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STARFIELD Q&A with Will Shen and Emil Pagliarulo

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Aug 16th, 2023
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  1. 2023 / 08 / 16 - STARFIELD Q&A with Will Shen and Emil Pagliarulo
  3. 1 - Can we buy houses or property in main cities?
  4. Will Shen: Yep! There’s housing in different cities that the player can get. Some you have to purchase and some are rewards for specific quests.
  5. Emil Pagliarulo: Emil: Sure can! You can purchase a dwelling in all the major cities in the game. And there’s at least one that you get specifically for completing... something. 😊
  8. 2 - If we get the Kids Stuff trait, will our parents be generated based on our characters look or are there standard parents put in place? What benefits might there be?
  9. Will Shen: Our programmers on our new face tech were excited to make a function that could try to match your custom face and then create the two parents. So they are based on what your character looks like, although the specific math involved is a bit beyond me. We had similar tech in our previous games.
  10. Emil Pagliarulo: Yes, totally. Just as we did in Fallout 3 with your dad, and in Fallout 4 with your son, in Starfield, if you take the Kid Stuff Trait. your parents are based off of you. No spoilers, but I think fans will really appreciate the actors we got to play those roles. And they just get SO into it, it’s awesome. (Oh, and yeah, you can get... stuff)
  13. 3 - For those of us who have never played a BGS game and will be starting with Starfield, what information should we know that will make the experience more impactful right from the start? How deep should we go into creating our character’s backstory before we start the game?
  14. Emil Pagliarulo: Hmmm... Well...
  15. Emil Pagliarulo: We always make our games for fans both old AND new. So you can jump in without ever having played a Bethesda title before.
  16. Will Shen: While we do start you off in the same spot, what happened to you before the game starts is totally up to you and your head canon.
  17. Emil Pagliarulo: But we like to look at it less as playing a game, and more about living in the universe we created.
  18. Emil Pagliarulo: So settle in, go at your own pace, and pretty soon you’ll learn all the systems and be adventuring through the Settled Systems the way you choose.
  19. Will Shen: There is a Trait and Background system that will let you specify more about yourself, but you can also select an anonymous background and no traits if you want.
  20. Will Shen: In terms of if you've never played a BGS game before: Try anything! We’re a simulation as well as a roleplaying game, so we try to support the player doing what they want as much as we can.
  21. Emil Pagliarulo: As for going into a character's backstory, that's entirely up to you. I'm all about that head canon.
  24. 4 - How will the smuggling cargo system work? Can we hide it somewhere on the ship and sell it for more currency later?
  25. Will Shen: Certain items are considered “Contraband” and you’ll need to smuggle them past security ships that are in orbit of major settlements.
  26. Emil Pagliarulo: There are specific items that are considered Contraband, meaning they’re pretty much illegal everywhere.
  27. Emil Pagliarulo: And yes, you can hide them using special ship modules you can purchase. So, you know, don’t get caught with those harvested organs. :VaultBoySunglasses:
  28. Emil Pagliarulo: The economy is fixed, but prices of bought and sold good can change based on the Skills you choose.
  29. Emil Pagliarulo: There are items with backstories, yeah. But can't be specific.
  32. 5 - Will there be a jail system if we committed crimes?
  33. Will Shen: Yes, you can elect to go to jail or pay a fine when you’re arrested (or even resist arrest and try to escape).
  34. Emil Pagliarulo: Yup. The Settled Systems is more like Skyrim than Fallout 4’s Commonwealth in that regard. Ya bancha criminals!
  35. Emil Pagliarulo: There’s civilization, there’s government, and there are laws. And in a couple cases, we actually explore the themes of crime and punishment in our futuristic universe.
  36. 6) Will time pass when not in the game? For example, will my trade routes, outposts, and mining operations continue to produce or does that only occur while actively playing?
  37. Emil Pagliarulo: The sim only runs when you’re actively playing. No sleeping on the job!
  38. Will Shen: Only when actively playing.
  41. 7 - Can you be a double agent in the game? For example, if you join the United Colonies, can you also join the Crimson Fleet and give the United Colonies information? And what factions have that feature if they do?
