Letters From Tamriel

An epistolary gaming blog

Archive for the category “Zellspeak”

Excuses, Midyear Mayhem, and a Screencap

@Zells - sepia stone - smallIt’s very nearly August; I have no idea how that happened.  Time is a concept I don’t fully understand.

Excuses
Lately the time I usually spend on posts has been soaked up by a couple of things:

1) I am still obsessively doing research to fine-tune Zellfire’s build and have learned a ton about meta building along the way.  I might do a post on meta builds, because even though I’m far from an expert, and there’s a lot of information already out there, most of it is that “give a man a fish” type of advice – “here’s a build, do it this way”.  And that’s a good place to start, but when I hear people discussing how they can’t get past this or that threshold, it’s because they don’t understand how the meta information fits together and/or are doing something they were told to do that doesn’t work for them.

2) My other distraction is that I have an IRL friend who will hopefully be joining ESO soon, and I’ve been emailing them “Beginner’s Guide to ESO” information.  I may do a series of linked posts with those write-ups.  There were so many things I learned eventually but would have loved to have known sooner: stable training, crafting research, how zone sets drop….  I’d like to provide a source of basic starter information for someone who doesn’t yet know how to ask Google for specific things.

Midyear Mayhem is underway!
Midyear Mayhem is the latest holiday event, and it’s PvP themed.  I kind of have a love/hate relationship with PvP.  I do enjoy it once I’m in Cyro – even when I’m dying – but most of the time when I think of going it sounds… stressful.  I’ve also heard complaints about the purely code-driven aspects of the event – achievements not recording, servers crashing, queues in the hundreds, various other things.  I’ve experienced most of that myself.  I have started doing the event achievements, but for the first time I don’t know that I’ll finish them all, even on one character.

Having said all that, I think it’s a well-designed event, for the most part.  Part of the devs job is to get people to try content they’re avoiding, and I like that they’re giving incentives to give PvP a try.  And I really do want that laurel crown.  So I guess this weekend I’ll take a deep breath and give Battlegrounds a try even though I find the idea super intimidating and have been putting it off.  Way to go, devs, ya got me.

If you see me in Cyrodil or in a Battleground this weekend, wave hi before you kill me.  🙂

(Just being friendly!  Not at all an opportunity for me to get another couple of seconds to run!)

Screencaps
This week I sorted through a bunch of my screencaps and added new ones to my computer’s slideshow.  Here’s one of my favorites.  Happy Friday!

Screenshot_20170708_202243

DPS Build Tweaking

@Zells - sepia stone - smallFor the last few months I’ve been working on getting my dps game up to the next level.  Or, to be honest, any level at all.  I originally made all my skill choices for RP reasons – Zellfire has been a fire mage for twenty years; she’s part fire atronach, she uses fire.  I was a little disappointed that the mage skill lines include a shock-based line (Storm Calling) but no fire-based skills.

In the solo games, the choice of element was purely aesthetic, but what I’ve found in ESO is that Zellfire just isn’t effective using only fire-based Inferno Staff skills – the Storm Calling line has serious advantages, and not using it really hamstrung me in terms of end-game performance.  The first time I tested my dps numbers against a training dummy, I was under 6K.  Which did get me through solo/PvE content, but in end-game… sucks.  I couldn’t pull my weight in group-play, and that was not acceptable.

It took me quite a while to fix the build, because in addition to farming gear, I also had to put Storm Calling on my bar and raise it first – when I started this merry up-my-game adventure, my Storm Calling skill was 3, even though ‘Fire was at the CP cap.  I had literally never used it and couldn’t even buy most of the spells.  I had to raise the skill line, level the spells themselves, learn how to use them, respec her skill points, her CP, and completely change her gear…

Finally got the build to a point where I felt like I might be approaching “competent”.  So I installed the combat metrix add-on and went out to farm dolmens and see where my numbers were.  Most of my dolmen-boss fights ended up in the 17-28K range, which actually is mostly-sort-of-competent, go me.

But also – this happened, and I’m still giggling about it:

DPS 60K 2

60K DPS!  This is what statisticians call an “outlier”.

