Starfield: Bethesda's Intriguing Approach to Game Design
Starfield, a highly anticipated title from Bethesda, is now possession of gamers worldwide. Despite the positive reviews, players have identified several instances of the company's outlandish 'jank.'
The Declining Tolerance for Game 'Jank'
While some players appreciate these idiosyncrasies as an integral part of the gaming experience, tolerance for such issues has decreased considerably. This decline is particularly evident following the release of bug-prone AAA games such as Cyberpunk 2077, Marvel's Avengers, and Bethesda’s own Fallout 76.
Bethesda's Perspective on the 'Jank'
In a pre-release interview regarding Starfield, the head of publishing at Bethesda, Pete Hines, touched upon the developer's reputation for quirky game mechanics. He explained that elements of this reputation are intentional.
During his discussion with GamesIndustry.biz at Gamescom, Hines was questioned about Bethesda’s history of launching games that initially present as unpolished and bug-filled. Hines suggested that some of the so-called 'jank' is purposefully included, commenting, 'there is some amount of that which is intentional, meaning we embrace chaos.'
He further linked the issues detected in Starfield and Skyrim to the company's approach of encouraging player freedom. 'We could make a safer, less buggy, less risky game if we wanted to. But what we try to lean into is player freedom.'
Hines on Bugs in Gaming
Hines’s implication was that bugs are a natural part of crafting games as expansive and ambitious as Bethesda’s. 'Of course there are bugs. But does it takes away from your experience?' he challenged, 'Or do you have a consistent, fun game that you just can’t stop playing and experimenting with?'
Hines shared a humorous instance regarding a resolved bug in Starfield for added emphasis. According to Hines, a bug enabled a shark to access an elevator in Neon; the street-level doors would open, releasing the shark and causing panic among the virtual crowd. This amusing incident exemplifies the kind of eccentricity that Bethesda is known to embrace.
While instances like the neon shark won't occur in Starfield, the story illustrates the company's playful approach to game design. Hines hit the home point that bugs could enhance the overall gaming experience provided they do not affect gameplay in any significant manner.
The Verdict on Starfield
Despite Starfield's release being smoother compared to previous Bethesda games, there seems to be enough of the beloved 'jank' to keep fans entertained.