  42. Will Shen: All of the playable factions can be completed independently.
  43. Emil Pagliarulo: Ha! That is exactly what you can do – infiltrate the Crimson Fleet for UC SysDef! It's specific to that questline.
  44. Will Shen: The Crimson Fleet storyline does feature you being an undercover agent inside the Fleet on behalf of UC SysDef (a specific military branch of the United Colonies), but whether you betray the Fleet or UC SysDef is a choice you will get to make.
  45. Emil Pagliarulo: In the studio, I have been (half-jokingly) accused of referencing movies that some folks have never seen, because I’m old. So with this particular plotline, the inspiration was very much the movie Donnie Brasco, which is the true story of an FBI agent who infiltrates the mafia. HOW FAR WILL YOU GO?!
  46. Emil Pagliarulo: I don't really want to spoil anything, so all I'll say is, you have specific roles/jobs/missions in the faction questlines. The Freestar Collective and United Colonies are giant organizations, and the work you do for them is important. But it's not like you gain complete control of those factions at the end of those questlines.
  47. Emil Pagliarulo: As for whether or not the UC will be violently angry with you if you ultimately take the Crimson Fleet's side, yeah, they ain't happy. lol
  50. 8 - Depending on traits selected during character creation, will it at all be possible to play through the game in a 'pacifist mode', i.e. without killing anyone, or even potentially, anything?
  51. Will Shen: I can’t guarantee every mission can be completed in pacifist mode, but we do have a couple of systems that will help.
  52. Emil Pagliarulo: So, we talked about this very early on during pre-production, whether or not we would fully support a “non-lethal” playthrough. We realized that, for various reasons, that wasn’t totally feasible.
  53. Will Shen: One system is our Speech Challenge game, where you can persuade someone to do something like not fight you.
  54. Emil Pagliarulo: Now, that being said, there are some good non-lethal options, whether through dialogue or by using a non-lethal weapon. Those can be used in certain situations, honestly a lot of situations, though I couldn’t comfortably say you can complete the entire game without any killing whatsoever.
  55. Emil Pagliarulo: The Settled Systems is mostly civilized, but it can be a dangerous place if you’re going off the beaten path. And you’re absolutely going off the beaten path! 🚀
  56. Will Shen: The speech challenge game is added in specific scripted moments, and we try to add one in to most quests where important characters confront you.
  59. 9 - What are the beliefs and basic history of the religions we can join (Sanctum Universum, Enlightened, Great Serpent)?
  60. Emil Pagliarulo: Okay, so this one...
  61. Will Shen: Yeah
  62. Emil Pagliarulo: Existing, IRL religions are part of the Starfield universe, (with folks of all religions and denominations out there) but we don't really focus on them. Instead, we highlight three new ones specific to the game.
  63. Will Shen: The Sanctum Universum is only a couple decades old in our timeline, but has gained a lot of prominence.
  64. Will Shen: They believe that God is out there, somewhere in the universe, and that humanity’s ability to travel the stars brings us closer to God.
  65. Emil Pagliarulo: Sanctum Universum – The members, called “Universals,” believe that God very much exists somewhere in the universe. That a higher power is guiding us all. Specifically, they believe that humanity’s ability to travel the universe and grav jump is God’s way of saying, “I’m out here. Come find me.”
  66. Will Shen: The Enlightened are an atheist group that focus on humanitarian and community work.
  67. Will Shen: They believe that life is something every person has to take responsibility for, so that if we want the world to be a better place, we have to do it.
  68. Emil Pagliarulo: The Enlightened – These folks are essentially organized atheists. They don’t believe in any kind of higher power. Rather, they teach that human beings have to take care of each other, and they practice what they preach through various community outreach programs.
  69. Emil Pagliarulo: House Va’ruun - Ho boy. 😆
  70. Emil Pagliarulo: So, in the game, you’re not really sure what the complete truth is, but...
  71. Emil Pagliarulo: The gossip among the guards is this: a colony ship sets off for a new world, making grav jumps along the way. After one of the grav jumps, one of the passengers claims he spent that time communing with a celestial entity known as the Great Serpent. What was a few seconds for everyone else was... much longer for him. And he brought back a mandate, which is basically, “get onboard, or be devoured when the Great Serpent encircles the universe.”
