Category: "UESP"

On Our Lore Standards

  03:13:00 pm, by   , 1085 words  
Viewed 12969 times since 04/13/14
Categories: UESP, Rants

The UESP's lore section is always a work in progress, and we encourage people to contribute to it. News flash: Perfection Isn't Required! Add as you see fit! We're here to help you add reliable and verifiable info, not hinder you.

Anyway, the following are my thoughts on what we're trying to do with the lore section. TL;DR, unless you're bored.

Creating the lore of the Elder Scrolls is an interactive process. Always has been, to some degree or another. The developers look to what the fans are thinking and taking away from their games, and it influences how they make content moving forward. They are collecting stories, information, how we view the world they created and are continuing to create, and then picking the bits they liked best. You may have noticed allusions to this process by the developers, in-game and otherwise.

The problem is, not all lore is the same. There's official lore, and unofficial lore. Notice, I'm not talking about whether something is "canon". Look at the lore guidelines. There's nothing about "canon" in there. Rather, we're talking in terms of in-game lore and out-of-game lore (OOG). "In-game" in practice means "official", as we have treated anything which has Bethesda's formal, official "stamp of approval" as "in-game" for our purposes. The novels, game manuals, pocket guides, and spin-off games, for instance. (Update - the guidelines have been revised to acknowledge this official/unofficial distinction.)

Then, there's unofficial lore. This is stuff which the greater community is familiar with, most notably the works of the prolific TES contract writer and former developer Michael Kirkbride, but which has not been expressly incorporated into the games or other official supplements to the game world. Many of the people here love it, myself included. Many excellent sites cater to this unofficial lore, and I will avoid mentioning names only because I don't want to insult anyone by omitting them. Go out there, find them, absorb their stories, pick the stuff you like best, and make that your Elder Scrolls. This is your "monkey truth".

Time and again, the developers have acknowledged bits and pieces of monkey truth. It is by definition the stuff so good that it should have been in the games, so naturally, they feel need to incorporate it in some way moving forward. So go out there are pick it, you monkeys!

But catering to this unofficial lore has never been our purpose. We're here to provide accurate and verifiable information.

This policy has been criticized, because so much monkey truth has proven to be "accurate and verifiable", and it seems like understanding the Elder Scrolls requires some understanding of it. Sometimes, if you want to understand what something in-game is referring to, you need to know something they have never made explicit in the games.

This is why we allow some OOG citations, preferably when they have the blessing of the community, when it helps to explain in-game content.

But sometimes it feels like a disservice to a topic to include some of its points but not all. And some OOG writings are more widely known and cherished by the Elder Scrolls fanbase than the finer points of, say, Battlespire lore. So why not document everything? Short answer: because the game developers did not see fit to do so.

Apparently, when Jimeee explained to Michael Kirkbride why it was unlikely his stellar OOG epic c0da would be documented by the UESP, he replied, "Whatever, wiki-man. Your site always plays catch up. It always has."

A valid criticism. But also a compliment, in a way. The UESP is not really concerned with documenting where the Elder Scrolls is going. We're here to document where it has been. It necessarily entails that we are always striving to catch up, and never inventing.

While many of us here are big fans of the monkey truth and we all have our own personal headcanon, this site is dedicated to maintaining the integrity of the content. The UESP is like pings of sonar between submarines. With every revision, we say "This is where I'm at. Where are you all now?" Imagine if we all included our own OOG headcanon into the quest guides. No, we couldn't knowingly allow anything that was not accurate and verifiable by the standards of the community in those. And it can't be any different in the lore section. We compromise this only when we're forced to, when doing so is necessary to provide contextual information on something which the developers have not adequately explained in-game. It is ancillary to explaining the in-game content.

But why not do away with OOG altogether? All or nothing? Well, again, because we're being forced to flesh out articles. And if I have to do some necessary elaboration in an article concerning a topic which is never properly elucidated in the games, relying on Michael Kirkbride's words, official or not, is bound to be more reliable than utilizing my own personal, vague impressions.

I've heard rumors that some game developers have been known to check on us once and a while. This is both the greatest complement we could possibly receive, and terrifying, because I'm terribly aware of how much work we still need to do.

But could you blame them? Even if each person there knows every bit of past TES lore off the top of their heads (and who does?), they've got their own "Bible" of secrets about the world, I'm sure. How are they supposed to keep track of what their audience already knows and what only they know about the Elder Scrolls lore? Keep in mind, they're just a group of people, and individuals come and go with each game. How are they supposed to keep the world they've built as consistent as possible from game to game, and thereby preserve that all-important element of immersion for their RPG series?

Well, that's what the UESP lore section is here to do: we're chopping out all that unnecessary game-mechanic info which is specific to each game, and saying, "This is what we've been told, this is where we've been, as completely and as accurately as we can convey it given our limited manpower."

The only thing we need to do this job right? More people, helping the cause! So if a more consistent, vivid, immersive TES world is something you want, help us make sure that your fellow fans and possibly even the architects of your favorite series are all on the same page. Or Pages.

