Old-Lady Suit

eso 2016-02-11 20-17-56-27

Best Intentions

Wow-64 2016-02-12 06-21-16-22

I had psyched myself up yesterday to go off and do some raiding last night.  Some friends of friends had graciously offered to drag me along with them for the first part of Heroic Hellfire Citadel.  I thought to myself that this was an excellent opportunity, that could lead to gear and maybe even a moose at some point, so even though they raid PST, I figured I would make the good college try.  The problem being my body is still conspiring against me.  This is officially the sickest I have been in years, as we are now going on thirteen days for this crud.  Admittedly my wife had something super similar weeks before we went to PAX and while she got over the bulk of it… almost a month later she still has the constant cough.  The thing that is killing me at the moment is the sore throat, only exacerbated by the constant body shaking coughing fits and drainage.  So by the time the raid was starting around 9:30 my time…. I was already taking NyQuil and planning to slip into bed.  I politely begged off as best I could and if any of them are reading today… I sincerely thank them for the opportunity.  One which I kinda hope will still be available when I am not feeling like shit.

The problem I am in with Belghast is the fact that my item level is artificially low, because there are four pieces of gear that I simply cannot afford to get rid of.  I have the four piece normal Blackrock Foundry set, and every time I try and sim out swapping out of it for higher item level gear… it is a major dps loss.  The problem being that I am playing a special snowflake class that will be going away in Legion.  Gladiator just works strangely, and it feels like Blizzard inadvertently gave use the most perfect class set ever.  The two piece bonus is “Shield Slam has a 8% Chance to Automatically Cast Shield Charge” which is massive, and helps fill in those spots where I could not normally have Shield Charge up for the damage bonuses.  The four piece is essentially “Shield Charge increases the damage of Heroic Strike, Slam, and Revenge by an Additional 20%” which is the single best damage booster that I can get right now.  So I simply cannot abandon this set bonus, and the only real option right now would be to try and find a Mythic Blackrock group so I could get the Mythic four piece set.  Because of the way the Hellfire Dungeon set works… I can also squeeze in the two piece of that set giving me “Bonus Armor Increased by 145” which while not insane… is a decent dps boost since every point of armor translates to 2 attack power for Gladiator spec.  So needless to say I am stuck in a corner where my 686 gear score does not exactly equate to my performance…  but I don’t really have access to the upgrades that would actually help.  I mean as much as I hate to see it go, I totally see why Blizzard is getting rid of this special snowflake spec.  It is extremely hard to itemize for and gear for.

Madness and Cheese

eso 2016-02-11 20-17-56-27

So after getting frustrated that there was very little I could do to improve my lot in life on my Warrior, I ended up logging over into Elder Scrolls Online for some nice and peaceful questing.  I actually managed to catch Solaria on at the same time, and I spent a little bit of time attempting to help her get started in crafting.  The only problem being that during prime time it seems like all of the ore is heavily farmed down.  Since I have the insane “see it from a distance” glow effect, I am wondering about dropping down to Betnikh and helping farm up a bunch of ore for her.  She decided to go with a Heavy Armor Two-Handed Templar…. which was one of my favorite paths from alpha testing.  It feels a little bit like a WoW Retribution Paladin in the burst damage department, and has some really high survival when running around questing.  It also greatly simplifies the crafting, since Blacksmith can literally make everything they would need to use from the weapon to the armor.  The problem there is Blacksmithing honestly seems to be the most useful profession, and as a result ore is always in high demand.  I could in theory just pass over a bunch of bars, but she really needs the skill-ups from refining the bars right now, so I would be better served just going out and farming ore for her.

One of the things I had forgotten about Elder Scrolls Online was just how well written the quests are.  I completed a sequence in Grahtwood where I ended up encountering my favorite of all Daedra… Sheogorath the Prince of Madness.  You never know if he is going to attack you… or offer you cheese…  and then attack you.  What makes this sequence so great is the fact that I have tangled with Sheogorath in the past of this game.  He remembers my interactions and even seems to comment based on my decisions….  in this completely unrelated quest line.  The amount of time that they put into making sure that the dialog trees had little gems like this, is just awesome… and I am still really impressed by them when I find them.  All of the content was designed knowing that your single character might be completing all three factions worth of it.  There is just something warm and fuzzy about playing this game…  and while at one point I was disappointed in it…  I think most of that was really just me trying to make it into something that it was not.  As a largely solo experience the game is exemplary, and honestly I look forward to trying to scramble enough people together to do a dungeon or two and see if that experience improved as well.  Cheese for everyone!





Reaping What We Sow

Pax Packing

Tonight is my last night at home before heading towards PAX.  As such our world pretty much revolves around packing up the things that need packing and cleaning the house some more to make it nice for the house sitter.  I think at this point I have everything that I am going to need to both enjoy and “work” pax.  This is going to be an odd experience for me, because in theory I am the eyes and ears of MMOGames.com during the course of this trip.  In addition to that I am going to try my best not to let my streak of daily postings slip either.  As such I am writing this and planning on posting it in the morning… which while cheating is something I have accepted in the past.  In truth most of my posts during this trip will be along these lines as I intend to write up what I saw during that day from my hotel room.

The oddest experience for me is that I am going to have some actual media appointments, as in sit on the couch and talk to devs about their games.  I have a ton of questions, but at the same time I am feeling extremely self conscious.  Its like I am expecting them to immediately realize that I am not really a professional writer, and get kicked off the couch or something.  Sure I blog each and every day, and that has been one hell of a marathon, but for whatever reason this suddenly seems that much more real.  I would love to be doing stuff like this for a living, but I learned long ago that writing simply does not pay enough to even come close to offsetting the salary of a programmer.  So instead I will just pretend to be a “legitimate writer”, and simply be thankful that someone is letting me indulge that fantasy.

Buy To Play

eso 2014-05-09 18-41-57-458 For the several quarters it has seemed to me that Elder Scrolls Online and Wildstar were like two kids sitting waiting on the bottom of a pool.  Each of them trying to hold their breath as long as humanly possible before admitting defeat and swimming to the surface.  Today Elder Scrolls Online swam to the surface and admitted defeat, announcing that they would be abandoning the subscription model in favor of a new “buy to play” strategy with an optional premium subscription.  That said I absolutely expect Wildstar to swim to the surface themselves rather quickly confident that they won this game of chicken… but no less battered for the challenge.  This was the year that the subscription model gave its last hurrah, and ultimately proved that the buying public simply was not willing to pay on a month my month basis.

I say this but it is not entirely true, given that World of Warcraft, EVE Online, and Final Fantasy XIV are each doing better than they have in years.  The subscription model is still very much alive and kicking, but unfortunately the folks willing to pay a monthly fee… seem to already be committed leaving only the game hoppers and nomads shifting from  title to title.  Awhile back I wrote an article calling Elder Scrolls Online my disappointment of the year… and in many ways it still very much is.  That said I hate to see them having to shift payment models like this.  I still like the idea of a subscription, but a game has to earn the right to see my monthly payment.  Final Fantasy XIV does this by providing a constant stream of new content.  World of Warcraft earns my dollar by simply being the first breakout hit to claim the market share and thus addict swarms of my friends who refuse to leave it.  Elder Scrolls Online just lacked the glue to keep me playing, and after my initial six months worth of subscription time I let my account go dormant expecting to play again when it hit the consoles.

