General:April Fools 2013/Tim Howard Interview

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This article was a part of the 2013 April Fools Prank.

Ben Olodu: Hello! My name is Ben Olodu, and I am here with Tim Howard, the creative director of TES VI: Akavir, the recently announced game in the Elder Scrolls Series. What can you tell us about it?

Tim Howard: The Elder Scrolls: Akavir is the sixth game in the Elder Scrolls series. It is set on Akavir, a continent to the east of Tamriel, in 288 of the Third Era, which is a few hundred years before the events of Morrowind and Oblivion.

BO: Why Akavir?

TH: Well, we decided that we wanted to have more monkeys. (laugh)

TH: The reason we chose Akavir was because, although there hasn’t been much documentation about it in any of the games, it has had a massive impact on the history of Tamriel. We wanted to expand on that lore by actually going there.

BO: Why the year 3E 288?

TH: We looked at the lore to determine what year we would go there. The reason we chose the year 3E 288 is the invasion by Uriel Septim V. He’s the grandfather of the emperor in Oblivion. Obviously an invasion creates times of strife and danger, so it’s the perfect time to place a game where combat plays a major role.

TH: We also want to re-introduce the concept of passing-time seen in Arena; the game will take place over a number of years, and you will be involved in the years after the invasion with the succession of Uriel VI.

BO: That brings up an interesting subject there, we know how the war turns out. How do you plan on making the game work around this?

TH: That’s true. We know from our history books that Uriel V died in 290 during the invasion and Uriel VII succeeded him. We also know that the Akavir won the war. What we don’t know is the Akavir side of the story, and how the succession played out, as Uriel VII was only five when his father died.

TH: There is a lot of stuff we can do in regards how the Akaviri united to defeat the enemy. We know from “Mysterious Akavir” that the Akaviri races basically hated each other, so how do they set aside their differences to unite? The time after the war will be interesting too, but more to do with politics, as the line of succession plays out. It will be an interesting mix of the known and the unknown, we hope we pulled it off.

BO: How is Akavir going to be different from previous games in the series?

TH: We are shifting away from Tamriel, the continent that the previous five games have been located on, and also away from the races that people have grown up with. We want players to experience the other side of the story, one where the Empire is the bad guy.

BO: So the players won’t play as the traditional races?

TH: That’s correct! We are adding six new playable races for everyone to experience. The Kamal, a race that is sort of like a yeti, the Tang Po, a race of monkey-people who are fierce warriors, the Ka Po’ Tun, a cat-like race who are distantly related to Khajiit, the Tsaesci, a race of golden serpent warriors, the Sload, a slug like race and the Maormer, the Sea Elves.

BO: And these races are opposed to the Empire?

TH: Yes, though they are not amicable at first. Each of the four main races, the Kamal, Tang Po, Ka Po’ Tun and the Tsaesci hail from their own corner of Akavir. Your starting location reflects which race you choose. All of these four races are opposed to each other from the beginning of the game, and through the main quest, the player will bring them together in order to drive out the Empire.

BO: What about the other two? The Sload and Maormer?

TH: We are going a completely different route with those two races. Instead of being on a side to begin with, they start just offshore from Akavir, and can choose which of the four nations they want to join.

BO: Why an entirely new game so soon after Skyrim was released? Wouldn’t more DLC be faster and easier?

TH: Ideally we would have wanted to release one or two additional things for Skyrim before announcing Akavir, but since Akavir is a next-gen game, we wanted to release it as close as possible to the launch of the next-gen consoles. This meant that we had to work on Akavir instead of more Skyrim DLC. But rest assured, the next two Skyrim DLCs are going to be released, and we still have people working on Skyrim. Work on Akavir will not affect the release of more Skyrim DLC, just like with Elder Scrolls: Online.

BO: That’s good to hear. Since it is taking place on a new continent, will we still see some of the familiar things from the previous games like the Fighters Guild and the Mages Guild?

TH: Nope! It is a brand new world to explore, with guilds that are unique to Akavir. While I can’t tell you too many specifics just yet, I can tell a few of the names of the factions. Right now, The Syffim, the Dragonguard and the Order of the Lamp questlines are almost complete. There are a few others, but I can’t tell you about them yet.

BO: What other things are different from the previous games?

TH: One of the things I am most excited about is the combat system. We are trying to move away from the hack and slash weapons that have been the norm in other Elder Scrolls games. Instead, since many of the races are bestial, we wanted to focus much more on hand-to-hand, unarmed combat. Each race will have their own, unique form of combat centered around claws, talons and teeth. It makes the combat feel much more physical and lifelike, from the player’s perspective.

BO: So there are no weapons at all?

TH: There will still be weapons, but not nearly as many and they won’t be as powerful as a character fighting unarmed. The Akaviri katanas and daikatanas will be present. Also, since everyone has complained about it since they were removed in Oblivion, we will be adding spears in Akavir.

BO: How large is Akavir, compared to earlier games?

TH: The entire land area of the game, including the underwater zones, is about half again as big as Skyrim was. This will be our largest game yet!

BO: Wait, underwater zones?

TH: Uh oh. I wasn’t supposed to tell you that. (laugh)

TH: Yeah, the Sload begin on the sunken island of Kal Harem. Also, there are quite a few things to explore underwater throughout Akavir, especially in Tang Po, the Thousand Monkey Isles. We felt that previous games under-utilized the water portions of the game, making spells such as waterwalking and waterbreathing somewhat useless. We hope that by having large amounts of content below the surface, we can allow those iconic spells to become useful again.

BO: Anything else you can tell me?

TH: Nope, that is pretty much it. We will have much more information to release in the next few months. Hopefully, we will be able to show some concept art at PAXPrime in August. Until then, you guys will just have to wait!

BO: Tim Howard, thank you for sitting down with me, I can’t wait to hear more about Akavir!

TH: Thank you for having me!