Elder Scrolls Online plans live tests and major Cyrodiil changes to combat performance issues

Some testing begins today, with the bulk slated for August

    
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If it seems like we’ve been talking about improved performance in The Elder Scrolls Online for a really long time, you’re not nuts because it was exactly a year ago at QuakeCon that ZeniMax dropped its first timeline of the planned improvements. But performance in Cyrodiil in particular has been a concern for the game a lot longer (here’s a piece from 2017 where the devs are promising to make it a priority). Lag and tech problems in Cyrodiil – that’s the big three-way PvP zone smack in the middle of Tamriel – have persisted since then, and now, ZeniMax really is homing in on it, as yesterday ZeniMax’s Rich Lambert put up a lengthy post on the official forums outlining the testing process and what the impact on combat could be.

Lambert explains that part of the problem has been the growth of player power over time and the fact that some characters “can cast near-infinite numbers of abilities,” including AoEs, which put a serious strain on the server’s performance when it simply can’t keep up with the infinite stream of characters spamming.

“This is not what we intended, but part of the fun of Elder Scrolls games is designing a build that has unexpected and powerful results, and we allowed it,” Lambert explains. “However, as this behavior grew more prevalent, we reached a point where casting so many continuous AOE abilities in such a small area started to overwhelm the server process for that area, leading to situations where the ‘lag meter’ spikes and the server becomes unresponsive for a period of time.”

The long and short of it is that fixes for this have been outstripped by characters every time, and ZeniMax now needs to “address the core problem […] starting with Update 27.” And that’s going to mean live tests on the live PC (not console) servers, and it also means alliance point rewards for everyone online when they go down. The big tests will run for about a week starting on August 24th, focusing on AoEs in Cyrodiil – they’ll “make it more difficult for AOE abilities to be the only abilities used, adjusting cooldown, cost and regen values of all AOEs (damage and healing).” In fact, some more basic tests will run behind the scenes today.

“After we complete the above tests, we may try other combinations of cooldown, cost, and regen values on AOE abilities. However, we need to run these tests first and then assess the data. We will then let everyone know what we found and how we will move forward. We will be very upfront, but please be aware that if these tests confirm our hypothesis, then chain-casting AOE abilities will no longer form the core of the ESO PvP experience in the way it has for the last few years. We would then go through each class and ensure that there are viable builds for each and make adjustments as necessary. The code for these changes will be going into today’s PTS patch, and we will be running some basic tests throughout the day on Tuesday in Cyrodiil to ensure we’re able to make the above changes without requiring any maintenance or downtime. Once we launch Update 27 for PC on August 24, we will announce when one of the tests are beginning through an in-game announcement and will have a forum thread detailing which test is currently being performed. Remember, these tests will be limited to Cyrodiil, so AOE abilities in other PVP spaces (Imperial City and Battlegrounds) and will remain unchanged for now. We will evaluate how these tests go, and let everyone know next steps.”

In other Elder Scrolls Online news, ZeniMax announced the winners of its recent housing challenge. My favorite’s the gardeny home in a giant barrel!

Source: Official forums. Cheers, Bruno!

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J

I’ve been pretty pissed at them since they killed group Battleground play. No other ideas, no group only queue – just make it single queue only. That was the point that I lost a ton of faith.

Palamah
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Palamah

That’s great, probably (not a PvP’er so kinda meh about it).

However, I did burst out laughing about the fact that these tests will also take place on the PC EU server (as well as NA).

Let’s just hope that the PC EU server will be up and can actually take the load for once; it struggles most days under normal conditions when it isn’t down due to an outage – e.g. extended maintenance and issue resolution on the 27th July that meant that the PC EU server wasn’t available for over 12 hours (coming back up late in the evening), and is apparently unavailable right now!

If ZOS want to run any sort of useful studies on the PC EU server, they really need to stabilise it first – the sheer number of threads on the official forums complaining about the shoddy state of this server should attest to how bad things are.

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memitim

It’s very much the boy who cried lag at this point…if they ever actually fix this I won’t believe them. :p

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Bruno Brito

“This is not what we intended

Imagine not putting cooldowns on a game and thinking it’ll not be abused.

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styopa

One might take this as an example of how the effort of trying to shoehorn in PVP (“we have to have it in our game!”) is sucking the air out of the room for the rest of an overtly PVE title.

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Tee Parsley

ESO was designed as a DAoC clone in Elder Scrolls skins. Not a great idea, as it was not particularly resonant with the ES fanbase. Many bad decisions done in early development that they are still having to walk back today.

Reaping the Scrollwind??

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agemyth 😩

This game had PVP in its design from the beginning. I’m not saying it is good or was a good decision but this PVP wasn’t shoehorned in or some late mandate from corporate saying “WoW has PVP so we should have it too”.

PVP in ESO is, for better or worse, what that team could accomplish with the resources they were given knowing from the outset that it would be pushed as a pillar of the game.

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Dug From The Earth

After the story was said and done for me in ESO (for all 3 factions), only 2 things kept me from continuing to play.

1. Cyrodil performance
2. Animation canceling

One they have been saying they are going to fix for years
The other they gave up on immediately and just accepted that it was a “feature” because they had no idea how to fix it.

Im still 100% skeptical that performance will improve. Id love to be proven wrong, but years of saying one thing, and it never happening causes any trust to go right out the door.

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Dug From The Earth

Upon further looking into these fixes/updates… its HUGELY disappointing.

They are still applying a bandaid solution which after all these years, is just pathetic. To make matters worse, they are basically globably nerfing a LOT of things….

The problem has always been how they dont actually pre-calculate or cache any values. So every time something is done, every element of that ability that is math related, gets calculated on the fly, regardless of it its a simple weapon damage calculation or a much more complex one involving CP abilities, buffs, debuffs, resistances, etc. Throw in many players all doing things at once, and all those calculations will bring any system to its knees. They have pointed the finger at the CP system numerous times in the past, because of how many additional factors it adds to every abilities calculation.

The simple fact is, they shouldnt be calculating these sorts of bonuses on the fly. Most of the values from the more static values like CP, set gear, and even your players stats dont ever change from one target to the next. They can be calculated once, and then reused without the need to do the calculations each and every time you use an ability. Fewer calculations = fewer performance issues.

So rather than reducing calculations via precalculating and caching values, they instead or reducing calculation by putting hard cap cooldowns on how often abilities can be used.

Pathetic.

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Bruno Brito

You got a point but, it’s a test. It’s not a fix YET. They’ll test the changes to see if the cooldowns are going to affect the performance. If yes, they’ll keep it and probably have to revamp the entire combat.

Alomar
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Alomar

Different words same results. If the “Year of Performance Improvements” didn’t do anything they simply won’t invest the money or don’t know what to do. 6 years+ post-launch and worst performance ever.