Reaping What We Sow

Today I made a tweet, and as luck would have it my fingers got faster than my brain…  and it of course has a typo.  That said I pretty much stand by the statement… once corrected for spelling of course.  Game Companies are after all companies.  Developers, Designers, Artists and Writers all have to get paid for their work, and at the end of the day no one can afford to work for free.  Hell I couldn’t do half of the stuff I did with my blog, podcasts and the sort without a really nice paying job to back me up and fund my hobbies.  At the end of the day these companies have to make money, so they can turn around and invest in those resources that support their games., and that’s not even taking into account the serious costs associated with keeping up a server farm.  Sure single servers are relatively simple and cheap to operate… but when you are talking an online game you are literally talking about thousands of servers working together to maintain the structure that we demand be not only up 24/7 but also be relatively lag free.

So if we complain about blatant money grabs like the air drop scandal in H1Z1, or the constant limited edition loot box bonanzas in Star Wars the Old Republic and Rift.  We have to realize that all of it is entirely our faults.  The subscription model was nice and honestly and for the most part was a contract between the players and a company.  We pay them to keep rolling out new content, and keep the lights on… and we would get to play their games.  However at some point during the line that contract was broken, and we the players started wanting more for free.  I have gotten so tired of seeing comments like “I like the game, but I will play it when it goes free to play”.  If you like the game, and want to play it… you should be willing to support it.  I’ve subscribed to games for months after I stopped playing them, just because I believed in the mission of the company or the game.  If we don’t help the companies… they are going to keep  taking progressively more desperate measures to try and stay afloat and keep making salary.

Players Are Now Investors

I will be the first to admit that steam early access or paid alpha and beta programs are frustrating riddled with problems.  Ultimately I feel like that extra transparency bogs down the process and ultimately produces a confused product designed by committee.  The problem is…  we are quickly becoming the investors in the games we are playing.  Why are we now investors you might ask yourself?  Essentially the repeat failure of AAA MMOs means that a lot of the institutional funding is simply not available.  Would you want to fund an MMO after the state of Rhode Island was stuck holding a multi-million dollar bill for the failure of Copernicus?  Kickstarter has been an interesting catalyst for games development.  It has placed a power in our hands that we have never had before…  and it is not entirely a good thing.  As investors… we feel entitled to have our say in the way the process works.

I honestly miss the days when I could look at the games industry like it was some magical engine of creation.  When I could view it as being something that simply turned out the games I wanted to play without any real consequences attached to it.  The problem is… I know the consequences in the faces of friends that have been effected by the closure of studios, and the “cutbacks” in staffing as subscriptions faltered.  How do you build a family when you aren’t sure where you will be living in six months?  Maybe I shouldn’t care about the human costs behind these things, but unfortunately that isn’t really a luxury I have.  I write my blog and I make my quips, but at the end of the day I have nothing but the utmost respect for the folks that make the games I care about.  I can be petulant just as much as the next person, but sometimes I lose sight on the truth behind it all.  They make the games that we are supposed to have fun playing… and in doing so it is up to us the players to uphold our end of that bargain.  I am not addressing the people that didn’t enjoy a game, because that is the way it works…. I am talking about the folks that loved a game… but were unwilling to subscribe.

Savior of Glenumbra

Awkward Ex-Coworkers

spicychicken We are having some minor issues with my wife’s vehicle, so as a result I had to get up crazy early yesterday morning to drive her into work.  Crazy early because I still wanted to be able to blog like normal, and she generally leaves when I am about halfway done with my morning post.  As a result it made the entire day feel sluggish.  After work we made plans to go eat at one of my favorite restaurants near her workplace so I could get cheese tots and spicy chicken.  The above shot is what the dish looks like… I snapped a photo some time ago to brag on her for bringing it home to me one night.  We hung out and ate with another teacher friend of hers and it was a pretty awesome time…  until something happened to taint it.

We had been there for a little bit, and our order had not arrived when I noticed someone walk in that looked vaguely familiar.  While trying to place him I saw his wife walk in and immediately the combination of the two faces together snapped in my memory.  These were some ex-coworkers and while they were nice enough…  they came from a period of time when I was at the worst place I have ever worked.  To make it worse they are both extremely good friends with what I considered to be the boss from hell.  So it is not exactly the situation where I want to go over and “catch up”.  Thankfully they were with what looked like parents and too busy with their own conversations to notice me much.

I hate that anyone associated with that workplace is immediately flagged as an enemy in my head, and I am not really sure how to get past it.  Every place I have ever worked I have been the group rockstar, and the current environment is no less true…  although in my present situation we have three rockstars working on the same team.  This workplace however, from day one there was nothing I could ever do right.  The boss would loosely stub things out in a project website, with roughly a single sentence describing what needed to be done.

If I asked questions as to what the hell he meant by that…  I would catch hell for not taking initiative.  If I figured things out on my own, and just got the job done… I would catch hell for not doing it exactly like he wanted it to be done.  There was seriously a no win situation, and the two people that walked in represented that time period in my life.  Every time I see someone associated with that period I just want to scream how much of an asshole that guy was and how he made my life complete and total crap.  But instead I smile and nod and try my damnedest to ignore them and hope they walk away.

Savior of Glenumbra

Screenshot_20140404_220811 Last night we got home fairly late from meeting the friend for dinner, so by the time I made it upstairs it was almost eight.  At that point folks had already paired up into dungeon runs, so I opted to simply focus on finishing up the rest of Glenumbra.  I feel like I am moving super slow, because I simply cannot chew through the Elder Scrolls content as fast as others seem to be able to.  I have friends who have been “finished” with Glenumbra for some time, but I have a sneaking suspicion that they are nowhere near 100% on the zone… and quite truthfully as much time as I have spent there I seriously doubt I have gotten everything either.  I do have all of the icons on the map turned from black to white, and have gotten 100% of the skyshards… so I feel like it is “good enough” for me to move on.  Last night after finishing Crosswych I got the “Savior of Glenumbra” achievement.

Screenshot_20140404_220734 I have to say… Stormhaven means serious business.  I managed to get to level 18 in Glenumbra before moving on, but when I moved into Stormhaven that is supposed to be a 15+ zone I noticed everything hit considerably harder.  Granted this could be in part to the fact that I am still mostly wearing level 14 gear, since I need High Iron which cannot be found in Glenumbra.  More so I think that they have just ratcheted up the difficulty.  Instead of fighting random bandits, you are now fighting random daedra.  While they might not have the hitpoint pool…  Clanfear are Clanfear…  they all seem to be just as hard to kill.  The new zone is just as lovely, if not slightly more damaged by the conflict.  The screenshots are from the first town, which is a lovely little port just a ways inside of the zone line.  I look forward to meandering my way across the zone like I did in glenumbra.

