General: Greg Gorden Interview

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This interview, conducted at the end of 2004 by ElderScrolls.Net, asked Greg Gorden about the development of Shadowkey. Courtesy of ESN (source).

ESN: Hello Mr. Gorden. Please introduce yourself to our readers, and if you don't mind tell us a bit about previous projects you were working on and your current ones.

Greg: Hello ESN. I have been a game designer for close to 25 years, designing table-top RPGs (DC Heroes, Earthdawn, Torg) , collectible card games (Killer Instinct), board games, mobile games spanning the gamut from SMS games (LegendQuest, Battle of the Sexes) to Shadowkey, plus some small internet games.

ESN: As a game designer, what was your role, your responsibilites and goals during the development process?

Greg: I was responsible for coordinating the creative side of the project: the writing, the art, the music. I submitted the story to Todd Howard for approval. Once I had the thumbs up, I wrote the story segments, the quests, and designed the levels, monsters, items and spells and the game mechanics to resolve them.

ESN: How much's been done of what's been initially planned? Were there any sacrifices and cut-outs in the game for the sake of optimization and the lack of time?

Greg: A lot less was cut out then I thought would have to be. Two small bonus levels were removed, and the monster and item count had to be reduced on some levels. A few quests had to be shortened, but I guess close to 90% of the original design made it to the final game. Every spell, monster and story character made it in.

ESN: The game looks and plays great, giving the player the feel of playing an Elder Scrolls game. How hard it was to achieve that on a mobile device?

Greg: *laughs* It was a .... tad difficult. The 3D engine was new, the multiplayer functionality was new, and many features remained to be tested long after the design was finished. It is a testament to TKO that they developed technical solutions to realize the vast majority of the design.

ESN: What's the future of the Elder Scrolls Travels games? Perhaps, is there a chance of seeing another TEST game on Nokia N-gage? Or any other platforms, like Sony PSP?

Greg: There are plans, but I am obligated to keep them secret for now. You can bet that forum readers will be the first to know.

ESN: Were there any funny or interesting stories/situations you can share with us during the development of the game?

Greg: I would get in such trouble if I I hope to be working with these folks again. :-)

ESN: How many people were developing the game and how did long it take to finish it overall?

Greg: We started with four people, we reached a maximum of 50, including all the localization teams. Start to finish the game took about nine months.

ESN: Do you play any computer games and if you do what is you favourite one?

Greg: Since I have been sick, I have been sampling several titles. My current favorite RPG is Encore's Sacred, simply because the RPG makes everything you find useful in some way. PS2, I like the humor in Bards Tale.

ESN: What about the Elder Scrolls? Where did you learned about the series, what was the first TES game you played, what are your favourite ones and why?

Greg: I met ES through Daggerfall, which is probably my favorite simply because it opened my eyes to possibilities of massive computer RPGs.

ESN: What is your favourite monster, weapon or game moment in Shadowkey and why?

Greg: I don't want to give away plot elements, but my favorite moment when testing was getting rid of a certain villain for the final time.

ESN: What have your heard and think about Russian Game Industry and Russian game developer companies?

Greg: I am woefully ignorant of the Russian Game Industry,which is usually presented to me as a technically excellent 'white label' studio for an American management team. If you can point out to me examples of Russian games localized for the US, I would really appreciate it. I need to become more familar with Russian work.

ESN: Thanks a lot for answering the questions and we hope to see another TES Travels game from you in the near future :)