PlayStation Universe has published the first of a series of articles that cover the history of The Elder Scrolls franchise, and this one focuses on the very first installment, The Elder Scrolls: Arena. I'm sure aficionados of the franchise will be familiar with most of the information here contained, but it's still interesting to follow the footsteps of what is, today, one of the most important WRPG franchises. Here's a sampling:
Prior to the Elder Scrolls series, Bethesda Softworks had never worked on an RPG of any kind before. Having cut its teeth in titles like Terminator and the Wayne Gretzky Hockey series, it was hard to believe at the time that the company was actually setting out to dip its toes in such a massive genre.
Spear-headed by Vijay Lakshman and Ted Peterson, the two lead designers of the series, and lead programmer Julian Lefay, The Elder Scrolls: Arena was not originally an RPG at all. During its concept stages it was meant to be an all-out fighting game, titled simply '˜Arena.' Players were required to make a team of fighters before battling other teams across the continent of Tamriel. Gamers could also complete side-quests along the way, before reaching the final battle for the championship in the Imperial City.
However, as production proceeded further along, focus shifted from the arena battles to the side-quests. Later on the arena teams and its concept were dropped altogether, resulting in the final product The Elder Scrolls: Arena. The game itself finally launched in March 1994, to a somewhat rocky start. Missing its original Christmas 1993 release date, and plagued with other problems, reports from that period state that only 3,000 units were shipped initially.