Elder Scrolls Online lead developer Matt Firor has posted a state-of-the-game address on the fantasy MMO’s forum.
Firor says that, yes, ZeniMax sees the groups of bots clustered around the game’s dungeon bosses and that yes, it is taking steps to address the problem. “We regularly ban accounts involved in spam and bot activity,” Firor says, but the scope of said activity is so large that it accounts for nearly 85 percent ofESO’s customer service tickets.
As it’s now two and a half weeks since we officially launched on April 4, I think it’s a good time to bring everyone up to date on The Elder Scrolls Online service, maintenance windows, and what we’re doing to add content, make the game better, and address some issues that are near and dear to the community.
First and foremost, please know that we are doing everything we can to combat the gold spammers and bots – especially ones that “camp” dungeon bosses – that you see in game. I play the game every day; I see them too, and yes, they drive me crazy. We have had a daily running battle with them ever since the game launched – moving them from global chat, to in-game email, to creating bogus guilds and inviting players – and we continue to take measures to keep them away from players, even when it isn’t always apparent that we are. Most of the battle has been on the back end of the game – we regularly ban accounts involved in spam and bot activity – our teams are working on better systems to identify those accounts and characters that are doing black market activities, and we’re also working on some game feature refinement to make it harder for them to acquire gold in the first place. Fighting black market activity like gold selling spam and farming bots is a marathon, not a sprint, but we will do whatever we can to reduce their impact on the game.
The scope of the black market activity accounts for up to 85% of Customer Service emails/calls. Because of this huge influx of contact relating to this one issue, our CS team has been slower to react to other problems than planned – our sincere apologies if you have been held up for a long period of time waiting for CS to respond to you. Again, our goal is to keep this activity away from you so you don’t have to contact Customer Service in the first place.
Also very visible was last week’s gold “duping” (duplication) bug – where players could manipulate stacks of items in their inventory to create copies. We fixed the problem and banned the accounts of the worst offenders And yes, we erroneously caught up some legitimate accounts in that ban, for which we apologize – all erroneously banned accounts were reinstated within about 8 hours. Contrary to some reports, exploitation of this bug did not result in destabilizing the ESO economy in any way. We did turn off guild banks to limit the spread of the problem, but that was only until we put up a new version of the game that fixed the exploit later that evening.
All of these fixes have resulted in several more maintenance periods than we planned for – we know that everyone wants to play the game and hates downtime – but please be aware that every time we take down the servers for maintenance, it is either to fix a problem or put up an update that makes the game better. We are working on shortening the length of maintenances, this will get better over time.
So, here’s the list of our more prominent fixes since launch, as well as info about ongoing support that we’re doing for ESO:Fixed the bug where a small percentage of players lost their expansion bank slots.
- Fixed quest-blocking bugs, especially ones in Coldharbour, that prevented players from completing either a main quest step, or the Coldharbour zone.
- Fixed many other quest bugs not related to the above where items/NPCs didn’t spawn properly.
- Fixed the Greenshade (Aldmeri Dominion zone) problem, which caused the zone to crash every few hours. This one was fixed on 4/4, but was a problem during early access.
- Fixed two dupe issues: the above one involving stacked items, and another (on a much smaller scale) involving crafting hireling emails.
- Put many back-end fixes and procedures in place to block black market gold farmer activity.
We still have much to do – there still other quest problems on our fix list, most of them involving the situation where they become “de-synched” from the zone and don’t spawn their items or NPCs properly. We are in process of putting up our first major update to the game on our Play Test Server (PTS), which includes many updates to the game, including class and weapon ability tweaks, content fixes, and updates to almost all game systems. It also contains our new end-game Adventure Zone, Craglorn, with Veteran content aimed at 4 and 12-man groups. So stay tuned for PTS patch notes for all the other fixes that we’ve been working on. This is a major update to the game, so it will be on PTS for at least a week or 10 days for testing before we take it live.
We’re working on fixing problems, we’re combatting black market gold farmers, and we have a hefty new patch coming shortly. ESO is already an awesome game, and it will only get better from here. Thanks for your patience and support, and I’ll see you in Tamriel.