Meet The Elder Scrolls Online’s legendary wamasu

Meet The Elder Scrolls Online's legendary wamasu

Meet the wamasu, ancient terror of Black Marsh! A creature barely hinted at in existing lore, the wamasu is a new addition to the stable of foebeasts in The Elder Scrolls Online. The wamasu, it turns out, are overgrown, electrified lizard-monsters. According to legend, wamasu have “lightning for blood.” They’re fond of nesting, protecting their eggs, and unleashing lethal tail strikes and lightning beams on anyone who pops their personal space bubble. There’s an extra-scary high-voltage boss variant waiting in-game to kill you!

Skip below the cut to check out the wamasu in action.


Elder Scrolls elves are supposed to be ugly

Tamriel Infinium Elder Scrolls Elves are supposed to be ugly

I don’t know if you noticed this, but in the fully rendered trailer for The Elder Scrolls Online, the Aldmeri Dominion elves looked nice. In traditional fantasy lore like Lord of the Rings, elves are some of the most beautiful creatures in the universe. However, I’ve always seen the Elder Scrolls elves as somewhat alien — like the grey-men kind of aliens. In fact, the dark elves with their ashy skin really looked like grey men, especially if they were bald. Yet that particular MMO trailer presented a different kind of elf.

Of course, that’s just a CGI trailer, and CGI trailers rarely represent what we will see in the game. I can accept that. But more and more screenshots have popped up and more in-game videos have appeared on different websites, and in each of them, it appears to me that the elves — the “mer” — have received a makeover. And it’s not just the elves; even the Argonians and Khajiit look different. I suspect there’s a reason for this.

Tamriel Infinium Elder Scrolls Elves are supposed to be ugly

I don’t think the art for TESO is bad; I believe just the opposite. The more I see of this game, the more anxious I get about having it on my computer and playing it. The landscapes really capture the feeling of the other Elder Scrolls games, specifically Skyrim and Oblivion. The world has that bit of dingy grit that the other games had. The world is gorgeous but lived-in at the same time. Stylistically, the landscapes are similar to Guild Wars 2’s but with a rough edge and muted colors.

This feeling transitions to the character models, too. The armor we’ve seen so far has that well-worn style. And every piece looks as if it could use some steam-pressing. Yet if you compare the skin textures and modelling of the characters themselves, you might notice that ZeniMax created a cleaner look than seen in previous Elder Scrolls games.

I know there were complaints when Skyrim was released that many of the characters were ugly, especially the female characters. In fact, the most popular mods for Skyrim are the ones that feature (arguably) prettier character models. More than likely, TESO will not allow for mods as the previous single-player games did, so perhaps ZeniMax saw took a clue from the modding community and made the models more aesthetically pleasing from the get-go.

I do have another wild theory as well. I know many readers are going to disagree with me, but that’s OK; I enjoy friendly discourse. I submit that the engine will not allow for a very gritty look to the character models. ZeniMax admitted that the first screenshots were taken in HeroEngine. Take a look at screenshots from Star Wars: The Old Republic or The Repopulation. Did you notice a sharp sheen on the character models? I don’t think “unnatural” is the right word for it, but it’s certainly a heavy reflection in the bump maps. I believe that if ZeniMax used the same types of textures found in Skyrim in TESO, the characters would look as if they were covered in plastic wrap, so to counter this, ZeniMax gave the characters smoother skin.

“But The Elder Scrolls Online doesn’t use HeroEngine anymore!” you say. We’ll touch on that later. I would like to know what your thoughts are on the change in character portrayal. Maybe you don’t see the difference; tell me why you don’t. Or if you do see the difference, what are your theories as to why we see this change?

Tamriel Infinium Elder Scrolls Elves are supposed to be ugly

Every week, I try to highlight an Elder Scrolls fansite or community, but unlike other community spotlights, this one should feature a specific article or part of a fansite that stood out to me or is relevant to the weekly topic. The Tamriel Foundry takes this week’s focus.

I spoke a lot about the technology behind The Elder Scrolls Online, but where did I get that information? Nope, it was not the Tamriel Foundry. However, the Tamriel Foundry houses an incredible FAQ page that addresses many of the questions regarding the design and technology behind ESO. And most importantly, it references the articles or video in which that specific answer can be found. It’s exciting to see a very complete look at what we know so far about The Elder Scrolls Online.