Screenshot or it didn’t happen, right?  Totally a freak moment, but for a little over a second there, I was a serious badass. 🙂

In real terms, I’m still not quite where I could be / want to be, but after studying the numbers, I’m pretty sure I know what needs to be adjusted.  I need to farm Burning SpellWeave gear (because I’m not letting go of fire damage without a fight, dammit), so I’ve spent some time this week watching YouTube vids of City of Ash runs.  There were several “solo run” vids, and those players were running various kinds of combat-stats add-ons, so I could see their numbers.  Their dps was better than mine, but not by a huge margin.  I decided to try it myself and see how it went.
First solo
This is ‘Fire, standing over the body of the final boss in City of Ash.  I totally did it, my first solo run through a group dungeon.  I burned through about 20 soul gems on the Warden mini-boss, but Razor Master Erthas went down the first attempt.  Don’t know if you can see the HP, but I was down to 5.6% when he fell.  I was also on fire and was so excited I didn’t realize it.  All the mobs were down, so it didn’t really matter, but by the time I figured out I was still taking damage and jumped into the water, I was at .2%.

I can still say I cleared the end boss without dying, though. 🙂

I need a full set of BSW gear.  I need practice in the dungeons with groups so I know where to stand and when to run and where to run and which enemy to attack and how to better coordinate with the tanks and healers.  But I’m getting there.

Before I wrap this up, I have to say: I ❤ my Grothdarr set.  The first time it proc’d and the lava pool erupted around ‘Fire’s feet, I was so happy and caught up in how cool it was I quit paying attention to the fight and got ‘Fire killed.  Poor Zellfire, she tries so hard, but her player has the attention span of a squir – oh, look, something shiny!

 

Happy Friday, everyone, and happy hunting!

ESO Community Spotlight: Naryu cosplay

@Zells - sepia stone - smallThe Elder Scrolls Online website is going to be doing a series called “Community Spotlight” where they highlight fan art.  The first in the series focuses on a Naryu Virian cosplay that is amazing.  Really stunning craftsmanship.  If you haven’t seen the article, I highly recommend you go take a look:
ESO Community Spotlight – Valara Atran’s Naryu Cosplay  

In other news, this is the point where I say “wow, I haven’t posted in a while, how does ‘time’ work again?”.  <puts ‘Letters post’ on to-do list>

my toy arrived

In every character house I’ve mod’d, there has always been a miniature Centurion sitting on a shelf or display somewhere, about a one-foot scale, if it’s sitting on a bookshelf.

Now there’s a one-foot scale Centurion sitting on MY real-life bookshelf.  I am way too old to be this deeply happy about a toy, but here we are. 🙂

Morrowind unboxing pic

There are many Centurions like it, but this one is mine.

Lore: Lorkhan’s Tears

In ESO’s Alchemy system, plants you harvest can be mixed with waters (“solvents”) to create potions. The kind of water determines the level of the potion: “Natural Water” makes lvl 3 pots, and the highest level of water for CP pots is called “Lorkhan’s Tears”.

A while back someone in guild chat asked: “Who is this Lorkhan dude, and why is he crying?” My first response was “The answer to that question is the plot of Morrowind” because for me all roads lead back to Morrowind. But there’s a longer, better answer, deeply rooted in Elder Scrolls mythology, and I’ve had requests for lore posts, so we’ll start here. Turns out Zellur’ra is a bit of a bard, and she’s going to tell us a story of Lorkhan.

Caveat: “A” story of Lorkhan, because each of the races has their own mythology and interpretation of cosmic events, and there is much contradiction in the lore. Lorkhan’s myths are particularly confusing to follow through in-game books, b/c depending on the race’s perspective, some see him as a savior/creator deity, yet some see him as an evil figure, the cause of mortality itself, and therefore, the instigator of all mortal suffering. To deepen the confusion, each race calls him by a different name – to the Khajiit he is Lorkhaj, (as in “the Maw of”), but the Nords call him Shor.  Zellur’ra is Khajiit, but this is not the Khajiit myth; this version most closely follows the Imperial tale, though the Imperials call him Shezzar.

And now that I’ve thoroughly confused everyone, Zellur’ra can take over… Read more…

Early-release Morrowind is live

@Zells - sepia stone - smallI walked around Vivec City last night, literally crying the whole time. It’s so beautiful, and it is crazy how much it feels like home. I said something in zone chat about my eyes leaking, and immediately chat was filled with people saying they were crying, too.  I wanted to collectively hug everyone, including (especially) the devs.

