ESO Reviews in Progress

  10:21:00 pm, by   , 124 words  
Viewed 14016 times since 04/29/14
Categories: Elder Scrolls

I generally ignore game reviews, but now that people with no financial incentive to mislead others have had a substantial amount of time to play Elder Scrolls Online, reviews which are at least theoretically unbiased are starting to come out. Judging from what I've seen, the general opinion can be summarized as "an inferior, money-sucking, half-completed beta of Guild Wars 2". A few I've looked over:

Shoddycast podcast review & written review (bemused)

MMO fan (generally positive)

Gamespot (yawn)

TES gamer (irate)

Angry Joe review (take a guess)

Francis (lololol)

The upside is that it's becoming more and more likely ESO will become free to play in the near future.

Edit- By the way, the final ESO boss fight can be viewed here. Spoilers, obviously.

 Permalink3 comments »

On Our Lore Standards

  03:13:00 pm, by   , 1085 words  
Viewed 12876 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.

Zenimax recommends out-of-game trading site

  03:06:00 pm, by   , 97 words  
Viewed 10263 times since 04/11/14
Categories: Rants

Don't use Twitter? Then you're a good person. Kidding, obviously. I don't know about you, but I'm still hoping this particularly vapid social media fad will die out. Bunch of narcissists, activists with agendas, and generally stupid ... well, twits. No thanks. And by that, I mean that I offer no thanks to the people who infected the world with this crap.

But just so you're aware, Zenimax recommended the TESO Elite forums as the place to go for trading in-game ESO goods. So go see if you can pawn off all your fishing tackle and Coldharbour rags!

Money in ESO

  04:28:00 pm, by Jeancey   , 418 words  
Viewed 14407 times since 04/08/14
Categories: Elder Scrolls

One of the greatest aspects of ESO in comparison to other MMOs, for me, is the economy. It reminds me of old school World of Warcraft, in that having and getting gold is a big deal. For the average player in ESO, getting a Motif book is important for two reasons: One, they are rare so crafters always are looking for more racial styles, and two, Motif books are selling for a large amount. The average price of a Motif book right now is around 1,000 gold, either in zone chat or in one of the several trading organizations that have sprung up (another genius development of the economy that I will expand on later).

Now, 1,000 gold may not seem like a lot to those familiar with other MMOs. In terms of World of Warcraft, for instance, 1,000 gold in ESO is the equivalent of 10 silver in WoW, which is practically nothing. However, in ESO, due to the scarcity of gold and lack of high selling items, 1,000 gold could be 10% of a player's total savings. 10% is a lot to add or subtract from ones stores. Beyond this, there are several things that cost a large amount of money, such as constant use of the wayshrines or buying a horse. In any case, I love the scarcity of currency in ESO.

Now more on the Trading Guilds. This is where the genius of ZeniMax becomes apparent. By not putting a global auction house into the game, and by allowing players to join multiple guilds, ZeniMax has put the power of the economy in various powerful Trading Guilds. These guilds allow anyone to join, and are there for the sole purpose to allow its members to buy and sell items in the guild store. This, in many ways, makes it a much more realistic microcosm of an economy, as you can only trade with a small number of players, but the economy overall stays stable, as players can join multiple trading guilds, and players can trade outside of those guilds as well, via zone chat.

In any case, I'll end with a suggestion on how to make money: Provisioning. Specifically, crafting food items. The materials themselves are everywhere and a stack of 100 sells for 400 gold, which is relatively easy if you pick up one or two of the Chef passives. In this way, you can get several thousand gold in a few days, which could be the difference between getting that last Motif, or having to continue crafting that awful Bosmer gear.

A Wiki In The Age Of Reddit

  01:12:00 pm, by   , 568 words  
Viewed 3408 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.