Eurogamer: Do you face unique challenges because your games respond to player actions, and characters have to do likewise?
Todd Howard: We tend to have to systemise things as opposed to script it. In a six-hour game you can script a lot of really cool stuff, and really realistic behaviour, but it's a one-off. Whenever we think about something, we have to systemise it because we're probably going to have lots of characters and you need to return to these characters.
Eurogamer: A lot of people suspect you're making a new Elder Scrolls game, but can you conceive of a Fallout game set outside the States, like Europe or Asia or somewhere like that?
Todd Howard: That's come up before and my view on Fallout is that the Americana is part of the Fallout schtick. It would be interesting to see what's going on over there, but if you were doing a full game over there, in my opinion it wouldn't have the right Fallout tone.
Eurogamer: It wouldn't be Fallout, it would be something else...
Todd Howard: I mean it would be in the same world, but the very specific tone of Fallout is the, you know, Americana fifties thumbs-up and now it's all terribly wrong.
Eurogamer: So even id has now gone to two teams, but you guys still seem to be doing one thing at a time. Is there any appetite to change that?
Todd Howard: We kind of overlap, so Fallout 3 was overlapped into Oblivion, so we'll be doing design. We have about 90 people on the team, but not everyone is on the main game. Most people are. We spent time on Fallout 3 during Oblivion so when Oblivion was done we had a design, a concept, and some stuff running for Fallout 3 so we could move the bulk of people onto it.
Likewise with the new game, we were working on it during Fallout 3. We had design, we had concepts, we had stuff we knew we wanted to do.
But it is one big team, and the nice thing about that is it's everybody's game. We have one culture. I spend a lot of my time on the game that's in pre-production, but the new game that's percolating takes the most of my time.
Eurogamer: But you're already thinking about the next thing.
Todd Howard: Right, so we're in production on the new game, and we have a design going for the one after that.
Eurogamer: The technology may be static, but other things are still evolving, like digital distribution. What kind of lessons did you learn from the downloadable content you did on Oblivion and Fallout 3, and how do you think that will affect what you do on the new game?
Todd Howard: We jumped into that like the new frontier. We made some mistakes. Our goal with Oblivion was to do lots of different things. Let's see what people like, what price points they like, and also what works for us, because it takes time.
We felt coming out of Oblivion that Knights of the Nine - that $10 one - was a good sweet spot, not just in terms of what people want to pay, but for us creating it. Whereas Shivering Isles, it's a $30 thing - people bought it, it did great - but it wasn't great in terms of how long it took us to do it and get it out.
So we went into Fallout 3 with this $10 price at this pace. I can tell you that pace was fast. We had two overlapping DLC groups, tiny groups, and we did that, and the audience, they liked that rate of them coming out but it was hard. I don't know if we're going to be able to do that again.
I think at the end of the day we just want to have something that is really high quality and maybe not put so many out.