I have nothing coherent to say, sorry. By the time the patch finished DLing it was pretty late, and I spent very little time on Vvardenfell. I wrapped up a couple of things with the character I want to take to Morrowind, started the starter quest, but then teleported to Vivec City instead of Sayda Neen because I wanted to see it more than I wanted to do the quest.  Promptly began crying, and wandered around the city just looking at things way past the time I should have gone to bed.  Never did even finish the starter quest.

It’s true. It’s real. It’s Morrowind. I can’t even.

I used to always get turned around and lost in the cantons because the layouts are identical.  I got lost last night and had to pull up the map to figure out how to get out, and even that made me happy in a perverse way.  “Aww, I’m lost in the cantons! It’s just like old times! I really am in Vivec City!” Absolutely. Ridiculous. This post could have been “omg omg omg <sniffle>” 200 times. So… I guess this is the “restrained” version.  You’re welcome?

Actual Content next time – I’m going to start doing posts about TES lore, and I have one almost ready about Lorkhan, which was super fun to put together. In the meantime, may all your lootz be legendary. 🙂

Event Catch-Up: Wild Hunt, Jester’s Fest, Happy Birthday, ESO!

@Zells - sepia stone - smallI’ve been having so much fun playing with my dollhouse I haven’t done much of anything else.  (Downstairs is done now, hopefully will have the next post up tomorrow or next week.)  But for now…

Wild Hunt Crown Crates – RNG is a bizarre mistress.  Bipolar, gives mixed signals, yet here we all are, courting her.  Back in December I had some Christmas money, and decided to buy a big pack of the storm crates. Didn’t have much luck, as I described – 15 crates, no mount, very few big items, ended up converting all I could to gems and buying the belly dancer veil that way.  Wasn’t impressed. Of the available treats in the Wild Hunt crates, I wanted two: the methrot multicolored hair, and the ancestor moths pet.  I had gems left over from before, so I got 4 more crates, and could convert enough trash into gems to get the methrot hair, but not enough for the moths.  However, I did much, much better in terms of getting the high-end prizes: an apex mount (the wolf), two pets, the leaf aura, and the Hircine banner.  Nice, but I wouldn’t have bought any of those outright, and I’d absolutely trade in both pets for the ancestor moths.  In other words, whether I do well or not, I’m still ambivalent about Crown Crates. Grade: C+

Jester’s Festival – Hm.  On the plus side, like with the New Life fest, I love how it was integrated into the world lore; it felt like something that was really happening in Tamriel.  On the other hand, I got super tired of doing those 3 quests, and quit after only 1 character had the full achievement, compared to the 5-7 each for the Halloween and New Life fests.  And partly I bailed because distribution on the drops was so off – I have ~20 of those Jester banners now, and I wasn’t excited about the other prizes.  Jester’s wasn’t my favorite so far, but it was a fun little diversion, and not every holiday event has to be huge.  Grade: B-

2nd Anniversary Party! (for ESO’s 3rd birthday, lol) – This was great.  No caveats, no “buts”.  Fantastic set-up.  Hooking the rewards to dailies meant every player could play/celebrate the way we each wanted, but there was still a group element, because players were grouping for dungeons and WBs.  And there was incentive to participate, because the rewards in the boxes were real rewards – pre-existing, highly-sought items people already wanted, and not simply event-related gimmicks.  Even the “trash” in the boxes were still useful (mats can be sold, if not needed), and seemed skewed towards housing mats (yay). In addition to sacraments/heists, guild, and WB dailies, I did a hella lot of writs because those were the fastest dailies, and as a crafter I had 9 alts already certified in all 6 crafts.  (9×6=56/day, which I did several times, and yeah, it took hours.) Normally I don’t do writs on the alts with lower-level skills, but for the low price of maple or iron, I got another present box with a chance of a great motif page.  Picked up a lot of Akiviri, Celestial, Glass, and alliance motif pages, in addition to the more common ones.  Happy birthday, indeed! Grade: A

As a general rule, I like the events, and I like having incentive to do particular things to help break me out of ruts.  I have to admit, however, that after New Life, the Jester’s Fest, and the birthday party, I am looking forward to just playing the game for a while. And by “a while” I mean: less than 5 weeks ’til Morrowind!