For instance, did you know that The Elder Scrolls Online could have been titled Elder Scrolls: Origins, Tamriel, or Elder Scrolls: Empires? That tidbit of information appeared in an interview with Creative Director Paul Sage.

I recommend that you hop on over to that Tamriel Foundry and check out that FAQ page, especially if you’re just now getting into TESO.

Tamriel Infinium Elder Scrolls Elves are supposed to be ugly

Last week, I asked whether faction restrictions would play a factor in choosing your guild or it would be the other way around. Reader Spectrelight doesn’t want to take something that is supposed to be fun too seriously: “I’m going to wait until I’m in the game to find a guild. The best guilds, to me, are the ones whose players don’t take the game too seriously, so I’m not really interested in guilds that form months before the game is released.”

Many commenters from last week are concerned about the factional divide and the communication and balancing issues that stem from that. Woolydub had some interesting thoughts on the matter: “The problem I have and think I have commented on this before is the imbalance it will cause in factional PvP. Human races are mostly played more than non-human races. I am sure there is a game or two out there where this isn’t the case, but in every game that releases stats on races played, if humans are playable, they are the dominant species chosen. Why is this a problem? There are factions in TESO that don’t have humans. Those factions will automatically be at a disadvantage.” I’m going to have to agree that we will definitely see heavy leans toward factions with humans. The Aldmeri Dominion will not feature any human races, and it will likely be the smallest faction, too. Hopefully, players will see that, and those awesome people who like to side with the underdogs will take advantage of the situation.

This week, I’d like to know if you think ZeniMax is still using HeroEngine. We know the studio licensed it to build the concept, but the studio has since said that the engine it currently uses is proprietary and created by ZeniMax. That could mean that it’s heavily modifed the game engine to claim ownership, which is more than understandable and not shady, but it is common. Plus, the screenshots and videos, even of recent gameplay, still have that tell-tale sheen on the character models. What do you think?


Everyone’s a clicker in The Elder Scrolls Online

Tamriel Infinium Everyone's a clicker in The Elder Scrolls Online

There is enough information on the interwebs to have at least a basic discussion of The Elder Scrolls Online combat. For those who don’t know, I can tell you right now that ESO combat is not at all what we expect from a typical MMO, although it doesn’t exactly play like the single-player versions of Elder Scrolls games either.

For a long time, I’ve been itching for a highly interactive and highly skill-based combat system in an MMO. Until recently, we have been restricted by inherent issues of playing online, like bandwidth. But over the last couple of years, we have started to see games that are so dynamic that we literally have milliseconds to react to a given stimulus — there’s no more gameplay with a turn-based-cooldown system. This does raise some concerns for the traditional MMO gamer: Will we be able to adapt?

Tamriel Infinium Everyone's a clicker in The Elder Scrolls Online

We started hearing rumors about the ESO combat system last year, and I admit I was both intrigued and scared at the same time. We found out that we would have only six abilities on our bar at the same time, and very recently we learned that our primary abilities will be on our mouse by default. What? That doesn’t sound like an MMO. My MMOs have 12 quick backs with 36 abilities on each bar. I have 26 cooldowns and 64 possible procs that I have to be aware of. (That might be a slight exaggeration.) Even in games as recent as Guild Wars 2, which has a limited ability bar, give us a wide variety of abilities and cooldowns to watch.

There are only a few games that appear to contain similar gameplay to ESO, most of them single-player games or dungeon crawlers. The game that immediately comes to my mind is Neverwinter by Cryptic. (Personally, I don’t consider Neverwinter an MMORPG because of how far removed a lot of the mechanics are from a traditional MMO, but there are some very smart people who disagree with me.) In Neverwinter, your primary and secondary attacks are on your mouse. Your special attack abilities by default sit around your WASD keys — for example, Q, E, and R with the 1 key being your daily.

But your primary ability in The Elder Scrolls Online is on your left mouse button. If you hold down the left mouse button for a few moments, it charges the primary ability so that it hits harder. The right button blocks, either with a shield or with your secondary weapon. If both buttons are pressed at the same time, your stun break will activate. Your six special abilities, I assume, will sit around the WASD keys. ESO also has a dodge mechanic like the Trickster Rogues of Neverwinter and all classes in Guild Wars 2.

