It might be hard to believe, but TES: Skyrim has been out for nearly ten years. After its initial release, the game has grown in scope and size, becoming one of the most popular games of the last two decades. However, few fans are aware of just how much work was put into the game, and the relatively limited resources that Bethesda's development team had at their disposal. Making a game so immersive and iconic is no easy task. But despite all the challenges and problems the team had to overcome, they were able to give us a game most of us have sunk over a hundred hours into.
To better understand what it took to make Skyrim what it is today, let's take a look at 10 behind the scenes secrets you might not have heard about.
10 Level Design Overhaul
When it came to the world of Skyrim, the developers wanted total immersion. One of the many downfalls they had experienced with Oblivion was how repetitive much of the game felt. At the time, Bethesda also had limited technology at its disposal and couldn't afford to do more within its constraints.
When Skyrim came around, a separate team began work on level design only, which was a huge step forward from Oblivion's development. Thanks to this, we now have a pretty wide range of different feeling dungeons all across the province, and around 300 uniquely designed locations.
9 Thu'um Was Written With Claws
To most of us, the dragon language Thu'um found at the word walls at the end of most Nordic dungeons might look like senseless scribbling. It actually has a rhyme and a reason to it, though. The most incredible thing was that the language was created and designed completely from scratch, with only Todd Howard's request of giving it a scratchy appearance to guide the development team.
Not only did it have to look cool, but it needed to be realistic in the sense that a dragon could comfortably use its claws to carve each letter on a piece of stone.
8 Huge Cast Of Voice Actors
If you've ever played Oblivion, you know just how frustrating it is to hear the same voices talking over and over again. Bethesda was aware of the issue as well and wanted to mend this for their next game. The cast of voice actors went from a measly 12 for Oblivion to a total of about 70 for Skyrim, including a big name like Christopher Plummer.
Thanks to this variety of voices and different accents, which were all recorded across multiple sound studios, we now have an amazingly rich and immersive world compared to Oblivion.
7 Game Jams Gave Us DLC Features
At DICE 2012, Skyrim's development team showcased some special features that developers had been tasked with developing during a 2011 game jam. In a game jam, the developers were given a week to make anything they wanted for Skyrim, which resulted in some pretty amazing features that were later included in some of the DLCs.
Now we have the chance to build our own houses in the Hearthfire DLC or even better and enhanced dungeons in the Dragonborn DLC.
6 Problems With Sound Design
Good sound design can make or break a game, and it's easy to tell that the Skyrim developers spent a lot of time in this category. It wasn't easy, however, since initially they wanted the sounds to be as realistic as possible. Real sword sounds were recorded, but they lacked the same "wow" effect that many of the fake sword sounds from movies and other games had.
And so, the sounds for swords are now fake ones. Another design problem came up when designing spell sounds, as it required true creativity to come up with good sound effects.
5 Dragons Inspired By Eagles
Dragons are the most important aspect of Skyrim, playing a central role in the main quest line. They were also the main selling point of the game, acting as the strongest and most impressive hostile creatures you could encounter. Due to this, it was vital for Bethesda to really nail down the design of the dragons and of course their animation.
In order to ensure realism, the developers based the movement of the dragons on eagles soaring and used the information to then animate the creatures in-game.
4 The Birth Of The Main Theme
The main theme of Skyrim, heard in the trailer and in the main menu screen, is a truly iconic part of the game. This was, however, among the hardest parts of the game to get right, as the lyrics of the song had to rhyme in the imagined language of the dragons and actually carry some sort of meaning once translated.
It was Emil Pagliarulo who wrote the lyrics, and it's said that he finished the task in one weekend thanks to a bottle of mead and by listening to old recordings of Beowulf which would serve as inspiration for the theme song.
3 Dual-Wielding Was Almost Not A Thing
When it comes to game features that seemed to have almost made it into the final version at the nick of time, or even by accident, dual-wielding is a great example. Initially, the developers had no plans to include it in the game, but through testing and developing, they realized the game couldn't do without it.
Now, it seems almost impossible to imagine Skyrim without the option to dual-wield your two favorite weapons or build a half mage, half swordsman.
2 A Funky Killcam Mode
Any fans of Fallout will be familiar with the idea of a slow motion killcam type of feature, as VATS is such a central part of the Fallout series. However, because the combat is so different between Fallout and Skyrim, developers were hesitant to add anything resembling VATS inside it. They wanted Skyrim to have a fast-paced combat environment, and so instead they opted for a killcam that was originally dubbed as Cinekill.
Now, whenever you finish an enemy critically, you can admire your character getting the final shot in a short cinematic and feel like a badass.
1 Development Team Was 100 People
With how big the game ended up being, one would imagine that several departments of at least 50 people were working on the game at the same time. Well, you'll be surprised to find out that the development team of the game was only 100 people, which seems like a record feat for such a small group of people.
Needless to say, the developers did their absolute best with the time and the tools that they had in hand.