General:ESO Art Team AUA

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The following "interview" is an Ask Us Anything. This page collects all comments with responses from the interviewees in chronological order, cutting each thread off at the last reply by one. The original source has been copied and may contain errors, spelling or otherwise, that are NOT individually marked with {{sic}}. Links that have been inserted onto this page are denoted like this.
Welcome to the ESO Art Team AMA!
GEN-misc-ESO Art Team AUA.jpg
Date July 30, 2014
Interviewee(s) Ed Lynch (ZOS_EdLynch)
Gina Bruno (ZOS_GinaBruno)
Greg Kline (ZOS_GregKline)
Jared Carrr (ZOS_JaredCarr)
Jessica Folsom (ZOS_JessicaFolsom)
Judah Baron (ZOS_JudahBaron)
Kevin Boehm (ZOS_KBoehm)
Mark Shahan (ZOS_Shahan)
Mike Phillips (ZOS_MikePhillips)
Interviewer(s) r/elderscrollsonline
Hosted By Reddit

Posted by u/ZOS_JaredCarr:

Thanks everyone very much for your comments and questions – we’ve had a great time and will try to do another one of these sessions again. We’re closing the AMA down now – see you in Tamriel!

Greetings Reddit!

Jared Carr here, Art Director for ESO. We’ve gathered up a distinguished panel of lead artists to represent our talented team here at ZOS and answer your questions. First of all, I’d like to introduce everyone who will be online today:

  • Mike Phillips – Assistant Art Director/Concept Art Lead
  • Kevin Boehm – Lead Environment Artist (terrain, biome, worldbuilding)
  • Greg Kline – Lead Fixture Artist (architecture, props, etc.)
  • Mark Shahan – Lead Figure Artist (monsters, characters, etc.)
  • Ed Lynch – Lead Animator
  • Judah Baron – Lead Tech Artist

Jessica Folsom & Gina Bruno will also be online to help us answer as many questions as possible.

It probably goes without saying, but MMO games take many years to develop, a lot of patience and a lot of hard work. This is a very dedicated crew, and it’s great after so many years of hard work for us to finally be able to speak directly with the community in this kind of format. So – ask us anything about characters, environments, animation, or other art related topics and we’ll do our best to answer!

Speaking of art-related topics, my forehead in our Reddit AMA photo is demonstrating what we call specular highlights in the biz. Lookin’ good!

Zylathas: How is it decided which kind of buildings a certain race should have? (looking at the high elf buildings for instance)

And how is it decided which racial motifs are introduced at which point? Does the art team have a say in this?

ZOS_JaredCarr: Generally we try to create a full set of architecture based on functionality. So we design manor houses, Mage's Guild, Fighter's Guild halls, etc. It mostly depends on teh kinds of content we want to create and the stories we want to tell.
The art team does get a say in the racial motifs we design, we work directly with the systems and item designers to work out what we all want to make for the game.

LordTkinter: Do you have any plans to improve the looks of standard daderic armour as it looks nothing like what we saw in Skyrim

ZOS_JaredCarr: There will be a new set of light, medium & heavy Daedric armor that releases with the Imperial City update. It will look very similar to the style seen in our cinematic trailers.
REiiGN: Yes!!! Finally. Looks too clean in the current version.
ZOS_JaredCarr: agreed :)

Ethoir (edited): At QuakeCon you talked about new motifs and styles including the Glass Armor (malachite). In this same vein will we get to see Stalhrim Armor motifs (preferably without horns on the helmets, as that annoyed me in Skyrim and I had to use a helm replacer to swap the helms out for hoods)?

ZOS_JaredCarr: Hi there,
Right now there are no plans to create the Stalhrim Armor, but will certainly consider it for the future.
[deleted]: During the Q&A session at quakecon there was a mention about a new motif coming out. Which one is it?
ZOS_JaredCarr: I believe the next motif that will be released is the Dwemer. Generally the art dept. creates these armor sets well in advance, and then the systems teams have to incorporate the items into all of the loot tables and crafting systems. So I can't give you a release date, but that should be the next set. Another cool set to look forward to is the Undaunted gear, and I think Glass armors soon after that. ;)

AzureMoak: Can you tell us a bit more about the dye system, is there room to bring more dyes in after update 3 is launched, will that further achievements needed to get those dyes?

ZOS_Shahan: Yes! We have quite a bit of room to grow the number of dyes. We intend to continue to add them as we add new achievements.
ZOS_GinaBruno: Shameless plug but if you haven't had a chance to check it out, be sure to read up about how we created dyes (and heraldry) in the latest Creating ESO we published last week:

Throren: In terms of art for the characters will stuff like say King Jorunn or Sai Sahan's beard options be available to the players?

How about an emote for your character to sit and eat/drink at the same time? (not sure if this is in or not)

Also will we be seeing more emblems to the guild heraldry? While what we got so far is awesome it would be cool to see more.

ZOS_Shahan: We will be adding more hairs and adornments for players but we want to keep unique NPC’s looking unique.
We plan to continue to expand the guild emblems with future updates.
ZOS_EdLynch: We're looking at ways to improve the emote system and make it more robust, including being able to chain them (for example, sit + drink = sitdrink) is something we have on the backlog. We recently added the ability to use them while in combat - something that came directly from player feedback.

LasurArkinshade: Hi! A few questions:

  • A lot of the detail on the current armour designs is in the texture rather than the model - feathers on the Argonian robes, etc. I understand the reasons this was done - performance - but are there any plans to improve this 'painted-on' look for future (or current) sets?
  • Are there any plans for new character customisation options - facial hair, hairstyles, etc?
  • A long shot - got any updates on how long the updated facial animations might take to hit the live servers since Quakecon?
  • Currently, the game has significant architecture reuse - understandable when trying to deal with a world so large and diverse on launch. Now that the game is out, is architecture diversity becoming more of a focus for you?
  • Similarly, now that the game is out are there any plans to make greater use of, for example, unique creature models where appropriate? Unique-looking dungeon bosses, etc.

