Letters From Tamriel

An epistolary gaming blog

Archive for the tag “PTS”

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. 🙂

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