The Elder Scrolls Online developer Zenimax Online Studios is currently planning out a five-year content roadmap for the MMO, and the title’s first add-ons are being worked on now.
Speaking with VG247 at gamescom, the studio’s general manager Matt Firor said, “There’s a metric thing I have on my whiteboard that’s kind of a ‘game designer’ thing where it’s ‘five days, five hours, five months’ and ‘five years’. The game needs to work on those time scales.
“At five hours the art needs to be good, it needs to feel good when you sit down. Five days is the levelling needs to be good, five months is the end-game needs to be good and the five years is the one you’re talking about. That’s the magic one, the one that’s really ‘community’. You’re going back because you like the people you’re playing with, it’s also the hardest to achieve obviously.
“But yeah, that’s the ‘I’m going to this virtual world because I have friends there, and there’s some social pressure to log-in, I like it, I want to meet my friends there’. That’s one way to look at it, and so we have social systems built around that, all these big multiplayer games have them.”
During my hands-on today in Cologne, I found that the game can be played solo, with no obligation to party-up, and Firor explained that the core quest line – in which you try to reclaim your soul after it’s been stolen by Molag Bal – can be completed alone. It’s basically a new, full Elder Scrolls title with online aspects should you wish to use them. In first-person view, on one of Skyrim’s many islands, I felt like it was an extension of The Elder Scrolls V.
On the other side of the game’s long-tail plan, Firor continued, “The other side of it is, you need to make sure there’s something for those players to do that’s new and refreshing on an ongoing basis. So the other side of that is we’re planning regular content updates and pretty substantial ones like every month to six weeks – we’re working on the actual cadence just now – but we’re already working on post-launch content now.
“The game’s not done but feature-wise it’s pretty well done, so our content teams have kind of separated and some of them are working on data feedback, polish, fixing quests that players don’t like in the beta, that kind of thing. And then other teams have peeled off and are working on totally new content players won’t see until after the game launches. Even now we’e working on that.”
You can read my full interview with Firor and hands-on impressions of The Elder Scrolls Online here soon. It’s out on PC, Mac, PS4 and Xbox One in 2014.