ActionTrip: Oblivion's striking visuals, unfortunately, are sometimes simply too much for modest rigs. Is your team working on certain technical improvements to make sure the original is even more enjoyable?
Mark Nelson: There's always an ongoing process of bug-fixing and optimization to the game, but we're not going to attempt to change the core game to run on slower systems.
ActionTrip: Are you satisfied with the AI in Oblivion, or do you feel it needs further improvements?
Mark Nelson: I don't know that it's ever possible to be completely satisfied with the AI (or any other game system, for that matter). While it was a step in the right direction, AI in all games, not just Oblivion, has a long way to go.
ActionTrip: For those unacquainted with Sheogorath, give us a few details on the backstory.
Mark Nelson: Sheogorath is the Daedric Prince of Madness, one of the incredibly powerful beings in the Elder Scrolls pantheon. When the player encounters him, Sheogorath is in search of a champion-there is an impending threat to his realm, and (because of the nature of the threat) he needs a mortal's help. The player will need to rise in the ranks of the Court of Madness in order to earn the respect of the citizens of the Shivering Isles and eventually repel the threat.
ActionTrip: Where exactly is the Realm of Sheogorath? How will players be able to reach it?
Mark Nelson: The Shivering Isles are another plane of Oblivion, which comprises many realms ruled by the Daedric Princes. Just as players were able to visit Mehrunes Dagon's realm in the core game, they'll be able to explore the realm of Sheogorath in the expansion. Player's will enter the realm by way of a special gate that has appeared in Cyrodiil.
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