Todd Howard has given a lengthy and wide-ranging interview on the popular Lex Fridman podcast, during which the Bethesda director and executive producer waxes lyrical about the company’s history and his own personal journey in games. If you ever wondered what his favourite movie is, wonder no more: “Raiders [of the Lost Ark] is still my favourite movie of all time, no debate, best movie ever,” said Howard. “I saw it when I was younger and I believed it, I believed this happened, and when they found this Ark I couldn’t believe they’d found it.”
That’s actually quite sweet: I remember that age when your innocent eyes gazed on the small and big screen’s wonders and, at some level, believed it all to be real, that somewhere this had happened. And this lifelong attachment to Indiana Jones is why Howard says a game starring the character was always on his “bucket list” of things to do: to the extent he first pitched it 13 years ago.
“I had pitched Lucas,” said Howard. “Met some people there and pitched them back in ’09 this Indiana Jones concept, and kinda the deal fell apart”. LucasArts wanted to publish any Indiana Jones game: Bethesda saw itself as the publisher. “I didn’t really have the team to do [it] and you know we made Skyrim so I guess it worked out.”
Howard goes on to say that this time around he still didn’t think it was the right fit for Bethesda to do internally but Wolfenstein developer Machine Games “is the perfect fit for this game with storytelling and how to record it: if you like Indiana Jones it is a definite love letter to Indiana Jones.”
While Howard’s too wily to dish up any actual dirt on the game, what he’s saying makes this sound like it’s going to try and hew closely to the movies’ take on an action-adventure. Indy’s greatest skill is that he’s a lucky sod, and there’s a rambunctious, muddling-through quality to all the cinematography: a Jack-of-all-trades playing the hero.
“I mean you can talk about the world of Indiana Jones but it’s him, it’s the character,” said Howard. “I would just say it is a mashup, it is unique, it isn’t one thing intentionally. So it does a lot of different things that we’ve wanted to do in a game. It’s a unique game.”
Howard adds, interestingly enough, that this game along with Starfield is part of his day-to-day work, and clearly the man has a big personal interest in making this as good as it can be. Let’s just hope that little boy who once thought Raiders was real can help with delivering us all a classic Indiana Jones game: lord knows it’s been too long since Fate of Atlantis.