Todd Howard, the director and executive producer of Bethesda Game Studios shared his top ten career achievements in a new Wired interview. Howard shared some interesting titbits and career challenges starting with his first game in 1995 – to his newest IP in almost 30 years, Starfield.
There’s something truly captivating about the man behind our favourite video games. He always seems to find a way to win you over, and almost make you forget the egregious mistakes Bethesda has made over the years. We’re looking at you Fallout 76.
This latest Wired interview is no exception. Honestly, the man has maxed out his Charisma and Speech stats. In the interview, Howard reveals every game that he has worked on since 1995.
His first job was as level designer on The Terminator: Future Shock. Howard noted that during those days, teams were incredibly small at around ten to a maximum of 12 people tops. This meant that everybody had to do a lot of different things. He was therefore responsible for programming, producing, and sound effects.
“What people don’t know about this game, it’s one of the first full 3D shooters. Where you look at controls today with mouse look controls and using WSAD. This is the first PC game to ever do it.” Howard explained.
Road to success
One thing is for certain, Bethesda is not afraid to take huge leaps of faith, especially when it comes to innovating in the space. Howard goes on to explain that after the poorly-received The Elder Scrolls Adventures: Redguard, Bethesda was struggling financially. The studio was then forced to take a step back and re-evaluate what it needed to do going forward. Enter: The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind.
“We probably have one more shot if we’re gonna stay in business, so let’s go all in.” Howard recalls. “The company was kind of sold to ZeniMax Media, a new company, and reformed around that. The decision came down, we’re gonna have one team, it’s gonna be under Todd and we’re gonna do ‘Morrowind.’ We aimed very high.”
We all know that Morrowind became a huge success for the team. Howard also shared that a big part of its success was owed to the first Xbox console. It became the second best selling video game on Xbox, only beaten by Halo. Bethesda had found a winning formula, and it shaped how the team approached video game design in future titles.
Thereafter, he reveals some secrets and challenges behind the development of these games starting with Oblivion and ending with Skyrim. He goes in depth explaining the creation of the Radiant AI system, the design ethos behind its open world and quests, and the ever evolving Creation engine. Not without credit, he also admits his failures. One such game was Fallout 76.
All in all, it is a rare and candid glimpse into the mind and work of one of the most influential and respected game developers in the industry, and a must-watch for any fan of Bethesda’s games.