Thanks very much for doing the AMA! :)

ZOS_Shahan: Yes! We are actively working on adding more silhouette changes to armors.
Yes! We have already made many new customization options! As much as I would like to tell you when they’ll be going in… I’m not at liberty to say.
ZOS_JudahBaron: In response to the question regarding unique creatures, the answer is: Yes. We are doing this!
ZOS_Shahan: And yes! We have some pretty epic unique boss’ in the works.
ZOS_JaredCarr (posted twice due to error): Yes, one of the things that bugs me a lot is the painted on texture look. We are absolutely working on adding more geometry detail to armor sets in the future. There is only so far we can take this due to performance limitations (polygons, etc.), but I think it is really important that armors have more meaningful silhouette changes.
Yes, more hairstyles are in development.
Nice try on the Facial animation question :) We have pretty much completed the tech, and are refining mouth shapes and processing data as we speak (no pun intended).
Yes, we are working on designing better modular architecture sets that allow us to create more unique city areas rather than re-using the same house everywhere.

Faulgor: Thank you for your time, everyone! :)

  1. During the QuakeCon presentation, we saw several new armor styles – Glass, Dwarven, Imperial Daedric, etc. Are there plans to include even more iconic TES styles, such as Bonemold and Stalhrim?
  2. When designing Orsinium, you tried to make it look more organic, built up over time. Can you imagine revamping cities already included in the game – such as Mournhold, Windhelm or Skywatch – by applying the lessons learned when creating Orsinium?
  3. Adding to question 2, what do you think about adding more architectural styles for each race (we already saw new argonian architecture for Murkmire, so that's nice!) and replacing some existing buildings with that style? What's often brought up is the lack of different styles for House Redoran, Hlaalu and Dres buildings in Morrowind, where currently every building looks like it has been built by House Indoril.
ZOS_GregKline: Yes, architecture diversity is something we are addressing. We have plans to expand many of the existing sets.
LasurArkinshade: Are those changes going to be reflected in older (launch) content too? Or only newer stuff?
ZOS_JaredCarr: It's going to be very difficult to update existing cities like Wayrest, because of all the quest content that is already created. If the art team went in and bulldozed an area and rebuilt it, we would be creating a ton of work for the game designers. So our focus is to update architecture sets for new areas as we expand through Tamriel.
ZOS_MikePhillips: We have alot of future armor plans in the works right now, but I am not at liberty to say exactly which ones. Also we have plans to create new architecture sets for upcoming releases- sometimes expanding on a set, revisiting a set and maybe the odd new set or two ;).
  1. Yes, over time we will incorporate some more iconic TES styles. But we also want to introduce new ones - the Alliance themed gear I showed in the QuakeCon presentation for example.
  2. see answer below. I don't think we're going to be able to re-visit established cities in the near future, because we're focused on new content. Further down the line? I will ponder that.
  3. Yeah, your Morrowind example is good. I wish we had had the time to really expand out those sets prior to launch. As provinces are added to the game, we will definitely keep that in mind.

JamieAubrey: Not good at asking in depth questions but what has been the greatest armour to create ?

ZOS_Shahan: I’m sure each team member would have a different answer to this question buy I really like the Emperor Armor.
ZOS_JaredCarr: our most recent armors such as Dwemer, Daedric (Imperial City), Dark Brotherhood, Thieves Guild have been the most successful i think.

Ruviot: My question is.... will you add a squirrel crest for guilds?!?! :D Pretty please!

ZOS_MikePhillips: This question was just brought up by one of our Great Community Managers internally- we would love to be able to support custom guild icon requests. Creating the art wont be an issue, its just making sure we can get it to work on the back end (in the UI system). stay tuned!

Ajyress: Hi ZOS Art team, Thank you for meeting the community once again!

Here is my question: did you use any sort of procedural generation to build environments in ESO yet? What do you think of using it to generate caves, so they could be huge and very different one from another? And overall, do you think procedural generation is compatible with an mmo?

ZOS_JaredCarr: We don't have any procedural systems in our engine for building the world. (we do have modular cave sets, etc., but they are put together manually by worldbuilders).
I have used procedural systems in the past on other projects and they work great for terrain, flora, etc. I have never used any kind of system that would allow you to procedurally generate a cave system.
Our philosophy is that everything should be hand-crafted, and even though there are some repeated cavern layouts, the details are put in by hand. We are currently going through another pass on delves in the game and expanding the layouts so there are more differences between them.
I do think procedural tech is useful and good and certainly compatible with an MMO, but it can't replace a handcrafted scene built by an artist.

Qynclericc: Hi!! Thanks for doing this ama!

I do some very simple 3d modelling myself, and i hope to be getting into character modelling soon. I just wonder, how many triangles roughly are the eso player characters made up of (without gear)? Also, which creature or structure was the greatest challenge to complete when creating eso?

Thanks, and well done with the game, best art in any mmo ever!

ZOS_Shahan: Our player characters without gear or adornments are about 3500 tri's.
ZOS_Shahan: We recently made a really cool Dwemer boss that was really fun to work on. Lot’s of moving parts!

Ethoir: Second question: is there a possibility to see "civilian" clothes like most NPCs wear inside towns and cities? Will they be styled based on regional location (Dunmer for Stonefalls, Nordic for Windhelm/The Rift, Khajiiti for Kenarthi's Roost/Reapers March, ecetera)?

I'd love to be able to kick back after a day of adventuring, get out of that stuffy armor and into something more relaxing (costume slot perhaps) and plop my arse in a tavern for a drink.

ZOS_MikePhillips: We have plans and some designs in the works to support costumes, not only for player role playing but to support activities within the game.
HachiNuu: Almsivi bless your kind and wonderful soul, Mike Phillips.
You have just made my day,month,year.
ZOS_MikePhillips: awesome! thanks!

LordTkinter: At Quakecon you mentioned the ESO equivalent to a barber's shop is there a timeframe on this?

ZOS_Shahan: We’re not yet ready to announce when that feature goes live. Stay tuned.

