Here’s a categorized summary of Zenimax Reddit AMA session.
Four developers from Zenimax Online took part in the AMA:
- Matt Firor, Game Director
- Nick Konkle, Lead Gameplay Designer
- Paul Sage, Creative Director
- Brian Wheeler, Lead PvP Designer
A large number of questions were submitted by redditors and answered by the developers.
Q: Can you tell us the exact time the servers will open on early access and launch day?
(credit to Jess Folsom for feeding me this answer)
For 5 day early access:
- North America (East): 7:00 AM EDT, Sunday March 30th–
- UK/IE: 12:00 PM WEST, Sunday March 30th–
- Central Europe: 1:00 PM CEST, Sunday March 30th–
- Sydney, Australia: 10:00 PM AEDT, Sunday March 30th–
- Singapore: 7:00 PM SGT, Sunday March 30th —
For 3 day early access:
- North America (East): 7:00 AM EDT, Tuesday April 1st–
- UK/IE: 12:00 PM WEST, Tuesday April 1st–
- Central Europe: 1:00 PM CEST, Tuesday April 1st–
- Sydney, Australia: 10:00 PM AEDT, Tuesday April 1st–
- Singapore: 7:00 PM SGT, Tuesday April 1st–
…and for launch:
- North America (East): 7:00 PM EDT, Thursday, April 3rd–
- UK/IE: 12:00 AM WEST, Thursday, April 4th–
- Central Europe: 1:00 AM CEST, Thursday, April 4th–
- Sydney, Australia: 10:00 AM AEDT, Thursday, April 4th–
- Singapore: 7:00 AM SGT, Thursday, April 4th
Q: I and many other players are very concerned about “premium” content. The game hasn’t even launched and there’s already an entire race and two mounts we’ll have to pay extra to access. Extra, on top of the game’s already-hefty $60 price tag and $15 monthly subscription fee.
Matt Firor: “Cash Shop”: The next items available for purchase are a name change service, and possibly some vanity pets. We have no timeline for these, so don’t expect them soon, and there aren’t concrete plans for anything else at the moment after that.
Q: Will you be selling lifetime subscriptions, or any other discounted bulk subscription plan?
Matt Firor: We’ll be releasing detailed info next week on the subscription plan, but just a heads up, yes, you will get a discount for buying multi-month subscriptions.
Q: Will updates/expansions ever cost extra money in the future?
Matt Firor: all regular content updates will be provided as part of subscribing. We will probably do some kind of expansion in the future, we don’t have concrete plans for that at the moment.
Q: What direction do you see expansions taking; Large expansions once a year or so, or smaller content expansions broken up during the course of the year? (If smaller content patches, is there a rough time frame in mind?)
Paul Sage: I think we will have good sized content expansions at a regular cadence. That is our goal. We will talk more about any plans for a larger expansion well after launch.
Q: How many months after release do you think the first major content update will release?
Matt Firor: First major content release: as soon as possible after launch – this is Craglorn. Expect to see more info very soon
Q: How prepared do you feel given the market and how many mainstream mmo’s have failed to provide enough content to the majority of its player base to retain that player base? MMO players do have huge appetites.
Paul Sage: We have a lot of content, but never would I say players can’t outpace content. However, we feel like the large amount of content, the cadence we are shooting for with new content, and our repeatable veteran content will keep the majority of players entertained for a long time.
Turorial / Starter Islands
Q: Why did you decide to make characters start in the first main city with an option to go to the starter islands, rather than starting characters on the starter islands with the option to skip? I’ve met a number of people who hadn’t played before the last beta test who didn’t even know the starter islands existed and were very confused when they were quickly outleveled on the mainland.
Matt Firor: We made this decision to give the players lots more choice in the early moments of the game. Not being able to leave the starter islands was too much on rails. So, we made the starter islands just “islands” and let players explore them when they want, along with other level 3-8 content. But after (much) feedback, we made it too hard to find the quest giver to send you to the island, so we are making one more change before launch: now, you’ll find a questgiver directly outside your front door to direct you to the islands. You don’t have to go there, but you can if you want. Choice.
Q: Once the game is released, what will be the development focus for the next few months?
Matt Firor: post launch dev plans: Our first Adventure Zone, Craglorn will be our first focus. Expect to see lots of info on that soon.
Q: I am very disappointed with the starter isle changes- can you please let us know WHY you made players go to the main city instead of having an option to leave starter island early? Also, will you be fixing the dialog that was messed up do to this change before launch?
Paul Sage: Feedback about our starting area was is that it was one of the most negatively perceived areas of the game in our recent round of media and beta tester previews. No one loves the starter area content more than we do, but the feedback was overwhelming that players felt locked in and “on rails” because they had to complete the content sequentially.
