There's a series of scripted quest lines, of course, which will follow the main plot and a number of subplots like those belonging to Skyrim's various guilds and The Dark Brotherhood, but once you've completed these, Howard says that the Radiant storytelling system will continue to generate tasks. These can involve stealing gems for the thieves guild, or assassinating NPCs for the Dark Brotherhood.
“The vibe of the game is that it's something that you can play forever,” Howard said to Wired.
Howard says that these randomly generated quests are designed to lead players into interesting parts of the world they haven't visited before. Even major quests will have randomised components that will send players to unvisited areas.
“The world is probably the one thing that sets [Skyrim] apart from other games,” he said. “It feels really real for what it is … It's just fun to explore.”
He adds that Bethesda have learned a lot from Fallout 3, where they challenged themselves to fill a blasted wasteland with dozens of interesting tidbits and unique areas to discover.
The infinite quests are sure to boost the projected amount of potential play time from "300 hours" to "the end of time", which is going to do terrible things to our productivity when Skyrim unlocks on Friday. You can pre-load Skyrim right now on Steam and Direct2Drive.