Elder Scrolls Online Trailer and High Level Design


Tonight I watched the Elder Scrolls Online (ESO) trailer that was shared on Tuesday by game publisher Bethesda Softworks:

Pretty entertaining trailer, but it immediately opened up some questions. Is this a 3-faction game? (Yes.) Are there going to be different classes by race? (Good grief I hope not.)

There was an introduction video posted back in November by the game developer ZeniMax Online Studios which explains some of the key design decisions:

Here are some of my key takeaways from the introduction video:

  1. There are no shards – just a megaserver
  2. There is no competition for resources or drops
  3. The game is *supposed* to hold up under mass combat
  4. You design your class

There are no shards – just a megaserver

“The game figures out where to put you.”

This is a great concept, and one step beyond the Guild Wars 2 (GW2) model where there are fewer servers that share overflows. Being able to group with anyone regardless of geographic location would be awesome.

There is no competition for resources or drops

Amen to that. Thankfully ESO follows the same philosophy as GW2 – the game is cooperative not competitive with respect to resources and rewards.

The first time I saw another player in GW2 run over and start mining a node while I was killing the mobs around it, I was thinking that was uncool. Until I realized that his mining the node didn’t affect my ability to mine it. I was so used to the WoW style of resources where players compete for the same gathering nodes, and where loot is rolled on.

Cooperative mechanics create much more positive interactions between players. I have revived and rez’d hundreds of times by other players in GW2, and the driving reason is because the game encourages it.

The game is *supposed* to hold up under mass combat

“All of our characters are designed so that hundreds of them can be on screen at one time. You’re going to have lots of customization options to make your character look unique.”

If ZeniMax can actually skin this cat, it will be a first in the industry.

The challenges with having many characters fighting in the same area are:

  • The game server has to make all the real-time calculations to determine the outcomes of all the actions of the players (hit/miss/crit, damage, healing, CC, immunities, etc), and
  • The game clients and game server must exchange all of this information quickly and securely, and
  • The game client must render all the action (graphics, audio) of all the players, and
  • All of the above must be scalable and efficient such that there is no meaningful degradation of performance

Mythic had no solution in place for mass combat lag in WAR, and the result was that high numbers of players would overwhelm the game servers and game clients until they lagged horribly and then crashed. ArenaNet sidestepped the mass combat issue in GW2 by implementing culling – players near you gradually appear over time – and this staggering is intentional to prevent game clients from getting overwhelmed. Unfortunately while culled players are invisible, they can still damage and kill you, which is why players have been complaining and AN is continuing to work on it.

You design your class

“You’re able to pick one of nine races and a class. That’s just a start though. You can use whatever weapon or armor type that you want. You can play as a heavy armor character who’s a tank with bow. You can play as a Mage who uses a 2H weapon. You can play as a sneaky guy who runs around healing people. The combination of weapon, armor, and class creates a unique experience for you.”

This is close to the “spec however the heck I want” system that some gamers (including me) have been wanting to see for years. (The Secret World (TSW) may actually have something close to it, but I didn’t play it after trying it at GDC last March.)

With ESO, it sounds like you still need to pick a class, but after that, you can choose the weapon and armor. Melee-mage here I come!

Some players will claim that this is impossible to balance, but it’s doable if you implement each dimension of customization (weapons, armor, etc) as incomparables. In most games heavy armor offers superior mitigation to light armor, and everyone would wear heavy armor if they could. However, if you make every armor set and weapon set have a series of benefits and downsides, it’s possible to achieve functional balance. E.g. in an incomparables implementation, heavy armor could provide you with the highest physical damage mitigation but increases your vulnerability to heat or cold effects.

This all sounds promising, but we’ll have to wait and see until there is more information is released and players can try the game in Beta.

What’s your first impression of ESO?

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Posted in Elder Scrolls Online, Game Design, Guild Wars 2, PVE, PVP, Video, Warhammer Online, World of Warcraft
48 comments on “Elder Scrolls Online Trailer and High Level Design
  1. Hello, Taugrim. I would like to start off by saying I’ve been following your website, as well as your youtube for about 2, probably 3 years now. I’ve enjoyed every single piece of content you have offered us. Anyway, I really like your articles, I think that’s a proper term for this, but as both an MMO, and Elder Scrolls fan I am very excited to hear about this game, I have signed up for the beta as soon as it reached my ears. I am very, -very- anxious to see what else you’ll cover on this game, I appreciate your gameplay as much as your commentary.

    On another note, have you had the chance to try out Rift: Storm Legion? I do believe you don’t play anymore personally, but since you do hold an interest for melee mage classes I was curious if you had gotten to play around with the new Tempest Soul one way or another. If you indeed have not I am more than happy to offer my account information to you for you to mess around with if you so liked. I have a 50 mage, so you’d get all the treats pre-Storm Legion content. (I do also own the xpac, spent roughly $200 on Trion, lovely.) Yet I still have not taken the time to level, WoW again taking my interest.