Kyugetsuki: First of all i came by to say thank you for that awesome game. I started making mobile games and i have to say doing everything for such a little game is still some work. And you guys doing it for such a great World in TESO. I really hope to be one of you soon or someday xD . What do you like most about your job? Is it like we got a new Zone, you have some details and then you let your creativity flow or is it the art of making new armor types? I think one of the best things in your job must be to create something ( creating things always is fun) that lots of people appreciate. And for Environment: do you have some favorite places in ESO that you love to go to ( example the mountain with the Giant and the Skyshard in Cyrodiil on top of it, i love it).

ZOS_MikePhillips: thanks! the thing I like most about my job is the rewarding experience of making a product that people play and enjoy! its great to be creative. In concept we get to touch on all areas of the game so I dont really have a favorite, its all good and fun!

Kelthurin: Hello! Thank you for doing this AMA. And obviously thank you for making a sexy looking game. :)

My question is this; Will we be able to craft Akaviri style armour in some future update?

Oh and a second question, though I'm uncertain if this falls under your department, to be completely honest:

Have you considered letting players name their crafted weapons and armour? Or how about implement known tamrielic artifacts such as Chrysamere, Dawnbreaker or The Lord's Mail, just to name a few?

ZOS_JessicaFolsom: I can answer the last part of your questions. Artifact weapons are a bit tricky, because there is supposed to be only one of them per the lore. This worked great in Skyrim, where you were the only one carrying around the Mace of Molag Bal, for example. In an MMO, it doesn't make a lot of sense for everyone to be running around wielding a weapon that is supposed to be one-of-a-kind.

Just_1: Hi thanks for doing this AMA!

I'm wondering, while designing the areas of Tamriel seen in previous elder scrolls titles, how much of the maps were drawn from the previous games versus starting from scratch?

ZOS_JaredCarr: It really depends on the specific province or area, and the more recent the game the more we try to stay true to the layout, style etc.
For example, Imperial City will be really close to what you may remember from Oblivion, but we took liberties with areas of Hammerfell. In all cases we begin with maps and reference from previous titles, because it's the best place to start :)
Sometimes there isn't very much lore to go from, such as Coldharbour, and so we have to start from scratch. In those cases we run everything by our colleagues over at Bethesda to make sure the look/feel is appropriate.

ZOS_GinaBruno: We're having some slight technical difficulties as the guys are working on answering your questions. Don't worry, we see them all and are working on posting responses!

Zylathas: I read that new hairstyles are in the works, is there any chance for longer hairstyles that do not clip in various armor parts? My current 'long' hair is clipping constantly and it's quite annoying. Besides that it would be cool to have more choice for longer hair.

ZOS_Shahan: Hair’s are difficult! There are a lot of things that go on the back and it’s really difficult to get everything to play nice. That said, we’re constantly working to improve the way everything works together.
Also, yes to longer hairs.
ZOS_JudahBaron: We do have plans to address issues with long hair. Similarly, we would like to improve deformation of loincloths, robes and fabric in general. The current issues are due to a functional limitation defined early on in ESO’s development. Basically, we could only have so many bones in any skinned character and this really impacts things like hair and fabric. Times have changed and so has our min spec machine. This means we can increase the bone count and improve deformation. An additional benefit will be higher fidelity facial animation.

gunsandcars: I'm not sure if this is you guys, but when I'm wearing just a jack, I can't see my character's tattoo (which is absolutely epic by the way, great work on those!). Oddly enough as soon as I put on the pants, it is there.

ZOS_Shahan: If you can point me to a picture of the issue, or tell me which armor, I'll try to track down the problem.

LordTkinter: Thanks for doing this AMA.

How do you design the armours in ESO? e.g. what tools do you use, what processes do you go through, how to you how do you choose what to work on etc

ZOS_MikePhillips: It starts with talking with the content and systems teams to see what we need/want. Choices for which armors to make often follow zone or feature production. From there it goes to concept where we check in with Lore to make sure we are on the right track as far as style and motif goes. Full colour drawings/paintings, including callouts, details and sometimes ortho views are created in 2D which then go the our figure team for 3d production. Tools used include Photoshop, Zbrush, 3ds max.
LordTkinter: Thanks
ZOS_MikePhillips: your welcome- any other questions, fire away!

Lastobeth: Were you guys involved in the creation of the cinematic trailers? Are there plans for future trailers? (I love watching them... over and over!)

ZOS_JaredCarr: Blur is responsible for our awesome trailers! We provided Blur Studio with all of our concept art and worked with them on the story and designs, but they deserve all of the credit and really did an amazing job!

illusivelucy: I love the art style and direction of the game! A lot of MMOs seem to take an exaggerated and cartoon-ish approach to artistic direction for technical reasons as much as anything else, so I was just wondering how important it was during development to keep that realistic Elder Scrolls 'feel' in the game and if you ran into any challenges trying to balance what you could accomplish visually with the technical limitation of trying to make it accessible to as many people as possible.

PS: Thankyou so much for creating such a visually stunning addition to the Elder Scrolls universe :)

ZOS_Shahan: Thanks for the kind words. It’s very important to us that we stick to the visual flavor of the Elder Scrolls series. Yes, it has been a challenge to get 200 unique and realistic characters all on the screen at the same time but it’s been a lot of fun making it happen.
ZOS_JaredCarr: As you mention, typically in the MMO space developers lean towards cartoon-iness to deal with polygon and texture restrictions - because realism is pretty much impossible to achieve within the limitations. And we set out to build optimized art so the game performs well with 200 characters on screen. Clearly the game needed to visually fit with the other games in the series. One of the biggest challenges besides the technical ones was that each TES game has a different style, and was created at different levels of graphics fidelity over the years. So in the early days we were translating monsters directly into ESO, and they really looked too cartoony. The Ogrim from Morrowind for example doesn't really match the look of a troll in Skyrim. As we worked, we determined that attempting to hit a more realistic look was more successful, and subsequently went back to older art assets and had to update them.

Fineck: Any plans on creating models for the different khajiit races?