We are MMO gamers, right? We are always looking for the next great game or game mechanic, right? I have to wonder whether this kind of sweeping change to gameplay will turn off some traditional MMO gamers or excite them because of how different it is.

My guild has mixed feelings about this turn in MMO mechanics. One prominent member of my current raid group will not play Neverwinter because the mechanics are so far removed from what he’s used to. He doesn’t believe the game is bad because of it, but he’s not sure that he can play a game like that. I respect that, and I agree that it does make this game different. Is Elder Scrolls spearheading a different genre here?

Personally, I look forward to these changes, especially since the game is viable in third-person view. One of my biggest turn-offs in Skyrim was that the third-person view wasn’t nearly as smooth and practical as first-person. Yet at the same time, ESO will have its own first-person view as well. I’m interested in seeing how this plays out in extended, long-term game time.

Tamriel Infinium Everyone's a clicker in The Elder Scrolls Online

I hate to point out the same site two weeks in a row, but I have to give this week to Tamriel Foundry again. These awesome peeps have gathered up all the Pre-E3 coverage of TESO and smooshed it into one article, complete with fresh screenshots and video. Hop over there now to check that out, and if you’re not doing so yet, follow these guys on Twitter so that you can keep up with the latest happenings.

Tamriel Infinium Everyone's a clicker in The Elder Scrolls Online

I was surprised by the debate that last week’s article spurred. Most of it revolved around the quality of character models. I disagree with reader Natecantbefound, but I can certainly agree with his perspective. He said, “It is sad how MMOs are using store-bought engines or however you want to say it; they will never be as good as an engine specifically made for your game. WildStar will prove this, so will ESO but in a different way.” I think that cookie-cutter games stem from the lack of imagination, or more to the point, the lack of funding from some developers. Some designers can take an engine like the Unreal 3 engine and make Bulletstorm, and others can take that same engine and make DC Universe Online. If ZeniMax is still using a heavily modified version of HeroEngine, then I suspect that we probably will not recognize it — as least not mechanically.

I think the best thing to come out of the comments last week was the image that KingOfExplodia posted. It compares all the races across all games. Of course, it proves my point that elves were always ugly. (That was a joke.)

Tamriel Infinium Everyone's a clicker in The Elder Scrolls Online

This week, I want your personal take on the combat mechanics. Who do you think will be most attracted to this style? Do you believe MMOers will be turned off? Or do you believe this might be the change they are looking for?

Next-gen consoles, endgame, and character skills in The Elder Scrolls Online

Elder Scrolls Online Interview

E3 is the time and place for game creators to show their work, and Bethesda is no exception. The company offered a quick presentation of The Elder Scrolls Online, which consisted of a short introduction video followed by a brief play session. In the video, Bethesda confirmed what we already knew: that The Elder Scrolls Online will launch on PS4 and Xbox One, along with PC and OS X. The targeted release window is currently spring 2014, a delay from fall 2013 for the PC version. The video also showed off some of the content that wasn’t on display for testers, including high-level PvP battles featuring 200 on-screen players, group combat, first-person mode, and familiar locations like Windhelm and Morrowind.

Our own Jasmine Hruschak attended the TESO live demo event and managed to snag a Bethesda employee for an impromptu interview. Check out the full text after the break, and don’t forget to read Andrew’s hands-on as well!

Massively: Will the console versions be released at the same time as the PC version?

Bethesda: The time window is the same, but they’re not locked to the same date. We’ll release the PC version when it’s ready and the console versions when they’re ready. The timeframe for all of them is spring 2014.

Will the game be cross-platform?

The people with individual consoles will play within their own platform. So PC players will play with PC, PS4 plays with PS4, and Xbox plays with Xbox. The distinction with that is PC and Mac players will be playing together.

Elder Scrolls Online

In The Elder Scrolls Online, is there any limit to the crafting skills you can take?

You can have all the crafting skills. You can gather all the resources and craft whatever you want. However, there is a specialization component that applies there. So the more you try to spread out, the less you’ll be able to master any one of them. That doesn’t limit you from crafting stuff within; the crafting system is much more exploration-based. It’s not “I can or cannot craft this specific recipe” or “I do or do not have the ingredients to do it,” but much more, “What is this flower that I have? I don’t know what the hidden properties are; let me try and explore that.” The better you are at crafting, the more you know in advance.

