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Elder Scrolls Online dev explains divergent quest paths

The Elder Scrolls Online creative director Paul Sage talks about how two players who make different choices will sometimes have their versions of the game reconciled, and other times will split apart.

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The Elder Scrolls Online plays very much like a single-player experience, but grouping with other players adds a new wrinkle to the story-driven mechanics. Namely, the game still presents world-altering choices, which means two players who are partnered can have wildly different realities. So how does the game deal with those instances? We talked to Paul Sage, the game's creative director.

While sometimes quests could align as each player simply sees his own version of the world, other choices will create differences too large to reconcile. The simple example in a preview build was whether to give an antidote to a dying woman, determining if she would live or die. We didn't see how that choice might iterate throughout the rest of the game, but it gave a glimpse of the life-or-death choices that could lead to very different outcomes. In the full game, chances are almost certain that group members will have made different choices at least a few times.

"In certain cases your quest might diverge slightly," Sage told Shacknews. "You know, in any game you can still go along with them and help them, and it's very much the same thing. The split might be in the same quest and you could still hang out with them and help them out."

That would mean each player could scratch the others' back and repeat a quest twice with slight differences, which has already led to some feedback from the beta. "We've watched as people group up, and we'll see somebody make a certain choice, and the other person is like, 'I wish I'd made that choice.' So we have to be really careful about the choices we allow you to make and make sure you still feel good about it at the end."

Meanwhile, Sage says the beta has provided the studio with a positive reaction, as compared to the somewhat skeptical one from some fans and onlookers. "We've noticed a muted reaction among some people, and we've gotten a lot of excitement from some other people," he said. "When we watch people play, though, we see the lights turn on and it clicks with them. Sometimes, no matter what you say or how well you say it, your message isn't as clear as you'd hoped it would be. The response we've gotten when people have played has been pretty great."

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From The Chatty

  • reply
    March 19, 2013 7:00 AM

    Steve Watts posted a new article, Elder Scrolls Online dev explains divergent quest paths.

    The Elder Scrolls Online creative director Paul Sage talks about how two players who make different choices will sometimes have their versions of the game reconciled, and other times will split apart.

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      March 19, 2013 7:04 AM

      So we have to be really careful about the choices we allow you to make and make sure you still feel good about it at the end.

      In other words - don't expect to be able to make that many choices that affect the actual game. I don't see how this is any different than every other crappy MMORPG out there.

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        March 19, 2013 7:06 AM

        I think I'm pretty much going to pretend this game doesn't exist. That way Bethesda and TES can remain pure and wonderful in my head forever.

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        March 19, 2013 7:28 AM

        even in the dev interview preview thing, it sounded like they really had no direction. they've been making vague and silly promises pretty much from the start. I have very, very low expectations.

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          March 19, 2013 8:19 AM

          Agreed! And after reading this article, I feel he talked a lot, but didn't really say anything of substance. He still didn't really address how the game would handle massive divergences. Letting me do the same quest twice for a different outcome, even if I'm just helping someone else do it for the first time? Making sure I "feel good" at the end? Are you kidding?

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      March 19, 2013 9:13 AM

      This is an odd article coming from Bethesda. I keep getting worried that those knucklehead managers there will get it in their minds that MMOs are the "wave of the future" for making mad ca$h and never ever put the time and thought and love into a product like Skyrim.

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        March 20, 2013 11:31 AM

        Right? I wish they would flush Elder Scrolls Online, give us Fallout 4 (ffs) then get to work on TES6!

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      March 19, 2013 9:51 AM

      I feel like this will go the way of so many other MMOs, 6 feet under.

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      March 19, 2013 9:53 AM

      here comes the MMO scope creep. if this ends up being an SWTOR style distraction, I will be very displeased.

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      March 19, 2013 10:20 AM

      Is the over/under on F2P still at 3 months? Or has it been moved up to launch?

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        March 19, 2013 10:21 AM

        They still haven't said. I maintain that it'll fail hard if they try for a monthly fee.

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          March 19, 2013 10:23 AM

          Of course the haven't said, that's why we can bet on an over/under. I was at 6mo back in 2012 but its definitely closer than that.