If we just put a NPC on the start island and said “you can skip this”, it would be very confusing to new players – how would they know what it is they were skipping? So, we decided to keep the content, but make it just part of the 1-10 leveling experience by making the (former) starting areas explorable areas of the game.
The feedback on the change – once people played it – was that they didn’t understand why we made it so difficult to find the islands. So, by launch (going to PTS early next week), we’ve slightly tweaked the starter experience again to more explicitly vector players to the islands. This way, if you are an ESO veteran, you can go to the islands when you want, and if you are a new player, you can just follow the quest and go there.
We also are tweaking the tutorial to offer more explicit weapon types to choose from. Our goal is that through weapon drops, lootable chests, and this choice you should be able to find any weapon you want by the time you exit Coldharbour.
Q: At the start area of the latest Beta when you went through the start area to collect your first weapon this time there was only the choice of a Sword and nothing else. Will this change when the games goes live back to the choice of weapons as in previous betas?
Paul Sage: Yes. Our goal was to have several weapons you could just pick up. Not choosing, just pick them up. We changed this for launch in the tutorial. You will be able to pick up the weapons scattered there, and by the end of the tutorial should have access to most of the weapon types.
Q: Will the starter islands return from the start?
Matt Firor: We have a change going up to PTS early next week that puts a questgiver right outside the front door the house/boat you appear in after leaving coldharbour. This questgiver will explicitly show you how to get to the island, should you want to go there. Players who don’t want to go to the islands won’t have to.
Q: You mention starter island being able to be skipped in your previous response. My question is are you going to make the NPC more identifiable that gives the quest? I spent a good 20 minutes just trying to locate the NPC and found I had to go up and talk to everyone before I found the right one.
Matt Firor: Absolutely – that was the change I talked about in another answer. We moved the NPC who tells you about the island directly in front of you when you leave your house/boat in Vukhel Guard/Daggerfall/Davons Watch. This change has been made on our internal dev server and will be pushed to PTS early next week – and will be up for early access.
Short story: if you want to go to the islands, now it is much easier to do so. Or, if you want to start exploring your first major zone, you can do that too. It’s your choice.
Q: This isnt so much a question as a comment to being able to pick up all weapons during the tutorial. Because Im unsure wether its a good choice; after all its not exactly a weapon shop up there – I enjoyed starting with just the sword. It was funfinding my weapon of choice and its also another incentive to start with crafting (in case youre unlucky)
Can you maybe tell how you weight pros and cons and what factors you find most important in these types of decisions? (also decisions in general like the start island change)
Matt Firor: We have one more set of early game tweaks done on our development server that will go to PTS early next week and will be on live for early access. One of these is to make it easier to “find” the starting islands – and the other is to give the player more weapons to choose from. Also, we upped the drop rates for weapons and armor throughout the tutorial, so now there’s a really (really) good chance you’ll have the weapon you want by the time you get to Tamriel.
Q: Will there be the optional speech bubbles that some people in the ESO community keep begging for?
Matt Firor: We have no current plans to support speech bubbles.
Q: Will the possibility for roleplayers to tag themselves as such at launch, or will we have to wait for a later date to be able to do so? If so, when can this be expected?
Matt Firor: This is something we will be working on. No promises – we have a lot to do, but yes, we want to be able to better support roleplayers.
Q: Many of us in the RP community got very excited when a month ago you announced to us on twitter that roleplayers could select an option to be phazed together, but just over a week ago Matt said in an interview that the plans for “social options” had changed and it seemed to indicate that roleplayers being grouped together might not be in for launch? Can you please give us roleplayers more enlightement for what your plans for us are? We are very worried that the megaserver system will make it very hard, if not impossible to find each other and group up like we would normally do on a normal (unofficial) RP server.
Paul Sage: With a large company, sometimes someone is going to get something wrong. The social agent who posted on twitter, just wasn’t right. I apologize, but it happens. We had plans for this at one time, and this just didn’t make it for launch. We are looking at many things to help our RP community in the future. Possibly something like more costumes and a way to trade them or maybe even getting the survey back.
PvP / Cyrodiil
Q: PVP in TESO is clearly inspired by Dark Age of Camelot (I’m looking at you, Firor). Some other MMO’s have attempted the “rvr” style of PVP. Will TESO PVP have a similar feel, considering a lot of the features are similar? A lot of us daoc players of old are quite excited that this game could be our “daoc 2” (not to take away from ESO)
Brian Wheeler: PVP in Elder Scrolls Online has been noted as the type of PVP people have been waiting for, for a long time, espeically the old school DAOC crowd. I’m happy to report that many Beta players were specifically looking for this type of PVP and they had great stories and nostalgia about their fights in Cyrodiil, just like their fights in the past. I hope we get the same Alliance pride and angst between the Dominion, Pact and Covenant just like the old days, and that will translate to great PVP stories to come!
