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Brian Wheeler Talks PVP in Morrowind

William Murphy Posted:
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MMORPG.com: What's going on in terms of server performance improvements? How's that stuff coming?

Brian: We just did some changes in the last update that came last week, which changed the amount of server squares, that's the best way to word it, that need to be calculated at a time. We made the squares a bit bigger and then reduced the amount of squares that need to be calculated for detection areas. That's helped the server a bit. And the other thing that we have adjusted, now, this is even deeper than that one. The next thing above that, on the combat level, some abilities have started being cached off, that we get called a lot. So those have been cached, so they don't get called as often during in combat. That's helped out.

We've seen that the server ping, from what we see, has come down. We still want it to come down more. Because when you play in Azura Star or Blackwater Blade, there's no problems. But when people go into Trueflame, which is the one that has the most players, as well as, sort of, the most advanced builds, in terms of proc sets and area of effect checks, that hits the server hard. So, we're looking at making adjustments.  That being said, on XBOX, we see that Blackwater Blade catches up to and sometimes surpasses Haderus or Scourge, I think that's the highest population, but I know it's not the only top dog on XBOX. When we look at the two graphs in terms of performance, the one that has the champion enabled level 50 all the way, it performs a bit worse, but the one that's like Blackwater Blade, it's fine, so we know there's something there. It's been improved, but we obviously are not done.

Rich and I were out there almost every night. He's playing more on Azura Star and I'm playing more on Trueflame. So we can literally compare and contrast the two types of gameplay. The thing about Azura Star is no CP, so the skill set is a little bit different. You have to be much more wary of your resource pools. But in Trueflame, because it allows CP, you can just dump a bunch of points in Magician, so I mean that's the thing that not only we look at performance wise, but that's the thing Eric and his team look at, is that the game that we want? Do we want to have "unlimited" pools? It is nice, but what it does is it lends itself to fights that never stop, and a lot of people have commented that that gets tiresome, which is why in Battlegrounds, you've got nice, quick, 15 minute fights, so it's not that big of a worry.

MMORPG.com: Let's move back to Battlegrounds then. Are there different inter activities with the maps? Are they symmetrical?

Brian: These are pretty symmetrical. We're going to be slightly asymmetrical with one of our first maps that we add later on. The first grouping has the quarry one with the lava. But there's another map, the Dwemer looking one. That one we are investigating the whirly traps from Maelstrom arena, as well as the steam pipes that pop out of the ground and blow steam. What we found in some of our testing is, in a game like Murderball, people will go to the respawn point, wait for the thing when it snaps back when its not been picked up in the world, and grab it. One of the things we're doing, is in those locations, where a neutral flag would respawn, has area damage, so it pushes people away from it so they can't grab it right away.

MMORPG.com: What else can you tell me about PvP Battlegrounds? Cool tabards?

Brian: We're looking at those things. I don't think that's going to be there on launch, but the team colors, they're the secondary, the orange, purple, and green. The orange are the Fire Drakes, the Stormlords are the purple guys, and the Pit Demons are the green dudes. This is your team for this. I know in some matches they say, you're playing for this team today, which is normally your mortal enemy, in this the whole queue can be Ebonheart. It doesn't matter. That's the good news about that. We know that queue expediency is part of what would make this great.

MMORPG.com: Are you going to try eSports stuff? Tournaments? 

Brian: There isn't an official leaderboards yet, because we're still getting everything nailed down. But once we get everything nailed down, there will be teams, that start to be the team. Battlegrounds is a new system that you get access to when you buy Morrowind, but it's a system that continues. It's not a three maps and that's it. We're gonna keep expanding on it.

MMORPG.com:  Do you think that people that just have the base game will ever get a Battleground that they can play?

Brian: That's a Firor question.

MMORPG.com: Well, you assume that the next chapter, you'd have Battlegrounds included, or a DLC update might have Battlegrounds. The more people that play Battlegrounds, the better.

Brian: Exactly. The more you get in the queue, the faster the queue pops, everybody's happy.

MMORPG.com: A lot of people have tried to make MMO PvP an eSport that people pay attention to, but it hasn't necessarily worked out. I think what makes ESO unique is you have 4v4v4. It's smaller teams, still 15 minute matches, and the fact there are three teams make it unique.

Brian: It makes it so that within each match, a political game can occur. The team that's in third, are they gonna try feeding off the team that's first or second? Are they just gonna boycott and sit in the corner and heal each other like crazy? Or are the guys in the first place, are they gonna be the guys that just try to stay alive with their max score? Or are they gonna try to keep winning by taking out the guys below their score?

MMORPG.com: There are no sports that are three teams, which is why I think this is so cool, and I hope it's a big deal. I'd like to see an ESO tournament at the end of every year.

Brian: We definitely plan on doing ranks and some sort of tournament that you sign up for that's ranked. I don't know if t would be ELO or MMR, some form of win/loss depending on who you played against.

MMORPG.com: You don't want to alienate the players who don't want to take part in that.

Brian: That's another reason we're not doing this right from the start. If you look at Rocket League or another game that has ranked stuff, sometimes that intimidates people. Letting it be all casual, all the time, at first, is good. We never want it to be like you felt like you didn't advance or it was a waste of time. That can turn people off. Think of Cyrodiil, it's always forward. We're always aware of time invested. 

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William Murphy

Bill is the former Managing Editor of MMORPG.com, RTSGuru.com, and lover of all things gaming. He's been playing and writing about MMOs and geekery since 2002, and you can harass him and his views on Twitter @thebillmurphy.