    • taugrim says:

      Justin Basham :

      I am very, -very- anxious to see what else you’ll cover on this game, I appreciate your gameplay as much as your commentary.

      ESO seems very interesting, so I’m going to be keeping tabs on it.

      Justin Basham :

      On another note, have you had the chance to try out Rift: Storm Legion? I do believe you don’t play anymore personally, but since you do hold an interest for melee mage classes I was curious if you had gotten to play around with the new Tempest Soul one way or another.

      I have not gone back to RIFT since I left. Other games have had far more appeal to me, and GW2 is a very good fit for the type of gameplay and experience I enjoy.

      Justin Basham :

      If you indeed have not I am more than happy to offer my account information to you for you to mess around with if you so liked. I have a 50 mage, so you’d get all the treats pre-Storm Legion content. (I do also own the xpac, spent roughly $200 on Trion, lovely.) Yet I still have not taken the time to level, WoW again taking my interest.

      That’s generous of you, but I stay away from account sharing as I’ve witnessed others have issues in the past with it, and it’s generally against T.O.S.

  2. Chaz says:

    It’s a shame that most western MMOs are running away from designing any kind of competitive experience, at first they made it so nobody could hurt you, then nobody could steal your mobs and in guild wars they can’t even mine your nodes, if someone tries to mine your node it actually clones it and yours is still there if you want it.

    I understand that this is the design that leads to less headeches because then they don’t have to deal with players raging but it’s kind of annoying that most western MMOs are going with the same formula of “you’re absolutely untouchable” and you have to go to some special instance like a warzone if you want to be at some sort of risk

    • Chaz says:

      And no, I don’t want to be a Spaceship

    • Garek says:

      Well, players rage, because they don’t like something, and if the players don’t like something, the developers may change it, right?
      You may not like doing PvE without competing against other players about resource nodes or mobs, but there are a lot of players who don’t like when someone steals the node/mob they need to unlock that equipment/achievment/story part they want just for the fun of it, because that get’s frustrating really fast. Basically, it makes resources less available, with the added caveat that players who don’t even want the resources can steal them from players who need them for something.

    • theunwarshed says:

      in pve it’s the best possible answer; however, i believe that fighting over resource nodes is a legitimate and possible essential activity.

      • taugrim says:

        theunwarshed :

        in pve it’s the best possible answer; however, i believe that fighting over resource nodes is a legitimate and possible essential activity.

        I mentioned the term “resource” in my article, and what I mean by that was a gathering node.

        “Resource node” such as a supply camp in GW2 is a different concept, and I agree those should be fought over.

    • taugrim says:

      Chaz :

      It’s a shame that most western MMOs are running away from designing any kind of competitive experience, at first they made it so nobody could hurt you, then nobody could steal your mobs and in guild wars they can’t even mine your nodes, if someone tries to mine your node it actually clones it and yours is still there if you want it.

      most western MMOs are going with the same formula of “you’re absolutely untouchable” and you have to go to some special instance like a warzone if you want to be at some sort of risk

      I guess I define “competitive experience” differently than you.

      I don’t find it competitive to tag a mob before any player can – that’s just annoying.
      I don’t find it competitive to farm a node while the other player is killing the mob – that’s just lame.
      I don’t find it competitive to attack a player who is at half health because they are fighting a mob and I face no risk in jumping them – that’s just zero skill ganking.

      • Chaz says:

        Tagging mobs it’s fine, even super old games like Lineage 2 gave you a proportionate ammount of XP even if you didn’t tag it.

        If you didn’t want the guy taggin your stuff you go and say “this is my spot” then he says “no, it’s mine” then you call some friends, he calls some friends and before you know it it’s a 20 vs 20. I find that kind of emergent pvp to be competitive too, battlegrounds and warzones are all well and good but should not be the only kind of PVP activity.

        That kind of emergent gameplay doesn’t exist anymore because of the “yay, everyone’s a winner” philosophy that western games have lately

        • Zederok says:

          To each their own, if I am PvE’ing I want to PvE. In theory that scenario sounds great but in practice it leads to more grifing and more name calling and more people quitting, those arn’t theories, thsoe are facts. Stick to games like Darkfall or Eve if that is the sort of spantaneous PvP you’re looking for but for me and the vast majority of gamers, we like our PvP consentual.

          • Chaz says:

            That’s what I used to think until I saw that almost every western MMO goes for the same safe formula making the gameplay completely predictable. I even remember that in Gamebreaker they were bitching because in one of the encounters there was a bit of randomness, that’s bad according to them, they want the same experience over and over.

