Starfield will use procedural for its 1000 planets
One of the great protagonists of the Xbox + Bethesda Showcase 2022 conference was undoubtedly Starfield : the new ambitious sci-fi RPG is in fact one of the most anticipated exclusives for the Microsoft console.
Bethesda’s new project will be available on day one on Xbox Game Pass ( you can find the discount subscription on Amazon ) and will include 1000 planets that can be explored by fans, thus potentially offering a mammoth amount of content.
However, the topic sparked quite a few discussions among fans , convinced that it was almost impossible that Bethesda had made all those contents by hand.
A confirmation that, in the end, came directly from Todd Howard himself in an interview with IGN.com : the famous 1000 planets will in fact be procedurally generated and will not be drawn manually.
The director of Bethesda admitted that he was more than aware that fans would have asked numerous questions following the announcement, which is why he wanted to clarify the situation immediately to be as transparent as possible:
“ We used procedural generation a lot [in Starfield], but I’d keep in mind that it’s something we’ve always done. It’s a big part of Skyrim’s quests and other things we do. We also generate landscapes using procedural, so we’ve always worked on them.[…] We have developed some procedural technologies and made prototypes, starting to reach the apex in Starfield ».
In this regard, he therefore confirmed that procedural technology has also been used for the realization of the many planets available on Starfield , also explaining in detail why Bethesda has decided to proceed in this direction:
«It all starts with a question: ‘Can you do it visually?’ To create a planet, I mean. And only a planet, if you think about it in terms of an in-game concept, can be infinitely large if you intend to make it real. “
Instead, using carefully refined procedural technologies, the development team can instead be able to simplify the creation of the planets by making sure that there are adequate differences on each of them.
Todd Howard points out that he wants to be extremely clear about what exactly a procedural generation entails, noting that players will be able to use these mechanics to their advantage to choose for themselves how to approach the experience and what to consider really fun:
«If you look into space, sometimes you will find ice spheres, and this was one of the aspects we took into consideration for the game design: ‘What’s funny about an ice sphere?’
But that’s okay if they weren’t, […] we prefer to keep them inside and tell you, “Hey, you can land on them . ” There are resources, you can explore, spend 10 minutes and then say, “Ok, now I’m leaving and going back to that other planet that has all these other contents, following a questline”.
For this reason we are very careful before we say to the players, “This is where you find the fun, this is where you find the content”, but instead we want to tell users: “You want to land on that strange planet, take a look at it, build a outpost, live your life there and watch the sunset because you like the view of the moons? Do it ” . We love that stuff.
In any case, Todd Howard still wanted to reassure his fans that just because the planets will be procedurally generated does not mean that the team is not carefully taking care of all the other contents: the director has in fact revealed that a lot of in-game material is being made at hand , more than they ever have in any of their other games.
“I’d also like to add that we’ve made more content by hand [in Starfield] than in any other title we’ve ever made.
We’ve gotten to over 200,000 dialogue lines, so we’re still creating a lot of content by hand and if users only want to do what they are used to in our games, follow a main quest and related questlines, then you will see what you expect from we.
But we also have this other part where the player can say, “I’m going to explore this planet”, and that will bring more gameplay, casual content and such situations. Just like Daggerfall would do , going back in time ».
Todd Howard’s interview is certainly very interesting and sheds light on a fundamental aspect: players will be free to enjoy Starfield in the way they prefer , whether it is simply exploring procedural planets, tackling the main campaign or any other activity possible.
A concept that, moreover, had already been reiterated by Pete Hines during the Xbox Games Extended Showcase , in which Starfield was also discussed in more detail .