DICE 2009: The Following Colorful Wisdom Is From Todd Howard

“If installed base mattered, we’d all make board games, because there’s a lot of tables out there.”

See below for more Todd Howard (“Fallout 3” pearls of wisdom):

Everything from this post is taken from the speech being delivered today at the DICE Summit today:

Bethesda’s Three Rules To Making Excellent Games

1. Great games are played not made – “You have to play your game. You have to be ready to throw out your ideas that you think are the greatest.

2. Keep it simple. – Bethesda rendered too much of Washington D.C. while developing “Fallout 3,” so the team did this: “We took abotu half of the downtown D.C. out of the game.”

3. Define the experience – “Don’t define your game by a list of bullet points… define it by the experience you want people to have.”

Developers making sequels should read old reviews of the acclaimed originals, which, typically describe the essence of what made the game good. As an example, Howard said that even though the original “Fallout” doesn’t seem that violent by today’s standards, the reviews of that game described the original’s violence as a vivid, essential part of the game. Blur out the names of the games named in reviews of any “Eleder Scrolls” game and you can’t tell which one is being reviewed, Howard said. And he considers that proof of the developers staying true to the game’s values.

Four levels of player experience

1. Learn. The first thing a player is doing is learning the game.

2. Play. They just want to have fun.

3. Challenge. People want to win, so a game should have challenge but always give the player a way out.

4. Surprise. Show players something new. And then repeat this four-point cycle.

Howard: “Too many of us focus on three and four because we are trying to impress our co-workers. Nintendo is the best at 1 and 2.