Ethoir: Ditto. Right now the trend for each single player TES game was to use one of the sub-races. Suthay-raht for TES3, Cathay for TES4 and TES5 (the latter looking more different than TES4 which looked more like cheetahs of a sort). Ohmes for TES Arena, and so on.
Would love to see Dagi, Dagi Raght, Ohmes, and Ohmes-Raght. But its easier to stick to one of the Khajiit types rather than include several. Especially with the new WIP lip animations they are working on.
ZOS_JaredCarr: no plans at this time, but definitely agree it would add depth to the game.

ladynerevar: What's the process like for designing something that's previously appeared in a game (like the Netch or the Guar), or in the lore (like Khajiiti or Altmer architecture)? How much of it is free reign to imagine it as you will, versus just updating it to the art direction of ESO?

Thanks for taking the time to do this interview!

ZOS_MikePhillips: thanks for the question. we always walk a fine line when we design something that has previously appeared in a previous game. we need to make sure that its recognizable to our fans, but at the same time make sure it fits in the world we have created. we have a fair amount of free reign as long as it satisfies the criteria above. it really depends on the subject, but we always start with an existing design and see how it evolves in concept- with Lore input along the way.

[deleted]: Would it be possible to allow our characters to pivot while doing emotes? I remember during beta you could turn to face someone while playing an instrument, for example, but it was removed just before release. Any plans to bring that back?

ZOS_EdLynch: Actually, yes. We removed pivoting in first person to address some other movement issues between 1st and 3rd person, but are defintely looking at ways to bring that back.

FALLBRUTAL9o (edited): Is there any chance we can see any Dwemer inspired items/locations and maybe even a beard (pseudo mesopotamian based on past games)? :D

ZOS_Shahan: A Dwemer beard could be pretty awesome, and the steam would be good for the skin.
ZOS_GregKline: Yes, new Dwemer items and locations are currently being made.
ZOS_JaredCarr: I'd say there is a very good chance you will more Dwemer inspired items and locations in the future.

REiiGN: The imperial armor looks awesome but on my VR12 character the pauldrons front clip into the chest armor. Is there any fix coming for that? Not a big deal, but just a question. This could be happening with other armors too, but I'm not aware of them.

ZOS_Shahan (edited): We’re constantly massaging the way all of the different parts work together. I’ll take a look at it.
ZOS_JudahBaron: The shoulders are a particularly challenging area due to their mobility. We are looking at potential solutions to this and other related issues. Although we have not yet come to a specific solution, there are a number of things we have on the schedule to test, and I’m fairly confident we will be able to make some improvements.

LasurArkinshade: Are there any plans to add entirely new emotes to the game over time? (That aren't currently used by NPCs in the world either)

ZOS_EdLynch: Definitely. We try to add at least a few emotes each major update and are always looking at player feedback to see what to include.

elsimaht: Hi ZOS! Thanks for all the great work you're doing . . . this game is beautiful! This might not be within your scope, but in the future will there be a way to try armor on before crafting it? It would be nice to see what the armor looks like on your character before using up the mats. Thanks!

ZOS_Shahan: We heard that request before and I’ll pass yours on to the design team. I would personally like to see that feature too.

bensor74: Hi ZOS_Team !

I have a question concerning body animation. Are you working on something like "BodyFX", to make our characters movements more natural ?

Thanks !

ZOS_EdLynch: We are currently working on an entirely new animation management system under the hood that will give us animators a lot more control over how and when animations are played and we are authoring more transition animations to take advantage of the new system. We are continually evaluating different 3rd party solutions and looking for ways to incorporate them into our pipeline. The newly unveiled FaceFX integration is an example of this.
ZOS_JaredCarr: Ha :)
I agree that this is an area of concern, and we are working on improving our underlying animation systems right now. One of the big issues we have is with animation blending, which in our current system is very destructive to the animation transitions. Characters don't look grounded in the world, etc. There is a lot to this topic, but yes, we are working to improve this aspect of the game.

Stytches: Firstly thanks for taking time to do these AMA's!

My questions are for Ed Lynch

  • Are we going to see more variance in combat animations in the future?
  • Any chance of different animation styles ala different weapons?
  • Lastly, and this is more wishful thinking than a question, but I always thought it'd be nice to see the animaitons evolve over the course of a characters skilling up. i.e. a bit more flourish for a greatsword user at lvl 50 2-h as opposed to lvl 1 2h.
ZOS_EdLynch: Thanks for your questions! There will definitely be more and varied combat animations in the future. As Jared mentioned in the QuakeCon Future of ESO panel, our combat animation focus right now is on responsiveness which means we're going back to the existing sets and shortening light and heavy attack cast times (the time between pressing the button and actually hitting your opponent). We're also taking this opportunity to revisit all of the combat animations to make them more natural and appealing and looking at ways to do less animation sharing so that different weapons of the same type (like staff) have unique aspects to them. This is an ongoing effort.
Changing the animations based on player level is something that's been discussed in the past but not something we're currently planning for.

LasurArkinshade: Is there any chance we'll be able to emote on horseback in the future?

ZOS_EdLynch: There are some technical issues to overcome first but it is something I would like to do. No immediate plans for it, though.

FoolishLittleMortal: Dear ZOS, are you ever going to fix this Daedric spelling error at the Anchors? <3 c:

ZOS_JaredCarr: i swear we fixed that, but will double-check to make sure it made it in

LasurArkinshade: Is there any chance we players will be able to make use of the different poses that certain NPCs use? Things like the 'military' standing/walking style (like a centurion), the superhero-esque hands-on-hips pose, etc? I'd love to be able to walk around like some of the soldier NPCs do. :D

ZOS_EdLynch: Both of the poses you mentioned (and many others) have been added to the upcoming 1.3 patch. You can see them now on PTS. Walking while emoting is also something I'd like to do based on player feedback. Again, no immediate plans for that but it's high on my list of emote system improvements.

Hinras: Any idea when we will be seeing those awesome sets that were showed off at Quakecon in game?

