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Elder Scrolls Online dev speaks to the power of megaservers in MMO game design

June 12, 2017 | By Alex Wawro

"I really think MMO is a technology. It's not a game type anymore."

- Matt Firor, game director on Elder Scrolls Online, speaking to Gamasutra on Twitch last week.

What server are you on?

That was a question that, according to Elder Scrolls Online game director (and longtime online game designer) Matt Firor, defined a generation of massively-multiplayer online role-playing games.

It's a byproduct of so many MMORPGs asking players to choose a server for their character to call home before they start playing, a question that Firor says is now becoming obsolete thanks to the advancing pace of online game tech. 

"We have an interesting server structure in ESO that is unique in this generation of online game," Firor said while Gamasutra editors tried to acquit themselves gracefuly in a livestream of the recently-released Elder Scrolls Online: Morrowind. "What we do is we have what we call megaservers, where we instance all of our zones."

Firor says the ESO dev team made the call early on to chase the dream of the "megaservers", architecting the game so that players can create characters and then log into either the North American or European version -- and that's it.

"Once you're on the North American server, you neve pick another server," continued Firor. "The game kinda figures out how many instances of each zone to spin up, and which one to put you in....those are the kind of cool things that are happening behind the scenes, in game development, where it takes all of the decision-making out of the player's hands."

It was an interesting little aside, and just a snippet of our wide-ranging hour-long chat with Firor.  It's just one of the many developer interviews, editor roundtables and other productions you'll find over on the Gamasutra Twitch channel

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