TESO:Reddit's AMA with the ESO writing team

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Comment : This Ask Me Anything took place on September 10th, 2014 on the Reddit board /r/elderscrollsonline. Questions appear in chronological order, and have been occasionally edited for spelling.



Hi Reddit!

I’m Wynne McLaughlin, Lead Writer for The Elder Scrolls Online. We’ve gathered together some of the members of ESO’s Writing and Editorial team and we’re here to answer your questions about storytelling, characterization, writing voice-over dialog… pretty much anything in ESO that involves the twenty-six letters of the alphabet. (After all, there are only twenty-six. The trick is getting them in the right order.)

Today, the following team members are here to answer your questions with smart-alecky, but hopefully informative and entertaining responses:

Wynne McLaughlin – Lead Writer
Lawrence Schick – Lead Loremaster
Michael Zenke – Senior Writer/Designer
Rob Chestney – Senior Writer/Designer
Bill Slavicsek – Senior Writer/Designer
Rebecca Harwick – Writer/Designer
Zach Bush – Writer/Designer
Leamon Tuttle – Content Designer
Allison Berryman – Web Content Writer

Our Community Manager Jessica Folsom and Assistant Community Manager Gina Bruno will also be on hand to keep things running smoothly.

The team has spent many years pouring our hearts and souls into this project. We’re very proud of what we’ve accomplished so far, and we’re bursting with excitement about ESO’s future. It’s been especially rewarding to hear from so many players who’ve appreciated our work. Every time you post about a favorite line, an exciting quest, or a funny hireling message, or when you create a comic, video, story, or piece of original art featuring the characters we created, we notice, we share them, and we appreciate all of you. You truly make our efforts worthwhile.

So – ask us anything about characters, quests, lore, or any other topic related to Writing and Editorial processes in ESO, and we’ll do our best to answer!



willxpm

Hi there! Thanks for doing an AMA. Since this AMA will likely be writing-focused, the folks over at /r/teslore took some interest. Our little thread, for the curious.

Now, my questions:

What’s your opinion of C0DA?

Why, from a writing perspective, was the Ebonheart Pact created. Obviously in-universe it’s an alliance of convenience, but I was wondering how the Ebonheart Pact was initially envisioned in the planning stages of ESO.

Why, from a writing perspective again, were the Daggerfall Covenant and the Empire separated?

Can you shed some light on the absence of Vivec and Sotha Sil?

There are few points I still don’t get about the Ebonheart Pact, such as: Why is Jorunn in charge (at least nominally)? Why is there such a push for “integration” between the three races, when the Pact is supposed to be an uncomfortable alliance? Finally, since when was the Pact trying to conquer all of Tamriel? The defining goal of the Pact is independence for it’s member states. Unity on any level seems contradictory to it’s founding goal. Also, the Dumer and Argonians have not historically entertained notions of empire.

Again, thanks for doing an AMA, and I hope I’m not asking too much.

Lawrence Schick
We erect the spine of cordial welcome! Re: C0DA: it’s thought-provoking and a hell of a lot of fun, but we don’t really touch much on that sort of meta-lore. We’re mostly concerned with trying to convey the day-to-day reality of life in Tamriel in the Second Era.

Re: origin of the Pact: Well, we had that Akaviri invasion in the timeline just a decade before the time we'd chosen for our game, so it seemed obvious to weave that into the backstory of one of our alliances. From that the Ebonheart Pact just kind of blossomed.

Re: the Covenant and the Empire: We knew the Empire of Cyrodiil was going to be in eclipse (because Interregnum and need for a PvP arena), but we wanted an alliance that sort-of embodied the virtues of the Second Empire. Thus King Emeric and his alliance.

Re: Vivec and Sotha Sil: Oh, we know exactly where they are, and believe me, they've got their hands full. Eventually we’ll reveal what they've got their hands full OF.

Re: Jorunn as leader of the Pact: Jorunn is the titular leader of the Ebonheart Pact because it is a military alliance, the Nords are the muscle of the Pact, and they’re inclined to be disobedient if ordered around by non-Nords. Rest assured that, behind the scenes, Almalexia has her golden fingers in everything.

Allison Berryman
I don't have a specific answer to one of your questions, but I do want to shout out to /r/teslore. I read it almost every day and love to see what you guys are coming up with and discussing.


Elyken
I don't have a question, though i would like to thank you guys because my favorite part of the game is the story telling!

Rebecca Harwick
Aw, thanks. Glad you enjoy it!

Wynne McLaughlin
Thanks Elyken! It means a lot to us.


IceFireWarden

'Lo! Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions. I have two:

"In ESO the Daedric Princes are very prominent in the game...except for one, Peryite. There is literally no new information regarding the Taskmaster, including books, quests, or dialogue in the base game. This is very disheartening, for I am a great admirer of the Daedric Prince of the Natural Order and I just wanted to know why he hasn't made an appearance in the game. Is he too busy dealing with the order Daedra in Oblivion? Or has something else caught his interest?"

"In the background lore of the games there are mentions of islands like Roscrea, Cathnoquey, Yneslea, and Esrionet that exist on Nirn. We know practically anything about these places, like their inhabitants and culture. Will we be getting any information regarding these lands in the game sometime in the future? Perhaps the Akaviri wrote about them on their way to invading Tamriel?"

Lawrence Schick
All the Daedric Princes will do a star turn sooner or later, so Peryite will get his day in the light of Magnus!

As for the islands you mentioned, we LIKE using islands--witness Bleakrock, Khenarthi's Roost, Stros M'Kai, Betony, and Stirk--because they're nice bounded environments. (Oh, and Eyevea!) Any and all of those may be used as settings for future content.


_suplexthetrain_
Not a question, simply a demand. MORE LUSTY ARGONIAN MAID CONTENT. You have the power to make this happen. I need all the full acts, as well as a quest where I help a plucky crew of bards as a stand-in.

Allison Berryman
I have a feeling that may not be deemed appropriate for the next Loremaster's Archive, so I'm not sure I can help you. Maybe one of my esteemed colleagues can.

Lawrence Schick
I'm on it.

_suplexthetrain_
All joking aside, thank you for being so incredible with the lore. You all seem to love it as much as I do.

Allison Berryman
I've been a huge fan of TES lore for a long time now. If I could travel back in time and tell the young Allison that she'd be adding to the lore of the setting one day, she might have died right then. So I'm glad I can't/haven't. Yet.


Kipawa
I don't have any programing experience and my drawings are sub-par, but I always wanted to lend myself as a creative writer for projects.

How does one go about becoming a writer for video game projects? It seems mostly like a career you fall into with a bit of luck.

Also, when will Lawrence Schick record another Tamriel bedtime story? Seriously, this guy and his voice.

Wynne McLaughlin
As someone coming into the industry without experience, you have two choices: 1) Get into the industry as an intern or a QA tester, do your time and look for opportunities. 2) Get experience and samples by doing amateur mods of shipped games.

I got my first full time job by making amateur mods for Neverwinter Nights and using them as samples. That was an entry level job, and I already had multiple credits as a writer for film and tv. It's not easy.

And remember, if you want to be a game writer, learn as much about game design as you can, and PLAY GAMES. Every new game you wished you had worked on. Every. One. If you're not a gamer, you don't stand a chance. PLAY GAMES.

Leamon Tuttle
I began in QA. Having a position in the company helps a ton. The best thing you can do, however, is read a lot of books and write constantly. The strength of the writing itself is going to be the primary determinant on whether you get the gig.

Wynne McLaughlin
Now, as to getting hired as a writer: As Lead Writer, when I post an opening for a writer I get TONS of submissions and dozens and dozens of writing samples.

When I get a new submission and look at the resume, I'm quite literally looking for an excuse to set it aside and NOT read the samples. If the candidate doesn't have decent experience, or if they don't sound focused on being a writer, I'm likely to set it aside until I've read through the samples of candidates who do. If you don't have any experience, you must have AMAZING samples that are brief and relevant.

When I find someone with decent samples, I phone screen them. If I like them, I bring them in for an on-site. As soon as I get a candidate I like, I hire them.

I don't have time to read everything that's submitted or to judge everyone equally. Your goal is to get on top of the stack and be one of the first considered. That's what your samples and resume should be designed to do.
Writing Samples - Two or three (no more) really good, brief writing samples. Make sure those samples are the same kind of writing you'd primarily be doing if they hired you. For fully VO'd dialog, don't submit narrative or tabletop rpg samples. Submit something that shows you can write for actors, with plenty of characterization. Links to short youtube videos of scenes from games you wrote are even better. TL/DR ("Too Long/Didn't Read") is a great excuse to toss a submission aside. Don't overwhelm them.

Lawrence Schick
The last bedtime story I did was at Matt Firor's suggestion. I'll put this question to him!


TheWetSeel
First of all, just want to say, wonderful writing. Question time. What was the reason for the bath salts quest in Eastmarch? It was obviously a reference to the drug, due to the zombification of users, but it just seemed so out of place.

Bill Slavicsek
Sometimes bath salts are just bath salts.

Wynne McLaughlin
Heh. You should have seen the first draft. Part of my job is to seek out and destroy inappropriate pop culture references in the game that aren't right for an ES title. That quest raised a flag immediately and it was toned WAY down. In retrospect, it might not have been enough.


Caroloces
Hi! Thanks for taking the time to present to us, the fans. My question is this: Do you ever directly link the lorebooks, or any books for that matter, to quests within the game? I was playing the other day and spending time reading some of the books, and I thought that it would be quite nifty if some of the books you discovered throughout the world actually unlocked map locations and quests within the game. Thanks!

Allison Berryman
I don't know about books that specifically give you new objectives, but I did write three really fun books that were directly related to a quest on Khenarthi's Roost. They come into your inventory as part of the quest and are fully readable.

Rebecca Harwick
We like that, too. In fact some of our books do reveal locations on the map (if you haven't previously discovered them.)


ladyswillmart
Hello, everyone! Thank you so much for taking the time to answer our questions! And believe me, I have so many questions about so many little things, but most of them are extremely silly so I won't go there (not here!).

The first thing I thought to ask about was the Main Quest, as it seemed like the ending was left wide open. Abnur Tharn was my favorite character in the entire game, but I'm also intrigued with Clivia. I was totally convinced she would be some kind of last boss or something; are we ever going to get to properly meet her?