ZOS_MikePhillips: Many are in the works now, and some are even near completion- we hope to be rolling those out with upcoming releases as they fit into our future plans. stay tuned! thanks for your support.

SlayerSyrena: Hi, ZOS art team! I really admire your work! I'm especially impressed with the character design in ESO.

Here's my question. How did you come about the new (very wicked) look for Molag Bal and how many versions did you go through before this look was finalized? (I ask because he looks very different in the earlier ES games).

ZOS_MikePhillips: Hi SlayerSyrena- I hear a few people around here know you! AND I am looking at your drawing of Molag Bal right now! (thanks Gina) nice job! thanks for the compliment and the question. The design for Molag Bal went through many iterations and even several artists to get the desired look. it happened over the course of several months- lots of thumbnail drawings experimenting with different ideas that eventually evolved into the design you see now. Even beyond concept the design was refined as it was produced in 3d.
ZOS_JaredCarr: Hey SlayerSyrena, nice to hear from you :)
We went through quite a few versions of MB. We started with a desire to make him much more animalistic and demonic rather than human-based. Actually, we used the MB statue from Oblivion as a jumping off point beleive it or not.
Probably the most iteration was on the 3d sculpt for the statue that ships with the Imperial Edition.

VVolfsong: Some werewolf model questions:

  • Are there any plans to improve its attack animations?
  • Any chance the berserker morph could get the black fur skin?
  • Will we ever be able to chose our own fur colors or otherwise customize the models appearance?
  • Can we get a four-legged run animation like the Skyrim werewolf has?
ZOS_Shahan: We don't currently have any plans to have werewolf customization. That said it is something we've looked at in the past and still have a desire to do.

Folkenstal (edited): Who did the design of the Dragonknight Khajiit heavy armor? Because I have a present for you below. Keep up the awesome work and thanks for all future armor designs!

ZOS_JaredCarr: !!!
that is awesome.
ZOS_Shahan: That's awesome! Nice job!
ZOS_EdLynch: Amazing!
ZOS_MikePhillips: very cool!
ZOS_JudahBaron: Wow! That is impressive. Very nice work, Folkenstal.

Ethoir: This one's silly.

Currently when you are on horseback and standing idle, you may notice that when your horse makes noises it is coming form your character's mouth rather than the horse's.

Any plans to correct that? Its funny to watch, but I imagine the lip animations that are coming would not know what to do if this little "I can speak horse!" stays.

ZOS_EdLynch: Ha! Yea, that one and the crooked jaw when some NPCs speak are known issues that we haven't specifically addressed in the current system because they're being addressed with the upcoming implemention of FaceFX.

Faulgor: Just wanted to thank you for this AMA and your incredible work at ZOS! ESO's art is one of its strongest points, and it shows everywhere in the game. I'm really looking forward what you have to show in the future :)

ZOS_JaredCarr: Thank you!
ZOS_MikePhillips: thanks!
ZOS_Shahan: Thank you!

REiiGN: Thanks for the AMA!

Horse Armor though, we need more! Need to glorify dat Steed!

ZOS_Shahan: We have to be very careful about the number of unique mount textures we have since it can have a very negative effect on the frame rate in PVP. Instead we’re planning to add more mount types.

thejadefalcon: As someone with an Orc female, can you please explain her armour? I love the art style for the most part, but that said, one thing that bugs the hell out of me is the fact that Orc women have, well, a breast window in their late-stage armour. The Elder Scrolls has almost always been good about making armour that actually protects you. I don't have an issue with, say, the Bosmer women being half-naked in their early armour preview, because the males are too, so that seems like an artistic design choice based on the culture. However, Orc women having half of their upper chest exposed while the men have no equivalent was offputting to say the least and, as they're an incredibly martial race, no stylistic choice can be reasonable claimed for that one that I can see.

My Orc isn't as connected to Orsinium as some, but she loves her racial heritage. Why does that martial heritage come with an easy way to kill her? What was your design idea behind it?

ZOS_Shahan: We made a deliberate choice several years ago to get away from that type of high-fantasy look. What your describing sounds like we missed one and I’ll look into addressing it. There shouldn't be skin exposed on the Orc female armors. We’ll also be adding a new ancient Orc set with the Wrothgar update.

HachiNuu (edited): Please sometime in the future fix the clipping when my Khajiit wears hoods (Any racial style). Her cheeks cut through the side. As seen here.

Also I recently found out that if she wears the Breton hoods with the cover-up masks it glitches out even more, and when I craft her hat mysteriously disappears....

Sorry this is the LAST TIME I ask, promise!!

EDIT: OH and perhaps more customization options for Khajiit fur? Such as being able to change the pattern color as well as the fur on their stomach/neck/etc.

Also this AMA has been awesome, thanks guys! :D

ZOS_Shahan: I will look into that. We can definitely fix it. Hopefully this is the last time you need to ask!
ZOS_JudahBaron: Yeah, we're working on it. We promise!

ladynerevar: Another question (sorry!):

Anything that's not currently in the works but you'd love to work on in the future?

ZOS_MikePhillips: thanks for the question, but I dont think we can answer that without revealing too much of our future plans- I will ask you the same question- what areas would you like to see? :)

Datsyukia: How is the world designed? Is it like Skyrim with the Creation Kit where you piece stuff together?

ZOS_KBoehm: It’s built with a similar in engine editor, Terrain is sculpted and painted and then assets are placed to prop out the world, then the designers add the content with scripting tools. We don’t have an editor that is available to the public however.
Datsyukia: So, every barrel, crate, table, etc are hand placed?
ZOS_JessicaFolsom: Yes. :)
ZOS_KBoehm: Yep, we do have some tools for creating groups of assets so we can set up reusable collections of assets but our world builders create, prop and light every space by hand.

Relas_Aryon: Not sure if this is your team's domain (and, if not, please pass it along to the proper team), but I have a request: The ability to select what version of a costume to wear. Costumes like the Sea Drake disguise have multiple versions, and will change looks on rezoning and relogging. The ability to select which version would benefit the RP community massively.

