Development of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion - Production and Design - Design Goals

Design Goals

The team's goal then was, in the words of Todd Howard, to "create the quintessential RPG of the next generation", with a focus on a "combination of freeform gameplay and cutting-edge graphics." Producing for next generation machines, rather than a cheap upgrade, gave Bethesda an additional four years of development. Howard describes this as an aspect of Bethesda's greater goal of "Reinvention", where the team's goal is to make "a new game that stands on its own, that has its own identity". Howard spoke of the need to avoid repetition, to avoid merely adding "some new features and content, and keep doing that", describing that path as "a good way to drive your games into the ground." Bethesda, Howard stated, would focus instead on recapturing what made its past titles exciting "in the first place".

Keeping with the spirit of past games, Howard promised to keep with the spirit of "big-world, do-anything"-style games, feeling that a certain size and number of choices were needed to make role-playing feel "meaningful"; but now there was to be greater emphasis on keeping the game focused. Pete Hines saw the developments between games as less an issue of design focus and more as a "natural side effect of improving and refining how the game works". If smart decisions were made, ease of play would naturally follow. Oblivion would include fewer NPCs and quests than Morrowind, and mindless filler, which Howard felt the team had been guilty of in the past, would be avoided. In exchange, Producer Gavin Carter later explained, there would be greater focus on length and depth in the quests, adding more "alternate paths", more characters "to connect with, who actually have personalities". Carter cast negative aspersions on aspects of gameplay too far removed from the game's central plot. Carter stated that such material was not needed, preferring instead that the focus be on the plot, on "fighting these demon lords", and that further material is "tertiary" and "takes away".

The role of the player character in the main quest was to be changed as well. In contrast to past games, where the player character would play a type of "chosen one", Oblivion would have the player character "find him, protect him, and help him." Aside from that, in the opinion of Hines, "the main quest has similar themes and tones as in past Elder Scrolls games", and should still feel "epic", simply because of the way the gamespace is designed: with openness in mind. Improving that aspect of the experience, said Hines, came mostly in the form of improved information presentation. The system would not intrude on the experience when the player merely wishes to "walk around and explore the world and do whatever he/she wants", but given the scenario where the player asks "'OK, I'm ready to do the next part of the main quest, where do I go?'", the game would provide a ready answer, so as to avoid "confusion" and "downtime".

Read more about this topic:  Development Of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, Production and Design

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