In previous Elder Scrolls games, skill customization was nearly endless. How do you balance being creative and giving players choices without the inevitable “one guy one-shotting everything” issue?

The answer to how you balance it is no more than a design and philosophy question, but it comes down to making sure that everything has counters and strengths and weaknesses.

Elder Scrolls Online


“The better you are at crafting, the more you know in advance.”

“You can become a werewolf, you can become a vampire.”

Are we going to see the same amount of depth as in earlier TES games?

In picking your class, you have three different skills as a starting point. These are unique to you because you picked that class. But you’ve also got access to all the different weapon types — you can just pick up a weapon, start using it, and master it. You can pick up a sword and shield if you start as a sorcerer class and become a sword and shield user, and that’s fine.

Armor, same deal: Light, medium, heavy. They each have strengths. So, for example, if you take light armor, the more you wear, the cheaper your spells are. You start the game with 12 skills. You can join the Mage’s Guild and start learning spells from the Mage’s Guild; you can join the Fighter’s Guild and take feats of strength from the Fighter’s Guild. You can become a werewolf; you can become a vampire. There are 46 skills you can collect in the game, so the 12 you begin with are just the beginning, and as you find new skills, you can progress them. The game literally lets you make the character you want to make.

As far as balancing goes, as long as we do a good job of making sure there’s an answer and that all skills have value in certain situations (maybe not in every situation), then there’s a shifting game that happens where people are like, “This is the build that people want to try,” and then everyone’s like, “Well, this is the build that beats that,” and it all goes in a big circle. As long as it isn’t just, “this thing beats this thing,” it never gets boring. There are so many possible spells and abilities and builds in the game that we really haven’t found an end to it.

Elder Scrolls Online: Group Fight

In a traditional MMO, you play the game and level up. You end up ultimately playing at max level in two or three areas — how are you handling that in The Elder Scrolls Online? Is there level scaling, can you go back, can you do older content?

“Once you get to level 50, you can take the character back through other alliances.”

You can level all the way from 1 to 50 with your character; that’s 140 to 150 hours of content. Once you get to level 50, maybe you don’t want to participate in the PvP endgame or you’re not interested in group dungeons, but you really want to play more of the game. You can take the character and go back through the other alliances, but all of the content is scaled to level 50. So you can start playing through another chunk of content, but everything is harder. Once you’ve played through all of that, you can do it again through the remaining alliance, but everything is even harder. We call it “50+” and “50++.” Basically there are two additional tracks of content you can use with each character.

Can I go back to a level 35 zone and start in the middle? Or do I have to start again?

There are three different tracks of content that go with the three alliances. You don’t have to abandon your track; you can go back to that level 35 zone if you miss something. You’ll be level 50 and the content will still be level 35, but in your original track, all the people you’ve met along the way and any changes you’ve made to the world will persist.

If you go to a brand-new track, it’s sort of like starting over with a brand-new character, except you don’t have to start a new character. We let you continue to progress because the skill system is really open-ended. When you hit level 50, you’ve probably maxed 20% of the skills in the game. If you want to keep making your character stronger without PvP or dungeons, that’s a really good way to do it.





ZeniMax talks Kwama, dungeon roles, and TESO beta invites

eso creating the kwama dev diary, beta invites

ZeniMax updated its Elder Scrolls Online website this week with a trio of articles touching on various aspects of the upcoming fantasy title. First up was a feature that examined player roles and AI behavior in TESO’s dungeons. Of particular interest here was the article’s contention that players can change between DPS, healer, and tank roles on the fly thanks to the open-ended skill system.

Next was a blurb about a new round of beta invites. Yes, they’ve been sent, so check your email.

Finally, we got a closer look at the insectoid Kwama thanks to a dev diary and an associated video, the latter of which you’ll find after the break.


The Elder Scrolls Online is more than just dungeons and dragons

Tamriel Infinium The Elder Scrolls Online, more than just dungeons and dragons

Although many fans of The Elder Scrolls cheered at the introduction of The Elder Scrolls Online at E3, the divisions within the fanbase since then have morphed into warring creatures like Godzilla vs. Mothra, and this column is Japan. Although all of our buildings are being smashed by the battling brutes, it makes for great entertainment. I’m cheering both sides on. I love a good debate.

