The Eternal Watch is a guild that embraces both the "friends and family" atmosphere along with the "hardcore" drive to excel at end-game content.
TEW is over 14-years old, beginning in Asheron's Call 1, moving to Asheron's Call 2, Lineage 2, Aion, Age of Conan, World of Warcraft, Rift, Star Wars the Old Republic, TERA, and recently Guild Wars 2 and Neverwinter.
The Guild rules are simple: don't be an ass and treat your guild members with respect and courtesy...and most of all, have fun!
B'Day - Shroude TESO
B'Day - Thuggernaut9000
Elder Scrolls Online Column: As Month Six Approaches, an Eye on ESO
By Christina Gonzalez on September 17, 2014
When it comes to MMORPGs, their status as ever-changing, live worlds is part of the whole experience. With The Elder Scrolls Online just having received a new major update this week, one that will carry the game into its sixth month of release, it seemed like a good time to reflect upon where the game has come to this point, as well as a couple of wishes for the future. While there have been mistakes, promises, and changes, the game continues to evolve as it seems to have found its audience and development gets closer to a console version. After all of this, ESO heads into its sixth month on a few solid notes.
I feel that the team is utilizing its resources well in bringing both major changes and incremental ones including aesthetic and immersion such as more messages for hirelings added in this patch, and things like better animations and lighting. Things that make the game feel more realistic, such as being able to steal items, and to pick up some items in the world and utilize them, are all good examples of giving ESO more flavor and making it feel more alive and more ‘Elder Scrolls’. Promises of things to come, like Thieves Guild, Dark Brotherhood, and the justice system are all good. With any MMO, there are usually different teams working on different aspects of the game, so that’s why it can seem like things aren’t being addressed for a while, while at the same time there are improvements and additions, large and small all around. Fellow Nightblade lovers, a full overhaul hasn’t arrived just yet, but we’ve gotten a few steps forward and a couple of steps in place. Yet, overall, the updates have been mostly well rounded. Sure, it would’ve been nice to have a few faster overhauls on certain aspects, but the major points of contention have been or are being addressed on an ongoing basis.
In translating The Elder Scrolls into an MMO, it’s clear that there were some mistakes made and some learning going on through community feedback and beyond. I’ve been vocal about the abundance of phasing and other ways grouped players could be separated from one another, but I’m pretty impressed that efforts to help address this problem have come steadily and to a satisfying degree. This has been happening in stages, but with the latest patch, it finally feels like these changes are significant. The patch that hit live this week was a major phase of this transition. Two dozen different quest lines which were set to receive some changes to reduce separation between party members and to lower the number of solo instances.
In an RPG, there are a lot of layers and in a single player game, you can make moral choices and decisions that are your own. One of the reasons The Elder Scrolls series’ is so great is that, even with an overarching story, how you approach the game overall can be pretty unique. It’s kind of difficult for two players to have the same gameplay experience if they don't collude beforehand. A gameplay experience can really be your own. When making an MMORPG, there are some obvious concessions that need to be made, which include how story dynamics work. Yet there should at least be ways to do that without separating players. In SWTOR, moral decisions made when playing as a group are saved and recorded individually per character (as in ESO) but there too was a degree of separation as, unless everyone was the same class, there’d be instances for story missions.
ESO does something similar, except instead of doors in a generally safe area, it started out as a game that would send you into different phases without warning. Little changes, like telling you something is a solo instance, and the option to teleport to group leader, were the beginning of changes, and now that quests are being overhauled in bulk to reduce layers and solo play for those of us who prefer our MMORPG time grouped up, these have gone a long way in earning confidence from me. SWTOR’s doors are a fine way of handling things for the separate class stories involved in that game (which is another that has become better over time, IMO). One significant distinction was that even within your instances, you could have friends in your group come assist you. ESO’s immersion-heavy way of going from one leg of a quest to another without big green story doors is more fun to me, so now that the major part of the changes are happening, I’m looking forward to diving into this restructured content and hoping it’s as smooth as its potential.
