tamriel infinium

Tamriel Infinium is an Elder Scrolls Online column by Larry Everett. [Follow this column’s RSS feed]

Tamriel Infinium: Four reasons Elder Scrolls Online's Homestead tops other MMO housing

Traditionally, in this Tamriel Infinium column, I have been extremely critical of The Elder Scrolls Online, and I promise you, I'm sure I'll lob criticism at the game in the future too. But I also like to give proper praise to video game developers when they do something extremely right, and that’s the case with Homestead.

My first MMO experience with housing was probably very similar to every other old-school MMO gamer's experience with housing: Ultima Online. But I didn’t really play UO for a very long time, only a month or so. My first real experience was in Star Wars Galaxies. Unfortunately, that game is shut down now, so I can’t show you just how powerful and creatively flexible that housing was. Since then, I’ve experienced housing in a number of different MMOs. I’ve seen EverQuest II, Lord of the Rings Online, WildStar, and of course, Star Wars: The Old Republic.

Although some of these housing systems have elements that I really like, I don’t think any of them reach the level that ESO reaches. And to help illustrate what I mean, I’ve compiled a list of four reasons that Homestead is better than those other MMO housing systems.

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Tamriel Infinium: Five things you might have missed in the Elder Scrolls Online Morrowind reveal

I really enjoyed watching the Elder Scrolls Online: Morrowind announcement with all of our readers. The staff here saw your comments immediately as I was live-blogging some of the highlights. I was sure that it was going to be tough for ZeniMax to top the hype that surrounded the Thieves Guild and Dark Brotherhood DLC, but with the announcement of the Morrowind expansion (although ZOS calls it a "chapter"), I am more excited about this than I was about randomly murdering people for Sithis.

The livestream announcement was just under 40 minutes long with so much to touch on. Creative Director Rich Lambert explained that there are more than 30 hours of content added with Morrowind, which isn't counting the repeatable content like Trials and the soon-to-be-added Battlegrounds. There is no way that they could hit every facet, and there were probably many things that just breezed by but will ultimately be important.

I found five items that should have got more attention than they did during the announcement that you probably missed even if you watched through the whole livestream.

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Tamriel Infinium: Elder Scrolls Online's 2016 report card

Greetings, men and mer. It’s that time of year again when I take a look back on everything that Elder Scrolls Online has given us and give it a rating based on my opinion. However, I don’t just want to grade arbitrarily; I like to use one of the oldest measurements for online roleplaying games: Bartle’s Taxonomy.

Those who haven’t been a part of the online world since the '90s will likely not recognize the name Richard Bartle, but he was one of the founders of online roleplay gaming. He co-created MUD1 and wrote many papers about online gaming and the people who inhabit that world. Besides the original taxonomy, Bartle’s work was famously turned into a test that asked a series of questions that would fit you into the taxonomy grid of four categories: Socializer, Achiever, Explorer, and Killer.

Unfortunately, the original test no longer exists, but 4You2Learn has a similar one to find out where you fall. Of course, few people will sit 100% in any one category, but it’s the balance of all four that make for a fun game for the largest number of people. I will explain what each group is about as I give the grade.

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Tamriel Infinium: Elder Scrolls Online juggles making money and making content with Crown Crates

I think it's fair to say that the $15 subscription model just isn't cutting it for MMORPGs anymore. I understand that. The $15 pricetag dates back at least 15 years, and even if we were to factor in inflation alone, the cost of that subscription would be worth about $19 today. Teams creating the content were a lot smaller then, and frankly, players were satisfied with less than perfection. (Think about the number of incomplete MMOs that launched at that time.) There has to be a new way for developers to make more money. There has to be a way for developers to give players what they are looking for and at the same time bring in enough income to support its engineers, producers, and investors.

I believed that Elder Scrolls Online had that system down. The developers created content like the Thieves Guild DLC, then sold that as a package or allowed players to subscribe to get content as it released. Single-player games have done similar for years and have even adapted a type of subscription model with season passes. Unfortunately, it's becoming clear that the DLC with optional subscription just isn't enough, at least for the beancounters at ESO. Like many MMORPGs before it, ESO has now adopted lockboxes, gambleboxes, in the form of Crown Crates.

I've spent some time and more than a few of my own Crowns to attempt to discover how worthy these crates are and if they are actually worth it from a player's perspective -- with an understanding that ESO needs money to continue to thrive as a company.

