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Skyrim Team Diary #6: Hearthfire

Welcome to the sixth installment of the Skyrim team diaries. Follow along as we get to know the Bethesda Game Studios team — here and on the accompanying podcasts & videos — with each entry bringing new details on the process of creating the most ambitious entry in The Elder Scrolls series to date.

With Skyrim’s latest game add-on, players can build their own home from the ground up. Beginning with a small, one room cabin in The Pale, Falkreath, or Hjaalmarch, players can eventually construct a fully functioning home with more features than you could possibly expect.

In many ways, this house-building process is analogous to the evolution of Hearthfire’s development.

Like Dawnguard, Hearthfire’s inception came out of Bethesda Game Studios’ first-ever “Game Jam”, a weeklong exercise where members of the team shared in-game ideas for expanding Skyrim.

“When the Game Jam invitation arrived, I was looking for something different from what I’d traditionally do as a designer,” lead designer, Bruce Nesmith recollected. “To make it a reality, I knew I needed an artist to tag team, so I approached Robert [Wisnewski] and we collaborated on the project that was presented to the team.”

Wisnewski, an environmental artist for Skyrim, was inspired to expand upon the game’s housing options in large part because of his enthusiasm for Skyrim’s crafting systems.

“It started as a small idea to expand on the crafting element of the game because alchemy, smithing and enchanting were things I was interested in when we were playtesting the game,” said Wisnewski.
Meanwhile Nesmith, a fan of the popular game Minecraft, wanted players to have more ways to create content in the game. “Being a fan of [Minecraft], I asked, ‘Why can’t I build things in our game?'”

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The end result of Cornett’s work provides a new dimension of immersion to the game, as players can find various ways to interact with their children.

“Steve did a great job designing the adoption [system] and making kids in the game really come to life. Simple things like having them ask for money or playing a game with them. While these things don’t necessarily have implications to my character’s adventure, they do make the children feel so much more alive,” added Nesmith.

The evolution of both house building and adoption through time has made Hearthfire a project the whole team is proud of.

“The actual scope of Hearthfire blows me away. It’s one thing to say you’re going to add these things, and it’s another to see a small team build something that’s so complex and rigorous and have all those pieces, ” concluded Nesmith.

To learn more about Hearthfire and its features, watch our official Hearthfire announcement video here.




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