            At least Warzones and Battlegrounds have more variation, every time I play I have different people on my team or the enemy team, the strategies change, heck, I don’t even know if I’m gonna win for sure when Im going into PVP

            • garek3 says:

              Chaz :
              I even remember that in Gamebreaker they were bitching because in one of the encounters there was a bit of randomness, that’s bad according to them, they want the same experience over and over.

              Of course, having the same encounters again and again is boring, that’s the main thing which makes grinding so bad. But I don’t think mixing PvE and PvP is the best solution for that, I rather like PvE encounters being more interesting of themselves. E.g. the dynamic events of Guild Wars 2. And in TESO they want to create more challenging enemy AIs for that, e.g. enemies adapting to your style of fighting, the enviroment, and which of their allies are nearby.

              • Chaz says:

                Dynamic events were an endless loop of the same stuff that happens over and over, you do them a few times and they lose their novelty fast. I think the success of a mod like DayZ prove that people want a different experience that they’re not getting it on mainstream MMOs, in DayZ people are an unkown factor that could affect your gameplay, while games like GW2 go out of their way to make sure other people are NOT a factor, they can’t touch you, your mobs, your loot, your nodes, you’re untouchable.

                Might as well play a single player game

                • Valhalas says:

                  That’s the stupidest statement I have ever heard in my life. If you don’t cooperate with other players negatively it doesn’t mean you don’t cooperate positively. In GW2 you are awarded for helping each other rather than stealing and PK’ing someone who just wants to peacefully wander around the map. PK’s was the reason why I quit Lineage 2, because at higher levels I pretty much couldn’t go out of town alone, because I always would get PK’ed, deleveled and looted.

  3. Hi ! I’ve been looking at the videos and I have the same interrogations you have.

    This looks promising but I hope the developpers have a real solid plan if they go with the level of customization you have in the solo games (i.e. Morrowind, Oblivion, and mostly Skyrim which introduced a perks system).
    In these games you pick your race and gender at the beginning as well as your appearance, and then you can be whatever you want. You have some downsides when you wear a heavy armor (i.e makes more noise when you move, making it difficult to use stealth, your character moves a little slower, your endurance burns faster) or if you use a 2-handed weapon(blocking attacks is far less efficient than with a shield, attack moves are slower).
    But overall, I found that the game is still easier when using heavy armor because you can face a greater variety of situations than if you chose a light armored play style (which should be more focused on stealth perks or magical protection). So that’s my big question right now with the game.

    And yes, also the mass combat is something a lot of other MMOs wanted to have but no one actually got to do it right. Hopefully Guild Wars 2 seems to be on the path of solving part of the problem.

    Are they going to have 3-faction PvP ? Sounds like it, but I’m not sure.

    • taugrim says:

      Mathieu M (@Dragonours) :

      This looks promising but I hope the developpers have a real solid plan if they go with the level of customization you have in the solo games (i.e. Morrowind, Oblivion, and mostly Skyrim which introduced a perks system).

      I didn’t play Skyrim so I haven’t experienced their style of gaming firsthand.

      Mathieu M (@Dragonours) :

      In these games you pick your race and gender at the beginning as well as your appearance, and then you can be whatever you want. You have some downsides when you wear a heavy armor (i.e makes more noise when you move, making it difficult to use stealth, your character moves a little slower, your endurance burns faster) or if you use a 2-handed weapon(blocking attacks is far less efficient than with a shield, attack moves are slower).
      But overall, I found that the game is still easier when using heavy armor because you can face a greater variety of situations than if you chose a light armored play style (which should be more focused on stealth perks or magical protection). So that’s my big question right now with the game.

      Interesting. I like having that level of customization, both in terms of cosmetic look and capabilities.

      Mathieu M (@Dragonours) :

      And yes, also the mass combat is something a lot of other MMOs wanted to have but no one actually got to do it right. Hopefully Guild Wars 2 seems to be on the path of solving part of the problem.

      I don’t think the problem is really “solvable” given today’s technology limitations, especially in a game such as AN where there are heavy AOE buffs (boons) and debuffs (conditions).

      AN says that are removing culling but I don’t see how that will gracefully scale combat for players on low- to medium-grade systems.

      Culling is actually a reasonable compromise to prevent game clients from getting overloaded by too many players / effects to render.

      Mathieu M (@Dragonours) :

      Are they going to have 3-faction PvP ? Sounds like it, but I’m not sure.

      Yes.

  4. Mike says:

    Didn’t watch the trailers yet, but of your takeaways it all sounds great. The “you design your own class” bit takes me back to Fallout 1&2 and Arcanum with the free-form stat/trait/perk/skill allocation. I really like seeing developers leaning more towards the free-form class design (IE:Rift and GW2) as opposed to the route WoW went.

  5. ESO is hitting all the right notes for me. 3 Player Faction, Focus on exploration, Mega Server Tech which hopefully means no more ghost towns. Taugrim, I’m hoping that you’ll make ESO a regular article!
    On a side note – I’ve been following your site since the RIFT days – thanks for the PvP lessons!