Also, The Tharn Barn wants to know: is Javad his nephew or his son? It seems like Cariel and Abnur himself have conflicting reports on this one! Is it both? Scandalous!

Wynne McLaughlin
I won't comment on Clivia, because SPOILERS, but the main quest was so much fun to do. We actually got Abnur, Lyris and Sai (Michael Gambon, Jennifer Hale and Alfred Molina) in the same room to record their banter together, and it was one of the best choices we made, I think. I loved writing Cadwell for obvious reasons, but Abnur Tharn was hands down the most fun to create!

Michael Zenke
Agent Cariel would like to say, for the record, that things have a tendency to get muddled in translation/by locale/by language/and circumstance.

She believes Javad to be the big guy's nephew, but your mileage may vary.


RottenDeadite
The 36 Lessons of Vivec don't appear in any game other than Morrowind (to the best of my knowledge). Why do you think that might be?

Leamon Tuttle
For the record, I am a HUGE fan of the 36 Lessons of Vivec.

Allison Berryman
They were some of the in-game books that really fascinated me when I was just playing Morrowind for the first time. I'd say they're a big part of the reason I dug into the lore in the first place - just a

"Whoa, what IS this?" that led me right down the rabbit hole.

Lawrence Schick
I can't speak for any of the other games, but it hasn't appeared so far in ESO only because it's too damn big for our book format, and I haven't wanted to break it up into bits. Eventually I'll figure out how and where to present it.


Defatank
Hello ZOS Lore crew! Thank you for taking the time to do this AMA and here's my question :)

1) Will The Elder Scrolls Online lore and time progress into all previous Elder Scrolls games that have been released (Morrowind, Oblivion, Skyrim etc) (Basically, will we see all the major events from each of the previous ES games happen in The Elder Scrolls Online)

Thank you, Defatank Great Architect Founder

Lawrence Schick
Sure! Passage of time in ESO is four times the rate in the "real world," so that's only 150 real years until Morrowind. We'll get there, so long as the game stays going.

(Kidding, okay? No, those games are all too far in the future. But it would be fun, wouldn't it?)


vanishinglex

Is there going to be any more lore in the game (or is there already that I haven't seen) that explains more about how the empire fell to the point where the dragonfires went out allowing for the planemeld and the events we see in the main quest line? I personally feel this would help the game feel even more part of the elder scrolls universe.

Also, thanks for some great writing for the game, I can happily say that this is the MMO that has the best Lore (and especially the attention to detail on quests) that i've played!

Lawrence Schick
We will definitely be addressing the recent (really appalling) history of Cyrodiil during the Interregnum in future content updates.


neileusmaximus
Will we happen to see vampire and werewolf specific quest dialog in the future? As in, the npc acknowledging a player as a vampire or werewolf.

Also........ The quest in Craglorn where you have to walk a dark cave but stay within the light made by the npc... I don't remember the name because it was a while back when I completed it. But everyone in the group agreed. It was EPIC. Thanks for the game.

Rebecca Harwick
The Sword School of Rahni'Za. That's one of my favorite encounters, too. Glad you liked it. I'll pass your compliments on to the content designer who scripted it. :)

Rebecca Harwick Vampire and werewolf specific dialogue is certainly something we can do and would like to do where appropriate in the future. We already have some things in the pipe that (hopefully) will address this a little better.


madcat529
Hi!

I'm a new ESO player, but i've played waaaaaaay too much Elder Scrolls titles in the past.

This game easily made Molag Bal my favourite Daedric Price (Great Voice acting also helps) in TES.

Will there be future content from the Lord of Domination in the future? If so can you say (even vaguely) What we might be able to expect??

Wynne McLaughlin
Of course! You can't kill a Daedric Prince!

madcat529
Yay! So assuming that answer, you can't say what. That is fair.

Also a follow-up question if I may...

In terms of Writing (I'm trying to get into writing for video-games and have an entire universe that I have created myself. Been working on it for 8 years), how do you go about writing the "perfect" antagonist?
In the sense of writing for Molag Bal. He's to be known as brutal, cunning, etc. How is it best to "physically" flaunt those qualities in terms of writing a villain? (Having issues making one of my villains "bad" enough to the point where i feel satisfied with his actions and personality.)

Oh, and also, how hard/easy was it to write the antagonists in the game AS A WHOLE? (Meaning all, not just Molag)

=)

Wynne McLaughlin
Writing an all-powerful villain like MB can be a real challenge because it's hard to see the "human" side of him, and a three dimensional character depends on that. Bal's dialog was a lot of taunting, but we tried to make Mannimarco his "human" side, as he was Bal's representative in Tamriel.

Abnur Tharn was even better, because he was "the villain you love to hate," and his character arc has more of a redemption to it.

madcat529
And hopefully this is the last bit of this so I can let you all answer other amazing people's questions.

I have a similar aspect where my Villain is incredibly capable and has a Facade of being "invincible". As far as TES, Daedric Princes are my perspective of "God-Like" Beings, that being entities (if you will) of power that aren't some figment of belief. They actually EXIST.

How do you get around the fact of making a powerful being such as Molag, have a "realistic" weakness that can be exploited and lead for the villain to be utterly defeated? (For reference, this villain is sadistic, "angry", and known for being unbeatable).

Just wondering from a professional writers perspective on how to work with these "Boundaries" of powerful characters and creating realistic weaknesses.

Thank you!!

PS: Tharn is an amazing "Villain you love to hate", and i cannot begin to rave how amazing Molag and Mannimarco's writing is. Molag Bal-lin'? (Clever, right?)

Wynne McLaughlin
I think, as with many of the Daedric Princes, Molag Bal (or "Little Mo" as Malcolm McDowall liked to call him), for all his omnipotence, has a great flaw: underestimating the power of mortals. His pride and overconfidence are the very things that can be turned against him.


queenayrenn
Hello, I'd just like to say I'm a very big fan of the Elder Scrolls Online, & that I had a few questions to ask.
First of all, I was wondering if you could tell us whether or not the alliance leaders would be returning in later story updates? Ayrenn in particular, as you can probably tell, she's my favorite.

I was also curious if there's a planned resolution to the alliance war, whether or not the specifics are something you could share?

Lastly though, I was wondering which characters in particular that you, the writers were the biggest fan of?

Bill Slavicsek
As far as characters I personally like, I have a few favorites: Naryu, Rigurt, Darien, and Gwendis are at the top of my list.

Michael Zenke
I'm a big fan of Ayrenn too. :D

It sounds like there are possibilities they could come back in future content, but the future is an unknowable and mysterious place.

Wynne McLaughlin
Some (of many) favorite characters of mine: Razum-dar, Abnur Tharn, Cadwell, Naryu, Dringoth, Pacrooti.

Zach Bush
I have too many favorites to list! To avoid a complete non-answer, I'll say Alyxe from the quest Rare Imports.


's'tanislav2
Hi, will there be more lore on Meridia and Ayleid?

Bill Slavicsek
We love adding more lore.

Lawrence Schick
Of course, especially the Ayleids, whose history underlies so much of what came later in Tamriel. Stay tuned!


SleeplessTuesday
This isn't a question but a compliment. Me and my partner both love this particular quest and would like to give a medal to whoever wrote it. 'The Flowers of Youth' was a heart breakingly beautiful quest. It was short, bittersweet and doesn't leave a dry eye.

Overall this game has some brilliant writing. From the short quips you get from around town, to the snappy dialogue from those that you work with. Everything works well and I just love it all.

(Although I do wonder if you have a Nord randomizer that has 'troll's', 'blood', 'beard', 'Shor' or whatever in it so you can come up with Nord exclamations.)

Rob Chestney
I was the writer on "Flowers of Youth" and thank you. The Content Designer, Blake Rebouche, deserves more of the credit though, as he really conceived the piece.

Leamon Tuttle
Coming up with bizarre exclamations is one of the best parts of the job. When in doubt, pair a Daedric Prince or Divine with an anatomical feature or piece of clothing. Ruptga's Starry Breeches!


Voryn
Hey, thanks for the doing this ama. Firstly, whoever participated in razum-dar's conception, you deserve many sweetrolls.

Now for the actual question: Not sure if it'll happen but, are there any plans to expand on ayleid lore (on the more mundane aspects I mean)? I'm quite a fan of them and I've taken to writing some of my own stuff on them/their culture/way of life/etc.. I do want to send my appreciation to those who wrote merid-Nunda, messenger beast redeemed and all the other new ayleid content, I thoroughly enjoyed them.

Michael Zenke
Raz is my fault. Sorry for any trouble he may have caused you.

Lawrence Schick
Keep an eye out for more books or notes from my boy Beredalmo the Signifier--he's the greatest living expert on the Ayleids in ESO's time.


jakhajay
I want to say you guys have done an absolutely brilliant job of ESO. I love everything about it :D You also do a great job of engaging with your customer, both iin and out of game. Shoutout to GMKhada, GMMoonglow, GMFortycoats and GMCapensis! You guys rock too! But yes, a couple of questions.

The Senche-Tigers. These aren't the true khajiit Senche are they? They're no where near big enough. I always envisioned them with bodies like Sabrecats but as tall as an Altmer at the shoulder.

Also khajiit related. Are there any plans to expand zones into Elsweyr proper? I love Reapers March and its my favourite story arc, and I hunger for more khajiit areas :D

Lawrence Schick
The Senche-Tigers: The in-game answer is that the differences between Senche, Senche-raht, and senche-tigers are confusing and hard to understand for everyone but Khajiit. Furthermore, Khajiit seem to sense an intelligence in senche-tigers that other races do not, but since senche-tigers don’t speak, their intelligence is hard to assess. We WILL be adding senche-tiger mounts sometime soon, but they’ll be just slightly larger than their wild counterparts, NOT the gigantic felines described in some of the lore.

The out-of-game answer to the question of Khajiiti subspecies is that depicting wide variation among the cat-folk runs smack up against an Elder Scrolls standard, which is the expectation that characters of any race can use all available arms and armor. We can deviate only so far from the humanoid standard before it becomes a problem when donning equipment.

