Vvardenfell and a warden

Yesterday, I stumbled upon a Twitter conversation about Elder Scrolls Online. After reading a bit, I just had to log in.

That’s not the entirety of the conversation you see when following that tweet. Dig a little deeper and you’ll see that this thread also covers topics like playing MMORPGs solo, guilds, guild leadership and so on. Quite a few people chimed in. It’s a really worth your time.

So in I went. My wanting to play Elder Scrolls Online had three main reasons: one, because of our small guild. Secondly, because of that Twitter thread and third, because I haven’t gotten around to creating and playing a warden which was released with the Morrowind chapter/expansion- to give an idea of just how long I didn’t show up.

Of course, we had our second child in the meantime and our daughter is healthy, in a good mood and…a baby. But that’s not the whole story behind my prolonged absence from this blog and Elder Scrolls Online- I’ve been looking around, testing other games, different content output channels (looked into Twitch streaming in theory, but haven’t really streamed besides some guest appearances in a friend’s stream). And then, there was that guild I co-founded…almost two years ago, I guess. The longer I was away, the worse my conscience. I readied myself for some kind of “where have you been? Guild leaders can’t leave that long!” discussions in private or guild chat, but I’m pleased to say that selective recruitment, early fostering of community as well as putting a good replacement in charge of things were a very good decision- there were no bad words, just fellow players welcoming me back. So that went well.

It was very difficult to find a suitable name for my newly created warden, though. I hit a couple of name generators, but of course all of these names were already taken. I gave it about half-a-dozen tries and settled for a combination of a lore-appropriate name and a family name derived from my online handle (Lorana Feng, iirc). I guess that’s not too bad. With all those obstacles out of the way, I could take a look at the game proper, and found it to be surprisingly fitting to my overall mood right now. I also realized I’ve been demoted to noob again by the changes in game.

For one, now you have to discover skill trees. When I went to spend skillpoints on skills for the first time, I found that I was only able to spend them into class skill trees, one world skill tree and one crafting skill tree. No weapon or armor skills to be seen. Come to think of it, I think even racial skills were missing.

Lately, I’ve been playing games more deliberately. If I choose to play a game, I play it without distractions- no Podcast listening, no stream by the side and so on. I play for one or two hours, then exit the game and do something else. I don’t sit in front of my PC pondering about which game to launch- if I don’t know what game to launch, I do something else. This leads to two outcomes. First, I don’t dabble in front of the pc until I make a choice and watch crappy Youtube videos instead. On the other hand, when I launch a game, I want to experience it- you know, including quest- and flavour text, atmosphere and things like that. There are no goals involved other than having a good time.

Elder Scrolls Online fits nicely into this mindset, and that is also why I loved that “discovery of skill lines” thing. Quests are presented via dialogues, optional conversation choices and they usually take longer than your average “kill ten rats” MMO quest. Exploration is encouraged as there are no quest hubs, per se. All in all, I had tons of fun, even while not getting much done. Between chatting with guildmates, my noobiness and taking it slowly, I finished one quest in two hours of playing. Fun times!

Also, happy new year!

The End…a new beginning

Why, hello there! Still in your feeds? That’s great, thanks for that. There’s a new year to look forward to and an old one to look back at. So let’s do this.

2016

In the latter half of the year, I’ve been in a slump with MMORPGs- far enough that I heard me say that I’m practically done with them to a friend. There were a lot of reasons and even a draft for a post on this blog here looking at them. In the end, it came down to time: MMORPGs are time-intensive things and I was having more fun playing session-oriented games like Rocket League or Overwatch- or slower paced singleplayer games like Planet Coaster, Cities:Skylines or Euro Truck Simulator. All of them share the feature of being able to begin and stop playing whenever I want, with no bad conscience for paying a sub, having to progress timely for an expansion to release and so on. It’s pressure-free gaming I enjoyed, even while I am mildly successful in keeping my MMORPG playing pressure-free.

There were real-life issues, as well. Nothing personal, mind you, until late in the year, but to be honest, I had to struggle with the results in the american election. Now, we’ll see where the US are headed and I’ll keep further discussion and my personal opinion on that aside- it has been an election, after all- but in the grander scheme of things, what happened in the US was a display of what’s going on, politically, on the whole world. More than worrying about the US (which I do), they made me worry about Europe and Germany- elections are coming up in France and Germany this year, and depending on the results, they could do a lot of harm to the european idea. So I’ve kept myself busy learning stuff- why this might be happening, what could be done about it and so on.

