matt firor

More MMOs pledge to fully remove Red Shell spyware, including Secret World Legends

At the beginning of June, we covered The Elder Scrolls Online’s implementation of spyware program Red Shell, which is designed to track specific information about players and PCs logging into the client, like where on the globe they live. At the time, as fury blazed across Reddit, ZeniMax’s Matt Firor apologized for Red Shell, saying the company was “experimenting” with it and didn’t intend to patch it into the live build, and therefore it would be patched back out.

As it turns out, there are plenty of other games with Red Shell, or parts of Red Shell lingering. Redditor Alexspeed75 has been keeping track of games accused of running the spyware. Most notable on the list for our readers is Funcom; while the studio removed the Red Shell code from Conan Exiles in May following player complaints, players still found parts of it in The Secret World as of last week. That, Funcom has told Redditors, was an error, as it patched out the code last year.

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Tamriel Infinium: Unpacking the Elder Scrolls Online presentation at E3

Elder Scrolls Online is obviously a huge draw for MMORPG players, but it’s far from an exciting title for the vast majority of gamers attending E3, so I was surprised to see Game Director Matt Firor on the stage at all during the Bethesda presentation. It’s not to say that ESO isn’t a great game; it’s just been around awhile, and the hypetrain is hardly running at full speed right now.

During his presentation, Firor mentioned a lot of things worth considering. He had a very short time to not only tell existing fans what was happening in the game this year, but he also had to remind people of how great ESO is right now. Of course, he was hoping to get new players interested in the game. He knew that ESO wasn’t always well-received, but he had to show how far the game has come. Here’s how he did it.

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E3 2018: Elder Scrolls Online announces Wolfhunter and Murkmire DLC (oh yeah, and Elder Scrolls VI is coming!)

At Bethesda’s E3 presentation this evening, ZeniMax’s Matt Firor announced that The Elder Scrolls Online’s next DLC is called Wolfhunter, complete with werewolf theme. And even later this year, we can expect yet another DLC called Murkmire – yep, we’re diving into Argonian culture in Blackmarsh. Finally, right?! The company promises both this year – in the “second half of 2018.”

Firor says the game is up to 11 million players, with 1 million new in the last year. There’s a brand-new trailer for E3, focused mostly on Summerset, as well as a Murkmire teaser.

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Tamriel Infinium: Three things MMORPGs could learn from Elder Scrolls Online

Looking at the title, you might think that I believe Elder Scrolls Online is the perfect MMO, and in that case, you’d be incorrect. Elder Scrolls Online might have won the Massively OP MMORPG-of-the-Year award, but if you read my post in that article, you will notice that ESO won my vote for that award from me because it didn’t have any major blunders – not because it did everything the best way possible.

That being said, there are a lot of things that other MMOs can do to rise to the level of competency where ESO currently sits. I would like to spend a few moments here at the beginning of a new year to talk about the things that ESO consistently gets right and that other MMOs can learn from.

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Elder Scrolls Online announces new chapter and three DLC, including Dragon Bones, for 2018: ‘We are not slowing down at all’

The Elder Scrolls Online had a great year between Homestead and Morrowind, to say nothing of the rest of its DLC. But what’s coming next year? Good stuff. In fact, one of my predictions has already come true!

“You can expect three more DLCs and a full new Chapter for ESO in 2018,” ZeniMax’s Matt Firor writes today in an address to players ahead of the holiday. “We’re not slowing down, at all. There’s so much to do and explore in Tamriel, and we are very excited to take you to some highly-requested areas next year. We’ll officially announce the first DLC of 2018 just after the first of the year, but here’s a small preview: It’s a dungeon-based DLC called The Elder Scrolls Online: Dragon Bones. As the name implies, it is Nord-based in theme, with each of the two dungeons expanding upon the lore of that region.”

The Skyrim-y update will also include quality-of-life tweaks, “including at least one long-awaited feature that everyone who cares about their characters’ appearance will love and the Homestead storage items.” Expect it on the PTS “early (very early) next year.”