Yeah, there are all kinds of interesting things going on in Elsweyr, actually--so far we've barely scratched the surface. We'll be going back there, for sure.


veritas723
sorry if this has been asked: (but i know others have posed this question)

any plans to have "x" specific dialog options.

some examples might be. Khajiit. or vampire/werewolf responses. quests that reflect your status as a vampire/werewolf?

Rob Chestney
You're the first one to ask that question today! We actually added personalized pc responses in many places in the game. Of course, I didn't personally write any vampire or werewolf specific lines, so maybe we didn't have enough of those, but we definitely did several for the various races. Of course, we would've liked to have even more. One thing I can say is that you'll see more of these type lines in future content.


PB101
Hi guys. Let me say I do love the story telling of ESO, but as a female gamer I would like to know why Queen Ayrenn doesn't have more of a commanding personality? I understand as the player, you are there to be the hero and save the day, yet she is the faction leader. Could she not have remained gorgeous and had a little less needy type personality?

Lawrence Schick
Not a commanding personality? But, she single-handedly created the Aldmeri Dominion out of whole cloth and sheer determination, forced herself as monarch upon the incredibly-conservative High Elves of Summerset, and forced the Altmer to intervene in Tamrielic affairs, much to their surprise.

Certain sapiarchs of the Crystal Tower who shall remain unnamed consider her a dangerous megalomaniac. But she's polite--very polite.

Michael Zenke
Ayrenn is a lady I'm very fond of. I understand everyone sees characters differently, but I feel like we tried to portray her as less needy than ... conflicted. :)

She's had a busy life for her not-that-many years, and the elements you explore with her (in Auridon especially) touch on how hard a time she has when interacting with the 'old guard' - Naemon being the best example of this group.

I hope that makes sense? I'm interested to hear more of your thoughts about her character.

PB101
A little Lyris type attitude injection maybe? I mean, I understand working through that she needs everyone to accept her leadership and support what she is building. It just seems she should be a little less polite and more sure of herself and her direction. A Queen all the little elf girls want to be, beautiful and in firm control.

Michael Zenke
I totally get what you're saying. For me it comes down to: Lyris is a battle-maiden. Ayrenn is (trying) to be a Queen.

I feel like it's down to her walking the line of diplomacy and expectations vs. who she really is.

Like, Ayrenn-from-five-years-before-ESO probably would have had a great night on the town with Lyris.

The Ayrenn you see in ESO has 'bigger picture' concerns. Much to her frustration.

PB101
Well, TY guys very much either way. All around, all 3 factions, it truly is a beautiful story and world to lose yourself in. I look forward to the future story to be told and hope to see some characters revisited. (Hint: a passel of half giant/ half bearded kids running around somewhere...LOL) Ty for your hard work!

Michael Zenke
Thank you for playing! :) And wanting to talk about our crazy elf queen.


sielingfan
Hey team, love everything, thanks for the work. I've recently finished up the AD zones, and it's left me with a big question..... Are there any plans to take us to Falinesti?

Also, is there anything you can spill regarding the plot of the new Black Marsh adventure zone?

Finally: Valinka Stoneheaver and Karamel Little-Leaf. I so want to believe they have a thing. Tell me I didn't imagine it!

Bill Slavicsek
Murkmire will definitely have Argonians in it.

Leamon Tuttle
And Hist.

Bill Slavicsek
We leave the relationship specifics of Valinka and Karamel up to your imaginations. But they certainly are friendly!


Steppinrazor_
Love the game - haven't stopped since launch. When is Madame Firi going to send me messages again :( Also... weapon dyes?

Zach Bush
Madame Firi is currently indisposed, but I certainly would like her to show up in future content!

Regarding weapon dyes, we've seen a lot of requests for them, and they're something we're considering. No details yet, though.

Allison Berryman
On the subject of Firilanya, I don't know when she'll send you messages, but you can catch up with her just a bit in the recent Loremaster's Archive she authored: A trader's eye for fashion Dream journal of Firilanya


LonePirate
The main quest line story in Shadowfen is exceptionally gruesome even though it does cement a tremendous amount of faction pride for EP and a seething hatred for AD. Who can I congratulate for creating/writing this quest line and how did it come to fruition?

-- BTW, I love Pacrooti's emails.

Zach Bush
Glad you enjoyed it. I did the fiction pass on Shadowfen's main quest line, but these things are always collaborations. I will pass along your compliments to the rest of the Shadowfen team!

The goal was to show that some are willing to do absolutely anything to win a war. Without going into spoiler territory, one of the clear inspirations was "Heart of Darkness," looking from the outside in.

Wynne McLaughlin
This one is please to hear that Pacrooti is loved. It makes his whiskers tingle. Pacrooti has been busy lately, learning to apply color to his armor. This one accidentally swallowed some ink. Pacrooti may have dyed a little inside.


myrrlyn
Given the Bretons' and Redguards' usual and stubborn streak of severe hatred towards Orcs, especially their penchant of perennially burning Orsinium, what went on behind the scenes politically in the two human provinces to even consider including the Orcs in the Covenant?

What made the Orcs trust the Bretons and Redguards enough to join?

Malacath is referred to consistently as Mauloch; will there be more information regarding the difference?
Is this merely linguistic drift over the centuries

Is Mauloch a different "aspect," if you will, of Malacath than the one worshipped in 3&4 era Tamriel?

And on a completely different note, where is Numidium and what is its physical status?

Dagoth Ur will not wrest the Heart of Lorkhan away from the Tribunal for quick search on UESP exactly 300 years. What's he up to at present? Is he alive?

I can't think of any other real questions. Hmmmmm...

How much do you guys follow the various fan communities?

Have you ever encountered fan works (such as things in /r/teslore 's Apocrypha section) you liked enough to consider including, or even merely referencing, in-game?

Rebecca Harwick
We are planning to explore the "what" of the Orcs joining the Daggerfall Covenant a bit more in upcoming content (Wrothgar). To vastly oversimplify, the Bretons and Redguards valued the Orcs' strength and wanted a buffer between them and the Pact, and the Orcs agreed because they got the chance to rebuild Orsinium.

Lawrence Schick
Re: backroom deals about the Orcs: Well, when you want to march on Cyrodiil, but much of your standing army is pinned down on your borders repelling Orcish raiders, it's not a bad idea to co-opt your enemies--and then make them your shock troops.

Re: Orcs trusting the Bretons and Redguards: No trust was involved. The Orcs just want to be able to rebuild Orsinium without it getting sacked and burned (again) by the Bretons and Redguards. They consider any alliance that sends most of the Breton and Redguard soldiers off to Cyrodiil a good deal.

Re: Malacath/Mauloch: Some Orcs in the Covenant have been deliberately referring to Malacath as Mauloch so as to sort-of whitewash the fact that they worship a Daedric Prince. What, Mauloch, a Daedric Prince? No, not a bit of it!

We'll go into much greater detail on Orcish religious practices in Wrothgar.

Dagoth Ur? Numidium? Never heard of them.

Re: fan communities: most of us lurk on the fan forums, to a greater or lesser degree. They can be very thought-provoking, certainly, but we're unlikely to actually come out and endorse anyone's theories. That's a pretty slippery slope we prefer to avoid.

Rob Chestney
The deal that really cemented the Covenant was during Ranser's War. Emeric had promised to marry Ranser's daughter, but then changed his mind and married Queen Maraya to establish an alliance with the Redguards. After Emeric's change of heart, Ranser was furious, attacked Stormhaven and eventually had his armies at the gates of Wayrest. The Redguards were too far away to help, so Emeric decided to approach the Orcs. So essentially, Emeric (and the Bretons) accepted an alliance with the Orcs to save his ass.

From the Orcs' perspective, they had been forbidden from returning to rebuild Orsinium for over a century. Emeric offered them the chance to do that if they joined the Covenant. Easy choice. That said, the Orcs aren't stupid. The Redguards and Bretons have sacked Orsinium at least twice in years past, so the terms of the treaty forbid Breton and Redguard troops from entering Wrothgar. When you get explore Wrothgar, you'll learn more about that.

Wynne McLaughlin
We try to follow fan communities as much as time will allow, and this particular sub reddit is my favorite. We share links all the time at the office!


Zylathas
I love questing in eso. Will we ever see new zones with lots of quests in the near future? So far lower craglorn was a letdown.

Rebecca Harwick
I like questing in ESO as well. We are planning Wrothgar to be a questing-focused zone much more in the vein of the zones already in the game. (Not group content like Craglorn.)


Decimuss
Hey, I'm curious why the rats of ESO are much tamer than their counterparts from other TES games. Is there a good lore explanation for that? :P https://elderscrolls.fandom.com/wiki/Rat_(Oblivion)

Leamon Tuttle
If I remember correctly, "rats" was incorrectly used interchangably with "skeevers", which are a wholely different species. It's an easy mistake for an impoverished sewer-dweller to make.

Lawrence Schick
Those big dangerous rats in the Imperial City Sewers are what they call Skeevers in Skyrim (and most of ESO). Same genus.


thrassoss
I really enjoyed both the Fighters Guild and Mage Guild storylines and I'm really hoping we see similar storylines around the Thieves Guild and Dark Brotherhood. But I'm wondering, is there any reason to not take my character down the road of a thieving, murdering vampire? Like maybe the possibility of a Stendarr's Order or Priest of Vivec or similar thing the road somewhere?

Michael Zenke
I'd argue each of us has to look inside ourselves as people and ask, "What makes me tick?"
Like, me, I save Valaste every time. Uncle Sheo's not all there, you know?


sielingfan
Thought of another question -- Who do I have to thank for Oda Wolf-Sister's secret admirer? Easily my favorite hidden gem in the game.

Bill Slavicsek
That would be me, and I think it was Content Designer Jason Barnes. For much of the material, a writer works hand in hand with a Content Designer.


griefmyst
What are your thoughts on fan-based lore? What would you suggest would be the best way to create a story that is "lore friendly" when there isn't much information available? (For example: Akaviri)

Thank you! :)

Lawrence Schick
Take your question over to the friendly people at the TESLore subreddit, where you will find a community of smart folks dedicated to fan-based lore speculation!


vanishinglex
Another question: I really enjoy the hireling mails, but i've reached the end of the new content for each of them for some time now. Are new hireling mails going to be authored soon?

Michael Zenke
Yes! And you may some returning faces ... or the relatives of old favorites. :)

Wynne McLaughlin
Thanks! We love doing hireling messages. They're like Tamrielic Tweets!

