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News video games 31 October 2023, 02:25

author: Jacob Blazewicz

'This Could've Been the End of Bethesda,' Daggerfall Creator Recalls Hard Times

The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall was created in pains, and its failure could end the history not only of the entire iconic RPG series, but also of its creators.

Source: Bethesda Softworks.

Daggerfall could have been the end of Bethesda Softworks. That's according to Bruce Nesmith, lead designer of Skyrim and one of the creators of the second The Elder Scrolls, whom Ben Hanson - who runs the YouTube channel MinnMax - recently interviewed, among other things, about the path the aforementioned developer took from his first projects to Starfield.

Released in 1997, the second part of TES was memorable for a number of reasons, including a huge world with literally thousands of locations (more precisely: more than 15,000 villages, settlements, towns, cities and dungeons). Unfortunately, although malicious, the statement that the number of locations is nothing compared to the army of bugs present in the game is not far from the truth. There's a reason why the game is often referred to as "Buggerfall," even after numerous official update and many community patches.

Such - to say the least - deplorable state of the game was by no means due to laziness or carelessness on the part of the developers.

  1. Asked if the failure of Daggerfall would mean the end of The Elder Scrolls series, Nesmith responded that it could be the end not only for the series, but for Bethesda as a whole. In the 1990s, it was still a small team that could only focus its resources on one project at a time. So there was no "plan B" in case the grandly ambitious "TES2" crashed and burned.
  2. As a result, the developers were under tremendous pressure. Managers shouting at employees was the order of the day, and for nearly 18 months of development, working for less than 60 hours a week meant risking one's job. It was a brutal crunch - the worst Nesmith remembers in his entire career.
  3. The team's mood was not improved by the game's condition. Nevertheless, the developers believed in the potential of Daggerfall:

"If all you would see was mess, you would be like: 'See ya, folks! I have somewhere else to be!'. But you would look at it and think: 'this game can be amazing and fantastic, it just needs more,' so you just tried to give it more of yourself."

This Couldve Been the End of Bethesda, Daggerfall Creator Recalls Hard Times - picture #1
Without Daggerfall, there would be no Skyrim or Starfield. Source: Starfield / Bethesda Softworks.

Nesmith also admitted with a laugh that Todd Howard would probably have at least as many stories to tell. True, Bethesda's boss mentioned the crunch accompanying work on the highly anticipated sequel to Daggerfall: Morrowind (via IGN).

Fortunately, both games were a success, although they needed a lot of "insecticide". Thus, they established a tradition that, according to mischievous fans, the studio still holds to this day (vide the premiere of Starfield, the patching of which is already being taken care of by impatient players).

Finally, let me remind you that The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall has been available for free download for years, for example, via

Jacob Blazewicz

Jacob Blazewicz

Graduated with a master's degree in Polish Studies from the University of Warsaw with a thesis dedicated to this very subject. Started his adventure with in 2015, writing in the Newsroom and later also in the film and technology sections (also contributed to the Encyclopedia). Interested in video games (and not only video games) for years. He began with platform games and, to this day, remains a big fan of them (including Metroidvania). Also shows interest in card games (including paper), fighting games, soulslikes, and basically everything about games as such. Marvels at pixelated characters from games dating back to the time of the Game Boy (if not older).


The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall

The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall