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How did Skyrim get so glitchy?

- January 6th, 2012

Glitches are a part of the Elder Scrolls charm. They are a fact of life, like death, taxes and Mission Impossible sequels. No matter how much one game improves upon the last, there are always a bajillion glitches, and it never seems to stop them from winning awards and garnering widespread praise.

Dorkly mocks this phenomenon with a sequence of highly hilarious (and highly fictional) internal development memos that show how Skyrim‘s programmers got a little, well, out of control. Here’s a taste:

Picture 2

We forgive the Elder Scrolls their glitches because of the sheer scope of the games. When you can go almost anywhere, do almost anything and never run out of quests, the occasional floating horse is no big deal. And we embrace these glitches because of their community-building aspects. Hoards of nerds relish the opportunity to find, document, share, exploit and create memes based on glitches stumbled upon in this world for which we share a passion, even an obsession.

Sometimes they are fun, like floating objects in Morrowind. Then again, sometimes they are infuriating, like when my female elf became a vampire in Oblivion and her face transformed into a dude’s face (on a female body) and then the old witch lady who was supposed to cure me locked herself in the basement and wouldn’t come out. Man, that was a bummer.

Now I invite you to share your Elder Scrolls glitch stories in the comments. I know you have them.

Via Kotaku

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15 comments

  1. cuddles mcgamer | January 8, 2012 at 10:33 am

    I’ve heard a lot about these glitches and have been playing (PC) since the day of release and have yet to have one glitch yet other’s suffer endless glitches.

    Weird.

  2. Nick | January 9, 2012 at 8:07 am

    The only thing I’ve noticed so far, is the flying mamoth while killing a dragon as I played last night. It was rather funny to watch this huge beast “hang in mid air” while I disposed of the blood dragon. The only other thing I’ve encountered is when my huskarl “Lydia” [ who looks incredible in ebony armour btw ] simply refused to enter a mine. Then there was the time I had to shout her off a roof..But that is another story.

  3. Sheena Goodyear | January 9, 2012 at 9:52 am

    So far in Skyrim, I’ve only experienced a floating horse, which is kind of awesome. But since the Oblivion incident, I will never experiment with vampirism again.

  4. Big B | January 9, 2012 at 4:11 pm

    Playing on PS3 : At release, lag, and lots of it. Freezing/crashing, and infinite load times. Post patch, better, hasn’t frozen again, yet. But I am locked out of Solitude. I have seen animals drop from the sky now and again, had a horse fly out from under me while dismounting, poor thing was launched off into the valley to its demise :( I had a Dragon Priest freeze against a wall (that worked in my favor, took it out easily) but the biggest irk was loseing saved game files saying the data was “currupted” setting me back 7-8 lvls and all together loseing new characters I had started. Fun game, still love it, still playing it.

  5. Sheena Goodyear | January 10, 2012 at 3:50 pm

    Horsie, no!

  6. Dwayne | January 12, 2012 at 1:11 pm

    On PS3, I’ve had a number of the usual freezes, crashes and whatnot, plus flying horses, dead dragons dropping from the sky for no reason, etc., but the goofiest glitch I’ve seen has got to be when my follower Aranea disappeared on me. This was not, in itself, unusual, as followers often have trouble with route finding. But when I went back to find her, I found she was lying flat on her back. I assumed she had died in an encounter with some miscellaneous wildlife, but when I went to retrieve the equipment she was carrying, found that she was very much alive. She could talk and interact as usual, but stayed laying flat on her back and would even follow me around, sliding around as though I were pulling her on a toboggan. I eventually tired of the situation and dismissed her from my service. My wife and I howled in laughter as she slid feet first into the distance…

  7. rychus | May 9, 2012 at 10:37 pm

    I just had shadowmere. Just walk out from under me. I truly, am in awe of this glitch. Only downside is, what this glitch may mean…..

  8. Kelly Roberts | April 3, 2013 at 7:02 pm

    I’ve had a few of the normal glitches, but the freezing just happens too much. When is Bethesda going to fix that? I mean it’s really annoying when I lose my progress, have to restart my Xbox, and do a whole quest over again.
    Seriously, it has to stop…

  9. Kelly Roberts | April 3, 2013 at 7:05 pm

    Also, I’ve had shouts not letting me learn them and Dragons not letting me take their souls. It’s like they’ve both gone on strike or somethin’!

