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‘The Elder Scrolls Online’ developers reveal the “secret sauce” to writing a prequel story

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The Elder Scrolls Online has been going for 10 years now. It’s a sprawling game which opens up all of Tamriel to explore, but how do the developers at ZeniMax Online Studios keep track of what’s going on everywhere and what parts of the world they should let players explore?“That’s decided by the studio leads,” Bill Slavicsek, narrative director at ZeniMax, tells NME. “We do want to make sure that a region has a capital city and covers anything we know would be in the area in our timeline as well as the games set in the future.”“Once we have a good idea of where we’re going, we try to figure out what stories to tell there by keying in on what makes it unique,” adds Michael Zenke, who makes sure all the stories told in ESO make sense asZeniMax’s loremaster.Having such a wide array of games and regions to draw from is both a blessing and a curse.

Inspiration abounds, but so do lore restrictions and timeline constraints.“We love to find ways to incorporate existing lore into our time period, as long as it makes sense for the story and the history of the world,” says Slavicsek.

Fortunately, Elder Scrolls Online is set quite a while before any of the games people played before, so it offers “a huge advantage for us in exploring new characters and ideas,” Zenke explains. “This affords us incredible opportunities to show ‘old’ places in new ways.

In particular, Elder Scrolls Online is probably best known by players as a game that focuses on character stories.”It’s easy to explain away why characters introduced in ESO don’t appear in later games, as myths and legends often fade into obscurity.

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