Defatank
Tacking onto this good question, What about randomly running into these NPC's that are doing all this collecting for us as we roam the world of Tamriel.... any possibility of that?

I think it would would be pretty cool to randomly see these NPC's out searching for materials as I explore :P

Wynne McLaughlin
There are issues with tracking where you are in their "story" and having them respond to you appropriately, but if we can swing it, I'd love to see Pacrooti and company make cameos in the game at some point.


veritas723
As a general question/comment:

Questing throughout ESO you encounter several NPCs who are either outright, or through the progression of a quest, discovered to be gay, or have same sex, or ...to a degree. trans-racial-sex romantic leanings.

Are these decisions part of a larger policy towards inclusion of gay friendly themes, is there some lore basis? or aspect in designing a quest or utilizing these themes to advance the story...

as far as me personally, I find it interesting and refreshing that such themes are added/included without any real fanfare or drama. That a char male NPC you encounter on a sea fairing vessel, might totally be into that hot dude also sailing with them, or a mixed up damsel might have conflicting feelings between her male suitor and female orc servant. adds a level of depth to the "human-ness" of the game world.

so on one hand, thanks for not shying away from this as an option, and on another, just a general question, for how these elements might find their way into the creative process?

(would also generally add, that I really appreciate the flowing narratives, the micro-arcs of each zone, how they flow into the next and faction quest/stories build throughout the zones, and how fighter/mage and or the main story quest line often times... is apparent in the larger game world. how interconnected and engaging the story elements and whatnot are. --general kuudos and thanks)

Michael Zenke
Thank you for this. It's really nice to hear this kind of support.

Wynne McLaughlin
We decided that, in Tamriel, sexual preference and same-sex relationships aren't a big deal, they're just part of life, just like in the real world. We also tried to walk a careful line to make sure that they weren't sensationalized. Our NPCs are very important to us, and we always try to respect them, even pantsless Nords.


TeijiSenpai
Two of my favourite characters in this game:

Lyranth - the most enthralling Dremora to ever grace anything and everything Naryu Virian - for obvious reasons, she's a super dame

When writing these characters, their stories and so on, two of these characters I trust will be recurring throughout the years as they're so great. Do you have expectations as to how well they'll be received?
How did you go about writing Lyranth and Naryu Virian? My favourite delicious contents. Did you have a goal in mind with them, curiously curious.

Ah! Also, I really, really loved the public dungeon quests where you'd have a choice at the conclusion of the quest there - the village of the lost, I've not yet finished that quest on my main as the really, really delicious choice at the conclusion as well as the dialogue that follows it, appears to have been removed. Can we expect more great choices for great, well written quests? Really great for nudging character development for my characters and so on, getting to know them better and so on.

Bill Slavicsek
Naryu came out of me and Jason Barnes (again) working closely together to create a cool character. We liked how she turned out so well that we kept looking for ways to get her back into the various stories. And I'm sure we'll see more of her in the future.

You always hope that characters will come alive, and usually the ones we like also turn out to be fan favorites. We tend to like the same things.

Lyranth was originally in another writer's zone (Zach Bush, I think) and then we brought her back in Coldharbour in the Tower of Lies quest (by Content Designer Janet Priblo and me). I found the hook to the character and just loved writing her dialogue.

Zach Bush
Glad you enjoyed Lyranth! I had a great time writing her in Shadowfen, and Bill Slavicsek did wonders with her in Coldharbour.

The goal for Lyranth was the same as with any character - make her interesting, compelling, and memorable. Also, do it in the first 20 words or less.


Dolla_bill_thrill
Did any of you write "The Dagger's Edge" quest content? I did this one last night and the brothers attempting to trap a harpy with a trap on the ground was pretty funny to me. The whole quest line was pretty humorous actually. :)

Bill Slavicsek
Glad you liked it! That's another one of the Jason Barnes/Bill Slavicsek productions. Had a lot of fun with Bumnog and Lord Diel.


queenayrenn
I'm coming back and asking for more answers :P Of course related to Ayrenn, who I'm sure you can tell is my favourite.

First off, are we ever going to find out about her past or is going to be one of those "the player chooses their own theory" type of things? I'd love a solid answer one day but deciding on what I think makes most sense is fun too.

Secondly, why did she have the Staff of Magnus? That entire questline was so sad and infuriating, I felt so bad for Naemon and Ayrenn both! But we never figure out where she got the staff from.

Lastly, are her connections to Vaermina foreshadowing something or am I looking into things too much? Vaermina terrorizes the Pact and Covenant both (and never the Dominion) and there's even a statue of Vaermina in Ayrenn's little area during the Circus of Cheerful Slaughter. I've picked up on it and it makes me very curious!

Lastly though, I have to say my praises for Ayrenn's character. She's one of, if not the most thought-provoking character for me in ESO, maybe even in TES as a whole. Her characterization, her story, it is all very rich and interesting!

Michael Zenke
Ayrenn had a really, really... really full life before coming back to the Isles. If she shows up again in the future I'd love to explain/explore some more of her back story. She's one of those characters, though, that you can imagine getting into almost any kind of trouble.

I'll let Lawrence touch on the staff. :D

As for Vaermina/Ayrenn, that's not something I had in mind specifically? But that's a very cool thread! I'll have to go back and read up on Vaermina's role in the game. It's one of those situations where the game is so big, everybody can't know all the pieces all the time.

And thank you, for that last bit. :) Love your Tumblr.


stanislav2
Hi, what do Ayrenn think about other Elven races - especially Ayleids?

Michael Zenke
She thinks they're misguided, generally. She's been all over the world and interacted with pretty much every culture and race on Nirn. The whole time, she's thinking to herself: imagine what this world could be if only it had the right leadership?

But in a not-dominating non-racist way. Despite the propaganda to the contrary.

She thinks the Ayleids have really pretty architecture.


Notorious_Junk
Any plans for Clockwork City and helping out my man, Sotha Sil?

Lawrence Schick
As I mentioned elsewhere, Sotha Sil (and Vivec) are very busy, and eventually we'll show you what they're busy AT. We've got big plans, see? Big plans.

Wynne McLaughlin
That would be a wonderful place to visit, wouldn't it?

Notorious_Junk
Don't be such a clock tease. Is it coming?

Wynne McLaughlin
Don't get wound up, now. Time will tell!


Ghostfig101
I just completed the quests in Deshaan last night. First by completing the main quest for the region, then picking up all the side quests. Many of the side quests seem to help lead up and establish a lot of the story in the region quest line.

What is the process and planning when writing a story line? How do you plan it for a whole region or across multiple regions?

I've absolutely been loving the writing, especially the Rivenspire story line, and can't wait to experience more of it in the upcoming updates.

Bill Slavicsek
Thanks. Deshaan and Rivenspire are both mine. Yes, we try to plan out the story in the whole zone and even into other zones. It helps that a single writer controls a zone, which allows us to add those connections and tidbits throughout, even if all of the Content Designers aren't aware of all the possible story connections.

One of my favorite parts of the job is finding those places where I can add a connection of some sort to make the zone feel like a real world.


veritas723
Along the lines of the "write the caption for this screenshot" contest/promotion (which is great btw)
any other plans for additional ways for players to contribute?

Gina Bruno
The Tales of the Dead contest that recently ended is actually a series, so there will be more of those in the future that you can participate in! We also are always looking for stories and fanfic to share in the Tamriel Chronicle.

Allison Berryman
On the topic of TotD, I helped read through the entries and can't wait for the next one. There were some really awesome submissions, and it was hard to narrow them down.


Notorious_Junk
Why in the lore are Argonians said to be masters of guerrilla warfare and worshippers of Sithis, but then their racial abilities don't reflect that? Why did they decide to ignore that part of their lore/culture?

Also, any plans for Sithis in storylines?

Lawrence Schick
Well, in a game, the lore supports the gameplay, rather than the other way around. Racial abilities are largely driven by PvP balance issues. Because game.

As for Sithis: the void is inescapable, and undermines the vain attempts of all mortals to prove otherwise. Hail Sithis!


Flatogeo
Hi. As you can probably tell I'm a big fan of the Ayleids and I like that you've finally given them a face. I've also noticed that quite a bit of new information about the Ayleids has been created for ESO and I was wondering if there are any plans to add substantially to what little is actually known about them? Or do you plan to keep them relatively mysterious? On a less elven point, I'd like to know if you plan to finish any of the previously created alphabets or add to the existing languages. Thanks!

Leamon Tuttle
We've expanded on Orcish. The Iron Orcs of Craglorn cleave to the old words more than most.

Lawrence Schick
Re: the Ayleids, we plan to continue to add to what little is known about them AND keep them mysterious. They're a never-ending deep well of weirdness, and we love that.


Decimuss
Cliff Racers. Any comments on them, whether we'll be fighting them in the future? Or any other flying monsters which seem absent from ESO so far :P
Thanks for all the answers so far :)

Leamon Tuttle
We have cliff racers in ESO, but they largely keep to themselves. Look up. Might be tough to see them since they fly so high. Reminds me of a song.


lady_freyja
Hello. :)

First, I really love what you have made with the lore and the story of ESO. And of course I've a LOT of questions. But here a few :

The three guys in the trailers (the Nord barbarian, the Altmer wizard and the Breton ninja), are they the heroes of each faction ? And what are their names ?

I'm a bit lost about the Thalmor organization. Eldenroot is the capital, but where is the "Thalmor Inner Council"? What's the role of the Camoran King, the Mane and the Sylvenar inside the Thalmor? And why there is "embassies" in Eldenroot if it was the capital and there is a Council? It's odd. In short : how the politics works in the Dominion?

Will we see other "good" Reachmen (apart the witch with the Beldama)? I love these people, and don't like to systematically killing them in SKyrim/ESO. :(

And... that's all for the moment. Oh, and I want to thanks the writer(s) about the Redguard (culture/religion/history) and witches, it's too cool.

Lawrence Schick
Re: the Thalmor in ESO. As a tool for managing her new Dominion, Ayrenn took an existing-but-minor Altmeri council and elevated it to the status of representative forum and managing bureau. Really, it's Ayrenn's personal tool for managing the alliance's affairs: the "Inner Council" are her hand-picked advisors. That council also includes King Aeradan Camoran of the Bosmer and Lord Gharesh-ri of the Khajiiti, who she trusts; the rest of the treethanes and cat-lords who are "members" of the Thalmor are there largely as figureheads.

