Starfield:Into the Starfield - Made for Wanderers

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Into the Starfield - Ep2: Made for Wanderers was an episode in a series of short documentary pieces on the creation of Starfield. This episode featured Game Director Todd Howard, Design Director Emil Pagliarulo, Lead Quest Designer Will Shen and Lead Artist Istvan Pely. You can find the video here.


Istvan Pely: It's a level of immersion that we really focus on, you're not just playing a game but you're living in this world, in this universe.

Emil Pagliarulo: It's a giant open world for the player to do what they want.

Will Shen: You feel like you've had an impact on the world. You really feel like you're there.

Todd Howard: There's certain types of entertainment where you're just experiencing it. You're taking in what the creator wants you to see. And they draw that dotted line between this happens, go here, do this. The more we can put you in the situation where you're going to decide. That's what makes video games the best form of entertainment that they are.

Emil: We don't just make RPGs, we make simulations. And that leads to a lot of crazy stuff that can happen and things you don't expect.

Will: Yeah, we always have those big fights like "What if combat breaks out right now?" You have to handle that, right? Because it could, you can't control it. The only thing you can control is that the game has to account for it somehow.

Istvan: We embrace the chaos, let it play out, and usually it's pretty fun.

Todd: A lot of us have been doing this for a long time together. And it's nice with Starfield to go back to some things we didn't do. The backgrounds, the traits, defining your character, all those stats. I think there's so many games now that do those things that people are ready for something that does a lot of the things that older hardcore RPGs, something we used to do, doing those again in a new way.

Istvan: We've always allowed the player to create really interesting, unique characters. This game we've definitely, severely leveled up. The tech is based on scanning of real world models, similar to the photogrammetry we do in our landscapes. We're kind of applying the same thing to our people as well. Because it's not just the appearance of your player and all that, but we want all the personal interactions with NPCs, other characters in the game, to be as impactful as possible. And for that you have to believe these are real people, you're a real person, and you're interacting with real people.

Will: One of the big choices is, "Which part of the game world am I going to engage in?" We always make a bunch of different groups that represent some of the major factions in every game. And in this one we've got the United Colonies, that represents the future of space republic idealized. You also have the Freestar Collective which is the space western fantasy. People that are out there on the frontier. We've got Ryujin Industries which represents corporate life. I think it has one of the best starts of any of the factions.

Emil: Yeah, it's a megacorp and you get hired right?

Will: Yeah. We'll apply for our job, we'll see if you cut the mustard.

Todd: You know I love we're approaching it that way, where okay, "What makes the world feel whole?"

"What are the groups that would make it feel whole and believable?"

And then, "How does the player interact with them?"

What we're doing with the pirates, the Crimson Fleet, they're not just this foe. Let the player join them, what does that mean?

Emil: The cool thing about Crimson Fleet, what if you're a good person and you want to be a good player? And you don't want to play as a bad guy? You can side with pirates or you can report back to your superiors. And be this space cop type of thing. So it let's you be a good person and still play with the bad guys. I think that's really cool too.

Todd: Seems like no matter what story we write the one the players tell themselves is the one that they think about and love the most, and the companions.

Vasco: Hello, Captain. How may I be of assistance?

Todd: So something we really leaned into on this game, how those other characters felt about you.

Istvan: That's probably my favorite part. Like when you're exploring and then your companion makes some comment off the cuff about something that you're checking out or something that just happened. That just feels so perfect for immersion. It's just so believable, you think it's a real person.

Emil: You know we knew we wanted to do some kind of persuasion mini game thing.

Will: Yeah we sat down, and it was funny we didn't start with let's do an evolution of, let's look back at the old Oblivion system, but there are a couple of beats there. You have to think about, "What's my risk here?"

"Which one do I want to choose?"

We didn't want it to be a system where there was definitely the right thing to say.

Todd: It feels like you're having a conversation where you're actually trying to persuade somebody of something. As far as new systems in dialogue, I think it's definitely one of the most successful ones that we've had.

Emil: I think when we knew we were making a game about space you ask yourself certain questions. And that question is, "What is out there?" And so, as a game we have romance, adventure, mystery, but I think with Starfield there's this other layer of the cosmos, the universe, and what is out there.

Todd: At the end of it we want the players to have told their own journey, but then look back at it and we're asking the big questions. "Why are we all here?"

"Where is it leading?"

and, "What's next for humanity?"