Q: Is there a reward system outside of the being the emperor for pvp such as gear, skill trees, xp for leveling?
Brian Wheeler: You gain Alliance War Ranks (there are 50 of them currently) and Alliance points which you can spend on gear or weapons. Also note that you get XP for players you kill and capturing keeps so you can level up in PVP. There are 2 skill lines focused on PVP as well you unlock when you enter Cyrodiil (Assault/Support) which have abilities that are focused on PVP.
Q: Can we expect any costumes for reaching high ranks in PVP as a reward?
Brian Wheeler: There is high level armor which can be purchased and the Emperor gets their own costume as well. That’s not to say we’re done with high ranking PVP gear/costumes, but we’ll see what the players ask for post launch =)
Q: Do you guys have plans to implement duelling or a gladiator arena for players to fight?
Brian Wheeler: For the time being there are no plans to put in duels as we want player vs. player combat focused on Cyrodiil, and fighting the enemy not your friends. For the future, we’ll be paying close attention to what players ask for whether it’s sport style PVP, Arenas, or adding more Keeps to Cyrodiil or different campaigns. That’s the beauty of continually supporting E.S.O. after we ship! =)
Q: Will there be arenas of any sort or simply 1v1, 3v3, 5v5 or even 10v10?
Brian Wheeler: After ESO ships we’re not done with PVP or Cyrodiil as we’ll be paying close attention to what the players ask for. If it’s Arena, more expansions of Cyrodiil, or simply adding more PVP Ranks we’ll be listening to the players!
Q: Are you aware of the “easiness” to capture keeps and or scrolls? It has been discussed several times and I personally think it does not feel rewarding enough because it is that easy. Are there any plans to change that?
Brian Wheeler: During the course of the Betas we’ve been adjusting the difficulty of the Keeps and we will continue to do check out their difficulty post launch. Currently the Keeps are tuned to level 50 (Veteran Rank 1) but as the game goes on and players increase in power, the Keeps will have to be kept in line with player power scale to provide the appropriate difficulty.
Q: In beta, it’s difficult to control a keep a very long time. Don’t you think it would be difficult to sell and buy things by this way?
Brian Wheeler: During the course of Beta’s involving PVP we’ve seen that keeps offer many different strategies for assaulting and defending. I’ve personally seen small groups hold keeps against masses of players and then again, that same amount of players get flooded and wiped. It really depends on the tactics used by players to assault and defend a keep. That being said we will be adjusting difficulty of keeps and such as the game goes on past launch to adjust for player power gains via Veteran Ranks.
Q: I have heard talk of addon free Cyrodil campaigns. Will there be addon free campaigns upon release?
Matt Firor: no, all pvp campaigns will have the same ruleset, but we are taking steps to ensure that UI mods won’t give players an advantage in PvP over a player that doesn’t have one.
Q: Is there an account lock on campaigns? The possibility of a large guild flooding their campaign with idle alt-accounts for opposing alliances is a real issue that will need to be addressed.
Brian Wheeler: The only lock on Campaigns are based on your Characters to ensure you don’t have a Dominion, Covenant and Pact character all in the same Campaign. For launch we are going to relax the 24 hour lockout for switching campaigns to a smaller window and the cost, but we are aware of possible guild flooding and will be looking into those issues as they arise.
Q:It is advertised that if you are the best in your alliance and you all win the war you are to become emperor, how is this decided? time played? kills? points of some sort? and are there leader boards to see where you stand as well as leader boards in other factions so if you run into somebody that’s good you know its not going to be an easy kill.
Brian Wheeler: To become Emperor there is a leaderboard per alliance within a Campaign (based on alliance points earned), and if you’re on top of that leaderboard when the 6 Keeps around Imperial City are captured for your Alliance, you become Emperor!
To lose Emperorship however, all 6 keeps have to be captured by the opposing Alliances, by either both enemy Alliances or a single Alliance…in which case they would crown their own Emperor!
Q: Guild/friends 24/7 account sharing to permalock Emperor… is this possible?
Brian Wheeler Anything is possible with people 24/7 playing a character, however that player has to be able to acquire alliance points to be on the top of the leaderboard and hold the keeps around Imperial city to do so. It’s quite difficult to hold all 6 of those keeps with just a few people.
Q: Will you incorporate a buff in Cyrodiil to balance factions?
Brian Wheeler: Currently we have a scoring balance system and are working on a population imbalance scoring addition so that when you have a Campaign with either a lopsided score or lopsided population, the two Alliances on the lower end will get more points for capturing keeps, and more alliance points per kill. That’s not to say that’s all we’ll add but for now, those are the countermeasures we’ve got in place to help with balance.
