The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Interview

The editors at IGN have put online an interview with Bethesda's lead designer Bruce Nesmith, dealing with topics ranging from Radiant AI, to physics puzzle, to the influence of the community on the Maryland-based developer's work. Here's a sampling:
IGN AU: Can you talk us through the way the enemies level up in relation to your character? Is this new system only related to dungeons?

Bruce Nesmith: This is a system we continually tweak and improve. It's extremely complicated and detailed at this point. Its main goal is to make sure that the player is always finding new challenges that do not devolve into unavoidable failure or trivialize success.

Skyrim's levelling system will feel a lot like Fallout 3's, although we have tweaked it. There are places that are always easy, usually near where the game starts, but not always. There are places that you shouldn't attempt until you are higher level. These are always in the more remote places in the world. If you leave and come back, they won't have gotten any harder while you were away. And there are lots of in-betweens. All of them do some dynamic adjusting to try and match the challenge to the player.

IGN AU: If dragons can randomly attack villages, then how does the game balance itself and ensure that you're not being punished super-early in the game?

Bruce Nesmith: Because we decide when those random events can happen and how. All of our "random" systems are actually sophisticated decision systems that use randomness as one part of the process. Random dragon attacks won't happen right away. When they first start, you will have companions with you or be able to use the environment to your advantage, and the dragon will be one of the weaker ones. As the game progresses, you fight tougher dragons and are on your own more often.