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Bethesda: Xbox One is a "nice, robust machine", cross-platform work is a "nightmare"

Softworks boss talks bringing The Elder Scrolls Online to consoles

Bethesda is finding the transition to Xbox One and PS4 relatively easy, the publisher's vice-president Pete Hines has told OXM, as the two consoles are structured much like beefy gaming PCs. That said, developer ZeniMax Online Studios has its work cut out bringing new MMO The Elder Scrolls Online to all three platforms simultaneously.

"It's really not easy, but it's certainly much easier," Hines observed in an E3 chat. "I'm not trying to insult Sony or Microsoft, but they're high-end PCs, the way they're architectured. Though they're still in development, they're not done, they're much easier to develop for."

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That's providing, of course, you're not working on all the machines in parallel. "They don't all play with each other. PC and Mac play together, but Xbox One is its own thing and PS4 is its own thing. The whole cross-platform thing is just a nightmare."

The difficulties of cross-platform development are age-old, of course, but they're exacerbated in the case of The Elder Scrolls Online, which must run separate servers for each version to avoid technical snarl-ups.

Being staunch upholders of the emerald X, we naturally asked for more as regards Xbox One in particular. "Are we looking forward to developing on Xbox One?" Hines retorted. "Yes. It's a nice robust machine that allows to do lots of cool stuff and put more cool things in the game." Pretty cut and dried, then.

The bulk of said Cool Stuff and Things will probably arrive after the console's launch, however, as developers sink their teeth deeper into the technology. "Much like Xbox 360, all the work that you do just helps more when you go to do it again. When you look at Skyrim and you go back and look at Oblivion, and look at all the content and what we're putting on the screen, it's a bit night and day.

"It probably doesn't seem that different, but if you actually go back and look, we accomplished so much more," Hines concluded. "So the further forward we go, the better and better it's going to be."

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You might want to wash that down with some thoughts on how The Elder Scrolls Online makes MMO combat more open-ended and "flexible". In other news, Bethesda's game director and executive producer Todd Howard is working on something "really awesome". What could it be?

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