Q: How do you intend to solve real-time population imbalances in campaign, were large numbers of players to decide not to participate in PvP or go inactive?
Brian Wheeler We are going to be adding population bonuses for scoring benefits into Campaigns for underpopulated Alliances over time. Currently we have scoring imbalance benefits that persuade the two losing alliances to gang up on the winning alliance, but again, population imbalance bonuses are going to be added.
Q: Are you thinking of adding any mercenaries that arent just to guard a certain location?
Brian Wheeler: For PVP we’re just doing Mercenaries that defend specific locations when you deploy them.
Q: Anything on Mercenary armies led by players or NPC armies laying siege on castles?
Brian Wheeler: For now Mercenaries are stationary defense but we are looking at adding different archetypes to them such as Archers.
Q: Any plan to change/remove the 20 kills quest in Cyrodiil? It’s annoying to have to suicide to compete with top players in leaderboards.
Brian Wheeler: There are discussions about adding more PVP Quests in Cyrodiil or simply making the Kill 20 players quest a bit more available around the Keeps instead of back at the home portal Keeps.
Q: Something that bothered some people (myself included) in Cyrodiil was the lack of variety in PvP quests. There’s a quest that wants you to “kill” 20 people, but it fills up rapidly when you’re in a group even when you don’t participate.
Brian Wheeler We are looking at adding more Kill quests in Cyrodiil, but no details on which ones just yet =)
Q: What kind of updates are planned for PVP? What do you guys have in mind? Are we thinking more battleareas in addition to Cyrodill? Are we thinking big PvE bosses in Cyrodill? Are we talking about more keeps and more complex siege mechanics?
Brian Wheeler: We’ll be looking at what the players want beyond Cyrodiil or within Cyrodiil after we launch. If it’s Arenas, more keeps, more caves, or whatnot, we’ll be listening! For the interim though, we are adjusting the NPC defenders to stay in line with the power curve of players and looking at adding additional archetypes of defenders.
Q: Do you have anything planned regarding Dark Anchors interrupting things like big zergs fighting each other or keeps being sieged and then a dark anchor pops up in front of the wall etc. Anything Molag ball would like to contribute to the chaos in Cyrodill?
Brian Wheeler: We tested that a bit internally and found that it got a bit too crazy with 3 alliances fighting each other and adding dark Anchors into the mix at a keep or resource. For now we’re not planning on adding this to the keep battles.
Q: Did you (or will you) ever consider removing the Elder Scroll marker from the map to encourage communication between players and strategic play, like in DAoC?
Brian Wheeler: At one point we did have the scrolls not visible on the map but that led to a whole lot of false reports of ninja scroll looting. While this could encourage more communication between players, this also causes a whole lot of not knowing what’s going on and finger pointing, which is why we leaned towards showing the scroll moving on the map instead of not at all.
Q: I saw a video recently of a DK from the opposite faction repeatedly using Fiery Grip to pull up a small group that was then able to capture an Elder Scroll bypassing all the normal defenses. Do you have plans to address this cheat?
Brian Wheeler: We have that handled in a very particular way which will disallow players from getting through the gate if it’s closed, but allow that to happen if the gate is open. The simple rules are that if the gate is closed and the Elder scroll is in the temple, you’ll be dead going through those windows as an enemy Alliance. If the gate is open or if the scroll is “in the wild”, that isn’t the case anymore.
The reason we want to stop players at the gate instead of at the temple is we don’t want people in the Siege practice ranges or camping the entry gates into Cyrodiil for the other Alliances.
Q: Have you looked into scaling Alliance Point accumulation relative to class? I’m worried that only a few classes are going to dominate the Emperor position due to inherent class advantages over others.
Brian Wheeler: We have Alliance points attainable by healing players besides just killing them so in terms of individual class imbalance (which usually means ‘why do healers always get screwed!’) players are on equal footing depending on their loadout. Also note this pool can be drained as points come out of them so it’s self balancing. Now if you’re concerned about simply one class leading the boards vs. another, we’ve had many campaigns where across all three Alliances, the leaders were each different classes.
Q: So in Cyrodiil, I was with 20+ people and we tried to storm the Imperial City, only to be met by an unkillable sorcerer behind a wall of shimmery death!
We need an explanation! 🙂
Brian Wheeler: That sorcerer has standing orders from Molag Bal to keep you out of Imperial City until we deem necessary to facilitate his demise…
Q: Can you reveal your plans for the imperial city?
Brian Wheeler: There will be details about Imperial City released….later. 😉
Q: As far as rule enforcement, will there be moderators in the server(s)? Approximately how many total?
