The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim's concept artists have revealed how they went about setting the latest entry in Bethesda's RPG series apart from it's predecessor.
In a fascinating podcast hosted on the game's official site, the game's art team revealed that the brief with Skyrim was to create a more distinct, believable world with a greater focus on its people and culture.
"It was a reaction to what Oblivion was as a game," explained lead artist Matt Carofano.
"Oblivion was a very classic medieval setting, and we felt some of that was a bit generic. We wanted to do something that showed a lot more of the culture of the people who lived there. Skyrim was all about creating a world that seemed believable."
Concept artist Adam Adamowicz explained that the team had a wide remit to start with, before Howard later reviewed the work and narrowed the focus.
"It was completely blue sky," he said. "[Executive director] Todd [Howard] said, 'Sit down and draw a bunch of cool, weird s***, and we'll look at it and decide what's worthwhile and what's really stupid.'"
Conan, Viking culture and and the work of [lauded American fantasy artist] Frank Frazetta were all apparently early touchstones for the team to draw on.
"I would pull a lot of Conan references, because there's a lot of different Conan art that I like," explained Howard.
"One of our early influences that I did show them was the McFarlane Conan action figure set. If you look at the Conan series they did, there's a great vibe in that stuff."
Sounds like it was a painful process though. According to Adamowicz, "probably about 90 per cent of that [early work] didn't get used."
Bethesda posted an accompanying video revealing some of the concepts the art team came up with. Take a look below.