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, but feel free to check out the thread yourself to dig for more.
A question on many minds has been when exactly will the servers open for launch (and early launch) dates. The finally offered those details:
For 5 day early access: * North America (East): 7:00 AM EDT, Sunday March 30th-- * UK/IE: 12:00 PM WEST, Sunday March 30th-- * Central Europe: 1:00 PM CEST, Sunday March 30th-- * Sydney, Australia: 10:00 PM AEDT, Sunday March 30th-- * Singapore: 7:00 PM SGT, Sunday March 30th --
For 3 day early access: * North America (East): 7:00 AM EDT, Tuesday April 1st-- * UK/IE: 12:00 PM WEST, Tuesday April 1st-- * Central Europe: 1:00 PM CEST, Tuesday April 1st-- * Sydney, Australia: 10:00 PM AEDT, Tuesday April 1st-- * Singapore: 7:00 PM SGT, Tuesday April 1st--
...and for launch: * North America (East): 7:00 PM EDT, Thursday, April 3rd-- * UK/IE: 12:00 AM WEST, Thursday, April 4th-- * Central Europe: 1:00 AM CEST, Thursday, April 4th-- * Sydney, Australia: 10:00 AM AEDT, Thursday, April 4th-- * Singapore: 7:00 AM SGT, Thursday, April 4th
They also took the time to point out something that wasn't asked during the Q&A, but one I've seen from many players - what to do with your beta account/launcher.
Your beta account is your live account, you won't need to create a new one when the servers go live on the 30th (for pre-purchasers).
Also, if you have been in the beta and are going to play when ESO launches, don't uninstall the game - when the servers go live, just run the same patcher as you always have, and any delta files will be downloaded from there. You don't need a clean install. This will save you lots of time over completely re-downloading the game.
There has been a great deal of recent drama lately as Zenimax made changes to the API of the game that limits the ability of add-ons to pull information from the game. Though I think it's a good move, I covered the issue at length here, many disagree and confronted the developers about the changes. "What drove you to your decision to Massacre the API as you did? We can't even track information on our own character now." asked one redditor.
We had to make decisions that were based on trying to make sure competitive elements of the game, both PvE and PvP had as level of a playing field as possible. As our API was in Beta, it exposed certain functions that made 'macro programs' much easier to abuse. Also, there were functions which were exposed that let the API display information not readily available to the normal game client, thus making some players feel they would be forced to use add-ons to remain competitive.
While we are very aware this was going to hurt some add-ons, we felt these decisions were necessary. We certainly tried to keep in things which would still allow for damage numbers to be seen, and what was happening to your character to be seen. As we get deeper into launch, we can always re-evaluate what is available and what isn't.
With the recent announcement of a mount now being sold in the Cash Shop, players have seen a worrisome door being opened to more and more content being sold in a game that is subscription based. The worry has mostly seemed more toward what will be, more than simply what is being sold now, but it doesn't look like they have any big plans to turn it into a full blown F2P style Cash Shop.
"Cash Shop": The next items available for purchase are a name change service, and possibly some vanity pets. We have no timeline for these, so don't expect them soon, and there aren't concrete plans for anything else at the moment after that.
Explorer Pack Bonus: playing any race in any alliance is a pre-order perk. We have no plans to offer this bonus in any other way.
The starting areas of the game were also recently addressed, as many felt it offered an experience too slow and walled in for an Elder Scrolls game. Zenimax responded by moving the starting position of players to first major city instead of the starter islands, with an option to return to the islands for questing. This received a mixed response, but with some tweaking, Zenimax is holding true to the new beginning.
Starter Islands: We made this decision to give the players lots more choice in the early moments of the game. Not being able to leave the starter islands was too much on rails. So, we made the starter islands just "islands" and let players explore them when they want, along with other level 3-8 content. But after (much) feedback, we made it too hard to find the quest giver to send you to the island, so we are making one more change before launch: now, you'll find a quest-giver directly outside your front door to direct you to the islands. You don't have to go there, but you can if you want. Choice.
We have one more set of early game tweaks done on our development server that will go to PTS early next week and will be on live for early access. One of these is to make it easier to "find" the starting islands - and the other is to give the player more weapons to choose from. Also, we upped the drop rates for weapons and armor throughout the tutorial, so now there's a really (really) good chance you'll have the weapon you want by the time you get to Tamriel.
Another big question has been about bulk discounts for subscriptions, though they didn't have any specifics yet, they will be offering discounts with multiple months purchased.