  6. Ora Samson says:

    I wasn’t looking forward to this mmo until I heard about the build-your-own-class feature. It could be quite interesting, lets hope it all pans out.

  7. jaif says:

    Not sure if you played skyrim, but the balancing is supposed done with the combination of health, magika, and stamina. So wearing heavy armor slows your mage down and uses stamina more quickly when you sprint, that sort of thing. I can easily see them beefing up the differences – in skyrim you could enchant your armor with wonder powers, so a tank-mage was quite do-able, but if they limit the magic enchants to cloth, or simply make them more powerful on cloth, they can achieve the balance you are talking about.

    I’m most concerned about game balance, esp around stealth. You can make ridiculously powerful characters in skyrim with stealth. That’s fine in single-player, but in PvP a map full of fishbowl-warriors waiting for a target will get silly.

    I also suspect will see the trinity back – tanks with aggro skills, healer builds, etc. Yawn.

    • taugrim says:

      jaif :

      Not sure if you played skyrim, but the balancing is supposed done with the combination of health, magika, and stamina. So wearing heavy armor slows your mage down and uses stamina more quickly when you sprint, that sort of thing. I can easily see them beefing up the differences – in skyrim you could enchant your armor with wonder powers, so a tank-mage was quite do-able, but if they limit the magic enchants to cloth, or simply make them more powerful on cloth, they can achieve the balance you are talking about.

      I’m most concerned about game balance, esp around stealth. You can make ridiculously powerful characters in skyrim with stealth. That’s fine in single-player, but in PvP a map full of fishbowl-warriors waiting for a target will get silly.

      What you’re describing works well as you said in single player, or in PVE, as mobs are generally predictable and can’t really take advantage of the weaknesses of a character. Mobs aren’t players and don’t complain :D

      Of course in PVP, players will take advantage of every possible facet, so such a system can be either challenging to balance, or practically not work for many armor/weapon combinations.

      Will be interesting to see how it works in ESO.

  8. Attic Lion says:

    As an MMO ESO is promising all the right things for me. 3 faction RvR, being able to play with all my disperate groups of friends who invariably want to play on different servers, none of GW2′s tiresome anti-dedicated support nonsense, no mention of Battlegroungs/Warzones/Scenarios/Whatever.

    Unfortunately I still approach the game from an Elder Scrolls fan first and foremost, and my icy heart still holds fast to it’s initial reaction to the game’s existence: a cash grab that nobody asked for nor wanted that is transparently trying to leech off Skyrim’s success.

    I also have my reservations about the actual game beyond that reaction though.

    I worry about the mega-server meaning that small man groups will be even more marginalized than in GW2 because the zones won’t be large enough to spread the zerg out sufficiently.

    I worry about massive side imbalances caused by groups such as RUIN leading to massive band wagoning on 1 side and not being able to escape it.

    I look at how terribly bland, unrewarding, and just plain not fun Skyrim’s customization options were and cringe at the thought of not being able to mod it.

    A part of me just plain rebels at the idea of tab targeting in an Eldar Scrolls game.

    These are my major misgivings

    • Attic Lion says:

      Oh, I forgot to deride the story bit.

      Personally, after dealing with SWTOR and GW2 I’m a little sick of people trying to push some bloody prefabricated story experience on me.

    • taugrim says:

      Attic Lion :

      As an MMO ESO is promising all the right things for me. 3 faction RvR, being able to play with all my disperate groups of friends who invariably want to play on different servers, none of GW2′s tiresome anti-dedicated support nonsense, no mention of Battlegroungs/Warzones/Scenarios/Whatever.

      Based on the Beta invite, it seems like ZeniMax is still thinking through what kinds of PVP content to offer aside from RvR. They asked specifically what kinds of PVP content a Beta registrant wants (e.g. battleground, arena, etc)

      Attic Lion :

      Unfortunately I still approach the game from an Elder Scrolls fan first and foremost, and my icy heart still holds fast to it’s initial reaction to the game’s existence: a cash grab that nobody asked for nor wanted that is transparently trying to leech off Skyrim’s success.

      I don’t have that impression, and I’m new to the IP.

      Attic Lion :

      I worry about the mega-server meaning that small man groups will be even more marginalized than in GW2 because the zones won’t be large enough to spread the zerg out sufficiently.

      You can have one server world, but have multiple instances of the same zone, a la Aion. It’s not clear how they are going to implement it.

      Attic Lion :

      I worry about massive side imbalances caused by groups such as RUIN leading to massive band wagoning on 1 side and not being able to escape it.

      AN has solved this problem in WvW via 2 mechanisms:
      1. queuing for a particular zone
      2. a ladder where servers move up and down based on performance

      As I’ve said many times, 2-faction same server World PVP is too vulnerable to population imbalances, and even in 3-faction same server World PVP the same risk exists, albeit not to the same degree.

