Tales From the Developers

The release of One Tamriel has created a new era for both the Elder Scrolls Online and the ZeniMax Online Studios team. With over seven million players since launch ESO is greatly expanding with many new and returning players. This is a great time to look back at the adventures and experiences that we have had with ESO and to look forward to the bright future that One Tamriel brings us closer towards.

We are not the only ones who have found memories of ESO. Behind the scenes the developers have many unique experiences creating the content that we enjoy. Everything from  frustrating issues to hilarious bugs they have experienced it all. While most of the time these stories would not be told I had the unique opportunity to ask developers from ZeniMax Online Studios for some of their favorite memories in developing ESO up to this point. These are their stories.

 

 Alyssa Gobelle, Multi-Media Specialist

During the creation of the main trailer for release with the launch of the console version of our game, we had a shot that called for an “Epic PVP battle in Cyrodiil that our hero and his friends would watch.” This was quite a mighty task to achieve back then! Everyone was very busy working on the game, it was too much to ask to pull everyone away for a trailer shot.

So we asked a couple of Content Developers to help us out to create NEW scripts that allowed for groups of NPCs to spawn and fight each other and also have them man and fire siege machines like catapults and ballista. It took a lot of planning and building on our own private sandbox server (that would not impact anything on the development branches), but we did it and created an amazing battle in Cyrodiil – all of it was autonomous.  You can see it in our console launch trailer: “A Hero’s Journey.”

But, not to let such tech go to waste, you can see the evolution of those active mass NPC battle designs in various spots in Imperial City, Orsinium, and more. Always brings a smile to my face that our Creative Services team helped develop that into another great storytelling visual for the Content team to use.

 

 Alex Tardif, Graphics Programmer

I’ve recently been working on improving how our mounts are put together with their saddles, bags, etc. Currently each combination is its own model, so we want to split them out to save on memory. When I went to start testing it though, the separate parts weren’t ready, so I figured I’d use another mount instead and see what happens. I’m not sure if my lead was laughing or weeping when he saw the results, but Sheogorath seemed cool with it.

funwithmounts

 

Eric Wrobel, Lead Combat Designer

During one of our playtests on our internal game server, we had accidently set the radius of an ability to 500 meters, so when you cast it a huuuuuuuuge army of angry enemies would come after you. People had a lot of fun with this because it was a quick way to get your quests completed!

 

James Lowe, Senior Content Designer

As the designer of many of the world bosses in Wrothgar and the Minotaur in Gold Coast, it is thrilling lurking in player groups on the live servers and taking down content that our teams have created. One of my two favorite moments from that involved going up against Nyzchaleft in Wrothgar. We had 5-6 people, and one person on the team insisted on telling me the ideal strategy for taking down the boss. The player wasn’t wrong, but I thought it funny that they decided to single me out as the person to school. The other was in the cave leading up to the Minotaur boss at Tribune’s Folly. We only had four, and the others insisted that we needed more. Seeing that we were all Veteran characters, I was like “We’ve got this.” So we charged in, had a bit of a challenge, and we all had a ton of fun. And we won.

 

Samantha Weeks, Associate Producer

While we were developing the console version of ESO, we were looking at posts that would come to your screen about things your friends were doing in-game, and we noticed something strange. A notification would appear when a friend created a new character. It looked a little something like this:

“Player A has created a Nord!”

“Player B has created an Argonian!”

“Player C has created a Kha***t!”

For the life of us, we were unaware why “jii” would be removed from the post. We had to talk with the devs on the console side who were helping us at the time. “Jii” is apparently a bad word in one of their supported languages. We had to get special permission to allow the word “Khajiit” to post for our game. This caused for several fits of laughter as well as now using “Khajiit” as an insult within the console team.

 

Jeremy Sera, Lead Content Designer

I’d like to share some of my favorite anecdotes from ESO through the years:

Cadwell

Cadwell was added ¾ of the way through the development of Coldharbour. We re-worked the content to include him, and then re-worked it again at the very end when it was decided that he should be a warrior. Prior to that point, he wasn’t going to ever be a combatant. Helping to create and write for John Cleese was a huge moment to me as a designer.

Spoiler: Coldharbour Storyline

It wasn’t until the very end of Coldharbour’s development that we decided that Darien would go missing. The original cut of Manor of Revelry needed to be rewritten to account for this, as it originally featured Darien and not Stibbons.

Rivenspire

The zone Rivenspire was re-done three times. The second time was to bring it up to the current zone format, and the third time was to solidify the story. It was originally too complex and featured too many characters.

Spoiler: Rivenspire Storyline

The scene at the end of Rivenspire with Gwendis and the exploded Doomcrag was something that took coordination with our Fixtures, Level Design, FX, and Content teams. We wanted something that showed the health of the zone that was visible from everywhere. Then we carefully crafted a camera that showed the remains of Doomcrag in the distance while you spoke with Gwendis to ensure you saw the view.

One of my favorite designer memories was a post I saw on Reddit that had a picture of that scene and the words “Verandis?” The was gratifying to see that person played the whole zone and “got” the moment that we so carefully built up to.

Narsis Dren

Narsis Dren was originally a lore book character, but due to his popularity he became the central character of an objective in Wrothgar…and perhaps he’ll appear in future content. We didn’t plan originally to throw Narsis Dren in a sarcophagus. He was just such a jerk we all felt we should do something mean to him. As soon as it was suggested, it was universally agreed to be a good idea.

Imperial City Prison

The final boss of the Imperial City Prison was originally going to be a gigantic Watcher but we discard this idea as impractical. It wouldn’t be easy to ground it in the world and might alienate melee classes. But before that we built several large rooms to feature him looking in on the players as they progressed through the dungeon. Those rooms still exist as gigantic dioramas.

Crafty Larissa and Howler

Crafty Larissa’s monkey “Howler” was actually created before Crafty Larissa was. Since we knew we wanted her to be a master of disguise, we wanted to make sure she had a marker of sorts to alert players to her presence.

 

Share Your Stories

In the two and a half years since the release of ESO there have been over seven million players. Whether it be epic, humorous, or just the interactions with others each player has their own story. These experiences stick with us and allow us to look back at the great memories we have had and to look forward to those we have yet to have. So I ask you readers what are your favorite and most memorable memories from ESO? Post them below or share on social media!

One response to “Tales From the Developers”

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    Dionysus

    Adept

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    Dunmer Dragonknight

    I know this comment is very… Belated, but I saw there were none. Just wanted to say I really enjoyed this article when I first read it.

    @Benefactor Well formatted and a good read!

    Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.

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