A change has happened, one that has part of the community in a fit of rage, claiming the change will be the down fall to ESO. It has sparked the “when will ESO go F2P” debate once again. The change I am talking about is the changes Zenimax has put on the API for mod developers.
For those unfamiliar with what the API does, basically it is what mod developers use to grab specific information directly from the game. Zenimax has now removed a lot of the features that mod developers were using, which has made several mods completely incompatible with ESO. Are these new restrictions really so bad that Zenimax deserves to have such rage directed at them? Not in any way possible. The changes are nothing but Zenimax providing the community the game they’ve been promising. An Elder Scrolls Game.
Now, some people are going to say, “But Zenimax has always said ESO is a game where you can play the way you want to play.” This is true, they did say that. But they were referring to the semi-classless design, the ability to explore, having a major role in the community as a crafter and being a PvP/PvE player. Nowhere did they say you’d have full access to game generated information or formulas without limitations or restrictions.
Of course there are those that claim being able to see numbers make for a more complex end game experience. Being able to see numbers doesn’t add anything to the complexity of end game. If anything, the lack of numbers makes it a more complex experience. Forcing the player to figure out why he is dying without having a mod tell him. This forces the player to discuss with other players about how to do certain fights, build ideas, and even stat priority.
If you look at everything Zenimax has done with the game, it has all been to keep your attention on the screen, playing the game, not the UI. These changes are a direct reflection of that. They do not want their players having to worry about a mod. As I state in this article, everything that has been removed is still available within the game using Zenimax’s UI.
Numbers do not increase the quality of a game, nor the experience for the player. Dark Age of Camelot, a game a lot of people use as a reference point for ESO’s PvP system, had no damage meters. No access to a LUA scripting language. We were able to change the layout and visuals of the UI but that is about it. Yet, no one complained that they could not see their DPS. If you were alive at the end of the fight and the other person wasn’t, that’s all you needed.
DAoC did have a combat log, but that in no way provided a player with any information such as total DPS. Look at the very successful games that existed before the LUA Addon craze that came with World of Warcraft.
The MMO community is constantly requesting game developers to be more innovative with their features, get away from the “WoW Clone”. As soon as a company does something different, they are presented with nothing but rage. Zenimax makes a change to their API, removing access to certain features that have become common within the MMO genre. However, those same games that offer these common features have also be contested as “WoW Clones”.
Now let’s take a look at what exactly has been changed with the API and what all the rage is about. Keep in mind that these changes only effect the way Addons work with the game. Preventing authors from creating a mod that goes against what ESO has been designed around.
Locked down access to combat events so that only your own outgoing spells can be monitored with any level of detail. Incoming damage and healing from spells have been restricted to only showing the value and not the name of the spell, type of damage or healing, or who is casting it.
So we’re able to see how much we’re getting hit/healed for, but not who or what type of damage it is. Okay, so again Zenimax wants us to pay attention to the game not the UI. With this change we now have to watch the game to see what we’re being hit by. For example if you get hit by a giant fireball that is going to be FIRE damage, not frost or shock. You also have to watch your screen so you can see WHO is hitting you, and where it came from. Same with heals. If you’re in a dungeon party it would be pretty obvious that the healer in the group is the one healing you, all you need to know is for how much.
So is this a bad change? Sure for anyone who wants to stare at a mod, I completely agree it is a bad change. Does it affect the way the game plays, or how you will play? Not at all. We can still have a mod that displays your DPS both taken and given, as well as seeing heals you’ve received.
Restricted information that GetUnitBuffInfo has access to. It can now only be used to discover long term buffs about the local player. As such, the final return value “isLongTermBuff” has been removed since the API only returns long-term buffs.
This one is a big one, one that has a lot of people in a rage. Not being able to see your bonuses from your active abilities is a bit of a pain. Too bad ESO doesn’t have some form of visual effect on your character that displays when you get a short term buff. Wait a second, they do have that. When you receive a short term buff a visual cue is provided within the UI. Either your character has a visual effect or your status bars will appear differently. So the information is provided to you, just not in the visual way World of Warcraft does it, with pretty little boxes that take up valuable space on your screen.
Long Term effects can still be seen by quickly glancing at your character information window.
So is this a bad change? No. It doesn’t change the way we play the game. All the information that the mods would have provided by reading the API are already available within the game. You can either see the long term bonuses by opening your stats panel, or short term abilities by looking at your resource bar or your character itself. They will have different effects on them based on your bonus. The challenge is remembering which effect looks like what.
Locked down access to Unit information and ability cast functionality. Removed API command GetUnitCastingInfo
So they removed the ability for authors to create a mod that tells you when someone is casting a spell. If you’re actively watching the screen you can clearly see the person performing an action. Along with this change it also removes the ability for an author to create a mod that will display in giant letters across your screen that says interrupt now, and in turn preventing people from creating an automated interrupt mod. This removal is just another way of Zenimax trying to keep its player base focused on the game, not having to rely on a mod to play the game.
Once again, I ask, is this a bad change? As with the previous ones, no. Everything that has been removed is easily visible within the game itself. Of course it takes a bit more of your attention to ensure you interrupt everything correctly.
They also removed the ability to see you target’s information. So if you’re fighting a player from another faction, you’ll now longer be able to see what buffs they have on, how much stamina, or magicka they have.
As before, this change isn’t anything major. In order to keep the game competitive you should not be able to view the other player’s resources. Having access to that information including their buffs will completely change the way you play the game and can provide an advantage over the other player if they do not have that optional addon. For example, if I had the addon and the other person didn’t, I would be able to anticipate that player’s next move based on his remaining resources.
Mods should not offer any form of additional advantage over someone who does not have them. That goes against everything Zenimax has worked so hard on.
ESO is an Elder Scrolls game, and as such, no Elder Scrolls game I’ve seen has floating numbers, detailed combat logs, and statistics. These changes are Zenimax standing by their promise to the community to provide a game that is more about the player skill than that of an automated mod.