Letters From Tamriel

An epistolary gaming blog

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…

Hunding’s Oasis: pt 2, Courtyard

Zells note: The house tour begins with the post “part 0: Prologue” and in Part 1: Entryway. From here it continues in Part 3: Interior Downstairs, Part 4: Interior Upstairs, and concludes in Part 5: Back Patio.  I will now turn things over to Zellur’ra, your tour guide, except for the captions on the pictures where I’ll identify special furnishings and explain any game-mechanics behind the RP.

We are ready to proceed with our tour of Hunding’s Oasis, yes?  Zellur’ra is pleased.  Come, follow her to the courtyard, the jewel of the Oasis.

Read more…

Hunding’s Oasis: pt 1, Entryway

Zells note: The house tour begins with the post “part 0: Prologue“, and continues in Part 2: Courtyard , Part 3: Interior Downstairs, Part 4: Interior Upstairs, and Part 5: Back Patio. As I continue, I will update all posts to include links to the others.  (I’m anticipating 5-6 posts, each fairly short but picture-heavy.  I have to do it in pieces because it isn’t all finished yet.)  I will now turn things over to Zellur’ra, your tour guide, except for the captions on the pictures where I’ll identify special furnishings and explain any game-mechanics behind the RP.

Greetings, and welcome to Hunding’s Oasis!  This one is called Zellur’ra, and she is honored to be the House Steward for the Oasis, home of our lady Zellusia Nyxian Cosades.  Today Zellur’ra has the additional honor of being your personal tour guide, which pleases her greatly.  Come, come! Shake the road dust from your boots and relax in our shade.

Read more…

Hunding’s Oasis: pt 0, Prologue

@Zells - sepia stone - smallLet the house tour begin!

The place is huge and I will be uploading a ton of pictures, so this will be a series of posts covering the house a section at a time.  They’ll all be titled in the same format and will have tags for easy searching.  I’ll create a new category for houses, but I’ll also flag the posts with the Nyx category since the house belongs to her and is part of her story.

This post is Part 0: Prologue because we’re going to start with the “backstory” of the house.  After this, the house tour posts will be in the voice of a new character, Zellur’ra – with next month’s crowns I’ll buy a new character slot just so this new alt can hold all the housing items when I’m not decorating.  Furnishings are giving me bank-space-problems like in pre-craft-bag days.  Hopefully ZOS will make a furnishings bag, but until then, Zellur’ra will be the House Steward of Hunding’s Oasis, and Official Holder of Things.

(I once saw a Khajiit character named This One Holds Stuff; cracked me up.  I’ve been tempted to name mine This One Keeps House, but the gimmick names get less funny the more you look at them, so I won’t.)

The story of Hunding’s Oasis begins after the cut.  It’s a mix of actual game lore and stuff I made up.  Feel free to ask if you have questions about any particular detail.

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!

Farming in Alik’r: don’t bother

@Zells - sepia stone - smallWhenever my bank alt in Daggerfall steals furnishing patterns from the bank containers, they are usually Breton patterns.  When Issa the Blacksmith pulls patterns out of Deshaan backpacks, they are almost always Dunmer ones.  So I got it into my head that if I wanted Redguard patterns (which I do, so much) I should farm containers in Alik’r.

Uh, yeah.  I don’t know if Redguards are allergic to end tables, or if there’s a local superstition about backpacks being evil.  But for whatever reason, there are hardly any recipe-possible containers in Alik’r.  I spent hours last night looking and came up empty, pretty literally.

I started in the west and moved east across the zone, went into each building and scavenged through all the camps and settlements.  My usual standard for whether or not a building is worth stealing from is a minimum of 5 containers.  (Recipe-possible, not crates.)  I did not find a single building in Sentinel that had 5, even the Inns.  Many buildings had none.  Even the public dungeon only had 2 backpacks, no lootable urns.  I got 3 patterns out of the whole zone – two Khajiit, one Redguard.  The Redguard pattern was a “bin, sealed”.  Wah-wah.