In many respects, ESO is doing well with its population (according to unofficial figures) and seems to have found its core. I think that having the team say ‘Hey, we screwed up on a few things. But we’re listening’ helped refocus, but only because ZeniMax is following through.
With the launch troubles, the mistakes, and all the free to play talk that came even before launch, it might have been easy to write the game for a while. But now, I think that’s much harder to do.
We even had some speculation in this space last week about that particular question. I would tend to agree with Ryan’s assessment in its current state. Right now, every player is a paid player and the game opens pretty much everything to you. Going free to play or buy to play would deliver an incomplete game for anyone not subbing, as well as lead to resources being spent elsewhere. If the numbers are as high as reported, or even a more modest half a million, that’s millions of dollars in assured income right now. Cash shop only games are considered successful if only 10% of their players spend money at any given time. Tiered models like that of SWTOR would, at this time, almost certainly result in some sort of drop right now, because time spent breaking the game and gating it to monetize certain elements would require money spent, and then a drop in subscriptions means going from 100% of players are paid and being able to count on a certain amount for at least a month ahead, more irregular numbers. While going buy to play helped save The Secret World, if you buy just the box you’re getting an incomplete experience.
This is relevant in the six month discussion to me because we’re looking where the game has been, where it is now, and where it’s going, and the payment model discussion just isn’t going away. Personally, I was a little skeptical about the overhauls coming for phasing, builds, Provisioning, and Enchanting and didn’t expect to see them roll out so quickly. Sure, there are still some cynics, some with talking points that haven’t been relevant since the weeks after launch. And that’s not counting those who simply dislike the game as it is. Hey, not every game works for every player. But heading into its sixth month, some might complain it feels like the PC release is an extended beta test for the upcoming console versions, but others can focus on the variety of changes, good and bad, as well as promises actively being kept. Those are good signs, and if the population counts are anywhere near rumored figures, probably speaks well of continued confidence and more kept promises.
Regardless of religion, beliefs, or whatever, please take a moment of silence today in memorial of the lives lost not just of the first responders, but all the victims...
Not anything to worry about per se, but still something to note...
Elder Scrolls Online : Zenimax Reduces Work Force
Posted Sep 03, 2014 by Suzie Ford
Joystiq is reporting that it has received word from Zenimax's Pete Hines that the studio behind Elder Scrolls Online is reducing its work force. Hines cites it as part of the normal development cycle as the game ages and becomes more stable and runs more smoothly. Zenimax will maintain a large workforce to continue to add more content to ESO.
"As is the norm for games of this type, we had ramped up a large workforce to develop a game of vast scale, and ramped up our customer service to handle the expected questions and community needs of The Elder Scrolls Online at launch," Bethesda VP of PR and Marketing Pete Hines told Joystiq. "Now that we are nearly 6 months post launch, we have a thriving online community in a game that runs smoothly."
Hines continued that the studio has adjusted staffing to meet the ongoing needs and continues to operate with a large work force
Read more at the link above.
Read more at http://www.mmorpg.com/newsroom.cfm/read/32350/Elder-Scrolls-Online-Zenimax-Reducing-Work-Force.html#uTHKLOse8LK0WoTD.99
A Hotfix is was applied today to fix the guild issues from the last patch...
ZOS_GinaBruno adminOk everyone, the maintenance for the North American megaserver is complete, and guild functionality has been returned for NA. We are still planning to start the maintenance for the European megaserver at 10:00PM EDT/4:00AM CEST.
Please let us know if you continue to see any issues with guild ranks, banks, promotions/demotions, or guild stores. Thanks!Gina Bruno
Assistant Community Manager - The Elder Scrolls Online
ZOS_GinaBruno adminWe’ve finished testing our fix, and are preparing to apply it to the live servers and restore guild functionality. We’ll be taking both megaservers offline tomorrow (Wednesday) to deploy the fix. Due to this downtime, we won’t be performing maintenance during our regular windows on Thursday.