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Tamriel Infinium: Elder Scrolls Online roleplay with the Human Floyd

Those who follow my columns here know that I'm a big roleplayer, but I don't exactly roleplay in the Elder Scrolls Online. I love the setting and the stories built on top of the Elder Scrolls universe, but roleplaying the way that I like to takes time that I just can't devote. However, there is a rich roleplay community in Elder Scrolls Online, and I really wanted to dig into it. That's when I was introduced to a YouTuber and roleplayer who calls himself the Human Floyd.

I have referenced his work before, but I never really got a chance to talk to him personally. So when I sat down with him recentlt, I asked him the normal questions about where he came from -- like how he started roleplaying on Neopets' forums at about 12 years old and that his first MMORPG RP experience was in World of Warcraft. But the conversation turned really deep really fast. We talked about what attracted him to Elder Scrolls Online, what roleplay means for MMOs, and why developers should spend more time focusing on this community.

Here is a section of our hour-long conversation that I think really touches on the greatness of roleplay.

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Hyperspace Beacon vs. Tamriel Infinium: An unpopular opinion on SWTOR and ESO lockboxes

I expect to come under fire for the opinion I'm expressing today for a couple of reasons.

Hyperspace Beacon and Tamriel Infinium are our biweekly columns on Star Wars: The Old Republic and The Elder Scrolls Online, respectively. Both are penned by Larry Everett. Today's edition is a mash-up of both.
First, I know that many people have very strong opinions regarding lockboxes, including some other writers here at Massively OP. Second, my opinion will likely put me at odds with a lot of the people who visit this site. I would like to state right up front that anything expressed in this article today is my opinion alone and should not be taken as a reflection of the opinion of this site or any other person who writes for it.

With Elder Scrolls Online introducing lockboxes, we have lost what was pretty much the last vestige free from virtual gambling. Some ignorant people have accused me and this site for not calling lockboxes what they are: gambling packs. (In fact, we have called them out, repeatedly.) That is what they are; except you don’t ever get your money back, as you would if gambling. That is one reason game studios can get away with not calling it gambling, although that’s exactly what it is. I understand that there are legal implications when calling them gambling packs, so I guess I understand why game developers avoid calling them exactly what they are.

However, I don’t have issue with lockboxes in principle, and in some ways, I encourage game developers to continue making them. But this wouldn’t be much of an article if I ended it there.

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Tamriel Infinium: Cracking Craglorn's overhaul with Elder Scrolls Online's Rich Lambert

First and foremost: One Tamriel puts all players on an even playing field in Elder Scrolls Online PvE. Players can go where they want when they want. They can play the game the way they like in the order that they like to play it. I’ve already admitted how much I like the concept - and how much I think it feels more like an open-world, multiplayer Elder Scrolls game.

Looking back, I think the One Tamriel idea started to surface with the Orsinium DLC. What I was also interested in was how an area like Craglorn -- which had always been an endgame zone cut off by the now defunct Veteran Ranks and forced group content -- had changed because of this new vision of gameplay. I was really curious what the One Tamriel update did to the zone, and how it became more solo-friendly. I was also curious about the reason behind some of the changes coming in the next update. And I was also afraid that making the content more universal would make it less difficult, and frankly, unfun.

You guys are in for a real treat today. Not only did I spend some time on the test center actually playing through the Craglorn content, but I was also was able to connect with Creative Director Rich Lambert at ZeniMax Online Studios. He answered many of my initial concerns, and the gameplay through Craglorn answered the rest.

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Tamriel Infinium: Why I'm sold on Elder Scrolls Online's One Tamriel

It hasn't taken me long to fall in love with One Tamriel. This Elder Scrolls Online team has a distinct understanding of what makes this game an Elder Scrolls game, and One Tamriel really captures this understanding. I cannot wait to tell you about my experience in it so far. However, there are a couple of pieces of information that you’ll need to understand my perspective.

One Tamriel is ESO’s way of fast-tracking the leveling experience. Many MMOs create ways for its experienced players to game with the newer players: Some, like World of Warcraft, will do it with character boosters, and others, like Marvel Heroes, will do it with level-scaling. Still others will do it with both, like Star Wars: The Old Republic did. Elder Scrolls Online chose leveling-scaling to an extreme. As a new player in the One Tamriel update, you can literally go anywhere once you’ve passed the tutorial. I’ll get into more details in a bit.

I know that I’ve said this before, but I believe that to understand where I’m coming from I should reiterate that I play ESO solo for the most part. It’s not that I think that multiplayer is bad in the game; I just like to experience this particular game at my own pace and in my own way.

