Tuesday, June 24, 2014

A Long Road Ahead For Elder Scrolls Online, An open letter to Zenimax

  One of the latest MMOs, Elder Scrolls Online has been out nearly two months now. The studio has had time to further polish the game after launch and has recently released the largest patch-fix yet along with their first new content piece: Craglorn & Trials. Between the amount of time I've put into playing the game and the studio has put into working on it, I felt it was as good a time as any to review the game, but found myself getting into a few specifics and moving out of simple review territory. If you simply want a basic review of the game, I felt I covered most of this during my PTS review (read it here) and wanted to move onto a more in-depth conversation about the game. Prepare yourself, this will be a long one.

  I've been curious about many of the reviews since launch as the playtime by testers was way too small compared to the size of the game. My own experience has been pretty extensive with ESO -- I've played in the PTS testing, beta testing, and consistently since launch. I have one character currently at VR12 (max level as of now) that has been at max level (VR10 at the time) for weeks now. Another at VR2 and two more still leveling in the standard 1-50 non-vet range. I've completed all of the group dungeon content (not including the newly released Trials - though I have played in them) and spent quite a bit of time in PvP. I've maxed out every crafting profession between the two vet characters, experimented with different playstyles and classes, etc. So I feel as if I've tested the game thoroughly at this point, and hopefully you do as well.

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Thursday, March 20, 2014

Q&A with ESO Developer Team

   Although there has been a ton of information coming out lately for Elder Scrolls Online, with the fast pace the team continues to make changes to the game before launch, new questions pop up everyday. Well, today Matt Firor, the game director for Elder Scrolls Online, ESO’s creative Director, Paul Sage; lead gameplay designer Nick Konkle; and lead PvP designer Brian Wheeler took to reddit to brave the onslaught of player questions about the game.

   These type of Q&As (called AMA for "Ask Me Anything" on reddit) can get oddly specific vs traditional interviews due to the hundreds and thousands of voices that show up to ask questions. We'll cover all the big news here...

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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Book Review: 'Bloodsong' by Anthony Ryan

  “The Sixth Order wields the sword of justice and smites the enemies of the Faith and the Realm.”

  Vaelin Al Sorna was only a child of ten when his father left him at the iron gate of the Sixth Order. The Brothers of the Sixth Order are devoted to battle, and Vaelin will be trained and hardened to the austere, celibate, and dangerous life of a Warrior of the Faith. He has no family now save the Order.

  Vaelin’s father was Battle Lord to King Janus, ruler of the unified realm. Vaelin’s rage at being deprived of his birthright and dropped at the doorstep of the Sixth Order like a foundling knows no bounds. He cherishes the memory of his mother, and what he will come to learn of her at the Order will confound him. His father, too, has motives that Vaelin will come to understand. But one truth overpowers all the rest: Vaelin Al Sorna is destined for a future he has yet to comprehend. A future that will alter not only the realm, but the world.

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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

'Game of Thrones' Targeted for "Seven or Eight Seasons"

  Even though the Game of Thrones HBO hit is only half way through book three of the not yet finished seven book A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R. Martin, don't expect to see future books split into multiple parts. Showrunners David Benioff and David Weiss have told Vanity Fair the current plan is to wrap up the show after “seven or eight” seasons.

  Author George R.R. Martin has begun to worry more and more that the show might catch up to his slowly progressing prose. Benioff and Weiss have stated before that they have been told how some of the story wraps up, but last year they were able to sit down with Martin and get more details on how the author plans to end the saga in case show production passes him up.

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Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Zenimax Addresses Mods for 'Elder Scrolls Online'

   Many MMO players desire an informative gaming experience, others enjoy a clutter free UI with hopes to become immersed in the game world. Elder Scrolls Online is bringing these two worlds together. In the game it has become a good experience, out of the game players push to make the game into what they want. Add-ons will allow a certain amount of customization, mostly UI and cosmetic changes, changes they promised would not effect game balance.

   Long term testers have had a chance to get an early start developing add-ons for the game and last week Tamriel Foundry debuted their sought after add-on: Foundry Tactical Combat. As many gamers have taken issue with the mod as have fallen in love with it and I'll attempt to briefly explain why.

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Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Zenimax Stays Focused On Player Feedback During Home Stretch of 'Elder Scrolls Online' Development

   In my previous write up on ESO: Elder Scrolls Online - The Good, The Bad & The Awesome, I covered a handful of issues I had with the game in "the bad" section and noted that they were subject to change as Zenimax continues working on the final build. That speculation has become reality for several issues in the latest version of the game.

   A full list of the changes was leaked on reddit before the last beta (which caused a bit of confusion before the beta test that didn't include the changes) and hundreds of tweaks were made to address bugs and game balance. We are only going to focus on a few major changes though that addressed complaints not only by me, but several other players and reviewers recently: collision detection, changes to starter areas, and the addition of dark fissures.

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Saturday, February 15, 2014

'Elder Scrolls Online' PvP - It's All Out War!

  The second part of our coverage for our ESO playtesting focuses on the Alliance war and Player vs. Player.

  In my first article on ESO I mentioned that this is my first MMO experience (though far from my first Elder Scrolls experience) and that ESO managed to turn me from a doubter into a customer. PvP certainly played a part in that, and as of this morning we are officially permitted to share our experiences with you.

  I was hesitant to enter Cyrodiil at first. I didn't feel powerful enough at level 25 after seeing maxed out characters running around here and there, I could only imagine the devastation awaiting me in PvP. But, eventually I ran into one of those maxed out players, they offered me some tips and dragged me into Cyrodiil to check it out. (They also gifted me enough money to buy a horse and gave me a ballista for being the first person they ran into playing on a mac).

  When you first enter the Cyrodiil campaign you will get a chance to run through some tutorials about the seige equipment and about questing in Cyrodiil, even offering you some starter quests to adjust. Upon leaving the first keep, death is not waiting for you around every corner as I first imagined. Granted, there were less players in a beta test than in the game after launch, but the map gives you a good idea of where the fighting is, what territory may be relatively safe to venture into, and what territory the enemy may be pushing into.

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Friday, February 7, 2014

Elder Scrolls Online Playtest - The Good, The Bad & The Awesome

  I had a chance to play ESO from character creation on up for several days and here’s what I learned about the game and myself.

  Let’s get some caveats out of the way first. I’ve never played an MMO. Like, not at all, not even to check one out. The most social games I’ve played with random internet strangers are Call of Duty multi-players and co-ops on Fable 3. I have, however, played a bit of Morrowind, Oblivion and Skyrim (If you count my almost 2000 hours in Skyrim as a little bit). So I came into this game looking for my next Elder Scrolls Adventure and very worried about what I would get.

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Friday, January 17, 2014

Advanced Book Review: 'Red Rising' by Pierce Brown

 Darrow is a miner and a Red, a member of the lowest caste in the color-coded society of the future. Like his fellow Reds, he digs all day, believing that he and his people are making the surface of the planet livable for future generations. Darrow has never seen the sky.

 Yet he spends his life willingly, knowing that his blood and sweat will one day result in a better future for his children.

 But Darrow and his kind have been betrayed. Soon he discovers that humanity already reached the surface generations ago. Vast cities and sprawling parks spread across the planet. Darrow and Reds like him are nothing more than slaves to a decadent ruling class.

 Inspired by a longing for justice, and driven by the memory of lost love, Darrow joins a resistance group in order to infiltrate the ruling class and destroy society from within. He will stop at nothing to bring down his enemies… even if it means he has to become one of them to do so.

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