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I also got acquainted with the appeal of Twitch streaming- I haven’t streamed yet (planning to, though), but a friend of mine does, so I joined him when he was streaming and found it…interesting. I still don’t fully understand why streaming and watching streams is a thing, but I’m getting there.

Last month it also became apparent that we’re expecting our second child. Now that’s a way to end the year!

Strangely, the news of a second child rekindled my interest in MMORPGs to a degree, as did my personal interpretation of Twitch streaming (I’ll get to that in a minute).

The One

Elder Scrolls Online has been my MMORPG of 2016. I’ve tried many, as usual- Blade and Soul, Black Desert, tried getting back into Rift, WoW, Final Fantasy XIV, Guild Wars 2 and The Secret World, but there’s an anchor in ESO: our small guild that’s not-so-small anymore. We’re 15 people now, growing slowly, but steadily- and recently, a couple of members created a Minecraft-server for us to enjoy.

So, while I didn’t really play MMORPGs very enthusiastically in the latter half of 2016, I’ve kept regular events going in our guild, and my main character hit level 50 and, by now, 70 Champion points simply by attending those- there was a huge push with the Halloween-event, where doing anchors granted huge amounts of experience (I also threw in some experience potions), and now I’m max-level. The last time I touched questing content was when the character was level 38, so there’s a huge amount of content left for me to discover.

Last year’s resolutions

You can find the long post on my old blog. Here’s what I wanted to get out of 2016:

  • Embrace PvP. I haven’t avoided Cyrodiil, but a deep dive seemed unnecessary as neither Camelot Unchained nor Crowfall reached a state where they were playable for me.
  • Keeping a budget….hahahaha. Oh well, that escalated quickly. I guess my “budget” didn’t last more than 5 months.
  • Prioritize MMO gaming- I guess that one went well. I still spent too much money on them, but in the end, I’ve been pretty consistent in playing ESO as my main MMO.
  • More time in good games- well, outside of MMOs, that was. I guess this one was mildly successful, as I did play different games in the second half of 2016.
  • Spend more time with people and grow the guild. Full success. Last year, I stated that I’d like the community to have 10 people, we are at 15 now. I have appointed a co-leader, so I’m not alone in doing stuff anymore and we’ve played ESO together for a year now.
  • Blog more regularly than in 2015. Nope. Went AWOL for quite a while there.

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2017

So here we are, in 2017. Resolutions? The same, basically:

spend less money, waste none

I bought the newest Rift expansion and haven’t set a foot inside yet, probably never will. Fear of missing out, dear reader, is a strong marketing tool. They got me with that stuff you’d get by preordering and logging in. Rift has one feature I really like: their housing system is great and reading this great post from Nouvae about finding inspiration for dimensions makes me wish I could get into Rift.

This year, one trap is already looming: Final Fantasy XIV’s newest expansion, preorder opening in the end of the month. I just know I’ll be considering buying it on day one, knowing full well that I haven’t even touched Heavensward content yet. So here’s a resolution: either I’m not buying anything I can’t play (duh!) or if I do, I’ll see that I get there.

Get a grip on MMO hopping

Hopping around isn’t the issue for me anymore. I’m fine with that now. There are a couple of MMOs I like very much, and I’ll play each of them from time to time. What needs changing, though, is starting fresh every time. So no more character hopping. I’ll start fresh (or already have) once more, but continue playing this new batch of characters.

Grow our guild

The guild is in a good shape, our main game is in a great shape and getting better with each update. Let’s put a number on this – by the end of 2017, I’d like us to be a community consisting of 20-25 players, which would mean almost reaching our goal of 20-30 players.

Creating Content

In 2016, there was one thing I was somewhat unhappy to see: quite a few fellow MMO bloggers called it quits and stopped writing about and/or even playing them. Ironweakness and Murf, to name two. Liore went somewhat silent, as well. My friend, the streamer, doesn’t seem to get blogging, makes fun of our guild using forums to communicate and my guild’s poking fun at me for creating textwalls in forums and guild meetings. I don’t think blogging is dead, but maybe it needs some…freshness. So in 2017, I’d not only like to write more consistently – not necessarily more, but not in bursts of posts and stretches of silence, either, but also try that streaming thing and maybe even video stuff.

