Category: "Elder Scrolls"

Why Oblivion's Main Quest isn't up to par

  02:08:00 am, by Damon   , 663 words  
Viewed 4689 times since 06/29/14
Categories: Games, Elder Scrolls

I'll cut to the point for this post, as I've got nothing particularly interesting to add to it. I was playing some Oblivion on my brother's Playstation for the first time in forever, and I remembered why I never play Oblivion, but still am madly in love with Morrowind.

Let's just cut to the chase - first off, it's not a very original idea to fight off a demonic invasion of the world, so to begin with that could have been polished a little more. But, I'll just let that point slide for now. This second point is what really grinds me about Oblivion...

SO MUCH of the MQ is a fetch-quest.

  1. Get the Amulet to Jauffre.
  2. Fetch a sigil stone to close Kvatch's gate.
  3. Fetch the Count's ring
  4. Fetch Martin
  5. Find Barus and then fetch the 4 commentaries
  6. Fetch the Xarxes
  7. Fetch a Daedric Artifact
  8. Fetch Tiber's armor
  9. Fetch the support of the Counts to aid Bruma
  10. Fetch the Great Sigil Stone
  11. Fetch the Amulet
  12. Battle for the Imperial City

That's the gist of the MQ. It didn't feel particularly interesting, and despite feeling relatively short next to Morrowind and Skyrim (in my own opinion), it felt like it just DRAGGED on. And, after a while, you start to get tired of being the errand boy. C'mon, Marin! I know you're Emperor and I'm a Blade, but there are a dozen of them in the fortress! It's someone else's turn to go fetch items.

That's where I felt Morrowind excelled (yes, I know I love Morrowind and talk of it a lot - because it IS the best). The quests varied a little more than straight collection quests.

For instance, Morrowind, you had to initially fetch some notes for Caius Cosades, but once that was done, you were out in the field exploring and experiencing Vvardenfell, being sent by Caius to visit Great Houses, tribal clans, explore dungeons, or just go do whatever you fancy, as Caius on numerous occasions dismises the player specifically to go visit guilds or quest, because you're one of the secretive spy Blades (not the ceremonial warrior Blades of Oblivion who are personal guards to the Sovereign) and you have to keep your cover identity as a citizen and adventerer/mercenary intact.

You were constantly being immersed into this province's culture, and the world felt more real than the standard fantasy towns of Cyrodiil that you had to rush through, as the Main Quest always felt pressured to be finished, because everything was urgently needed (which is appropros for what the story is, but it makes it harder to experience the open world, in my opinion as a roleplayer and not a power-gamer).

Don't get me wrong, I have no problem with errand boy quests on the side (such as Skyrim's Radiant quests where you go out to gather herbs, deliver papers or items), but those quests are supposed to be fun little atmospheric quests to help you experience people, those quests enable you to visit other people and experience all these different areas, because it's a casual thing.

Oblivion sent you to quite remote regions that typically had little to see, because the map was so... bland. The Lake Arrius caverns and the area around the Shrine of Azura, for instance, were around trees and rocks. The same thing I could look at in my  yard. And, the Shrine itself, while a nice representation of who the Prince of Dawn and Dusk is, is still a bland and boring experience, compared to others. For instance, Azura's in Skyrim stood on a Mountain and was visible from long distances, and when you approached, being so many times larger, it felt monumental and it was an experience to hike up the mountain to find it.

But, I'm starting to digress. Point is, Oblivion is subpar for the Main Quest, thanks to the nature of fetching things all the time. Then, I broke away into irritation at the landscape, because I was rambling.

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A Review of ESO's Customer Service

  01:35:00 am, by Alarra   , 785 words  
Viewed 8459 times since 06/21/14
Categories: Elder Scrolls

It was the morning of April 4th.  I’d played the ESO betas, and was looking forward to getting started with my real character at launch.  After creating her and pulling my lovely Imperial Edition and preorder bonuses from the mail, I was ready to start.  I ran into the room where you receive your first weapon…. and fell through the floor underneath the world.  No amount of /stuck or /reloadui or logging out and in would fix it (in fact it would kick me from the game after about 20 seconds), and I couldn’t just delete the character and start again since I’d redeemed my one-time Imperial Edition bonuses, so I was left with contacting ESO Support.

 

That’s what I’d like to talk about today:  ESO’s support center.  One of the things that has really impressed me so far is their customer service.  I have had to contact them a few times so far (not counting reporting gold spammers) and they’ve come through every time.   Their response times are fast: one issue that kept me from even logging in was answered in an hour, I got help with the aforementioned falling-through-the-ground issue in a few hours, and when I reported a scam email with suggestions on how to improve their “how to tell if it’s fake” message, they replied in just fifteen minutes  thanking me specifically – very different from their generic “thanks for reporting spam” auto-response for in-game gold-spam reports – and I could see that they had escalated the case to the higher-ups to take a look (who thanked me as well two days later saying they’d passed the suggestion along to their teams).