The North American megaserver will be offline on Wednesday (August 6th) beginning at 8:00AM EDT, and the European megaserver will be brought down at 10:00PM EDT. We anticipate each maintenance to last a few hours, and when the servers come up, all guild functionality will be back.
We understand this has been frustrating and an inconvenience, but thanks for hanging in there while we work through this!Gina Bruno
Assistant Community Manager - The Elder Scrolls Online
ZOS_GinaBruno adminWe have found the cause of the guild issue on the North American megaserver that many of you have reported – where guild ranks and permissions were reset – and are currently testing a fix. We’ve temporarily turned off guild functionality until we roll the fix out to everyone. When the fix is deployed, all guild permissions will be reset back to where they were prior to today’s patch, and ranks will be restored.
We will proceed with deploying Update 3 to the EU megaserver as planned in a few hours, but will turn off guild functionality. Guilds will remain off on both megaservers until the fix is deployed, which should be tomorrow (August 5th). Thanks for your patience while we work through this.Gina Bruno
Assistant Community Manager - The Elder Scrolls Online
Creating ESO: Identity and Update 3
Update 3 introduces new ways for you and your guild to stand out. Learn how these features came to be.
The importance of customizing your character can’t be overstated. Watching a character come together is something we love, too, and it goes far beyond just creating it in ESO. You keep making choices that shape your character’s identity as you play—what skills will you use? What racial styles do you like the most? What choice will you make when confronted with a dilemma in a quest? There are already many ways to develop your ESO character, but we know there’s always room for more expression. Update 3 brings more customization to your look and your guild, and today we’re diving into how we created these new features.
When Update 3 launches, you’ll be able to obtain armor dyes and create the look you want by applying up to three colors to each of your armor pieces. Dyes are unlocked by completing achievements throughout the game, and it’s completely free to change your look at any of the new dye stations you’ll find in the world. We’re launching with a selection of more than 200 colors total, and there’s still room to grow.
At first glance, something like a dye system might seem relatively simple, but an enormous amount of planning, heated debate, and implementation work went into ESO’s. We wanted to make the system special—something that would give you a sense of accomplishment along with more options, but also something that would feel rewarding no matter what type of gameplay you love the most.
One of the biggest decisions we had to make was how you’d obtain dyes. This was a topic that prompted spirited discussion. We considered several designs for the system that would meet our goals of giving you new options and emphasizing your accomplishments. We also wanted to limit friction in the system, meaning we wanted you to feel free to change your dyes without having to scour guild stores or farm enemies to get enough of them to dye your whole set, for instance. In the end, we choose to tie the system to achievements. Once you unlock a color, it’s yours to use as often as you want (provided you’re at a dye station).
The decision was just the beginning. It defined the work we’d need to do and the issues we’d have to tackle. ESO is a game that should feel rewarding no matter what your playstyle is. We don’t want you to feel punished, and that meant making sure everyone had access to a full range of colors, and that dyes could be unlocked at a good pace throughout a character’s career. We looked at our existing achievements and one thing was clear: we needed more. To make sure that all types of players had a good, diverse palette within reach, we’d have to add new achievements to support each level range and playstyle. So we did. We introduced around 40 new achievements to help us spread dyes throughout the game—horizontally across systems like dungeons, crafting, and exploring and vertically through the levels and Veteran Ranks.
Color selection had to be considered carefully, too. There were discussions about what colors we should choose, how bright and saturated they should be, where to distribute which color, and how much we needed to consider their impact on the visual landscape of the game. A frequently-heard comment was, “Well what if they wear all hot pink?” At the end of the day, we wanted to provide as many options as we could, so we selected a broad range of colors. While we picked colors that fit into the overall artistic scheme of the game for the most part, you’ll find plenty of standout shades among them. We want you to choose your look, whether you prefer subtle hues or bold visual statements.
