Starfield Devs Had “No Time” Toward The End of Development

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"It Became Clear We Were Missing Final Location"

Story Highlight
  • Time constraints forced the creation of Starfield’s last mission on Masada 3 with space battles and dimension shifts.
  • To save time, the final quest reused familiar locations but in alternate realities.
  • Starfield’s vastness made crafting a cohesive storyline difficult.

Starfield was a major success for Bethesda since it reached 12 million players in a matter of months. The game also bumped the Xbox console sales briefly, with fans now anticipating the Shattered Space DLC. However, not everything about the RPG went smoothly.

Will Shen, the previous lead quest designer for Starfield, recently shared the frantic journey behind the game’s big finale quest. As the deadline approached, Shen said it became clear that a vital part was absentโ€”the epic conclusion to bring all the storylines together.

Why it matters: Shen’s insights reveal the hurdles encountered during the game’s development, underlining the need and rush to shape its final moments.

Starfield
Starfield was Missing the Final Location for the Last Mission, According to Will Shen.

At the GDC event, Will Shen revealed that the final quest was decided at the very last minute.

we were missing the large final location that was going to tie the story together.

-Will Shen.

The last mission in Starfield, taking place on Masada 3, went through a rushed development because of time limitations. Shen, juggling various roles like heading the quest design team, had no breathing room.

I had no time

-Will Shen

This mission, featuring space battles, ground fights, and dimension shifts, was born out of sheer need, breaking away from Bethesda’s usual carefully planned RPG design process.

Starfield’s massive open world presents both opportunities and challenges. While it allowed for many exploration opportunities, narrating a coherent storyline across thousands of planets posed a major hurdle.

Time pressure led Shen to rely on Senior Level Designer Steve Cornett, whom Shen called their “go-to” in times of panic. Cornett’s solution was clever: dimension-hopping.

Rather than creating a new area for the climax, players would revisit familiar locations from earlier in the game but in alternate dimensions. This twist provided a distinctive ending while conserving valuable development resources.

Starfield NPC
Starfield Devs Resorted to the “Dimension-Hopping” Due to Sheer Urgency.

Although the dimension-hopping trick may have helped, a few players felt that the last mission didn’t pack as much punch as the scale of the rest of the game. Fan reactions have varied, with some applauding the final quest while others thought it didn’t quite meet their hopes.

It’s worth mentioning that Shen and Cornett have both moved on from Bethesda and are now involved in new projects at separate studios.

Looking beyond the immediate issue, the story behind Starfield’s final quest offers a glimpse into the creative problem-solving that often occurs during game development. It’s proof of the ingenuity of developers like Shen and Cornett, who can find creative solutions under pressure.

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