Matt Firor’s State of the Game

Garbrac April 23, 2014 7 Comments » Share
Posted By: Matt Firor
As it’s now two and a half weeks since we officially launched on April 4, I think it’s a good time to bring everyone up to date on The Elder Scrolls Online service, maintenance windows, and what we’re doing to add content, make the game better, and address some issues that are near and dear to the community.

First and foremost, please know that we are doing everything we can to combat the gold spammers and bots – especially ones that “camp” dungeon bosses – that you see in game. I play the game every day; I see them too, and yes, they drive me crazy. We have had a daily running battle with them ever since the game launched – moving them from global chat, to in-game email, to creating bogus guilds and inviting players – and we continue to take measures to keep them away from players, even when it isn’t always apparent that we are. Most of the battle has been on the back end of the game – we regularly ban accounts involved in spam and bot activity – our teams are working on better systems to identify those accounts and characters that are doing black market activities, and we’re also working on some game feature refinement to make it harder for them to acquire gold in the first place. Fighting black market activity like gold selling spam and farming bots is a marathon, not a sprint, but we will do whatever we can to reduce their impact on the game.

The scope of the black market activity accounts for up to 85% of Customer Service emails/calls. Because of this huge influx of contact relating to this one issue, our CS team has been slower to react to other problems than planned – our sincere apologies if you have been held up for a long period of time waiting for CS to respond to you. Again, our goal is to keep this activity away from you so you don’t have to contact Customer Service in the first place.

Also very visible was last week’s gold “duping” (duplication) bug – where players could manipulate stacks of items in their inventory to create copies. We fixed the problem and banned the accounts of the worst offenders And yes, we erroneously caught up some legitimate accounts in that ban, for which we apologize – all erroneously banned accounts were reinstated within about 8 hours. Contrary to some reports, exploitation of this bug did not result in destabilizing the ESO economy in any way. We did turn off guild banks to limit the spread of the problem, but that was only until we put up a new version of the game that fixed the exploit later that evening.

All of these fixes have resulted in several more maintenance periods than we planned for – we know that everyone wants to play the game and hates downtime – but please be aware that every time we take down the servers for maintenance, it is either to fix a problem or put up an update that makes the game better. We are working on shortening the length of maintenances, this will get better over time.

So, here’s the list of our more prominent fixes since launch, as well as info about ongoing support that we’re doing for ESO:

  • Fixed the bug where a small percentage of players lost their expansion bank slots.
  • Fixed quest-blocking bugs, especially ones in Coldharbour, that prevented players from completing either a main quest step, or the Coldharbour zone.
  • Fixed many other quest bugs not related to the above where items/NPCs didn’t spawn properly.
  • Fixed the Greenshade (Aldmeri Dominion zone) problem, which caused the zone to crash every few hours. This one was fixed on 4/4, but was a problem during early access.
  • Fixed two dupe issues: the above one involving stacked items, and another (on a much smaller scale) involving crafting hireling emails.
  • Put many back-end fixes and procedures in place to block black market gold farmer activity.

We still have much to do – there still other quest problems on our fix list, most of them involving the situation where they become “de-synched” from the zone and don’t spawn their items or NPCs properly. We are in process of putting up our first major update to the game on our Play Test Server (PTS), which includes many updates to the game, including class and weapon ability tweaks, content fixes, and updates to almost all game systems. It also contains our new end-game Adventure Zone, Craglorn, with Veteran content aimed at 4 and 12-man groups. So stay tuned for PTS patch notes for all the other fixes that we’ve been working on. This is a major update to the game, so it will be on PTS for at least a week or 10 days for testing before we take it live.

We’re working on fixing problems, we’re combatting black market gold farmers, and we have a hefty new patch coming shortly. ESO is already an awesome game, and it will only get better from here. Thanks for your patience and support, and I’ll see you in Tamriel. – Matt

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7 Comments

  1. Bucket April 24, 2014 at 7:30 am

    Love this dev team. P2P or go home

  2. Messy1 April 24, 2014 at 6:36 am

    I like Mr. Firor's statement. Honestly, they must be pulling out their hair trying to combat these gold spammers and bots. He is taking the right approach to trying to safeguard the game and then making amends to inadvertently affected players.

    Reality is all of this junk with gold spammers, bugs, and glitches has to be cleared up before they introduce any meaningful new content or changes in game mechanics and that's okay with me.

  3. Mephisto April 24, 2014 at 12:48 am

    I heard about some of the players getting mistreated either with the ban hammer or lousy costumer service. But I've also heard how they are going out of their way to make amends.

  4. Thorgrum April 23, 2014 at 6:05 pm

    Ownership of a mistake is often the best measure of someones charecter. Particularly on the internet where no one is ever wrong… This is a clear statement to me, the consumer, that the company I am choosing to invest my hobby money, and most importantly my time, actually gives a shit when they screw up. Thats worth the subscription right there IMHO.

    Ive been on the otherside where subscribers who find problems are shouted down, ignored, banned from forums and often worse. I cant emphasise enough how important it is to have an actual partnership approach. The people who are going to stick with the title and pay the monthly fee are likely to be the 25-45 crowd that has a family, career etc. They get that crap happens the world isnt a perfect place. Tell you what, its going to make the next down time easier for me to handle when this approach is taken.

    Here's hoping it continues long term, and that others see the value I see.

  5. DeHei April 23, 2014 at 4:43 pm

    I like that they do much in this game. You see if you pay for a game they are really interested to work with you to make it as good as it is :cool:

    similar to WoW, i guess. Better then F2P games! ;)

  6. Garbrac April 23, 2014 at 4:31 pm

    I like that they also acknowledged that some innocent players also got hit by the ban hammer. Shows they aren't too big to take ownership of their mistakes.

  7. Thorgrum April 23, 2014 at 12:02 pm

    Nice note on the state of the game. He took a good amount of time to discuss the important issue of the day, the dupe bug, the gold spammers and people getting banned. Its not a perfect scenario for anyone but the fact that he was candid about it and took ownership is really a breath of fresh air. I dont know about any of you but Ive played MMO's (*cough* lotro/turbine *cough*) where you would never get this kind of candor. We are lucky in that sense, we arent left to our own devices.

    I was discouraged that lag, low fps, stuttering etc were not addressed specifically. Its affected me in cities to the point where Ive just logged out because I couldnt move. Now this dosent happen all the time but my time to play is SO limited during the week (an hour a night is good night) that this can kill a session. Im hopeful that within his proclamation of working to fix things it gets looked at if not one of the priorities.

    Otherwise, for a new game at 3 weeks I think they are doing pretty good and his approach of slow and steady is a good one.

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