Too Much Memory and a ‘really sick’ Title Screen of 1 Game was Enough to Persuade Todd Howard he Needed to Make Video Games Like Starfield and Skyrim

Is Howard stuck in the past from his days as a hobbyist game developer?

starfield, skyrim

SUMMARY

  • Todd Howard first attempted to make a game on an Apple II computer with an amazing title screen.
  • The game did not run as it was too heavy for the computer but it only Howard further to make a career in video games industry.
  • The title screen of games like Starfield and Skyrim are quite popular in the industry.
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Todd Howard started from the humblest of beginnings before rising to the level of an executive producer at Bethesda. It all started with a love for video games, and an attempt at making one that couldn’t go past the title screen.

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In an interview published almost a year ago, Todd Howard spilled the beans on how exactly he got one foot into the gaming industry, and about one of the first projects he worked on.

Todd Howard’s First Game Wasn’t Really a Game

Todd Howard's first game is different from his latest, for unexpected reasons.
Todd Howard’s first game is different from his latest, for unexpected reasons.

In an interview with Esquire back in September 2023, Howard spoke about how his love for video games. He said that it helped him kickstart a career in the industry, eventually leading him to make games like Starfield and Skyrim.

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Having grown up in the 80s, his first attempt at making a game was on the Apple II computer. He says the game had “a really sick” title screen, but unfortunately, the limitations of technology back then stopped his project prematurely.

The title screen took up the computer’s memory, and the rest of the game couldn’t run. A valiant effort, nonetheless. And, it got Howard motivated to try and get better at making games.

When he tried to apply to Bethesda in the mid-90s after playing Wayne Gretzky Hockey, it declined his application as he was still a student. Howard was nothing if not dedicated; he refused to back down, and a year after graduation, he finally joined the company as a fresher.

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Technology has evolved at a rapid pace since the creation of Howard’s first game; memory limitations for a title screen are barely a problem anymore. Unfortunately, it feels like his intent to make “really sick” title screens has somehow.

When the Starfield start screen leaked, it didn’t inspire much confidence in some people. Mark Kern, a producer on Diablo 2, claimed the start screen was a product of crunch and an overworked team.

Pete Hines, the head of publishing at Bethesda, debunked these claims, saying that the start screen was one of the first things that was decided upon. Although, the title screen was the least of people’s worries with Starfield.

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Howard’s Impact on the Way Bethesda Makes Games

Howard made sure Bethesda takes its sweet time when making games.
Howard made sure Bethesda takes its sweet time when making games.

Early on in Todd Howard‘s career at Bethesda, he made a bold suggestion:

…focus less on publishing new titles annually, and more on developing bigger games across longer periods of time. 

At the time, companies just wanted to cash in for a quick sequel. Howard went a different direction, pitching games for the next generation of consoles.

While that was a crazy suggestion to make during such a period, it’s more common to see now. It has become Bethesda’s signature way of making games.

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Game development times are only getting longer, but that also means the risk for companies relying on these games to be a hit and make that long development period worth it, is much higher.

What’s your opinion on the way Todd Howard goes about making games? Let us know in the comments below.

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Written by Vibha Hegde

Articles Published: 407

Vibha is an avid gamer that has been in the content writing space for over three years. With a Bachelors in Computer Applications, Vibha chooses to explore their passion for pop culture and gaming. When not hunkered over a controller trying to beat the Demon of Hatred in Sekiro, you can find Vibha relaxing to jazz during a digital painting session.