Open-source reimplementation of The Elder Scrolls: Arena.
C++ CMake C
Latest commit 01d21c2 Feb 23, 2017 @afritz1 Simplified some entity and camera code.
I originally designed most of the entity code from the top-down, but
after seeing that most of the abstraction I had planned is unnecessary,
I decided to revisit some of it from a bottom-up perspective. I think it
makes the code less general, which is good for now. Too much indirection
is not a good thing. Also renamed CharacterGender to Gender.


This open-source project aims to be a modern engine reimplementation for "The Elder Scrolls: Arena" by Bethesda Softworks. It is written in C++11 and uses SDL2 for cross-platform video, WildMIDI for music, and OpenAL Soft for sound and mixing. There is currently support for Windows and Linux.

  • Version: 0.2.0
  • License: MIT
  • IRC: #opentesarena on

Current status Build Status

This project is early in development.

The OpenCL rendering code has been torn out (since OpenCL isn't really a graphics API), so the game world isn't being rendered right now. I'll be developing a software renderer instead for purposes of faster prototyping and general ease of use.

No jumping or collision yet. A few of the menus work, including some of character creation, and some of the game interface icons have basic behavior, too. For example, left clicking the map icon goes to the automap, and right clicking it goes to the world map.

Here are some hotkeys in the game world:

  • Esc - pause menu
  • Tab - character sheet and inventory
  • M - world map (click on provinces for province maps)
  • L - logbook
  • N - automap


Project Details

The concept began after I saw the success of other open-source projects like OpenXcom and OpenMW. It really started out more as an experiment than a remake (and it still is quite an experiment), but now the project is steadily inching closer to something akin to the original.

I've been experimenting with various methods of rendering looking for the right one. Versions 0.2.0 and before use 3D ray casting with OpenCL on the GPU, and it allows for some really nice-looking dynamic shadows. I'm trying out a software ray casting method instead to see if it would be a better fit. Of course there's always OpenGL, but this project (and Arena's low geometry count) affords me the opportunity to experiment. I want to see how the software renderer turns out before I think about reintroducing a graphics card API.

Note that there are two versions of Arena: the floppy disk version and the CD version. Bethesda released the floppy disk version here for free, and this project is being designed for use with that. The user must still acquire their own copy of Arena, though.

This project shares a similar name with the Quake III-based OpenArena, though the two projects are unrelated.

Check out the Projects tab to see what's currently on the to-do list. Open a pull request if you'd like to contribute.


The most recent builds can be found in the releases tab. The engine uses Soundfont and ArenaPath in options/options.txt to find where the MIDI config and game files are.

Installing the Arena game data (Windows, Linux + WINE):

  • Download the Full Game from the Bethesda website.
  • Extract
  • Run Arena106.exe.
  • Pick a destination folder anywhere.
  • Install.
  • Point ArenaPath in options/options.txt to the ARENA folder.

Obtaining a MIDI sound patches library:

  • The easiest way is to download one of the eawpats packages from the releases tab and place the extracted eawpats folder into your data folder.
  • If you would like to use a different sound patches library, simply edit Soundfont in options/options.txt to point to another existing MIDI .cfg file.

Building from source

Project dependencies:

Building the executable:

  • Create a build folder in the top-level directory.
  • Use CMake to generate your project files in build, then compile the executable.

Running the executable:

  • Copy the data and options folders to where the executable is in the build directory.
  • Verify that Soundfont and ArenaPath in options/options.txt point to valid locations on your computer (i.e., data/eawpats/timidity.cfg and data/ARENA respectively).

If there is a bug or technical problem in the program, check out the issues tab!


Current priority (~0.2.0 - ~0.3.0):

  • Considerations for software rendering

Next priority (~0.3.0 - ~0.10.0):

  • Better pop-up functionality (chain pop-ups together, yes/no buttons)
  • Character creation questions
  • Clicking in game world
  • Collision detection
  • More light functionality (give a sprite ownership of a light)
  • Options menu

Later (~0.10.0 - ...):

  • Automap
  • Class rules and traits
  • Doors and secret walls
  • Enemies
  • Game interface button behavior
  • Inventory and containers
  • Levels and experience
  • Load artifact data
  • Load class data (to replace classes.txt)
  • Load locations data
  • Load unpacked Arena executable data
  • Modern (Daggerfall-like) interface option with free-look camera
  • Random test cities and dungeons
  • Redesigned water and lava (to replace vanilla screen animations)
  • Reflections in windows and water
  • Weapon attacks (hold RMB to swing)

Outside scope (until much later):

  • Adaptive super-sampling
  • (new) Custom class creation
  • (new) Followers
  • (new) Imperial race
  • (new) Journal tabs
  • Loading/saving redesign
  • Main and side quests
  • Modding
  • (new) New kinds of stores
  • Original city/dungeon data
  • Pickpocketing
  • Scripting
  • Services (bartender, priest, shopkeeper, wizard)
  • Spells
  • Sprite variation (clothes/hair/skin colors)
  • (new) UI scale
  • Vulkan
  • Wandering people
  • Wilderness (seed-based chunk generation)


All of the music and sound files, as well as the vast majority of wall and sprite textures, are available to look at thanks to exporter programs like WinArena and other utilities. However, this project will still use the original files that came with the floppy disk version of Arena.

Here is the Unofficial Elder Scrolls website for information regarding the original game. I also recommend the Lazy Game Review on YouTube for a humorous overview of the game's history and gameplay. The Arena manual PDF is available here as well.