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Tamriel Infinium: Exploring the lore behind Elder Scrolls Online's Shadows of the Hist

I’m ashamed to admit that the Argonians are probably my least favorite of all the Elder Scrolls Online races. Perhaps this can be traced back to the Trandoshans in Stars Wars, or perhaps it’s a general dislike of reptiles. I usually prefer the more cuddly creatures, like Kajiit… or Nords. (That was a beard joke, by the way.) But just because I’m not a huge fan of this lizard race doesn’t mean that they aren’t worth playing. It doesn’t mean that their lore isn’t rich and deep. It is, and it all starts with the Hist.

In Elder Scrolls Online, we can visit Shadowfen, which is technically a part of the Argonian homeland, but in the next DLC, we get to dive deep into the Black Marsh and hopefully discover the mysteries of the Hist. However, I have all the secrets here, before the DLC officially drops. Let’s take a few moments to discover the sentient trees that are the Hist and possibly discover the origin of the Argonian race.

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Elder Scrolls Online's Matt Firor on One Tamriel, Cyrodiil PvP, and housing

For many of us at Massively OP, Elder Scrolls Online won E3, if that’s really a thing, but that's partly because all ZeniMax Online Studios really had to do was show up when most other MMORPGs barely made a showing at all. Even so, ESO did much more than just show up; in fact, it made it to the main stage during the Bethesda conference presentation.

Just like many other conference presentations, ESO’s time on stage was limited and left fans with more questions than answers, only exacerbated by the arrival of 2.5.0 on the PTS this morning, patch notes for which already have players speculating about the precise nature of open-world vs. instanced housing in the game.

So we've chatted up Game Director Matt Firor about the next update, the changes to Cyrodiil PvP, One Tamriel, and of course, player housing. Read on!

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Tamriel Infinium: The pros and cons of Elder Scrolls Online's 'One Tamriel' level-syncing

Despite being a two-year-old game, The Elder Scrolls Online has made a good showing at E3, which really shouldn't have surprised me -- but it did. According to ZeniMax marketing, the game has surpassed even its own expectations. I don't think that we can say that ESO is the most successful Elder Scrolls game ever; looking at the raw numbers, we can see that Oblivion outsold ESO, and after five years players are still making new and more complex mods for Skyrim, which has also outsold ESO. But regardless of what you think of the game, seven million copies sold does mark ESO as one of the most successful MMORPGs to date.

Along with the statistical report, ZeniMax also announced a slightly controversial change coming to ESO called One Tamriel. The idea is that players should have the freedom to travel the whole in-game world without arbitrary restrictions. With the success of level-syncing in the recent DLCs, ZeniMax felt it should continue this trend to the rest of the game. Although I agree with this decision, I can understand some of the concerns of the player who are resistant to this change. That's exactly what I'd like to talk about today.

Let's jump into the pros and cons of One Tamriel.

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Tamriel Infinium: Elder Scrolls Online's Dark Brotherhood DLC is sublime, brother

Well, folks, this is it. This is the way that The Elder Scrolls Online should have launched. As MOP's own Bree Royce says on today's Massively OP podcast, MMOs do not launch finished. They usually launch horribly incomplete, and sometimes it takes them years to get to a launched state if they get there at all.

I am thrilled to say that ESO is finally there with the introduction of the Dark Brotherhood.

In today's Tamriel Infinium column, I’m going to give you my personal impressions of the Dark Brotherhood DLC, but I want also offer an overview of what has changed with ESO over the last few updates that signifies why now is a great time to jump into the game and why the game really should have launched this way. Be warned: There are mild spoilers about the guild's set-up ahead.

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Tamriel Infinium vs. Hyperspace Beacon: Elder Scrolls Online and SWTOR as storytelling giants

I think it’s all but obvious that Elder Scrolls Online and Star Wars: The Old Republic are enriched with lore. The Star Wars universe, despite being mostly “legends,” is full of interesting places and exciting character twists. And even if you’ve only played one Elder Scrolls game, you can tell that there is something deeper beyond the surface.

But when you compare the two prominent MMOs running on those intellectual properties, you will see a vast difference in the way that the stories are presented to you.

The ESO form of storytelling involves a lot of static scenes with talking heads, while SWTOR takes a more cinematic approach. Which is more immersive, and what can one learn from the other? What would a ESO/SWTOR lovechild look like? Let’s take a moment to explore them both.
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