Embassies are just office buildings for diplomats.

Michael Zenke
The Eyes (Raz, Cariel, etc.) sit off to the side. The Council is her political tool, the big hammer of legislature. The Eyes are her scalpel, when you need something (or someone) removed from the body of the Alliance.

Wynne McLaughlin
The three guys in the trailer are named W, T and F. But seriously, the incredibly talented folks at BLUR Studios created them, and the characters are intentionally unidentified. My guess is that they are intended to represent kick-*ss player archetypes. They're definitely not characters you'd find in ES lore.


Dolla_bill_thrill
Hope another question is ok (doing this while I can on my lunch break). What quest line was personally the most satisfying to design? What were some of the most challenging aspects of designing quests for ESO?

Michael Zenke
I had the pleasure of writing the Mages and Fighters Guilds, and they were extremely fun to see play out. There was a long string of designers that worked on that content, and collaborating with them to see it delivered in its final state was awesome.

Corrie Treadway and Jason Bolte are the two most guilty. If you like the Circus of Cheerful Slaughter, that's a Bolte special.

Bill Slavicsek
For me, I try to find the hook in each quest that appeals to me personally, as that helps me really get into the writing. One that stands out is the main story in Rivenspire (with Content Designers Jason Barnes, Janet Priblo, William Erdman, and Joseph Mason). I think the story was impactful, funny, sad, and had some great characters and moments that carried across the entire zone.

Rebecca Harwick
The gameworld and lore for ESO are massive. So communicating as a team, coordinating across quests and across zones so that we don't step on each other's toes is always a challenge. We also want to be as true to what's been established in lore while also finding ways to tell fresh, new stories within it.

For me, the Wilderking questline in Greenshade was both very challenging and satisfying because it was setting up this new twist on existing lore elements, and it took a lot of revisions to get the balance right. We wanted to do something strange with Bosmer lore while still holding true to what had been previously established.

sielingfan
It worked. Greenshade was fantastic.

Rebecca Harwick
Thanks!


tolomer
Thanks for answering so many questions, this is so great! I really just have one, as most have been addressed already:
Do you guys plan to implement the goblins in any other ways? I love them, and after seeing they're super-upgraded models, and more mer/man-ish postures, I can't help but hope they'll serve larger roles.

Bill Slavicsek
Have you played the Lady Laurent/Stibbons goblin quest in Rivenspire? It has some great goblin moments.


factory_666
Just wanted to say thank you for excellent writing for ESO whether it's dialog, books, characters or integrating the story of ESO with pre-existing TES lore in general. Strong writing makes ESO that much more enjoyable.

Within your team are there designated specialists for each Alliance or even Race that act as go-to people when it comes to their respective factions?

"Hi, I work as a Khajiit Associate Manager at Zenimax Online Studios".

Or is everyone a "master of all trades"?

Allison Berryman
I want my title to be changed to Khajiit Associate Manager.

Bill Slavicsek
We learn what we need to know for the stories in our zones. But we certainly know who to ask when we need advice or ideas!

Michael Zenke
We're each embedded on specific content teams. So we become 'experts' in the content we're working on at the time.

At the end of the day we each ended up working a lot within specific alliances though, just by how things broke down. Zach Bush, Rebecca, and I had a big influence on the Dominion, for example.

Leamon Tuttle
A lot of it is informed by what you worked on in the past. For example, someone who spent a lot of time writing in Alik'r probably has a stronger understanding of Redguard culture than someone who didn't. We do a lot of research when putting stories and zones together. Of course, when all else fails, Lawrence knows everything.

Wynne McLaughlin
One thing our team did with major recurring characters like Ayrenn, Raz, Cadwell, etc. was to assign a single writer as their "voice." That way, even if a different content team used them in a quest arc, that writer would do a full pass on that character's dialog to ensure a consistent and appropriate personality. I was very happy with the way this worked out, as they turned out to be some of our most beloved NPCs.


veritas723
The thing i'm absolutely dying to know:

In stros M'kai there's a note/bottle: last will of Roland Volcy

I can't tell you how many alts i've made. but every time i do, i spend hours running around Stros M'kai trying to find if there's an answer to this riddle.

the text of the note gives clues, (i've tried all manner of permutations of the name lily, the swords mentioned, the jailer friend who smuggled the paper to Roland, etc etc etc) but there's not enough to figure out who his wife/lover/son was/were, and hence where the treasure he stole was put. [that the note is found in a bottle suggests the note never got to his lover... so the treasure might still be out there]

I've had long conversations with other players, who've also been bitten by the Last will bug.

any chance you could comment on if this was meant as anything more than a bit of cast off "flavor" or if there is an answer to the mystery, and if not... maybe be a great thing to back burner for future addition

Rebecca Harwick
Hm. It seems like someone must have already beat you to the punch and collected the treasure ... ;)


hawkleberryfin
Are there any characters that you or someone else wrote that you would like to see more of in future content?
Has there ever been a character that was written that you weren't particularly excited about, but then later after hearing the VO it changed your mind?

Bill Slavicsek
The Content Designer and the Writer usually have a specific voice in mind when we create a major character. Then we often get to work with our VO people to get just the right voice to make that character come alive. So, I haven't experienced any moments where an actor made a character more exciting, but I'm certainly happy that so many good actors were available to give voice to the characters I helped create.

Michael Zenke
I would pay good money to play Naryu: the ESO spinoff. :) Bill does good work.

I'm fond of Raz and Ayrenn, but honestly I want to write more of Cariel. That lady is awesome.

To answer your second question, there's a bit part character in the Fighters Guild Council, a guy named General Flaminius Auctor. Wrote him, liked him okay ... and then they cast freaking Troy Baker to do his voice. :D He nailshim. So good.

Leamon Tuttle
That's a really great question. VO can really make or break a character. I can't think of any character that I wasn't crazy about that was turned around by VO. But there were a number of characters that I liked that were made even better by talented actors.


Ryche
Will we learn more about the Dwemer and their history? Have there been any discussions on the dwarves and how to bring more of their story into ESO?

Bill Slavicsek
Not sure if we'll ever learn the truth about the Dwarves, but Kireth and Raynor are going to keep on digging!

Lawrence Schick
There will be more lore forthcoming about the Dwemer, in dribs and drabs, but they were a strange and hard-to-understand people. Much of what modern (ESO-era) Tamrielans think they know about the Dwarves is wrong or incomplete.


phil_hinds
Will any Kamal/other Akaviri races be included in further additions to ESO?

Lawrence Schick
That's under discussion, actually. But we don't want to make everything that's mysterious in Nirn un-mysterious.


stanislav2
Hi, will Serana be in ESO?

Michael Zenke
Serana is, IIRC, already in her sleep-tube by the time ESO kicks off.


TheDrunkenNord
Hi. I am very impressed with a lot of the lore in this game, and with most of the cities. Riften and Windhelm having (by and large) the same layout as in Skyrim was a very big plus. BUT I was really, really disappointed when going into Deshaan and entering Mournhold for the first time. In the lore, it is described as a walled-off "city within a city", surrounded on all sides by the city of Almalexia. The closest parallell in the real world would be Beijing, and its Forbidden City, I guess. Or Rome and the Vatican City. And what did I see? No trace of the city of Almalexia anywhere. Mournhold being less than 1/3 of what it should be, compared to Tribunal. No palace, even though it had one in the first era. And suddenly there were multiple gates in and out of the city, in Tribunal there only was one. Why this huge departure in lore, when Riften and Windhelm looked a lot similar to how they were in Skyrim? Is there any hope of Mournhold becoming more like how it is described in lore, and how it should be based on Tribunal, in the future?

Lawrence Schick
We gave a lot of thought to this, actually. Early Mournhold was largely destroyed by Mehrunes Dagon at the end of the First Era; the city you see in ESO has been gradually rebuilt from that time. After the Interregnum, Almalexia commissions and has built the greater city you see in Tribunal, partly as a reaction to the rise of Tiber Septim.

In practical game terms, big cities in MMOs are kind of a pain in the neck for players to get around in. For that reason Mournhold is as big as we need it to be and no bigger.


IceFireWarden
What are the tips, tricks, and layouts on how you all like to individually write the lore of the game? What are your favorite games in the series? Your favorite in-game book or character, and if you could explore any area of the TES Universe what would it be?

Michael Zenke
For me it's not about the lore, it's about the characters. The people you talk to in the different pieces of content aren't stories on a page, they're ... people. If you can relate to the people you talk to (no matter how weird their circumstances may be) you'll eventually relate to the lore.I love Skyrim, but I played Oblivion more than I think it's socially acceptable to say. Thieves Guild storyline is especially a favorite of mine.

I think I'm a little out of shape to go adventuring in Nirn, but if our Auridon is any benchmark that place is beautiful. Credit to the C C & C Worldbuilding Factory: Cody Wright, Colin Greenhalgh, and Charlie Shenton.

Allison Berryman
I started playing TES games with Morrowind, and I don't think I want to know the combined /played for all of them. I probably can't pick a favorite game in the series.

As far as lore books go, I won't commit to it being my very favorite, but I've always loved 'A Dance in Fire.' There are so many that I love, though - I'm a big fan of all the more obscure, ancient, and unusual fragments, too.

Oh, and for exploring: I get a thrill any time we glimpse of a realm of Oblivion. Always want to see more of them.

Leamon Tuttle
I think an understanding of real-world history helps enormously. I constantly refer to real historical events and people for inspiration. I really loved Skyrim, personally. As for characters, I'm a huge Bumnog fanboy. And if we got a crack at any place? I'd love to go to Hircine's Hunting Grounds.

Zach Bush
It helps to have a Loremaster to answer questions! Beyond that, Leamon is exactly right. Understanding the real world is incredibly helpful when creating a fictional world.


queenayrenn
I asked for favourite characters, so now I'm going to ask for the characters that made you saddest. For me, it is a tie between Verandis and Naemon. Their respective stories were just so well done.

Bill Slavicsek
I felt particularly bad for the Naked Nord.

Oh yeah, and for poor Verandis.

Rebecca Harwick
Stibbons.

