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Morrowind Completely Rebooted Your Xbox During Some Loading Screens

Illustration for article titled iMorrowind/i Completely Rebooted Your Xbox During Some Loading Screens
Screenshot: Bethesda

The latest episode of the official Xbox podcast features a discussion between Microsoft and Bethesda executives about the console manuracturer’s recent acquisition of the Elder Scrolls developer for a whopping $7.5 billion.

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While the video is mostly about hyping up a massive business deal, Bethesda’s chief software engineer Todd Howard did share a neat anecdote from when the studio ported The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind from PC to the original Xbox in 2002. Morrowind is a massive role-playing game, and it was a miracle it worked half as well as it did on the console.

Some of this, Howard explained, had to do with the folks at Xbox tipping Bethesda off to a few quirks of the hardware.

“There’s been great tricks that [Xbox] taught us,” Howard said. “My favorite one in Morrowind is, if you’re running low on memory, you can reboot the original Xbox and the user can’t tell. You can throw, like, a screen up. When Morrowind loads sometimes, you get a very long load. That’s us rebooting the Xbox. That was like a hail Mary.”

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Howard also shared a quick story about his debut on a Microsoft stage at E3 2008, which saw the first live gameplay of Fallout 3. But while Howard was on stage with a controller, that wasn’t him actually playing the game. Connection issues meant that they had to go with the back-up plan of having vice president Pete Hines control the action backstage. “It was the worst demo I’ve ever given,” Howard said.

Bethesda’s new partnership with Microsoft puts it in the company of other first-party developers like 343 Industries, Obsidian Entertainment, Mojang Studios, and Rare. While it’s still unclear what this means for people on non-Xbox platforms—Microsoft executive vice president Phil Spencer says the company will decide release platforms on a “case-by-case basis”—games like Deathloop and GhostWire: Tokyo will remain timed exclusives on PlayStation 5 due to preexisting contracts.

Staff Writer, Kotaku

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DISCUSSION

I love hearing those kind of stories about technical challenges and problem solving in videogame design. Hook them to my veins.