Bethesda's The Elder Scrolls series has been hugely popular since its creation, each installment breaking the limits of what we as gamers consider the peak of open world fantasy. There's no question that when Skyrim came out that it was the top game of its time, and still is after years. Despite its age and now somewhat outdated graphics compared to many of the newer open world games that have since come out, there's something special about Skyrim and the atmosphere it provides. In fact, an incredible amount of work and imagination was put into the game. Let's take a look at ten interesting secrets from behind the scenes of making of Skyrim, and find out how this iconic game came about to be.
10 The Main Theme
Skyrim's main theme is one of the best things in the game. It makes you feel powerful whenever it booms in your ears. Emil Pagliarulo was the man tasked with the challenging duty of writing the lyrics for this song. He had to make sure the lyrics would rhyme not only in the imaginative dragon language of the game and fit the melody of the main theme. Not just that, the lyrics had to make sense in English. If that sounds like an impossible task, you'll be mind-blown to find out Pagliarulo finished his task in one weekend and was inspired by Old English recordings of Beowulf.
9 Thu'um - Written With Dragon Claws
Whenever you learn a new shout in Skyrim, you find yourself faced with ancient stone tablets carved with Thu'um words. This mysterious dragon language was created from scratch, literally, as Todd Howard's vision for the appearance of Thu'um was that it was written with dragon claws. Designers took this request seriously and while keeping in mind the anatomy of a dragon's claw, they determined that the creatures would use their thumbs as anchor points while writing.
This was how they were able to draft up the Thu'um words and how they would look realistically.
8 Funky Killcam Names
One feature of the game is the so-called third person killcam, where the player can see their own character perform a cool final blow on an enemy they're fighting. The whole idea behind this feature is to make us feel powerful in the world of Skyrim, and have these heroic moments. Before the killcam was named what it is now, the development team had various silly nicknames for it: Vio-Lens and Cine-Kill to name a few. In fact, the name apparently changed as a joke almost on a weekly basis.
7 Level Design Upgrade
Those who played Oblivion know just how repetitive some of the dungeons felt like. That's because due to technology and human constraints the development team was forced to reuse most of its level assets and designs. For Skyrim the team went above and beyond to ensure this wouldn't happen again and a dedicated level design team was formed for the first time ever. Now, even the development team itself doesn't quite know how many unique areas are in the game, but the estimates are somewhere between 300 to 315, which goes to show the insane scope of the game.
6 Seven Times More Voice Actors
Another downfall of the previous Elder Scrolls installment Oblivion was the sheer lack of voice actors: only about 12 for the entire game. It was common for the player to walk around and hear the same voices over and over again.
For Skyrim, the team decided to up their game once again by hiring 70 voice actors across three different recording studios. Todd Howard also got to fulfill his dream of casting Christopher Plummer, his voice acting idol, into the game as the voice of Arngeir.
5 The First Idea Was A Barbaric Choir
When brainstorming for Skyrim was in process, Todd Howard's first vision for the game was the Elder Scrolls theme but sang by a barbaric choir. Unsure how to do this, he contacted Jeremy Soule, who became the one in charge of Skyrim's soundtrack, and asked him to produce his version of the main theme by a barbaric choir. Soule used a choir of thirty people, but by recording the song three times and overlaying the voices on top of one another, he managed to amplify the voices. Not just that, the choir was encouraged to sing in a frenzy, as though a group of barbarians.
4 Spell Sounds Were The Hardest
Sound design was one of the most important yet challenging parts of Skyrim. The team was concerned with making the sound effects of swords and spells as realistic and as good as possible. Initially, they wanted to use real sword sounds, but found that they weren't as satisfying as Hollywood style special sound effects. For spells, the sound designers struggled so much that they only settled for the last version of the spell sound effects when time for development ran out. Spells like Calm were especially challenging for the designers to come up ideas for.
3 The Real Main Character
This might comes as a surprise to players, but the main character of Skyrim isn't who your character is. In fact, developers always envisioned for the world itself to be the main attraction of the game, hence why so much attention to detail was put in it. Every tree and plant has its own carefully constructed model. Every NPC has their own little phrases to give the player an impression of them. Every food item you can collect was carefully picked and designed for the Nordic environment of the game.
Because Skyrim is so big and has different regions within itself, each area has its own color palette, some greener and more lush than others.
2 Eagles Inspired Dragons
Dragons are of course one of the most ground-breaking element of the game and so much attention was put into their development. The team knew that they had to nail down these creatures to the T in order to impress fans and make them as realistic and as daunting as possible. In order to animate the dragons, developers took inspiration from eagles and the way they soared the skies. When the dragons are on the ground, the developers look at the way reptilians moved and behaved on land and created most of their animation for the dragons off of real animals.
1 Be Who You Want To Be
The reason why Skyrim has the most flexibility compared to all other Elder Scrolls games is because the developers really wanted the player to become who they wanted to be. This means that there would be no classes, and that players could choose from a variety of skills and change the direction of their character development at any point in time. It's also why we start as nameless prisoners, so that the player gets to define who they are and where they come from. Following this flexibility, developers also came up with the function of being able to dual wield, so that even in combat our character could tread the fine line of being a swordsman and a mage.