We'll be releasing detailed info next week on the subscription plan, but just a heads up, yes, you will get a discount for buying multi-month subscriptions.
From there the questions get more specific, diving into particular class builds, game mechanics and more.
One issue some players continue to focus on is a small scale PvP game type such as dueling or arena combat. Though there are no plans for them as of now, the devs seem dedicated to focusing on player feedback.
For the time being there are no plans to put in duels as we want player vs. player combat focused on Cyrodiil, and fighting the enemy not your friends.
For the future, we'll be paying close attention to what players ask for whether it's sport style PVP, Arenas, or adding more Keeps to Cyrodiil or different campaigns. That's the beauty of continually supporting E.S.O. after we ship! =)
On the request for guild insignia's, tabbards, and cloaks:
Yes. We will be looking at tabards and insignias in an update in the near future.
I don't think we will be adding cloaks in the near future.
Speech bubbles above player heads on screen when they use the chat box to publicly speak:
We have no current plans to support speech bubbles.
Moderators in campaigns monitoring for cheating:
Yes, we will have full CS support on the live servers, including being able to handle TOS violations and harassment. We take player experience very seriously and as much as possible won't allow disruptive players to make life difficult for others.
Expansions in the future:
All regular content updates will be provided as part of subscribing. We will probably do some kind of expansion in the future, we don't have concrete plans for that at the moment.
I think we will have good sized content expansions at a regular cadence. That is our goal. We will talk more about any plans for a larger expansion well after launch.
A detailed response to a specific question about a debuff they recently rolled out for the Templar class, one many players feel hampers the classes usefulness at higher level content.
Alright, so I know this is a tricky one, because the old restoring spirit passive was extremely flexible and powerful. I am very sensitive to the fact that the changes we make can sometimes have an effect on the builds that you spent a long time developing. I promise you we each take balance changes very seriously.
The reason for the change to the restoring spirit had more to do with how it scaled as players progressed through Veteran ranks (especially beyond rank 10) than with how it was performing in the level 1 - 50 experience. We considered a few options for altering that value, but ultimately, we decided on a % reduction to all costs gives the class a lot of flexibility and scales very well in the long term.
I guess that doesn't answer your specific question: can I speak to the plans for Templar's Magicka recovery after that change? Short answer is, it's something I am actively looking at, but i don't want to speak to specific changes just yet until we are fully confident in the design and implementation. I hate not be able to give you details just yet, but I wanted to at least let all the Templar's know that I am aware of the feedback and looking into it.
Another class that players feel doesn't get a lot of love from the developers is the Nightblade class. It has very limited usefulness in large scale battles, especially PvP.
We'll continue to balance after launch. A good number of our most recent changes have been focused on fixing issues that come up in our soon-to-be-released high end content, but I know that me and our ability balance guys, Floyd and Eric, are extremely excited to improve some of our abilities that are unpopular and/or under performing.
A Nightblade support build is one that we have read a good deal of concerns about, so I'd expect some changes on the horizon.
And finally, a huge issue during the last beta was an issue with several blocked quests. Being the final beta before the game went live it was a cause of concern for many, but Zenimax claims to have found the issue.
We found the underlying problem that caused that series of bugs (similar problems across a wide variety of quests) that made the last beta frustrating for players and those fixes will show up on PTS on Monday and will be live for early access. We're pretty sure we found all of them, but we will remain vigilant and will fix anything else that may crop up.
As you can see, many of the questions can get very specific. They spent quite a bit of time with the community answering questions, both general and specific, important and niche, so there is much more if you are interested. Should you wish to pour through all of the question and answers, yet still avoid the confusion of the reddit comment section, visit my post I created with all the answers on the ShoddyCast gaming forum for more of the details.
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About the Author - Jeremy Shane
Jeremy was born in a small mountain village of a strange foreign land called Weystvurginea. Banishment for liberal views saw him spend years wondering the east coast until he decided to bike to California. When he saw how long a trip it was, he drove instead. Now he's living it up in a low humidity climate, sometimes working on his photography and when not, he writes for us covering books (by way of his blog: Reading Realms), gaming, tv, movies, comics, conventions in the SoCal area, and creates a weekly webcomic: A Journey Through Skyrim. If you look for him offline, start in the L.A. area; online start at: www.jeremyshane.info for his profile and all the social networks he's on... or just follow him on twitter, he seems to be on there a lot: @jeremyshane.
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