It’s been a week when SPOnG has been frequently reminded of the glory of Bethesda’s Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
having been treated to previews of both the forthcoming and visually stunning PS3 version of the game (being published by Ubisoft in the UK) and the new Shivering Isles
expansion pack due for the Xbox 360 (as a download-only via Xbox Live) and on PC (as a boxed version at retail published by 2K Games in the UK) sometime next month.
We caught up with Bethesda’s VP of PR and Marketing, Pete Hines (pictured) to quiz him about Shivering Isles
. If, like many of us, you’ve spent hundreds of hours of your life over the last year wandering around the jaw-droppingly beautiful world of Cyrodiil in Oblivion
you will be keen to know more about the new “Realm of Madness" in Shivering Isles
which promises an extra thirty to forty hours of gameplay. Read on for full details.
Hi Pete, can you just tell us a few more general things about the Elder Scrolls
franchise, for those of our readers who might not be familiar with Oblivion
or any of the past games in the series?
Sure, the Elder Scrolls
has been around since 1994. The first game was called Arena
. So we did that, then Daggerfall
in 1996, Morrowind
in 2002 (for PC and Xbox) and then Oblivion
last year (for PC and Xbox 360). Elder Scrolls
has always been about open-ended role-playing, a world in which you can create any kind of character you want and then you can go live in this world. You can follow the main storyline or you can go do miscellaneous quests, join various factions, explore dungeons… pretty much whatever you want, just wander around the landscape if you like. It’s always been about player choice. Letting the player decide what they are doing in the game.
What was the original inspiration for the games and for the world in the games?
Well, originally Arena
started off as a gladiator game – as the name suggests. It started off as a gladiator combat game. Then it went from that into “hey wouldn’t it be cool if you could not only fight, but you could go and explore the towns and other places within the world”. So the world kind of grew from there.
Different parts of Tamriel, which is the name of the world in Elder Scrolls
, have cropped up in different games, some of them have covered the whole world, some have covered just parts of it, but y’know, it’s always been true to that experience of “go do whatever you want, whenever you want, wherever you want.”
I was reminded earlier of the original packshot for Arena
which featured a near naked female warrior!
Would it be fair to say that the marketing of RPGs and the packaging of these titles in particular, has become a lot more sophisticated over the last ten or twelve years?
[laughs]Absolutely! I mean, I joined the company in 1999, so I came on after Arena
but I certainly think that our approach with Morrowind
was, err, to go more for… I don’t want to say high-brow… but more sort of … well, we didn’t need to resort to that.
The approach was more classic fantasy, more ‘Tolkien-esque’ and less ‘Hollywood-esque’. Simple covers with simple imagery that kind of conveyed that this was classic role-playing, which is always what we’ve tried to capture.