      • Zederok says:

        No Taugrim, there will be no BG’s or instanced PvP in ESO. This was known months ago they do want to divide the PvP playerbase up and make the same mistakes that WAR made. Matt Firor said as much in a podcast a while back.

        • Zederok says:

          Addendum: That response was “Select your preferred online gaming activities:” Not what wil lenjoy msot in ESO. It doesnt mean it is included in the game.

        • taugrim says:

          Zederok :

          No Taugrim, there will be no BG’s or instanced PvP in ESO. This was known months ago they do want to divide the PvP playerbase up and make the same mistakes that WAR made. Matt Firor said as much in a podcast a while back.

          Is this the interview?

      • Deacon says:

        They have explained how instancing will work for pvp

        Once you enter cyrodil you get assigned a campaign, that campaign then becomes your “home” and you (and your guild) gets locked to it, you can change campaigns but it will cost you realm points (pvp xp/perk system)

        Also if your roll an alt on an opposing faction you wont be able to join the same campaign as your main or that of your mains guild (to prevent cheating)

      • Attic Lion says:

        taugrim :
        Based on the Beta invite, it seems like ZeniMax is still thinking through what kinds of PVP content to offer aside from RvR. They asked specifically what kinds of PVP content a Beta registrant wants (e.g. battleground, arena, etc)
        I cannot believe a developer would open their beta signups without having their content systems mapped out. That’s just mad.

        I don’t have that impression, and I’m new to the IP.
        I can’t help it. I’ve been playing TES games since Daggerfall came out in ’96. The very idea of cross breeding TES with WoW makes me nauseous.

        I don’t claim that it’s an opinion based on sound logic, but the last time someone decided to follow in Blizzard’s footsteps with an IP I love I got Warhammer Online. That’s the kind of horrible disappointment I’d like to avoid.

        And I have even less faith in this untested development team than I ever did in Mythic.

        You can have one server world, but have multiple instances of the same zone, a la Aion. It’s not clear how they are going to implement it.
        True, but then if they allow free travel between the different instances you can end up with each side monopolizing their own instance and no actual fighting on.

        Suffice it to say I have extreme reservations about this, if only because it’s been done wrong far more often than right.

        AN has solved this problem in WvW via 2 mechanisms:
        1. queuing for a particular zone
        2. a ladder where servers move up and down based on performance
        As I’ve said many times, 2-faction same server World PVP is too vulnerable to population imbalances, and even in 3-faction same server World PVP the same risk exists, albeit not to the same degree.

        Based on my experiences in GW2 over the past few weeks you’ll pardon me if I wholeheartedly disagree with your assessment of ANet’s success. Though admittedly the free transfers made a complete and total hash of their plans before they were ever even implemented.

        As for imbalances in general I agree, And I’m ok with them until they get out of hand, Which is why I brought up a RUIN; a group that has crashed WoW servers for fun and used to bring level 1 characters in T4 zones in Warhammer just to increase the lag the other side had to deal with.

    • Zederok says:

      Attic Lion :
      As an MMO ESO is promising all the right things for me. 3 faction RvR, being able to play with all my disperate groups of friends who invariably want to play on different servers, none of GW2′s tiresome anti-dedicated support nonsense, no mention of Battlegroungs/Warzones/Scenarios/Whatever.
      Unfortunately I still approach the game from an Elder Scrolls fan first and foremost, and my icy heart still holds fast to it’s initial reaction to the game’s existence: a cash grab that nobody asked for nor wanted that is transparently trying to leech off Skyrim’s success.
      I also have my reservations about the actual game beyond that reaction though.
      I worry about the mega-server meaning that small man groups will be even more marginalized than in GW2 because the zones won’t be large enough to spread the zerg out sufficiently.
      I worry about massive side imbalances caused by groups such as RUIN leading to massive band wagoning on 1 side and not being able to escape it.
      I look at how terribly bland, unrewarding, and just plain not fun Skyrim’s customization options were and cringe at the thought of not being able to mod it.
      A part of me just plain rebels at the idea of tab targeting in an Eldar Scrolls game.
      These are my major misgivings

      First off I do recall alot of people for years now been vlamoring for a Elder Scrolls Multiplayer and the best way to have multi player is through an MMO. I know alot of Skyrim gamers scoff at the notion but trust me when I say a great majority will play and be introduced first hand to the world of MMO game play, which exactly what the Devs want.

      As for Zones, its huge. If you’ve played Skyrim, Morrowind or Oblivian then you know how big they are huge but not everything is open in them. Some speculate this is the starting map: http://i.picresize.com/images/2013/01/23/DYsu3.jpg from this post: http://www.tesof.com/topic-available-areas-on-teso-release

      As for population, thats why you team up with the other faction. It worked in DAoC and it will work in ESO if you’re smart! Unlike GW2 where often times the 2nd highest side usually roams the lowest side leaving the highest to roam free. GW2 did not work for a myriam of reasons but 3 factiosn isnt one of them.

