Save files not to blame for PS3 Skyrim problems

The size of save files was not the cause of framerate issues affecting PS3 players of The Elder Scrolls V: Skryim, Bethesda claims.

Speaking to Kotaku, chief game designer Todd Howard said that the problem, which reduced PS3 framerates to single figures in places and was finally patched last week, was in fact far more complicated in nature.

"The way our dynamic stuff and scripting works, it's obvious it gets in situations where it taxes the PS3," he said. "And we felt we had a lot of it under control. But for certain users it literally depends on how they play the game, varied over a hundred hours and literally what spells they use.

"No it's not [connected to save files]. That's the common misconception. It's literally the things you've done in what order and what's running. Some of the things are literally what spells do you have hot-keyed? Because, as you switch them, they handle memory differently."

Howard claims that the problem was largely fixed with the 1.2 update, released in November, though there are plenty of PS3 players who would dispute that. Bethesda asked those still having problems to send them their save files for analysis. Patch 1.4, released last week, appears to have finally taken care of the problem for the vast majority of players.

"Now that we've been through this, we're not naive enough to say we've seen everything, because we have to assume we haven't," Howard said. "There are still going to be some people who have to come back to us and say: 'Okay, my situation is this.' Send us your save game. We literally need to look at what you have running.

"We [had] one guy who had seven dragons on the other side of the world, and a siege about to happen in this city and another 20 quests running. And, okay, this is what it's trying to do and it's having a hard time running that."

All of which is fine, but Bethesda did little to correct that "misconception," asking affected players to send in their save files for analysis and with each patch addressing the issue causing save files to reduce in size.

Howard also insisted: "We did a ton more testing this time around, so the game is definitely our most solid release regardless of platform." It's all relative, admittedly, but how many Skyrim players go through the game without a sprawling list of open quests dotted all over the map? It's the way the game is meant to be played so should it not, therefore, have been tested in the same way?