Bethesda has released the first podcast for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, and in it, Todd Howard discusses with concept artists Ray Lederer and Adam Adamowicz the details surrounding the process of creating game from concept art to in-game rendering.
According to Adamowicz, the challenge of working on a fantasy series with as much history as the Elder Scrolls kind of took him back a bit, especially because he was working in a fantasy genre “weighed down by its Tolkien roots.”
“I love Lord of the Rings,” said Adamowicz. “It’s gorgeous. And so how do you beat that? That’s kind of what it came down to. How do you do something really cool in this genre, and have it be original and not ape all of these things?”
In order to find outside inspiration, Adamowicz and Lederer looked to works by Joseph Campbell, and ancient Japanese tradition among others and found a way to put their “own spin on it.”
“From the first moments on the project, it was obvious that Skyrim would require not just a unique spin on fantasy, but on The Elder Scrolls series as a whole,” said Lederer, who said the team wanted the game to be more than Oblivion was.
“It was a reaction to what Oblivion was as a game,” said lead artist Matt Carofano. “Oblivion was a very classic medieval setting, and we felt some of that was a bit generic. We wanted to do something that showed a lot more of the culture of the people who lived there. Skyrim was all about creating a world that seemed believable.”
In order to get things moving, Todd Howard provided the team with a general vision of how Skyrim should appear, with its Viking overtones, and once the team had created enough concept art, everyone would sit down and sort through it.
“It was completely blue sky,” said Adamowicz. “Todd said, ‘Sit down and draw a bunch of cool, weird [stuff], and we’ll look at it and decide what’s worthwhile and what’s really stupid.’ We want bad-ass Vikings versus Conan, classic Frank Frazetta, and it’s going to be set in Skyrim, and this is a place that’s going to be a lot more brutal and gritty: draw a bunch of stuff.
“Probably about 90% of that [early work] didn’t get used.”
Personal inspirations aside, there was also quite a bit of Elder Scrolls lore to adhere to, which provided the team with minor story elements which could be expanded upon. Such was the case with the dragons.
“They’ve actually been in Elder Scrolls games before,” said Carofano. “There was one in Redguard, and if you look all the way back to Daggerfall I think there were dragonlings. We sort of look at that to remember what was in the series, but then the question becomes, how do we make that fit into Skyrim?”
To go along with the podcast, Bethesda has released a lovely trailer showing concept art from Skyrim, alongside it’s in-game rendering which is posted below.
The game is out on November 11 for PC, PS3, and Xbox 360. We’re going to be sick that day. We feel the cough coming on already.