We’re streaming ESO’s wintertime events tonight, so join us live on OPTV at 9 p.m. EST!

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Elder Scrolls Online’s Matt Firor says ZeniMax has least ‘two years’ of additional content planned

With over 10 million players (2.5M monthly active users) having come through its doors since 2014, Elder Scrolls Online is one of the stronger success stories in the MMORPG genre. The fantasy title is riding high on this year’s accomplishments, which include the addition of housing, the Morrowind expansion, and the Clockwork City DLC.

In a new interview with MCV, Game Director Matt Firor explains how the team pushed past the disappointing launch and helped to propel the game forward. The move to console and the appeal to a wider spectrum of gamers were key factors, he noted. This year’s pattern of strong quarterly releases and one large expansion is something that the team wants to continue going into 2018.

“We have two years, at least, of things I know are going in and then we have ideas for after that,” Firor said. “Regular content, keeping players happy, that’s all we’re doing. ESO is very much a game-as-a-service, which is a term we don’t use a lot but it really is a service at this point, and so we want to make sure that it works and keep a lot of new stuff coming in.”

Source: MCV

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The Daily Grind: Should MMOs get rid of levels?

I would like to say that when I was a kid playing my first MMORPGs, I was impervious to the grind, that I embraced taking many months to level a skill or hit a level cap. But that would be a lie. I stuck a rock on my keyboard to AFK macro overnight in Ultima Online, and a friend of mine would log into my EverQuest account sometimes while I slept to catch me up in levels. I hated it. I have always hated it. Oh, I’d spend hours per day in those early games, but I wanted to chill with friends, make stuff, run dungeons with people without worrying about level discrepancies and gear and all the obnoxious mechanics designed so transparently to slow me down and make me pay to grind. And I’ve felt this way for 20 years.

This is why a recent tweet of Raph Koster’s, quoting Elder Scrolls Online’s Matt Firor, resonated with me:

“Removing levels as a gameplay factor was the best decision for retention ever made in Elder Scrolls Online.” -Matt Firor

It’s affirmation that I’m not alone: A huge portion of the MMORPG playerbase will pay for content that pushes us together by invalidating level grinds rather than keeps us apart. Is it not time? Can we just be done with the old canard that people “need” leveling make-work to feel achievement or investment in a game, when metrics prove otherwise? Should MMOs get rid of levels?

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Tamriel Infinium: First impressions of Elder Scrolls Online’s Clockwork City DLC

It’s hard to know where to start with these impressions because the upcoming DLC for Elder Scrolls Online is significantly more complex, more extensive, and more fun than I originally anticipated. Clockwork City has surprised me on multiple levels. Those who were fans of the Tribunal expansion for Elder Scrolls III will find nostalgia everywhere, and those who are new to this part of the lore will find a world that is similar yet very different from the rest of ESO.

Over the last couple of days, I have been spending my time on the public test server for Elder Scrolls Online where ZeniMax Online Studios has dropped its latest DLC: Clockwork City. This isn’t the first time we’ve been to the Clockwork City, but this DLC will be the first time that we are allowed to freely explore this creation of the god Sotha Sil.

There is no way that I am going to be able to sum up the hours of gameplay that Clockwork City has to offer in just a few hundred words, but let me hit on a few things that were the most important to me: aesthetics, storytelling, exploration, and gameplay.

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E3 2017: Elder Scrolls Online’s Matt Firor on Morrowind, nostalgia, and PvP

The Elder Scrolls Online released its first expansion, Morrowind, shortly before E3 2017. MMOs rarely come up with mainstream media, but with Morrowind’s nostalgia power, I heard the name mentioned a few times off the showroom floor. While I’d heard of Morrowind, of course, I didn’t personally get on the Elder Scrolls train until Skyrim — it’s been one of those games making “best of” lists for as long as I could remember. However, some of the things I’d read about the upcoming expansion gave me pause, so I brought them up with ZeniMax Game Director Matt Firor during our conversation at E3.

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The Daily Grind: What MMORPG needs megaserver tech the most?