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More German

There’s a pendulum- sometimes, I think international servers are better, english clients are more enjoyable and original and the community bigger, and then, the pendulum swings back to a state where I prefer “simple” to “original”. My new batch of characters will be created on german servers, the clients set to german, at least to try them out, and I’ll create german content- if and when I stream, it will be in german. I might even get a german blog going, but we’ll see about that.

Games in 2017

I’m not going to fool myself- I will keep buying games, maybe even MMOs (Crowfall, Revelation Online?), but there are three games I plan to make a dent in this year:

  • Elder Scrolls Online, obviously. Housing is incoming and another big content update (Vvardenfell?) might be coming this year, as well. ESO’s going strong and I’ll join it on its way.
  • Final Fantasy XIV. Another very healthy MMO, and one with meaningful crafting and an auction house, as well. It’s also quite simple in its business model: sub or don’t play. There’s no annoying shop interface, no “updates” coming for the item shop only- it’s just so relaxing to play an MMO that doesn’t have a hand in your wallet at all times.
  • Lord of the Rings Online. Standing Stone Games are independent and Daybreak’s the publisher now. Licensing issues are non-existent, so in my book, this change is all-around positive. Lotro has been my “go-back-to” MMORPG for quite a while (at least from release to 2012) and I love the design of the landscapes.

In addition, a few of the released games I’d like to play in 2017 without pressing the matter:

  • The Secret World
  • Guild Wars 2
  • The Division
  • The Crew

All in all, I feel far from done with the genre and/or writing about it. There’s a bit of a course-correction this year, but I’m actually excited to go ahead with it, especially the multimedia-thing with streaming. After researching and thinking about ways to do it in the last couple of days/weeks, I feel like Twitch streaming and blogging are actually quite similar to each other. I guess that’s a different post, though.

Happy New Year everyone!

A word on crown crates

First: my own opinion, put shortly: I don’t like lockboxes, I don’t buy them and I wish nobody would. As we know by now, Elder Scrolls Online is going to begin selling what they call “Crown Crates” in their cash shop- turning one of my most liked business models/ingame shops into one of many.

Personally, I feel buy-/free-to-play brought a few niceties to us. However, I’m starting to realize there’s more to it than that and I’m starting to get fed up with cash shops, because they take away from the games we play. I’ll probably go over this discussion at another time, but the reason for this post is that I’d like to share the most recent episode of “Tales of Tamriel“. I was happy to see Isaari joining for this topic, particularly because of points he made before in regards to playing WoW and his will to grind for mounts, pets and hats. I can’t find it anymore, probably because it was a tweet- but I knew him to be very opinionated on mmonetization as he’s written about it a couple of times.

Now, this is a podcast dedicated to Elder Scrolls Online, but the discussion points are valid throughout the genre- it’s very interesting to listen to and if you’d like some insight/differing opinions or agreement on stuff like “it’s just cosmetic”, “but they have to earn money” and so on, I’d suggest watching this. It’s also very from the beginning that these fans of Elder Scrolls Online- themselves content creators in regards to this game for a long while and in all kinds of manners- are really upset about the introduction of lockboxes into their game and would like to talk about that topic from the first second.

The monetization stuff begins around minute 30, have fun.

Housing wishlist for Elder Scrolls Online

Elder Scrolls Online will get housing in its Q1 2017 update- we know this already. We probably also know that it’s semi-instanced. I’m very much looking forward to housing in ESO – but i do have a few wishes.

Accessible

I hope housing will be accessible very early in the game and not be a max-level thing. It should also be somewhat attractive by default- players who like housing are a creative and loyal bunch, if housing is done right. However, housing players will only “suffer” through so much gameplay they don’t enjoy to get something for the part of the game they do. Leveling to 50 would be a bit long. Of course housing should scale very well and accompany players throughout their characters’ lives. At any point from level 10 onwards, i’d like to be able to see and do something about my house.

Not a byproduct

I hinted at that wish above, but i think this bears repeating: don’t make me run 10 dungeons to – maybe- get some housing item i’d like. Don’t simply attach housing stuff to achievements. Sure, do housing drops, they’re nice loot. Ideally, housing would be a different path to take in the game, maybe even accompanied by a new crafting profession or new recipes for existing crafting professions.