Michael Zenke
Bump for Stibbons. Poor bastard.

Leamon Tuttle
Stibbons by a mile. He needs a pay raise.

Bill Slavicsek
You know, I always got the sense that Stibbons was exactly where he wanted to be.

Zach Bush
Aranias.


mojonation1487
Hey, so, if you need any writers for Lyg material, I'm available. Okay? :)

IceFireWarden
Darn it Mojo! :P

But Yeah, This. Them Echmer Say Hello Too...

Lawrence Schick
I thought you were supposed to keep Mojo in line, IFW?


ladynerevar
Aaah! I took a long lunch and appear to have managed to miss this. In case you guys are still taking questions:

Is there anything you guys would like to see from the Imperial Library to make your jobs easier? Or just as fans?

Any area in the Mundus that you don't ever want to see in game?

Team Cinnabar or Team Phrastus?

Michael Zenke
It's just me, but I love character based stuff. IL has some very detailed individual pages, but some kind of pages showing interlinks and relationships between notable characters? That's good stuff.

The breeding pits of Pyandonea. Ulgh.

Team Phrastus all the way.

Lawrence Schick
Yeah, get all the text from the "Hero's Guides" up online ASAP, that'd be great!

There's a basement in a tavern under Ebonheart that I never, ever want to see again.

Oh, why choose? I'd love to have them both over to dinner.


TheDrunkenNord
Do you have any co-operation with the creators of the single-player TES games, with regards to lore from ESO showing up in a future TES, and such?

Lawrence Schick
I'm personally in regular communication with Kurt Kuhlmann and Bruce Nesmith at BGS. We talk about that sort of thing, but really, whatever those guys decided to use or not use from ESO in future single-player titles is entirely their prerogative.


phil_hinds
Is the Ordained Receptacle the Kamal were seeking the Eye of Magnus?

Lawrence Schick
Not telling. (Yet.)


Notorious_Junk
Dark Brotherhood and Thieves Guild quests, are they epic and how far along in writing them are you? Any teasers?

Zach Bush
(Say nothing)

Michael Zenke
All the epics ever! We have a firm concept in mind for the stories we want to tell, but the dark veil of night hides all other things I'd want to say about this.

Bill Slavicsek
They can get a little touchy about such things.


queenayrenn
One last question before bed as it is way too late here. The spy groups, the Hidden Armigers, the Ring of Daggers and the Eyes of the Queen seem to have a history with each other. Can we expect anything about them in the future? Do we get to see Raz flirt with the ladies some more? Will there be more exploding buildings on top of people? I must know!

Michael Zenke
If we can swing it? I love the alliance intel agencies. They're the result of collaboration between me, Bill, and content designers Joseph Mason and Wade-Hahn Chan.

I wanna find out more about the Ring, man. Those guys are scary.

Lawrence Schick
I'll just add that, from a story-telling standpoint, having those alliance intelligence groups around is very convenient-- very convenient indeed. I think you can expect to see more of them.


i_am_milk
1 - Of all the characters in ESO, who was the most fun to develop/write for?
2 - Which character would you most like to expand on in a future update?

Zach Bush
1 - Wow, tough one. Um ... it's a toss-up between Dringoth, The Green Lady in Mistral, and Prince Naemon. Oh, and M'aiq the Liar!
2 - [Spoilers]

Wynne McLaughlin
For me, Abnur Tharn. I love that crotchety old curmudgeon! And the interplay between the companions (not surprisingly inspired by the companions of the Mass Effect trilogy) was ridiculously fun to write.

Lyris: "It's amazing what we can accomplish when we all work together." Abnur: "That's uncharacteristically optimistic of you Titanborn. I may have it embroidered on a pillow." :)

Rob Chestney
For me, it's an obscure one, but Throne Keeper Farvad in the Alik'r Desert.

Lawrence Schick
I love that guy.


TheDrunkenNord
When (if) all of Tamriel is covered in ESO - is there any chance of seeing any of the other continents, such as Akavir, Pyandonea, Yokuda?

Leamon Tuttle
Yokuda? Hope you bring a snorkel and some slaughterfish repellent!

ladynerevar
Follow up to this, actually - ESO seems to be treating Yokuda as completely, wholly gone, sunk, underwater, etc. But we've got a map of the remaining island chain at the turn of the 3rd Era, ESA:Redguard prominently features recent Yokudan imigrants as main story characters, and people in TESIV:Oblivion talk about trading with the continent.

Have the people of Tamriel not yet (re-)established the connection, or is your regular citizen (or even your regular scholar) not aware that the continent is still around?

Lawrence Schick
Fair questions! But is that island chain on the Redguard map showing the remnants of Yokuda, or Yokuda as it was said to be before the cataclysm? The Second-Era scholars of Tamriel disagree on that point, and so far have been unable to definitively settle it.

However, it is certainly the case that during the Interregnum, there doesn't seem to be any sea-trade going back and forth in that direction. A telling datum, but not conclusive.


neileusmaximus
Will we ever see children in tamriel?

Bill Slavicsek
There are Argonian eggs all over the place!


SanguineThought
Do you think that ES franchise will eventually progress into a more modern time period? I think the opportunity to advance the magic/tech into a magic/steampunk or cyberpunk or future tech/steampunk/magic fusion is completely unexploited.

Also, what is the best place for ES lore/cannon, and what lore do you have access to that we don't?

Bill Slavicsek
We have access to all the stuff in Lawrence's head.


stanislav2
Hi, will we see some Snow Elves?

Lawrence Schick
In the Second Era, as far as the peoples of Tamriel are concerned, the Snow Elves are extinct, or were even never more than Nord legends.


Voryn
Oh! Almost forgot, is there any chance we will see Pyandonea or more Maormer lore in the future? Maybe bits on their theology, or more information on their sorcery or early history?

Lawrence Schick
Could happen. Those bastards just won't leave the southern coasts of Tamriel alone.

Michael Zenke
Arr! Elf Pirates ahoy Captain! Batten down the hatches, and make ready for sea serpents!

(Seriously, how great is Seaside Sanctuary?)


Cyclenophus
I want to thank you all for being here, and for the wonderful work you've done on ESO. I've plugged many hours into playing the game, and into uploading the books over at the Imperial Library. (We recently completed our collection, at least thus far!) [Hooray for shameless plugs.]

My question involves the organization that will someday be renamed the Blades. There is quite a bit of lore known on the Akaviri Dragonguard of the Second Era from existing sources, and we get a glimpse of Cloud Ruler Temple under siege by a Dark Anchor in the Cyrodiil pvp zone in ESO content released thus far.

Are there any plans to involve the Dragonguard in future content? I can think of one particular reference I'm excited about. The Remanada mentions a group of questing knights led by one "Chevalier Renald" who protected Tamriel from Evil and sought out the Dragonborn during the Interregnum. If ever there was a time for a heroic knight it would be during the Planemeld event. Will we perhaps meet Renald and his friends soon? Thanks again for your time.

Lawrence Schick
Good questions! I am actually ALL OVER the Chevalier Renald stuff (so cool!), and hope to incorporate it into future content.

The rise of the Blades from the ashes of the Dragonguard is also pretty much top-of-mind for us. Eventually that story will be told, but it's important, and the right venue hasn't offered itself yet.

Oh, and congrats on getting all those books up on TIL!

Sordak
well there goes an interesting question as well.

Since you said you wont touch akavir before bethesda does, would Chevalier Renald be an exception to that rule?

Lawrence Schick
Maybe.


ladyswillmart
Oh! I do have another question. It's very obscure, so hold on to your mittens: In the Reaper's March quest "A Traitor's Luck", after she beats up Agent Seyran, Cariel belts out..."That was for Saronor!", followed by a rude word not suitable for a family viewing audience. Now, I'm assuming Saronor was some companion or cohort of Cariel's (likely involving a lot of drinking). But in any case, what happened to poor old Saronor to warrant such a dust-up? (I really want to see more with the Eyes, in general!)

Alright, that one was totally off the wall, so here's a more rational one: Why do we encounter Prince Naemon in a block of ice in the final Coldharbour quest? My memory fails me a lot, but I don't remember him having much of a connection to Molag Bal. His story was really tragic to me, and I found it interesting that he came to such a bad end while Estre got a bit of a redemption arc. Which I LOVED, by the way!

(...why was Estre so much TALLER at the Cliffs of Failure?)

Michael Zenke
You guys are awesome.

The Three Banners War is old enough that Cariel saw action in Cyrodiil, and became fast friends with another Bosmer named Saronor. They eventually became romantically involved. I want to leave the details to your imagination, but the last encounter between Cari and Seyran ended up with Cariel's lover dead. Hence, what you see at Pa'alat.

Naemon is basically one of the 'big bad guys you might have killed' and that Big Bal is keeping around for cosmic chew-toy status.

RottenDeadite
"chew-toy status"

Oh boy, that conjures an image.

Zach Bush
Chew-toy and occasional loofah.


JamieAubrey
What was it like writing lines for Cadwell and Razum-Dar ?

Bill Slavicsek
Cadwell was a dream come true! We knew who the actor was from the beginning, so when Wynne asked if I wanted to write some of his lines, I jumped at the chance.

Michael Zenke
For Raz: Have you ever had a friend who like, knew he was really cool? And everybody would invite him over to parties? And he was just like, the most happening dude ever? And you went with him to the parties but you had to just hang around and say stuff like "Uh, Raz is over there." when they came up asking for your friend?

It was like that only with hairballs and lots of mane dye.

Wynne McLaughlin
As a Monty Python nerd from way back, writing for John Cleese was one of the high points of my career. And even though I did a final pass on his dialog throughout the game, there were huge amounts of hilarious dialog written for him by Bill Slavicsek and the content designers of the Coldharbour zone (Janet Priblo, Chris Casiano, Jason Barnes among others) that I barely had to touch. Everybody just seemed to "get" him.

Zach Bush
For Raz: "Hey Zenke, cool character you made there. Now I'm going to write him into an earlier zone and try not to break the whole character. It's cool, right?"

Michael Zenke
Yeah, man. No problem. Hey, can I include some super-backstory intensive stuff for Naemon in Auridon? Get him in for some cameos? Great, great. Don't worry, I won't hurt him.