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A Wiki In The Age Of Reddit

  01:12:00 pm, by   , 568 words  
Viewed 3540 times since 04/08/14
Categories: Elder Scrolls, Misc, UESP

I originally penned this post back in September of 2013 and left it as a draft. It's interesting that I saw the same things then that Damon sees now. It makes me wish I had posted it back then rather than wait until now.

UESP is the best Wiki in the world when it comes to The Elder Scrolls games. How do I know this? When Dave (owner and founder of UESP) went to the Beer Garden festival and spoke to the creators of The Elder Scrolls Online, they told him they used UESP as a source. That’s right. When they couldn’t remember something, or needed information, one of the places they turned to was the UESP Wiki! Besides that being crazy cool, it is also telling of how well put together this Wiki is. Major props to everyone who has worked on the Wiki. Phenomenal work.

So where do we go from here? The world is changing, evolving, getting faster and more connected. Gone are the days when established sites were first to get the scoops, releasing them on a time table. Instead, rumors and news swirl around at a hundred miles an hour on sites like Reddit. Creators are actively engaging their supporters directly through Twitter. Projects that would never have seen the light of day are now getting fully funded through crowd-sourcing their capital at sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo. The world is getting smaller and more interactive at a blistering pace. Can a Wiki keep up? Is it still the best way to relay information to the masses demanding it? Are cold hard facts enough for a generation who has grown up questioning whether there is such a thing as truth? I don’t know.

When UESP started back in 1995 as The Unofficial Daggerfall FAQ, the web was just getting started. Sites were popping up left and right. They were written in HTML and maybe AJAX. They didn’t change very often, and most weren’t open to public commentary, let alone public editing. When the format of the UESP changed to a Wiki in 2005 (ten years later) it was a huge leap forward. It opened the floodgates for anyone with information to create, edit and improve the information held in the site. It has worked well thus far, and is still effective in being able to deliver its content to its audience, but what of the future?

We are two short years away from the twenty year anniversary of the UESP as a whole, and the ten year anniversary of it as a Wiki. As with anything, if a site stays unchanging it can easily become outdated and irrelevant to the world around it. Don’t get me wrong. I love the UESP and use it exclusively for my Elder Scrolls games information. My question to you, as a userbase, as co-creators of this site, is what should the UESP look like in the future? Is the Wiki format powerful enough and engaging enough for the generation that are just now getting online, or playing their first Elder Scrolls game? Will UESP change? Should it change? And if so, how? These are all questions that need to be asked, thought about, and answered. I want UESP to be around for my kids and grandkids to enjoy, and I want it to be a place that they would enjoy coming to.

The question remains, and needs to be answered.

ESO - Where do we go from here?

  09:48:00 pm, by Damon   , 711 words  
Viewed 5477 times since 04/04/14
Categories: UESP

This musing of me was brought about by an IRC discussion going on earlier this evening.

The Elder Scrolls Online has been up for playing for the last many days now, because of the early release, and UESP has seen very few new users in response to ESO so far. I remember the deluge that came with Skyrim like it was only a few days ago, and not two years ago. Traffic was crazy to the site, and there was furious editing from many new users and anonymous editors, but with ESO, it's very quiet still.

There are a handful of new users around, including some of our forum users who have popped over to do wiki work as well, but the edits to the site are fairly few from new users in general. We have a handful of editors who are working tirelessly to create pages, but with that much work being done, which used to be handled by bot, they simply can't focus on filling in articles themselves in addition to playing.

Part of the reason for the slower traffic from new users could simply be from the amount of websites that have sprung up in response to ESO. I can think of a half-dozen new sites off the top of my head that sprung up just in response to ESO, not to mention the Elder Scrolls Wikia on the Wikia network, which has always been serious competition against UESP, simply because of its connection to the wiki network. When Skyrim released, there were two big sites to focus on for adding information to. UESP and TESWikia. Now, that's simply no longer true, and that means that for UESP there are less users available to the user pool, as they are spread out thiner.

While I believe that UESP is the best source for all things related to The Elder Scrolls, the competition is stiff. For instance, several sites also have a beautiful interactive map that is simply and intuitive to use and navigate. It lacks some features, like the labelling of locations that we have, and I don't know how editable they are (frankly, I don't know how easy to edit user-editable map is either, having not used it), but the point is, features that we once prided ourselves as being the only ones to posses, are no longer truly uniquely ours, and a search for "ESO Online map" doesn't put us on the first page of Google. There's competition out there, and while UESP carries all of the big features and traits to some degree, to completely discount a competitor as being a true threat to UESP's ability to dominate the field when there are so many resources available would be a mistake.

On to new users, it's ignorant to assume that all people coming into ESO are Elder Scrolls fans to begin with, and are not just here because of the fact that ESO is an MMO would be ignorant. Word of mouth can work with the Elder Scrolls fans who are passionate about the series and have been around for years, because we've catered to those people, but ESO is new territory. MMO users are going to be looking for a place to dump information about ESO, and UESP isn't necessarily at the top of Google anymore when you search for ESO related things.

TESWiki, for instance, gets higher hits because it's part of the Wikia network, and the simple fact that all these people familiar with MMOs contribute to MMO wikis on Wikia (because Wikia has all the bigger MMO wikis). That means TESWiki immediately has an advantage over us, because of the ease of just jumping from one wiki to another on Wikia.