      ESO is a Triple-A title and whether or not there wil lbe modding I do not know but the speculation is yes. If it isn’t then not to worry because the game is designed from the ground up as a PC game unlike the single player RPG;s which had to take amny shortcuts to accomadate all the platforms.

      As for Tab Targetting…..Have you even done a modicum of research? Because just like Skyrim, ESO can be played in 1st or 3rd person with LMB/RMB reticule based combat. This has been known since June of last year!!!!!!!

  9. I am approaching Elder Scrolls Online with cautious observance. I am really curious to see how their mega server system works out and how it holds up at the game’s launch. Guild Wars 2 has their overflow system, but that had issues with grouped players being separated at launch. WoW introduced Cross Realm Zones and that created its own issues. So I’d like to see how the Mega Server actually does whatever they intend for it to do. Will players phase out of my version of an area if they get too far away? How will it work in 3 faction pvp?

    I also assume that since this is an MMO, it’s been in development for a long time. At the time it started, World of Warcraft was the design document standard. Now I feel that Guild Wars 2 is the new standard, and I do see a lot of GW2 features and concepts in the game. I don’t want the genre to go from too many WoW-clones to too many GW2-clones, so I am interested on where the game falls between those games or outside of those design approaches.

  10. Edon says:

    I’ll be following this one. Now that Guild Wars 2 has been out for a while, I’m interested in seeing how ESO will build upon ArenaNet’s improvements to the genre. Resource sharing is probably the thing that stands out most for me from this list. After experiencing this in GW2, I booted up SWTOR and it just felt old. A one year old mmo. That’s what decade old design decisions will do to a game I suppose.

  11. Zederok says:

    While I normally look at CGI trailers as little more then fluff with no substance (see SWToR) and the initial release information back in May of last year (In a non-MMO publication) was lacking in alot of concepts I have grown to look forward to this title over the last several months. Even more so when the Press Demo was let loose on the public back in October or 2012. Every thing You mentioned in your blog is exactly the reasons why ESO is firmly #1 on my must play list on release.

  12. Churchland says:

    This game reminds me a little of my all time favorite MMO, Asheron’s Call. Where you can train anything and spend XP to increase the skill. You could make a mage specialized in melee defense, at the maybe the expense of creature magic or life magic. You could also wear any armor you wanted and you could dye and mix and match any style.

    Also AC relied on health, mana, and stamina. You spam the space bar too much by “bunny-hopping” in PvP, you would run out of stamina and move like a snail and be easy prey for a truly skilled player.

    I miss that game, wish they would make an updated version :(

  13. Scott Poet says:

    Effectively they just went down the MMO checklist of popular features. Vague promises seem to count as check marks that at launch these features will be up 100% and running. No one has been able to pull it off that much content with polish at launch, not even close.

    • Euchrid Eucrow says:

      This. I’m hearing a lot of sales puffing of popular MMO bullet points but I remain skeptical until I start seeing some of the rubber hit the road so to speak. I’ve got the same reserve when Smedley starts gushing forth about EQNext. It sounds great but at this point is just talk and nothing else.

  14. Gothic90 says:

    While the good points are pretty self-explanatory, such as three faction PvP and very smart AI and etc, I’ll comment on a few negatives that I found:

    1) I was a bit sad about TESO’s decision (in a recent interview by Matt Firor) to abandon organic world PvP and design one single map, Cyrodiil, for a grand scale, 3-faction battleground like WvWvW in GW2. While a three faction BG is fun, organic world PvP could be a great addition.

    Such a design also has two problems that needs to be addressed at least.

    Problem 1: if the game is highly hyped, a 3-faction BG that contains 2000 people is just not enough for everyone that wishes world PvP at least for a short while after release, especially given that they want to use a grand scale server. The queue will be hours long. Will there be different instances of the BG, how will “group/raid queue” work are all questions that need to be answered.

    Problem 2: how will lowbie PvP work. In Guild wars 2, lowbies have a severe disadvantage in WvW even with bolster mechanics, and has no other PvP options that rewards their in world, non-sPvP character. Unless there is some sort of very good bolster mechanics (SWTOR’s bolster is quite good), it is very hard for lowbies to do well in PvP. On the other hand I am quite optimistic about this one: if the level progression is more horizontal than vertical it could really work.

    And no, I think organic world PvP is much more than ganking someone at half health. In vanilla WoW groups of players fought over popular gold spots such as Tyr’s Hand and Hearthglen, and organic world PvP can break out at any moment in Mt. Blackrock if both faction have guilds that want to start a raid for, say, Blackwing Lair.

