|Mr. Pagliarulo thank you for accepting this interview, fans often wonder what it would be like to be involved in creating an expansion for the most critically acclaimed RPG. Could you tell us what you wanted to bring to the table when working on the expansion?
Hey, my pleasure. But please, call me Captain Pagliarulo. Well, it's kind of a joke on the Bloodmoon design team that I have a secret agenda to infuse the Elder Scrolls games with as much stealth gameplay as I can. You know, you can take the Emil out of Thief.... Truth is, I've been an Elder Scrolls fan since Arena and it's always been a dream of mine to help craft this world. I'll never forget the first time I played Arena so many years ago. My girlfriend (who is now my wife) and my college roommate were watching as I escaped from a dungeon and made it to the surface. I remember walking through a town, and the three of just were just in awe of the world on the screen. Snow was falling, people were walking around...for the first time in a computer game I felt transported to another place. I guess that was when I really understood the term "immersion." So with Bloodmoon, if I can get one person to feel that same way, to be transported from the comfort of their computer room to the island of Solstheim, I'll feel like I accomplished what I set out to do.
Early reports revealed that the highly anticipated werewolves will be introduced into gameplay. Can you expand on the decision to add them and how their fighting system will work?
In Daggerfall, players loved that you could become a werewolf or vampire. Some, myself included, would seek out specific dungeons and hunting grounds in order to fight these creatures in the hopes of contracting lycanthropy or vampirism. In Morrowind, the player had a chance to become a vampire but you couldn't become a werewolf. (Mark Nelson just did a great article on the process of introducing werewolves into the game and how it works, which you can find here: http://www.elderscrolls.com/index_url=/codex/team_dunceswithwolves.htm&bg=03
Werewolves will fight pretty much as you'd expect, with devastating hand-to-hand attacks. Morrowind is loaded with great weapons, many of which have magicka-imbued properties, so the hand-to-hand combat isn't experienced by a lot of players. Becoming a werewolf should rectify that.
Are you shaping gameplay with use of a full moon or can all the werewolves' features be accessed at all times? What balancing factors affected this decision?
In the Elder Scrolls games there are actually two moons that rise at night, so it would really confuse the player if we tried to simulate a full moon for just one and then base the werewolf change on that. In Bloodmoon, a player with lycanthropy will turn into a werewolf at night, every night. This is more intuitive for the player, and it's also consistent with the werewolf experience offered in Daggerfall. The same is true for werewolves you may encounter in the game. It's pretty cool to watch a guard react to a character who has just turned into a werewolf in front of his eyes....
What new creatures can be found in the upcoming expansion pack? Any you would like to highlight?
I'm a big fan of Solstheim's wolves and bears. I think they ground the game in a bit of the comfortably familiar. The Dark Elves of Vvardenfell are some weird dudes, with their cliff racers and mudcrabs and netches. Returning to more "normal" creatures gives the player a sense of the more classic fantasy seen in Arena and Daggerfall. It also draws a distinction between the lives and cultures of the Nords and Dark Elves, and gives the player more insight into why they could have been in conflict with one another for so long, which is an important part of Elder Scrolls history. Oh, and then there's the Udyrfrykte. But I've said too much already. Such ancient evil is best left forgotten....
Users are excited to see the new weather types (Snow and Blizzards). Will they have any effect on the world, such as footprints being formed when you walk? Does the engine support any sort of snow accumulation or drifts?
The player will see snowdrifts and accumulated snow, but it's not as if the snow is actually accumulating dynamically within the world. Wow, I shudder to think about the resource and design nightmare that could accompany an engine with an accumulating snow model. I think that could be a game in and of itself. That's not to say the snow isn't incredibly realistic. I mean, lots of games have had falling snow, but I don't ever think I've seen anything like Solstheim's raging blizzards in a game before. You walk through this stuff and you actually feel cold�you want to seek shelter. A lot of the interiors of Solstheim tend to be wooden and firelit, so there's a real sense of warmth and coziness there too that makes the harshness of the outdoor climate all the more believable.
Just how large is the new island of Bloodmoon? Some have voiced they are scared of size limitations... can you calm these fears by expanding on what one can find in this new land?
Well, you're always going to have limitations. It's what you do within those limitations that make or break your game. Morrowind is a huge game. Daggerfall, by comparison, was several times bigger. But which one is ultimately a better game? Most people would probably say Morrowind. The design is more focused, the dungeons are more specific, and the world -- while large enough to explore -- is manageable. So no, Solstheim is not as big as Vvardenfell. How could it be? But let me tell you, it's still pretty damn big. You're not confined to an urban center as you were in Mournhold. The island is wide open, and can be explored at will. I think the player will find the process of exploring is a lot of fun, too, if for no other reason than the landscape looks so beautiful, and there are so many new terrain types to encounter. Ice caves, Nord burial caves, forests, snowy mountains, and ancient standing stones. But we've also taken pains to ensure the landscape isn't just landscape, so the player generally gets rewarded for exploring, either by finding cool items or new quests or what have you.
Expansion packs naturally target users who already have the original game. Please expand on how new users to Morrowind can get right onto the action without feeling lost. Have you taken any measures to give seasoned players some insight into the realm of Morrowind?
Experienced Morrowind players will pick up Bloodmoon simply to get their next Elder Scrolls fix, but I think new players to the series will be drawn in by two things -- the ability to become a werewolf, and the simple basic appeal of walking around in the snow carrying a giant Nordic claymore. The Nords get players in touch with that primal, sword-wielding instinct that is inherent in all fantasy fiction. It's also definitely possible for a new player to get to Solstheim and uncover all that content before they even embark upon Morrowind's main storyline. There will be plenty of information to get them to the new landmass, and once there the main quest storyline -- with all its missions -- becomes pretty apparent. Once on Solstheim, I think there's plenty of stuff that gives all players, experienced and newbie alike, a real look into the culture of the Nords, and the importance that race plays in the world of Tamriel. I mean, this island is right off the coast of Vvardenfell, but there's a reason it's not overrun by Dark Elves. The Nords are there because they're tough enough to be there. That alone says a lot about the race's contribution to the spread of the Empire.
What is your favorite new feature or gameplay element in the expansion? Do you have any forecasts as to what will make our mouths drop in awe?
I think all of the new art resources really give Bloodmoon a look and feel that that is so different from Morrowind; people are going to be amazed it's the same game. The first time the player gets stuck in a blizzard or sees the frozen lake, they're going to get a bit of a chill. You know, I'm really curious to see what the mod community can come up with after Bloodmoon is released. There's a lot of new stuff at their disposal, so the challenge is out to make the best plugin using all of this new stuff. If someone could make all of Skyrim -- and I'm sure they will -- I'll be damned impressed.
In closing, what would you like to let our readers that have not been covered in previous interviews?
Well, nothing concrete, just a rumor I heard. Something about a flying ship that was seen headed into the mountains. But then there was a blizzard, and nobody saw it again after that....