I swear this game was designed specifically for me, because it is littered with things to find and interesting things to kill.  I love that crafting can be leveled without having ever crafted a single item.  I am constantly bringing back bags full of gear that I got from killing baddies, and through doing nothing but deconstruction I have managed to get Woodworking to 10, and Clothing to 9.  While I have been making plenty of blacksmithing items, I still have gotten most of my levels from deconstructing “found” things.  This is the only game system I have ever played that supported leveling crafting through mass slaughter.  I have to say I love it though, it lets me play the game the way I want to play it, and limit my time hovering over the forge.

Visiting a Friend

Landmark64 2014-04-05 09-02-04-73 This morning I saw a tweet from Scopique thanking me for reminding him to feed his claim in Landmark… which in turn reminded me to log in and feed my own.  As much as it might annoy me that we can only store five days worth of copper in our claim banks, it is in the very least forcing me to log in every few days to make sure I have it fully stocked.  Right now I am in a weird place with my own claim.  I need to go on another massive stone harvesting run, but I have not been able to bring myself to do so… because I would rather be playing Elder Scrolls Online.  For a few days however my friend Syl has said that I should pop by her claim and see the progress.  As a result I ended up with a pretty cool screenshot of the pair of us overlooking her claim.

Landmark64 2014-04-05 08-55-26-26 I hope she won’t be cross with me for posting a picture of her Inn “in progress”.  I have to say the interior is coming along extremely well.  I love the fireplace and the basin, and on a rack behind me is a really cool lance that she made from scratch.  I love the way the house is wrapped around the tree.  Makes me realize just how much work I need to do on my own.  I am really good at roughing out massive structures, but I always lack the drive to go back in later and do the fine detail work.  She however seems to excel at it, putting the finishing touches on rooms as she builds them.  Super impressed with what she has done so far, and hopefully at some point this weekend I will get the drive to log in and go on another massive stone farming expedition.  If nothing else was cool to pop over and see her claim for a bit before logging to work on this here blog post.  Is that blogception?

#ElderScrollsOnline #Landmark #Glenumbra #Stormhaven #ESO

Tanking Tamriel

A Shift in Tanking

Screenshot_20140403_214617 I had a conversation the other morning about Dragon Knight tanking, and what abilities I use.  As a result I thought it might be a useful blog post in waiting.  The big thing about Elder Scrolls Online is that as a tank we have to throw a lot of our preconceived notions away.  In previous games our mission in life has been to generate as much threat on as many targets as possible, and somehow through the grace of your healer manage to stay vertical.  This is very much not business as usual in the Elder Scrolls.  The moment I stepped into a dungeon I admit that I tried to do this, and found that my healer simply could not handle keeping me alive.  There really are no AOE “threat” tools, nor is there really even a concept of threat as we know it in other games.

Instead of focusing all of the healing on a single player, the ESO method is more to try and spread the damage out among multiple targets at the same time evenly.  As a tank you still play a crucial role as you can handle the hardest hitting targets while the healers/dps deal with the squishier targets.  It takes some getting used to, but when it works it just works seamlessly.  The group make up is far less important than it has been in other games.  We’ve managed to make dual healers, and dual tanks work… which would have been a recipe for disaster in other games.  The biggest thing is that the ESO dungeons require you to play in a much more fluid manner than before.  Since a lot of the mob interactions are not static, you need to be able to adjust to changes as they happen.

Tanking Tamriel

Screenshot_20140403_064618 I thought I would start off by talking a bit about the abilities that I use while tanking dungeons.  Please note, that Belghast Sternblade my main is an Imperial Dragon Knight, and I have focused on Sword and Shield and Heavy Armor obsessively.  I don’t even have an alternate weapon loadout because I have been purely focused on this one thing that I like doing.   Here I am going to walk you through my hotbar, and some of the choices I have made to support being “tanky”.

1 – Fiery Grip

This is the most archetypal Dragon Knight ability and generally one that people take immediately when they get their first skill point.  I used to do this but now end up taking it as a second pick due to reasons I will explain later.  Who does not love Deathgrip and feeling like Scorpion from Mortal Combat.  This will become the most crucial ability you have in that you can use it to gank mobs away from squishier targets and will use it to pull with.  I have not spent any points on morphing the ability, and at present I am leaning towards Extended Chains, the morph that increases distance.

2 – Ransack

This ability morphs from Puncture, and is literally the first thing I always choose when I am building a tanky DK.  The reasoning behind the first pick is that whatever you pick first… will ultimately be the ability you are able to morph first since skills begin leveling the moment you place them on your hotbar.  This is the bread and butter tanking ability.  Ransack taunts the target for 15 seconds, deals damage, decreases the targets armor, and buffs your armor by the amount decreased.  As a result this will literally be your most useful key to press ever since it does four different things at once and increases your survival while doing it.

3 – Stone Giant

Stone Giant is a morph of the ability Stone Fist from the Earthen Heart tree.  At face value it is an extremely useful ability because it knocks the target down for a short period of time.  This will allow you to interrupt abilities that normally could not be interrupted.  Additionally it has a slightly longer than melee range allowing you to knock a target down and reduce damage on someone else.  When you morph it however you get a short term armor buff after casting it allowing it to also function as somewhat of a survival ability as well.

4 – Dark Talons

This ability allows you to lock a number of targets down by encasing them in a cage of bone.  While at face value this does not make a ton of sense for a tank build, since you are going to be up close and personal anyways… it does when you realize that it is a short term CC allowing you to control the flow of the mobs at the beginning of an encounter.  I tend to hang back and as the first group of mobs comes running in, case this locking down most of them and giving the healer and dps time to acquire targets.

5 – Razor Armor

This ability is my one size fits all damage reduction buff morphed from Spiked Armor.  I try my best to keep this on me at all times during a fight, or at least during the times when I am tanking the heaviest of hitters.  Namely this ability increases your armor for 20 seconds and deals damage to your attacker while doing so.  The morph makes it so you get an additional 25% armor increase for the 2.5 seconds.  This is more in the line of pre-emptive triage when you know you are going to be taking more damage.

The Passives

That is my toolbox abilities and pretty much the only ones I use other than swapping in a view situational abilities.  If I know we are going to be fighting Daedra or Undead I tend to swap in Silver Bolts for Stone Giant, since the effectiveness of that ability greatly eclipses the minimal survival you get.  If I am soloing, I swap out Dark Talons for Shield Charge, because I like ping ponging around the map and I don’t generally need to lock down targets.  Occasionally I will swap in Consuming Trap if I know I will need healing after combat.  For the most part these are the only active abilities I have, and I am completely fine with that.

What I do focus on instead are the passives.  I take the opinion that I would rather be awesome all of the time than some of the time.  If you look at the heavy armor, racial, and sword and shield trees… there are a number of amazing abilities that passively increase your resistance and general sturdiness.  Essentially if it passively improves my ability to survive, I want it, and I will prioritize it over picking up an active ability since you can only use five at any given time.  Were I rebuilding my level 16 character, I would have gotten the five abilities above and simply not touched another ability period until I had soaked up all of the passives.

