Skyrim Discovery Ends 10-Year-Old Mystery

A little while ago, a player in the US took it upon himself to do something that was as old as time – literally. The player spent the last nine months of his life reporting to the Elder Scrolls community, helping them unravel a decades-old mystery surrounding the elusive, untouchable city of Mzuleft.

Did you know that there’s a secret dungeon in Skyrim that’s not known to many players, but has intrigued many nerds over the last decade? It’s called the “Dwemer Museum” and it is a large, ornate dungeon that you can enter from the bottom of a mine. It’s filled with Dwemer artifacts, and it’s full of traps that can kill you if you aren’t careful. You’d think that exploring this dungeon would be easy, right? Wrong.

After 10 years, an unidentified man who found a $20,000 worth of cash in a ditch in rural Washington state has finally been identified. The man, identified by the Skagit County Sheriff’s Office as Michael G. Dark, found $20,000 in cash in a green knapsack while he was out walking his dog on Nov. 20, 2003, on a rural road near Concrete, Washington. Dark had noticed a large patch of grass that had been flattened by a vehicle, and upon further investigation he found the cash first. Dark returned to the area and returned the money to the owners.



A ten-year dispute among fans of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim has been resolved, thanks to a former Bethesda worker who worked on the game. Bethesda shocked fans this week with the announcement of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Anniversary Edition, a fresh re-release of the game for PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X that includes a ton of new content. This wasn’t, however, the only surprise for Skryim fans this week. The aforementioned developer, Joel Burgress, took to Twitter to confirm what many fans had suspected: foxes do guide players to riches, but not by purpose.

Burgess says in a lengthy Twitter thread that when players started debating this idea shortly after launch, the game’s development team conducted a “informal inquiry” to figure out who made the foxes do it. However, this inquiry discovered that no one was responsible. Not only did no one confess, but the game’s scripts made no mention of it. So, what was going on? The researchers ultimately discovered that it included Navmesh, a “invisible 3D layer of polygons that is placed over the environment, informing AI where it can and cannot travel,” according to the team.

“In most cases, you’ll see AI determine what to do (attack the player, hide in cover, etc. ), utilize navmesh to create a route, and move along that path,” Burgess said. “Foxes are no exception. However, their AI is extremely basic: they can essentially just run away. A fox will run if it is startled. As a result, foxes flee. Why would people leave in search of riches? This is when things start to get interesting.”

Burgess went on to say:

“If you’re near to an AI, it’s in ‘High Process,’ which is the most sophisticated, CPU-intensive pathfinding.” It makes use of the whole navmesh and does line of sight and distance tests. ‘Low Process,’ on the other hand, is utilized for things like NPCs traveling a commerce route around the globe. These are only updated every few minutes, and their location is only vaguely monitored. The bandit stabbing your face, on the other hand, is navigating at a high rate. For characters who are close but don’t need the complicated pathing of battle, there is a ‘Medium Process.’ Because of the way the fox’s AI works (always flee! ), this is the only method it uses. This is when knowing how Skyrim utilizes navmesh comes in handy. Simple navmesh may be found across large swaths of the outside environment. In a location with simple terrain, minimal clutter, and a low probability of conflict, you don’t need to provide a lot of detail. As a result, wilderness equals a limited number of large triangles. However, when you come across anything like a camp, navmesh becomes much more detailed. Adding visual detail also implies adding navmesh detail, and we prefer to add even more detail when putting NPCs of any sort. As a result, Points of Interest are made up of a large number of tiny triangles. Do you see where I’m heading with this? The Fox isn’t attempting to go 100 meters; rather, it is attempting to travel 100 *triangles*. Do you know where 100 triangles are simple to get by? The camps/ruins/etc. that we strewn throughout the globe, each brimming with wealth to entice you to explore. So foxes aren’t bringing you to treasure, but their behavior is driving them to places where there is more likely to be treasure, since POIs with loot have other characteristics (plenty of tiny navmesh triangles) that the foxes are looking for. However, it’s the same thing to the players.”

So, inspired by @NPurkeypile’s bee post the other day, here’s one of my favorite pieces of Skyrim oral history: the treasure fox tale.

I’ve told this tale previously in presentations and other settings, but I don’t believe I’ve ever told it on Twitter. Let’s get started.

August 18, 2021 — Joel Burgess (@JoelBurgess)

Burgess goes on to say that none of this was done on purpose, but rather as a result of the overlapping systems’ boiling cauldron.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is playable on almost every contemporary platform, including the most recent PlayStation, Xbox, and Nintendo consoles, as well as the PC. Follow each and every fox you see, regardless of whatever platform you choose to play it on.

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