Despite diligently scanning my spam folder every day this week, I am still without a beta invite. I think ZeniMax is playing hard to get. I promised I won’t divulge any secrets; I just wanna make my Khajiit Nightblade. Is it asking too much to get a chance to explore the Tamriel dungeons? Obviously, it is. However, we did get a taste of ESO dungeons in a blog this week. And it looks as if we have an exciting combination of RIFT-style classes and Guild Wars 2 combat to look forward to. Hopefully, it’s the best of both without the flaws.

Tamriel Infinium The Elder Scrolls Online, more than just dungeons and dragons

Guild Wars 2 claimed to shun the modern tank/healer/DPS trinity. The game is fun, but large scale fights turn into a DPS race and less of a strategic fight to the death. Don’t get me wrong; I did find the dungeons in GW2 fun. And they weren’t without strategy, but… maybe it’s that they were missing the strategy I was looking for in an MMO. The Fractals in GW2 that were the most fun for me were the ones that required a water-specced Elementalist and a tanky Guardian to lead the charge. I just don’t think there is a way around the trinity, unless someone invents a completely new system.

Like previous MMOs, The Elder Scrolls Online embraces the tank/healer/DPS version of the trinity. “These roles are still important for a successful dungeon group in The Elder Scrolls Online,” ZeniMax said in its blog post, “but our open-ended skill system gives you much more flexibility.” What the bleep does that mean? Well, I’m going to tell you.

Just like our friends in Guild Wars 2, we can weapon-swap in ESO. We can carry daggers when we want to stabby stabby, and if we are in a benevolent mood, we can carry a restoration staff. Just don’t ask where we put the staff when we are carrying the daggers. (On our backs, of course. Where were you thinking?) And just as in GW2, each weapon can have its own set of skills that we set before the dungeon begins.

Picture this: I’m with my four-man minstrel group. I play the left-handed lute, and we call ourselves the Beetles because we love red vegetables. Then suddenly we stumble on a cave with a giant wamasu lurking inside. We decide to fight it because we love fat loots. Jhon takes lead because he’s the front man tank. When the wamasu starts smashing and shooting lightning at Jhon, it’s time for Jorge and me to start stabbing. But during the fight, our healer Ryn-go decides to take a dirt nap after being hit by one of the creature’s AoE tail strikes. Apparently, he’s the fail member of the group because he didn’t see the charge-up tell creatures will display before a large strike. Or maybe he was out of stamina and couldn’t dodge. Never fear; I can switch my weapon in the middle of combat and take over healing because beforehand I had set up a different toolbar for when I am holding my restoration staff. Granted, we are still at a bit of a disadvantage because we are down a person, but we still might be able to survive the fight.

I’m looking forward to this kind of system. We will have a massive amount of flexibility, and it won’t matter that Ryn-go is the weakest member of the band; the other three musicians can pick up his slack by weapon swapping.
Tamriel Infinium The Elder Scrolls Online, more than just dungeons and dragonsUsually debates in the comments scare me, but last week, I enjoyed reading your thoughts about immersion and Bethesda’s stepping away from calling the game an MMO, even though it is really an MMO.

First, BrickFrog talked about how upset he is about the lore in The Elder Scrolls Online. I’m not as much of a lore hound in TES as I am in, say, Star Wars, but I can certainly relate to dysfunctional canon. I don’t agree with his comments about combat’s being boring, but the lore questions did make me wonder a bit. “Why isn’t the Ebonheart Nord/Dunmer/Argonian faction being led by the Living God council of Morrowind?” he asked, “or the sentient super-intelligent hist trees of the Black Swamp?” I really wish I had the answer to that one. I suppose the creators decided to take a more secular approach to the pact, but I am interested in seeing what role the rulers of each of those sub-factions plays in the overall story of the game. Although I guess it’s possible, I don’t think the lore junkies at ZeniMax would let go of that kind of established canon easily.

