Every facet of Skyrim's aesthetic was influenced by the world itself, making environment design an early priority.
“It helps define so much of the game for us,” explained lead artist Matt Carofano. “That's sort of our main character of the game – what is the world?”
After taking a hand-crafted approach to the world design of Fallout 3, the art team set out to double their efforts in bringing that level of detail to the more expansive and varied acreage of Skyrim.
“We found by doing Fallout 3 that making a completely hand-done world just looks a lot better; it's more interesting, it just feels better. So we ramped up the landscape team and worked on that from the beginning.
“Every rock, every tree, every ingredient plant, was all placed by an artist or level designer to make sure the world was well-crafted.”
Arena took absolutely no prisoners – hell, getting out of the first dungeon alive was no mean feat. Alhough earlier text-based adventures would think nothing of abruptly shredding your hapless hero with a horde of Grues, it came in the sterile, homely format of DOS text. Arena’s strength came in harnessing the real-time element. A wrong turn wouldn’t be instantly damning, but instead hurl you headlong into a desperate fight-or-flight reflex test. Survive, progress, and overcome.