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I’ve had a great privilege to do an interview with Matt Grandstaff of Bethesda. I wanted to ask him some questions about Bethesda and how they operate. I thought that people should get to know one of their favorite developers in the gaming industry. Please enjoy this interview as much as I did.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

My name’s Matt Grandstaff – I’m the Community Manager at Bethesda Softworks. I grew up in both Iowa and Michigan. I’ve now lived in DC for 5 ½ years.

How long have you worked at Bethesda, and how did you end up there?

I started in April of 2007, so I guess I’m closing in on my two-year anniversary. Back in college, I was an aspiring game writer for my college paper, and looked to break into that business. Easier said than done, I took a few marketing jobs in DC. When I saw that Bethesda was hiring a Community Manager, I knew I had to apply. I still think it’s kind of crazy that I ended up finding a job “in the business” near DC, of all places.

What’s your favorite Bethesda developed game?

I grew up playing more console games than PC games, so I’m most familiar with Morrowind, Oblivion, and Fallout 3, which is definitely my favorite. Aside from having been involved with its release…I really dig that its setting is DC.

What was the first video game you ever played?

Pretty sure it was either Combat or Space Invaders on my Atari 2600, which was purchased sometime around when I was born. I think I started playing games when I was 2-3 years old, and have fond memories of playing those games, as well as Yar’s Revenge, Donkey Kong, Frogger, and Raiders of the Lost Ark. I’ve been playing games ever since.

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Matt chillin’ in his office.

What is your favorite weapon in Fallout 3?

Combat shotgun. I love getting in close, using VATS, and going for the body. I usually put an emphasis on my Explosives skill, so I always stock up on Frag Grenades too.

In the earlier days of gaming, everyone assumed that the only business model that worked was being a publisher. Game developers would grow up but eventually have to expand into publishing in order to be viable. When did you first think about the idea of succeeding as a company focused only on game development?

Well, we’re actually a publisher too. Fallout 3 was both developed AND published by us. In addition to Bethesda Game Studios titles, we’ve published games by other developers and will continue to do so.

How many employees do you have at Bethesda Softworks?

Last I heard we were somewhere around 180 employees, but that continues to grow. In addition to our development team, we’ve got folks in marketing, admin, sales – we even have our own kitchen staff.

We know you get to work for one of the best developers in the businesses. What is the experience like working with Todd Howard?

Todd is great. While I’m not actually making the games for him, he’s always pretty good at discussing ideas for the community and looking at what people in our forums have to say about our games.

Besides that, he’s also one of the funniest people I know.

How hard have the guys worked on Fallout 3 to make it one of the best RPG’s last year and did it all pay off for you guys in the end result?

Between pre-development and development, the team has been working on Fallout 3 since 2004. In the end, we’re very happy with the game we released, and it’s great to know so many people have enjoyed it.

What was the development process like for the consoles? The PS3 isn’t the easiest to code for a developer, but has more potential than most of the consoles.

I’ll be honest, that’s not really a question for me. I know that the team worked very hard to make the gameplay experience of Fallout 3 the same on all platforms we released it on.

Do you have a tightly knit development team?

I’d say so. I think if these guys weren’t working together, they’d still be hanging out together. And in terms of work, it’s great to see how the ideas come from everyone – not just the top. With the Fallout 3 DLC we’re working on, I’m seeing some really great ideas from many members of the team.

If you didn’t work in video games, what would you be doing?

My fiancée always tells me I’d make a great color commentator for basketball or football games. Of course, those jobs are usually left for retired athletes.

Can you tell us a little bit about your game engine, for Oblivion and Fallout 3 the graphics and physics were gorgeous. We’d all like to know what engine you guys run the beautifully rendered games on?

Like Oblivion, Fallout 3 uses a heavily modified version of the Gamebryo engine. We’ve made a lot of modifications to the engine so that it suits the game we’re trying to make. Our programmers deserve a lot of credit for all the work they do in getting everything to look so good and run smoothly.

Are there any plans for FO3 themes or avatar clothing for NXE?

Currently we don’t have any announced plans for anything like that. I wouldn’t rule out the possibility though.

Thanks much to you Matt and the development house at Bethesda for taking the time to answer some questions for us and the community. We look forward to your future projects. If you have any comments you’d like to leave to Matt about this interview please go ahead and comment below.

  1. avatar Dark Slayer

    Nice Adam, great interview. I told you that it would happen =P

  2. avatar Oncol

    Nice interview, combat shotgun ftw : D!

  3. avatar xferesin

    Haha designing and working on videogames would be one of the best jobs ever. Btw great interview A++

  4. Yea, I’m glad you guys are liking it.

    • avatar Holden

      I? have seen the video you are talking about, and i meant if you read what you wrote berfoe Skyrim is actually the first game we have not done on a new platform, & we can believe that we? can still get a lot out of it berfoe we move on to the next generation And I know that you feel he was talking in the perspective, but Bethesda know that sony and microsoft have said their consoles are HALF way through their life. They wont wait 3-4 years to make a new game.

  5. amazing interview Adam. Thanks a lot

  6. Your welcome I’m trying to do my next one with Monolith the creators of F.E.A.R 2.

    • avatar Sabina

      I’ve always enyojed looking at concept art -after- the game has come out. It’s fun for me to watch and say I have totally been there! or Wow, they really took that area in a different direction, (particularly in the case of the concept art for Solitude, shown early in this clip).Maybe I’m a nerd, I dunno. But if I start to get burned out on a game, this kind of thing refreshes my interest.

  7. avatar Joseph

    Wish you would have asked why the ps3 version of FO3 doesn’t get dlc.

  8. avatar J

    “I know that the team worked very hard to make the gameplay experience of Fallout 3 the same on all platforms we released it on.”

    Why not support it on all platforms?

    • avatar Jackson

      To be honest I don’t mind Bethesta buinyg the rights to Fallout. I think they did a good job on Fallout 3 and New vegas. Sure, we don’t? get to play online, but What the hell would happen to the V.A.T.S system. Vats is Fallout. And it being single player gives you so mutch more freedom. So if it was online it would be like this:Oh! cool a cave lets check it out, oh its allready looted. I gues my broken pipe will ceep me alive.I know to would have figured out something, but do you know what i mean

  9. Why because MS paid them for the exclusive DLC ,why else do you think?

  10. avatar Mohamed

    , the first thing I thought was if they can’t get it lealgly then they will get it though other methods, losing any tax revenue they would have received. Companies complain about the piracy of their products, but the Australian Government just bumped the piracy rate up to 100% for that title. I seen that in South America with the PS2 – you couldn’t buy one lealgly so instead of having low sales you had no sales. Of course selling the PS2 as a loss leader didn’t help matters there. And once people have to go out of the way to get something through alternate means, knowledge of that path stays with them, so next time it might not be just a banned product.

  11. avatar Vilaysack

    As a generality, the US will cesonr sexual content where Europe will cesonr violence. For instance The Witcher had nudity in Europe and not in the US. Personally I think the Europeans get it right. If you are going to cesonr something, why do it to something natural like sex instead of violence? There are a dozen simulated murders on US Prime Time TV every night that people think nothing about, but a split second glimpse of a bare breast during the Superbowl and you have all kinds of people up in arms.

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