Just a mere three weeks after the console launch of the Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unchained, Paul Sage leaves the project to become Creative Director for an unknown project at Gearbox Software. If you’re not familiar with Gearbox Software they are the creators of the Borderlands series. But what does this mean for the future of ESOTU?
This might actually turn out to be a good thing. When I originally heard that Paul Sage left ZOS for Gearbox I was shocked and a bit disconcerted because I feared what would happen with ESO. Paul Sage has done so much for the game that may not have ever happened without him pushing things along. But Rich Lambert isn’t no newbie either. He’s been working with ESO since 2007.
This could be Rich’s opportunity to shine, to do something for ESO that no ESO developer has done, make themselves known on the official forums. The ESO forums are incredibly active by the players but rarely seen by the developers. While they do make posts they are incredibly infrequent. Often we are lucky if they post once a month.
The developers take an idea and make it into an actual in-game feature/mechanic. They are the ones with the answers, so knowing they are reading the forums gives the player base a sense of commonality, a feeling of being on the same level as everyone. Some of the most awesome stories I have about playing MMORPGs is when the developers or the support team go out of their way to make themselves known.
I remember playing GW2 and while defending a keep I noticed outside the wall there was an ArenaNet logo around a player’s name. Knowing that I was playing against a developer made my game play that much more enjoyable.
I’m not saying that all the ESO developers should take time out of their day to play the game but it would be nice to know that they do play it, even if it’s a character on a test account. They’re the developers they have the ability to give themselves gear, levels etc so why not go into cyrodiil solo and help fight at a choke point, defend a keep, or assault a keep. We don’t even need to know which developer it is. I had no idea which GW2 Dev was playing. It would have been a QA person on a lunch break or something but that little bit of effort to connect to the community is all it takes.
As for the forum awareness, I’m not saying they should be posting detailed outlines of changes that are coming, heck they don’t even truly need to be game related. It’s all about making that connection and if you can talk to the community like you’re one of them, you’re doing it right. Make some troll comments, crack jokes, and have fun. The forums don’t have to be all about the business. It’s a place for likeminded people to discuss something they are doing. You see a post about a quest that people were enjoying, reply to it. If you’ve played the game you’ll have thoughts about that quest as well.
One of the biggest hurdles Rich is going to overcome if he wants to achieve this connection is time. When will developers find the time to connect to its player base be it through the forums or in-game. Zenimax Online Studios is a small company with a small team working for it. While we’ll never know the exact numbers, Matt Firor was quoted to saying “about 250”. But this is old information and with the layoffs in 2014 that number could have dropped. Also keep in mind, that number also includes all the customer service representatives, network administrators, QA team, so a very small portion of that already small number is the actual coders and designers.
With this small team they’ve been able to produce arguably the best MMORPG on the market right now. ESO has a backlog of features that the team has been discussing publically about, Imperial City, final phase of the champion system (removal of veteran ranks), Wrothgar, Justice aspect of the justice system, Spellcrafting (which may have been a Paul Sage item, wonder if this is still on the table with him being gone now…) and Housing to name a few. They definitely have their lists filled with stuff to do.
So what you do think of Paul Sage leaving ZOS? Do you think Rich Lambert will be able to keep the ship pointed in the direction Paul left it or do you think maybe Rich should point it a new way?