    World PvP hotspots in vanilla WoW always had a good number of people from both factions for PvE reasons, players are often grouped up, and it’s very hard to gank because nearby players will come and help.

    The pressure of world PvP breaking out at any time also gives players incentives to group up, so mob-tagging becomes less of an issue.

    2) From the interviews, it seems that TESO uses a very traditional payment plan: box price + subscription. I just got back to GW2 yesterday after a two month break from the game and realized how awesome GW2′s buy to play model is: it gives no pressure for ex-players who want to come back and play, especially casual gamers.

    A full subscription based game cannot say the same, and will get a sense of doom if it ever switches to a model that incorporates free to play even if the game is not failing.

    Now, people might suspect that GW2 has income problems, but I think it is because ArenaNet shot themselves in the foot with an unattractive cash shop. I think If they have stuff that are really, really cool in cash shop like Revan and Nihilus’s masks and that swoop race pod in SWTOR, or even a permanent version of the cow finisher, they could make a lot more money with the cash shop. I think TESO can definitely have a good cash shop if they use a B2P/F2P model.

    3) TESO’s faction comps are not based on lore at all. Each faction is composed of races that are supposed to hate each other. This might just be a “minor annoyance”. However, one thing about WoW’s success is that in both factions, faction pride is very strong. Would “loreless” factions inspire such strong faction pride remains to be seen.

  15. Machination says:

    I actually didn’t know about GW2′s ‘culling’. AN always impresses me with what they’ve come up with to mitigate the fundamental issues of the usual big promises (mass combat, actions matter…).

    While not perfect solutions, they’re still some of the best we’ve seen so far.

  16. Zederok says:

    Gothic90 :
    While the good points are pretty self-explanatory, such as three faction PvP and very smart AI and etc, I’ll comment on a few negatives that I found:
    1) I was a bit sad about TESO’s decision (in a recent interview by Matt Firor) to abandon organic world PvP and design one single map, Cyrodiil, for a grand scale, 3-faction battleground like WvWvW in GW2. While a three faction BG is fun, organic world PvP could be a great addition.
    Such a design also has two problems that needs to be addressed at least.
    Problem 1: if the game is highly hyped, a 3-faction BG that contains 2000 people is just not enough for everyone that wishes world PvP at least for a short while after release, especially given that they want to use a grand scale server. The queue will be hours long. Will there be different instances of the BG, how will “group/raid queue” work are all questions that need to be answered.
    Problem 2: how will lowbie PvP work. In Guild wars 2, lowbies have a severe disadvantage in WvW even with bolster mechanics, and has no other PvP options that rewards their in world, non-sPvP character. Unless there is some sort of very good bolster mechanics (SWTOR’s bolster is quite good), it is very hard for lowbies to do well in PvP. On the other hand I am quite optimistic about this one: if the level progression is more horizontal than vertical it could really work.
    And no, I think organic world PvP is much more than ganking someone at half health. In vanilla WoW groups of players fought over popular gold spots such as Tyr’s Hand and Hearthglen, and organic world PvP can break out at any moment in Mt. Blackrock if both faction have guilds that want to start a raid for, say, Blackwing Lair.
    World PvP hotspots in vanilla WoW always had a good number of people from both factions for PvE reasons, players are often grouped up, and it’s very hard to gank because nearby players will come and help.
    The pressure of world PvP breaking out at any time also gives players incentives to group up, so mob-tagging becomes less of an issue.
    2) From the interviews, it seems that TESO uses a very traditional payment plan: box price + subscription. I just got back to GW2 yesterday after a two month break from the game and realized how awesome GW2′s buy to play model is: it gives no pressure for ex-players who want to come back and play, especially casual gamers.
    A full subscription based game cannot say the same, and will get a sense of doom if it ever switches to a model that incorporates free to play even if the game is not failing.
    Now, people might suspect that GW2 has income problems, but I think it is because ArenaNet shot themselves in the foot with an unattractive cash shop. I think If they have stuff that are really, really cool in cash shop like Revan and Nihilus’s masks and that swoop race pod in SWTOR, or even a permanent version of the cow finisher, they could make a lot more money with the cash shop. I think TESO can definitely have a good cash shop if they use a B2P/F2P model.
    3) TESO’s faction comps are not based on lore at all. Each faction is composed of races that are supposed to hate each other. This might just be a “minor annoyance”. However, one thing about WoW’s success is that in both factions, faction pride is very strong. Would “loreless” factions inspire such strong faction pride remains to be seen.

    While I appreciate everone’s opinion on World PvP you just can’t do it in a Realm Vs Realm centric game. Anyone who has ever played DAoC will tell you that RvR only works when there are enmity between the factions and comraderie within your realm. And no World PvP was not that popular and all it did was resort to ganking contrary to what you believe. For every instance of Tauren Mill vs South Shore or Black Mountain PvP there were 100 gankings of lowbies while leveling. I know, I played it for 6 years on a PvP server.

