Random steps

I noticed some websites still believe that The Elder Scrolls: Arena allows you to walk from one city to the other. I’m not sure where this belief started, but it’s definitely wrong. Walking never brings you anywhere in Arena.

TES: Arena
Good luck finding a tower like that in the game. Seems more like something you’d find in Oblivion.

Today I tried walking around for a pretty long time. At times, I would stop to raid a dungeon (which looked exactly like the one before it). Of course, the game generates content randomly, so that’s to be expected. But if you enter a new dungeon and find the map already filled out, that must mean the memory allocated for the dungeons outside of the city is always the same… or something. I don’t know enough about the technicalities of game development.

TES: Arena
The original Tomb Raider?

And even inside a dungeon, this problem surfaces again. Floors are only stored in memory as long as you’re in there, apparently: if you go to the second floor and then down again, the layout remains the same, but all treasure is reset. I’m pretty sure that bag of gold wasn’t there before? Indeed it wasn’t. Same for the enemies, although the extremely low visibility means they will sometimes just randomly spawn behind you. Be careful when you open the map.

TES: Arena
Looks like a short distance… but this isn’t Daggerfall.

If you keep walking around, you will eventually run into a terrain loop, at which point your only chance of escape is finding a pickable door and entering, thus refreshing the outside area (on a side note: so many farmers around here have gold and monsters in their houses, how can they even survive?). When that happens, though, you’ll probably find it easier to just fast-travel to a city and start questing again.

Despite these issues, there is something endearing about Arena’s randomization. Perhaps it’s my fixation with hoarding gold: after all, there’s no shortage of it in the game (and when there is, just walk up the stairs and down again). Bethesda might have fixed this issue in Daggerfall, but there was some appeal in walking toward infinity and beyond.


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