Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in
Your question

Washington Post on The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion

Last response: in Video Games
Share
August 16, 2005 2:08:48 AM

Archived from groups: alt.games.video.xbox,comp.sys.ibm.pc.games.rpg,microsoft.public.xbox,microsoft.public.xbox.games,uk.games.video.xbox (More info?)

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/20... of the Dark and Into the SpotlightFrom Basement Operation in Rockville, Video Game Maker Finds Its Way to FameBy Mike MusgroveWashington Post Staff WriterMonday, August 15, 2005; Page D01It's crunch time at the local offices of video game maker BethesdaSoftworks. A team of 70 programmers, designers, artists and bug testers isspending long hours to get its upcoming game ready for the launch this fallof Microsoft's Xbox 360 game console.Up against huge competitors in the cutthroat gaming industry, BethesdaSoftworks, founded in 1986, is a long-shot survivor. The little outfit hasquietly built a solid following in the video game industry, and its upcoming"The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion" is a sword-and-sorcery epic that couldlaunch it into the big-time.Bethesda Softworks LLC ( http://www.bethsoft.com/ ) and its parent company,ZeniMax Media Inc., have gone through their share of turmoil. Bethesdanearly went bankrupt in the late 1990s and later faced a lawsuit from itsfounder, Christopher Weaver, who was squeezed out of the company three yearsago.But even though the company's board features a high-powered team of mediaindustry players -- such as CBS chief Leslie Moonves and Robert S. Trump,brother of the Donald and president of Trump Management Inc. -- thecompany's success or failure hangs chiefly on the ability of a group of gameaddicts in their twenties and thirties to crank out a cool product."The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion" is the company's most ambitious title,three years in the making. Appropriately enough, perhaps, the gamemakers'offices are in a basement in Rockville that is as dark as a dungeon: Drop apen on the floor, and it might as well be gone forever."Every time we try to turn the lights up, they say, 'Turn 'em down!' " saidRobert A. Altman, chief executive and chairman of ZeniMax."That's the way those guys prefer to work down there," said Altman, aprominent Washington lawyer well known both because of his stature inDemocratic circles and his role in the BCCI bank scandal of the early 1990s,in which he was acquitted of all charges.The offices "down there" are a cross between a typical corporate cubiclefarm and a game-geek playground. Action figures, comic books and video gamesare on the shelves. In some cubicles, artists fill pages with sketches ofmonsters that might populate upcoming games; in others, animators arepolishing some of Oblivion's cinematic fight scenes.When Executive Producer Todd Howard started working for Bethesda 11 yearsago, it was strictly a mom and pop outfit. His desk was in an unheated partof the building used as a warehouse; during the winter, programmers had toput space heaters under their desks to keep warm. When a game was finished,"I used to be down here packing boxes," he said.With the new Xbox scheduled for a November release, Howard has more to worryabout than postage. Neither ZeniMax nor Bethesda would put a figure on howmuch the game is costing to make, but Howard is at the helm of a projectwith a budget clearly worth several millions of dollars. With the currentgeneration of game consoles, budgets for cutting-edge titles surged past the$10 million mark and are now frequently in the neighborhood of $20 million.For the investment, Oblivion will feature 50 hours of game dialogue and1,000 characters -- one featuring the voice of actor Patrick Stewart, theman celebrated in geekdom as Captain Picard of "Star Trek: The NextGeneration." The game's action takes place in 16 square miles of playingfield in a virtual forest (complete with 200 dungeons strewn about).To make sure soil erosion and geology in the game world looked realistic,the company sent an employee to the University of Maryland to study up onthe topics. With new game systems continually offering deeper degrees ofrealism, it's the sort of attention to detail that players are coming toexpect.Howard said the game is designed for players who want to explore every nookand cranny as well as for those who just want to experience the story line."You're going to save the world in 20 hours," he said, "but this game has200 hours in it."Bethesda has dabbled in many genres, but the company's standing among gamersis built largely upon the 10-year-old Elder Scrolls series. The previousinstallment sold about 4 million copies, counting Xbox and PC versions andtwo subsequent add-on packs that expanded the adventures.David Cole, game industry analyst and president of DFC Intelligence, saidthat Bethesda has a "good reputation" among gamers, though the company hasnot released any titles that have become household names. Role-playinggames, the type that Bethesda is best known for, are the fastest-growinggenre in the industry, he said.Altman said that Bethesda employs just over 100 people and that the staffwill probably double in the next six months as the company gears up to makemore cutting-edge titles. The company's kitchen is out of commission to makeway for the growth; in the works are a sound studio and a "motion-capture"studio, where an actor's movements are recorded before they are translateddigitally into the game world.In development is a sequel to a popular role-playing game called "Fallout,"to which Bethesda recently acquired the rights. The company also has actiongames in the works for Disney's next "Pirates of the Caribbean" movie.The video game industry is dominated by huge, publicly owned publishers suchas Electronic Arts Inc. that release dozens of titles a year. By comparison,Bethesda is tiny and privately held -- and didn't have any major releaseslast year.Bethesda parent ZeniMax was founded in 1999 to make content and technologyfor a new type of interactive television, but the subsequent tech bust madepotential companies wary of new investments in the field, Altman said.ZeniMax's Business Advisory Board is loaded with Democratic Party players ofAltman's acquaintance, including Tony Coelho, Terence R. McAuliffe andformer U.S. senator George J. Mitchell of Maine.Altman came to Bethesda Softworks after meeting founder Weaver in the early'90s. Weaver's wife was an obstetrician-gynecologist whose patients includedAltman's wife, actress Lynda Carter -- former star of the TV show "WonderWoman" and currently featured in "The Dukes of Hazzard" movie.Weaver has not been a part of the company for three years, however; he saidthis week that Altman had essentially kicked him out.Now a visiting scholar at MIT, Weaver says ZeniMax still owes him money fromwhen the company failed to renew his contract. One lawsuit against thecompany has gone nowhere; Weaver said he may pursue an appeal.Altman responded that Weaver's account is "fantasy.""Bethesda Softworks was a financially bankrupt business which ZeniMax Mediaacquired, recapitalized and turned around," he said. "I regret that he isunhappy."But all that corporate back story isn't going to matter much in themarketplace, where gamers will judge the company based on its goods.The early returns are encouraging. GamePro magazine, for example, picked"Oblivion" as one of three top games for Microsoft's Xbox 360, out of dozensof offering including many from larger publishers.
Anonymous
August 16, 2005 4:50:34 PM

