More Skyrim news today; one would swear the game was just around the corner. Oh wait, wait… no, it still feels eons away. Bummer.

In an interview with Gamasutra, Todd Howard discussed what kept the Bethesda design team the busiest during development of Skyrim. The answer will make total sense to many as it’s one of the most complained about nuances in Bethesda RPGs: the NPCs and making them believable. According to Howard, environments are waxed; the team knows how to make gorgeous places to explore. When it comes to interacting with other characters however, that’s when things still get a little wobbly:

“we still struggle with… the NPCs, the interaction, and how they act. That’s because the game is so dynamic, we don’t want to script them, so weirdness can ensue sometimes. So we came out of Oblivion thinking, hey, how do we get more believable characters on the screen who are reacting to you.”

The size of the playable area has come up before when discussing Skyrim, and Howard readily reiterates that the terrain is about the same size as Oblivion, but there is one distinct feature that makes traversing that terrain feel longer and more epic: the mountains.

“In Fallout 3 or Oblivion, you can cut across the landscape, for the most part. You can draw a line and say, “I wanna go there.” But in Skyrim, you can’t. You might run into a mountain, and you might have to scale a mountain. In general, we try to make the game harder the higher the elevation you’re in. That changes the flow of the game.”

And for the diehard Elder Scrolls fans petrified of having the game dumbed-down to appeal to a wider audience, fear not because Howard has confirmed that accessibility is “not something that we think about a lot”. This he attributes to the fact that their previous games have always found a large enough audience, so the desire to possibly expand at the cost of potentially pissing off fans is a no-go area for the team working on Skyrim. That’s not to say that we cannot expect a more streamlined approach to things:

“We want to remove confusion, that’s what I’d say. As opposed to making it more accessible, we’d like to remove confusion for anyone who’s playing. What we’re trying to do now is lead you into it more.”

Source: Gamasutra