Bethesda Dev Explains How Starfield’s Got Over 100 Star Systems

"You only have to succeed on one planet."

Story Highlights

  • Starfield is Bethesda’s next-big IP, released exclusively for Xbox Series X|S and PC last month. 
  • The game features over 1,000 different planets and extensive solar systems for exploration. 
  • A Bethesda dev elaborates that the difficult part was creating one solar system, not 100. 

Claiming a spot on multiple best-seller lists across the spectrum, Starfield has been a resounding success for Bethesda so far. The space RPG features over 1,000 different planets, with each of them explorable and all confined within more than 100 various star systems. Expanding on just this, Bethesda’s lead designer, who also happens to be the Senior Systems Designer, explains how the creative decision came to be.

Skip to the 36:06 mark in the following video for the relevant conversation. 

YouTube video

Bruce Nesmith — the dev in question — has also contributed heavily to The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim back when the timeless classic was under development. Sitting down with MinnMax in an interview, Bruce has gone over Bethesda’s evolution and the creation of Starfield in a long-form discussion. When asked whether there was discourse among the developers when it was time to consider the scope of Starfield, he answered, 

There was a lot of discussion about the scope of the game, the size of the game. At one point I said, ‘You know, I bet this game would be a lot better if we restricted ourselves to about 2 dozen star systems and focus on them.’ And, the point was made quite legitamtely that, well, once you’ve done one solar system, doing a 100 really isn’t adding to your work all that much.”

Furthering the conversation by explaining the right way to go about making a planet, Bruce highlighted that the tricky part was to establish the fundamentals of a single entity, considering all the complexity laid in that part alone. After getting the core systems down, such as terrain, the various objects to interact with, the crater, and the ice worlds, the rest of the job is pretty much already dealt with. 


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This also raises concerns as to whether Starfield starts getting repetitive and redundant after you’ve explored a fair bit, considering how the Starfield designer implies with the following quote that the major work is involved in about 12 star systems only. Bruce also confirms that the idea of having more than a 100 of these came from Todd Howard himself, given that the studio looked into the general appeal for RPGs among fans. 

Todd pretty much pulled the number 100 for the number of star systems out of thin air, but the more we went on the more we [were] like, ‘Okay, so all the core activities take place in these 2 dozen and the settled system regions and the rest of it is open space, but people love our big games. They love that open area to explore. So, let’s give go ahead and let them have it, and then it was down to. ‘Okay, how do we make exploration meaningful?’ And once again, you have to succeed on one planet. Once you got that formula, you have the formula for all the planets.” 

In other news, Todd Howard feels optimistic about Starfield, despite some of its ailing issues. He says that this is a game that people are going to be playing for a long time since that is what Bethesda has learned from its major previous projects, namely Skyrim and the Fallout games.  Therefore, creating the title in a way that the latter would manifest is something that was intended right from the get-go. 

Starfield was released on the Xbox Series X|S and PC via Steam and Game Pass on September 6, 2023, with early access available from the 1st of September. If you’re just getting started with the game, make sure to check out our dedicated guide on the 16 best traits in the title to head in the right direction. In our review, eXputer rated the title a 3.5/5, expressing critique on its main questline yet praising its visual appeal. 

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Huzaifa, an Online News Editor at eXputer.com, is a video game industry aficionado with a talent for unearthing the juiciest stories for his beloved readers. Currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in Data Science, he dives deep into the abyss of news, meticulously dissecting every tiny detail to serve his audience. When he's not unravelling breaking news, he becomes a master storyteller, conjuring up captivating tales from the depths of his imagination. With a wealth of experience as a Video Game Journalist, he's penned his mighty words for numerous other video game outlets, leaving no video game unturned and no pixel unexplored! Experience: 4+ Years || Education: Bachelor of Science in Data Science || Previously Worked at VeryAli Gaming & TheNerdMag || Covered 100+ News Articles

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