Monday, March 31, 2014

ESO Launch Day

Yesterday, The Elder Scrolls Online started their early access.  That pretty much means launch day.  I had completely forgotten about it when I sat down at my computer on Sunday morning.  So it was a nice surprise when I remembered.

I rolled my Imperial Templar with the Daggerfall Covenant.  I like the Templar for their healing options, ranged damage and tanking.  I immediately hit up the Stablemaster and picked out my Imperial horse.  It's nice having a mount right away.

Next up, I went to the docks and made my way to the starter island.  This is optional now, but I have never experienced it before so I wanted to check it out. I'm still not sure what direction I want to take my charterer.  In beta I used a bow, but right now I am using an Ice Staff which is pretty cool too.  I still want to go Heavy Armor, so maybe a Battle Mage type?  There are really a lot of options.

I also joined my first guild (you can join 5).  I went with House Stalwart, run by fellow blogger Belghast. I hope to reunite with some of my former guild mates from WAR too.  Nice that you can join multiple guilds. That's actually pretty social for me, as I am usually a loner.

Friday, March 28, 2014

One Track Mind

One of my flaws is that I have a one track mind.  When I get an idea, I usually am compelled to run with it.  That comes at a cost of pretty much anything else.  Work, fun, doesn't matter.  It all gets pushed aside until I deal with what I am focused on. I wish it was only ideas that caused this, but sadly worries do too.

The last week or so Sites with Benefits has been on my mind.  If you are not familiar with SwB, it's a user engagement/promotion/giveaway system.  You can see it on the right side of the page.  Anyway, one of the users wanted tighter integration with Twitch.  Sounded good to me, so that is what I have been obsessed with.

Luckily, we are testing it out today.  I hope to go into details next week, once I am sure it is working.  It should free me up to start, you know, playing games again.  ESO starts up on Sunday!  Plus, I want to play some Europa Universalis 4.

I was very close to buying Diablo 3 and the new expansion this week.  Luckily, there were plenty of live streams to watch.  That was enough to satisfy my urge to play, so I saved $70.  Live streams are a funny thing.  Sometimes they get me to buy a game, other times they show me enough that I don't want to buy it anymore.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014


My game playing, Elder Scrolls Online in particular, has taken a little hiatus.  With the launch of the game imminent, I want to keep things fresh so I have not really done much on the beta PTS lately.  Sadly, that has meant no PvP videos either.

It will be a bit before I make any new videos, as I won't be back in Cyrodiil for a while.  I am a very slow leveler usually.  Now that the game will be live, I want to enjoy the journey and not rush my way to level 10.  So it may take me a week or two to get there.  Also, I enjoy the PvE in ESO so I don't really want to out level content by gaining XP in Cyrodiil.

Then there is also my side project, Sites with Benefits which is taking up a good chunk of my time.  So in the near future, I'll be working on SwB and leveling, slowly.  That reminds me, I still need to pre-order the game.  I'm just having a hard time parting with $80.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Shards Online and a Giveaway

One of the more interesting MMO's on the horizon is Shards Online by Citadel Studios.  It is a game being made by a number of Ultima Online, DAoC and WAR developers.  One of the stated goals is to recapture some of the magic of UO.  Of course, they are also trying to bring something new to the table by offering private servers as well.

Stratics was able to do a Q&A with the developers, you can find it here:

They are also giving away a $20 Steam gift card, using my very own Sites with Benefits.  It's easy to get your chance at the prize.  Just use the gift box on the right side of the screen.

Friday, March 21, 2014

What I Didn't See

It has been a big week for SWTOR.  They officially announced their next digital expansion, Galactic Strongholds.  As suspected, it centers around player housing.  Not only can players have their own space, guild houses (ships) were also announced!  If only I was a part of a guild.

One aspect of housing was missing from the video though.  They did not show how players decorate.  Is it a free placement system?  Are there just predefined slots where you can put props?  This is a crucial aspect of housing for me.  I am not very good when it comes to interior design (shocking, I know), but I at least like the option of free placement.

If I were a betting man, I'd put my money on it being a predefined slot system.  If it wasn't, you would think they would show it off as a feature.  Then again, maybe it is just not in a state to display.  So I really don't know anything :)

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Repel the Invaders

This is the second part of last weeks ESO PvP video, Skirmish on the Stairs.  The Aldmeri Dominion was able to take down one of our keeps walls.  This led to a fight at the opening, and a counter attack by our forces.  Spoiler alert,  we emerged victorious.