The Pull

Setting up the pull for the fight is likely where you will have the most trouble adapting to the way Elder Scrolls Online works.  Generally speaking I gank a priority target over to the group using Fiery Grip.  In doing so you want to make sure no one else in the party touches anything else.  A large group of mobs will run at you, but if you take the time to notice not all of them will be attacking your group.  In fact if you are fighting humanoids some of them will stand back like a crowd in a Kung Fu movie and cheer the combatants on.  It is important to be able to evaluate the situation and deal with only the targets that are actually engaged in combat.  If you accidentally hit one of the more passive opponents they will engage and give you one more add to deal with.

This is why I feel that abilities like Dark Talons are so important.  As the tank I hang back after ganking that first target to me and see who comes running up after the squishies.  As that pack of mobs comes into combat range, I tap Dark Talons locking them in place and giving my group time to figure out what the kill order will be.  All of this is of course improved by having access to voice chat, but in theory each dungeon is going to have certain priority targets.  Healers mainly will be the thing you need to focus down first, then likely Evokers or other mage types as they can do a large amount of AOE ground effect damage making it harder to stay out of the fire.  As a tank you will focus on the harder hitting melee targets.  If it has heavy armor, it is going to try and tank down your healer… stop them from doing that.

The above video is of us running Fungal Grotto, and it was shortly after starting this dungeon… after running several other dungeons… that we made the connection to how the mob behavior is working.  My friends and I are learning this from scratch just like you guys are, so I do not claim to understand everything about the pull behavior.  That said I feel confident that our working theory is going to test out.  Fungal Grotto was immensely easier thanks to our wait and see stance on the pulls, and adjusting to only the mobs that actually decided to attack us.  It is tank instinct to charge into the fight and try and make everything angry at once…  this instinct will get you killed rapidly.  This is a thing I have had to stop doing myself, and as much as I hate to admit it… we are far better off for this change in my personal behavior.

Combat Tactician

Screenshot_20140331_195315 The most crucial skill we have noticed yet is the need to be able to adjust to things as they are happening.  The problem with the way mob packs are designed, is it is damned near impossible to determine what mobs are going to aggro and engage at any given time.  Similarly you have to be able to shift focus to pick up new high priority targets as they engage the battlefield.  You might be fighting five trash mobs, and when you take one down… the boss of the encounter might engage even before the rest of the trash is finishes.  It is crucial to be able to calmly shift focus to what just became the new highest priority for you as the tank.  This involves a lot of faith in your team mates, that they will also similarly adjust.

Another instinct that you will have to completely obliterate is the “burn down” mentality of hopping on the boss and damaging it at all costs.  Generally speaking this is always the wrong answer.  Dungeons in the Elder Scrolls are for the most part about mitigating the amount of damage incoming to the party, and in a big pull the easiest way to do this is to knock out a hard hitting but squishy target.  In fact I would say that more than likely damaging the boss is always your LAST priority.  You want to try your best to clear all adds before you focus on the boss at all.  Think raid encounter, and prioritize the things that can kill you and your friends over the big thing that hopefully the tank is going to deal with.  Additionally as the tank make sure you are doing everything you can to reduce the amount of damage you are taking.  This means juggling cool downs, and making sure you block, dodge and interrupt everything that you can.

The Elder Scrolls is already one of the more difficult tanking experiences I have encountered in an MMO.  That said it is also one of the most empowering.  I am no longer a big dumb meat shield that’s entire purpose is to piss off everything equally and somehow survive.  I became just as valuable and tactical as other party members because what I choose to taunt, and choose to stun matters greatly in the overall success of the dungeon.  My decisions matter, and not in a ham handed tank all the things way any longer.  If you are familiar with MOBAs, this style of tanking will feel similar.  As tank you are essentially there to direct the flow of combat, and interrupt whatever it is that the enemies are trying to do.  If you master it, the dungeons will become far easier.  I am so far from mastery at this point, but I feel like I am at least stepping down on the right path.

#ElderScrollsOnline #TESO #Tanking #Dungeons #DragonKnight

Banished Cells and Fungal Grotto

Life in Tornado Alley

A few days at it was 40* out, and now it is 72* this early in the morning.  While yes I live in Oklahoma, where the weather pattern can change in the blink of an eye.  However even for us this seems a bit abrupt.  It seems that Tornado season has snuck up on us.  Over the next several evenings we have a chance of a Tornado each and every night.  The high today is supposed to get up to 83* and it reminds me all too much of last year.  When we jumped from temperatures in the 40s to temperatures in the 90s over a few weeks.  It seems like we are getting less and less of a “spring” to enjoy.  Thankfully nothing has really materialized yet out of the Tornado threat, but we still have several more nights of watching the local station to make sure nothing is going on.

Today is the day we purchase our new refrigerator.  We ended up deciding on a side by side, because it gives us more freezer space.  We eat an inordinate amount of frozen foods, and really don’t keep much in the fridge side apart from leftovers.  Additionally I have always wanted ice and water in the door.  Growing up we never had a fridge that was not the traditional over/under kind, and I coveted going to friends houses where they had cold water “on tap”.  We’ve spent most of the week eating up anything from our freezer to attempt to make the transition that will likely occur this weekend “easier”.  We waited this long primarily because we have a friend who works at the appliance store, and they are starting a 10% off sale today.  It will be nice to just have this over with and have a new and fully functional fridge in its place.

Banished Cells and Fungal Grotto

Screenshot_20140403_062627 In MMO gaming there is what is “doable” and then there is what is “optimal”.  Folks have relied on the Holy Trinity mixture of 1 healer, 1 tank and 2-3 dps for years as the “optimal” build.  However in Elder Scrolls Online the lines get blurred a bit.  So far we have made two healers, a tank and a dps work fairly well, and struggled a bit with the 1/1/2 combination that would seem optimal.  To mix things up a bit we decided to try running a few dungeons with 2 tanks, 1 healer, 1 dps.  It was somewhat painful, but once Kodra and I got the hang of working together it actually went pretty smoothly.  I feel like in Elder Scrolls there is not really a viable option that does not include healing… however there are several different ways to build a high survival dps.  Similarly I think someone with crowd control would be able to make up for there being a tank.

Watch live video from Belghast on TwitchTV
The next mixture I would like to see is now that several of us are 15 and can do weapon swaps… to throw on a two hander or dual wield and run the dungeons to see if we can get by without a “true” tank.  Another interesting thing we figured out is that apparently after running Spindleclutch, we had access to all three dungeons via the waystone network.  So as a result we ended up running the Banished Cells in the above video, and Fungal Grotto in the below video.  I am not sure what was going on with either Twitch or OBS for for whatever reason both of the videos exported to youtube SUPER jerky.  If you watch the twitch version it seems to be just fine, so I might try deleting the youtube version and re-exporting.

