A Big Mountain to Climb, Animating The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Bethesda Softworks has released the fourth developer diary, taking us behind the scenes on animating The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.

The video above, which showcases some of the more impressive animation sequences, complements the audio developer diary, which is available at the URL below, as well as an insightful write-up. A snippet of the write-up reads:

“We kind of reinvented the whole thing,” says lead animator Josh Jones, “and started with a brand new animation system. From there it was like, what do we do with this?

“We have a lot of flexibility in terms of NPCs interacting with the environment, with each other. We have much more complex combat [in this game] than we had before.”

Every area of animation was examined and marked for improvements, right down to the most basic motion “graphs” like walking and running.

“The whole [movement] system that we have now is pretty cool,” explains animator Jeremy Bryant. “We've got directional walks in all eight directions, as well as directional runs. I'd say the motion set is probably the best we've ever had, in terms of how fluid it is.”

Even going for a simple stroll in a game such as Skyrim can present some interesting – and sometimes entertaining – scenarios for the animators to deal with.

“You can paralyze people,” says Bryant. “There can be a lady taking a bite of bread, and you can cast ice form on her, have her tip over and fall into a stream. Then the stream has physics, so she goes down river, wakes up, and she still has bread in her hands.

“So now you have this NPC in this crazy state: 'Hey I'm in water. I'm eating. I'm swimming.'

“There's all this crazy stuff you can get to happen in the game.”

If you're looking forward to Skyrim at all, we highly recommend giving the fourth developer podcast a listen. You can do so at


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