The Empire of Tamriel is on the edge. The High King of Skyrim has been murdered. Alliances form as claims to the throne are made. In the midst of this conflict, a far more dangerous, ancient evil is awakened. Dragons, long lost to the passages of the Elder Scrolls, have returned to Tamriel.

The future of Skyrim, even the Empire itself, hangs in the balance as they wait for the prophesized Dragonborn to come; a hero born with the power of The Voice, and the only one who can stand amongst the dragons.

The next chapter in the highly anticipated Elder Scrolls saga arrives from the makers of the 2006 and 2008 Games of the Year, Bethesda Game Studios. Skyrim reimagines and revolutionizes the open-world fantasy epic, bringing to life a complete virtual world open for you to explore any way you choose.

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Blog RSS Feed Report abuse Latest News: Luftahraan Update #13 - 08/07/2014 (First Developer Diary)

About Luftahraan with 5 comments by Arkaash on Jul 8th, 2014

We have two developer diaries for you today - one in video form from Wheeze, talking about the Archon team and some of the things that we've been up to recently, and one in text form from myself, Arkaash, that will form the majority of the body of this update.  I talk about some of our design choices when it comes to gameplay content and about the dungeon that I am currently working on, Kumano - a Tsaesci Temple.  My diary can be read below; Wheeze's video is embedded in a link at the bottom.  If you would like to see more 4K screenshots, head on over to our website at

Hello! Since this is our first time doing one of these dev diaries, I’ll take the time to introduce myself.  My name is Arkaash, and I’m one of the co project lead of Luftahraan.  I’m also the lead writer, but this diary at least is focussed on level design.  For a little more background, my real name is Sam and I work as a Software Engineer.

For the past couple of months, I have been working on Kumano, a Tsaesci Temple that has sunk beneath the waves near Luftahraan.  The Tsaesci are a vampiric, serpentine race from the continent of Akavir, and the monks that built the temple stayed behind on Tamriel after the treaty of amnesty signed with Reman I Cyrodiil as a result of the battle of Pale Pass.

The Temple of Kumano was mostly left alone by the citizens of Luftahraan, partly out of superstition of its foreign inhabitants and partly because the monks mostly kept to themselves, studying the history and magics of Tamriel and enslaving and sacrificing any intruders to whatever powers they held dear.

Depending on the path that they take, the player may be sent to Kumano in the main quest, venturing into its damp halls in search of exotic artefacts required to placate the Gods of the Cynosure, the religious institution in Luftahraan.  The player is accompanied into the temple by Davyn Llervi, a pre-eminent Dwemer Scholar in Luftahraan who also has some rudimentary knowledge, and a great deal of interest, in the Tsaesci.

Now, everyone who has ever played an RPG of any sort will despise escort quests - Davyn is in the dungeon to help you out with some of the puzzles inside the dungeon and provide insights into the history of the place and the Tsaesci, not to be a liability.  To that end, he will not take part in any combat, staying away from the fighting.  He will only move forward when he has something to comment on or to investigate something in an area that is safe.  In this instance, it was more important for me to make sure that the player doesn’t get annoyed by the presence of Davyn than to ensure total realism.  In fact, if the player would rather have him stay out of the way completely, they can tell him to remain by the entrance to the dungeon - he will then only move forward then when his presence is required and the area is safe.

One of the most interesting, and challenging, things about creating Kumano has been the lack of a Tsaesci Tileset beyond the very rudimentary offerings from Sky Haven Temple.  Unlike most dungeons, which are created from the Nordic, Dwemer etc. tilesets provided by the vanilla game, I have had to improvise most of the architecture in Kumano from a variety of different tilesets.  This lends it a very unique appearance when compared to other areas in both the mod and vanilla Skyrim, and will hopefully make the player feel a little outside of their comfort zone.Besides the obvious points of interesting level design and enjoyable encounters, there are two main things we’ve aimed to focus on in Luftahraan’s dungeons - interesting boss fights modeled on those in games such as World of Warcraft and Diablo, and puzzles that require a little more thought than the standard Skyrim pillar-rotating affairs.  

Designing boss fights for use in Skyrim is actually quite a challenge - there are a lot of seemingly simple things that form the staple of many other boss fights that simply cannot be done due to engine limitations - things such as dynamically expanding effect zones are just not possible.  Aside from some things like that, mostly to do with particle effects and animations, a surprising amount is possible with the papyrus scripting language - an opportunity that I feel Bethesda missed a trick with.  With a little bit of thought and quite a lot of time fighting with Papyrus (it isn’t the most well-behaved of scripting languages) it is possible to create interesting boss fights that will be something completely fresh and new for the unsuspecting player.

Much of the same can be said for puzzles - all sorts of interesting situations can be created with some objects and Papyrus.  The danger with puzzles, though, is that not all players have the patience or the ability to solve them.  It can be quite a fine balance between catering for the players that want a challenge and those that don’t.  The puzzle in Kumano has two parts.  The first involves solving a selection of riddles to find a way to open a secret door, and the second is both a riddle and a logic puzzle - the riddle provides a hint in the solving of the actual puzzle.

Now, these riddles are based heavily on Elder Scrolls lore and aren’t always easy - they are meant to provide a challenge to the type of player who would enjoy puzzling through something like that and coming to a solution.  For everyone else, though, Davyn steps in to help.  He knows more about the history and geography of his world than most players will, and he will gladly offer the player a fairly sizeable hint for any of the riddles they are having trouble with.  If you get really stuck, he will go so far as telling you the solution.  This way, players who want a challenge can ignore Davyn and get stuck in themselves, and players who just want to go ahead and kill something can let Davyn do all the hard work for them.