Watch live video from Belghast on TwitchTV
One of the interesting things we learned is along the same lines as what I was talking about yesterday regarding splitting the pulls.  It seems like the mobs in these dungeons fight in “Kung-Fu Movie Mode” of sorts, in that when you pull one, a number of them will engage you, but not ALL of the pack.  The others will sit back and cheer on the ones fighting, but if you engage them… they will engage you back.  This means that things like charge and dragon’s leap are really bad ideas in the Elder Scrolls Dungeon infrastructure.  As a result we changed up our methods and started pulling with me yanking a single mob out with fiery grip.  Then working on the fly to lock down whatever happens to come with the pull.

After figuring this out… Fungal Grotto went remarkably smooth as did a Spindleclutch run that we did afterwards.  I think we finally figured out the “plan” of the dungeons, and it is pretty damned awesome.  I like that the mobs seem to interact, and while you may aggro an entire pack… they won’t necessarily all come at once leading you to have significantly longer and more endurance sapping fights than short term brute force ones.  We managed to make it through a lot of those huge pulls, because we had more healing than we needed.  Now that we know the “real” way to run the dungeons, I feel like we could mix up the group make up quite a bit and come up with lots of potentially winning combinations.

Amazing Soundtrack

Another really awesome thing from yesterday is that the Elder Scrolls Online soundtrack is now available for purchase.  At first I was a bit pissy when I found out that neither the collectors edition or digital deluxe editions included the soundtrack.  However upon seeing it, I am guessing a big part of the reason why is just how big the soundtrack is.  Right now you can get it for $8.99 on Amazon and it is a whopping 47 tracks.  I guess if you are so included you can pay what seems to be the iTunes tax and get it for $16 bucks there as well.  Apparently it is also up on the Google play store for $9.49, and as such available through their Google Music streaming service if you are so inclined.  Whatever your venue of choice… I highly suggest you grab this.

Elder Scrolls Online is a gorgeous game, and similarly has an amazing soundtrack… however in the game you are under a constant state of sensory overload.  Listening to the soundtrack I was in awe of just how great some of the tracks were, that I knew i had heard snippets of in game… but simply was not able to fully appreciate.  I am hoping that the Battle Bards do an upcoming episode on the soundtrack, as with 47 different tracks… there really is something for everyone on it.  I don’t care… I am definitely a fan boy here, but that is perfectly okay.  This is now pretty much on my permanent “coding” and “writing” music selection.  Over the years I have found myself listening to more and more game/movie soundtracks and less and less traditional music.  I feel like it is easier to zone into whatever I am doing when the track is primarily instrumental.

Spindleclutch’s Revenge

Wabbajack or Bust!

One of the last big decision points we had to make was picking our PVP campaign.  Essentially how Cyrodil works is that there are these campaign groups that are functionally like “servers” in that it represents one constant group of players from all three sides during a 90 day “season”.  These sides fight for control of Cyrodil and attempt to crown an emperor by holding all of the barrier keeps surrounding the White Gold Tower.  Each of these campaign groups is named after a weapon from elder scrolls lore.  Currently the most populated is “Auriel’s Bow” which is benefiting from “first in the list” syndrome… where people simply click the first option and go with it.  Oddly enough “Dawnbreaker” is another really high pop server, because for whatever reason a ton of serious Aldmeri Dominion pvpers decided to set up camp there.

As explained in my first video of the night, we have put our heads together and reasoned Wabbajack to be a good place to be.  For those who are not TES lore junkies or who have not played Oblivion or Skyrim…  Wabbajack is the weapon of the mad god Sheogorath.  You are just as likely to zap your foe as to turn them into a bunny…  or even rain down cheese from the heavens.  More importantly however it seems like quite a few of the more organized Daggerfall folks have chosen the server for their own, so I believe it will be a place where we might have a fighting chance against the Aldmeri and Ebonheart hordes.  We chose Daggerfall expecting it to be less populated, and as a result have an easier time getting into Cyrodil instances.  Unfortunately as the video states Slurms has ended up on Auriel’s Bow for the time being, but we are hoping he will get the ability to swap to us for free.

Spindleclutch’s Revenge

Last night my friends and I… or at least a slightly different group of friends… decided to go back into Spindleclutch in the hopes of completing the quest that had apparently bugged out the previous night.  The primary difference this time around was that we had two dps, a healer and a tank… the traditional dungeon makeup.  To complicate things, we had a player healing who had literally not had a healing staff in his inventory until a guild member crafted and mailed him one on the way to the dungeon.  So needless to say we had a few issues we needed to work out.  Overall we managed to make it through the dungeon, but at times it was through sheer force of will.  The above stream video documents our journey through the depths of spider hell.

For not having played a healer in ESO before, especially a night blade healer…  Kodra did a remarkable solo healing the dungeon.  Essentially we are realizing that the night before we simply brute forced a lot of the encounters with pure healing throughput in the fact that we had two healers who had rolled and were leveling AS healers.  This run through the dungeon was very similar to our first run through the dungeon almost a year ago.  There were many packs of mobs that flat out murdered us… especially once we got into the “corrupted” section of the dungeon.  Some of the group tactics were a nightmare and it was all I could do to try and juggle everything and also somehow manage to keep up enough stamina to be able to block power attacks.  At this point I am realizing I need way more stamina, and plan on dumping the next several skillups into that trait.

While there was quite a bit of faffing about before the dungeon, in trying to get over to Spindleclutch and get everyone zoned into it… I think we managed to run the place in roughly 45 minutes which is not too bad.  One of the things that would have really helped out quite a bit is the addition of crowd control.  I’ve considered spending a point and picking up dark talons, as being able to lock down a large group and at least keep it off the cloth wearers would have been extremely beneficial.  The other cool thing is that I somehow managed to get several viewers during the dungeon, one of which even congratulated us on our victory.  I am so used to no one watching my streams that it was rather odd knowing I had an audience that was not a guild member and likely not also in the same mumble channel as me.

Tonight there are already tentative plans to step back foot in the dungeon and see what trouble we can get into.  At this point I seem to be the only tank in the level range of the dungeon, and while I do not mind being the token tank…  there is only so much spelunking that I can take in a night.  My wife and I have made plans to start trying to walk around 10 pm, and this means I need to make sure I am not engaged in something around that time of the evening.  So essentially it cuts one potential dungeon run out for the night.  I am sure in the next few days we will have more tanks entering the level range to take the pressure off me.  My hope is that soon we can have multiple spindle groups going at the same time.

Feed your Claim

Landmark64 2014-03-29 17-08-24-87 Just a really quick and friendly reminder… if you are like me and now completely enthralled by Elder Scrolls Online…  don’t forget to log into Landmark periodically and feed your claim some copper.  The upkeep mechanic while not extremely brutal, is there and constant and could involve the repossession of your claim.  Since several of us managed to get in early enough to grab some pretty choice spots… I would hate to see any of us lose them to forgetting to feed the upkeep bank.  Currently you can have roughly 5 days worth of resources stacked up in your claim bank.  Every two to three days just to be certain, I have been logging in and depositing additional copper ore into the bank to keep it “topped off”.  I really wish I could farm up enough to keep it healthy for a month or so, but I can see their desire to limit it to a small amount so that players are constantly having to log in.

