Article: http://metro.co.uk/2016/09/07/pete-...-raise-to-a-certain-level-of-quality-6113553/ "GameCentral talks to Bethesda’s frontman about developing for NX, Fallout: New Orleans, and the truth behind Prey 2. As we remarked when we first met him last year, Pete Hines is not the sort of person that should be interesting to talk to. His job title of Vice President of PR and Marketing sounds like he’s exactly the sort of person who usually stops developers from giving interesting interviews, rather than taking part in them himself. But as a veteran of the company he’s not only party to all of Bethesda’s secrets but he’s relatively open about talking about them – or at least around them. When we met him at Gamescom last month, Bethesda were showing the first proper gameplay footage of Dishonored 2 and Prey, both of which impressed us very much. But since he’s not actually the developer our questions to Hines were directed more at the marketing of the game and the controversies surrounding Prey 2. As well as recent rumours about supporting the Nintendo NX and creating a new Fallout game in the vein of New Vegas. As before, he was very generous with his answers, and his time, and didn’t ignore any of the questions. Although we’ll leave it up to you to imagine exactly what some of his more ambiguous answers meant… GC: I saw the Dishonored 2 and Prey demos yesterday, and they were actually one of the few things that I hadn’t already seen in some form at E3. So that was nice. PH: Oh. Well, we always try, whenever we can, to bring some things you haven’t seen to these events. GC: Coming here, to Gamescom, I can’t help notice that a number of other publishers seem to have followed your lead on Fallout 4, by announcing new games only a few months before release, rather than a few years. Are you happy to have inspired that? PH: If I’m being totally honest it’s not something I’ve actually noticed, myself, since Fallout 4. GC: I guess you wouldn’t see it as much as someone like me. It’s still a minority, but a shortened six-month hype cycle has definitely become a thing now. PH: In general, my base philosophy has always been I’m gonna do what I think is right for us, and for our games. And I’m not really gonna spend a whole lot of time worrying about what the industry is doing… GC: I wasn’t suggesting you were doing it for the benefit of anyone else. Just that it was interesting that other companies had accepted the logic of what you were doing. Although I’m curious to know exactly why you decided to do things that way, was it primarily to stop the escalation of hype? PH: It’s more about getting the amount of time between you know something actually exists and you can play it, and compressing that down as much as possible so that you’re not dealing with these drops of, ‘Okay, well you’ve announced it, but now there’s this long period of time, of weeks or months, where you don’t have anything new to tell me’. And then there’s another beat some months later, and so you get this up and down in terms of excitement and conversation. And trying to smooth that out, trying to reduce the amount of tasks and the number of times you’re going back to a developer and saying, ‘Oh, we need some new screenshots or we need some new footage, or we need to put down another trailer’. If you go back five years to Skyrim, we announced that game existed exactly a year before it came out. And then the next month we showed the first details on it, but then we didn’t really do much of anything until E3. So in a lot of ways it looked a lot like the Fallout campaign, except that we had to do both the very first look and then do it again at E3. And so it was like, ‘Well, let’s shorten that’. [The Elder Scrolls] Legends being another example, I talked about that last year at E3 but we didn’t actually give any information or details about what it was until this April, when we said, ‘Here’s what the game is, and by the way you can sign up for the beta and start playing today’. And then going into open beta in August, we only had less than four months between knowing what it was and being able to get in for free. GC: That reminds me of why they downgraded E3 for a couple of years in 2008, or whenever it was, because publishers had got fed up wasting so much time making demos for it. PH: It is absolutely a… getting ready for E3 is not part of any developer’s natural development process. Anytime they’re doing something that’s not finishing the game and so forth is going to be a distraction, is going to be an additional burden, for sure. GC: I started that conversation thinking short cycles are a bad thing, but now I’m not so sure. PH: [laughs] GC: It’s obviously worked for Fallout 4 though; in terms of sales I don’t think you could’ve asked for more. PH: I don’t