The only single place in Alik’r I found worth checking out is in Leki’s Blade, the settlement mid-zone, north of Bergama.  On LB’s west side, just inside the wall, there’s a collection of tents in a training area, and each tent has three backpacks and an assortment of trash gear; 12-15 backpacks total.  But b/c they aren’t inside an instance, I believe they’re only lootable by one person until they respawn, like harvest nodes.

Still can’t say for certain that there’s a better chance of getting race-specific patterns in different zones, or it’s just been a weird RNG quirk with the Breton and Dunmer ones.  But I can verify that Alik’r is crap for farming them. If you know of a good place, please tell me.  Meanwhile, I’m moving up to southern Bangkor’ai and will report if I have better luck there.

Housing: DB exclusives

@Zells - sepia stone - smallZOS indicated the Shadowy Supplier skill in the Dark Brotherhood skill line would have a rare chance of dropping special housing furnishings.  I knew about one item, but didn’t know details, so I went looking for the how and what of that, and the info was not available in one place.  So here you go!

Remains Silent, your local Shadowy Supplier, gives you three options to choose from each day.  Each option has the (rare) possibility of dropping one item.  To get all three items, you have to farm each option.  Because it’s a rare drop you might have to farm a long time, and you only get one shot each day (per character).  RNG is a fickle friend, be patient.

(None of the following pics are my screencaps, and are used without permission.  My thanks to the ESO community.)

Choosing the Potions/Poisons option gives a chance of getting a Vial of Poisoned Blood.

potions-poison-option-vials_of_poisoned_blood

Two Vials of Poisoned Blood in an empty pie dish.

Choosing the Stealthy option gives you a chance of getting a Light-and-Shadows candle.

stealthy-option-light_and_shadow_3dobject

Light and Shadows candle

And choosing “Gear” gives you a chance to get the Sacrificial Heart.

gear-option-sacrificial-heart

Sacrificial Heart

As far as I can find, those are the only three items available from Remains Silent, at least for now.  Good luck!

And I’m closing with a random YouTube video, just because it amused me.  I’m more than a little afraid of heights in real life, so much so that jumping and climbing in video games gives me vertigo and makes my stomach lurch.  I am very, very bad at jumping puzzles, it was always a problem when I played Tomb Raider.  When I learned that the ESO housing editor allowed objects to be permanently placed in the air, I knew immediately there would be people who would construct elaborate jumping obstacle courses.  I came across this vid today, which is a “climbing map” for Kilnerdyne’s house.  I don’t know Kilnerdyne, but I’m impressed with the hours that went in to making this crazy death-trap.  Kudos. 🙂

“ESO Climbing Map – Kilnerdyne’s House,” posted by Eddie Banks

Housing reaction: yay

@Zells - sepia stone - small

I won’t bury the lede: I’m just as happy about housing as I hoped I would be.  Yay, ZOS.  Cookies all around.  The housing patch represents an immense amount of work on the devs part, really staggering.  The system has a ton of options that make it extraordinarily customizable and yet the overall set-up is still very accessible to casual players.  I’m really impressed. Specific comments after the cut. Read more…

June 6, 2017

@Zells - sepia stone - small

If you read this recent post about the housing patch, then you got to see me gush about Morrowind when I described my history with TES games, and you already know how I feel about Bethesda’s big announcement yesterday.

I’d heard rumors the next zone added would be Vvardenfell.  I thought that would be cool, but it didn’t really register until I was watching the twitch stream yesterday and the Morrowind logo came up on the screen – my eyes immediately filled with tears, and I watched the whole cast with a leaky face.  Morrowind, y’all, for real.  All of it.  Vivec City.  Ald’ruhn and city halls made out of crab shells.  The new warden class will be able to summon a cliff racer.  The main quest takes you to speak with Vivec.  There’s Sadrith Mora and Balmora.  The Morag Tong will be in the main quest.

I’m making a squee sound so high-pitched only dolphins can hear it.  Did I use that joke when writing about housing?  Whatevs.  M’fing MORROWIND IS BACK.

I’ll link the trailer first, because it’s so goddamn pretty.

And just in case you’ve just escaped from solitary confinement on a small island and haven’t heard the news, here’s a link to the official announcement on the ESO site.  To sum up: Morrowind: June 6, 2017.  What else do you need to know?

 

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