Archived from groups: alt.games.video.xbox,comp.sys.ibm.pc.games.rpg,microsoft.public.xbox,microsoft.public.xbox.games,uk.games.video.xbox (More info?)

Proper spacing/paragraphing appreciated.

<Highlander> wrote in message news:JP6dndRrrPoixZzeRVn-jQ@comcast.com...
> http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/20...
> of the Dark and Into the SpotlightFrom Basement Operation in Rockville,
> Video Game Maker Finds Its Way to FameBy Mike MusgroveWashington Post
> Staff WriterMonday, August 15, 2005; Page D01It's crunch time at the local
> offices of video game maker BethesdaSoftworks. A team of 70 programmers,
> designers, artists and bug testers isspending long hours to get its
> upcoming game ready for the launch this fallof Microsoft's Xbox 360 game
> console.Up against huge competitors in the cutthroat gaming industry,
> BethesdaSoftworks, founded in 1986, is a long-shot survivor. The little
> outfit hasquietly built a solid following in the video game industry, and
> its upcoming"The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion" is a sword-and-sorcery epic
> that couldlaunch it into the big-time.Bethesda Softworks LLC (
> http://www.bethsoft.com/ ) and its parent company,ZeniMax Media Inc., have
> gone through their share of turmoil. Bethesdanearly went bankrupt in the
> late 1990s and later faced a lawsuit from itsfounder, Christopher Weaver,
> who was squeezed out of the company three yearsago.But even though the
> company's board features a high-powered team of mediaindustry players --
> such as CBS chief Leslie Moonves and Robert S. Trump,brother of the Donald
> and president of Trump Management Inc. -- thecompany's success or failure
> hangs chiefly on the ability of a group of gameaddicts in their twenties
> and thirties to crank out a cool product."The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion"
> is the company's most ambitious title,three years in the making.
> Appropriately enough, perhaps, the gamemakers'offices are in a basement in
> Rockville that is as dark as a dungeon: Drop apen on the floor, and it
> might as well be gone forever."Every time we try to turn the lights up,
> they say, 'Turn 'em down!' " saidRobert A. Altman, chief executive and
> chairman of ZeniMax."That's the way those guys prefer to work down there,"
> said Altman, aprominent Washington lawyer well known both because of his
> stature inDemocratic circles and his role in the BCCI bank scandal of the
> early 1990s,in which he was acquitted of all charges.The offices "down
> there" are a cross between a typical corporate cubiclefarm and a game-geek
> playground. Action figures, comic books and video gamesare on the shelves.
> In some cubicles, artists fill pages with sketches ofmonsters that might
> populate upcoming games; in others, animators arepolishing some of
> Oblivion's cinematic fight scenes.When Executive Producer Todd Howard
> started working for Bethesda 11 yearsago, it was strictly a mom and pop
> outfit. His desk was in an unheated partof the building used as a
> warehouse; during the winter, programmers had toput space heaters under
> their desks to keep warm. When a game was finished,"I used to be down here
> packing boxes," he said.With the new Xbox scheduled for a November
> release, Howard has more to worryabout than postage. Neither ZeniMax nor
> Bethesda would put a figure on howmuch the game is costing to make, but
> Howard is at the helm of a projectwith a budget clearly worth several
> millions of dollars. With the currentgeneration of game consoles, budgets
> for cutting-edge titles surged past the$10 million mark and are now
> frequently in the neighborhood of $20 million.For the investment, Oblivion
> will feature 50 hours of game dialogue and1,000 characters -- one
> featuring the voice of actor Patrick Stewart, theman celebrated in geekdom