Matt Firor: yes, we will have full CS support on the live servers, including being able to handle TOS violations and harassment. We take player experience very seriously and as much as possible won’t allow disruptive players to make life difficult for others.
Q: How much more work will go into optimizing the game for lower end pcs?
Matt Firor: Lower end PC: we spent a LOT of time ensuring that ESO is playable on a wide variety of PC (and Mac) hardware. It was one of our core tech requirements.
Q: Matt Firor: Just wanted to put this out there (there hasn’t been a question yet):
Your beta account is your live account, you won’t need to create a new one when the servers go live on the 30th (for pre-purchasers).
Also, if you have been in the beta and are going to play when ESO launches, don’t uninstall the game – when the servers go live, just run the same patcher as you always have, and any delta files will be downloaded from there. You don’t need a clean install. This will save you lots of time over completely re-downloading the game.
Q: Do you guys think that smithing will make globally found items obsolete? Maybe not at first, but give it a few months and I truly believe that everyone will be crafting their own gear, thus not promoting a lot of eagerness for end-game content.
Paul Sage: No. I think found items will have unique properties not available to crafters, but crafters will be able to enhance those items.
Q: I was wondering if you had any plans to implement poisons to be applies to weapons in the future. Half of alchemy in TES was in creating poisons.
Nick Konkle: You can expect poisons to become a part of alchemy before long. More details to come!
Q: Do you plan on altering phasing/instancing to make it easier to group with friends and other players who are on different parts of a quest or further along in the zone?
Paul Sage: Well, the specific goal is to make it easier to stay together with your group members, and that is something we are working on.
Q: Are there any plans for a mentoring system to be implemented to be able to play with new/lower leveled players?
Paul Sage: This is one of the things we are specifically talking about with player separation. No guarantees, but we are looking at the total system and what separates players.
Q: I noticed that people were encountering bugged quests a lot during the last beta test, but not the people on pts servers, i guess this is related to the number of player on the last beta, how can you assure us that that is not going to happen at lunch where the number of people is gonna be much bigger ?
Matt Firor: We found the underlying problem that caused that series of bugs (similar problems across a wide variety of quests) that made the last beta frustrating for players and those fixes will show up on PTS on Monday and will be live for early access. We’re pretty sure we found all of them, but we will remain vigilant and will fix anything else that may crop up.
Q: The many of us that played all encountered the same progress blocking bugs during major quest lines for story, guilds and even big side quests on every faction. It seemed to get worse the heavier the load was on the server. My question is how aware are you guys to this and what is being done to ensure that we will be able to progress in any of the factions without getting stopped or bogged down by these major bugs that are causing npcs to be unresponsive or doorways/pathways not function correctly.
Paul Sage: We are very aware of the blockers experienced in the last beta. We did find three underlying issues that affected a large number of quests that are exposed when many people are in the same area. We have fixed all three of those underlying issues.
Q: 300 or 500, what’s the maximum size of a guild?
Nick Konkle: 500 people. And you can be a member of up to 5 guilds.
Q: I am wondering if there are any plans to implement a few features I have felt are missing. These features are:
- The ability to add additional guild ranks
- Some form of noticeable party leader identification
- An ability to blacklist player accounts from a guild
- Not currently, but certainly this is something we could discuss. Right now, your guild is tied to your account, so people will know not to invite people they don’t want.
Q: Will you guys be implementing ways to rep your guild? Tabards, cloaks, emblems?
Paul Sage: Yes. We will be looking at tabards and insignias in an update in the near future.
Q: Are there plans to expand the organization within the guild such as the amount of available ranks?
Paul Sage: Yes to more ranks.
Q: Will guilds ever be able to have an internal treasury to store and use gold for the guild?
Paul Sage: It can certainly cause arguments, but I think we will likely add something like this.
Q: Is the ZOS team aware of the guild bank bug where items don’t stack properly?
Paul Sage: Yes. Working on a fix.
Game Economy / Guild Stores
Q: I have a question about the future vision of the ESO’s economy. The game has no item decay, only gold is required for quick repairs. Eventually the market could saturate with high end legendary gear, everyone will have his sets ready for different builds.
How will you ensure that crafters and resources for non consumable items remain in constant demand?
Paul Sage: Item decay is one way to take currency out of the economy, but there are many others. As the game matures, I expect there will be many things players will want to spend gold on.
Q: Will there be any kind of organized market? All I have seen so far is using zone chat and guild auction houses. Personally, as a sell I would hate to sit around and hope that someone notices my items in chat amidst the tens, hundreds, or even thousands of others and as a buyer, I would be skeptical of purchasing anything without having side-by-side comparisons of all available wares. Also, Most people do not buy from guildies in MMOs, but are instead given items for free.