During his interview with Gamasutra last week, Elder Scrolls Online’s Matt Firor told the publication, “I really think MMO is a technology. It’s not a game type anymore.”

Specifically, he means the megaserver structure of MMORPGs that allow thousands of players to more or less game together. “We have an interesting server structure in ESO that is unique in this generation of online game. What we do is we have what we call megaservers, where we instance all of our zones,” he explains. “Once you’re on the North American server, you never pick another server. The game kinda figures out how many instances of each zone to spin up, and which one to put you in….those are the kind of cool things that are happening behind the scenes, in game development, where it takes all of the decision-making out of the player’s hands.”

Someone could probably contest the “unique” part, given how many MMORPGs have employed versions of layered instancing and megaservers over the years, including modern ones, but I wouldn’t argue at all with “cool” — it still seems bizarre to me that any MMORPGs in 2017 are still stranding gamers on smaller servers, to the detriment of the game itself. So: What MMORPG needs megaserver tech the most but still doesn’t have it?

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Elder Scrolls Online’s Matt Firor on Morrowind, Dark Age of Camelot, and the old days of MMOs

Ahead of E3, ZeniMax’s Matt Firor sat down with Gamasutra for a streamed interview on The Elder Scrolls Online, focused chiefly on Morrowind. It’s a bit of an odd interview, as the publication kicks things off by characterizing the game as a F2P title and suggesting that the MMORPG genre hasn’t seen a paid expansion in a long time, which may surprise those of you playing SWTOR, World of Warcraft, Guild Wars 2, or Final Fantasy XIV. But Firor weathers the question, explaining that Morrowind is intended as a jump-in point for players who’ve never jumped in before, and yet it’s accessible for vets too.

“In the old days, what we did is we brought out an expansion, and the only people that bought it were experienced players because you had to be X level in order to buy it an enjoy it,” Firor explains. “That’s the difference between Morrowind and those days. Anyone can just jump in and have fun.”

He also touches on the differences between the era of Dark Age of Camelot and Elder Scrolls Online (hint: It’s about grind). It’s a long stream but worth it for Firor’s commentary.

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The Game Archaeologist: How Sceptre of Goth shaped the MMO industry

When it comes to text-based MMOs created in the ’80s, ’90s, and 2000s, the sheer number of them would blot out the sky. There are certainly more multi-user dungeons (MUDs) than I’ve ever been able to get a handle on when I’ve tried creating lists of the most important to know, but I will say that there are a few that seem to pop up more than others. The original MUD1, created by Richard Bartle and Roy Trubshaw, was certainly a watershed moment for online roleplaying games. Learning about DikuMUD is pretty essential, considering its impact on graphical MMORPGs that we still play today.

But there’s another title that often goes unnoticed, unless you keep an eye out for it. It’s a MUD that keeps popping up when you look into the history of the MMORPG genre, one with ties to key players and design concepts that are still active today.

It’s the MUD that shaped the MMO industry, and it was called Sceptre of Goth.

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Elder Scrolls Online apologizes for lengthy EU datacenter downtime

Grumpy about The Elder Scrolls Online being down most of today? That’s probably because you’re in the EU — the extra-long outage kept the servers just out of reach.

“Once in a while we have to do some extended work to our datacenter, and sometimes it takes longer than it should due to unintended consequences,” Matt Firor wrote via Bethsoft’s Gina Bruno this afternoon. “Today’s downtime was required to upgrade parts of the datacenter in preparation for Morrowind’s launch. It took longer than we thought because we ran into a couple issues relating to network security that was preventing different parts of the network from talking to each other. It’s never fun for anyone when we have extended downtime like this, but it’s always for a good reason. We try to schedule downtime at the least populated time for the game (remembering that ESO is worldwide and downtime will always inconvenience some players, no matter when it happens). We always strive to get everything back up and running quickly and do everything we can to keep maintenance windows as short as possible.”

The explanation hasn’t stopped EU players from pointing out that because EU maintenance is done on ZeniMax’s NA schedule, even a regular-length downtime can creep into prime-time for some EU players.

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