  10. Cole | April 6, 2013 at 6:40 am

    Just had to deal with the third dragon to attack the College of Winterhold, go to deal the final blow to the dragon, and guess what? It freezes. -_- I know they already have the patch, and it was set to release for the console LAST month, but I’m not playing until 1.9 comes out. Beyond freezing, I have encountered innumerable game-breaking glitches. I’m just tired. So, so tired.

  11. Will | April 19, 2013 at 4:20 pm

    Hey, are you all talking just about the ‘vanilla’ game here? (By ‘vanilla’, we mean not using any third party mods/plugins) My wife and I have about 50 mods installed, and wow, the game sure is fun when it’s not crashing and burning!

    It’s nice to know (in a schadenfreude sort of way :-) ) that these crashes are happening to people who don’t even have mods!

    We use the ATTK power loader (from Nexus), which appears to stabilise things a bit, by lowering the priority of other programs and maxing out Skyrim, but apparently the Nexus folks have it on probation for some reason – not sure why.

    We also use a shareware program called CleanMem, which makes my wife remind me that “I like my men clean” – not sure what to make of that, really!! (“It’s CleanMem, not CleanMEN, dammit!”).

    Joking aside, Skyrim like many games, has the infamous ‘memory leakage’ problem, so the CleanMen I mean CleanMem, reallocates memory once Skyrim’s memory usage goes over a certain threshold. You know, “memory leakage” just sounds wrong – Does anyone remember when some foods used to have Olestra in them???

    Some of our favourite bugs include:

    - Followers leaving just because they accidentally get hit once or twice. Oh wait, that’s a feature, not a bug.

    - Followers declaring jihad on us just because we hit them once or twice by accident. Lydia once left my wife for no apparent reason, and when she went to Breezehome to look for her, Lydia came at her with a battleaxe screaming NOW I’VE FOUND YOU!!!!

    - Mammoths (and occasionally giants) dropping out of the sky.

    - Bandits yelling “SKYRIM BELONGS TO THE NORDS!” even though my entire party is Nord, at least at the time this happened. If you’re going to be a racist pig, at least know well enough not to yell racist epithets to fellow members of the Master Race!

    - After you have all the shouts and visit the Greybeards again (this is if you have Dawnguard), they send you to a place to get Drain Vitality’s first shout, but then when you return to the Greybeards, they send you right back to the same place all over again. Grrrrrrr!!

    - We can’t get rid of the multiple “Collect Bounty from Jarl Brina Merilis” quests in Dawnstar (if you’ve defeated the Stormcloaks)

    I know it’s not germane to the subject matter, but would anyone like some mod suggestions? One of our favourites is Explosive Chickens (!) – “turn your poultry into pipe bombs!” There’s also the animated shout, err, tooting, which has your Dovakhiin shouting not from his mouth but from the other end. (No, we don’t use that, but we’re sure it would be amusing for a while :-) ). We’re pretty high level, so we use ASIS, Deadly Dragons, Deadly Monsters, and Mighty Monsters on insane difficulty level because we apparently can’t get enough abuse from the vanilla game.

    None of these will necessarily make your game any more stable, but will sure make it a whole lot more fun!

  12. Will | April 19, 2013 at 4:24 pm

    Oh geez, this column is over a year old – aaargh. And here I should have been read the byline, duh. :-(

  13. Will | May 2, 2013 at 10:42 am

    @Cole (if you’re still following this) – Is it working better for you, now that 1.9 is out?

    We’re still crashing and burning.

    On second thought, 1.9 is out finally, right??? As far as I know, it is, now I have to go and re-check. :-(

  14. iRezz | July 31, 2013 at 1:08 pm

    Are you kidding me? there are games much bigger, much more complex and just as free than Skyrim, and they suffer hardly ANY bugs and glitches, and lets not forget that a lot of these hell tonne of glitches are game halting, causing quests to be uncompletable and the game to even crash, especially on consoles that have to reply on the lazy arse developers over at Bethesda. Yeah I said it, they’re lazy, look at the PC, the community have fixed nearly every bug in the game with unofficial patches and they don’t even get paid to do it, over at Bethesda they don’t seem to give two craps about fixing the bugs and when they do they’re so incompetent that they create a whole heap of new bugs and glitches too!

  15. Mark summers | August 26, 2013 at 9:16 pm

    Uhhhh oh gosh been sitting around playing for three days strait do I really have the energy to get up and restart my console because it froze thanks a lot Bethesda now I have to get up and walk all the way over there and go back three levels and try it again hahaha c’mon we all know its frustrating but it so worth it its such a great game but ive pretty much given up on the bug fixing it doesn’t seem too promising

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