– Gamescom 2013 – Exclusive interview with The Elder Scrolls Online’s Lead PvP Designer

After checking out The Elder Scrolls Online and have a play through, we got to have a quick chat to Lead PvP Designer Brian Wheeler who gave us a bit more information on the new title from Bethesda. He speaks about the new Cyrodiil territory PvP system, information about modding and few other titbits that I’m sure followers of the title will find interesting.

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Any feedback from testers that has prompted real changes?

B: We’ve already had one main feature that did change, we used to have the minimap in game, we get a lot of feedback it wasn’t too Elder Scrolls’y as it is. We were working on a compass and we actually put it into the beta and the feedback has actually been very good. Also we’re getting feedback that we need more added to it that we’re gonna need more function, so the feedback has changed one feature already, that’s not to say it won’t change more or less when ship, but we have a good 3 months of closed beta down already and we’re still going to be doing more betas right up until when we launch.

What’s the feedback from the Press?

B: The press has been pretty good so far, a lot of feedback has been, thankfully, that its TESO online. It’s what we say it is. You’re playing with your buddies, but you’re playing Elder Scrolls games, you’re playing with your friends in lore in locations, using any weapon and using any armour and people are like “Yup, that’s Elder Scrolls, it’s great.”


Could you give us more information on Alliance Wars?

B: In Cyrodiil that’s the only PvP space, there’s about eighteen keeps across the whole area and each Alliance gets six natively given to them, so it gives a sense of ownership if somebody comes and takes one of your keeps you’re more apt to get that keep back as opposed to deep striking, but then you want to go deep into enemy territory and take their keeps back for revenge. All the keeps are linked together in a transit line so if you take a keep that is integral to the transit of the enemy you can pretty much cut them off and they have to get that back to get the transit back up and running, you can isolate enemies.

We actually had a two hundred person or so fight last Friday back at the studio and me and one of the testers we were running around and just lighting up keeps just by ourselves to make them go under attack and stop respawning for a moment. I mean it was just two of us and they came out there and killed us but it was still fun to just run around and, you know, a couple of people affecting a war like that was pretty awesome.

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Is there any PvE within that PvP?

B: Yeh, actually there are about five cities that are still in Cyrodiil at this point in time that we took upon ourselves to make them have a story of their own little sections of the world. Coral has kind of had an earthquake, and you see one of the bars is off kilter and you go inside the bar and everybody is drinking and the bartender is like “oh we had to nail everything down because of the earthquakes all the time”. All those people there have issues, not only with the town, and the earthquakes and the elementals springing up. But also going to Cropsford is another town; that’s not so developed in Oblivion, but it’s much more developed in our timeline, seven hundred years or so in the past, and they all have issues that they need help with. So it’s not all about killing there’s other things to do in Cyrodiil.

Can players hire guards to defend the keeps?

B: There are guards but they’re guards of the alliance that owns a nearby keep. So there will be a few guards patrolling the area, and actually the NPCs in there will react a little differently depending upon which alliance owns that keep. If you’re a n Aldmeri player and Aldmeri owns a keep nearby the NPCs may say things like “Oh, thank god Aldmeri owns the keep because I couldn’t stand having somebody else own it” and that character is a high-elf character saying those words, so its interesting to see the different phrasing that we put in there depending on who owns what in Cyrodiil.


How long does it take to take a Keep and for how long is yours?

B: Well its perpetual, the zone stays open all the time, and if it’s an undefended keep, meaning no players and only NPCs defending it, it’s about ten to twenty minutes for a group of fifteen players. If you take a keep that has players in it it’s gonna take a lot longer. They’re built for the outside walls as sort of like a playground for the attackers to work their way in, but when you get to the inner sections it’s pretty hard to take if its defended very well by defenders. But if it’s just NPCs, if you have a well-organized group it’s about ten to twelve minutes to get in there.

Any thought on mods?

B: Well the interface is entirely modable, its all with LUA [programming language], so you can pretty much put in any mod you want. We’re not doing things like full on content replacement or anything along those lines just yet, but at launch you’ll be able to mod the UI any way you want.


Why should players choose TESO over other MMO Games?

B: Well its’ got tons of depth to the character development, the fact you can use any armour, any weapon, get more skills as you go throughout the world. There’s mages guild, fighters guild skills, so you’re not really pinned into one type of character class. We have people every week that come up with different builds for different classes all the time. I’ve seen Sorcerers with heavy armour dual wielding, I’ve seen Nightblades in heavy armour with a two handed axe, so there’s all kinds of things that lets you build your character as you want to build it. But there’s also the PvP and also when you get through your own alliance you can actually play in the other alliances too, at level fifty, the content is scaled up and you can experience their stories as well. So it’s not like you are locked into one third of the content you get to experience all of it, and that’s also very cool.


Is there any feature that you personally would like to get into the game?

B: There’s things I’d like to get into the game, we’re working on some balancing issues right now to handle population and things dealing with specific scoring imbalances that may occur in there with three sides. It pretty much balances itself out for the most time in terms of during all hours, but there’s sometimes one alliance that can get a little boisterous and take a lot of keeps and then that could put the other two alliances at a disadvantage. We want to make sure that you never feel like you’re so far behind that you got to catch up, so we’re making sure that there’s population ways to catch up and there’s also scoring ways to catch up. I’d give more information about that but those are still in development. They will be tested soon but I want to make sure that you never feel like there’s a mountain that’s too high that you can never climb to get back into a fight, it’s got to be even enough that if you’re winning you feel like you’re really winning and the other guys really want to take the winner out and not feed off each other.


When can we expect the Open Beta?

B: That’s still way, way off. We have beta sessions I’d say maybe once every couple of weeks now and were really getting a lot of people in there. Not only making sure that the systems are great, that the quests are fun, but also that our servers can handle all the load and that the expected results of not only player activity but also the economy is doing well too.  So we’re testing all aspects of the game, not just the fact of “hey are the quests fun” and “hey does the character play right?”, we’re making sure that the game plays great as a whole.

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