  72. Emil Pagliarulo: Is it true?? I ain't sayin'.
  73. Emil Pagliarulo: So in the game, you sometimes face off against House Va’ruun Zealots (as an enemy group), and that’s their motivation.
  74. Emil Pagliarulo: I recently got the House Va’runn logo tattooed on my wrist. So yeah, I dig them.
  77. 10 - How many companions total will we be able to recruit?
  78. Will Shen: There are over 20 named characters who can join your crew.
  79. Emil Pagliarulo: Over 20 total, and we really focused on the members of Constellation.
  80. Emil Pagliarulo: What Will said. lol
  81. Will Shen: Four of them are from Constellation and have the most story and interaction with the player, but all of the named characters have their own backgrounds and can follow you around (and carry your stuff).
  82. Emil Pagliarulo: When we first began Starfield pre-production, we looked back at our previous games, and realized how popular and effective the companions were. So they were a big priority for us, and we really wanted to tie them directly to the main quest.
  83. Emil Pagliarulo: There are some really big moments with them specifically.
  84. Emil Pagliarulo: I should also mention that our companion voice cast is amazing. We haven’t released the list yet, but you can be sure there are a lot of talented actors bringing those characters to life. (Same for Constellation in general)
  85. Emil Pagliarulo: Oh, in addition to the companions, you can also hire generic crewmembers to work at your outpost or on your ship
  86. Will Shen: You can ask a crew member to follow you around. They'll stay at your side like our previous games.
  89. 11 - When we assign crew members to work at outposts, do we have to pay them salaries?
  90. Emil Pagliarulo: You just pay them once. We actually experimented with paying them regular salaries, but ultimately decided to just have the one cost up front.
  91. Will Shen: Yep. One time payment (that you can use the speech challenge game to negotiate over. Some traits also affect the cost)
  92. Emil Pagliarulo: There’s a lot to do in Starfield, and we wanted to minimize what the player had to constantly keep track of.
  95. 12 - Will our companions be able to level up their perks? Will their perks stack with ours?
  96. Will Shen: All crew start with a set of skills at specific ranks.
  97. Emil Pagliarulo: They don’t level up, but they come at different ranks, depending on the companion.
  98. Will Shen: So you might meet a character that’s especially good at rifles, and you hire them to watch your back. Or you might meet an Astrodynamics expert that will increase your grav jump range when assigned to your ship.
  99. Emil Pagliarulo: Well, we call them Skills in Starfield. And they do stack with yours, when relevant.
  100. Emil Pagliarulo: Some are there for flavor, to highlight the companions’ backgrounds and interests. But you’ll really feel the benefit of the ship- and combat-related ones. Getting a boost to your shields, or seeing your companion laying down fire with a weapon they’re proficient in, are pretty sweet moments.
  103. 13 - What are your favorite parts of the game?
  104. Emil Pagliarulo: Shipping it!
  105. Emil Pagliarulo: But seriously, folks.
  106. Will Shen: I love finding content that I haven’t seen yet or forgot about. Our games are so big that no one person is likely to have seen it all, even after all our passes and levels of review.
  107. Emil Pagliarulo: Because of my position, my experience is a little different than yours. I won't speak for Will, but personally, I’ve seen every questline, every city, every major piece of content in the game at every stage of development. So my answer is colored by that.
  108. Emil Pagliarulo: For me, the real pleasure is seeing how they’ve all evolved into the versions they are today – the versions everyone here will play. I have a real soft spot for Neon. Getting that city nailed down took a lot of work by a lot of different people, and the result is, really, the cyberpunk settlement I always hoped it would be.
  109. Emil Pagliarulo: I also love all the questlines. I think they’re the best we’ve ever done. The designers on this project totally killed it.
  110. Will Shen: Our quests really evolve over development and its great to see how everyone adds to them (designers, animators, voice actors, lighting, everything).
  111. Emil Pagliarulo: I do different playthroughs with different characters. I always make my spy/assassin dude. One of my characters now is a version of the barbarian character I play in all kinds of fantasy games. I have a scumbag space outlaw dude. All kinds of playstyles.
