news\ Feb 20, 2012 at 12:44 pm

Skyrim is Bethesda's 'most solid release', statistically speaking


Statistically speaking, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is Bethesda's "most solid release."  At least that's what Bethesda Game Director Todd Howard told IndustryGamers in an interview focused on the early troubles Skyrim faced with the PlayStation 3 version.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim has enjoyed successful sales numbers, received numerous Game of the Year awards, and is also one of the most bugged games to be released - at least that's what has been said about the game since it's launch back in November 2011.  Aside from the funny glitches and sometimes awkward glitches, which were easily overlooked, the most glaring defect has been with the PS3 version of the game.  Since launch, PS3 users have been reporting game breaking lag issues after long-time play.

The lag, which has since been fixed with the release of update 1.4, is still a pretty hot topic however.  Last week, Todd Howard revealed to Kotaku that the developers "knew the PS3 was going to run into a 'bad memory situation' and tried to tweak their code to prevent it from happening."  Bethesda has since gone on to clarify they knew the PS3 version "could" run into a problem and they "coded solutions they felt would work."

Of course, following patch 1.2, it didn't work and many still complained of the lag issues.  But maybe it wasn't as many as we think.  Maybe the media helped blow it out of proportion.

Howard recently told IndustryGamers, "Statistically, it is not nearly as bad as it seems. Meaning, by all the internal and external data, this is our most solid release."

 "It's also our most popular by a large factor, so we do have a lot of people on the PS3 who play the games a lot and their games are at a state that the game is just taxing the PS3 enough," he explained.  " That's a fact; so, it really wasn't until we were able to get save games from the users – because, literally, how they play the game over 100 hours – some of it, very little of it, we were able to reproduce and take care of on our own and a lot of it that you're seeing now, we weren't."

"So over the course of, like, December, the community helped us. We got their save games. We'd literally have to look in and say, 'What quests do they have running, what order? Oh, he's doing this. He's got these dragons here. This script is running. Why is it kicking out this many things?'

"And the 1.4 update is coming out today on the PS3 and it should – in our internal tests on those games - it fixes it, it takes care of it. But, going through this, we now know, there will still be – a smaller set, but there are probably still people we don't have their saved games and they have [other problems]."

It should be noted, that since the time of this interview, the PS3 Skyrim patch 1.4 was released and has apparently fixed the lag issues on the PS3.  But of course, with a new patch, often comes new bugs.  And with a game as massive and vast as Skyrim it's hard to point to one specific thing as the source of the problem.

"So this is not one thing, this is this whole set of unique circumstances, and the point is, we're going to get a hold of those people then and say, 'Well, let us look at it.' Because, look, when you spend this much time on a game, you want it to perform for everybody. So when someone says it doesn't, they have every right to be upset with us, and we want to attack that and, 'ok, you tell us what's going on. We're going to fix this'," Howard continued.

Early theories pointed towards large save files, as the underlying cause for the PS3 lag.  Of course, that was a "common misconception", Howard said.

"The PS3, in general, it handles memory much differently than a PC with lots of memory or a 360. So we did a lot of systems to have it kind of recover when it gets in a bad memory situation, but it turned out there were still circumstances where it would say, 'I can't.' So it's literally having to delve into things like 'what spells did you have hotkeyed? How often do you use them?' It's very, very specific things. People will say, 'When your save game hits this size [you're affected]' but that's totally not true, because you have a much larger set of people who are fine. So it's not that. It has to do with how many things have you done in the game in what order. What's running right now? And because the game is so dynamic, it does tax the PS3 in a different way. Obviously, we wish we had all that information beforehand. Some of that is just very difficult to get."

Howard went on to reiterate that the "vast majority of people who play the game" on PS3 were largely unaffected by the lag.  So in that sense, Skyrim is Bethesda's most solid release - regardless of platform.

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