Dyes also needed to be indicative of your character’s accomplishments. We created a set of special rare colors and tied them to particularly difficult or pivotal achievements. In our dye system, most of the dyes respect the material they’re applied to (which is something quite special in itself among dye systems). When you apply one to leather, for instance, the armor retains the look of that material. The rare dyes, the iridescent shades, can affect the material and have a special highlight color. That means they can apply effects like a metallic sheen, and that they shine with a second color that’s different from their base color—imagine a beetle’s shell or a raven’s feather, for instance. Like the rest of the dyes, iridescent colors are spread across many game systems, from the main quest to PvP in Cyrodiil to crafting. When you wear one, people will notice.
We found that the psychology of rare dyes was noteworthy. During development, we made a conscious decision to make what we thought was the most desirable black relatively easy to obtain. We knew black would be a popular color, and we chose not to make it hard to get. The artists designated one of our nine black dyes as the “best” and distributed the color, which was called Noxiphilic Black, to the achievement for becoming a vampire. Another of the shades was given to a tough Trials achievement. When we went into testing for the system, the feedback was clear: some testers were unhappy that the “best” black (the one we thought would actually be less desirable) was tied to a difficult Trials achievement. The effect of rarity on desirability was fascinating. While there will be some dyes that are quite hard to obtain, we want to emphasize that our goal is to make a full palette available to each playstyle, not to restrict every shade of desirable colors to the hardest tasks.
Associating dyes with achievements presented its own challenges, but it opened up some fun opportunities for us, too. For instance, all of the dyes are thematically related to their achievement, in name and color (where it’s possible). When you join the Mages Guild, you’ll unlock the blue color that Mages Guild NPCs wear. When you craft a legendary item and affix a legendary glyph you created to it, you’ll unlock a gold color. This context and level of detail is something we strive for in all our systems.
Want a demonstration of the dye system’s flexibility? Check out the screenshots from our internal dye contest in the recent Road Ahead article!
GUILD CUSTOMIZATIONS AND TRADERS
Personal expression is great, and the dye system expands it significantly, but guilds have their own identities, too, and they’ll be able to show them even more in Update 3. We’re introducing new customizable guild ranks (and icons you can choose for each rank) and permissions, tabards that your guild leader can design, and traders scattered throughout Tamriel that guilds can bid on to sell goods from their guild stores to the public.
Your guild’s heraldry gives you and your guildmates the ability to show off your guild more than ever before. When you charge into battle in Cyrodiil all wearing your tabards, the enemy (and your allies) will notice. A guild leader can use any of the available colors, tabard shapes, and crests when making a tabard; there’s no need to unlock any of them. The number of combinations you can create with these options is massive, so if you want to stand out, you can. The crests range from new iconography to lore-based options like the Daedric Prince emblems, the Aedric symbols, and many more.
Guild traders from the Gold Coast Trading Company will offer another new way to get your guild out there. More than 120 traders will be distributed throughout Tamriel. They’ll be located conveniently in places you’d expect to find traders—major cities and smaller centers of civilization. Every week, your guild can choose one to bid on. If you win, the trader will don your guild’s tabard and begin selling goods from your guild store to the public. This gives your guild a sense of place in the world, and will expose it to more players than ever before. Every player on your megaserver will see your trader and your guild’s name at that location, and your guild will receive a cut of every sale, making having a trader very attractive.
There were, of course, plenty of development decisions to make for guild traders, too. We had to choose good locations that were still convenient to make sure that they’d be accessible. Most of them are located near a Wayshrine, and in one instance (Markarth), we actually moved a previously-inconvenient Wayshrine to a better location to make player access to the town and traders easier. We also had to determine what bidding process we’d use. We didn’t want guilds to feel like they needed to camp and watch bids from minute to minute, so we elected to use a blind bidding process. Your guild can only bid on one trader per week, and you won’t see the bids from other guilds. This means that bidding wars will play out over weeks and months instead of minute-to-minute. This was another difficult choice that saw lots of internal debate.