Shareable

I hope we’ll be able to share our spaces, let visitors come in. A player owned house would be great for guild meetings. It would be even better if we were able to visit houses of strangers (if they set the appropriate permissions).

Semi-Instanced

There are great housing systems out there- Wildstar’s and Rift’s housing systems are both very accessible and very complete- however, in both cases i had trouble to connect them to the virtual world they should be in. It’s not a lore- or immersion problem, per se, as the teleporting and locations fit into both games, but in both cases, i couldn’t shake the feeling of disconnect. In ESO, we already seem to know that the houses are part of the zones, so this wish seems to be granted.

Gold sink

It is very important for an MMORPG to have means of spending earned gold. The last couple of years brought us more and more alternative currencies in other games, often different ones for different activities (questing, dungeons, pvp etc.). You’d get some kind of token that you can then spend at some NPC for items. It’s an…ok system to have, but as with bound-on-acquire gear, i think of it as a band-aid that’s hurting the economy. You really only need one currency- gold. Elder Scrolls Online thankfully features gold as a currency mostly, to my knowledge. While i am always broke in this game (and think this is a good thing), i’ve heard others state that they didn’t know what to do with their gold- housing is a good way to get them to spend it.

Light on cash shop

Of course we know housing is going to be monetized in the cash shop- there’ll be exclusive items, possibly even houses, and i have no problem with that. As with everything, though, it’s important to keep a balance. I think it would be a shame, for instance, if crafters couldn’t create anything for the houses, in-game means would be quite limited and everything else would go into the cash shop. Housing items should be attainable through as many means as possible, including but not focussing on the cash shop.

Flexible

Some time, i guess this month when i’ll be looking for inspiration, i’ll tell you the tale on how i got interested in MMORPGs. The short version is: i wanted to become a baker. Nowadays, i’d like to become a tavern owner. Sure, setting up one’s home is nice and all, but in the end, that’s kind of limited in scope- let us build taverns, bakeries, shops, barracks, hiding spots, casinos and more underground stuff. This ties into the wish of housing being shareable, as well- as a tavern owner, for instance, some visitors would be nice.

So that’s basically it- i guess i’d like it to be as close as possible to EQ2’s housing with a hint of Wildstar’s to add flavor.

What i liked about playing ESO exclusively

The time of playing Elder Scrolls Online exclusively has passed. The summer break put an end to that. Playing one MMORPG exclusively has positive and negative side-effects on my playing habit, although one could argue that the positive outweigh the negative aspects.

All in all, during those six months, i felt more invested and more connected to ESO in particular but also MMORPGs in general, which is strange considering my interest in other games was basically nonexistent in this time. Another interesting side-effect was that i didn’t think about what to play when i was in the mood for gaming, it was a simple decision of wanting to play or not. And for once, i thought of things like reaching the level cap and maybe playing single-player games as achievable.

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Plans for august

In august, i’ll slowly phase out the summer break i’m on since the end of june. In real life, we moved houses, but by now we’ve almost settled in. Of course, there’s still stuff to do, but there’s no need to rush and no hectic anymore. There’s not going to be a holiday, either, at least not one that takes weeks, as we’ve already been to China this year and with the recent move, we’re not going to go on vacation now.

So i’ll be playing a bit. I call off the MMO Wanderlust i had, because it took me to weird places. The MMO line-up for the rest of the year is set: Elder Scrolls Online, World of Warcraft and Final Fantasy XIV. I’m not going to say that i won’t play any other MMO, because i probably will, but these should be the major ones, with ESO returning to the front-and-center while FFXIV and WoW will play support roles.

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ESO shopping day

I’m slowly preparing myself to return to Elder Scrolls Online, which is supposed to be my main MMO again come september. Yesterday, i read Xannziee’s post with a couple of screenshots as well as her impression with ESO (she made a detour through Black Desert for a while). There was an outfit i liked, so i asked her what it was.

Of course, it turned out to be an outfit from the crown store. Knowing that a couple of those are going away in a few days, i checked the ESO website if that outfit was among those who are going “out of stock” soon- and it is. So in i went to purchase it. I also had a look at a few of the other items who only remain for three days now, and found another outfit and two sets that interest me. I haven’t decided on the sets yet, but i purchased the solo outfits that interested me. Coincidentally, they seem to be originated in the Valenwood, which is the region i’m questing in since…about forever. 