I'd also like to say that I appreciate the effort you've put into ESO, and enjoy playing in the world you've helped create a lot.

ZOS_JaredCarr: Interesting - I have not encountered the issue where a costume changes looks when rezoning or relogging. I will check on that. We do have more unique costumes in production though.

LordTkinter: Not sure if this the right place but here it goes.

I have notice some armours change colour depending on what graphics quality you have? Is that down to there being different designs by the art team or down the scaling down for graphics

ZOS_Shahan: That's caused by the textures being scaled down.

Throren: Will we see new art for armour and weapons for the different racial motifs? My nord wants to weild a big nordic battle axe but the ones in game are a tad...lack luster and almost as small as the one handed axes.

What about the possibility of cloaks (ones that actually wrap about your shoulder, not towels tied around your neck)

Maybe racial specific emotes?

Can my nord one day have an impressive stomach length beard like the one from the cinematic?

ZOS_Shahan: We don’t currently plan to make more racial motifs but there be more motifs. “Glass” for instance rather than more Breton or Khajiit.

CHClClCl: What are you guys most proud of?

ZOS_Shahan: I, personally, am most proud of the amount of customization we offer the players and we still get 200 characters on screen at the same time.
ZOS_KBoehm: I’m most proud of how the environments came out, of course there’s always room to improve and we are still working on updates for future releases but I was really pleased with how the world turned out.
ZOS_JaredCarr: This game is the largest, most complex and challenging project I have ever worked on. There are lots of things in the game I can point to that I am happy with and excited about (for example, I love PvP in Cyrodil, the size of the map and how fun siege warfare is; and I love exploring the environments in the game), but to me the single thing I am most proud of is our team. We have a great group of dedicated artists who are truly a pleasure to work with.
ZOS_JudahBaron: I’ve only been on this team for about a year, so my contributions are minimal compared to those who have been here from the start. This is such a large and complex project that I am just proud to be part of this team.

Flaeor (edited): Are there any plans to keep player perspective while mounted and swimming first-person (I forget if swimming has been changed already)? Making first-person perspective work with gathering nodes was great, but I LOVE playing in first-person and constantly forcing it to be switched in and out breaks my immersion somewhat.

P.S. I absolutely LOVE the art in this game, and I've been a massive fan of ES since Morrowind. The lighting, shaders, reflections, and shadows in particular are breathtaking, especially indoors. I've never played an MMO that looks even close to this good, and I leveled a character to 80 in Guild Wars 2. It's absolutely beautiful. I can't even imagine how difficult it must have been with the technical limitations of an MMO, especially since MMO's always try to garner the biggest crowd and therefore must cater to older computers.

ZOS_EdLynch: We're working very hard to make sure 1st person perspective players can remain in first person at all times. We recently added 1st person animations for harvesting, swimming, and a few emotes that were previously 3rd person-only. It's a continuous effort and keeping you in your perspective of choice while mounted is something we do want to do.
LasurArkinshade: The first person harvesting animation for plants... is it currently temporary or will it stay that way? In comparison to the others it feels a bit more awkward... your hands just sort of snap to the ground, then one snaps to pick the plant only once, not in time with the sound effects or with the third person animation.
ZOS_EdLynch: They will see some improvements, yes. There are a few harvesting-related animation issues we're looking at now including all of the things you mentioned. Also, (in third person) the way your upper body continues to harvest/fish while you run away is something that we're looking into now.
ZOS_MikePhillips: Hi, thanks for the kind words!

Marthenil: There's a specific type of cloth pants. The ones that look like the Trials set light armor pants. Any chance we can see this type as a craftable? It kinda looks like a long coat or something.

ZOS_MikePhillips: thanks for the comment- we are looking into that.

Slednvrfed: Not sure if this an art department related question. What is the idea behind no weapons shown on horse back? Is there a problem there or something? Also before I get flooded with replies, yes I know there is an soon that fixes this.

ZOS_EdLynch: We originally had a lot of issues with sheathed weapons on certain race/body type combinations blowing through the mount's body. We now have a few ways of addressing this. Actually, I just brought this up to one of our great client graphics programmers the other day so hopefully that should get addressed before too long.
ZOS_JudahBaron: Some weapons, depending on length, width, etc., would clip into the horse's body. This is pretty visually distracting, so we decided it would be better to hide them and maintain graphical integrity.

recremen: Hello my friends! This one has many questions for glorious artisans, but maybe only one that is on the tip of head. He is not sure if this is the right place to ask, but his query regards the dancing! All can see that Khajiit works hard on his sleek moves, and practices the belly-magic daily. Still, he is curious if he will be able to show off his new and most graceful forms! Or perhaps try his hand at the multiculturalism, and learn spry hopping of friend Saxhleel, or the hypnotic undulations of strong Redguard. Such would be quite the sight to see, yes?

ZOS_EdLynch: With update 3, we added the ability to dance like any other culture. So now (on PTS, live in early August), Khajiit can type /danceredguard, or /danceargonian (or any of the 10 races) and perform that race's dance moves.
ZOS_Shahan: That one can soon get down with it's bad self.

grimsfield: Why aren't there LODs on your FX?

grimsfield: I don't blame them for ignoring this question. If I was in their shoes I'd probably have a hard time answering it too.
ZOS_JaredCarr: Nope, not ignoring the question, just didn't have time to get to it earlier (we also neglected to include a representative from the FX team, who we'll be sure to include next time). Anyway, I'm following up on the unanswered questions right now :)
We actually do have some limited LOD functionality built into the FX, so the FX artists can specify the priority of particles and what drops out of the FX at distance. But no, we don't have a robust FX LOD system in place.
I will say the FX are actually fairly well optimized because the FX artists adhere to strict per-effect budgets. And as we were developing the game, our client graphics engineers felt that we didn't need an LOD system (which comes with its own overhead costs) because we simply weren't hitting our memory caps in testing. In normal PvE settings it's simply not necessary in our game. We are very strict about adhering to our target budgets across all asset categories.
Anyway, when we do hit those memory budget caps, it always occurs in high density combat situations where so much is happening on screen in close proximity to your camera that a distance-based LOD system wouldn't actually do anything.
I briefly discussed the FX prioritization system at QuakeCon, which has now been completed and is in testing. We're testing internally and will coordinate a full PvP playtest when Update 4 hits PTS - we definitely want/need player feedback before this system goes Live. In a nutshell, the system prioritizes FX based on importance, so that you are always seeing the combat cues and FX that directly affect your character, your enemies, your group, etc. This is a system we wanted in place prior to launch, and just never had the bandwidth to implement it.
I hope that answers your question, very sorry it took so long to get to it!