It was a fun non-stop fight.  I didn't have to do any editing, which is always a plus.  It is fights like these which keep me coming back to ESO.  I still have so much to learn about PvP in the game though.  In the near future I want to break out the combat log and really start to look at how other players do what they do.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Races and Realm Pride

One of the pre-order bonuses for Elder Scrolls Online is the ability to pick any of the races, regardless of Alliance.  So you could roll a High Elf in Daggerfall Covenant (shudder).  If you go for the Imperial Edition, you can do the same with one of those guys.

I'm actually not in favor of this pre-order bonus.  One of the things I loved about Warhammer Online was how distinct the races and careers were between Order and Destruction.  It gave the whole game more flavor.  It also helped foster realm pride.  Dwarves!

When there is no real difference between the alliances, I feel it takes away from that sort of realm pride.  That is one of the things I didn't like about Guild Wars 2,  sure there was server pride, but the only difference between you and your enemy was the color of your name.

All that being said, I will be rolling an Imperial.  Because I like that word.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Not Sold on WildStar

The big news this week is that WildStar will be released on June 3rd, and the NDA was dropped.  So that means I can talk about the game, yay!  I have been in beta for a number of months now.  As you may have noticed, there has not been a lot of talk about WildStar on this blog.  There is a reason for that.

I will say this, my first impression of the game was a good one.  It was a very polished experience even several months ago.  The game was very playable.  Graphics, sound, and gameplay systems were all good.  It has some great features, like housing and War Plots.  Although, the latter I didn't get to experience but it sounds fun.

So why didn't the game click with me?  There are a few reasons.

World.  The setting just doesn't interest me too much.  I'm sure Carbine has created a deep lore, but nothing about it got me interested.  It's a very subjective thing, so I expect a lot of people will enjoy it.

PvE.  It is a very quest oriented game.  Combine that with a setting that didn't interest me and I got bored pretty quickly.  The quests also felt pretty standard.  Conversely, ESO's quests felt more like a single player game than standard MMO fare.

Combat.  I like the idea of attack indicators.  It makes combat more interesting.  Carbine takes this to the extreme though.  It felt like every skill used this system.  It also seemed like a lot of abilities were build up ( takes a second or two to fire), so attack indicators could be shown and enemies given a chance to dodge.  This made combat feel cumbersome to me.

WildStar is a quality game that I would recommend people try.  It just may not be for me.  I will certainly keep watching the game to see how it develops.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Keen and SynCaine

I'm sure you know both Keen and SynCaine.  If not, they are two veteran bloggers who you should be checking in on regularly.  Anyway, something strange occurred to me recently.  Each blogger has their tendencies, but they have actually switched places with ESO.

Keen, who is usually excited by new games, is actually down on ESO.  SynCaine, who is usually not so excited about most new games, is actually looking forward to ESO.  I don't know anything anymore!  Ok, that is a rather simplistic view of their opinions, but something I found interesting none the less.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Skirmish on the Stairs

It was a quiet night on the beta PTS when I logged in.  It's a smaller population than the weekend beta servers, so it tends to be less active in Cyrodiil.  As per usual, the Aldmeri Dominion owned most of the keeps.

I asked in chat if anyone was up for a group without much success.  A few of us started to attack a resource.  We came close to taking the objective, but just could not manage it.  Next up, we used some siege equipment to attack the keep itself.  We could not take the keep, but hopefully it would bring on some defenders.

I guess it worked.  Soon after things started to heat up.  The Aldmeri Dominion was alive and well, which brought out more Ebonheart Pact defenders.  We fought over a mine, which is what you can see in the video below.

Monday, March 10, 2014

SWTOR Player Housing

The big news coming out of SWTOR last week was a teaser video revealing that player housing was on its way.  The video, found below, did not really convey too much information about the new game system.  The mere knowledge that they will be putting in a housing system is pretty exciting though.

It does leave me with some questions.

Decoration.  Will decorating be free form or hook based?  SWG, Wildstar, and EQ2 would be two examples of free form placement.  They really let players go crazy and create some amazing things.  Hook based just let players put things in pre-defined places.  LoTRO went with this system and I don't think it was very popular.

Functional.  Will houses be purely cosmetic, or will they have some useful function?  In the video it shows a mailbox in the house,  so it seems like it will be somewhat functional.  For me personally, I need it to be functional.  In SWG, I built my house around my vendors.  I don't expect personal vendors to ever make their way into SWTOR though.