Paul Sage: Guild Stores will be our in-game market, but we are looking at ways to expand this with our upcoming guild changes. We do not want a global auction house, however. We won’t release specific numbers, but we feel we have a good starting point for campaigns
A: What is the purpose of the 10% “house cut” in guild shops, and why can’t guilds set their own “cut” that they can actually receive?
Paul Sage: It is a gold sink. We are evaluating it, but it was something to help keep the value of gold up.
Q: Another bug is where the guild shop’s “Materials” search field returns items of all kinds, and doesn’t give options for sorting craft professions?
Paul Sage: We are going to redo categorization of items to make sure they are more easily searchable.
Q: My question to any of the developers is quite simply this, What drove you to your decision to Massacre the API as you did?. This has literally shot the modding community in the back and you guys need to realise that. We can’t even track information on our own character now. I would like some feedback on this because it is a very big matter of mine. While i like the game the base UI just doesn’t provide the features i am looking for, But the add ons were the final sway in my decision, But a mere 14 days before release you cancel them. WHY?.
Paul Sage: We had to make decisions that were based on trying to make sure competitive elements of the game, both PvE and PvP had as level of a playing field as possible. As our API was in Beta, it exposed certain functions that made ‘macro programs’ much easier to abuse. Also, there were functions which were exposed that let the API display information not readily available to the normal game client, thus making some players feel they would be forced to use add-ons to remain competitive.
While we are very aware this was going to hurt some add-ons, we felt these decisions were necessary. We certainly tried to keep in things which would still allow for damage numbers to be seen, and what was happening to your character to be seen. As we get deeper into launch, we can always re-evaluate what is available and what isn’t.
Q: TESO willfully obfuscates a much of the information freely available in other games of the same genre. Yesterday’s API changes swung the balance much further in that direction. What is the developer team’s view on information availability and how it impacts gameplay?
Paul Sage: To be fair, our goal is to keep the information in world as much as possible. Obfuscating is not the goal, but rather presenting the information in different ways than is done in other games. Many people have trouble following different pieces of information coming at them from all over the screen, and as you may know, our goal is to rely more on in-world information than UI. As far as the API changes trying to obscure information, that was never the goal. It was only the goal to prevent information not readily available to everyone being put in add-ons.
Graphics / System
Q: Any plans to allow us to increase the terrain draw distance? The constant fog feels terribly restricting and makes vistas unsatisfying.
Matt Firor: I wish this were as easy as just making the distance farther, but we run into tech restrictions very quickly if we set view distance farther than it can go now. I 100% understand what you (and many others) are saying, but believe me, if it was easy to do this we would have done it already. We’ll do what we can, but not any time soon
Q: Will the FOV slider and/or changes be out for release?
Paul Sage: The FOV slider will not be in for launch.
Q: Youtube user Mystborn has exposed a few game systems to be working in VERY unexpected ways:
- No cap in place for ability cost reduction
- Partially charged stealth attacks deal much more damage than fully charged ones
- Dunmer passive adds about +2.3% to flame damage while Altmer gains +6% for all elements
Are these systems working as intended or can we expect to see improvements made to them over time?
Nick Konkle: I’m certainly familiar Mystborn’s video (which was an awesome piece of beta testing. Thank you!) The short answer is that we are actually addressing all of those issues…in time for launch. By issue:
No cap in ability cost reduction: We are leveling out cost reduction enchants in veteran ranks, as well as cleaning up a few bugs with them.
Partial charged stealth attacks: That was a bug, and the fix just missed this most recent patch. You can expect partially charged, sneak heavy attacks to scale smoothly in their damage all the way up to the full charged value
Dunmer vs. high elf passive: Another issue we addressed that just missed this patch. The Dunmer fire talent passive is having some bugs cleaned up, and going to +2%/4%/6% fire damage. The Altmer elemental talent is going to +2%/3%/4% damage with all elements.
Hope that helps! Thanks for the post!
Q: Is the partial sneak attack damage enhancement intentional?
Nick Konkle: Nope, it’s a bug that will be fixed for launch
Q: Hi, I’m coming to ESO from another MMO with auto-attacks and global cooldowns. With the ESO combat system what percentage of DPS/DD combat is using abilities vs. light/heavy attacks (clicking attacks)? During the beta weekends I found myself opening with abilities and then using clicking attacks during the lulls while my stamina/magicka regenerated enough to use the next ability. Would you consider this “typical play” or am I not using the system to its fullest?
Nick Konkle: Honestly, it depends on your build. It is perfectly common to build around the slotted abilities, and use weapon attacks during downtime.
There are also builds (for example, a sorcerer dual-wield critical surge build) where you’d want to use your light and heavy attacks as often as possible. I’d encourage you to try different things out and figure out what works best for you!