Deadmedics: Have you guys ever considered making animations for each race? For example, the way the Nords move in Skyrim - their chest is slightly pressed outward. It would be really cool to see animations relative to each race.

ZOS_EdLynch: Yes, it was a part of the original design way back in 2008. The animation system still supports the funcitonality but because of the amount of work needed to support features that were added later (such as 1st person) and the fact that there was minimal gameplay advantage to knowing which race you were fighting, racial animation differences were pretty quick to fall off the schedule. It's something we have the capability to add later if we see a lot of requests for it.

Ethoir: Something I just noticed with Khajiit and the /sitchair emote. Their tails clip through the seat of the chair. Shouldn't it follow the horizontal axis of the chair's seat and then go over the edge of it to the floor (or keep going off the front edge next to their legs)? It looks like an emote animation clipping issue.

ZOS_EdLynch: We have a lot(!) of different chair types in game and accomodating all of them for the two tailed races was something we decided not to spend resources on.

Ye_Olde_Mudder (edited): Hail from House Reddoran! Thanks for doing the AMA!

  1. I put in a few tickets because Dragon Tattoo + Orc heavy armour on a female looks like some kind of tumor. Did you guys get any of that feed back, any plans to take a look at it or any plans to offer players cosmetic changes?
  2. We have monkey, crab, doggie and other little critters as pets. Any plans to let us have kitty pets or alfiq followers? Please say yes.
  3. Even "vest" light armours have these little plaques on the sides. Can we petition to get rid of them?
  4. Bigger ears, more fur and bigger eye options for Khajiits? The biggest this one can get seems to be teddy-bear ears.

A lot of my other questions have been answered already. And I love the answers. Thanks!

ZOS_JaredCarr: Hail!
  1. I will have to look into the dragon tattoo + orc fem armor issue to understand what you're pointing out, will speak w/ Shahan. We very much would like to provide opportunities for players to make additional cosmetic changes (like a Barbershop)
  2. We will absolutely be adding pets to the game over time. I will leave it at that :)
  3. I believe you are referring to tassets. We will consider your petition.
  4. Request noted.

Nasdasd: Are there plans to remove the sight limiting fog, or tone it down a bit? I want to see more

ZOS_JaredCarr: In update 3 we have pushed back the fog in certain specific areas, such as interior environments and the stormy weather conditions in a few zones (along with some color correction work). But that's not really going to address your concern. We are currently using fog and depth of field to mask LOD transitions in the far background, so pushing it too far back exposes other issues. Environmental detail is always a tradeoff from a scene budgeting standpoint - we chose to put more detail in the foreground and midground rather than the background. I realize that this is one of our shortcomings, and we have had many discussions about how to push back the fog. Doing so essentially means we need more details in the distance - which means we would need to build another set of LODs for much of the game - which has memory and performance implications.
So I don't have a very good answer for you, but I can say that it is a concern I would very much like to address and we frequently discuss this topic here at ZOS.

Ethoir: What are the odds of seeing in-game visual references to the Lilmothiit race in ESO? Things like wall murals, abandoned village ruins, really old paintings, and such?

Lore holds they were a bipedal beast race of vulpine-ish description that once called Black Marsh their homeland. Lore also holds that they may have had relations with the Akaviri, as the Akaviri used Lilmothiit ruins as prisons.

The lore I found this in is "Pocket Guide To The Empire, Third Edition".

Nobody knows what happened to them. Popular opinion holds that they became extinct due to the Knahaten Flu 22 years prior to ESO. But one thing is certain, they did leave ruins behind and these ruins may have murals on the walls depicting their history or culture.

ZOS_MikePhillips: thanks for the question- wow you really know your stuff! we are often considering the use of less known races in Tamriel. You'll have to stay tuned to see whats coming out in the future. For a glimpse of a new NPC race coming out in a future Murkmire release check out our Quakcon Video:

Tremed: When Werewolves are balanced will a new animation for a more natural look be added as well?

ZOS_EdLynch: Werewolf combat and animations are part of the current combat responsiveness effort. Was there something in particular you wanted to see improved?

dirtminer6: Are you guys working on making combat animations more fluent?

Thanks if you can answer.

ZOS_EdLynch: There are a number of efforts going on right now to improve the responsiveness and fluidity of combat particularly how the animations flow together. On the animation team, this is our biggest, most involved effort at the moment.

Lulufia: Any plans to allow more customization for player characters? equal body sliders between female elves and the other races (specifically for body weight/size), and more tattoos/warpaint with a way to change their color?

ZOS_Shahan: We do have many new hairs and adornments in the works. The body sliders for each race were carefully tuned to give them their own cultural identity. We do have longer term goals to add more body and face markings but it’s currently taking a back seat to other cool features.

FALLBRUTAL9o: What inspired the Altmer architecture and racial appearance the most?

ZOS_MikePhillips: thanks for the question. this is kind of a tough one- the architecture was inspired by the lore- use of tall arches, elegant shapes, eagle and floral motifs we felt fit nicely with the background story of the Altmer.

DragoneerFA: Not sure if it's been asked, but skeletons for Khajiit and Argonians? It's very immersion breaking to go from Khajiit to human skeleton in several quests (both for player and NPC)

ZOS_JaredCarr: Mike and I were just talking about that this morning! We don't have any solid plans, but definitely agree with you. We'll look into it.