Rebecca Harwick
And now I'm going to write him, but he's going to be magically disguised as Queen Ayrenn, okay?

Wynne McLaughlin
As you know, the line you wrote for that scene about him needing to step into the other room and 'um... look at something' is one of my favorite Raz lines, Rebecca!

Michael Zenke
https://img1.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20120219210424/meme/images/a/af/HD_Rage_Guy_v2.png


phil_hinds
Will we see a nod to the Echmer (/u/IceFireWarden 's baby) in a future addition to ESO, or maybe even theTsaesci Blood Pheasants?

Lawrence Schick
I totally want to dine on a fine roast Tsaesci blood pheasant on a bed of baby scathecraw, with a Kamal Screaming Pumpkin for dessert.

The Echmer theory stuff is a lot of fun, but I don't see where we'd use it. Sorry, IFW!


IceFireWarden
What are some cool ideas you guys would like to explore in Adventure Zones? Will get any hints towards the rise of Tiber Septim or anything related with the Red Jewel of Conquest and Emperor Zero?

If you could be any Daedric Prince for a day, who would it be?

Leamon Tuttle
Hermaeus Mora, no question. Near infinite knowledge totally makes up for the weird amorphous tentacles.

Rebecca Harwick
Near infinite knowledge isn't all it's cut out to be, trust me. I think Sheogorath clearly has the most fun.

IceFireWarden
I bet Sanguine and Sheogorath have the most outrageous parties.

Lawrence Schick
They do ... and they never invite Malacath. It makes him SO MAD.


Notorious_Junk
Anything involving the Snow Elves in the making?

Lawrence Schick
As answered below, in the Second Era, as far as the peoples of Tamriel are concerned, the Snow Elves are nothing but a Nord legend. Like Dragons!


madmatttt
How many pizzas a week do you guys require to provide such good content? I imagine the owner of the local pizzeria was able to save up for a boat from your purchases.

Bill Slavicsek
I prefer filet mignon ...

Michael Zenke
We tend to do Thai every Thursday, and there's an Indian place near here I really like.

We had a decent pizza place nearby, but they were shut down for reasons-frankly-I-don't-need-to-know-about.

Wynne McLaughlin
Sweetrolls dusted with Moon Sugar, and lots of coffee.

Rebecca Harwick
Beer. The answer is beer.


RottenDeadite
I have a question about the Fragmentae Abyssum Hermaeus Morus. Can you translate:
AE HERMA MORA ALTADOON PADHOME LKHAN AE AI

Because I got no ideas.

Rebecca Harwick
I could, but then you would lose your mind, and I don't want to be responsible for that.

Lawrence Schick
Yeah, I wrote that book, and I'm still on special medications as a result. Don't go there, son.

Wynne McLaughlin
Rebecca wins best AMA answer! :)


phil_hinds
Are there any plans to add the Sload to ESO or any additional lore to the race?

Lawrence Schick
We love the Sload! We originally planned to have them in the game at launch, and I wept actual buckets when they ended up deferred. The Sload are bound to come shambling onto the shores of Tamriel at some point, if I have anything to say about it (which I may not, alas)! We shall see.

Wynne McLaughlin
I always thought of them as the "Hutts" of Tamriel. I'd love to see their slime trails make an appearance.

Michael Zenke
Somebody down the line asked about Adventure Zone ideas. This is just me and nobody else saying this, but I think Pyandonea would be an amazing place to explore.
Just, yeah. No quests about Sload reproduction.


ladynerevar
Because I can't stop myself:

Can we get an official word on Argonian reproductive biology? Is Myths and Legends of the Hist correct, and Argonians are born/hatch sex-less, and then grow the appropriate organs after licking the Hist Tree? Is Mark Nelson's ancient post about Argonian reproduction being dependent on the will of the Hist still true? There's a brief summary of all sources here.

Lawrence Schick
We will address this further in Murkmire. The only thing I'll say at this point is that there's more than one answer to this question, more than one way it can work. The Argonians are deeply, deeply weird.


Relas_Aryon
Where is the city of Almalexia in this time period?

Lawrence Schick
Not built yet. Early Mournhold was largely destroyed by Mehrunes Dagon at the end of the First Era, and the greater city you see in Tribunal will be built later by Almalexia as a reaction to the rising greatness of Tiber Septim.


Sordak
Couple of questions, mostly gonna go about Blackmarsh here since i only finished the EP zones and we already know a lot about Skyrim and Morrowind.

The ghost snake in stonefalls, its an Argonian aspect of sithis isn't it? It looks like the Ashlanders in question found an ancient Argonian site of spiritual recognition (doesn't look like anyone actually worships sithis, or would want to for that matter)

About Murkmire: The "Argonian Behemoths" , are they literally Argonians? The post Oblivion lore would support that. Or are they Argonians in the sense obeingng creatures from Argonia? And what about the Naga, are they still a subrace of Argonians or a species of their own? (or is there even a difference in those two things)

When did the supposed ancient Argonian civilization end? it would obviously have to have been before the Reman Empires "conquest" of the province.

Id love some to hear some answers from you folks.

Lawrence Schick
I don't want to reveal spoilers for Murkmire, so I'll just say that the Argonians are far more various and variable than the Dryskins think they are. Argonian history is actually quite complex, and there's no single "Argonian civilization" -- there are, and have been, many.

Stay moist, Sordak!


Ditju
The DC General Seirien was responsible for the destruction of Bleakrock (a settlement without military power) and his forces raped and killed innocents in stonefalls. Would Highking Emeric have objected at these acts or wouldn't he have mind?

Michael Zenke
Great question!

Serien was let loose on Stonefalls in part because he was a loose cannon in the Covenant military. I don't think we ever reference anything like sexual assault, but he has a very definite 'scorched earth' policy.

And as you see Fort Virak, his first loyalty isn't really to the Covenant. He's a Worm!


itchy-rat
are you gonna go more into the lore behind the Nighingales in ESO

Lawrence Schick
The Nightingales belong to the Fourth Era, and aren't around at the time of ESO. Sorry!

itchy-rat
but according to the in game books (biography of barenziah) Drayven Indoril is a nightingale, and that is before the fourth era

Lawrence Schick
Umm... that's a different kind of nightingale. More of a, shall we say, personal escort.


heystreethawk
Something that I think must be very hard -- as evidenced by the fact that almost nobody pulls it off -- is to make the smaller quests engaging, memorable, and to some extent, feel genuinely important regardless of what might actually be at stake. You can't be expected to save the world all the time, and 80% of the quests in almost every RPG are going to be these little slice-of-life plots; despite that, most games still don't manage to make you care about them, and ESO does. I'm really impressed by the fact that your team makes this happen, and I think that it's one of ESO's most unique features.

I was wondering if there were any specific principles or techniques you folks used to achieve this result -- was it something intentional, something you had to maintain awareness of, or was it just a byproduct of your storytelling styles?

Bill Slavicsek
I think I can safely say that our team of writers consists of talented and committed professionals who set out to do the best possible work we could with a property we all loved, and I think that shows in the finished work. Speaking for my zones, all of the people involved, from the lead and the content designers to the world builders and artists, always sought to do something good and unexpected. And even with the small quests, the ones that had only a few steps to them, we tried to make the characters memorable in one way or another so that even those "slice of life plots" as you called them had some heart and soul. In the end, we just tried to tell good stories. I'm glad that most of you think we succeeded!


phil_hinds
Is there an 'official' name for the large isle that sits in the Topal Bay between Cyrodiil and Black Marsh?

The folks over at /r/tamrielscholarsguild have christened it Sunlock, but are there any plans to include it in ESO?

Lawrence Schick
We've been referring to it informally as Topal Isle, but I don't believe that's cropped up in-game yet.


RottenDeadite
You know what? Okay. I've got a really weird one.

Most, if not all of the TES Lore nerds were quite excited to find out that ESO spelled out in no uncertain terms that water and memory are one and the same.

How would this affect Dreugh, a sentient race that spends nearly its entire life under water?

Is there a connection with the rumor that the Dreugh have "leaked" over from a previous Kalpa?

Rob Chestney
I'm glad you liked that. It was a fun piece to write. Keep in mind, however, that fact was asserted by a Dremora Herma-Mora cultist. This is Elder Scrolls, so every "truth" is bounded by perspective.


kedz54
Are we going to see more from Sheogorath? Definitely my favorite nutjob.

Michael Zenke
What was it Uncle Sheo said? "Until next time!"

Sounds like a threat to me. Or a promise. Your choice.

Zach Bush
Actually, you're Choice.


trentish
Writing VO is tough! What was the VO pipeline like? How did it affect your writing process?

What's it like working with the infamous Zenke? He's so dreamy!

Michael Zenke
I'm glad you asked, person I have never met before. Like everything on a game with this many moving parts, it involves a lot of talking and collaboration. We worked closely with Alex Horn, Becky Ichnoski, Brad Derrick, and the rest of the audio team to make sure we were hitting deadlines and dotting the I's for them. We ended up doing a lot of weird stuff. Like, a LOT. So talking to the audio team becomes important when you're doing like "Ghost Ayrenn" vs. "Real Ayrenn" and what the hell does that sound like. And oh yeah, Sheogorath has to perform this way and Valaste is going nuts over here and etc, etc, etc.

Listen, listen. I'm great. I know. But that's just weird in a public forum. Guy I have never spoken to before in my life.

Bill Slavicsek
Zenke, I know, right! I shared an office with him for the first couple of months after I joined the company, and he was just the Khajiit's meow!


sielingfan
GAH -- I forgot my most important question, hoping someone catches this (if you're not a ZOS writer, you can still answer if you want). I love the understated plots that are found in props and scraps of paper in the delves all across the world -- do you have a favorite delve story?

Michael Zenke
There's a cave in Reaper's March about this Moon Priest who basically shackled a Dro-m'Athra to himself. He entered the cave and meditated a bunch to keep it contained. He's the boss, of course, and when you fight him the Drom pops out. It's a sad ending to a story told in those notes.

Bill Slavicsek
There's a crypt in Rivenspire where you follow a ghost and find her sword. The book tells the tale of this long-dead hero and you have to return the weapon to her descendant in Shornhelm. I thought that one was pretty well imagined. I'm also fond of the letter in a cave in Eastmarch that connects to the barmaid in the Sober Nord. That one choked me up when I put it together.


