Starfield game director reveals how they made the game’s 1000 planets


Starfield is one of the big video games hitting shelves in 2023, there is no question about that, and many gamers worldwide are anxiously waiting for its launch date to arrive (said date is in September this year, by the way).

Video game company Bethesda will be showing off more of the game on June 11, during its Starfield Direct event, letting players discover more about one of the most eagerly anticipated games in recent memory.

Before this, though, game director Todd Howard recently appeared on the Starfield Signal podcast (via Game Rant) and talked about the making of the game, specifically how the team at Bethesda was able to make so many different planets for the game.

You see, back in June last year when Bethesda first showed off Starfield, many gamers raised an eyebrow when the studio revealed that the game would have about 1,000 explorable planets, which frankly is a huge number.

Would they all be different enough to warrant exploring, or would most be identical copies of each other?

It seems, though, that the team at Bethesda has found a way to make so many planets look “reasonable”, as Howard says in the podcast.

“How can we have a system to generate these planets and make them look… you know, well, I’ll say reasonable… And so we did find a way, we came up with a way, [we] had prototyped building tiles, like large tiles of landscape, the way we would usually build them”, said Howard.

“We kind of generate them offline, ‘hand-do’ some things and end up with these very realistic tiles of landscape and then built a system that wraps those around a planet and blends them all together. And we had pretty successful results with that. So we thought, yeah, we could do this”, added the Bethesda man.

And thankfully for those looking forward to exploring the hundreds of planets in Starfield, these will feature handcrafted details for players to enjoy too as Howard says in the podcast. And if each planet in Starfield is unique enough to warrant discovering and exploring, then Starfield will certainly be one game players will be able to spend a very long time with.

The thing is, if this aspect of the game turns out to be disappointing, there will be plenty of irate fans lashing out at Bethesda, that’s for sure.

Will Starfield’s planets be unique enough to warrant exploring?


The company has used this kind of procedural generation in their games before, such as way back in their 1996 Elder Scrolls II: Dagerfall game, with most areas having a very generic feel to them… More recently, their Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion game had procedurally generated terrain, while Skyrim had procedurally generated quests, and the results were good, so maybe things will be even better in Starfield.

Nonetheless, the fact that Skyrim offers a universe of planets to explore is welcome. Plus, this and the fact that the game features space combat aboard a spaceship has drawn comparisons to No Man’s Sky, even if Bethesda’s game is likely to feel and play very differently to Hello Game’s 2016 release.

Late last year, Bethesda discussed the game’s quests, characters and companions in a preview video, which made clear this will play very much like earlier Bethesda games. Actually, game director Todd Howard himself has described their upcoming game as “Skyrim in space”, meaning the similarity to No Man’s Sky is likely purely superficial.

The upcoming Starfield event, though, will be a big, final preview before launch, letting people see how the game is shaping up before the September launch. And here’s hoping this will be another fantastic Bethesda RPG that gamers can lose themselves in for hundreds of hours when it arrives this fall.

Update: In a recent interview, Howard has confirmed Bethesda will be using procedural generation to make the game’s planets, but that this feature plenty of handcrafted content. Actually, while “the landscape’s pretty much all procedural” as Howard told IGN (via PC Gamer), the game has more “handcrafted content … than any game we’ve done”, meaning Bethesda fans will be surely be looking forward to exploring the game’s plethora of planets come September.

Read more: Starfield gameplay video showcases combat, exploration and character creation