ESO - Where do we go from here?

  09:48:00 pm, by Damon   , 711 words  
Viewed 5340 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.

 Permalink1 comment »

ESO: The Good and the Bad

  12:36:00 am, by   , 1138 words  
Viewed 8979 times since 04/02/14
Categories: Elder Scrolls

Hey there! I'm Vely, new to the blog. First post here.

Anyway, the past number of posts have been rather negative, criticizing The Elder Scrolls as a whole and especially Elder Scrolls Online. While ESO certainly has its issues--bugs, perhaps, being some of the least among them--it's also an Elder Scrolls game and doubtless to have a number of memorable experiences in it.

When I played in beta, I kept going for the Ebonheart Pact. Morrowind, after all, has remained my favorite game in the series since I first picked it up in 2004. The first day, I was excited. Really excited. I was returning to Morrowind and even Skyrim, the same world with all new content. I was amazed. I wandered in wonder. I played all day and did whatever I could do. There were issues, like no loot and people everywhere, but that's beta, when everyone is at the same point as you.

Second day, the novelty sort of wore off. Twenty people in the same dungeon? It felt unrealistic, like everything I'd loved about the previous TES games wasn't there anymore. People populating the world was wonderful, but everyone doing the same, ever-so-important quests and dungeons at the same time felt broken. I didn't like it.

Next beta test, I picked EP again. I got to Morrowind and... well, all the quests were dull. I had to collect and retrieve things. Light fires. Kill x amount of beasts or NPCs. Act as messenger. The same monotonous activities one can find in any other MMO. Not to mention the Prophet's quests. Going through them once was enough. Twice? Without skipping his long rants? No thanks. I tried Aldmeri Dominion for a short while, but got bored after going to the beach to save crash survivors or something. It all felt repetitive.

Now, with early access, I've joined Aldmeri Dominion again. I skipped the tutorial--thank god for that option!--and moved onto the main quests. I skipped the two side quests--beach and temple--and followed Razum-dar to Mistral. Not before picking up a quest to innovatively save a plantation from a rat infestation via pitting thunderbugs against the rats, of course. Or following a spirit's instructions to gather and destroy evil tomes, a supposedly simple gather quest that was actually rather complex, also pulling in fun lore tidbits and a daedra prince at the same time.

And, of course, at Mistral, I ran into a nonviolent city quest. Very easy, but very interesting, as it really helped to explain what was going on with the area, and it was just as fun to play as it is to read an intriguing story. The following quest is a bit more generic, considering it's really just "move from point A to point B, and also kill/activate stuff", but it had its own story.

Quests in Ebonheart Pact were boring and repetitive. Quests in Aldmeri Dominion do things right: They give you a fun story, lovable characters, and a touch of humor to transform typical quests into something that feels new. That is an artist's touch. That is what makes a game shine.

Talking about the characters, the NPCs look awesome. Maybe not top graphics, but they're designed to be much more aesthetically pleasing than in previous games, and I am a fan. And, while so many of them just have simple one-liners, as is necessary for population in an MMO, they all have unque lines. Every single one of them. And if they don't? Excellent job of making that unnoticeable.

Their personalities, for those who speak more, are wonderful. The Silvenar and Harrani are kind, worried people, and I can't help but want to talk to them more. Razum-dar is intriguing and mysterious, also bringing a wonderful element of humor to the game from the very first conversation. Ealcil's a bit rude, per typical sorcerors, but he's also great to have around, with the lines he has. (Not to mention his face and voice actor. They really outdid themselves, making Altmer so attractive in this game!)

Even those whom I don't meet for more than a few minutes are awesome. Joining the Mages Guild, for example, led to a nice conversation with a cool guy. I haven't returned yet, but I just remember that I liked him. Since when was something so basic as joining a guild interesting?

Onto another topic: Crafting. It's fun. Simple, but fun. Unfortunately, there's a bit of a grind for everything except provisioning, but I really do like it. It's a fairly new way to craft objects in games, and the gathering nodes function the same as they have in previous games--don't need to fix it if it's not broken. Not that the grind is particularly bad, either, as I can still make items way past my current level.

Gear, on the other hand, is a bit less fun. I haven't found any out in the wild, except maybe a sword. Quests can take a while to complete, but I don't always want the item rewards. I can craft stuff, sure, but it's not very fun. However, with the diverse armors there are already, I expect I'll find something I really enjoy before long.

But for positive things, we need to mention those that are more obvious. The UI, which is smooth and, while slightly confusing, relatively comfortable. The scenery, which is downright gorgeous in areas and never ugly. The vast amount of space and content, too: Mistral feels huge and lively when I'm wandering about doing quests, and it's just a single town!

And those issues I had in beta earlier? With too many people in areas? Well, it still feels strange to not be the only one poking around in a tomb or doing something important, or to see an important enemy NPC die multiple times, but it happens way less often now. What really makes the MMO work is cities and wilderness, though. The cities are populated. I don't know who's an NPC and who's not, at a glance, and that's more than okay with me. In the wilderness, there's a few travelers, players and NPCs alike. Just enough to populate the area a little bit, but few enough to make it feel like you're truly going your own way and not just following the flow.

Overall, I am satisfied with ESO for the moment. It's fun, and I love the quests, characters, and areas. I'm not even a lore guy and I'm fascinated by all this lore I'm finding! I have high hopes for ESO right now, and I'm optimistic that it will remain entertaining. Whether it can last for long enough to keep me for another month, and whether all the content is as interesting and innovative as I'm finding it to be, remains to be seen.

