Paul Sage, Creative Director at Zenimax, had a nearly two hour long question and answer session with Elderscrolls OTR to discuss the future of The Elder Scrolls Online. And wow, did he have a lot to say. And, it was really good stuff! You can watch the interview at this YouTube link. For those like me who don’t want to sit through over an hour of interview (which I did anyway ) dulfy has a summary transcript over on dulfy.net. For those who want an even more summary list, I’ll give that a swing.
- There will be new content added for PvP and PvE.
- Class balancing will be an ongoing process taken deliberately so new problems are not created.
- Veteran Ranks are being completely overhauled and eventually supplanted with the Champion System. He said, “It is a bit like the alternative advancement system (AA) in other games (i..e EQ1, EQ2.)”
- Dyes are the next customization option. (On a personal note, I’ve visions of Ultima Online with this one!) There will be more, like hair, or the art director will go postal.
- Combat is always being tweaked to look and perform better.
- You must watch QuakeCon as there will be more announcements.
So I’m not going to run through the entire interview line by line and conjecturalize over it. There are plenty enough e-zines doing that, and I’m sure you can find them easily enough. However, there is one thing I do want to write about. Every time I read a comment that equates to, “if they’d only listened to me in beta they could have fixed this,” I want to go all Edward Kenway on someone. This sort of comment shows two things.
- An unbelievable arrogance where someone thinks making a comment during beta will solve world hunger… I mean solve all their perceived game design issues. They think they have all the answers because they play all the games. In fact, they believe if they sat down to create a game, it would be the best game ever. Their mother even told them so!
- These gamers have no clue what beta testing really is, and their misconception is an ignorance writ large on their trollish foreheads.
Let’s get one thing straight before I continue this rant. I have a degree in Computer Science. I’ve taken software engineering courses out the ying-yang. My senior project (along with the other members of my team) was writing a software package for a real world customer – a software package they used for at least a decade I know of. And I’ve helped develop software, mostly web based business apps, from that point on even though I went more into systems administration than programming. Those are my credentials. I’ve done it. I’ve run beta testing as part of my curriculum AND my job. And here’s where all those TESO beta testers are hanging their ignorant asses out to dry.
At the point software goes into beta, it is a fully realized product. That is not to say it’s bug free. It means all the major components of the software are in place, functional in a programmatic sense and the end package is easily seen in the beta product. When a program goes into beta testing, they are looking for things internal QA didn’t catch. It is the last tightening of the code before release. Except for “minor” changes needed to correct bugs, logical inconsistencies or user interface confusion/functionality (and that is a completely subjective human interpretation,) the code in beta is the code that will go to market.
IF there is a logic issue so bad it requires a complete rewrite of the base code, the developer’s only choice during beta is to go back to square one and start over – that’s development boys and girls; not alpha testing. You do not make major changes to the design in beta. Let me reiterate, YOU DO NOT MAKE MAJOR CHANGES TO THE DESIGN IN BETA. You’re only option in beta is to play or fold, and in today’s gaming industry the fold is really an all in at the turn with the worst possible river. If your program doesn’t make it out of beta, it is dead. That’s fact in this day and age. When a producer looks at a product that fails beta, they have only one thing to decide: whether to throw good money after bad. Trust me, I know from personal experience they will not throw good money after bad. At that point your software is still-born.
So to all those TESO beta testers who write, “if they’d only have listened to me during beta” get over yourself. They did listen to you. That’s what consoles were delayed and why the entire Veteran Rank system is getting an overhaul. They just couldn’t do it during beta because that risked everything. It’s better to have a flawed product on the market than no product at all. So do yourself a favor and shut up. You’re just pissing on the shoes of people who’ve already heard you.
Wow, I feel much better for having written that. Thanks for reading it. As recompense for dragging you through my little rant, I do have another TESO video for you to watch. It’s the quest Hope Lost. The little hamlet of Moira’s Hope is overrun by bloodfiends, and it’s up to me to liberate them. This isn’t TESO’s best quest. On a scale of one to ten I’d give it a four. But it did get me to 25th level, and that’s what really counts! So, without further delay, here’s Hope Lost.