> as Captain Picard of "Star Trek: The NextGeneration." The game's action
> takes place in 16 square miles of playingfield in a virtual forest
> (complete with 200 dungeons strewn about).To make sure soil erosion and
> geology in the game world looked realistic,the company sent an employee to
> the University of Maryland to study up onthe topics. With new game systems
> continually offering deeper degrees ofrealism, it's the sort of attention
> to detail that players are coming toexpect.Howard said the game is
> designed for players who want to explore every nookand cranny as well as
> for those who just want to experience the story line."You're going to save
> the world in 20 hours," he said, "but this game has200 hours in
> it."Bethesda has dabbled in many genres, but the company's standing among
> gamersis built largely upon the 10-year-old Elder Scrolls series. The
> previousinstallment sold about 4 million copies, counting Xbox and PC
> versions andtwo subsequent add-on packs that expanded the adventures.David
> Cole, game industry analyst and president of DFC Intelligence, saidthat
> Bethesda has a "good reputation" among gamers, though the company hasnot
> released any titles that have become household names. Role-playinggames,
> the type that Bethesda is best known for, are the fastest-growinggenre in
> the industry, he said.Altman said that Bethesda employs just over 100
> people and that the staffwill probably double in the next six months as
> the company gears up to makemore cutting-edge titles. The company's
> kitchen is out of commission to makeway for the growth; in the works are a
> sound studio and a "motion-capture"studio, where an actor's movements are
> recorded before they are translateddigitally into the game world.In
> development is a sequel to a popular role-playing game called "Fallout,"to
> which Bethesda recently acquired the rights. The company also has
> actiongames in the works for Disney's next "Pirates of the Caribbean"
> movie.The video game industry is dominated by huge, publicly owned
> publishers suchas Electronic Arts Inc. that release dozens of titles a
> year. By comparison,Bethesda is tiny and privately held -- and didn't have
> any major releaseslast year.Bethesda parent ZeniMax was founded in 1999 to
> make content and technologyfor a new type of interactive television, but
> the subsequent tech bust madepotential companies wary of new investments
> in the field, Altman said.ZeniMax's Business Advisory Board is loaded with
> Democratic Party players ofAltman's acquaintance, including Tony Coelho,
> Terence R. McAuliffe andformer U.S. senator George J. Mitchell of
> Maine.Altman came to Bethesda Softworks after meeting founder Weaver in
> the early'90s. Weaver's wife was an obstetrician-gynecologist whose
> patients includedAltman's wife, actress Lynda Carter -- former star of the
> TV show "WonderWoman" and currently featured in "The Dukes of Hazzard"
> movie.Weaver has not been a part of the company for three years, however;
> he saidthis week that Altman had essentially kicked him out.Now a visiting
> scholar at MIT, Weaver says ZeniMax still owes him money fromwhen the
> company failed to renew his contract. One lawsuit against thecompany has
> gone nowhere; Weaver said he may pursue an appeal.Altman responded that
> Weaver's account is "fantasy.""Bethesda Softworks was a financially
> bankrupt business which ZeniMax Mediaacquired, recapitalized and turned
> around," he said. "I regret that he isunhappy."But all that corporate back
> story isn't going to matter much in themarketplace, where gamers will
> judge the company based on its goods.The early returns are encouraging.
> GamePro magazine, for example, picked"Oblivion" as one of three top games
> for Microsoft's Xbox 360, out of dozensof offering including many from
> larger publishers.
>
Anonymous
August 16, 2005 11:03:11 PM