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The sub strikes back – now what?

Woe is me, i’m falling into a trap again! I was really enjoying the first six months of this year when i played Elder Scrolls Online exclusively. Of course, MMO wanderlust was still a thing, but i kept it under check- until the summer break, that is. Interestingly, actually having even less time to play made me ponder my options more than before. Elder Scrolls Online is a great game, but to be honest, it’s not something you log into for half an hour or so to dabble a bit in and log out after a short time. The story-and-lore-heavy quests take time, which is a good thing. But it also means that you have to devote that time and i’ve found it quite difficult to do in the bright season. I don’t know about your place, but summer in Germany means daylight from about 5 am to 10.30 pm- i know it’s very different in China, where it’s dark at 8/9 pm in the evening (Shanghai area). It’s more “difficult” to lose yourself into a game.

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Summer Walkabout

So our small guild is taking a summer break from guild activities from the end of june to the end of august. May and especially june have shown already that this is a smart decision, as the last couple of events had some last-minute-cancellations already. For the most part it didn’t matter as we were still more than a full group to do our stuff. Yesterday, though, marked the first time i had to cancel on short notice. As i’ve said, i try my best to attend guild events that i set up and yesterday, we wanted to try and form a group for a dungeon. As far as i know, we would’ve been only three people attending anyway, so we probably would have opted to do something different. I knew i had something else to do, but i was confident that (a) that would be wrapped up just before 9 p.m. and (b) our son would be so tired by that time that he’d basically fall asleep as soon as he lay in bed. As it turned out, i was wrong on both accounts- i was home at 9.30 and greeted by a still very happy and awake son. It took him until 10 p.m. to sleep, by 10.15 i was sitting at the pc, too late to start anything really and read the message from another guildie that we’d just cancel the event. While i’m really unhappy that it was me who didn’t show up, the truth is that real life can interfer with my gaming plans, as well.

In the next couple of weeks/months, i’ll be even more busy, as we’re moving house in the end of june, our son has to change kindergarten and we’ll have to do some stuff in our old house. So july’s free time will be occupied by stuff like that (in addition to watching football/soccer, as there is the Euro 2016). My guess is that settling into the new house will keep us busy in august, as well.

Nonetheless, i have gaming-related plans for these two months, if i can get some gaming time in.

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Planning ahead

For me personally, the guild’s summer break means i’ll rejoice in a two-month MMO wanderlust, if i want to. Right now, my limited time to play basically leads me to playing Elder Scrolls Online exclusively, which is a great thing as i like the game a lot and always wanted to settle down. On the other hand, the list of games i’d like to play from time to time grew significantly in the last couple of weeks. I have a few goals for ESO, but i’ll be an MMO hopper for the upcoming months. A word on EVE Online: still love it, but i think i’ll take a break for the summer, at least. I’m still a bloody newbie and playing once a week for 30 minutes won’t do much to change that. I’ll need to put EVE on hold until i begin to spend more time gaming again.

Goals for Elder Scrolls Online

Two months might be enough to get my main character from level 37 to 50. That should be around a level a week; there’s actually a chance i might be able to do that. It would be nice to have a character on maxlevel to get into collecting champion points and being able to do DLC content in a more meaningful manner. I feel i outlevel ESO’s zones too quickly- i don’t even have an idea where my ideal quest hub is right now, the quests i’m currently on in Malabal Tor are all green. And that’s just from dungeon delving and exploring Cyrodiil with the guild. This won’t be a problem anymore when One Tamriel gets released, but we’re not there yet.

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MMO Wanderlust

Oh boy, do i want to visit places. I’ll probably play some or all of the following games in the next couple of months.

 

Blade and Soul. I think Blade and Soul can be an excellent game to play in short sessions just for the fun of it. The combat is great, i like the setting, the graphics, the style. I’m really looking forward to playing it some more and probably trying the Soul Fighter, which seems to be quite a fun class. I’ve played some Blade and Soul in the last couple of days and i guess the main thing i need to decide is whether i’d like to move to an international server with new characers as the german one i’m on seems…kind of empty.

