How large is Skyrim?
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There is already a study on large game worlds, but a bit outdated.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?
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.
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.)
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.
@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.
Considering the gravitational block caused by the eletrons in modern computer/laptop motehrboards, I'd say that measuring in real life standards the virtual fraction of in-game map sizes would make a rate of 1sq mile = 0,0001 square centimeters. So that makes new vegas and skyrim maps smaller then the tip of my thumb, and I wouldn't recommend anybody to play these games. It's too risky getting sucked by the Tron AI and measuring micro centimeters, that would serious cripple the density of our bodies and we would die. Besides that, nobody would know we're dead. So that's why I don't play PC gam
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: http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2009/06/22/fuel-around-the-world-in-eight-hours/
@AlanB It's the largest non-procedural map ever created for a video game. You can drive for weeks and never see the same place twice.
Three minutes equals one in-game hour. If the time scale was set so one real hour equals one game hour, it would be very easy to estimate Skyrim's size by simply walking across the province.
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).
Most of Oblivion's heightmap is not playable, while most of Skyrim's and all of Morrowind's map can be visited in game.
Daggerfall has procedural terrain, which is practically the same thing over and over again. Apples and oranges.
@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.
Of course not everything is to the same scale. The Throat of the World mountain, for example, arguable should require more than a couple of in game hours to run up, if it were really as tall as they make it out to be.
@Xantec: To scale the Throat of the World, you just have to walk the 7000 steps up from its base. Now granted, that's *a lot* of steps (though we have longer staircases on Earth), but shouldn't really take more than an hour or two for a reasonably fit and healthy human. But that's independent from the world size as such.
@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
@RavenDreamer Thanks for mentioning it. A horse would traverse much farther distances before running out of breath. AND, it is your natural sidekick while fighting baddies.
@Bora: Grab TESAnnwyn, export the heightmap of the "Tamriel" worldspace. It'll have some bugs and missing cells near the borders, but it will report the world size correctly.
Of course, none of this takes into account the amount of space provided by dungeons/caves/etc
@Xantec running up a mountain may only take 1-2 hours in-game. However you have to take into consideration that most people cant really run up a mountain at the same speed as Dovahkiin
FYI, the numbers are wrong. According to the CK wiki, each exterior cell is 4096 units across, and 4096 units corresponds to 58.5 meters (links: http://www.creationkit.com/Exterior_Cells, http://www.creationkit.com/Units). I'm not sure where 57.6 came from. This is only one way to measure the world size. Another is with movement speed and travel time, which would make the world significantly larger, as the answer below suggests.