Dugfromtheearth believes what many MMO vets believe: “Immersive means keeping people in the game 2+ years because you don’t want to leave the ‘world’ you are in.” For me, that really hits the nail on the head. Although I did take a few breaks from Star Wars Galaxies, I really didn’t want to leave the world that was created in that game. There is something to be said for a company that can create that kind of game, online or otherwise. Although I admit to being a bit of a game-hopper, I do have friends who have been playing Skyrim since its release. They really love that world. I believe it’s possible for TESO to suck us in and keep us there even if it doesn’t call itself an MMO. I’m cautiously optimistic. (Can I be optimistic as a games journalist? Is that allowed?)

If you haven’t checked out last week’s Tamriel Infinium, I suggest you jump over there now to read it. The column might get you thinking, but I believe the comments really speak to the concerns of TES fans.

This week, I want to know what you think of group roles. Some would argue that group roles should be solidified with the class. They believe that a good healer cannot also play a good DPS or a good DPS can’t tank, too. Are the mindsets required for each role too far apart for one person to effectively be reliable in multiple roles? I especially would like to hear from former RIFT players who might have seen success or failures in that game. See you next week.



Phasing The Elder Scrolls Online

Tamriel Infinium Phasing The Elder Scrolls Online

Today, I want to talk about a mechanic introduced most popularly in World of Warcraft’s expansion Wrath of the Lich King. Don’t look at me like that. I didn’t actually play WoW… I just heard about this second hand. I will call this MMO storytelling mechanic “phasing.” The Elder Scrolls Online developers call it layering. But whatever you want to call it, we know ESO will employ this mechanic to allow for story progression and player choice within the game.

Let’s say you and your friend are in the open world (or maybe an instanced dungeon), and he is further along in the quest than you. At the beginning of the quest, the quest giver is alive, and by the end of questline the quest giver is dead. With phasing technology, you and your friend could be standing next to each other in the virtual world. You see him, and he sees you. But he sees a dead quest giver while you see a living one. Your computer is not broken; you are witnessing phasing. So how does this affect storytelling and the overall feel of the game itself?
Tamriel Infinium Phasing The Elder Scrolls Online

Back in April, ESO developers were asked about the storytelling implication of phasing. The player, Pavle Vivec, asked how he and his friend could be in the same area if he’d saved a village and his friend had not. (Obviously, that’s not the player’s real name, but wouldn’t it be awesome if it were?) ESO devs replied in their AMA,

In some areas, phasing (or ‘layering’ as we call it) is not based on a choice, but on whether or not you’ve done a certain thing yet. In this case, separation from another player would be temporary. In other areas, it can be based off of a choice you’ve made. Those choices tend to come at the end of the activity for an area, reducing separation.

There are other mechanisms we use to reinforce choice that have nothing to do with layering. You may experience something completely different than someone else based on your individual choices, but the ways we show this don’t separate you from others at all. The latter techniques are used far more frequently than layering. And finally, there are still other solutions we’ll discuss later that enable you to better stay together with others even if you’d normally be in different layers.

I’m most interested in how this will affect playing together and what it’s going to look like to see a bunch of people standing around viewing something you don’t.

For storytelling in an MMO, phasing is wonderful. People and groups can make their own choices in a given situation and experience something completely different from each other. This will allow ZeniMax to let one player to save a village and another let it burn. Players within an MMO can experience real and lasting consequences for their characters. Star Wars: The Old Republic did this with instancing, but once you left the instance, the rest of the world kind of reset to a neutral state. Phasing allows you to revisit the areas you saved and still see the village standing. In fact, it could probably go as far as your being able to speak to certain villagers that other players don’t see because they didn’t save that particular village.

But wouldn’t seeing a bunch of people hanging out in a burned up village take you out of the game a bit? I believe ZeniMax would never do something as foolish as make one story choice more beneficial than another, so I’m not worried about the long-term effects. I can see how these certain choices could prevent me from being immersed in the game. When you see people doing things that don’t make sense in your “world,” it breaks some sort of fourth wall.

Ultimately, I will have to wait and see how ESO handles it. In the meantime, what are your thoughts on phasing — is it good or bad? What do you think will happen if there is too much phasing? What will happen if there’s not enough? Are there better ways for ESO to handle phasing?