Q: Will switching weapons work reliably in combat eventually? Right now weapon switching sometimes bugs out in combat and pvp and fails to work. Are you guys aware of this bug, and is it planned to be fixed? Thanks!
Nick Konkle: We are definitely aware. It’s a surprisingly complicated problem, and we have been taking steps to make it work better for the past several months. Issues with button responsiveness are a very high priority for us, so hopefully we’ll have it fixed for you very soon!
Q: Currently on PTS server Armor and Spell Penetration do not work like they are supposedly to. Will this be changed before game goes live. Example: Using Armor Penetration Abilities for 100% Armor penetration is only increase Damage by 6-7% regardless of the enemies armor value. Using Spell Penetration abilities for 75% Spell Penetration is increasing damage by 70-75%.That seems very broken. Will there be a Soft and Hard cap placed on Penetration type effects. Using 2-3 abilities to totally negate a players Armor value and Spell Resist value seems broken.
Nick Konkle: The armor and spell penetration traits are not working exactly how we want them to right now. The desired effect is that when I have 10% armor penetration, I ignore 10% of the target’s armor value. This is the way it works on passives and abilities right now, but traits are a little different. The fix for this should hit with either launch or shortly after.
Q: Can you speak to the plans for Templar’s and magicka regeneration after the change to Restoring Spirit? Currently reports from the PTS are that they are severely limited in late game content due to resource issues. Other classes have “mana battery” type skills, but Templars do not.
As someone who is going to play a Templar regardless, I’m hoping you can talk about this?
Nick Konkle: Alright, so I know this is a tricky one, because the old restoring spirit passive was extremely flexible and powerful. I am very sensitive to the fact that the changes we make can sometimes have an effect on the builds that you spent a long time developing. I promise you we each take balance changes very seriously.
The reason for the change to the restoring spirit had more to do with how it scaled as players progressed through Veteran ranks (especially beyond rank 10) than with how it was performing in the level 1 – 50 experience. We considered a few options for altering that value, but ultimately, we decided on a % reduction to all costs gives the class a lot of flexibility and scales very well in the long term.
I guess that doesn’t answer your specific question: can I speak to the plans for Templar’s Magicka recovery after that change? Short answer is, it’s something I am actively looking at, but i don’t want to speak to specific changes just yet until we are fully confident in the design and implementation. I hate not be able to give you details just yet, but I wanted to at least let all the Templar’s know that I am aware of the feedback and looking into it.
Q: Why do you guys hate healers so much? 🙁 By which I mean, there are SO many different and unique ways to build a dps character, less so for a tank (but still a fair number of options)…but for healers we get pidgeon-holed into Templar’s restoring light tree and/or restoration staff weapon.
Nick Konkle: I think you have a very reasonable concern about the depth of healing builds versus dps builds. We are currently building several new skills for release in future patches, and while I can’t confirm the specifics, many new healing and support spells will be included.
(We do love healers, I swear!)
Q: Nightblades are generally perceived as not the best group pvpers. Will you be balancing classes post launch?
Nick Konkle: Yes, we’ll continue to balance after launch. A good number of our most recent changes have been focused on fixing issues that come up in our soon-to-be-released high end content, but I know that me and our ability balance guys, Floyd and Eric, are extremely excited to improve some of our abilities that are unpopular and/or under performing.
A Nightblade support build is one that we have read a good deal of concerns about, so I’d expect some changes on the horizon.
One Handed and Shield
Q: Can you Explain the defensive stance ability under the 1H&S tree. I know this seems silly, but I think you have a mistype on your ability tool tip. “Increase block mitigation by 2 seconds…when slotted.” Wait what? How? /headspinng
Nick Konkle: Yeah, that’s a tooltip bug that will be fixed in patch 1. Basically, when you have defensive stance slotted on your ability bar, your block (right-click) prevents more damage than normal. Off the top of my head, I believe it goes from 50% to 60% mitigation, but don’t quote me on that.
Skill Lines / Skill Points
Q: How many total skill points are obtainable in game? I have heard there is over 300 but that seems unlikely because that would be more than enough to master every profession and any combat skill line you desire.
Paul Sage: I can confirm there are over 300. Remember with 50+, 50++ content and Cyrodiil there are many skill points available.
Q: What do you guys find more interesting, a vertical expansion to skill lines (adding more skill lines, essentially), or a more horizontal approach, where we see more expansion of currently in-game skill families? Or do you find an even mixture of both to be most interesting?
Paul Sage: I think both are very attractive, but in the near future, I would expect to see completely new skill lines.
Q: Any plans for an unarmed skill line?
Paul Sage: Not at this time.
