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Howard: Next-Gen Games Need To 'Pick Their Battles'

As part of the latest Gamasutra podcast on next-gen development, Bethesda Software's Todd Howard...
As part of the latest Gamasutra podcast on next-gen development, Bethesda Software's Todd Howard (The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion) has commented on the trials of next-gen game development, noting that next-gen games must "pick their battles" when it comes to feature implementation. Howard, who has just finished executive producing critically acclaimed Xbox 360 and PC titles Oblivion, commented in the podcast: “Now that you can see one game do amazing grass, or another game do amazing facial animation, consumers are savvy enough to to know that the hardware does all of this... You kind of feel obligated to do all of that, and so the time it takes to really detail out all of these elements goes up exponentially.” The Bethesda exec also added: “I think what we are sort of seeing is that you need to pick your battles. Meaning that the games overall might start doing less, but those elements are much, much more realized.” The panel discussion also included Brian Eddy of Midway Games (Stranglehold / Xbox 360, PS3), Nicolas Eypert of Ubisoft Paris (Red Steel, Wii), Todd Howard of Bethesda Softworks (Oblivion, Fallout 3 / Xbox 360), Bryan Intihar (previews editor of EGM), Aubrey Pullman of Microsoft Game Studios (Forza Motorsport 2/ Xbox 360), and Evan Wells of Naughty Dog (Unnamed next-gen title / PS3). Interestingly, the overarching opinion from the panel was that the consumer expectations have increased to such a level that developers have to decide early on what to emphasize in a game in lieu of other things. “I think there is a lot more unknown on this next-generation too, because we haven't down multi-threaded before, it's always been single,” commented Midway Games' Brian Eddy with regards to the technical challenges posed by next-gen development. “I think that's why you've seen a lot of people with hype at the beginning. We were expecting that we can do all of this stuff, but not realizing how to get all of the CPUs running in parallel to get the most out of the system is this difficult.” EGM's Bryan Intihar summed up his feelings and expectations for the next-generation as well, noting that “It's beyond the graphics now.” He added: “All the games next-gen are going to look good to me, that's obvious. I think it's tapping stuff that we haven't done before. The really big thing is 'Can a game really make you cry?'”

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