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I was wondering, if I were to run around in a world like this, how much I would need from one corner of Skyrim to the other far diagonal corner end to the other in kilometers/miles.

There is already a study on large game worlds, but a bit outdated.
It mentions Oblivion there, so it might be a reference point.

How large is the world of Skyrim in real life?
Is there a reliable method, theoretical or empirical, to measure it?

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Well other than Todd Howard saying that the world is larger than Oblivion and the largest they have ever made, I don't know of anything. –  Holger Nov 30 '11 at 11:18
    
He would not have said that, because it is not true. Most detailed world, perhaps, but it doesn't even begin to approach the size of the map in Daggerfall. (I think Arena may have been even bigger, covering the entire Empire, but I never played it, so I'm unsure.) –  Dave Sherohman Nov 30 '11 at 14:38
    
It's possible he's not counting Daggerfall's map as "made", as it was almost wholly procedurally generated. The other games of course use some procedural generation as well, but as tools to help artists/designers make "empty" space faster. I would be surprised if more than 0.1% of Daggerfall's area had any kind of human touch. –  user2640 Nov 30 '11 at 17:47
    
@Holger: I recall Todd Howard saying it's "the most ambitious project" and it has "more content than any previous game", but for game world size, the only thing he mentioned is that it's "not smaller than Oblivion". Which, for the playable area, is about right. It's roughly the same size. –  Martin Sojka Nov 30 '11 at 18:59
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What that article didn't mention was FUEL which is the largest non-procedural map I've played - 14,400 square KM (5,560 square miles). It was generated from satellite data, IIRC. It took a guy from Rock, Paper, Shotgun 8 hours straight driving to circumnavigate the map: rockpapershotgun.com/2009/06/22/… –  Alan B Sep 9 '12 at 19:52

3 Answers 3

up vote 47 down vote accepted

Skyrim's heightmap is rectangular and uses 119 x 94 = 11186 in-game "cells". The engine uses the same cell size as in Oblivion, Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas - 57.6 metres (63 yards) to the side, 3317.76 m² (3 969 square yards) of area. The full map thus has an area of about 37.1 km² (14.3 square miles). Around a quarter of this is not playable, stuck behind invisible borders.

The playable area is roughly the same as the one in Morrowind and Oblivion and less than one thousandths of Daggerfall's size.

In addition, the game features a good part of the surrounding area of Tamriel as low-quality "fake" terrain meshes.

For comparison, the heightmaps of Skyrim (upper left corner), Morrowind (upper right corner) and Oblivion (lower left corner) look as follows, to scale (courtesy of Lightwave from Bethesda's forums). Skyrim, Morrowind and Oblivion heightmaps

Most of Oblivion's heightmap is not playable, while most of Skyrim's and all of Morrowind's map can be visited in game.

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Daggerfall has procedural terrain, which is practically the same thing over and over again. Apples and oranges. –  DrFish Nov 30 '11 at 11:57
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@Bora: Oblivion has procedural terrain too (I can't tell for sure for Skyrim and I don't remember for Morrowind). The only difference is that it's "backed" in the editor, not generated by the game on the spot. –  Martin Sojka Nov 30 '11 at 12:01
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@Martin well the problem is a mountain that can be 'walked up' in 1-2 hours is really just a hill, can't be called a mountain :P –  z ' Nov 30 '11 at 12:57
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@MartinSojka alternatively - use a horse! –  Raven Dreamer Nov 30 '11 at 14:12
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Of course, none of this takes into account the amount of space provided by dungeons/caves/etc –  Chris Rasys Nov 30 '11 at 17:16

According to the wiki, your running speed is 17.3 f/s. That means you run at about 11 mph. If the total area of the map was 14.3 miles, you'd be able to get from any point to any point in less than two game hours. You don't. It's a ten hour trip from Windhelm to Whiterun, for example. (Providing of course you play with the default time scale, of course)

If it were a real map, or everyone had the same size screen and resolution, it would be easy enough to eyeball the distance between the above mentioned cities, and call that 110 miles. Although your results may vary, I can guestimate that the longitudal distance of Skyrim is about 400-600 miles, and the latitudinal distance about 800-1000 miles. So, just as a rough estimate, the province would be somewhere between 320,000 miles, squared and 600,000 miles, squared.

For comparison, if we split it in the middle, Skyrim is about the size of Alaska.

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Adding the time scaling is ruining your math. If you change distance proportionate with the time scaling, that means the Dovahkiin is over 100 feet tall. –  SevenSidedDie Oct 15 '13 at 3:38
    
No, it doesn't. It would if you used a 1=1 time scale. (In which case, you could circumnavigate Skyrim in about 2.5 hours, which would make Skyrim a little less than 20 miles squared. If you use the default time scale, the Dovahkiin is between 5'6" and 6'4", depending on race. –  user57246 Oct 15 '13 at 5:20
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The 17.3 f/s you cite is using real seconds, not game seconds. You can't equivocate measurements in real per-seconds with game per-seconds because they're different units. If you're going to measure distance in game-hours, you have to use feet-per-game-second, and in that case the Dovahkiin runs about 0.87 feet-per-game-second or about 0.59 miles-per-game-hour. Unless, of course, you're trying to extrapolate the size of a "real" Skyrim based on the time scaling factor, in which case you're simply off-topic - this question is about the playable size, not its fictional size. –  SevenSidedDie Oct 15 '13 at 5:38
    
I was actually assuming the wiki was using game seconds. Also, the 0.87 feet per second doesn't make sense because that would mean he takes one step per second; and even if he did, an average stride is about 3 ft for an average adult. –  user57246 Oct 15 '13 at 5:40
    
Yeah, speeding up time definitely messes with what we consider normal. Her conversations with NPCs often take hours for a few sentences, and her steps are like molasses if we scaled the action up to real time. –  SevenSidedDie Oct 15 '13 at 5:41

Well, if you take Blackreach into account, Skyrim is a tad larger than either Morrowind or Oblivion, seeing as Blackreach itself is about the size of a single hold, if not even larger.

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