Game director Matt Firor revealed to Game Informer that ZeniMax Online originally used BioWare's HeroEngine in the early stages of The Elder Scrolls Online's development so that the team could prototype certain aspects of the game. In the process, they began working on a new engine that's now being used to power the upcoming MMOG.
"Think of HeroEngine as a whiteboard for us – a great tool to get some ideas in the game and start looking at them while the production engine was in development," Firor said.
From the start, ZeniMax Online knew it wanted a custom engine tailored-fit for the MMOG, something "tighter and more stable" than a third-party engine, something that would give them greater control over features. He pointed out that the new engine will not only serve up unspecified social features, but the ability to run on a variety of systems.
"Our plan is to have ESO run on just about any PC or Mac – laptops included – that have been bought in the last five years," he said. "Of course the better your computer’s graphics capability, the better the game looks, but we want to be sure that just about anyone can play the game and have a great time exploring Tamriel."
For an MMO, this makes sense: you want to reel in as many gamers as possible, even those who haven't purchased a new laptop in the last few years. As Gaming Blend points out, Crysis melted eyeballs with its top-of-the-line graphics and earned high marks by reviewers, but sold poorly because few people had rigs powerful enough to run the game.
Seemingly following in the footsteps of Torchlight, that won't happen here with The Elder Scrolls Online.
In a separate report, Creative director Paul Sage talks about questing in the upcoming MMOG. He said he spends a lot of time looking at how to move questing beyond the usual business of waypoints and combat targets. He wants the end of a quest to be the end of a miniature story.
"You head into town to fight the werewolves, and then, hey, there are these people barricaded in a church," he describes. "Do you want to help them out, knowing that, if you do, something else won’t be available to you?"
"We spend a lot of time trying to work out how to give the player interesting choices like that," he added. "I’m okay with people being frustrated with not seeing the cool thing, as long as the thing they did was still cool. When both things are cool, people have bought into the experience. It’s when they don’t care we’ve lost them."
To read Sage's full interview, head here. Doesn't it seem like ZeniMax Online's ESO may be trying to take on Blizzard and the unannounced Titan project?