The Secret World. TSW is always on my to-do-list. I so hope to see the content this game offers some day. For me, Funcom are the good guys of the genre and i’m happy they seem to have put their financial trouble behind for now. There’s also the museum of the occult coming up, so i’m curious. And it’s the one MMO where our guild might actually meet for an out-of-ESO experience.

Wildstar. The housing is the biggest reason for Wildstar to be on this list. Others are the recent Steam launch and the fact that this MMO is on my personal 8-Ball-endangered-games list. The marketing “effort” Carbine and NCSoft put into their Steam launch didn’t do much in terms of confidence in this game. It’s a shame, actually, as the housing is great, the game does look good, offers a wide array of activities…for me it’s the combat and the bland questing experience that make the game unenjoyable, but i’ll go and visit it anyway.

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Lord of the Rings Online. Just like with TSW, i’d like to see the content here- or to be more precise, the landscapes.

World of Warcraft. Yes, i might. But i’ll avoid to sub until i’m level 20 with my newly created disc priest. My main motivation here is, again, landscapes, as Blizzard puts out very beautiful zone designs. I always wanted to see the WotLK zones in particular. This is probably going nowhere, but for now, it is included.

Tera. I might even install this. I have a new PC, the game looks good and the combat is good. Also because of it being featured on Rockpapershotgun yesterday.

Single Player. The backlog is long. I’d like to build a City in Cities: Skylines, a space empire in Stellaris, i’d like to roleplay in Skyrim, The Witcher 3, Mass Effect, shoot others in Overwatch and more.

I know this is way too much for two months- heck, if i focused, i’d probably be able to do most of it in two years. My main focus (besides ESO) will be on Blade&Soul, because my guess is that this will be the game that fits best into available time and playing mood- i think it can be played in shorter sessions, it seems to offer great solo content (that 100-level-thing interests me), it’s fun to play with the great combat, it offers a story i’m interested in and i guess it’s perfectly fine to be played as an alone-together-murder-simulator  MMO. Which might just be what i’ll be looking for in the next couple of months.

One Tamriel! How’bout that?

When people talk about MMO comebacks, they’ll mostly give Final Fantasy XIV as an example. Of course this is true, FFXIV in its current state is immensely better than what they released as V1.0. But this one was essentially rebuilt- it wasn’t evolution that brought FFXIV from 1.0 to 2.0, it was recreation.

Elder Scrolls Online wasn’t too well-received when it released, although i believe this was born more out of disappointment of players who didn’t feel like their interests took the front seat in the game design- as we’ve often read, MMO players felt the game was not MMO enough and Skyrim players felt ESO wasn’t Skyrim enough. Both groups of players felt neglected to some extent. These days, i feel like we are seeing Elder Scrolls Online stepping up to satisfy both player types and the birth of the next great MMORPG- i mean, it has been in the making for quite some time now, but Elder Scrolls Online will be shaping itself up to a set of features and scope that will see it propelled to be one of the best if not the best MMORPG to be released in this decade at least. In my opinion, of course.

Elder Scrolls Online is a great MMORPG with a few things that hinder it at becoming the top MMO for me. To mention a few things:

  • at release and until recently, the prospect of having to quest through all three campaigns with each and every character scared me. That’s at least 300 hours of content if you rush and that would mean about a year or two of me playing only one character and only Elder Scrolls Online. After that, i’d be ready for DLC and Cyrodiil.
  • group options – for people like me and guilds like ours, level scaling is not optional, it’s very important to enable us to do stuff together. It’s great that the DLC are scaled, but going there and doing stuff would mean to almost skip over entire zones in the base game (i saw about a quarter of Greenshade, if it was that much)
  • non-combat content like housing is missing
  • trading with other players still requires us to join trading guilds

I might be a bit too optimistic here, but it seems that at the end of 2016, only the issue of trading with other players will remain, as housing is probably coming this year and yesterday, Matt Firor announced “One Tamriel”.

In other words, we’re bringing the same auto-leveling system (called “battle leveling”) that has been so successful in our DLCs to the entire game.