  114. 14 - What books or movies had a big influence on some of the quests?
  115. Will Shen: I’m a history nerd, so I actually listen to a lot of podcasts like Hardcore History and The History of Rome.
  116. Emil Pagliarulo: Well, I’m a child of the late 70s-early 80s, and I have very fond memories of the sci-fi of that time.
  117. Emil Pagliarulo: So, let me think...
  118. Will Shen: While our game is science fiction, I like how historians can tell you about how human beings react to extreme circumstances (like war, famine, and technological breakthroughs), and you can imagine how we’d react to similar circumstances in a fictional setting (just at a grander scale).
  119. Emil Pagliarulo: Star Wars, OG Battlestar Galactica, Space: 1999, Buck Rogers, Battle Beyond the Stars, Ice Pirates... and let’s not forget the classic that is Metalstorm: The Destruction of Jaryd Syn. I think I actually saw that one in 3D.
  120. Emil Pagliarulo: But also much “headier” sci-fi stuff, like the writings of Arthur C. Clarke and Robert Heinlein, or films like Contact, Interstellar, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and even Event Horizon.
  121. Emil Pagliarulo: In all of those examples, you realize that outer space is two things: 1.) A source of mystery and wonder, sometimes terror AND 2.) A giant blank page on which you can write any story. And we have written a lot of VERY different stories in Starfield.
  122. Will Shen: We do love writing in-game books
  123. Emil Pagliarulo: Will's t-shirt game is SICK.
  124. Emil Pagliarulo: Most of them have cats. Or dinosaurs.
  125. Will Shen: Thanks! I get a lot of my shirts from Threadless:
  126. Will Shen: They don't sponsor me, I just buy a lot of them.
  127. Will Shen: I was a fan of the Greek and Norse myths as a kid. The stories are very BIG and characters are flawed and have clear motivations.
  128. Emil Pagliarulo: I love space games. Love the original Elite and Elite Dangerous. Privateer was a huge influence.
  129. Emil Pagliarulo: Cowboy Bebop inspiration? Oh hell yes.
  130. Emil Pagliarulo: Love the Expanse! So yup!
  133. 15 - What are some favorite small details in Starfield to add to the immersion?
  134. Emil Pagliarulo: I think what I really love is that, although humans are living in space, and our aesthetic is very much "NASApunk," this is a very lived-in universe. And you can see it everywhere.
  135. Will Shen: I look really closely at all our outfits. You can see seems, materials, especially on the spacesuits (Constellation members have patches on their spacesuits and they're tied to what skills they have).
  136. Emil Pagliarulo: You know, everyone loves the sandwiches. But it's the books that are lying around, the notes on bulletin boards, the environmental storytelling that our level designers and world artists are so good at.
  137. Will Shen: We also love buttons. There's a lot of buttons.
  138. Emil Pagliarulo: So all, I'm a slow typer, and somewhat typo obsessed...
  139. Emil Pagliarulo: Totally love the workj from our voice actors, too. And the music. And sound effects. And clothes. lol
  140. Emil Pagliarulo: Buttons! We do love our buttons. Oh, I do want to mention this, if you haven't heard about it. Adam Savage and team are building a filming model of the Frontier:
  141. Emil Pagliarulo: And that ship, man. And all the ships - the level of detail is insane.
  144. 16 - What is the history of the mechs?
  145. Emil Pagliarulo: Oooooo the mechs. Good one.
  146. Emil Pagliarulo: So, we showed this a bit in one of the animated shorts.
  147. Emil Pagliarulo: The mechs are leftovers from the Colony Wars. (Note it's Colony War and not Colony Wars. Singular)
  148. Emil Pagliarulo: Both sides, United Colonies and Freestar Collective, had mechs. But the Freestar Collective really mastered them. The United Colonies had mechs, too, but they also relied on the controlled alien beasts from their Xenowarfare division.
  149. Emil Pagliarulo: Both of those were outlawed with the Armistice that ended the Colony War.
  150. Emil Pagliarulo: I'm not saying there's an old mech battleground in the game.
  151. Emil Pagliarulo: I'm typing it. 😉
  152. Emil Pagliarulo: Mechs - not usable, no. They're in ruins.
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