The magazine Game Informer has revealed more info about the new engine that is being used for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim; first off, it’s being called the Creation engine.
First off, the Creation engine will allow detailed, long draw distances, which will be important Skyrim’s mountainous landscape. According to creative director Todd Howard:
“The big things for us were to draw a lot of stuff in the distance so we have a really sophisticated level of detail, more so than what we’ve had in the past for how things stream in and how detail gets added to them as they get closer to the camera.”
The graphic details doesn’t end there, of course. The game features an advanced foliage system that allows level designers to get as detailed as the weight of each tree branch, while also making more use of ambient light to create believable shadows and lighting. Since Skyrim is in a cold region, the weather effects are being revamped and improved to get realistic snowfall and blizzards. If that weren’t enough, fresh snowfall will accumulate realistically on rocks and trees.
Graphics aren’t the only important part of the engine, of course. Oblivion’s “Radiant” technology will be upgraded and improved to revamp NPC behavior. In Oblivion, while townsfolk had some sort of routine, they were only given 5 or 6 tasks to do per day, and otherwise wandered around almost aimlessly in their predetermined locations. Now, they’ll have more environment to interact with realistically. For example, if they’re supposed to work in a woodmill, they’ll be chopping trees down, splitting logs, taking them to the mill, and so on. The AI will also react to a player’s actions more realistically as well, and depend on the relationship with that NPC. A friendly NPC won’t be upset if you enter their house in the middle of the night, while a stranger or a hostile NPC will be outraged.
Adding to the realism will be the inclusion of the Havok’s new skeletal animation tool which allows PCs and NPCs to react realistically if they’re trudging through deep snow, or caught in a spider web, or transitioning from walking to jogging to running. It’ll also capture realistic animal animation, such as bears and… dragons.
According to Game Informer:
The increased animation fidelity and diversity has enabled Bethesda to ditch the awkward dialogue camera perspective that paused the game and presented you with an extreme closeup of the person with whom you were speaking. Now camera stays in the same perspective used during combat and exploration, and players are free to look around while engaging in conversation. Rather than drop their activities to give you their undivided attention, the NPCs continue to go about their business while in discussion. For instance, a barkeep may continue to clean cups while talking, and even move from behind the counter to a seat. A mill worker chopping wood may engage in conversation without turning away from his duties, only occasionally glancing toward you during the exchange.
Another exciting element to the game will be the inclusion of randomly generated quests with a new engine Bethesda calls the “Radiant Story” engine. While there will still be scripted quests and sidequests in the game, the game will be able to invent a few on the fly, and still relate it to the main story.
Howard gives an example thusly:
“Traditionally in an assassination quest, we would pick someone of interest and have you assassinate them. Now there is a template for an assassination mission and the game can conditionalize all the roles – where it happens, under what conditions does it take place, who wants someone assassinated, and who they want assassinated. All this can be generated based on where the character is, who he’s met. They can conditionalize that someone who you’ve done a quest for before wants someone assassinated, and the target could be someone with whom you’ve spent a lot of time before.”
The Radiant Story system can also keep a player from losing sidequests if he kills a character who would have given him the quests. For example, if a player kills a shopkeeper, his sister may take over the shop and issue those quests. The Radiant Story system will also take several factors into account when assigning quests, such as dynamically changing dungeons a quest is located in if the player has already cleaned out that dungeon. Friendships and grudges may generate missions – smaller quests may lead to larger ones, and befriend an NPC well enough, and they might be your sidekick for some missions. The system will also have some odd procedurally generated encounters – if you drop a vital item in the middle of town, someone may return it to you – or two people may fight over it. Experts at a skill may have NPCs asking them for training.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is starting to sound more and more amazing. Let us know what you think.
Jonah Falcon is a blogger for TMRzoo and GameStooge.com and covers all gaming consoles and platforms including Sony Playstation 3, Microsoft XBOX 360, Nintendo Wii, Sony PSP and computer games designed for Mac OS, Microsoft Windows and Linux operating systems. Jonah provides his readers with reviews, previews and up to date gaming industry news and rumors.