Datsyukia
Hey guys, would you mind describing the writing process? How does a quest go from an idea to being in game? Do you guys all sit around a table and throw stuff around? Does every writer have the same level of authority to write a quest? Just a general outline of how it works would be great. Thanks for such a great game guys!

Michael Zenke
I described this in a little more detail in a post from Eor75, so I hope you can find that for a more complete answer.

As for authority, all the writers report to the leads of their content teams and ultimately to Wynne. ESO is a collaborative effort, and writing especially requires a lot of hands to make it work.

So we work with the designers to make the story right on an individual content piece level, the leads of the teams to make the zones work right, and check in with Wynne and Lawrence to make sure the stories fit into the game as a whole.


Sathevus_Pharen
I don't have any good question to you guys, but if you ever see Brad Derrick, please tell that guy I am literally in love with him. The soundtrack is really good, and all those musical references to Morrowind and Oblivion themes bring endless joy of nostalgia.

Brad Derrick
/lurkmodeoff Thanks so much! I am literally stoked that you are literally in love with me! :) I appreciate the kind words... /lurkmodeon

Michael Zenke
If you ever get to see him in person, make sure to check out his eyes. They're dreamy!

Also, Brad's amazing. As a co-worker. I mean.

Sathevus_Pharen
Seriously, thank you so much for an amazing soundtrack! I hope to see your good work continued on this game and hear some new great musical pieces someday :)

Brad Derrick
Yeah, I'll be sneaking some new music in from time to time. ;) And Zenke's right...my eyes are dreamy! :P

Gina Bruno
swoon


PPLB
The official time is out, but I'm still going to give this a go fingers crossed;

I started playing the elder scrolls games from Morrowind on. I have always liked the stories they came up with. The same goes for ESO. It really does feel like an elder scrolls game. I love you guys for that <3 ( Because honestly; I was shocked when I heard the next game was going to be an MMORPG. Got to say; it's not all that bad :p )

I love reading these AMA's. The time and effort into communicating with us, the big fans and loyal elder scroll fans is amazing and really appreciated. ( I guess it doesn't really matter if you'r a loyal fan, but it did make it sound good ) It's especially nice to read, because it really does give me a feeling that you guys love your work. Crazy as it may sound; I can imagine that it is still work. That really fascinates me. It is work and yet you guys are showing so much love and fun in doing this. Thinking and believing that everytime I read things like this AMA, I get the following question:

Do you guys really love your job as much as it shows? Are there days that you'd rather stay in bed and order some sweetrolls and get drunk on some famous Honningbrew mead? Do you think everything in your job is amazing? Or are there some duties you like less as well?
Oh and don't get me wrong... I like my job and all :p It just caught my curiosity.

Thank you guys for being awesomely awesome

And dang was this text hard to type with my fingers crossed.

Michael Zenke
I guess I could lie and say it's buttercups and roses and it's always awesome to be a game developer! ::guitar riff:: ::smoke bomb::

But the reality is that there are good days and bad days, and sometimes you're there at like 11pm wondering where the day went and you have four more hours of work and you miss your dog and your wife. :)

Personally I consider myself very lucky. This is an amazing studio, and the people I work with are super-smart pros. There are bad days, but I feel privileged to do what I do.

Bill Slavicsek
It beats digging ditches. I love working in a creative environment and I feel privileged and honored to have been doing so for all of my professional career. After many years working on analog games, I feel fortunate and proud that ESO is my first full-time foray into digital games. The level of story we were asked to contribute to the game is enormous, and I'm extremely happy with the way it came out and continues to develop. As Michael said, this is still work, and some days are better than others, but I can't imagine not doing this or something like it.

Wynne McLaughlin
It certainly is a challenge to be creative on demand. Some days it just comes easier than others. It's also tough, as the team leader, to delegate cool stuff that part of me wants to write myself. But I've also learned that I get tremendous creative satisfaction in helping to guide the team and challenging them to create great things. And they surprise me every day!


Eor75
What's the relation between the story and game development? Are they developed together, or did you develop the story independent of the game mechanics?

What was the process to developing the main ESO storyline?

Michael Zenke
It's a highly collaborative process. Like I said in another thread, each writer is embedded with a content team. The writers work with each designer to come up with the concept for the content. The designers implement all the activities and theatre and action you get to play in the quests.

Then we writers work with the designers to bring the characters and dialogue to life. A lot of our designers are very talented writers on their own, but it's a lot of hard work creating content. So they focus their efforts on the above, and we help with the heavy lifting on the story side.

What ended up happening, because there were 4-5 designers on a team and one writer, is that the writer gets to become a sort of 'birds eye view' of each zone. We help put together connections and weave plot threads through the whole zone.

Wynne, our Lead Writer, went through much the same process I just described when working with David Ford and the team that implemented the Main Quest. If he gets a chance to get back in here I'm sure he'll have more to say. :)

Eor75
Oh wow, I didn't expect a response. Thank you so much. I'm very interested in video game writing, you rarely hear anyone talking about the actual process of it.


NudeProvided
Hi folks! Loving the AMA so far. I have a few questions, if you're still hanging around :)

High Rock: Cool province, or coolest province?

Do you guys have a list anywhere of which writers wrote which in-game books? Over the years we've started to get an idea for which Bethesda writers wrote what, but you're all still such a mystery! If not, do you have any personal favorites from ESO you wanna mention?

It seems like the Thalmor of the Second Era and the Thalmor of the Third have a lot of core ideological differences. What happened between ESO and the PGE1/Skyrim to make them the way they are?

What would you say is the core difference between the Argonian, Altmer, Dunmer and Dark Brotherhood conceptions of Sithis, and how would you reconcile them?

Any chance we'll see Vivec's genderfluidity pop up more? It seems like most people tend to perceive Vivec as a "male" character, but it would mean a lot to see hir gender identity explored in more detail.

Bill Slavicsek
With a project as big as this and the sheer number of books, we all wrote tons and tons of them. I'd say that, as a general statement, all books pertaining to a particular zone were written or edited by that zone's writer, but now that the books can appear anywhere, it's no longer easy to see even that level of difference. Maybe we'll compile a credits list at some point. Or maybe not. One of my favorites is "The Brave Little Scrib." I had fun putting that one together.

Zach Bush
I have always seen the Thalmor of Skyrim's time as the dark mirror of Ayrenn's Dominion - what could very well happen to the Dominion in the 2nd Era if she fails. I can't speak to the specifics of the Third Aldmeri Dominion's formation, but history is full of people who use the trappings of the past to excuse the horrors they inflict upon the present.


hiiko
How did you get into the TES lore before you could really start your job at zenimax?

Were you fans before or did you have to study for it?

Michael Zenke
Both. I played the hell out of Oblivion, and obviously we all drink big cups of lore at the studio. It's the place from where all the thinking comes from.

That's why we have Lawrence, because the rest of us would probably drown swimming in that particular ocean.


Flaeor
[SPOILERS FOR END OF REAPER'S MARCH QUEST LINE] I just want you to know that I literally started tearing up when I finished the Reaper's March Quest line walking the Two Moons Path. That quest line had insight into the Khajiit religion I had never seen before, and that story was truly a tragedy with sad/happy ending that I didn't anticipate. I kept wondering if one of them was going to actually die or not, and it kept me guessing. I hope there are more of these, and I hope that I get to see more of the two sisters in the future. Seeing my choices have an impact really makes for compelling storytelling. On that note...

[SPOILERS FOR MAGES GUILD QUEST LINE] Also, I BEST see Valaste say something other than "I need some rest." after I gave up 2 skill points. I wanted to save her, but only because I love her as a tragic character and would really like to see what she goes on to do helping the Mages Guild outside of Uncle Sheo's clutches.
To sum up, I hope these choices I've made come to fruition further down the road so that they're not throwaway decisions that have no future impact more than a few minutes.
Finally, thank you SO MUCH for the absolutely STELLAR writing!! It's the number one reason why I keep playing the game. I always like playing with other people on voice chat, but lately I've been playing alone so I can listen to the marvelous VO work and scripts.

Michael Zenke
Uh. I had the pleasure of being the writer for both of the pieces of content you're talking about.

I can't even tell you how much it means to hear that the crazy stuff we as writers, collaborating with designers, sometimes at strange hours of the night, sometimes with very little sleep ...

Anyway, Shazah, Khali, Sheo, Shally, and Valaste were a big part of my life in 2013. Thank you for saying this.

Oh, and like I said in some other post, Jason Bolte is the designer to blame for a lot of the Mages Guild ... and actually the Two Moons Path as well. Dude's a monster.


Galderman
This is not a question, but a big THANK YOU! Being gay it's very hard to find awesome stories with gay characters in it, and ESO has so many of them! From a Pirate Captain to two elderly Bosmer thinking of the flowers of their youth. These were wonderful thinks for me. THANK YOU!

Wynne McLaughlin
This is one of the things about our game that I'm most proud of, and every time I hear from someone who appreciates our efforts the way that you do, it always makes my day. So, thank you!


feeling_of_intuition
Why are so many of the characters undead or ghosts?

Michael Zenke
Each individual piece of content usually has their own reason for it.

My general theory is that Molag Bal's plot to Planemeld Coldharbour and Nirn is the reason there are so many ghosts and whatnot in ESO. The veil is thin, and all that.

Post-meld, things stick around because they haven't had the chance to shuffle back off this mortal coil. Which, as adventurers, is usually our job.


ElemancerZzei
I know its past the time, but did they answer who is responsible for the hireling emails? Because that person deserves a cookie. or two. with bourbon. or two.

Bill Slavicsek
Not sure who came up with the original idea, but everyone on the writing team was given one or more of the characters to develop, which included writing all of their letters. For example, I wrote Valinka, crafting her story through her letters--350 characters at a time!

Wynne McLaughlin
The idea first came from our creative director, Paul Sage. I wrote the initial character outlines and distributed them to the writers, telling them to have fun with them and to change or alter the characters as they saw fit. I also wrote Gavin Gavonne's messages myself, and Jonathan To and I wrote Pacrooti's.


JohnnyKing94
Who's responsible of this genius message?? https://i.imgur.com/bgXqJ39.jpg Someone deserves a truck of cookies

Bill Slavicsek
That Valinka, she's all mine.