Patch Notes & Morrowind beta

@Zells - sepia stone - smallMorrowind beta is on the PTS, patch notes were released on the forums, and probably you have already heard the wailing.  Zone chat and YouTube are both full of expletive-filled rants; Deltia is done and will no longer be producing new ESO material.

Let’s all take a deep breath.

Solo games are static, and you have total control – the only changes are mods you install.  After a while, you figure out the combat mechanics, max out a character, and start walking through the content without trying hard.  And then you’re bored, and you go play another game.

MMOs are not static. The game will change, and you do not have control over that – it’s the nature of MMOs, and it’s a good thing.  The goal is always perfect game balance, but that’s an elusive mirage; it will never be perfect, and an MMO will never be “done”. As the rules flux, the build you’re attached to will change. That gear you worked so hard to get will become obsolete.  That spell that slays in PvP will get nerfed. The more you rely on something that always works, the more likely it is to be dialed down – that’s the very definition of balance.  It’s okay, you can adapt, you can learn a new trick.

The harder you work to get into the top tier of end-game players, the more precise your build gets, and the more rule changes will affect you – that’s why PvPers and trial lords react so strongly. Any combination of crappy gear and skills will get you to 7K dps, after all, but if you’re pumping out 45K per second, it’s because you’ve set up an exacting combo of build, gear, and skills – change any detail, the dps will drop. Going from 7K to 6K isn’t noticeable, but going from 45K to 35 sucks; cue the drama.

Specifically, the patch will be lowering sustain for all classes, and there’s a perception it’s being done to make the Warden the bestest class so everyone has to buy Morrowind in order to be competitive.  I have many thoughts on that. (The crowd gasps in shock.)

  • You can’t truly grok mechanics changes from patch notes, you need to play them. Stuff in patch notes doesn’t always affect playability the way people assume. A lot of the bitching is coming from ppl who have only read the patch notes, so: grain of salt time. For those who have played, an NDA clause is in effect so no one can give details.  I’m not saying it’s all lies, but I am hearing a lot of untrue, wild-ass rumors in chat being stated as fact – chill out.
  • Some people just like to hate things; they want to feel they’re better than whatever it is that they’re doing, somehow above it.  That crowd is jumping in to shout “ZOS sux!”, whether they know what they’re talking about or not. Some unsolicited life advice: H8ers are bottom feeders, don’t let them control your life choices.
  • PTS stands for Play-Test Server. TEST. Changes are implemented first on the PTS exactly so the mechanics can be evaluated – mechanics can and do get changed before content goes live, often because the community has strong opinions.  The PTS literally exists so the devs can assess changes and get feedback; saying ZOS doesn’t care about what we think is nonsensical.
  • The sustain nerf isn’t happening just to you – if implemented it will effect everyone. Your Nightblade won’t be able to sustain, but neither will the enemy’s tank.  That does radically affect how combat plays out, yes, but it does not automatically mean that combat will suck or that you personally will be affected more than the next guy. If you were a great player before, you can be a great player afterwards.
  • I keep hearing the sustain nerf is a money grab, but that doesn’t make sense.  Yeah, yeah – “If only Wardens are effective they’re making us buy Morrowind!” – but that’s not a working model for the game. Any game. The system requires a mix of balanced classes to be viable – people like to play different ways.  At any given time that balance is going to be off (see above), maybe off a lot, but if it’s so skewed as to make all classes but one ineffective… that doesn’t work, and the devs know it.  The balance may be completely broken the PTS right now – I’m not in the beta, so I don’t know.  But I am saying if that’s true, it’s highly unlikely it will still be true at launch.
  • ZOS definitely likes to turn a profit – Crown crates, yeah? But look… I’m sure there’s a small number of on-the-fence people, somewhere, but the vast majority of us made the decision to buy Morrowind (or not) when the trailer hit.  It’s Morrowind; ZOS doesn’t need strong-arm tactics, they just need Vivec and nostalgia.  They have far more to gain by putting out a solid game than they do by forcing people into buying it against their will.
  • Many of the devs have played TES games since Arena, and they love the game as much as we do. I choose to believe they care about making a good game, and I also assume they’ll continue to work on improving it. I’m a fangirl, and maybe I’m naïve, but I genuinely do not believe they sat around a table and said “let’s make all the other classes suck so ppl are forced to play the Warden!”