My question that all of this musing is leading up to is this: How does UESP need to change to make ourselves better than the competition in the MMO world?

This is new territory for all TES sites, so we're all on roughly equal footing with ESO in my opinion, and we need to be above the others, just like with all the other games in the series, which we've managed to dominate in terms of online coverage.

Change, whether major or subtle, needs to happen for UESP to remain a serious competitor in the world of MMOs.

ESO and UESP - A Public Service Announcement

  01:30:00 am, by Damon   , 259 words  
Viewed 3004 times since 03/30/14
Categories: Welcome, UESP

Everyone, The Elder Scrolls Online is finally due to be unveiled to pre-order buyers in a few hours, and I'd like to leave a quick Public Service Announcement.

UESP is the highest quality fan-based website related to The Elder Scrolls, and it's for good reason. We have our many high quality, meticulously organised namespaces to categorise and document each game, we have our marvellous online maps, and we've got a large, active community who can be found on our IRC  channel, on our forums, and within the Wiki itself, who are all just as excited for the release as you all are, and it's these many, innumerable fans who make UESP so great with all their hard work and dedication to the site.

Everyone is encouraged to take part in editing our site and helping it to continue to grow with this new release in the TES series, and we have numerous mentors, patrollers, and administrators who are more than happy to help each and every individual user have the best UESP experience they can have.

Our forum has a fun, excited energy to it with anticipation for the release, and all things TES - including TESO - can be discussed in the appropriate sections.

Have fun, play nice both in-game and on the wiki, and enjoy our sites. I encourage each of you to register and take part in this marvellous community!

If you want assistance editing on the wiki or have general questions, don't be afraid to ask on the forums, contact a Mentor, or visit our Help pages!

AKB's Auto Korrect Blog: Will There be Another Elder Scrolls Game?

  07:02:00 pm, by AKB   , 714 words  
Viewed 3164 times since 03/27/14
Categories: Elder Scrolls, UESP, Rants
What it all comes down to

Does Bethesda like money?

Seems like a simple answer, right? Yes, obviously. While people never ask that question, people seem to have extreme doubts over whether or not Bethesda is willing to make the games that just so happen to make them that money they love so dearly. As long as there is more money to be made making Elder Scrolls than there is in not making them, we will continue to see Elder Scrolls games. A better question to ask is if Bethesda has enough other projects on the side to not only keep them occupied, but are profitable enough for them not to need to go back to their main franchise.

As far as I'm concerned, the real risk of Bethesda not creating new Elder Scrolls games comes solely from the fact that they have become quite successful due to them. Look at their release history, particularly the "Other Games" section. More and more often than not, especially since they started to feel the need to distinguish between the game studio portion of Bethesda and the software company, Bethesda is not making the games themselves, they are publishing them. At the time of writing, none of the forthcoming games that Bethesda is involved with are being developed by Bethesda. Like the extremely dubious company slogan we claimed they used since all the way back to the early days of the UESPWiki, the more we've played with them, the bigger they got. From Bethesda's humble origins of creating games for systems like the Atari or Commodore, they've grown into one of the largest software companies in America.

So is there a reasonable risk that Bethesda will simply move away from Elder Scrolls games? Well, no and yes. No company is ever going to just up and abandon valuable intellectual property like ES, but they might take a more hands-off approach to the series in the future. Like with the increasingly imminent next installment in the franchise, The Elder Scrolls Online. We have seen a handful of non-Bethesda ES games in the past, such as with TES Travels, a spin-off series that existed to create some really tricky trivia questions that only people with an N-Cage or empirical knowledge of the UESP might know. In fact, now that I think about it, almost all of the spin-offs have been pretty bad. If ESO sucks, at least we can say they were staying true to the franchise.

Now if you're anything like I imagine you to be (mostly constantly making lewd gestures at the monitor with the hope I shall somehow know you are doing it. I do), you might be a bit upset at the idea of a Bethesda not making the series that made them famous anymore. And to that, I just have to say Bethesda Softworks and Bethesda Game Studios are just a bunch of utterly meaningless words for as much as they affect my opinion of the games. A good game is a good game, regardless of who makes it. Going beyond that, a development studio is not as important as the names behind it. If you can make a good product, I don't care if you call yourself Dog Vomit Interactive. Well, I do, that's a rather appalling name for your business there, imaginary company.  But even then, I don't truly care all that much about the people behind it either. The fact that Julian Lefay, "The Father of The Elder Scrolls",   has not had anything reaching official involvement in the series since Battlespire has not harmed my opinion of the rest of the series that he was largely responsible for creating. In fact, I've liked the games that came after his departure much more than anything before it.

While it might not have Bethesda at the helm, the team we are familiar with, or the game features we expect, and likely not very good, The Elder Scrolls series will never truly die. If Bethesda were to somehow go belly up tomorrow, I'm sure there will still be the fans and other companies to pick up the pieces. And then they'll run it straight into the ground with all of their shitty ideas that ruin all that we love. That was supposed to be a comforting ending somehow, I'm sorry.