think we could have. It’s done absolutely fantastic for us, we’re very pleased. GC: But what about the critic and fan response? I was just talking with another journo about it and we were both grousing about the graphics, while also admitting we’d both played it for over 100 hours. Does that mean what we’re complaining about doesn’t matter? PH: No, it definitely matters. I certainly think we ascribe to the notion that you can’t please everybody, and no game is perfect. For as beloved as Skyrim was, there were still complaints, criticisms – why didn’t you do this, why didn’t you do that? Fallout 4, the same. Fallout 3, the same. Like, every game is going to have its things that it could’ve done better or differently. So, I think we try to take that in our stride. It’s a natural part of making games, to hear what folks are talking about and what their issues are. And hopefully try and adjust those next time around. GC: And yet one of the primary complaints for all those games you mention is the graphics. Is there not a case for having a separate team, or something, to work on the visuals as a whole? That seems like something you could easily afford. PH: It’s not really a question of afford, it’s a question of… As I’ve heard Todd [Howard, director of Skyrim and Fallout 4] say before: we can do anything, we just can’t do everything. And so when you’re talking about resources and bandwidth to focus on and polish and iterate on, even if you pay somebody else… there’s still consequences to that. GC: But, in my ignorance, it seems to me that getting someone to work separately on generic facial animation technology, or whatever, is a relatively easy thing to bolt on towards the end of a project, since it’s not something that affects the gameplay. I was at the Skyrim reveal and the first thing everyone said around me is, ’Oh, the graphics aren’t as good as I expected’. Now, that didn’t stop us playing it, but does that mean we’ll be saying the same thing with Elder Scrolls VI and Fallout 5? PH: I would say that we always want our games to look as good as possible, within the context of what we’re doing. And that is creating really massive and interactive worlds. So you can make any number of sacrifices or cuts to get there, if you’re willing to do that. I simply don’t think that we are, that it’s not enough for you to be able to go all over the place. That we want you to be able to walk into a room and have a table like this one [points to ordinary table] with objects like this, but they’re not just textures that you can’t actually do anything with. There’s a cost to everything when it comes to development. GC: I saw Prey yesterday, and it looked fantastic. But since I’ve never been able to raise this subject with anyone at Bethesda before I feel I have to ask about Prey 2, specifically the IGN report about your relationship with developer Human Head. PH: I’m not gonna talk publicly about the back and forth, and the he said/she said. It does absolutely no good to anybody. And I’m certainly not about to say anything to try and cast anybody in a bad light, one way or another. Here’s the fact: the game didn’t turn out like we wanted. It didn’t work, and it didn’t happen. I find it really interesting that I get abundantly more questions about Prey 2 being cancelled than Doom 4 being cancelled. Everybody seems to forget that we did actually cancel a Doom game at id for pretty much the exact same reasons, and started over. And all anybody talks about, and rightfully so, is the game that we did make and how it turned out. Not, well whatever happened with that other Doom, and why did you decide… GC: But I’m not sure the situations are that similar. The rumour wasn’t that the game was turning out poorly, the rumour was that you were purposefully failing their milestones… PH: Utter nonsense. I will simply say this: I don’t know what possible good reason we would have for spending millions and millions of dollars to create something to then suddenly arbitrarily decide, ‘No, we don’t want to actually make our money back off what we’ve put into it’. Because we were footing the bill, right? We’re the publisher, we’re paying the developer. We’re putting all the money into it. I’m spending my own time taking trips up to Madison, creating brand, creating trailers, putting effort into it, taking it to E3, doing all that stuff. And to take all of that time and investment, and for the notion to be, ‘Oh yeah, for arbitrary reasons we decided to fail the milestones and are just going to wave goodbye to all that and never see any of it returned is the dumbest argument I’ve ever heard. GC: Okay, but according to the rumour the reason wasn’t arbitrary. It was that you were trying to force them into a situation where you could acquire them against their