Here are the basics:

  • Characters will have their level scaled the same way that we currently scale players to the level of DLC zones (Imperial City, Orsinium, Thieves Guild, and Dark Brotherhood).
  • You will be able to explore the entire world in any sequence you wish – just walk across the world and you will always find appropriately leveled content.
  • You will be able to play and group with anyone in the game at any time (outside of PvP). No longer will you have to create a lower level character to play with a friend who has just joined the game. You will be able to group and adventure together from the moment your friend emerges from the tutorial.
  • We are dropping all PvE Alliance restrictions. You will be free to explore of all Tamriel, including other Alliances. It is up to you how you want to role-play your character while doing this. “Silver” and “gold” versions of zones will be replaced by Cadwell quest storylines that you can do in any order you wish.
  • Alliance restrictions will still be enforced in all PvP areas, of course. One Tamriel will not affect the PvP systems in Cyrodiil.
  • In general, higher level players will be the same “level” as lower level players, but they will have far more tools in their arsenal: better gear, more abilities, and of course more Champion points.
  • We will adjust gear rewards to scale appropriately to make sure that there is always a way to get more powerful via crafting, questing, PvP, and dungeon/trial boss loot drops.
  • All Trials and Dungeons will continue with standard and Veteran difficulty modes, and you will have to be Veteran level to play veteran dungeon modes.
  • The Coldharbour zone will be “roped off” from players who have not yet completed the quests that lead there. However, if you are invited to a group that is already there, or travel to a friend who is there, you can immediately access the zone.

Sooo, level scaling in the whole game. Removal of alliance restrictions in PvE. Imagine what this means for a small guild like ours: finally, we can tackle all the content together. At any one time, we’ll be able to meaningfully form groups to help each other, be in each other’s company, run dungeons. We’ll also be able to recruit players from the other alliances, as we’re PvE-focussed anyway. I don’t know yet what that might mean for our leveling group of DC characters, but i guess it might have an influence, because we don’t need to watch each others’ character levels as closely as before and we’ll also be able to simply join up with whatever character we like.

Now give me a place to call my own, please!
Now give me a place to call my own, please!

For the solo player- and in my personal opinion questing is still better when doing it alone- this means that outleveling content will not be a problem anymore. This opens up so many possibilities like playing through whole DLCs before getting to 50, changing zones and so on. With this change, the leveling experience from 1 to 50 will be very alt-friendly indeed, because while you still can do everything with every character, the order in which to do that will be up to us, the players. This move alone will make the game feel even larger than it is right now.

I am very excited to see where ESO is going this year and i’m very happy with the current state as well as the prospect of what’s coming.

Gaming goals for may

First one: make this post about quantifiable goals and more bullet-pointy than the last one.

Elder Scrolls Online

ESO_logo-blackReviewing april’s goals

  • level my main to 30 – done. She’s 35 right now
  • craft an armor/weapon set – still to do
  • figure out a way to skill my Dragon Knight – not done
  • level the Dragon Knight to 15 – not done

Goals for may

  • level my main to 50. Yes, that’s a stretch- but i feel i could do it if i concentrate on it- would be nice to reach 50 before the veteran ranks go the way of the dodo.

Other games

April’s goals

Not quantifiable, but i haven’t reached any of these. I didn’t play Black Desert and/or The Secret World. Instead, i resubbed to EVE Online and dabbled in Lord of the Rings Online.

Goals for may

EVE Online

  • keep at it!
  • finish the career agent missions

Battleborn, Stellaris, Overwatch

  • no real goals but to actually play each of them

Our guild

Reviewing april’s goals

  • have a guild meeting – done.
  • tackle another dungeon or two – done.
  • have a social event (crafter’s market) – still open.
  • short and middle term strategies for homepage and growth – possibly done.

I feel we’ve overachieved here. Last month, i was worried that my absence damaged the community a bit- this was either totally unfounded or has been corrected during the month of april. We’re now in peak times regarding activity- we visit Cyrodiil regularly, we’ll level characters together in the Daggerfall Covenant, we continue to do dungeons from time to time and a member stepped up to invite us into Imperial City.

Goals for may

  • have a guild meeting
  • begin levelling our DC characters
  • continue in Cyrodiil
  • tackle a dungeon or two
  • write a “How to get involved” post on the forums

Blog & Meta

April’s goals

  • seperate Real Life  and gaming stuff – not done. In fact, i’m back to the “normal” blog layout with whole posts on the home page.
  • write more China posts. No, i don’t think this’ll happen. Somehow i feel MMORPG, RL and movie/book blogging don’t mix very well
  • Still need to look more into Anook
  • Still need to get better at commenting

Goals for may

  • have a bigger range in content length. Everything i write is about 1000 words long. I need to be able to keep it short, as well, making the blog more fun and easy to read and maybe get more posts up
  • figure out how i want the site to look and feel. Work on the navigation.
  • provide “deeper” content. I can’t really do guides, because i’m inexperienced, but i’d like to try and offer more value.