Tamriel Infinium Phasing The Elder Scrolls Online

Last week, I asked for your advice to help me land a ESO beta invite. And the only person to say anything about that was KirkSteadman, who replied, “RNG is the only thing that plays into ESO beta invites as far as I know.” I assume RNG stands for random number generation and not radioactive noble gas or really nice guy, so thanks for ruining all my hopes, Kirk. (If it does stand for really nice guy, can you tell me which really nice guy I need to talk to?)

However, commenters did discuss players taking to Twitter and announcing to the universe that they found the really nice guy and made it into the ESO beta. I don’t personally know whether the ZeniMax Community team cracks down on these testers, but there are more than enough good reasons for players to avoid openly talking about their beta invitations. As PurityKnights explained, “It makes sense why. If you admit you’re in beta, you open yourself up to people trying to talk you out of info or buying info or buying your account. It’s just better if people don’t know. Besides, the only reason you’d want to announce it is to brag or feel special. That’s not the point of a beta.”

If you do happen to meet a really nice guy, Margaret gave some advice that I plan to adopt myself. “My biggest piece of advice is to give yourself a hilarious name [since] your character is going to be wiped anyway,” she says. “And have fun, explore, find some bugs, and try not to be quite as serious as you would if playing for real. Take a look at the game from a different perspective; play a character you wouldn’t normally play.”

Great advice and discussion as usual, guys. This week, let me know what you think about phasing. Next week, some of you will read one post and the others will read a different post depending on your personal choices in the comments. See you then.



Three pieces of ‘advice’ now that you’re in ESO beta

Tamriel Infinium Three pieces of 'advice' now that you're in TESO beta, yeah that's it

When I started this piece, I wanted a good strong Elder Scrolls oath or expletive to start us out, so of course, I jumped to the Imperial Library to find a good one. By the time I’d finished looking and being distracted by the incredible lore surrounding these phrases, by the dragon’s teeth, I had completely forgotten why I’d wanted to look up the oath in the first place because this week’s Tamriel Infinium isn’t even about oaths. It’s about beta testing.

Apparently, ZeniMax should not give any more beta invites to people with Twitter accounts because they cannot keep a secret. Many players reveled in the fact that they are better than everyone else because they received a special invite to The Elder Scrolls Online closed beta for this weekend. I figured I’d help those special few out by giving them some “advice” on how to make a good impression on the developers while in closed beta. The first one they have already done: announce to the world at large that they have been invited to secret beta test. To get extra points, include your full name and IP address so that it’s easier for the ZeniMax community team to find you and “thank” you personally.

I’ve got three more pieces of advice to give, and I want to know why the rest of you deserve to be in beta. Perhaps, I can use your advice to help me get in. Bogfire! My own tactics aren’t working for me yet.

Tamriel Infinium Three pieces of 'advice' now that you're in TESO beta, yeah that's it

Really get to know the devs

When you first log onto the ESO beta forums, be sure to find out every developer and community manager’s name. That way when you tell them what a terrible job they are doing, you don’t have to be generic about it. In fact, I recommend that when you’re telling off a dev, you put his or her name in the title of the thread in all caps. That way, it can get the attention that it deserves.

Screenshots, screenshots, screenshots

Everybody loves forbidden screenshots. Be sure to take a lot of them. Screenshots are not only a great way to show the developers what needs to be improved in the game but a good source of fun for all your internet buddies. Developers especially love it when you use a public service like Photobucket or Twitpic to host your illicit screenshots. That way people who have and have not signed an NDA can share in the fun.

It’s beta; there are problems

Beta testing is exactly that: testing. So of course, the game will contain flaws. The developers want to hear about them. And when you do make a post on the forum about an issue, be as vague as possible. Part of the fun of being a dev is having to search for the flaw yourself. I mean, the game is pretty tiny, so I’m sure that “that creature wigging out in the North portion of someplace” would be enough information to keep the developers on their collective toes without giving them too much information to make their job easy.

I’m sure if you follow those three wonderful pieces of advice that you will be well on your way to becoming the best beta tester ever. And if anyone asks, you don’t have to tell them I told you this; I don’t want to take the credit you deserve.

Tamriel Infinium Three pieces of 'advice' now that you're in TESO beta, yeah that's it

Last week’s debate on role-switching made for an interesting discussion in the comments. CyberPunkHobo and RottenRotny kicked off two great dialogues concerning other MMOs that also have role-switching similar to ESO’s.

