So what exactly IS the Skyrim Legendary Edition Guide, then?
Well, by now you’ve seen the frankly ludicrous (but factual) charts and statistics regarding the latest (and final) version of our strategy guide for Skyrim. This edition is designed to function as a massive and complete reference book filled with officially approved content for the Legendary game.
How difficult was it to write?
Initially panic-inducing. I remember looking at my calendar after four weeks, and realizing I hadn’t figured out where more than a tenth of everything was on the map. So I concentrated on writing the quests, of which I counted 368 (Legendary Edition).
These were instigated first, with a cavalcade of Bethesda documentation to help me figure out just what was going on (as I was working from a build where everyone was sporting the same head texture). The first time around, the quests took two months alone to complete (these were sent to each designer to double-check for accuracy), after which I concentrated on making the Training as easy to follow as possible, and Bethesda began to offer advice on character archetypes, and correct my mistakes (in the crafting section especially).
Bethesda supplied a deluge of stats for the Bestiary and Inventory, and then I checked in on Steve Stratton who was doggedly wandering through the different holds, writing up every cave, crypt, and dungeon he could find.
As all of this was going on, I was approving maps, tracing the hold boundaries and numbering every map location without missing anything (correction; I was numbering every map location, missing one, cursing, renumbering, and reviewing all the interior maps that were streaming in from our cartographers).
Then Steve Stratton almost lost his mind counting up all the collectibles, traders, skill books, and other material for the Atlas. I then wrote all the Hold Capital and Secondary Location text, and took every single screenshot. Bethesda had also been approving the design for the guide, after which I started to see pages coming in.
I checked them for accuracy, made sure the text was just small enough so that anyone over the age of 40 needed to squint to read it, answered all the copyeditor’s queries, played the game for well over 700 hours, added glossaries to all my chapters so the Indexers didn’t throttle me, and then slogged through the laid-out book with the designers to fill in page number references and correct any mistakes.
What was your favorite part of the project?
Aside from the first time you come over that ridge and walk down by the White River rapids to see Whiterun for the first time? And the countless other moments of excited panic when you realize you’re out of potions and magicka, and that Giant just won’t let up with his bone club? I think in terms of seeing the guide come together, it’s when the World Map was completed, and my computer almost broke trying to open the file.
When I asked for the map to be accurate “down to the individual tree”, I didn’t expect Sonja Morris and 99 Lives to follow my request to the letter. But that’s one of the reasons why I’m so proud of this work; we treated the subject matter with an almost fanatical reverence. We wanted readers to open up the guide looking for information on (for example) Movarth’s Lair, and end up researching the entire hold of Hjaalmarch; which mimicked the way the game works, essentially.