Spindleclutch Age

Tax Time

Last night my wife and I had agreed to get our taxes done.  Normally we do this over spring break but various reasons, one of which was a death in the family caused this to not happen.  Tax time is one of those things that causes undue stress in me.  While the only time we had to pay federal is when I was doing a lot of contract work, I still live in fear of someone having screwed something up.  The IRS are a truly humorless group, and I always picture the agents from the matrix when I think of them.  They would give zero shit that someone in HR screwed up our withholdings.

As a result we end up procrastinating until we reach the point where it is either April or almost April and we are pushed into action to finally deal with it.  Last night once again we were relieved when it was finished.  For once we somehow dodged the bullet of having to pay state taxes, and are getting a small refund back from there.  We ended up doing just fine, and like every year we ask ourselves why we were so frightened of the process.  In part I guess it is because there is some magic number we are supposed to have paid in taxes for the year, and I feel like it is pulled out of thin air.  That it doesn’t really feel like it is based on anything we have control over.  I guess I just hate the fact that some agency has complete and total control over our fate.

Hail Yes

hailyes While we were out and about we needed to run a few errands, one of which was a trip by Target.  I pretty much avoid Wal-mart like the plague… not for some higher social justice reasoning, but instead because it is nearly impossible to get out of there in under an hours time.  They have 50 cash registers and maybe 3 open at any given time.  The addition of self checkout has improved this a bit, but still it ends up severely damaging my cool having to deal with the store.  So I generally opt for a trip to Target and the Grocery store separately to make up for that one Wal-mart trip.  I did see a rather sad sight while at Target, they had a big stack of copies of Defiance that they had on clearance for $13 a pop.  I considered picking one up for the 360, but then remembered that I am far less likely to play anything if it is on a console.

As we were leaving the store, the wind smelled like rain and there was a massive storm front rolling in from the north.  My wife turned to me and said… in true Oklahoma fashion “It looks like it is about to rain.”  Granted we had a conversation earlier that there was no chance of rain listed in the forecast.  As we walked to the car I replied “nope, it’s going to hail” as I saw little pieces of ice bouncing off the pavement.  So yeah… bright and sunshiny out one moment, dropping ice on my head the next…  you have to love Oklahoma weather.  Another thing of note… getting hit in the head by hail hurts like a mother.  In fact right now I am remembering that we still have our stuff from target out in my wife’s car… because when we got to the house it was still pelting ice at us and we opted NOT to carry it in.


eso 2014-04-01 06-01-39-42 Just north of the city of Daggerfall in Glenumbra is a skull and crossbones symbol on the map.  When you see one of these it marks the location of a “world boss”.  This one in particular is limbscather, a named lurcher/treant thing.  At level 7 he is damned near impossible to solo as is the case with most world bosses.  You can tell a world boss by the special unit frame and the number of red dots to either side represent just how difficult the encounter is.  In theory you can solo most single dot encounters, as you get to double dots it starts to get rougher and then finally the triple dot encounters will damned near always kill you.  When I first logged in I was milling around finishing up some quests, when guild members talked about pulling together a limbscather group.

One of the things I am always down for is killing world bosses, regardless of how much lower level they are.  In part because you are almost always guaranteed a filled soul gem from killing them.  Additionally sometimes they drop really nice blue loot for the level.  Even if you can’t use it, you can always deconstruct it for the chance of getting a blue temper to upgrade your gear later.  That is one of the things I love about the system, that you can take temper from one item to upgrade the quality of another item later.  We killed him a few times before we all got bored of it and moved on.  A few people managed to pick up the blue staff he drops, which I mistakenly thought was a healing staff… but is apparently a frost staff.

Spindleclutch Age

eso 2014-03-31 22-13-58-89 The overarching goal of the evening for me was to be able to get to the level that I could reliably tank Spindleclutch, the very first dungeon in the Daggerfall Covenant.  Almost a year ago we tried the dungeon in beta and had never managed to pull together a group since.  At that time it was a truly brutal experience, so we wanted to make sure we were at least level 12 before zoning in this time around.  Thankfully in the months between the dungeon got a good tuning pass, either that or we were simply more prepared for what came with it.  Back when we ran it that first time, the first pull of the dungeon managed to wipe us without mercy.  This time around it went much smoother and while we got a lot more mobs than you would in a World of Warcraft style dungoen, we were able to manage it.

eso 2014-03-31 22-23-19-79 The interesting thing about an Elder Scrolls Dungeon, is that tanking in them is far less like a WoW style dungeon, where you gather everything up and hold onto it while the party burns it down, but instead more like tanking in a MOBA.  As a Dragon Knight Sword and Board tank I have various tools at my disposal to temporarily taunt a mob onto me, through either the ransack morph or fiery grip.  As a result I spend most of the fights trying to temporarily distract the encounters and get them to focus on me just long enough for the damage to get them low enough to be able to finish them off.  The result is that players need to focus fire specific mob types to make sure they go down first, in order to survive the fight.  The various encounters are really good at employing group tactics, and at one point last night we had two healers healing each other.

eso 2014-03-31 22-25-21-84 There were definitely times however when I was needed to truly “tank” a mob, and I was able to do this fairly well.  While the game does not have a traditional aggro table, there were plenty of things I could do to either knock down the boss, taunt it, or yank it across the room to keep it from tearing apart my team mates.  I would not say that the game necessarily has a strict alignment to the holy trinity, and we entered the dungeon with a sub optimal group… namely two healers, a dps and a tank.  However the extra healing seemed to make up for the fact that we were really low on damage.  I think you could probably run the dungeon without a tank but instead just have to rely more on knockdowns and snares to burn down the encounter before it killed you.  I really enjoyed the dungeon in beta for all its brutality, but I have to say I enjoy the better tuned encounters a heck of a lot more.

eso 2014-03-31 22-52-28-23 My absolute favorite feature however has to be the way dungeon loot works.  Just like every other mob in the game, each player gets a personalized roll on the loot table.  However unlike the world bosses, every bit of this loot is tradable.  So this meant after each boss we killed, there was much swapping of gear around to make sure the item went to someone who could use it.  I wound up walking out of there with two blue tanky rings, tam got a damned nice blue two handed axe, rae a mana regen neck I believe (after I had to toin coss to decide who got it….  seriously where is the effing /roll command people), and I believe Damai walked with something but I cannot be sure.  I am anxious to do the dungeon again tonight if we can muster the people.  The quest bugged a little bit when trying to complete the dungeon, so we still do not have full credit for the place.

eso 2014-03-31 22-49-33-37 If you have a fear of spiders… Spindleclutch is going to be a rather terrifying experience.  I don’t necessarily like spiders having grown up in a house with brown recluse…  but I managed to get through without much issue.  Also there is this area, where you have to cross a broken down bridge held together only by spider webs, that did kinda tweak my vertigo a bit.  The dungeon looked absolutely amazing and it had a fun design that was not as on rails as Warcraft, but still funneled you towards the destination.  The only negative is that the experience while good was not great, but that is to be expected.  I think had we been able to complete the quest it would have been really good.  They had to nerf dungeon experience, in part because testers were living in them during the beta weekends.  I remember one group that ran Spindleclutch from level 10 to level 30.  Hopefully as we get more people into the level range we can get a bunch more guild dungeon runs going.

