zenimax

The Bethesda Softworks sub-studio responsible for The Elder Scrolls Online.

Massively Overthinking: Are MMORPG players a minority in their own genre?

Deep in the comments of the MMOs-vs.-survival-sandboxes thread from last week, reader miol_ produced a beautiful comment about how MMO players have become a minority in their own genre, which he then expounded upon for us in this provocative email.

“I’ve reached the opinion, that since the launch of WoW and its clones, the ‘original’ MMO-playerbase became a minority in their own genre. Before, we were but hundreds of thousands of MMO players, but then came Blizzard with WoW and its legions of fans in the dozen of millions at its peak, starting to dictate what the new success of MMOs should look like. Even if we others tried to vote with our wallet and feet, we became a minority, having only a fraction of our initial influence, while many devs tried desperately time and again to find ways to get at least a portion of the new Blizzard playerbase.

“Am I wrong with that perception of history? Am I totally missing something? Or are ‘we’ are slowly becoming a majority again, now that WoW and its clones are seeing steadily declining numbers (instead of us winning more players to ‘our side’)? How do we lobby better for ‘our cause’? Or can we only wait and see, until the genre is small enough again? Or is it too late? Have we ourselves grown too far apart into our even more niche corners of personal taste since SWG, while production costs and our demands for production value have skyrocketed at the same time? How could we come closer again?”

Let’s tackle miol_’s questions in this week’s Massively Overthinking.

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PSA: Get Elder Scrolls Online super cheap through the Humble Bundle this weekend

Thinking about giving The Elder Scrolls Online a go as the march toward Morrowind pushes on toward June? You probably won’t find a cheaper deal between then and now than the Humble Bundle’s prices.

You’re looking at $9.89 for the cheapskate version for people who just want a looksee, but the Gold edition for $29.99 is probably the best deal, since it includes most of (though not all) of the DLC packs to date.

Anybody picking it up?

Source: Humble Bundle. Thanks,
Darthbawl!

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Elder Scrolls Online comes up with a wicked Morrowind wallpaper

Want to show off your excitement and attachment over the June expansion for Elder Scrolls Online? ZeniMax has an easy way for you to do so: Download its new Morrowind wallpaper and put it on your desktop. And your friend’s desktop. And the entire IT department’s desktops. And all of the library computer desktops in the tri-state area. Don’t stop, never stop; the revolution comes in every possible resolution!

OK, maybe we got a little carried away there. Anyway, the art team came up with a pretty impressive piece of Warden concept art and wanted to talk a little about its creation. “We wanted to depict the Warden in a way that would highlight the signature characteristics of the class, which suggested a combat scene as well as the inclusion of the Warden’s Feral Guardian ultimate. We also wanted to showcase a location from Morrowind, since the Warden will be debuting alongside the new zone,” the team wrote.

You can see and read on the evolution of the piece before downloading your very own Warden wallpaper. And installing it on all of the computers in Best Buy when the sales associates’ backs are turned.

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Tamriel Infinium: Class changes are a bad reason to pan Elder Scrolls Online Morrowind

Elder Scrolls Online possesses a distinct flavor. I can honestly say that there is no other MMORPG like it. In fact, the whole Elder Scrolls series is unique. The only thing that probably comes close to matching it is the Fallout series, and since that’s made by the same developer, does that really count at all?

But I still know there are people who will still not like the new chapter for Elder Scrolls Online, Morrowind. Opinions abound, and I welcome them. But I also understand that you can be critical of something without pouring blind hate all over it. I appreciate it when people can have an honest, thought-filled discussion about why something doesn’t work for them. It’s kind of a journey of self-discovery, to be honest.

And that’s why I would like to talk about why some people are not going to like Morrowind. Specifically, I would like to talk about some of the more absurd reasons that people have been blowing up the hate on the forums about class changes. Although there might be a little bit of substance to what is being said, many of the underlying reasons are without merit.

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Elder Scrolls Online offers a new video glimpse of Morrowind’s Vivec

The greatest city on Morrowind’s island of Vvardenfell is Vivec — and in The Elder Scrolls Online’s expansion timeline, Vivec is still being built by the god-poet who gave the town its name.