Q: On the racial passives with procs – like Redguard stamina return and Imperial health return. Do they stack with the equivalent jewellery glyphs? If so, will stacking effectively increase the proc chance or magnitude? Is there a cool down attached to the procs? If so, is it a global proc cool down or individual per source (racial, ring, medallion…) or type (health return, magicka return, …)?
Paul Sage: Yes, racial passives will work with the enchantments on jewelry. There is a cool down on procs, or a rate of proc if you prefer. Individual proc rate (cooldown.)
Q: In terms of skill-mechanics bosmer and argonian seem to be slightly inferior to the other races. Is there a plan to change/adjust their racial skills before launch?
Nick Konkle: Yeah, we are actively looking at balancing the racial abilities, especially as we get more feedback and data from our beta testers. I don’t want to speak to what sort of changes we have in mind until they are fully tested and ready, but I think we can safely say that racials passives are common topic of discussion for the systems design team.
Q: What is the benefit of improved swim-speed in the game? I never needed to swim more than a few seconds and slaughterfish still catch you easily
Nick Konkle: Well, it felt appropriate for Argonians from a thematic perspective, but yes, it doesn’t have too many advantages in most gameplay. That was why we chose to add extra functionality (stamina recovery) so that the passive would be useful to players that enjoy it’s thematic value and players that want a combat benefit.
Q: Is there a reasoning that the Khajiit passive Carnage doesn’t work with Bow/Ranged attacks?
Nick Konkle: That’s a bug. Whoops! I thought we fixed it already. I’ll check to make sure that’s fixed today! Should be good to go for launch.
Vampirism & Lycanthropy
Q: Vampires – currently PTS players are saying that they are having issues with the vampirism stages sometimes resetting to stage 1 on death, change of zone or relog and that poison mist is only giving 3 ticks of damage where the tooltip suggests it should do 8 (once every 0.5s for 4s). Are these performing as intended and if not is there an expected timeframe for a fix?
Nick Konkle: Yep, we noticed that as well. In fact, Ed Knapp, our lead systems designer, just fixed that today! Expect that to be working for launch.
Q: Are werewolves and vampires going to get more attention? Werewolves are very barren on having usable skills. Also the ultimate generation nerf for werewolves doesn’t address the real issue behind them. It was considered a waste to transform and to use the generation on another ultimate. Shouldn’t the point of being a werewolf ultimately be about being a were?
Nick Konkle: Ok, so there are couple questions there. In order:
First, we are definitely planning to add more skills to werewolf and vampire, but those won’t come immediately after launch.
Second, about blood rage, I believe it’s perfectly acceptable (and fantastic!) that players find ability synergies like this one. We didn’t want to remove the flexibility of players to give up one of their two ultimate slots (2 slots considering the weapon swap) to generate the ultimate resource more quickly. That said, the ultimate generation had no cooldown before, and it was just too strong with certain builds.
That said, We certainly don’t want the only purpose of the werewolf ability to be to make you able to cast a different ultimate faster, so we’ll be watching the results of this change to make sure that werewolf transformation ability is strong enough to warrant its high cost.
Q: I would love to know if you are going to seperate the option for adorments and facial hair as i believe it would give more customization and thats what Elder scrolls games are about…love the game cant wait for release
Paul Sage: We’re definitely looking at adding in more options in the future for player customization.
Q: What about cloaks?
A: No cloaks planned.
Q: Why do you continue to reduce experience from mob kills?
Paul Sage: There was a way, because of spawn rate and other factors, to level very quickly in public dungeons and other spaces. We track leveling times and can see anomalies like this. So we had to shore this up to make sure people didn’t level quite so fast in this way. It was by far more efficient to level in public dungeons than anywhere else, so we brought this more in line with questing.
Q: How exactly do the “Rings of Mara” work? (i.e. location, created/gifted, usage, etc.)
Paul Sage: You will get a pledge of Mara in your mail when you create your first character. If you visit a shrine of Mara with another person and both join in the pledge, each of you will receive rings. When you are grouped together wearing the rings, you will get an XP bonus.
Q: With being unable to spot the difference between a player and a NPC without looking at them will you ever add name plates. There is no way to spot a friendly NPC over a hostile one.
Brian Wheeler: You can turn on the healthbars of enemies to be always on which helps designate enemies easy enough instead of “injured”. If you go into the interface options there is a toggle for showing Alliance Indicators for All, Enemy or None. When you turn that on, you’ll see a small shield above the heads of players that’s yellow, blue or red depending on their Alliance.
Q: Anti-Cheat (hack) security… what’s happening on this front?
Brian Wheeler: We have a CS team dedicated to finding anyone that uses third party cheating programs but also many in game measuring metrics to find these when used. Cheaters are found and dealt with =)