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Before Skyrim: the Elder Scrolls games that nearly broke Bethesda

cormack12

Gold Member
Source: https://www.pcgamesn.com/the-elder-scrolls-v-skyrim/forgotten-elder-scolls-games
...full story at link

The mid ’90s were an auspicious time for Bethesda. The Skyrim studio cut its teeth making sports and licensed Terminator games before moving into the (at the time) niche territory of RPGs Bethesda’s upper management were initially wary, but The Elder Scrolls: Arena was enough of a success to get a sequel approved, The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall, which struck gold for the small studio. The pioneering open-world game was a hit, so work on its sequel, Morrowind, started immediately after, and Bethesda was seemingly on the path to becoming the RPG juggernaut it is today. But there are two forgotten Elder Scrolls games that came first.

Rather than doubling down on what worked so well for Daggerfall, Bethesda took its new flagship series off-piste. An Elder Scrolls Legend: Battlespire (1997) and The Elder Scrolls Adventures – Redguard (1998) were games whose titles hinted that they’d be the start of new Elder Scrolls spin-off series – expanding the IP into a genre-spanning saga.

Talking to Christopher Weaver and Battlespire (as well as Arena and Daggerfall) creator Julian Le Fay, it seems that not even those who were there have the best memory of making these tangential titles.

From Le Fay’s perspective, Battlespire was very much a side project – something to squeeze in between the ‘bigger’ titles. The game was essentially a hack-and-slash dungeon crawler, albeit before the mechanics really existed to make this feel great in a first-person format. “After the success of Arena, top management pretty much left it to us to decide what to do next,” Le Fay says. “So Todd [Howard] had the opportunity to do Redguard, and I had some time on my hands to start doing Battlespire.”

Le Fay echoes Howard’s thoughts, adding that Bethesda wasn’t always an easy company to work for. “Neither Battlespire or Redguard took up a large amount of resources, but we were still a small-ish company at the time, so every person mattered a lot,” Le Fay says. “The company also lost employees during that period, including me. It was hard to replace people who have experience with new people who [didn’t] have any sort of comparable experience, even more so considering the relatively low pay at that time.”

Weaver, who was ultimately responsible for co-founding ZeniMax with his friend Robert Altman in 1999, retorts that the idea that Bethesda was nearly ruined by these games, and that the company was saved by ZeniMax during this time was just a rumour among developers, and “utter nonsense.” He does, however, admit that this was a difficult period for the company. “We did overextend on these games,” Weaver reflects, “and we had to cut back as the outflow was more than we wanted to bear and we had some immigration problems with a few key programmers so [we] had to close down one of our larger experimental projects.”

Beyond the poor sales and what Weaver called – with a wry laugh- “passionate” fan reception where “some people loved what we were doing, some people hated it,” these games also caused The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind to be delayed. “They tried to synchronise things up to do the next Elder Scrolls and the timing got really messed up,” Le Fay says. “They couldn’t quite get everybody to be free at the same time and that was sort of what pissed me off. That was the final straw for me.”
 
 

SlimeGooGoo

Party Gooper
“Ken Rolston wrote that dialogue and did such a good job with it,” Le Fay tells me. “At one point I remember you’re looking for a key and you ask this scamp for the key and it says, ‘Ooh, it’s in a dark place near my tail – you want to see?’ And you only have one response option: ‘No, thank you.’ He was a very funny writer.”
Ken Rolston was based. Too bad he left Bethesda after Oblivion.

Here's a video that has Ken Rolston interviewed by Tech Jesus, how awesome is that?

 

Laptop1991

Member
Oblivion was what made me a TES fan, it was a big success in 06, i played Daggerfall when it came out and guess what, it bugged up completely after playing it for 2 months, so i didn't bother with Morrowind when it was released and played half of it just before Oblivion was released,

I preferred Oblivion in every way, the combat, setting, dialogue, npc's and quests, but Morrowind was popular as well, this article must be written by a younger gamer who only played Skyrim.
 

ymoc

Member
I mean that's such a click-bait title. Bethesda already had massive success with Morrowind and especially Oblivion, which was one of the biggest games in the year of its release.
Morrowind had at least two major addons, so it was far from a struggling title. Those expansions were amazing. Why we never got anything near that scale in Skyrim... sad.
 
Respect to Bethesda for what was achieved in Skyrim, and is one of the best worlds in gaming. Shame they ruined it with the poorly designed skill trees and lack of variation in character builds. Luckily the Mods fixed those problems and fingers crossed they get it sorted for starfield.
 
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