The Dragon Knight Comes

The morning after

Screenshot_20140330_182433 Yesterday was a really exciting day, and today I am in somewhat of a stupor from all the festivities.  As I talked about in my last couple of posts, yesterday was the beginning of the Elder Scrolls Online five day headstart.  Thing is this is definitely not my first game launch, in fact there is rarely a game launch that I do not participate in…  but this one just feels more personal.  I’ve known various people that have worked for various game companies, but this one is just different.  Elder Scrolls is a monumental franchise for me, and I started my fandom back with Daggerfall.  However never before has one of the people who I hang out with on an almost nightly basis…  part of the creation of something I love.

So more than anything I wanted this launch to go smoothly, for the health of the guild and the health of the game in general.  The launch of a new guild in a new game is an extremely stressful time for me.  Trying to get all the people going in the right direction is a challenge but more or less things seem to have gone extremely smoothly.  We’ve only had a few people who did not heed my bajillion posts about faction, and ended up rolling the wrong one.  I feel bad that they essentially have to start over now, but by being the wrong faction they will never be able to group with the rest of the guild.  This is one of the few confusing points, in that characters can live in multiple guilds… but functionally you can only group with your own faction.

The Dragon Knight Comes

Screenshot_20140330_200220 It’s odd for me to try and be objective about a game launch, when I have been playing the game in one form of another for over a year now.  The fact that I have played as much of it as I have, and that I still want to participate says as much as anything I could.  I’ve spent a lot of time in the “3 month mmo club”, but for whatever reason this is different.  Since I have reported so many things and watched them get fixed in subsequent builds, it feels as though I have more at stake here than I have in the past.  As of logging out last night I was just a little shy of dinging 11.  Honestly getting to level 8 or so is really easy, but from there on it slows down considerably.  Additionally for most of the day yesterday I was trying to stay in lock step with my friend Audrae.

The problem is I am fundamentally bad at questing as a group.  I am all about doing hard objectives with friends, but the piddly little things, it is rough to stay in step.  At one point yesterday I had to take an extended break, and I laid down for a bit.  When I came back we had no Rae, so I am guessing she fell asleep as well.  I piddled around after that, did a few things, grouped a bit and killed a world named mob as well as ran some other friends through Bad Mans Hollow.  At this point I am feeling very tanky, and my survival is probably as good as it has ever been in ESO.

Once I leave Glenumbra I will finally set out into mostly untested territory.  The characters that I have made it past the first real zone on were all Ebonheart, so for the most part Daggerfall Covenant will be fresh.  Towards the end of beta I purposefully tried to test only the early content, as to keep the later stuff fresh for me.  It was wierd, that so many people struggled to figure out what path they were going to take, or how they would create their character.  For the most part i have created “Belghast Sternblade” the Dragon Knight over a dozen times scattered among various beta tests.  It was the one character that really spoke to me, so I kept returning to playing it over and over… never tiring of the game play.

Guild is Hopping

Screenshot_20140331_061118 I will admit, when the betas opened up a bit more and folks started breaking out some negativity regarding the game… I was a bit concerned to say the least.  There is a fairly significant threshold of 50 members of the guild in order to open up the Guild Store.  There was a time where I wondered if we would actually be able to hit that in House Stalwart, but apparently those fears were completely unfounded.  As of this morning I am looking at the guild roster and we have 65 accounts in the guild.  The place is absolutely hopping and at this hour of the morning there are already a half dozen people in and playing.  Apparently all the work trying to make sure this was happening paid off, and I am starting to think about the various things we will be able to do if we even maintain half of these members at veteran levels.

Thing is… this is just the Imperial Edition and folks who ordered direction through Zenimax.  There will be another batch of players starting Tuesday, and another batch starting on the 4th again that didn’t pre-order for whatever reason.  As a result I still expect the guild to grow significantly.  When all is said and done we might be sitting around 100 members, which would make this one of our largest game launches in House Stalwart history.  The thing that is helping this time around is the Alliance of Awesome.  This has helped to funnel so many new and good people into Stalwart for the beginning of this game.  At this point I am going to have to start figuring out what the final guild infrastructure is going to look like, and who I will tag to be officers.  I tend to treat each game as a unique animal, and just because someone is an officer in one game does not immediately mean they will be in another.

Since we have a blended “family” going on right now, I also feel it is crucial to reach out and tag people from all the various camps, as well as the traditional stalwart folk.  So far I have to say everything seems to be blending nicely.  I was talking yesterday that while a lot of us know each other from twitter, this was the first time we had really been in the same guild.  I am thankful that everything has gone so smoothly.  For at time yesterday we had a dozen or more people hanging out in the “Bel is streaming” channel on mumble, and later today I should be posting the various stream segments up on youtube and adding them to the Elder Scrolls Online playlist.  However in the mean time you can go to my twitch streams past broadcasts tab to see them all.  All in all I think it was a very successful launch day, and one of the more successful ones I have experienced.  The real tests will be as they start adding more players.

Elder Scrolls Launch Day

Steampowered Sabbatical

Normally this morning you would have been reading about my misadventures playing a new to me game from my steam backlog.  However we are taking a week off from that feature, mainly because I knew I would be busy this morning with something else.  However we will get to that later, and the reasons why I got up at 5 am this morning to be prepared for it.  Instead today we are going to talk about a few games and the highlight of my day yesterday.  For awhile now I have been doing the “Bel Faffs About” thing where I stream a game as I play it, and invite people into my “Bel is Streaming” mumble channel.  The usual suspects are my guildies who come online and are entertaining so that I don’t have to.

Yesterday I got to hang out with some of my favorite people from twitter, namely @Gypsy_Syl, @NexusRangers, @GameByNight and after awhile the very awesome @TipaDaKnife.   I got to hang out the longest with Syl and it was a blast.  The only problem is I am so used to listening to her talk about video game music thanks to the amazing Battlebards podcast… it was a little weird to be talking about anything else.  Everyone was great and it made for a fun afternoon, even though after getting up at 4 am I was quite a little slap happy as the night went on.

Mithril or Bust

Landmark64 2014-03-29 17-44-37-40 Yesterday we played a lot of Landmark as we hung out, and the missions of the day were really two fold.  Firstly I wanted to try and finish my work on gathering the resources for the Mithril pick.  Currently this is the highest in progression you can go as far as mining, and thanks to the changes they made to the Founders Pick being able to harvest ANY tree… there is not a resource mining or wood that I cannot consume.  The other mission was to be able to craft the rest of the basic machines for my claim so that others can use them.  One of the odd things that was different from alpha is that there are both public and private machines.  The private machines are labelled as “Refining stations” and allow you to work resources at a progressively better rate, returning more finished materials than went into creating them.

