From mods for Skyrim to a full game: the difficulties of creating The Forgotten City


Attempt to make a title for intelligent adults.

The author of the publication Rock, Paper, Shotgun at PAX East spoke to Nick Pierce, the creator of The Forgotten City, which grew out of its popular modification for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.

The original mod was dedicated to investigating mystical murders in the time loop – for this story, the author received an award from the Australian Writers Guild. Pierce spoke about the problems that met on his way, and also described the extent to which Bethesda influenced the development.

We have [c Bethesda] pretty polite relationship. To put it as precisely as possible: we have an agreement under which they will not object to me making a mod. So they, of course, do not approve of this, but they will not take any action until I refer to them or their intellectual property – and this is normal.

We are not allowed to go to the mod page and say that it has grown into a separate game. Therefore, we rely on word of mouth and the press to let people know about it.

Nick Pierce creator of The Forgotten City

During the conversation, Pierce tried very hard not to mention either Skyrim or Bethesda. This is probably due to the fact that, being a former lawyer, he is too well aware that the legal team of Bethesda will knock on his door if he says something is not right.

The presence of fashion has slightly reduced the crushing existential fear of being a game developer, but it certainly did not remove it. To give up legal career and take a long break in this business is incredibly risky, but I did it because [game creation] is what I love.

Nick Pierce creator of The Forgotten City

The Forgotten City is a complete rethinking of the original Pierce mod. The game was created from scratch in the Unreal Engine with a completely new environment, a new set of characters and an extensive narrative.

At the moment, she has little resemblance to Skyrim, but, according to Pierce, he is busy “improving all possible things that can be improved.” He also enlisted the support of the former artist environment From Software to polish the visual effects. He also rewrites the script using Laura Mixt’s Where the Water Tastes Like Wineeditor. Pierce is sure that both old and new players will find a lot of interesting things here.

In fact, this is a similar experience, but it is better, more interesting, deeper and darker. There is definitely a bunch of content for people who played mod. I want to make games for intelligent adults who can figure out something themselves – there are simply not enough such projects. I also want to make games that leave you with really significant emotional experiences that make you say “wow.” That is my goal.Nick Piercecreator of The Forgotten City

Some irregularities in the game are really noticeable. For example, it concerns animations of swimming and opening doors. But it is important that The Forgotten City’s central task of trying to save 26 strangers from certain death in an ancient Roman city is very convincing.

You know that they will all die soon, so your task is to find the cause and try to prevent death. One way to do this is to use a time loop, try to correct the mistakes you made, and make everything go the way you want. In the game there are also difficult moral decisions, and many endings that depend on you.


Nick Pierce creator of The Forgotten City

For example, one of the first things that needs to be done in a demo is to help the local doctor, Winter, to find the culprit in the poisoning of the residents. The doctor tried to get antidotes from an unscrupulous trader who put too high a price. Because of this, the poisoned patient died, which led to the quest to find the antidote to the main character.

To get the desired item, you can steal the antidote from the merchant and run into the portal, which will take the player back in time. In this way, the patient will remain alive, and the antidote will arrive on time.

All the main characters are the researchers who came to the lost ancient Roman city. Most of them are ordinary men and women, but some of these wayward time travelers have become familiar with their role and become Romans.

They live in a gated community in the upper echelons of the city and call themselves “patricians”, and all others – “plebeians.” The relationship between these opposing sets of ideals is what Pierce wanted to explore on his own, moving his mod into a more modern setting.

It happens in the real world, so we can use some really interesting philosophical topics that have arisen in ancient Roman philosophy. Each character in the game has his own understanding of the Golden Rule and what sin constitutes.

Nick Pierce creator of The Forgotten City

This means that some characters think that modern morality is universal, while the patricians have adopted the laws and norms of ancient Rome.

The player will be torn between making really difficult moral decisions regarding all these different philosophies. This is one of the coolest things that we were able to do a little deeper, darker and more mature than in the original fashion. This is very difficult to do in a fantastic setting.

Nick Pierce creator of The Forgotten City

Pierce believes that in many decision-making games these days there are not enough moral gray areas, and he hopes The Forgotten City will offer a more mature approach to the genre.

After the release, I would really like to be able to just throw all these things out of my brain and get inspiration from something new. I don’t want to promise too much, but the sequel definitely has potential.

If you get a better ending, this may lead to a second game. But it really depends on what kind of feedback we get. If people want more, we will do it. If they just want a new, crazy big story, then we can handle it.

Nick Pierce creator of The Forgotten City


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