    As for the payment plans, not one bit of information has come out from the developers to indicate what kind of payment plan they are going with, but if I was to bet, I’d say a B2P option like GW2.

    As for the lore of the factions, yes they are. Bethesda’s own lore master said as much, and I think since he is the one who crafts the lore the lore I trust his accounts of the history of Tamriel over somoen who soesnt even work in the office.

  17. Gothic90 says:

    Zederok :

    While I appreciate everone’s opinion on World PvP you just can’t do it in a Realm Vs Realm centric game. Anyone who has ever played DAoC will tell you that RvR only works when there are enmity between the factions and comraderie within your realm. And no World PvP was not that popular and all it did was resort to ganking contrary to what you believe. For every instance of Tauren Mill vs South Shore or Black Mountain PvP there were 100 gankings of lowbies while leveling. I know, I played it for 6 years on a PvP server.
    As for the payment plans, not one bit of information has come out from the developers to indicate what kind of payment plan they are going with, but if I was to bet, I’d say a B2P option like GW2.
    As for the lore of the factions, yes they are. Bethesda’s own lore master said as much, and I think since he is the one who crafts the lore the lore I trust his accounts of the history of Tamriel over somoen who soesnt even work in the office.

    1) As for the lore, yes you can make sense of the lore: say, Argonians are slaves to Dunmers, Bretons and Redguards use Orsimer as practical bodyguards for their trade empire, and the Dominion already makes sense.

    However, it does seem extremely weird to some of my avid TES fan friends in my chat with them. Even though I guess the only ones that will care about that are probably super lore-nerds, but something like this kinda gives me the impression that they are simply using the IP for the game instead of expanding the IP with a new game. Only time will tell if I am overly pessimistic on this issue.

    2) I double checked the news, and the interview about TESO being Pay to play is from March, 2012 and there have been no further mention of it ever since. So yes, we have to take that with a large grain of salt. Nothing is set in stone yet.

    3) I guess there’s no point in crying and moaning about world PvP anyways. On the plus side, lack of world PvP probably paves road for megaserver and cooperative mechanics. World PvP without population limit on a megaserver is just going to be a lagfest.

    What I am worrying about is whether there is going to be decent PvP for someone who is still leveling. How the RvR zone treats lowbies is just unknown.

  18. garek3 says:

    Gothic90 :However, it does seem extremely weird to some of my avid TES fan friends in my chat with them. Even though I guess the only ones that will care about that are probably super lore-nerds, but something like this kinda gives me the impression that they are simply using the IP for the game instead of expanding the IP with a new game. Only time will tell if I am overly pessimistic on this issue.

    Look at the Ebonheart Pact for example: Nord, Dunmer and Argonians are established as liking no one but their own kind, nevertheless they form an alliance out of neccesity. It seems unlikely, but all but impossible, and certainly provides a setting for some interesting storylines. Whether the developers do that well, or just use it to somehow shove 3 big factions into TES, we probably won’t know until launch

  19. mmoaddict says:

    The trailer looks awasome. The graphic is stunning.. I hope one day they will bring Elder Scroll into cinema.

  20. thh says:

    So what they mean by mega server is that it is not one huge server but servers networked together to act as a megaserver.

  21. Yhumar says:

    I haven’t checked your site in a while Taug since you were so stuck up on a game I personally thinks sucks big time. But I had a feeling you’d write something about ESO and I was right. I’ve been following this before it was even announced (I read the signs of Bethesda opening an online studio years ago and knew that Elderscrolls was gonna be the chosen franchise by default since their license on Fallout was expiring back then). After reading a few comments ill answer some I found interesting.

    1st About ESO using the success of Skyrim to make a quick buck … Wrong. ESO has been in developpement since 2007 before Skyrim was even an idea.

    2nd About any class using any weapons and armor. True but.. Special abilities with certain weapon will be restricted to a certain class. While a mage can use a 2 handed sword, hes never gonna be able to stand his ground in melee against a real melee class.

    3rd About some alliances not fitting lore wise.. Well that may be true to a certain extent but honestly that won’t ruin the game for me.

    4th About the Megaserver.. Well what it is really is actually a single hub with many channels. It’s nothing new really Zenimax sold it as something innovative but it really isn’t they’re just improving on already existing concepts.

    And that’s about all I wanted to add here. Ohh and all hail the Dominion!

  22. [...] Creating these kind of tradeoff decisions, what some call intangibles, is good game design, because it allows the player to make conscious choices about how their character performs, without having forced decisions placed on them. This kind of customization is what is made me very interested in The Elder Scrolls Online as I wrote in January. [...]

  23. [...] a broader note, as I recently wrote in my first article on The Elder Scrolls Online, no game developer has found an elegant system that gracefully scales for a high number of players [...]

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