 

The issue that took the longest was an unusual one that I wasn’t sure they’d even be able to help with.  It’s a well-known fact that the Imperial Edition physical items didn’t have the best workmanship: many people have complained of the Molag Bal statue being misaligned or broken.  My problem was unusual, though, and I’ve not found anyone online with the same thing: my copy of the Improved Emperor’s Guide to Tamriel came misprinted.  It repeated a section of pages, replacing what should have gone there.  Which, with my luck, happened to be the pages about the Altmer and the Summerset Isles, which is what I most was looking forward to.  Considering that the book was the real reason I got the Imperial Edition, I was very unhappy when I realized this.
It did take a while – both individual responses and the potential of anything happening – because they weren’t really sure how to handle it or if they could do anything, but once they were able to pass it to someone who was able to help, it got resolved quickly.  They paid to have my bad copy shipped to them, and the day after they told me they’d sent the replacement, I was surprised to find it in the mail.  They’d done overnight shipping and got it here, over 900 miles away, in one day, which was really awesome of them.  I am very excited to have received it and would like to give special thanks to those at Zenimax Online Support who helped me with this, if you ever happen to read this.

 

The other big thing that has impressed me, in addition to the speed of the service and the fact that they were able to take care of that book issue, is the very personal tone in the response.   Compared to other customer experiences I’ve had with other companies, it feels like these guys are less detached and more involved.  When I was stuck falling through the ground (and forced to play on a second character in the meantime), the gamemaster that helped me in-game was real cool and kept me updated frequently as I played, even if he hadn’t found a solution yet, so that I knew he was still there and working on it.  I really appreciated that.  Once he’d gotten it taken care of, he even parted with an in-character farewell, which made me smile.  That experience in particular was really memorable, and I’ve talked about it to friends both online and in real life. 

 

That’s how you definitely know you’re doing customer service right, if the customer’s experience was so good that they tell others about it.  The first time I needed help, I was dreading how long it might take to get resolved, and really wasn’t sure what to expect.  I was very pleasantly surprised.  In the few times I’ve needed them since then, they’ve continued with this excellent service, and I’m glad to know that if I need any help regarding ESO in the future, that’s the sort of support that’s ready and waiting.

ESO Update - Veteran Dungeons, Console Progress, & Raptr Stats

  03:18:00 pm, by   , 94 words  
Viewed 5624 times since 06/20/14
Categories: Elder Scrolls, News

The recent blog from Zenimax discussed veteran dungeons and gave a preview of Crypt of Hearts content.

According to GamingBolt, ESO creative director Paul D. Sage revealed that they already have ESO running on consoles at 30 fps and are making strides to increase the frame rate.

Raptr, an online gaming platform and community site which claims to have over 22 million users, lists ESO as #8 in their May 2014 rankings of the most popular games amongst their users. Playtime hours dropped 39%, and there was a 22% decrease in the number of Raptr users playing the game.

Todd Howard Interview & ESO Update

  06:58:00 pm, by   , 120 words  
Viewed 3951 times since 06/15/14
Categories: Elder Scrolls, News

GameStar, a PC gaming magazine in Germany, recently sat down with Bethesda Game Director and Executive Producer Todd Howard. The twenty-minute interview largely focuses on discussing The Elder Scrolls. Topics include Germany (home to the second-largest TES community), game development and platforms, the trend toward open-world games, and how TES III: Morrowind saved the company.

Edit- Also, on their blog, Zenimax just revealed that the launch content for the PS4 and Xbox One versions of ESO will include most if not all of the updates they release between now and then, including Craglorn. They also discuss some other improvements to the game they are planning.

The new 1.1.5 update to ESO implemented a host of minor quest bug fixes; see here.

Is ESO Dead?

  01:47:00 pm, by   , 140 words  
Viewed 12193 times since 06/08/14
Categories: Elder Scrolls, Rants

Player complaints are surfacing that Elder Scrolls Online is "dead" (see Reddit). While exact figures are unknown, a substantial amount of players have let their subscriptions expire, the release of the Craglorn content was rocky, and players are finding it more difficult to find people to play with and enjoy their experience. Gaming commentators are starting to talk openly about how the game can be saved, which never bodes well.

I'm reminded of the comments of Bethesda's Vice President of Marketing and Public Relations Peter Hines. I can't help but think that they are now facing a "different scenario" which is going to require some compromises on their end.

*cough*Freetoplay*cough*

The next update is supposed to be available around June 23, so I guess we'll find out in about two weeks what the master plans are for the game moving forward.