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Bethesda discusses squashing bugs

"We have and continue to get better at it."

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Image credit: Eurogamer

Bethesda reckons it's much better at squashing bugs in its open world games than it used to be - and it's getting better at it.

Bethesda's Fallout and Elder Scrolls games have a reputation for being buggy at launch, with some gamers complaining of system crashes and corrupted game saves.

The company has released a raft of patches and fixes for Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas in an effort to combat these issues post launch.

With Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim fast approaching, Bethesda marketing boss Pete Hines told Eurogamer sister site the development team is working hard to make sure the fantasy epic is as free from bugs as possible.

"It's something we continue to try to address and design for," he said. "If you go back and look, Fallout 3 was an incredibly stable game. Certainly not bug-free, but there's a difference for us between a rock that's floating a little above the ground, which is technically a bug, and one you might have that causes your game to crash or your save-games to get corrupted.

"So there's degrees. We start at the top and work our way down. Does the game load when you click on it? Does it save properly? That stuff. So it's something we're cognisant of. I think for Skyrim we built a number of things into the game to cover that and to try to improve that."

Bethesda has a harder time with bugs than other game developers because of the size and scope of its games, Hines said.

"The truth of the matter is that it's far easier to bug-test and playtest a game that's very linear than one that's very open," he explained.

"It is a bigger undertaking to wrangle all of that and make sure you've squeezed out every possible thing, like, 'Oh, you've picked up this sword then talked to this person then gave them that, then this thing happens.' It is literally approaching infinite when you talk about all those possibilities."

Fallout: New Vegas, which launched in 2010, also suffered from bugs. The difference here, however, was that it was created by Obsidian, and independent developer.

According to Hines, the problems players saw with that game should not be repeated.

"I think we have and continue to get better at it. When you look at Fallout: New Vegas, it was not a Bethesda Game Studios title, it was different experience for those guys even though we worked with them on it, but I think Todd [Howard] and his team have continued, over the 12 years I've been here working with them, to make improvements, and I think they're in a good place with this."

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