Rich Lambert Shares the Vision of Morrowind
By: Benjamin "Foghladha" Foley | : 1128 : 122
Thank you for taking the time to speak with us about the upcoming expansion Morrowind for Elder Scrolls Online. To kick things off can we have you tell us a little about yourself and what you do at ZeniMax Online Studios?
My name is Rich Lambert and I’m the Creative Director for The Elder Scrolls Online. As the Creative Director, I work with all the teams to develop all new content and features for the game.
So to clear things up among many within our community, is Morrowind an "expansion" or is it a "DLC"?
Morrowind is the next Chapter in ESO. “Chapter” is the best way to explain it, as “expansion” suggests to most people that it’s only for max-level players. That’s not how ESO works, though, especially since we released One Tamriel and removed all the arbitrary barriers to exploration. You can go to any zone at any level now, and play with anyone regardless of their level or alliance. Morrowind continues along that path and is accessible to everyone – new or existing players alike.
When you first were told that the next major content addition would be based on Morrowind, what thoughts were racing through your mind?
Well, I was part of the decision-making process – but when we were discussing where to go next, Morrowind was definitely the clear favorite for us. It’s a place we’ve always wanted to return to as we did parts of the mainland of Morrowind at launch, but not the island of Vvardenfell. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves to make sure we did Vvardenfell justice. It’s the crown jewel of the Elder Scrolls series, and the game that really put Elder Scrolls on the map.
Did you play the original Morrowind back in 2002?
Yep – I spent a lot of time in Morrowind back then. It was the first game that made me want to upgrade my computer so I could play it at the highest settings.
You're not going to make people sleep to regain their health and distribute their points are you?
That worked back in the day, but that isn’t how we do things in ESO. You can quickly regenerate your health and spend your skill/attribute points on the fly.
Vvardenfell is a very iconic place in the Elder Scrolls Universe. When getting the team ready to recreate a 700 year in the past version of the island, what key points/places were on the front of your mind?
Our initial goal was to find the right mix of new versus nostalgia. We knew we had to make sure Vvardenfell felt familiar for those who played it 15 years ago, but at the same time, we wanted to put our own spin on things. A lot can change in 700+ years!
I imagine many of your team members were very young when TES III was released in 2002 and might have missed the train that caused the Elder Scrolls series to step into the limelight. How did the team familiarize themselves with the 15 year old classic?
Believe it or not, many of us actually played Morrowind way back when. That said, we did go back and play through things again to make sure we hit on all the major locations. The Art team, especially, spent quite a bit of time running through the world to ensure our version of the island felt the same as the one in TES III.
What would you say your greatest challenge was in bringing Morrowind to The Elder Scrolls Online?
Outside of the technical challenges – this is the largest zone we’ve ever built so far – I’d say the greatest challenge was making sure we stayed true to ourselves and told our own stories. We didn’t want to rehash old stories or try to lead into the tales already told in TES III.
Let's dive into some of the content coming in The Elder Scrolls Online: Morrowind. I understand there is a new 4v4v4 PvP mode being introduced. Can you tell us a little about this feature?
Battlegrounds are a new PvP mode introduced with Morrowind. Like you mentioned, it features small-scale, team-based PvP, 4v4v4 where each game mode has unique objectives. The maps are much smaller, enclosed spaces that are designed so that it’s easy to find other players quickly and keep the pace of play fast. Games last a maximum of 15 minutes, and each mode (Deathmatch, Capture the Flag and Domination) has a leaderboard.
Any plans for eSports or Tournaments?
Not initially, no. Tournaments or ranked play is something we’re interested in, though, and have begun talking about internally.
Will there be rankings and leaderboards involved?
There are leaderboards for each game mode, yep.
Are there any new Alliance vs Alliance features sneaking their way into the Morrowind release?
Our focus for this chapter was on Battlegrounds, so no, there aren’t any new major features for Cyrodiil.
Will there be any new additions to the Guild System?
We have a few quality of life additions coming for guilds in the update after Morrowind. We will have more info on those soon.
Size wise, how large is the Morrowind release? How does it compare to the existing zones?
Morrowind is the largest zone we’ve built to date. It’s about 40-50% larger than Orsinium.
With Morrowind's release we'll be seeing a new 12-man Trial added to the game. Can you tell us a little about this new trial and what kind of experience players can look forward to?
Halls of Fabrication is the new 12-player Trial. It’s one of the most technically challenging Trials to date, where the focus is more on teamwork and coordination and less on pure damage.
Are there any fun facts you can share about Morrowind?
The team went to great lengths to recreate the island of Vvardenfell as closely as possible – there’s tons of locations to explore and there are a number of nods to TES III scattered around if you look hard enough.
Thanks again for taking the time to share your experiences with us. We are very much looking forward to Morrowind's release. Are there any parting words you'd like to add?
I’d just like to say that the team had a ton of fun working on Morrowind and we’re really proud of the results. We’ve enjoyed seeing players running around and experiencing the content!
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About the Author
Benjamin "Foghladha" Foley
Managing Editor & Designer
Benjamin founded the Gaiscioch Social Gaming Community in 2001 and has since been the founder & activities director for this well known community. His role has gone beyond just running the Gaming Community and now includes running the Athletics Program in Portland, Oregon, as well as acting as the Managing Editor of the Gaiscioch Magazine, and is the Lead Producer on the Gaiscioch Livestream Productions. Additionally he networks with game developers to form relationships between Gaiscioch and development studios.
His experience in publishing dates back to helping his Grandparents who operated a printing press for over 40 years. In high school and college Benjamin excelled in journalism and played an active part in the school newspaper. Benjamin currently works full time as the director of technology for a franchise trade publication & education company.