I did receive a beta invite, but haven’t logged in yet and probably won’t.  I play a fair amount – okay, a lot – but every time I log in, there’s still more that I want to do than I have time for.  Playing on the PTS always seems like a waste to me, because it’s time I could have spent developing my “real” characters.  It’s the same reason I didn’t download the PTS to see housing before Homestead was released.  Also, I don’t like spoilers or experiencing art in bits and pieces – I want the full, in-context experience as the artists intended.  Generally speaking, I prefer to give up the chance to see something early in lieu of seeing it polished and complete.

So yeah, I’ve heard it all, and I’m still excited.  The classes will change, builds will change, the CP system will change… the game will continue evolving, sometimes in radical ways.  Some of Morrowind will be buggy and some aspects will be unbalanced, sure.  Always. But I have faith that most of it will rock, and the parts that don’t will get patched in the future.  I have faith that the devs are good at their jobs, and that they actually care about the game, goofy as that may sound.

It’s nearing the end of the Spring semester; finals are getting close.  Everywhere I look, people are quietly (or not-so-quietly) losing their minds. Remember to breathe, and eat, and sleep, and like the Hitchhiker’s Guide says: DON’T PANIC. 🙂

Gold Farming Techniques

@Zells - sepia stone - smallTaking a break from the house tour (will finish, tho!); thought I’d talk about gold farming a bit.  I’ve gone through a couple million gold since Homestead dropped; someone asked me if I had a huge bankroll to start with and was surprised I’ve been making 100 – 200K a week to fund my furnishings addiction.  They wanted to know my “trick.”  Honestly, that amount of gold is not extraordinary – the highest seller in my trading guild made 2 million gold in the first 3 days of this week, and she made 9 million last week.  A 150K average is not hard.  I rarely focus solely on gold farming; mostly I’ve just figured out ways to make gold while I’m doing the stuff I like to do.

Search “eso gold” on YouTube and you’ll get dozens and dozens of vids.  They’re mostly fine, but each focuses on one very specific method, and most don’t work for me because I don’t like to do the things they describe.  And some rely upon exploits that have been patched, or describe a random lucky break that’s impossible to replicate.

So here’s “The Zells Guide to Gold Farming for Beginners & People Who Hate Gold Farming.”  Like my post on running Dark Brotherhood Sacraments & Thieves Guild heists, it will be long-but-thorough, and I’ll update it if I think of something new or if a patch requires it.

Read more…

Luxury Furnishings

@Zells - sepia stone - smallBoy, have I been goin’ through the gold.   Theoretically I’m saving money for the Sleek Creek house in Rawl’kha, but the achievement furnishings are so cool that it’s hard not to buy them.  I’m farming more, auctioning more, finishing up achievements I’ve put off… what a huge boost Homestead has been w/r/t to player activity.

What’s really kicking my bank account’s ass, however, is the luxury items.  I have no regrets – those glow-y flowers are glow-y… how can I be expected to resist that?  Also, drapes and the gazebo…

My screensaver at work is an ESO slideshow of ‘caps I take as I play.  Yesterday, this popped up:

Screenshot_20160603_220605

This was taken in Hew’s Bane, during a Thieves Guild quest where you attend, yes, a wedding.  There’s the wedding gazebo, and the huge hanging drapes.  The rose trellis is also part of this cell.  That’s why those pieces are called “wedding drapes”, etc.

I’m weirdly excited about this, because I often see cool objects in special quest areas, and now that we have housing I’m looking at the world with a modder’s eye again – “how could I reuse that piece?  would it work in that one spot if I turned it on its side?”.  I’m hoping that the luxury vendor continues to pull cool set pieces from quest events like this.

Btw – I am continuing to farm Remains Silent with both my DB characters, and I got another rare furnishings drop the other night that’s not one of the three I shared before.  It’s a set of candles stuck in and dripping down wine bottles.  So there are definitely more than the 3 I mentioned before.  I will post a screencap soon and update that other post.

Enjoy your farming!

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