Deadmedics: I have noticed playing in first-person is almost impossible with all of the particle effects in the game. I can't see anything - is this an issue that has been recognize and/or being worked on now, or in the future?

ZOS_JaredCarr: This is a difficult one to address, because in high density combat situations we can't control what's happening on-screen. I think players will generally agree that 3rd person view grants you better situational awareness when a lot of stuff is happening.

Jargo: Obviously we haven't seen the Naga yet, but we have seen the concept art of what appears to be the Agacephs. What kind of challenges have you run into making the other types of Argonians look and feel... well... Argonian but still unique?

ZOS_JaredCarr: Actually, getting the base Argonians looking right was a challenge in and of itself, and required some iteration. The biggest challenge is actually in designing the different head morphs for the customization sliders, and getting the in-between stages to look distinctive.

Deadmedics: In regards to the overall architecture themes... When you create them, do you use actual real world architecture as a reference/starting point, or are they created completely from scratch? How are the art themes for Elder Scrolls conceived?

ZOS_JaredCarr: The short answer is that we begin developing art themes with existing lore and reference from previous TES games, and also look at real world reference. Low-poly modeling is always going to result in an abstraction of reality, but I think that starting with real world principles leads to more believable structures. With that said we do take liberties in the interest of "fantasy."

DaGhostDS: Any plan for cloaks? I remember seeing them in early pre-alpha screenshots (for example the Argonian reveal screenshot

ZOS_JaredCarr: No plans for cloaks right now. They would cost another draw call per character and require a lot of animation support (since we don't have any cloth sim tech). I am hoping one day we can incorporate Havok Cloth into our engine, but I don't see that happening anytime soon with all of the other systems we are currently workin on. If we were to do it, I'd want it done right, and I just don't think we can support it.

nyanko73: Hi everyone! I don't know if it is still fine to ask questions here but I will try anyway. Since launch, we have a weird animation glitch on dual wield left dagger which keeps the slash animation at all times and even stays on weapon swapping with bow for example. Is it a known issue and will it be fixed some day? It is particularly annoying on 1st person view. Thanks and keep up the good work! You are awesome guys!

ZOS_JaredCarr: We will look into this issue, thanks for pointing it out.

Basebear: Thanks for this amazingly beautiful world

Keep up the good work

As for a question- which area took the longest to flesh out, and which one came together the quickest. Any particularly favorite nooks or vistas not everyone may know about?

ZOS_JaredCarr: By far the most difficult area to develop was Elden Root in Grahtwood. We designed and re-designed that city multiple times. We started out with a lot of exterior landings on the branches of the tree, but there were run distance problems, layout problems, rendering issues, etc. In the end we opted for a simpler interior layout. Dungeon environments tend to come together more quickly than content in big zones, obviously because they are more focused areas. I don't know if I can think of a specific vista off the top of my head, but I will say that there are plenty of times I catch myself stopping just to admire the scenery in a purely random spot. The worldbuilders have done a great job.

[deleted]: Are you guys planing on adding a "skin" tab where you can use some pieces of gear as a skin? Or maybe a transmutation system.

I ask this because i think its a really important feature that the game is lacking. You have some really nice sets, but if you need to use some drop set like the Warlock one, or some of the new ones, you ill be stucked with that specific look or bonus set (in case you want to wear the skin), you always feel you are loosing... style or stats... its a really hard choice for some ppl and you always ill feel that no matter which one you choose, you loose something important to you.

Sry for my bad english. A lot of thnks from Argentina :)

ZOS_JaredCarr: We do not have current plans, but we've heard similar feedback from other players. This kind of steps into design territory because of the "gear chase" aspect of items. We have introduced an armor dye system which will allow you more customization choices, and we want to provide more costume choices for everyone. I am personally in favor of an improved costuming system, but nothing is in the works right now (other than designing and building new themed costumes).

slamjeez: I'm thinking about getting a small ESO tatoo, can someone supply me with a clean b&w eso logo I can use? :)

ZOS_GinaBruno: Sending you a message. :)

karmerhater: I know you're the art team so I'll make this request as pertinent to the art department as possible.. Please Please Please design a really cool looking latency bar ! (I'm sorry to ask but I live in the middle east and even with the server transfer to Europe I see other players blink past me and all the lag really makes the game unplayable. Sorry to bother you guys with this but I love the game and the lag makes the game so unplayable :(

ZOS_JaredCarr: We are actually working on that. I don't have an ETA for you, but it's on the current plan.

DustyDemonNinja: In a patch previous you guys made some changes to the lighting system in game. Thought the system does improve lighting it seems it introduced a slew of issues that resulted in very poor performance in PvP and high populated areas, or instances where lots of effects were going off.

Recently some of this has been addressed but the client performance still is not where it used to be. In fact still in PvP if a large group of players spams healing springs it causes so much server lag that you cannot even use skills and it is almost like people are becoming desynchronized from the server.

What actions are you taking to optimize the game in situations like PvP where we need to see certain effects but need high performance? It would be nice to pull the 90+ frames I was getting prior to the lighting update patch.

ZOS_JaredCarr: Actually, the poor PvP performance that occurred after that update had absolutely nothing to do with the lighting update. This was intensely investigated and determined to not be the cause of the issues. Some PvP performance issues were related to FX. I'm copy/pasting a brief answer I gave to another player earlier: I briefly discussed the FX prioritization system at QuakeCon, which has now been completed and is in testing. We're testing internally and will coordinate a full PvP playtest when Update 4 hits PTS - we definitely want/need player feedback before this system goes Live. In a nutshell, the system prioritizes FX based on importance, so that you are always seeing the combat cues and FX that directly affect your character, your enemies, your group, etc. This is a system we wanted in place prior to launch, and just never had the bandwidth to implement it. Essentially, it's a better FX management system that helps to improve the PvP experience. There are some individual abilities that we identified that are causing some problems, so thanks for pointing out players spamming Healing Springs, we will take another look at that one. Thanks for your question DustyDemonNinja :)