Tamriel together – experiencing ESO in a dedicated group

We’ll start our “level together” series in our guild soon. Right now, we’re in the “prologue” part where we’ll play alone until we reach Daggerfall. From there, we’ll make an effort to play together. However, when i thought about ways to do this, normal questing left me with an uneasy feeling. If we were to do all the quests together, there’d be logistics involved- what questlines to follow, what decisions to make and always noting and telling others where we are in the questing process. And overlevelling content would soon begin to be a problem, as well. In the end, i put together a different plan.

Questing

We’ll concentrate on the following types of quests:

  • Main Story Quests
  • Quests that grant skillpoints
  • Mages guild quests
  • Fighters Guild Quests
  • Undaunted Quests

Open World

Instead of questing, we’ll give things in the open world priority, with the added advantage that everything in this category is actually easier/faster when it is done in a group. Most of these things are also marked on the map and for the items that aren’t, i’ve got some addons installed.

Before we decided to found a guild in Elder Scrolls Online, we had already met a few times to play together. At that time, there were four of us and we did everything together- mainly because none of us was actually playing Elder Scrolls Online by themselves (that was something that just happened after our meet-ups) and so the quests were still new to us and also, because my research didn’t show many guides/topics on how ESO could be played in a small or full dedicated group. Now, with some knowledge of the game, i actually think ESO provides plenty of content for small or full dedicated groups- maybe even more than other contemporary MMORPGs. So here’s what you can do as a small or full dedicated group in Elder Scrolls Online and how we’re planning to progress through the zones in our group(s).

  • Delves – Each map contains 6 delves and there’s a skyshard and a boss in each of them. I guess this will become the thread we’ll follow throughout a zone, hopping between Delves, World Bosses, Points-of-Interest and Dolmen. Normally, Delves can be done solo, but it’ll be faster when done in a group. Delves also count towards the Meta-Achievement of zone explorer.
  • Group Bosses – There are 6 group bosses in each zone- you can solo them, but they do get difficult from time to time.
  • Landmarks – These are marked as “eyes” on the map and often, there’s not much to do there, but they are beautiful places, sometimes contain a nice story element and give some xp. They also count towards the meta-achievement of zone explorer. I thinke there are usually five of them in a zone.
  • Dolmen / Anchor – I tried to do an anchor by myself yesterday and it didn’t end well. Anchors are group content- and as such, they’ll be more fun and more rewarding being done in a group. There seem to be three Dolmens in levelling zones.
  • Public Dungeons – Each zone contains one public dungeon- they’re similar to delves but are bigger. We’ll do them when we see them on the map, as the last PvE content in any given zone or to get some progress before doing the zone’s instanced group dungeon.
  • Skyshards – Last but not least, before leaving a zone, we’ll make sure to uncover all skyshards- to get the associated skill points.

Dungeons

In every zone, there’s an instanced group dungeon that can be done in a group of four. I don’t know yet how we’ll approach these, it depends on how many of us are logged in and playing together in a session. We are enough to build two groups, but that’s assuming everyone will log in. My plan is to do them unscaled when we meet the level requirements.

Helpful Addons

While i don’t like using addons much (i much prefer exploring/solving riddles when i’m by myself), in this case it’s advisable, as “exploring”- or “searching for something” is actually a boring thing to do in a group.

  • QuestMap – shows quests on the map and provides filtering options such as “skill point” or “Cadwells silver/gold”
  • Destinations – shows the other locations on the map
  • Skyshards – shows skyshards on the map

With all these, you should know where to go at any point.

Conclusion

My hope is that this system will allow us to make progress in the game by doing the content mentioned above, while not levelling too fast or too slow for any given zone. Logistics-wise, this will be easy: all players who miss out a week or two or want to catch up to us later have to do is reach about the same level as the group (+/- 3). Doing things this way also allows each player to play these characters outside of that group without being afraid to lose touch. While crafting and questing of course do give experience, it’s not necessary that we’re all exactly on the same level at all times, even without level scaling.