Landmark64 2014-03-29 18-19-05-58 For some time now I have felt a little bit bad for grabbing such prime real estate, but not having done anything on it but clear the ground.  In the above screenshot you can see the foundation for Belgarde Keep from the spire, so it really is a very short run away.  The problem is as I progress through the crafting tiers I am in constant need of stone.  Yesterday at one point I decided to dig down in the desert for as long as I could and harvest as much stone as I could.  Unfortunately that happened to be exactly the same time @GameByNight decided to use the “teleport to friend” option.  I had been down there long enough that the ground above me was respawning leaving us essentially trapped underground.  Thankfully the evac to safety option works remarkably well.

Landmark64 2014-03-29 17-31-12-88 What you are seeing in the pictures represents roughly 350,000 stone worth of building.  I managed to gather 200k doing my “big dig” and poured another bit into it over the course of several trips.  Sometime soon I will have to do another one my grand harvesting missions and try and make some more progress.  Essentially I am building a greatly scaled up version of the building I created in alpha.  I am changing up the design significantly but not the overall building type.  I like big open air temple like spaces.  Essentially I am building much the same type of structures that I used to build in Minecraft.  The smooth tool and the ability to craft curved shapes is nice, but I really prefer straight and chiseled edges.

Elder Scrolls Launch Day

Watch live video from Belghast on TwitchTV
Last night I went to bed seriously early for me, after having gotten up at 4 am the day before.  I had heard rumor that the servers would be opening this morning for the Elder Scrolls Online slightly early, but was not certain that was going to be the case.  I ended up waking up about 4:45 and by the time I made coffee and got upstairs, there were a few other guildies also sitting on mumble waiting for things to open.  Sure enough a little bit after 5 am CST I was able to log in and create Belghast Sternblade for real.  Thing is… it did not take me terribly long on the character creator because I have created this character literally a dozen times now throughout a years worth of testing.  I am a simple person, and tend to create the same basic character in each game that I play.  So I managed to get in extremely quickly and create the guild long before anyone else logged in.

Watch live video from Belghast on TwitchTV
Since early this morning I have been hanging out in the “Bel is Streaming” channel as lots of other people have popped in to join me.  Honestly far too many to list here, but it has prove to be a really enjoyable and entertaining day.  I will be exporting the stream to youtube eventually but here I am posting the various twitch links.  If nothing else they are fun to open up and listen into our conversation in the background like it was a podcast.  I am for the most part live streaming all day long.  While this is a headstart, this is one of the smoothest launches I have participated in.  THis folks is why they had us stress test the hell out of stuff during the weekend betas, and every indication shows that they learned a lot of information.  The mega server tech seems to be holding up and scaling well.

Watch live video from Belghast on TwitchTV
Right now I am having a blast, so if you have access to the House Stalwart mumble server, pop by and say hi.  I plan on going right back to the game, that is open in the background and continuing my odyssey.  However I wanted to take a moment and make my post before it got any later in the day.  Hopefully you all are having as great of a weekend as I am.

Elder Scrolls Online Headstart

Prelaunch Countdown

At the point I am writing this blog post we are roughly 24 hours from the launch of Elder Scrolls Online.  If you are really curious about the exact time… someone has created a page dedicated to that… with Europe Final Countdown playing embedded of course.  Last night I made it to bed at a normal hour… or at least normal for me, but this morning my body conspired against me and decided that 4 am was time to wake up.  While I had not planned this, it is actually going to feed into my idea of being up for the launch the moment the servers open.  So tonight I will be heading to bed early, and trying to wake up in time for the launch in the morning.  I normally get up at 5:30 in the morning during the work week, so really this will be good in the long run since Monday will not be quite so hellacious.

I have to say at this point I am completely amped, but also nervous.  One of my favorite and least favorite things about a new game is pulling together the guild.  It is always a struggle to make sure everyone is rolling in the right place, with the right faction.  There are always opening day adjustments as you shift this thing or that, and trying to deploy the logistics to be able to get everyone moving in the right direction.  This is by no means my first launch pulling together a guild, and likely it will not be the last either.  No matter how much experience I have in making things work…  I still get the jitters hoping it all goes off without a hitch.  SWTOR was without a doubt the smoothest, since we were able to create the guild before launch through their web based tools, but even then there was plenty of confusion among the folks that were too lazy to sign up before the guild placement happened.

Elder Scrolls Online Headstart

eso 2014-02-15 11-38-45-72 I thought I would devote this mornings post to getting everyone ready for the big event.  There are several things about this launch that should make things significantly easier.  Firstly there are no servers to worry with, there is the North American mega server and the European mega server.  I do not however know if characters cross over between the two.  We will be focusing on the North American mega server for this, and I am hoping that our European friends will have decent lag there or even be able to roll there at all.  Have I mentioned how much I hate regions in video games?  House Stalwart will be aligning ourselves with the Daggerfall Covenant, as was decided in a poll that ran some time ago.  This means that in order to play with the guild and group easily, you also need to roll Daggerfall Covenant.  Guilds span factions, but it is logistically impossible to group together at low levels if you are of two different factions.

Thanks to the preorder bonuses however you will be able to roll any race in any faction.  If you did not preorder, then grats… if you want to play with the bulk of the guild you have to play either a Redguard, Breton or Orsimer.  Really if you were interesting in this game at all, you should have preordered to long before this point to make sure you could have that very important preorder perk.  Those who did preorder… I am sure we will see plenty of elves in our guild as a side effect.  Most of the people I know going cross faction classes are doing so in order to play a Bosmer, Dunmer or Altmer.  I personally will be rolling an Imperial because it is the race that best fits the character of “Belghast”.

Getting Invited to the Guild

As I said earlier, my goal is to be up at the time the servers go live and get the guild created asap.  One of the cool things about Elder Scrolls Online is the fact that you can friend people at an account level.  The easiest way to get invited to the guild is to friend @Belghast, as the game uses a system similar to twitter.  My goal is to get several people who can do invites in the interim and then deal with creating a formal “officer” structure later.  Additionally I will be using the Alliance of Awesome Reddit thread to organize invites for the “new to Stalwart” crowd.  For those who have access currently to our mumble server, I will be streaming the launch tomorrow in the “Bel is Streaming” channel.  So that is a really quick way to get invited is just to pop into the channel and ask for one.

The only other real decision looming on the horizon is what campaign we want to choose for Cyrodil.  There is a thread up on the Elder Scrolls website listing the various campaign names.  At this point they are all named after the iconic weapons that you get in the Elder Scrolls series by doing quests for the various Daedra.  As a result some of them are going to be far more popular than others.  I would imagine that Wabbajack would fill up before any of the others, thanks to the fond memories of Sheogorath.  Other names will appeal to the “sounds cool” crowd, and Auriel’s Bow will be full for the “I pick whatever the first name is in a list” crowd.  Right now I am thinking either Volendrung or Dawnbreaker might be good options.  Both are iconic weapons, but also not as iconic as say the Wabbajack.  However this is something we can decide later.

Big Easy Summary

  • Daggerfall Covenant Faction
  • North American Mega Server

If you have any questions feel free to post them here, or over on the Reddit Thread, or via Twitter, or ask them the day of via Mumble.  It is my goal to make this as clean and orderly a process as possible.  There are always some issues with any game launch, but hopefully thanks to the copious amounts of stress testing we have done to this game… it will go nice and smooth.