Dawnguard Born of Game Jam Week, Other Features from Feedback

After finishing work on The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, the team at Bethesda had a week of downtime. They used it to work on Skyrim more.

Technically, it was Game Jame Week.

“It’s a time when the developers can try out new projects,” said Matt Carofano, lead artist for Skyrim, during an interview with Game Front at E3 2012. The results were some impressive additions to Skyrim that may never see the light of day — things like a giant killer mudcrab, graphical improvements of all sorts, new armor sets and more.

All of the additions were passion projects or cool ideas that never saw the light of day in the completed game. And among the things some of the devs worked on was a Vampire Lord transformation ability akin to what players experienced as a werewolf in Skyrim.

That Vampire Lord eventually spun off into the DLC pack we know as Dawnguard, Carofano said. Vampires became the focus of the expansion for two reasons, he explained: First, because they were a group with a culture that hadn’t been explored much in The Elder Scrolls in previous games, and second, because expanding new powers and perks for players offered an opportunity to improve Skyrim.

And there are a lot of new features coming in Dawnguard, Carofano said. There are the obvious ones — the Vampire Lord transformation, the addition of the crossbow weapon, and the new perk trees for vampires and werewolves. But there are also a number of smaller improvements and additions, like high level Dragon Bone armors, horse combat, improvements to dragons and lots more.

The Skyrim team also has been paying a lot of attention to the modding community since opening the game up on Steamworks earlier this year, Carofano said. He wouldn’t cop to having a favorite mod — although Todd Howard did in his Game Front interview with Wil Wheaton during E3 — but he did say that the community and its ideas are influencing the Skyrim team.

Carofano also mentioned that a few things that have found their way into Dawnguard that were inspired by mods or things that the community had asked for. Players will find the ability to change their characters’ features when visiting a specific character in the Thieves’ Guild, an addition that came about through fan feedback.

“We have an amazing fan base, and we’ve really been impressed by how that (opening Skyrim for modding) has gone,” he said.

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