“Being able to switch roles on the fly can be a bit of a double-edged sword in practice,” CyberPunkHobo began. “In games that implement that type of system — like RIFT — there is a tendency for players to come to expect that you’re going to be able to swap to whatever role is needed when necessary.” I’d theoretically say that it’s very possible that players would expect that. I don’t play RIFT regularly, so I really can’t say.

MaxSand is a regular RIFTer but disagrees with CyberPunkHobo. “As an avid RIFTer, I have not seen this practice at all,” he wrote. “There are folks who offer to switch roles a lot, but no one has ever expected my cleric to tank instead of heal or my warrior to go ranged. People may ask you to switch if it helps better suit the situation, but more often people just offer, ‘Hey, my other spec is heals if you want to DPS instead.’ If they ask my cleric to tank, and I tell them I have three heal roles, two DPS, and no tank; they let it go.” I’m truly on the fence, and as MaxSand was quick to point out, “ESO is different in one key area: You can switch in combat, not just outside of it. That changes the dynamic.” We can compare the role-switching to existing games like RIFT all we want, but the fact that roles can be switched on the fly means that we are talking about a completely different set of circumstances.

I think the quality of the role-switcher boils down to the reasons why a person chooses his class in the first place. RottenRotny isn’t exactly excited about this possibility. “I guess being able to swap roles is cool,” he admits, “but having tried this in [The Secret World], I would say it’s not that great. Most people will still want to DPS only and will frankly suck at healing/tanking.”

Madrox30 (the 30th clone of Jamie “Mulitple-Man” Madrox?) has a theory as to why we see so many DPS players who are willing to wait for a queue pop instead of switching to a tank or healer so the queue pops faster. “To me the reason DPS role is so popular is three factors. First, it’s the role that hits stuff. Second, there are (generally) three of them, so there are another two guys to pick up the slack for you if you don’t feel capable of top notch performance (which you don’t need, but hey, people are people). And third, it’s the role more familiar to what they have been doing in the rest of the game.” RottenRotny agreed, saying that Madrox30 “hit the nail on the head” and “most people will just DPS anyway.”

If I were to draw some conclusion from the role-switching debate, I’d say that role-switching is wonderful if you want to do it — in fact, most players would encourage it. However, don’t expect other players to do it themselves. And it’s quite possible if you ask them and they do switch that they will not be very good at it.

As I mentioned earlier, Twitterers leaked that ZeniMax is holding another closed beta this weekend. Even though it’s too late for some of us to get in, I’m interested in your sales pitch. How would you convince a developer to let you into a closed beta? If you did get into a closed beta in the past or present (please, don’t admit that you are in this closed beta if you are), how did you do it, and do you have any advice for those trying to get in now? Lastly, how do you think ZeniMax chooses people to participate in its closed betas?

And just for reader ItsatrapLOL, I made this header. Read the comments of this week’s Hyperspace Beacon if you want to know what this blooper is all about:

Tamriel Infinium Three pieces of 'advice' now that you're in TESO beta, yeah that's it

I’ll catch you next week, and please, don’t take the beta test advice at the start of this article as real advice…


The Elder Scrolls Online’s gameplay and mechanics video


Can’t get enough coverage of The Elder Scrolls Online? Did yesterday’s hands-on and interview with Paul Sage leave you craving more? We’ve got you covered with some in-game video footage and a dash of extra details — narrated by me! — from my recent trip to ZeniMax Online Studios.

Learn about the design philosophy behind ESO as well as some details about synergies, finesse, and character progression. There are also tiny bits of information regarding mounts and vampire skills. Is your curiosity sufficiently piqued? Let me tell you all about it after the break!


Name this Elder Scrolls Online Dunmer

Name this Elder Scrolls Online Dunmer

See this strapping Dunmer lad? He’s got it all. Youth. Power. Insider status with the Mage’s Guild. And of course his handsome mug plastered all over the official Elder Scrolls Online website. One thing he doesn’t have is a name, and that’s where you come in (provided you’ve got a lore-appropriate imagination, that is).

Yep, ZeniMax wants you to christen this particular NPC so that he can more properly assist adventurers in Tamriel when the fantasy title goes live sometime that isn’t today. The naming contest starts on November 13th and runs through November 21st. Read all the entry details via the links below.