Yes, Skyrim’s sneaky developers hid away cut content in the hopes that it’d be found by modders

As it turns out, because they’re really swell folks, some of the Bethesda developers working on Skyrim did make a concious decision to unhook and hide away content that had to be cut from the game, but not entirely delete it from the game’s files, with the hopes that modders would be able to uncover it down the line.

As with any big, ambitious game, there was plenty of stuff that didn’t quite make it into the realse version of Skyrim and has since been ressurected by modders, who aren’t under the same stresses to get a full game finished and shipped in as playable a state as possible as Skyrim’s developers would have been once development reached a certain point. The arena in Windhelm is one example that springs to mind straight away, but I’m sure there are others I’m drawing a blank on.

Well, interestingly enough, some of the files that let modders know things like that were ever even supposed to be thing were sneakily left in the game by the devs. This comes from former Bethesda developer Joel Burgess, who worked on Skyrim in addition to a number of Fallout games and Oblivion, during an interview at the C3 modding showcase.

Following up a discussion about some aspects of the game’s civil war that were cut, Burgess said: “I remember being so thrilled a couple of years later, I was like the ‘sickos’ meme at the window, looking at modders finding the cutting room floor stuff.” “We tended, when we did have to scale stuff back,” he continued, “maybe we didn’t delete it, maybe we just unhooked it up or we just commented out those lines of script, because we often were hoping to leave the breadcrumbs for modders to find and use stuff that we couldn’t get in.”

So, there you have it. In case you’re wondering what kinds of things were cut from the civil war, which we’ve known for a while now was supposed to be a lot more of a focus for the game, Burgess and fellow dev Daryl Brigner painted a very interesting picture of it. “It was fully dynamic,” the former said, “the war would ebb and flow across, every city could be taken by either faction.”

Battles around key locations like Fort Sungard were also apparently supposed to be more common and the Generals leading each side were planned to have maps with dynamically moving battle markers in their tents.

To be honest, just hearing about how in-depth this stuff is and realising that Skyrim came out in 2011, meaning these discussions were going on before then, I’m not surpised that it ended up being too difficult to pull of seamlessly by release. But hey, at least those trying to do so helped set up some of the additions to the game that’ve come since.

If you love a good Bethesda RPG, be sure to check out our coverage of must-have mods for Starfield and Fallout 4, as well as our interview with some modders about Skyrim’s new Creations initiative.

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