October 22, 2021

A Rogue Bee Kept Breaking Skyrims Iconic Cart Intro – Kotaku

A prisoner sitting in a horse-drawn cart from Skyrim's opening scene.

Screenshot: Bethesda

No matter how many times you’ve watched Skyrim’s opening cart scene, you probably still haven’t seen it as much as Nate Purkeypile has. That’s because back during production a mysterious entity kept throwing the cart off course and the developers couldn’t figure out why. The mysterious culprit? A bee.

That intro is famous now, but back then, it was just that one thing that we had to keep working and working on forever,” Purkeypile, who most recently worked on Starfield, wrote in a thread that blew up on Twitter today. “I lost track of how many times I’ve seen that cart ride. Easily hundreds.”

According to the veteran developer and former Bethesda lead artist, the complexity arose from the fact that the cart was physically simulated rather than on a set track. Weird stuff in the environment could potentially throw it off course, like, say, a misplaced rock. Then one time shit really hit the fan.

“Riding that cart yet again, the cart starts to shake violently and all of a sudden WHOOSH! The cart goes up into the sky like a rocket ship. Like WAY up there,” Purkeypile wrote. “Something was telling that cart to just fuck right off and to get off that road. The thing is, it wasn’t happening every time. Nobody knew what was going on at first.”

Eventually, he and the rest of the team discovered the issue had to do with bees. Collision physics had been added to the insects so that players could pick them up as an ingredient. Which was fine, until the bees hit the cart.

“The cart wanted to move down the road. The bee did not want to move,” he wrote. “So up the cart goes!”

Moral of the story? Game development is hard. Fixing bugs is even harder. Especially the kind that buzz.

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