I just hope it is.

Peter Hines on the ESO Subscription

  09:24:00 pm, by   , 260 words  
Viewed 3047 times since 04/01/14
Categories: Elder Scrolls, News

Bethesda's Vice President of Marketing and Public Relations, Peter Hines, made some comments earlier regarding Elder Scrolls Online, which, if you're looking to buy, will cost you roughly $55-$145 USD depending on where and what edition you purchase. See here.

I thought some comments related to the monthly $15 subscription fee required to keep playing the game after 30 days were remarkable. But I've done enough remarking lately. So I'll just leave it to Hines and let you fill in the gaps:


"If you don’t like the game, of course you’re not subscribing to it [...] You get the game, you get your first month ..."

"[If] for example, you love Skyrim, you played it for 125 hours, but after three or four weeks you were done, then you can do the exact same thing in Elder Scrolls Online."

"You can buy it, play the hell out of it for four weeks and go ‘Eh! I’m done. I did everything I wanted to do [...] now I’m out.’ Then you’re out."

"The initial purchase is exactly the same as any other PC game because you don’t have to pay for the subscription until your 30 days is up."

“If there are ten million subscribers after a month, then [I don't have to worry]. If I have just ten people playing the game, then that’s a different scenario and we’d have to do something [...] In between there are literally a billion different possibilities [...]"

"I don’t see us learning something that’s like ‘we never saw THAT coming!' We do so much testing. But I don’t know. I think it’s TBD.”

Ebonarm - REJECT THE RETCON

  10:45:00 pm, by   , 703 words  
Viewed 4024 times since 03/30/14
Categories: Elder Scrolls, Rants

Let me say first of all that I may be getting ahead of myself; I've only had a chance to view and experience a very small slice of ESO. I have no idea what they may have planned, and I may be misinterpreting things.

 

 

That being said, ATTACK IN THE NAME OF THE EBON ARM!! SHOW NO MERCY!!

 

 

I noticed that ESO included a new version of From The Memory Stone of Makela Leki, a wonderful, rich, often-overlooked text from the ancient days of  TES II: Daggerfall. I was delighted, as it was one of the many older texts which I had been hoping to see again in a TES game.

 

Then I read the changes in  the new version.

 

Many of the changes were insubstantial (not to mention entirely unnecessary and maybe even detrimental, but I'll save that rant for another day). But one change was substantial, and it really bugged me: they killed Ebonarm.

If you're unfamiliar with Ebonarm, see the link above. He's a God of War in the Iliac Bay region. Or at least, he was. He hasn't been mentioned since Daggerfall, but that's hardly surprising. Many, many things have disappeared from TES, only to return with gusto a few years later. That is what many of us have always loved about TES: the integrity and detail of the vast, strange world it presents to us. Almost every little thing about it seems to be carefully thought out and meticulously incorporated (almost; spare me the list, lore masters). The deeper down the rabbit hole you go, the more wonders you will find; that is TES. So naturally, on the wiki, we presume things remain "true" from game to game unless and until they are controverted.

Well, with ESO, Ebonarm's existence is now controverted. We've all been busy with ESO preparations, so I didn't even notice the absence of Ebonarm until I saw that mentions of him were actively omitted from Memory Stone of Makela Leki. But, looking back, I realized that Ebonarm's not mentioned in Varieties of Faith in Tamriel, or anywhere else I could find where a mention of a god of war would be expected. He has been written out of TES.

NO.

I've had plenty to grumble about with ESO (see Legoless' forum discussion and my previous rant), but it's mostly been over relatively small mistakes and similarly inconsequential changes. But this is different. The only gods I can think of in a similar situation are Seth, a god from Arena who has not been heard from since (most likely an abandoned concept), and Sai, a god of luck whose story is somewhat intertwined with Ebonarm's (meaning that if Ebonarm has been erased, Sai is most likely gone, too).

But unlike Seth, Ebonarm is actually an interesting character, and one with significant backstory. Take a look at the books The Ebon Arm and Oelander's Hammer. He's an enemy of all Daedric Princes. There were temples dedicated to him in TES II, for ****s sake. More importantly, he has room to grow. It's not just what they're throwing out that I find objectionable, but what they're failing to add. Ebonarm's a diamond in the rough, filled with potential. And what I expect, nay, demand, from The Elder Scrolls series is that they polish their diamonds, rather than chuck them into the trash.

I was resigned to simply add this to the list of black eyes ESO has given to the lore, until Pilaf the Defiler inspired me to fight back. So here we are. Don't tacitly accept the end of Ebonarm. Demand an explanation! Push for a reversal! Next time Zenimax wants to have a Q&A, chant the name of the Black Knight. When they ask what you would like to see, request the ebony-clad ginger with the mightiest of swordarms. Fight for the Black Knight. Shout from the rooftops that we're mad as hell, and we're not gonna take it anymore!

 

 

Or, at least, add this userbox to your user page.

 

Pilaf also pointed me to this dissertation on Ebonarm from IceFireWarden over at the illustrious Imperial Library. Speculative, but definitely worth a read.

 

And now for something completely different, courtesy of AddictedtoMorrowind on the forums:

Thanks for reading

ESO and UESP - A Public Service Announcement

  01:30:00 am, by Damon   , 259 words  
Viewed 2879 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!