Creative staff discuss the story setting

Right now, this pretty much qualifies as concept art.

MMOs in an existing franchise always present certain issues: You need enough conceptual space to advance a game’s storyline, but you may not want to be locked in to never doing another title in the franchise. So The Elder Scrolls Online has to be set in just the right time period for the game to work. In a recent video interview, creative director Paul Sage and content designer Rich Lambert sat down to talk about the why behind the when.

Sage and Lambert explain that the real draw to this particular time period was the fact that there’s neither a great deal of recorded in-game history nor a lot of huge events that might affect future titles — it’s a time when almost anything can happen without derailing future events in the universe. The duo also discusses keeping the game aligned with existing lore and ensuring that nothing gets thrown off by mistake. Those looking forward to the game will want to watch the full interview, which goes into more details regarding specifics of lore and setting.

I am encouraged about this game. I do wish they’d head in a more SPRPG/CO-OP RPG direction, though, as I think that would suit this IP better. That’s essentially what SWTOR is, and it works pretty well at that level. Developers love the “MMO” label because they believe “MMO = more money”. But really most of these games are — in terms of how they are actually played — online SP/CO-OP RPG games. Why not just build the game with that in mind from the get-go? Maybe these guys will do that. If so, then I don’t care what label they give it.

Start an alt in the WoW or LotRO “MMOs” these days, and I guarantee that you’ll be playing 90-95% solo and maybe another 5-10% (if that!) doing small group/co-op content in 5-man dungeons, and precious little time at all in any sort of “massively multiplayer”-type activity (raids and whatnot). Only a scant fraction of players ever get the satisfaction of facing the endboss(es) in games like WoW because Deathwing and Co. are invariably located at the end of long, tedious, raid-dependent gear grinds that most players never complete.

Having a game like TESO with a central storyline that I can actually complete on my own sounds pretty good to me. I’m all for group content, I enjoy it very much; but I think these guys are on the right track in terms of game design philosophy. Group-intensive content should be abundant and fun in games like this but such content should also be “a la carte”, imo, and not the main course.


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