We're not sure what Bethesda's been eating, but if it turned out to be two portions of polygonal dice, accompanied by a selection fantasy works garnished with a sprinkling of role-playing game manual, three times a day, every day, we wouldn't at all be surprised.
The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion is without doubt the finest RPG ever to grace the genre, combining incredible scale with equally incredible depth and looks which are the envy of every pointy-eared, pretty-boy elf ever to tread a swords and sorcery fantasy world.
Assuming it's got the energy to do so after finally nudging Oblivion out the door, Bethesda must surely be celebrating the incredibly positive critical reception and sales of its RPG in some style. We imagine this might involve downing enough alcohol to fell a dragon and dancing manically around in underpants stuffed full of $100 bills. We would...
Anyway, just as the dust settled on Oblivion's development and the team let out a collective sigh of relief that the end had come, we took the opporunity to sneak in a quick chat with the developer - no rest for the wicked you see.
Gavin Carter, Oblivion's producer answered our questions, which naturally focussed on the company's role-playing epic - but he also touched on Bethesda's next Fallout game and Carter also let slip that this is only one of a couple of new projects already underway at the studio.
After the glorious Oblivion, we can't wait to see what it conjures up next, but for the moment drink deep of this new interview and if you missed it, you can see out why we're all so excited by checking out our comprehensive 360 review right here.
Over to you Mr Carter...
Morrowind received a lot of critical acclaim when it was released in 2002. How did you approach the design and going even further with Oblivion?
Gavin Carter: We always start by doing our own kind of internal post-mortem on the last game. We look closely at what worked, what didn't work, and how we can improve and expand upon our previous ideas. A lot of importance is put on starting off fresh and trying to rethink the player experience.
Did fan feedback and community reaction and indeed mods affect your plan at all?
Gavin Carter: Fan feedback is one of our most important tools for improving our games. Improved combat, AI, and mounts were all features we put a great deal of emphasis on because they were things fans complained about in Morrowind. We look at mods as another form of fan feedback, as the most popular ones usually correct things the fans see as problems with the original game. For instance, in Morrowind we had road signs but you had to mouse-over them to actually read them. One of the most popular mods replaced them with actual readable signs. For Oblivion, we made sure to put the text of signs directly on the texture.
The scope and size of Oblivion dwarfs most other RPG's. How did you approach creating such a huge and diverse world and the sheer wealth of content in the game?
Gavin Carter: Sometimes I myself wonder how we did it. The simple answer is that we built on what we had whenever we could. Our toolset, for example, is a modified version of the tools we used to build Morrowind. Keeping the basic functionality as similar to Morrowind as possible allowed us to start prototyping content quickly without forcing everyone to learn a brand new pipeline. We approached the content building aspect by concentrating on building a small area of the game well and expanding from there. For Oblivion, the town of Chorrol was our primary test-bed from which the rest of the game grew.