Location.  In the video, we see a house on Coruscant.  Housing will certainly be instanced.  So how many planet choices will players have?  Hopefully it is more than just one per faction.  This is certainly an area I see them expanding in the future.  I wonder what a house on Tatooine would look like.

It is nice to see BioWare working on horizontal content rather than just vertical.

Friday, March 7, 2014

I Hate the Aldmeri Dominion

I spend most of my Elder Scrolls Online time on their beta PTS.  Most of that time is in Cyrodiil, the PvP area.  There is a common theme that I have noticed.  The Aldmeri Dominion is usually dominating.  As a result, I've started to develop a hatred for that faction.  All of my time there is spent fighting against them, so it is only natural.

Since ESO has three factions, we've actually developed an unofficial alliance with the Daggerfall Covenant.  We generally don't attack each other, instead we concentrate on the Aldmeri Dominion.  This opens up a 2nd front against our common enemy, something that would not be possible in a two faction system.  It hasn't been all that effective yet, but the population is low on the PTS.

Besides constant fighting against the AD, their faction make up also contributes to my dislike of them.  Two Elf races and a cat race.  Yuck.  I don't want any parts of that.

For me, faction pride is alive and well in ESO.  I am still planning on joining the Daggerfall Covenant when the game goes live and my dislike of the Aldmeri Dominion will carry through.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014


With the Elder Scrolls Online launch right around the corner, I can't help but draw comparisons with the other MMO I am subscribed to:  SWTOR.  They are both huge games, so there is no way I could compare all aspects in one post.  So lets start with story and content.  There is one caveat, I have only played up to level 10 in ESO.

SWTOR made a big deal about story being the fourth pillar of their game and a major selling point.  Indeed, the class stories that I have experienced were very good.  The voice acting is top notch.  I really looked forward to that particular content.

The problem was that the class stories are surrounded by run of the mill quests which feel done to death.  I lost enthusiasm to continue my alts because I know I had all those side quests ahead of me.  There are, of course, other ways to level (PvP, Space) but that can take longer.

Going into ESO, I really had no expectations about their story content.  I know Zenimax mentioned it a few times, but I never really took notice.  So I was really surprised at how well it was done.  There is a main quest line, and a variety of side quests, like SWTOR.   I would put the main quest line on par, quality wise, with that of SWTOR.

What makes ESO really shine with its story is the use of phasing.  The stories it tells have much more of an impact when you can see the results around you.  SWTOR was limited to its little phased areas which you ended up exiting.  ESO leaves a lasting impression.

In SWTOR's defense they have 8 class stories, while ESO has 3 factions each with their own quests.  I am unsure how the main quest line plays out with the different factions.   Right now though, I am really digging ESO's style.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Alliance Points

Alliance Points are the PvP currency in Elder Scrolls Online.  Hmm, that doesn't sound right, but I guess it makes sense.  In WAR you gained Renown for doing PvP stuff, in ESO you get Alliance Points.  The major difference is that you spend Alliance Points.

You gain Alliance Points by killing other players,  capturing objectives, completing quests, and defending objectives.  I've received the most AP's by killing other players and defending keeps.  For the latter there seems to be defense ticks that occur every so often.  I've seen this reach 1,000+ AP, so defending can certainly be worthwhile.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Is PvP Dead?

While playing ESO recently I saw a disturbing zone chat in Cyrodiil.  To paraphrase, "Why fight when the odds are against us."  They then proceeded to log off or go to PvE land.  The situation was a large band of Aldmeri Dominion going on a rampage and taking our keeps.

Basically, after one loss, they decided to throw in the towel.  Those of us who remained were actually able to hold the AD back for a bit at one of our keeps.  They eventually took it, but it was a fun fight.  If only we had more people.

This attitude seems to be getting more and more common in MMO's.  Players don't like to participate if they may lose.  This is especially troubling for PvP.  Some of the best battles are when the odds are against you.  If you leave in that case, it becomes boring for the defenders that stay and the attackers.

How can PvP continue to be a viable game system if players are not willing to participate when they may lose?  Maybe Realm Pride used to count for something, but I fear those days are long gone.  Instanced PvP fares better as there is a better chance of an even (number wise)fight and short duration.  World PvP, on the other hand, has no such assurances.