The city is the subject of a new video from ZeniMax out today, narrated in-character by Morag Tong assassin Naryu Virian and featuring plenty of swoopy fly-throughs of interiors and exteriors of the town. “But did he have to build it under that big, ugly rock?” Virian snarls. Unfortunately for us, he did! Check it out below, and if you’re digging Elder Scrolls videos, make sure to check out Larry’s lore piece from earlier today.

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Video: Story vs. lore, Star Wars: The Old Republic vs. The Elder Scrolls Online

In the ultimate battle for your dollar in the MMO industry, two MMOs with rabid fan bases duke it out by serving you a deep and engaging narrative. Star Wars: The Old Republic and The Elder Scrolls Online both want to draw you in with the worlds they have to offer, but each does so in a unique fashion: One gives you interesting characters build up your ego by making you the most power being in the galaxy, while the other tempts you in with a wondrous world to discover.

In Massively OP’s latest video, we’ll examine these two games and ask which is more appropriate for an MMORPG: story or lore. It’s a tough question — there might not be a satisfying answer!

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The Daily Grind: Do you believe MMO studios release overpowered new classes on purpose?

Yesterday’s Elder Scrolls Online press embargo drop allowed us to talk a bit more about the overpowered state of the Morrowind Warden class — in fact, Larry flat-out called it a Mary Sue. What surprised me about the ensuing discussion was how incredibly cynical our readers were in response to that (and to the general community uproar over the class). Quite a lot of you (and other highly engaged gamers) seem to believe that ZeniMax is releasing the Warden totally overpowered intentionally as part of its marketing strategy, and to some extent, it makes sense — you want to create hype for your game and get people to buy it, so make sure to pack in a badass, solo-friendly class that encourages fence-sitters to make that leap.

On the other hand, you risk ticking off a couple million existing players who don’t want their characters falling to the bottom of the heap or who don’t want to feel as if they have to reroll.

Do you believe studios like ZeniMax, Blizzard, and ArenaNet intentionally release overpowered new classes, planning to nerf and balance them later? And if so, is it the smart call?

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Elder Scrolls Online: Morrowind will not blow your mind, but it will tickle your nostalgia

Over the last week or so, ZeniMax Online Studios opened up parts of The Elder Scrolls Online’s Morrowind test servers to the press and public, allowing us to hop in and take a long and unfettered look at the developing expansion. In fact, that’s why I shied away from saying anything about the Elder Scrolls Online patch notes controversy — I’ve been buried in the real thing all week. Although I can now talk about the negative, I can also finally talk about the positive bits Morrowind has to offer.

I want to be fair about my analysis of ZOS’ depiction of the island of Vvardenfell and the Dark Elf culture, so I will have to put aside some of my nostalgic feels and take the experience for what it is: a solid entertaining MMORPG with a handful of flaws. I’m not going to pull any punches, but I should let you know that I really like this next chapter for ESO.

I’m not going to give everything away, but there is an interesting story involving a god, a priest, and a giant crab.

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Elder Scrolls Online community grumbles over Morrowind class nerfs and the impending Warden takeover

Elder Scrolls Online: Morrowind has a lot of casual players, former players, and future players excited for its launch in June. But what about existing hardcores? And in particular, what about people who’ve taken a peek into the beta and believe the existing classes, especially the Templar, will be totally overshadowed by the brand-new Warden class? The outcry has grown fierce. YouTuber Deltia even has a video where he straddles the line between funny and serious by hauling a shovel out to his yard to dig a grave and conduct a mock funeral for his Templar.

ZeniMax addressed the concerns in a forum post last night.

“[O]ne of the main concerns we want to address is the worry that we’re nerfing Templars in order to make the Warden a stronger healing class, particularly by nerfing Major Mending and giving it to Wardens. We’ve made it so all classes have to meet conditional requirements to gain Major Mending. DK’s need to have their damage shields up, Wardens have to heal low health targets, and Resto Staff users have to complete a fully charged heavy attack. It’s also worth noting that we’re planning on adjusting the Warden passive, Accelerated Growth, because it’s currently too easy to keep it active for long periods of time.

