Todd Howard, Game Director at Bethesda Game Studios (and therefore Skyrim), has written up both a bit of history and a look to the future in his article “Welcome back Elder Scrolls” wich is the first Skyrim Dev Diary to be released! I have included it in this post (below). Don’t forget to preorder Skyrim!
Skyrim developer diary:
Right after we finished Oblivion in 2006, the team at Bethesda Game Studios dove full steam into making Fallout 3. But we did put down a few ideas on paper about what we’d do after Fallout, and that would be Skyrim, featuring the return of dragons to the Elder Scrolls. We usually start with an overall tone of the game. And Skyrim spoke to all of us. The original home of men: rugged, weathered. The ancient power of the Nords would come to life through their shouts. You would battle with dragons, using their language, and become the one thing they fear: Dovahkiin, the Dragonborn. Five years later and we’re excited to finally share some of this vision as it comes to life on the screen.
Like you, we’re fans as well. We simply make the game we’d love to play. The game we’d book vacation time to play. And like you, we’ve waited a long time to see the Elder Scrolls return. Fallout 3 was an amazing experience for us and we learned a lot. In some ways, Skyrim is both our follow up to Oblivion, and our follow up to Fallout 3. Each time we strive to improve on the style of game we enjoy; one where you can be who you want, and do whatever you want.
To do that this time, we knew, like before, we had to start over. We needed to reinvent large parts of the game and its technology [Skyrim]. We started with the graphics renderer, and how we would bring the scale of snow covered mountains, dynamic weather systems, and massive dragons to life along with the small details of how people lived; from the forks they used, to the fish they caught, and the meat they cooked. We then rewrote all the major graphics and gameplay systems including lighting, shadows, level of detail, animation, interface, scripting, dialogue, quest systems, melee, magic, and more. All of those changes made it into our internal editor as well. So much had changed that we decided to call the engine and editor by a new name, the Creation Engine and the Creation Kit. We can’t wait to see what all the brilliant mod makers do with these tools [I personally can’t wait to see what yall modders will do for Skyrim.
All of this is done to bring epic fantasy to life in a game unlike we’ve done before[:Skyrim]. We try to improve each game we do, but we also try to make each stand on its own. For whatever the year, be it 1994 with Arena or 2011 with Skyrim, we try to create something that feels like you’re experiencing The Elder Scrolls for the first time, a game that brings to life a new world on your screen, fueling your own imagination with possibility.
I can remember directing Morrowind with the exact same goal, but with a team of 40, which seemed enormous in 2000. And again directing Oblivion and a team of 60 people for the next four years. This time we’re up to 100 people. We’ve added some amazing new talent. We also have the bulk of our original team. People I’ve been lucky enough to call my coworkers and friends for over a decade. Our Lead Programmer Guy Carver worked with me since Redguard. Our Lead Designer Bruce Nesmith and Co-Lead Designer Kurt Kuhlmann since Daggerfall. Production Director Ashley Cheng was here for Redguard, left, and came back for Morrowind. Lead Artist Matt Carofano has had that role on TES since Morrowind. Lead Producer Craig Lafferty joined us for Oblivion after working at Epic on Unreal and Unreal 2. Audio Director Mark Lampert has worked his one-man magic here since Oblivion. And there are so many more. Across the board, new and veteran, the talent, expertise, and hard work of this team still inspire me. We’re all incredibly thankful to be given the opportunity to make a game like this [i.e. Skyrim].
Lastly we want to thank all of you, the fans, who have kept the Elder Scrolls alive for the last 17 years. You’ve supported us by buying our games, but it’s not just that. It’s that you spread the word. You still make mods and download others’. You discuss the lore, your characters, and your adventures. You give us endless feedback and inspire us all to make something special. We hope to return that support and make a game that everyone can share, get lost in, and be proud of.