will and for less than they were worth. And I’ve personally spoken to a veteran developer who, although he knows nothing about Bethesda specifically, states that this has always been a standard industry tactic for many different publishers. PH: We don’t have any real predilection towards acquiring somebody or not. We haven’t acquired anybody, that I can remember, in the last five or how many years. I think Tango [Gameworks, the studio behind The Evil Within] was the last acquisition. It’s not like we’re on some acquisition tear. We work with third party folks, like with The Elder Scrolls: Legends, like with Quake Champions. We have a perfectly good third party relationship with them. We’re gonna make the game, we’re not acquiring them, we haven’t failed milestones… again, it boils down to one thing and one thing only: we’re in the business of making games and we’re only going to put out and make games that we think raise to a certain level of quality. It’s no different to BattleCry, which isn’t anywhere. Isn’t being talked about, and it’s on hiatus because it also wasn’t rising to the level. Just like the Doom game that we cancelled. GC: Okay, but I felt I had to ask. PH: I understand, I understand why. GC: You don’t want to feel beholden to publishers, so that there’s certain things you can’t bring up. PH: Sure. Sure. GC: But thank you for answering those questions properly. And on a less contentious note… why are you reusing the Prey name anyway? Is it because you want people to remember the first game or just because it’s a cool-sounding name? PH: No, it’s been a decade, right? It’s more about… we looked at calling it Prey, we looked at a calling it any number of other things. We came up with a number of them and where we netted out was that we did like the name, and that they [developer Arkane Studios] felt that it was a good fit for the thing that they were making. And their one concern was that, ‘We don’t want to be beholden, in the design choices that we’re making, to anything from the original game. And so if we can sort of run with the idea of aliens are hunting you, and do our own reimagining take on that, then we should call it Prey, because that fits the vibe and tone of the thing we’re making.’ And we said, ‘Good, let’s just call it Prey’. GC: I should also ask about Fallout 4 mods on PlayStation 4. Is that Sony holding that up or is it just a technical problem at your end? PH: All I can say is that it is undergoing an evaluation process and as soon as it’s done, and we have more info, we’re gonna let everyone know. GC: That implies that is Sony’s end. It’s not a technical issue or you’ve just decided you don’t want to do it… PH: We haven’t said. [laughs] It’s definitely not that we’ve decided not to do it, we absolutely, positively want to get PS4 mods out as fast as humanely possible. GC: Now, Nintendo is not a subject I ever imagined talking to you about. But there was a very interesting quote recently about you talking to them all the time. But I can’t imagine what about? PH: [laughs] We talk to them about games! We talk to them about what they’re up to! GC: I’m glad to hear it, I’m just surprised. PH: It’s not like we’ve never done anything on Nintendo. We haven’t done anything on Nintendo in a very long time, but we did some Star Trek stuff back in the day. Star Trek: Tactical Assault or something. Look, our philosophy is we want to make our games, as they’re designed and built, available on as many platforms as possible. And so Nintendo, as a maker of a platform, you want to constantly be in touch with them, to see what they’re doing, where they’re headed, and whether or not there might be some opportunities down the line, with where they’re going. GC: Third party support is a constant problem for them, but I think it’s questionable whether people would even buy things like Battlefield or GTA if they were on a Nintendo console. Is the reason you haven’t supported them much in the past partly because you don’t think your games would sell to that audience? PH: No, no. it’s usually been one of a technical… hardware issue. It’s just, what it is that the devs are making and what are the hardware requirements that they’re looking at, to support what they’re making? And what fits? And anything that is below the line is, ‘Well, we can make it work, but we’d have to cut this or that or do it like…’ But no, that’s not the point. The point is to take the game, as you designed it, and to get it working on those platforms. Not make a bunch of cuts and a bunch of changes and bring out some other version of it. GC: So if NX is announced in the next few weeks and is as powerful as an Xbox One or higher, then… PH: Then it will absolutely be something that we consider. Okay… let’s say they come out and say tomorrow it