One other issue that I didn’t expect to have to worry about when working on a dungeon is Skyrim’s RAM limit.  Since Skyrim is a 32-bit game, it can only make use of just over 3 gigabytes of RAM - if it goes above this limit, it immediately crashes to the desktop with no warning.  This usually becomes an issue in exterior cells when the player is using a large quantity of graphics enhancing mods.  However, the last room in Kumano houses both the main puzzle and a section set aside for loot - it is quite a large room that has several sections on different levels, that can all be seen from one another.  Because of that, it is not possible to use room bounds, the usual means of optimisation in dungeons, meaning that the game must render the entire area at once.  Due to a combination of issues, most of which stem from having to add detail manually rather than it being provided by the existing tilesets, the number of objects the game must render, for a while at least, started causing Skyrim to exceed its RAM limit and crash when the cell was loaded.  In order to avoid this problem I have had to go on a trimming spree across the cell, removing any objects that only contribute in a minor way to minimise the amount of detail the game must load at once - not something I thought I would need to do in an interior cell.

And a couple more screenshots for good measure:

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Post comment Comments  (0 - 10 of 297)
DonBre Jun 11 2014, 8:02pm says:

Bought it right the way when it came out $60 still worth it.

+2 votes     reply to comment
rooster100 Jun 11 2014, 10:48am replied:

Alright, i have read your comments and i it's good to see someone explaining his reservations about something. But i still have some counter arguements against you. First off, sure i'll admit that Skyrim doesn't have the most original story in the world, but is it really a bad one? What makes it interesting to me is that they use the series own lore and also creates some new things such as the dragon language and the thu'um. By doing that they put a somewhat new spin on a classic tale. Also i like it because it's my story and my choices. So instead of reading or watching a tale unfold, i live through it. Now granted, i haven't played through the entire story yet because i mainly play the game for side quests and exploration but i still think it's something to think about.

+1 vote     reply to comment
rooster100 Jun 11 2014, 11:01am replied:

Also, you say that the game stripped away several RPG elements such as spellcrafting and such. This is the point of confusion to me, because if i recall it correctly, Skyrim didn't remove features, Oblivion did however do that. Now i haven't played Morrowind that much but still my point holds true. If anything Skyrim not only regained but added several RPG features such as: Smithing, Enchanting, Alchemy, Mining and woodcutting and lumber sawing. So what elements are you talking about?

0 votes     reply to comment
Goat‪ Jun 16 2014, 1:03pm replied:

Role playing is essentially playing the role of a character with their own backstory while on their quest for whatever reason it may be with their own personality, voice and dialog to act out, and they are addressed by name by other characters.

In TES games you don't really play a role of a character like this.

Those features you mention are usually tacked on to RPGs but don't in anyway count as the actual role playing.

Oblivion didn't remove spell making at all when Skyrim in fact did, what Oblivion removed was the enchant skill but it still allowed you to create enchantments but with the certain skills available only after you advance in the particular magic skills for them.

+2 votes     reply to comment
rooster100 Jun 20 2014, 12:17am replied:

Fair enough. I didn't notice the spell thing because i'm not much of a magic user. Also when i said that thing about the story i didn't mean it like i thought it was a backstory. What i meant was that i'm the main character in the story when i play it. Also i prefer my game protagonists to be silent, because i can say dialogue like i would say it and personality wise my character is a blank sheet which i can paint how i want.

0 votes     reply to comment
teslaptak Jun 11 2014, 4:52pm replied:

leveling and mostly stats ( also no more athletics and acrobatics)

+1 vote     reply to comment
rooster100 Jun 14 2014, 1:07am replied:

Alot of stats have been lumped together, for example i like that they put all one-handed weapons in one category. Also the athletics stat isn't really needed as you can directly improve your stamina. As for Acrobatics i'll give you that, i do kinda miss extending my jumping abillity.

0 votes     reply to comment
teslaptak Jun 14 2014, 9:04am replied:

i'd like to run faster in skyrim, rly.And horses are slower than dragonborn himself.

-1 votes     reply to comment
rooster100 Jun 20 2014, 12:21am replied:

Well personally it didn't bother me in Fallout 3 and it doesn't bother me now either. As for horses, i have always prefered walking.

+1 vote     reply to comment
rooster100 Jun 21 2014, 12:14am replied:

And yes i know that Fallout 3 is a different game but the core gameplay is similar.

+1 vote     reply to comment
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The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
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Released Nov 10, 2011
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Highest Rated (17 agree) 10/10

Skyrim is what Elder Scrolls is supposed to be. Gone is the flowery sunshine of Cyrodiil, and instead we get cold, barren Skyrim with snowstorms and people and environments that could really fit into the Middle Ages or a natural Fantasy World. As a person who's been modding ES since Morrowind and playing since DAggerfall in 1996, I can only see this game as a natural and excellent heir to the series. Take it from me - Skyrim is Greatness!

Nov 11 2011, 12:22pm by Antiscamp

Lowest Rated (11 agree) 5/10

Some may claim I'm trolling, but I'm not. I seriously didn't find much entertainment value in Skyrim, and I'm glad that I was playing it on loan rather than having actually bought it. It's Oblivion with a new coat of paint and some better conversation bits. It still doesn't have much of a main story, and the sword play is still questionable at best (Kotaku's one writer said the same thing a few weeks ago). I could go on -- but I think this'll probably get voted down anyway so what's the point? Also…

Dec 8 2011, 12:57am by TheUnabridgedGamer

Role Playing
Single Player
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Released Nov 10, 2011
Oblivion, Released Mar 19, 2006
Morrowind, Released Apr 25, 2002
Daggerfall, Released Jul 30, 1996
Arena, Released Mar 1, 1994

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