Archived from groups: alt.games.video.xbox,uk.games.video.xbox (More info?)

i can read my own colon easier than i can read that
Related resources
Anonymous
August 17, 2005 6:33:53 PM

Archived from groups: alt.games.video.xbox,comp.sys.ibm.pc.games.rpg (More info?)

"Choykw" <Newsreader@Newsgroup.com> skrev i meddelelsen
news:43017085$1_2@news.tm.net.my:

> Proper spacing/paragraphing appreciated.

Proper quotation technique appreciated. 1: you topquote and 2: you leave
the whole mess to be posted over again...

--
Arcana Dragon -==(UDIC)==-
d++e++N++T+++Om-KAWML!34567'!S'!8!9!u+uC+uF+++uG-u
LB®----uAnC+nH++nP+nI----nPT-nS+++nT----o---oE---xz
http://www.phyton.dk/games.htm
Anonymous
August 18, 2005 7:32:52 PM

Archived from groups: alt.games.video.xbox,comp.sys.ibm.pc.games.rpg,microsoft.public.xbox,microsoft.public.xbox.games,uk.games.video.xbox (More info?)

Knight37 <knight37m@gmail.com> wrote:
>Is it just me, or did that article not actually say dick about
>Oblivion?

It said Captain Picard is in it!

But I think the main point of the article was that Bethesda is a company
you wouldn't want to do business with.

Ross Ridge

--
l/ // Ross Ridge -- The Great HTMU
[oo][oo] rridge@csclub.uwaterloo.ca
-()-/()/ http://www.csclub.uwaterloo.ca/u/rridge/
db //
Anonymous
August 18, 2005 10:38:34 PM

Archived from groups: alt.games.video.xbox,comp.sys.ibm.pc.games.rpg,microsoft.public.xbox,microsoft.public.xbox.games,uk.games.video.xbox (More info?)

For extra credit, who remembers the first (I believe) game done by Bethesda,
a football game for the Amiga?
Anonymous
August 19, 2005 5:05:48 AM

Archived from groups: alt.games.video.xbox,comp.sys.ibm.pc.games.rpg,microsoft.public.xbox,microsoft.public.xbox.games,uk.games.video.xbox (More info?)

nfl extreme?
!