General:Craig Lafferty Interview
In 2011, the French Elder Scrolls site Wiwiland celebrated the 10th anniversary of its lore wiki by interviewing developers of Elder Scrolls games and organizing contests for forum members. Interviews were done by ELOdry and published translated in French. The following is a retranslation into English.
Craig Lafferty is Skyrim's lead producer. He also worked on Oblivion and Fallout 3. Very busy (he was intercepted just before the E3 kick-off), he nevertheless agreed to answer ten of our questions. Not one more, not one less. Timer on!
Oblivion's gameplay, a darker Morrowind style universe, and even features we haven't seen since Daggerfall: Skyrim has a little bit of a "best of" side to it. You wanted to go back to the roots?
Every episode is a new beginning. We're not trying to take the best features from previous games, just trying to make the best game possible. Inevitably, there are a lot of features from previous games that you end up taking back, because they worked well and you want to use them again.
A lot of players would have been fully satisfied with an Oblivion 2, without much novelty. Yet you chose to overturn some of the fundamentals of the series.
I think anyone who would expect an Oblivion 2 would be more than satisfied with what they'll find in Skyrim. Of course it's not a direct sequel: TES games are self-contaied works every time. But it is a direct continuation of the series. The heart of the gameplay takes what players loved in Oblivion, with plenty of improvements and fixes to make the experience even better.
It feels like the TES is trying to offer an ever more "cinematic" narrative...
From episode to episode, our technologies get more refined and our artists and designers gain more experience, so yes, we can create more cinematic experiences.
The main characteristic of IOTs is the size of the world. Isn't it too hard to reconcile a strong narrative with such a vast world?
You're right, it can sometimes be difficult to try to reconcile the gigantic size of the world with a strong narrative. This is one of the aspects that the Radiant Story should improve, allowing the "how/when/where" factors to be more dynamic. This is the tool that helps our designers make the quests. Thanks to it, we can make each player's experience totally unique, using their past actions to modify quests accordingly.
Despite their success, IOTs have never really been copied. What makes them so unique?
We're fortunate to have a core group of developers who have been working on Elder Scrolls for 10 years or more, and who are still with us today. With each project, they master the art of making games like this even better, and also learn to work better and better as a team.
The setting of TES is so rich, you must have some kind of "bible" to refer to?
The members of our design team have been working on the series since the beginning, so they have a huge knowledge of it.
Do you already know what the next games in the series will be about?
We have a "timeline", but we don't anticipate what each game will tell.
When will Skyrim take place, exactly? What has changed since Oblivion, and who rules over the Empire?
Oblivion marked the end of the Third Age, and Skyrim takes place 200 years later. So the game begins in 4E201. There hasn't been any great technological evolution: don't expect to see guns or steam engines (editor's note: even dwemer?). And it is now the Mede dynasty that reigns over the Empire.
Can we expect to learn more about an unknown race, like in Morrowind's time with the Dwemer? We would like to know more about the Sloads, the inhabitants of Atmora, the Dragons and their links with Akavir, etc...
Some unknown aspects of the background are developed, but not the Sloads, nor Atmora. And concerning the origin of the dragons, this is part of the mystery.
The Elder Scrolls are supposed to tell the story of the 3rd Era. They are still present in the title of the game: will they be ingame as well?
I can't talk about that yet, but you should know that the Elder Scrolls transcend the ages.