You never forget a place like Morrowind. It’s like something out of a dream, only you’ve actually been there. Maybe you used a mouse and keyboard, or the Xbox “Duke” controller, to visit it. But that doesn’t make it any less real. While hardly the first open-world game of its kind, the third numbered entry in Bethesda’s Elder Scrolls series cemented a formula and a set of expectations that are still alive and well today in games like Fallout 4 and The Witcher 3. It was an artistic and technical leap forward for mainstream role-playing games in the summer of 2002, and, for many, a beautiful and novel experience. A vast ashen landscape teeming with psychedelic flora and fauna — equal parts Jim Henson and George Lucas, with a dash of Tolkien — here was a game that resembled no other. For the people who made it, Morrowind was the product of tough crunch, a pressure-cooker basement environment, and constant uncertainty about the company they worked for — which many felt could have shut down any day. But the island of Vvardenfell, and its unique pantheon of gods and demons, seemed to exist independent of the concerns upstairs. Whatever the company’s fate, it seemed the game was destin...