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How Bethesda is working with Sony & Microsoft on Starfield & The Elder Scrolls VI for next-gen hardware

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Long-term plans from Bethesda.

With the release of Fallout 76 this week, Bethesda still has a few titles up its sleeve for the 2019 calendar. But looking past next year we had a small tease at E3 of what is on the horizon for Bethesda Game Studios leading into the next generation of consoles.

Stevivor recently spoke to Pete Hines, Senior Vice President – Global Marketing and Communications at Bethesda Softworks, about Starfield and The Elder Scrolls VI. Specifically, designing games for next generation consoles and trying to work within certain hardware specifications from PlayStation and Xbox.

“All of our studios and we as a publisher talk to them a lot about where they are going, where they are headed and what we can expect,” Hines told Stevivor.

“You can shoot for the moon, but if you are literally just shooting for the moon and ignoring everything else then don’t be surprised if you’ve veered wildly off course. You want to shoot for the moon but make sure that at least it’s along the same kind of path that somebody else is doing, because if you’re not – or sort of uniformed and going off into a different direction, you might find yourself all alone. You might find that the degree in which you have to pivot is a pretty big chasm.”

“It can be a little bit of both, but definitely we’re talking to all of these platform partners and figuring out where they are headed. To be honest with you they don’t just come back and go, ‘Oh here are the specs as of today’, they’re not going to do that. But they’ll say, ‘We like where you’re headed’, or, ‘You’re thinking in the same way we are’, whatever sort of vague yes or no they can give us. It’s a little bit of dancing around it but we feel like our teams have a good idea of where they should be heading down the road.”

“It’s not just about next year or the year after, we have studios planning 4 and 5 years out. They need to make sure they are thinking in the right way.”

Our conversation then drifted into talking about deciding when it was the right time to show gameplay, or having to be cautious when showing gameplay for games designed on consoles that aren’t out. You end up with people comparing graphics between the early visuals shown and retail code, something that Ubisoft’s Watch Dogs dealt with. Or even situations where Insomniac Games moved a puddle in Marvel’s Spider-Man and some people lost their minds.

“I actually find that heart-warming,” Hines said. “Somebody mentioned to me the other day – like last week on social media about puddlegate, and I was like, ‘I have no idea what you are talking about, what exactly are you talking about?’. They explained it to me and I was like, ‘Holy crap’.”

“I really enjoy watching somebody else having to deal with that, and looking at that and go, ‘Yeah games in development change all the time’. It changes a hundred different times in a hundred different ways. You just don’t make games where you are constantly doing things and then it is done and don’t touch them again.”

The more transparent you get the more you are also likely to run into that phenomenon which is you change things and then people freak out. ‘You changed it, the puddles look different’, yeah well a lot shit is different – the combat works different, the UI is different, the controllers are different – you will waste a lot of energy if you are constantly running back to everybody telling them every time you make a change. In part because you change something and then, make a change to the change that you made – it is just never ending, non-stop. And if you run back to tell them, ‘By the way we changed this again’, then that is all you will ever do. They have no context, they are not playing it so they wouldn’t know whether it is good, bad or indifferent.”

“It was amusing at the least to watch somebody else having to deal with that, and not being me for once,” Hines joked.

We’ll have more on Starfield and The Elder Scrolls 6 as it’s made available.