The trader system offers opportunities for inter-guild competition, incentive to stock up your guild’s store, a new stream of profit, and a chance for guilds to establish themselves in the world. We’re excited to see how the traders are received.
ROOM TO GROW
All of these systems have multiple opportunities to expand, and we want to know what you think works, what doesn’t work, and what you want to see from them all in the future. Based on how you end up using these systems and what you tell us about your experience, we’ll work to make them even better and more fun. Just like with any other systems, we’ve had to make some tough decisions. We love games just like you, and we feel and discuss options as passionately as you do when we have to make a choice. We can’t wait for you to get your hands on these new features and tell us what you think.
We hope you enjoyed this look at how we’re expanding personal and guild identity and options in Update 3. Join us for the next Creating ESO for another look behind the scenes.
Elder Scrolls Online Interviews: The Future of ESO & Our Interview Matt Firor
By Jason Winter on July 21, 2014
ZeniMax Online Studios had plenty to say about The Elder Scrolls Online at this year's QuakeCon in Dallas. Seven members of the design team took nearly an hour and a half to regale the excitable crowd with enticing glimpses of the game's future, eliciting cheers and applause at the most dramatic reveals.
Without a doubt, the loudest applause was reserved for Creative Director Paul Sage's part of the presentation, and since I was due to interview him right after, I paid the most attention to (and took the most notes on) what he had to say. Due to a last-minute scheduling change, I actually wound up speaking with Game Director Matt Firor instead, and the two of them helped paint what looks like a rosy picture for ESO's future development.
Put simply, a lot of changes are in the works, and they seem to be geared toward making the game more, well, Elder Scrolls-like. This would seem to be an obvious notion, but it was something that seemed rather lacking to many players.
And justice for all
By far, the biggest cheers were when Sage brought up the Justice System, whereby players could murder and thieve to their heart's content – or at least until they got caught by guards, whether they were NPCs or players. Yes, players will have the ability to become guards and enforce justice, though the exact method for doing so was something neither Sage nor Firor were willing to share at this time.
As I asked Firor, won't this mean that within five minutes of the Justice System going live, every NPC will be dead? “The first step is, you don't allow any NPC that's critical to be killed,” he told me. “But yes, we will have to put in a lot of protections to make sure it's not exploitable. We really think that the player guards will help a lot with that.” Still, for players complaining that The Elder Scrolls Online wasn't Elder Scrolls-y enough, this should be a major achievement if ZOS can pull it off well.
The big recent news was the scrapping of the Veteran Ranks system and revamp of Veteran Zones. As Firor said, despite the team spending years working on the VR system, “As the saying goes, no plan survives contact with reality. We make the game, but MMOs are a living, breathing entity. They evolve, and one of the ways they evolve is you listen to what people are saying, and if they really don't like the way something works, you take action.” This was a theme throughout most of the presentation and my talk with Firor, as the ZOS team members repeatedly stressed how much the changes to the game were being fueled by player feedback and input.
While some people might infer that ZOS is “dumbing down” content or making it “easier for noobs,” Firor offered a different perspective. While some players loved the challenge of Veteran Zones, that wasn't for everyone, and it offered few options for less-skilled players after they finished that first batch of content. “You just happened to finish the first alliance [in 1-50 content] and then you got to the next, and suddenly it was five times harder. If you want that challenge, you can go to Craglorn, go to a dungeon, go to a veteran dungeon. That's the way we want to divide up the content, so you know when you make the choice, you know you're going to the more substantially difficult PvE.”
