New Vegas Developer Comments On Skyrim PS3 Lag

A developer who worked on Fallout: New Vegas has broken ranks and suggested the ‘Save File Lag’ problem affecting PS3 players of Skyrim may take a long time to fix.

Before we delve into his comments, it is important to remember that Skyrim uses a different engine to Fallout: New Vegas (allegedly a ‘modified’ version of the Gamebryo engine) and the developer in question, Joshua Sawyer, did not work on Skyrim, he was lead designer and project director for New Vegas.

A gamer who experienced lag problems in Fallout: New Vegas after his save file went up to 14MB asked why the problem persisted through to Skyrim.

The longer you play a character, the more bit differences on objects (characters, pencils on tables, containers, etc.) get saved off and carried around in memory. I think we’ve seen save games that are pushing 19 megs, which can be really crippling in some areas.

Joshua was asked why he thought the problem was affecting Skyrim players.

It’s an engine-level issue with how the save game data is stored off as bit flag differences compared to the placed instances in the main .esm + DLC .esms. As the game modifies any placed instance of an object, those changes are stored off into what is essentially another .esm. When you load the save game, you’re loading all of those differences into resident memory.

The big question is, can the problem be fixed?

We’re talking about how the engine fundamentally saves off and references data at run time. Restructuring how that works would require a large time commitment.

Joshua says the problems are more apparent on the PlayStation 3 ‘because the PS3 has a divided memory pool.’

As you can expect, the Internet is reacting rather badly to Joshua’s comments.

One amusing by-product of the latest patch occurs if you get married. If you have killed off characters related to your betrothed they will still attend your wedding ceremony – as a corpse, slumped on the floor.

I have personally stopped playing Skyrim at the moment as those ‘rare’ backwards dragons seem to be rather common in my game and, as they never land, I have no way of killing them.

Source: Formspring


  1. “We’re talking about how the engine fundamentally saves off and references data at run time. Restructuring how that works would require a large time commitment.”
    So they’re talking about it. Not actually saying they’re definitely going to fix it. Sounds like they ‘cba’ almost.
    I don’t get how Bethesda’s games can get such good review scores, yet all of them seem to have crippling issues.

    • This is a different developer, not the Skyrim developers, who are quoted.

      • If Skyrim uses a modified version of the same engine it’s possible that fundamental features like saving data works in a similar if not the same way. I don’t think that guy would make such statements if there wasn’t any connection between the two engines. It’s no secret that Bethesda games are bug fests. I certainly wouldn’t rate a game in the upper regions if it had game breaking bugs in there, especially if it released as version 2.0. As long as they get those scores and people rush out to buy it and cover up the flaws of the game Bethesda won’t care enough to actually do something about it.

      • *work in a similar … way.

      • My point wasn’t about the accuracy of his information, I just meant that I think Gazza thinks that a Skyrim dev has come out and said “we’re talking about” and not fixing the issue rather than an outsider with experience in this has come along and given an explanation to the bug :).

      • Ah, I see. Misinterpreted your post. Sorry mate. :)

      • Ah, I see.

    • Yeah but what if the reviewer didn’t encounter any bugs during their review playthrough? These issues aren’t affecting everyone.

      • It’s a possibility but I find it hard to believe that so many of the well known gaming sites didn’t encounter any serious problems. The alternative would be that they simply ignored these bugs. IGN simply disregarded the issue with the following quote in their 95% review:

        “Along with the occasional game crash, these issues can be periodically irritating, but given the overwhelming number of things Skyrim gets right, putting up with them is a small price to pay.”

        If it’s a game breaking bug or a corrupted 100 hour save file is not a small price to pay if it totally ruins your experience with the game.
        I don’t think ignoring bugs because a game does many things right is the way to go and Bethesda’s track record is not the best in this case.
        Of all the reviews on Metacritic only one review rates the game lower because of the fact that it’s really a hit or miss with the bugs in this game.

  2. Check out the veritable “shit storm” over at the PS3 Bethesda blog…

  3. Hmm, okay,i’ll guess i stick to only using manual saving and having multiple saves then. I hope that Bethesade tries their best to fix it as i remeber Fallout 3 being a complete bugfest and they cba to fix them.

  4. I don’t understand how stuff like this is allowed to happen. If it was a faulty car,clothes, stereo, pretty much anything else really then something would be done about it.

  5. Typical, I picked this up at the weekend to use up some HMV credit. Still, think I’ll have to give it a go as I’ve been desperate to get my hands on it since it’s release.

  6. Spotted my first “backwatds dragon” on Saturday. Fortunately s/he was gone on Sunday.

  7. I have to say that Skyrim runs heaps better than New Vegas ever did for me, also all of this info was investigated and explained in much more detail on Digital Foundry a few days ago.

    The irony of someone from Obsidian giving a lecture about games not running properly is rather amusing… ;)

  8. It’s games like these that make me wish we had a consumer watchdog on our sides! Have you tried taking a game back stating that it’s buggy and won’t play correctly!

    Still didn’t stop me going out and getting it and loving it!!!!
    Bethesda, makers of epically buggy, epically good games!

  9. Different developer, different engine, yet apparently the exact same problem as I witnessed in F:NV.

    Its putting me off picking this one up.

  10. Well I’m getting a bit of lag again now, but that doesn’t take anything away from how absorbed I’ve been by this game. I’d still highly recommnd it.

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