The mystery of the treasure-seeking foxes in ‘Skyrim’ has been solved

Former level designer Joel Burgess explored the long-standing myth in a series of tweets

There’s been a longstanding rumour amongst Skyrim players that if you follow a fox ingame, it’ll lead you to treasure. Now a former level designer (and current studio director at Capy Games) has taken to Twitter to explain why.

Joel Burgess quickly explains that foxes leading players to treasure was never a deliberate part of Skyrim.

“Emergent Gameplay is often used to describe designed randomness, but this is a case of actual gameplay that NOBODY designed emerging from the bubbling cauldron of overlapping systems.”

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It turns out that Skyrim uses something called “navmesh” for AI navigation, which is basically a series of adjoining triangles laid over the world, telling AI where it can and cannot go.

A bulk of Skyrim is made up of big, empty spaces and in those areas, developers didn’t need to create a very complicated “navmesh”. Or as Burgess puts it, “wilderness = small number of big triangles.”

However places like camps, with plenty of NPCs, need a more complicated “navmesh”. “Points of Interest = big number of small triangles.”

Now, foxes are programmed to flee anytime a player gets close, with the game’s AI believing it has reached safety once it is 100 triangles away. “You know where it’s easy to find 100 triangles? The camps/ruins/etc that we littered the world with, and filled with treasure to reward your exploration.”

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“So foxes aren’t leading you to treasure,” continues Burgess. “But the way they behave is leading them to areas that tend to HAVE treasure, because POIs w/loot have other attributes (lots of small navmesh triangles) that the foxes ARE pursuing.”

The whole thread was inspired by the recent story about Skyrim’s developer Nate Purkeypile and the iconic introduction to the game which was derailed by a bee glitch.

In other news, Ryan Reynolds has revealed that while he played games like Fortnite as research for his new movie Free Guy, he had to limit himself from getting too immersed through a fear of having too much fun and forgetting to take his kids to school.

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