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Todd Howard: The Creation Engine took its sweet time to be adapted enough to develop Starfield in

Todd Howard admires the tech team behind Starfield upgraded Creation Engine 2 and commends their efforts. He guarantees a consistent experience, and shares that playing the game is a delightful experience.

During the Xbox 2023 showcase, Starfield garnered significant attention with its impressive graphics and overall presentation, and according to Todd Howard, an important factor behind this was the enhanced Creation Engine 2.

Over eight years, Bethesda Game Studios has been diligently working on a significant overhaul of the Creation Engine. With Starfield’s development primarily handled internally, the studio has dedicated efforts to upgrading the engine for the new Xbox Series X/S consoles. Microsoft’s ATG (Advanced Technology Group) has been collaborating with Bethesda Game Studios since early 2022 to ensure optimal performance on both the Series S and Series X consoles, providing assistance in areas such as console optimization.

In a recent interview on the Kinda Funny Gamescast, Todd Howard shared his insights regarding the advanced game engine, explicitly highlighting features like volumetric fog and the newly implemented global illumination system.

“We are just so happy with the new engine. It took us so long to do,” Howard said.

“Our tech team there are wizards, led by Chris Rodriguez and Joel Dinolt. What we’re able to do in the game, and have all these things looking amazing and running from all the items we’re simulating in people’s spaceships, full planets, our lighting model is just awesome…it’s a real-time GI (global illumination).”

Todd Howard opens up about difficulties with the Creation Engine during development of Starfield

Howard highlights the volumetric lighting system, which we may have seen evidence of in some of the biomes shown off in the Starfield Direct clip.

“We didn’t really show this off, and I’d love to in the future, but we have some really great volumetric fog and how that interacts with the lighting. Then you get into the physics and we start messing with gravity, it gets crazier. Our guest system…I think people are…you know, there are a lot of open world games now, but I think what really makes ours different is that all these quests are running. It’s not like you start a mission and we shut everything down.

“You can be on dozens of these at once, and that creates a lot of chaos sometimes in our games, we’re aware of that, but it also creates these magic moments that we just love and our players love, and I think that’s what is really really special about it.”

Howard further discusses whether the Starfield team considered incorporating a performance mode to achieve a higher frame rate of 60FPS, even if it meant sacrificing or scaling back certain features.

Q Was it ever under consideration that you would take away some of these features that you talked about with the volumetric fog?

We never looked at taking features away. Our focus was on delivering all of that, obviously we’ve seen all the comments. Digital Foundry, the do an incredible job, I don’t think they know how everyone in the games industry watches every single one of their videos…they do a fantastic job.

Ultimately look, we boil it down to…we wanted the consistency. The game is running great but we don’t want players to ever think about it. We have obviously seen other games have performance modes, we lean towards consistency overall. We talk to our fans and hear from everybody, so we’re feeling really great. The game feels great in your hands. and I would say that developers know this and there are things you can do to make that look and feel great, things like motion blur, the refresh rates, all of those things matter to something feeling great. I can honestly say this is the best-feeling game that we have.

Todd Howard

For more Starfield news and updates, check out our coverage of the game like the Starfield: AMD’s exclusive deal which has sparked controversy over DLSS support