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Interviews: Brian Wheeler Talks PvP and 'Darkness Falls'

By Michael Bitton on February 18, 2014

MMORPG: Do you have any systems in place to deal with ‘gaming’ the Alliance War? E.g. trading or flipping keeps, Alliance Point farming, etc.

Brian Wheeler: For that, it hearkens back to some older mentalities, where flipping a keep or capturing a keep or resources are actually worth very very little on its own. But if a keep is fought over and lots of people are dying in it, and every time a player dies in the area of the keep or resource, its points are distributed not only to the people that killed you, or you know, you did the kill, but those points are also copied and put into the keep or resource, so when it’s actually captured, it’s worth more.

Also, conversely, when it’s defended, there’s a timer that’s going under the hood, where, if a keep is being assaulted and nobody is dying in a certain amount of time, the points are actually distributed to defenders. So, in terms of just running around and keep flipping for the most amount of points, that’s going to be a highly inefficient way of doing it. Also note that players, a solo player kill, at level 50, is worth more than flipping a keep, so it’s much more encouraged to fight other players and kill other players. In terms of worrying about the exploits of killing another player and getting tons of Alliance Points, there are obviously cooldown timers, so we don’t let you kill somebody repeatedly, over and over and over. They’re worth a zero amount for a while and then their value scales up over time, so you can’t just sit there off in a far corner in Cyrodiil and kill trade. It’s also gated on top of that by no resurrection abilities by players; you’ll need to resurrect them by using a Soul Gem.

MMORPG: While there are certainly many that will strive to top the charts and become emperor, there are many fans who feel this goal is out of reach. What sort of continuous progression or goals are available in the Alliance War for players who may never become emperor?

Brian Wheeler: There are two skill lines specific to PvP, an Assault and a Support skill line, and those are skill lines where you can get other abilities that help you fight the war. Things that help you break out of crowd control, or let you have a speed boost, or drop down an area of snaring, things like that.

They’re not on par with the emperor passives while someone is an emperor, but while somebody isn’t an emperor their passives are toned down quite a bit, but these are where you get a lot of PvP active abilities that you put on your action slots and help you turn the tide of the war or just win a small skirmish. They’re great for large scale battles as well as small scale battles.

MMORPG: Can you touch on the Emperor armor set at all? Is it mostly a visual thing? Or is it a powerful armor set?

Brian Wheeler: It actually is just a visual thing. We don’t want to give, like you guys were hinting at, you don’t want to give just a very small subset of players this ridiculously overpowered armor that they can don while they’re emperor.

The other problem is the emperor’s armor would override all the armor that you like. Let’s say that you have a particular set that has a particular armor style that you think looks awesome. Well, maybe you don’t want to wear that emperor gear, as crazy as that may sound, because for whatever reason you don’t like how it looks.  The actual item that you get when you get crowned emperor is actually a costume slot item. You can wear it anytime you’re emperor within your campaign.

MMORPG: There’s actually a skill line when you become emperor, is that right? Is that only active while you’re emperor? Or do you get to keep it?

Brian Wheeler: Once you’re emperor you get the skill line unlocked automatically and then you can spend skill points in it just like you can any other skill line. The passive abilities you get from being an emperor are way more effective while you’re emperor in your campaign.

If you get deposed or you leave your campaign and let’s say, you go join someone else in their campaign while you’re still emperor, you will have the same abilities, but they will be very heavily muted. They won’t have the same effectiveness, but you’re not wasting skill points by taking these abilities, by far. You’re still going to have some passive effects whether you’re an emperor or an ex-emperor, which is a title, by the way.

MMORPG: How much do you rely on the three faction system to solve issues with population imbalance in a given campaign? Are there any systems in place to encourage players of a particular alliance to join a specific campaign?

Brian Wheeler: There are three things in play. One of them we’re working on getting in right now. The first one is that each campaign has a population cap per alliance, but obviously, you can still run into the case where it’s midnight and for some crazy reason the Australians are the Aldmeri players and the Ebonheart are the North Americans. You’re always going to run into that problem.

There currently is a scoring imbalance check, where if one alliance gets about double the amount of points that the other two alliances own, then the other two alliances get bonuses against that alliance. So, if Ebonheart has 2000 points and Aldmeri and Daggerfall have less than a thousand each, they each get bonuses against that alliance when they take keeps from them.  They don’t get it against themselves, but against the enemy that has the most, as well as for holding onto their own.  So it’s a little bit of incentive to make sure you hang onto your territory as well as take territory from the “big bully” who has the most Alliance Points.


We’re also looking at population imbalance scoring checks as well. I can’t give too many details on that, because the system is getting implemented right now, but it’s basically to handle those cases where your scoring can’t catch up and your population isn’t high enough. We don’t want you to feel like you have to leave the campaign to go somewhere else. We want to give you scoring benefits to let you catch up and make the other team not feel like they can just always dominate somebody by pure numbers.