does X, Y, and Z. Well, Dishonored 2 is way down the road, it’s not in the conversation. But anything that is in development, I think we’d take a look at and see if technically does it line up with what they’re doing? And then to your point, of course we always want to look at what we’re doing from an audience standpoint. But I think that we have any number of things that might appeal to the Nintendo audience. Maybe it’s not as appealing as Super Smash Bros., or it doesn’t appeal to that exact same audience, but that doesn’t mean that there’s not still an audience there. GC: Do you know what the NX is? PH: We talk all the time to everybody, about what they’re up to. GC: [laughs] You can say whether you’ve seen it can’t you? Just as long as you don’t actually tell me anything. PH: [poker face] … GC: Boy, I bet those Nintendo NDAs are something else. PH: [laughs] GC: Now, was it only Fallout that had the VR demo? PH: We’re showing Doom as well, but that’s not like an announced thing. It’s more like a tech demo. It’s kind of us messing around with VR as it relates to Doom. ‘Cause if you’ve played the current Doom you have to appreciate that, ‘OK, well that’s never gonna fly as a really fast…’ So it was more of a, ‘So what would this look like in a VR platform, where it’s a little bit more controllable and reasonable. As opposed to a 100mph all over the place’. GC: Oh, that sounds interesting. Given id’s history in particular, and how most of your games, Doom notwithstanding, are fairly slow-paced first person games, I imagine VR is of very great interest to Bethesda as a whole. PH: Absolutely. I think it goes back almost to your NX question, which is we like to look at stuff, whether it’s mobile or VR or other consoles, and see what is it we’re making that could suit it. What are the ideas we have for stuff that we want to make, and is it a good fit for X, Y, or Z? GC: It’s almost harder to think of a Bethesda game that wouldn’t work in VR. Which must be almost unique amongst publishers. PH: Yeah, it would be pretty cool to be a coffee cup in VR. As we’re just sitting here. [laughs] As you’re talking about what does and doesn’t work. But again, I think it comes down to what we’re making. Every studio, that we have, is looking at it, talking about it… and it’ll really come down to what they think they can pull off and do. GC: I had a good chat with Tim Willits about Quake Champions at E3. But I have to ask you as well: will there ever be a new single-player Quake? PH: I don’t know. GC: As you reboot all these old franchises, you’ve even talked about Rage, are there always going to be fairly close representations of what they used to be? Or do you see them eventually diversifying, perhaps even becoming their own family of different games? PH: Honestly, I think anything is possible. But it goes back to what I said before, which is sort of… what’s the idea and who’s gonna make it? And does that work? GC: Okay then, in an unrelated question, what are Machinegames working on now? [laughs] PH: I don’t know, you’ll have to wait and see. [laughs] GC: Will you have another showcase at E3 next year? PH: Probably, given what I know about what we’re gonna have going on next year, and what we’re gonna have to talk about, I would say that we’d probably have enough stuff to fill the time. And again, mostly because I really continue to like the idea of being able to talk to everybody about what we’re doing at the same time. So yeah, knowing what I know, I think we would probably do another one next year. GC: And just finally, what was this rumour about Fallout: New Orleans? I saw a logo just before I came out here, but didn’t see any official comment on it. PH: We don’t comment on trademarks and rumours. GC: Oh, so it might be real? PH: It’s just whenever anyone asks about trademarks we don’t ever say, ‘Yes, that’s us’ or ‘No, it’s not’. Whether it’s real or it’s not real. GC: Ah, it’s not real though is it? I can tell from some of the pixels and having seen a few shops in my time… or whatever that meme is. PH: [laughs] GC: But would you consider working with external developers again on a new Fallout or other established franchise? PH: Well, we’re working with an external developer on Quake. That’s a pretty big, important franchise for us. GC: But New Vegas was something different, the dev must have had quite close access to your own internal studios and tech. Would you ever do something like that again? Because I think that everyone felt that New Vegas turned out pretty well. PH: I don’t know; we’ll have to see. [slight grin] GC: [laughs] OK, well thanks very much for you time. You’ve been a great sport. PH: No problem, nice to see you again. Read more: http://metro.co.uk/2016/09/07/pete-...rtain-level-of-quality-6113553/#ixzz4JcWflMXV"