August 30, 2011

History and Lore of Elder Scrolls as told by Bethesda's long-time employees

A brief history and lore of the Elder Scrolls series from Bethesda's employees as they recount their memorable experiences in making the games.

map of Tamriel

Long-time Bethesda employees Todd Howard (Game Director), Bruce Nesmith (Design Director), Kurt Kuhlmann(Senior Designer) and Matt Carofano (Art Director) share their experiences in making Bethesda's The Elder Scrolls games: Arena(1994), Daggerfall(1996), Battlespire(1997), Morrowind(2002), Tribunal(2002), Bloodmoon(2003), Oblivion(2006) and Shivering Isles(2007).

The article mentions the game's plots at the end and are major spoilers for those who haven't finished the games yet.

Decrypting the Elder Scrolls

Some highlights in the article:

Todd: One of my first jobs at Bethesda was helping with the CD‑ROM version of Arena in 1994... The “Passwall” spell, which lets you literally carve your own path through dungeons, is still cool.

Todd: [Daggerfall] is also the Elder Scrolls game that introduced the skills system, and the whole “you improve by doing” paradigm, which I think defines the series in many ways.

Todd: Redguard was the last of our XnGine games... It also had 3Dfx hardware acceleration, and was our first hardware based 3D game. It was one of the last popular DOS based titles...

Todd: [on Morrowind]  I coded the initial demo of the game by myself and designed the editor when we started. I felt the whole game hinged on having a great tool we could build and tweak the game with, and The Elder Scrolls Construction Set was born. I took the name from the Apple 2 program, “Stuart Smith’s Adventure Construction Set.” This game also marked our first foray into the console world with Xbox...

Todd: [on Oblivion] I was really influenced by the Lord of the Rings movies at that time. It felt real, almost historical, and that’s something I think is key to The Elder Scrolls.

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