It's in the stars
Going hand-in-hand with that change is how players will advance post-50. Though everything Sage showed us in the demonstration is subject to change, it currently looks like the Champion System will let players acquire passive abilities via a set of Skyrim-like constellations, with nine constellations divided among three major branches: combat, stealth, and magic. Players can assign points into each of those constellations, and at certain point breaks, such as 10/30/50/100, you'll get access to other passives in those constellations.
By themselves, each passive ability is small – the “not-set-in-stone” examples Sage gave were increases in blade damage, stamina increases, shock damage, etc. – and are meant to help players customize their characters even further.
Small as they are, these bonuses add up. A question I had for Firor was how “passive overload” could give veteran players with 100+ passives unlocked too much of an advantage over new players. “The points you put into it first have a far greater effect than the points you put into it later,” he said. As an example – again, not set in stone – for an ability you wanted to sink 10 points into, the first three or four might give you 80% of the ability you needed, with the final six or seven filling out that last 20%. In other words, a player with few points to spend can adopt a narrow focus and be nearly as efficient as a player who has everything unlocked.
During his talk of itemization and rewards, Sage let slip one interesting line. In talking about how new content will introduce new gear, he seemed to say that ZeniMax “might sell old items directly to players.” I say “seemed to” because, while this potentially volatile remark did stand out, and I wrote it down as soon as it did, I can't yet find a recording of the presentation, which was streamed live via Twitch. For obvious reasons, I hesitate to stand 100% behind it until I can get confirmation of exactly what was said.
When I brought it up later with Firor, he said that he didn't recall the line. He was backstage during most of the presentation, and probably not hanging on every word like the attendees were, so I didn't think this represented any sort of subterfuge on his part.
Still, if Sage's offhanded comment is to be taken at face value, it opens up a whole new can of worms that even Mannimarco would have a hard time closing up again. As Sage (allegedly) said, it would refer to old gear, stuff that would normally be available in game, so this isn't a pay-to-win scheme. It could even be construed like any other attempt by an MMO developer to make older high-end gear more accessible as content ages, either by nerfing old content or making the gear cheaper to purchase via in-game vendors.
Still, as a paid game with a subscription, any attempt to add gear to a cash shop is going to be met with a healthy dose of skepticism. Perhaps Sage simply misspoke. If he didn't, he and ZOS will need a spectacular PR job to convince players that selling gear, even older gear, for real money isn't the end of the world.
The road ahead
Even with that potentially turbulent issue looming, the future of Elder Scrolls Online looks better than I might have thought it would. Other topics covered included the Imperial City, a PvE zone at the heart of Cyrodiil that only one faction will have the right to enter; a new facial animation system to make NPC speech seem more realistic; a spellcrafting system that seems to work similarly to enchanting; work on increasing combat responsiveness; a new adventure zone, Murkmire; and a new solo PvE zone, Wrothgar.
Also, early on in the presentation, lead designer Rich Lambert admitted that grouping “didn't quite hit the mark.” He said the team is resolved to making it easier and more desirable for players to group up, which will include a much-requested dungeon scaling system, which will “level down” characters to participate in dungeons beneath their level while still offering proper rewards. Daily dungeon quests and rewards and more Undaunted passives will also help make dungeons more appealing. They also intend to squash all those niggling inconveniences of grouping, such as being split from your party when entering a new zone, making it easier for players to share quest progress, and keeping players informed of their groupmates' quest progress.
In truth, little has changed from my initial opinion of The Elder Scrolls Online, which is that it was iffy at launch but had the potential to fulfill its promise with a few more months of development time to smooth out its kinks. I'd still like to see an overhaul of the inventory system and fewer crippling gold sinks for new players, but those are smaller points. “What you saw is our content plan at least through 2014,” Firor said. “We're doing a lot of other things besides that, working on minor things all the time.”
For me, at least, I'm going to adopt a “wait and see” attitude. If they can pull off the Justice System, dungeon scaling, and the other irritating issues I still have with the game, I'll give it another shot. Will you?