The basic idea behind Beyond Skyrim is an old one. Recreating the other Provinces of Tamriel which (until the release of Elder Scrolls Online) had only been featured in books, has been a dream of the Elder Scrolls modding community since at least 2002. The first Creation Kit for the Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind allowed users to create their own original content (or “mods”) and add them into the base game. One of the oldest of these attempts, the legendary Tamriel Rebuilt, is still going strong today, and regularly makes new releases of the mainland of Morrowind.
Over the years, many other teams and individuals have attempted to repeat this achievement with other areas of Tamriel, but the vast majority never enjoyed the same longevity or success. With the release of TES IV: Oblivion in 2006, the now-defunct website Silgrad Tower became the home to many of these projects, and from 2007-08 onward a community of long-term collaborators developed, known as Beyond Cyrodiil, many of whose members are still with us today. Their debates and discussions laid many of the foundations for the projects which would one day become Beyond Skyrim.
Beyond Skyrim itself arose out of the dissatisfaction among many members of the community with the way in which large-scale worldspace mods had been developed for Oblivion. In the run-up to the release of TES V: Skyrim in 2011, many modding veterans felt that too much effort had been scattered across too many projects, with duplication of effort and lack of resource sharing becoming endemic problems in the community. The question was posed as to how we should do things differently once Skyrim was released, and the proposal was made to create a new collaboration forum which would seek to bring disparate projects together – the seed from which Beyond Skyrim would grow.
Beyond Skyrim was not the idea of a single individual, but the result of the contributions of many to an ongoing discussion between modding teams as to how they could work together more closely. Nevertheless, the date of our foundation can be traced to 23 November 2011, when a post by a Bethsoft forum member named Candlemaster started a discussion thread which eventually snowballed into full-blown negotiations between teams of modders. As a direct result of those talks, the Beyond Skyrim forums here at Dark Creations were established later that year, and have been growing ever since.
Originally, our collaboration was quite limited in scope – we were mostly interested in avoiding any incompatibilities between fundamentally separate mods, and sharing resources and expertise. Most of our member projects were hosted on other sites, and our forums on this site were limited to inter-team discussions. However, as 2012 wore on this rapidly began to change, as our members started to move their operations to Dark Creations to facilitate further collaboration. The interconnections between our teams started to get broader and deeper, as we began to work ever more closely together, and members began to divide their work across multiple teams. The greatest triumph of this phase of our development was the adoption of Morcroft’s All-Tamriel Heightmap, as a result of which all our members agreed to use a common landscape canvas on which to construct their work.
By early 2013, the process of centralization was complete, and Dark Creations had become the sole home of Beyond Skyrim. We had not merged into a single team, but we were no longer separate projects either. Increasingly, our leadership began to make decisions together, and additional common areas of the forums needed to be created to cater for our blossoming collaboration. The remainder of 2013 saw steady progress, with new assets, landscapes, and huge amounts of lore and literature development being completed, as well as our receiving our first attention in the gaming press with an interview at Game Informer Online Magazine.
By the start of 2014, a collective decision was taken to formalize the relationship between our constituent teams. A Beyond Skyrim Charter was written which regulates how our community and collaboration is managed, and a new central Council of Team Leaders was created to make common decisions on behalf of their projects. We have also seen further integration of some of our development, with the establishment of central Music and Voice Acting departments.
Today, Beyond Skyrim has come a long way from its humble origins as a discussion thread for groups of modders. Our first trailers, released in March 2014, show only a glimpse of the immense amount that we have accomplished over the two-and-a-half years that we have been in operation. We hope that you will consider joining us on the next stage of our journey together.