ESO's Game Director responds to ZAM's questions on the current closed beta
When I began to arrange an interview with the development team at ZeniMax Online a few weeks ago, The Elder Scrolls Online was already the most eagerly anticipated and speculated upon MMO to be scheduled for release in 2013.
In the midst of the hurly burly of development, Matt Firor, Game Director of ESO, was kind enough to answer a few questions on the game’s development. ZeniMax Online preferred not to discuss the details of the recent leak, but Matt Firor provided insight on the current phase of Beta that might answer some questions fans have raised since the video.
How is beta progressing so far?
Very smoothly so far. When you start a multiplayer game beta, the first couple of sessions deal with the mechanics of the process: creating accounts, logging in, downloading the game client, making sure that everything is synched and logical to use. Now that we’re past that point in the beta, we’re focusing more in the gameplay experience, and are getting valuable feedback from our beta testers.
What is the current focus for your analysis of the play sessions in beta at the moment?
We’re working on moment-to-moment gameplay, which for The Elder Scrolls Online means questing and combat and, to some extent, the leveling system. As part of this, we’re analyzing how to make combat flow better/look more connected, make sure that enemy AI is consistent and that combat just feels fun and rewarding.
In our last conversation you mentioned that social systems, including guilds, were among the systems that were waiting until beta to be fleshed out. Can you give us any idea of how guilds are developing?
These are being worked on as I speak – we are moving forward implementing the guild system as we announced a few months ago, where one player can join multiple guilds. The player can also have their own social network of friends that may or may not be guild mates.
There has been a lot of information regarding the huge amount of content for solo and small group play styles at launch. Will there be large encounters for guilds to coalesce around in an organized manner?
There are group instances that can be run with friends and guild mates as well as the PvP system, of course, which will be largely guild-driven. We’re still working on our large-scale PvE systems; expect to see some information on those soon.
The AI of even standard mobs is quite impressive; can we expect large world bosses with similar complexity?
It depends what you mean by “world bosses” – definitely we have very challenging bosses in dungeons, in some PvE leveling areas, and in the main story. You’ll have to use some strategy to defeat these enemies and their minions.
When playing through the other Alliances’ content at max level, will this experience be separated according to your original Alliance or will you be able to group with friends on the opposing faction?
When you are playing through “other Alliance” max-level content, you’ll be playing with characters like you: from your Alliance, who are all max-level. Every player you see will have come originally from your Alliance.
If you cannot play with the Alliance whose lands you are adventuring through, will this mean PvP in those zones or will the opposition faction players be out of phase?
No, you won’t see enemy players in any PvE area
You’ve stated previously that crafted gear will be on par with top tier weapons/loot drops from various sources and some of the best items in the game will come from crafters. How do you see this playing out in-game? Will there be some control mechanism to prevent top-level equipment from becoming too common (e.g. bind-on-pickup materials that drop from raids, cooldowns on recipes, etc.)?
Crafting at high-levels focuses on augmenting existing armor and weapons, so think about it as crafters can make your awesome gear even awesome-er.
Staying on the topic of gear, from what we’ve seen so far, ESO has five primary stats (Health/Magicka/Stamina/Armor/Power) and some number of secondary stats. How much variety do you plan to have in the gear as players reach endgame? Will we see much variation in primary statistics for pieces of the same tier or are you looking at a more WoW-style model of "same base stats with different secondary stats"?
Gear will affect a lot more than just those stats: including regeneration rates of Health, Magicka and Stamina as well as critical strikes from weapons or magic. We also have damage types familiar to many Elder Scrolls players: Cold, Fire, Shock, etc. that help you capitalize on weaknesses of opponents or defend against their strengths. There will be lots of gear sets which will augment additional stats or add effects to the player once complete. Secondary stats / attributes will rely more on enchanting whereas primary stats will depend on how the item was found or crafted.