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Tamriel Infinium: Why I changed my mind about Elder Scrolls Online

When I took the trip to ZeniMax Online Studios to check out Morrowind a couple of months back, I was sitting at a table with other games press and a handful of ZOS developers, including Creative Director Rich Lambert and Lead PvP Designer Brian Wheeler. The conversation wasn’t exactly off the record, but it wasn’t really an interview setting either. We were just talking, mostly about our lives: how Brian had to leave soon because he might get in trouble with his girlfriend and how Rich spent many overnights at the same hotel that the press had been staying in because he was at the office late and had to be there again early the next day.

During the course of the conversation, we ended up talking about how the press had originally received the Elder Scrolls Online and how it received it since the console launch. It’s not a big secret that I said some pretty critical things about ESO shortly after its PC launch. Rich pointed out during the conversation, possibly not knowing the outlet I was from, that he was surprised at how the opinions had turned around, especially Massively’s. And when he said “Massively,” I don’t think he realized that it was specifically my opinion that had that changed, drastically, since I’ve been the site’s ESO columnist since before the game’s launch.

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The Elder Scrolls Online: Morrowind drops a Warden class gameplay trailer

Ah, trailer season is almost upon us, and The Elder Scrolls Online is inching closer today with its video of the Warden, the new class landing in the game when the Morrowind not-an-expansion expansion launches on June 6th.

“Revealing themselves to the world for the first time, Wardens possess a wide assortment of abilities to help defend the wilds and people of Tamriel. With the versatility to act as a damage dealer, a healer, or protector (or any combination in between) the Warden’s powerful and unique nature-based magic brings an entirely new element to ESO. The Warden can be fully customized based on your choices and your playstyle — summon the fearsome War Bear, encase yourself in rock-solid ice, or conjure healing plants from the soil.”

We’ve previously covered the Warden’s support, summon, and attack skills, and the closed beta began yesterday with all the expected fanfare of an expansion test locked behind an NDA. You’ll be rolling up on Seyda Neen in just seven weeks! Check out that gameplay trailer down below, then tell us: Are you creating a Warden in Morrowind? (I am!)

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Elder Scrolls Online’s Morrowind closed beta test has begun

Get your “It’s happening!!!” gifs ready: ZeniMax announced this morning that the invites for The Elder Scrolls Online’s Morrowind beta are riding out on carrier pigeon today. When I tried to type “morning” just now, I typed “Morrowind” instead, complete with capitalization, if that tells you anything about the hype-o-meter for the expansion as we roll along toward June.

“This time we’re doing things a bit differently, and we will be holding a closed beta for ESO: Morrowind,” the studio told fans earlier this month. “While everyone will be able to help test the base game content on the PTS, any content included in ESO: Morrowind will be invite-only. In addition, everyone logging onto the PTS will be required to agree to a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) upon login.” Likewise, “participation in previous PTS cycles is a major factor” in whether you’re invited.

So hey, you probably won’t get in, but people who will leak everything on day one will because life is cruel and unfair that way. Not that there’s probably much left to leak, given how much the studio has put out already! Go sit by your inboxes and start refreshing for your invites.

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One Shots: Screenshots big enough to wallpaper your house

Obviously due to column width limitations, we have a fixed pixel size for screenshots here at Massively OP. But that doesn’t stop some of you from playing a game called “Let’s see if we can crash Justin’s photo editor by sending in the largest file size ever.” Today’s headliner is from Melissa, who sent me a “small” high-res capture of ARK at 12K x 7K resolution. The five-year-old laptop I was working on thanks her for this.

“Great picture I think, the Spinosaurus posed perfectly before noticing me and eating me!” she wrote. “If you guys like this and want to see one I can take a truly massive (several GB) ANSEL shot for you from ARK. Only a few games support it. The detail when you zoom in can be unbelievable.”

Yes. Please. Send them bigger. I will phone up the local university to schedule time on their supercomputer for it.

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