Tag Archives: ESO

Winning at all costs…and the death of honour

Anger, hatred and violence have always been a part of human DNA. That’s why every society has a system of justice and mechanisms for punishing those who transgress against the laws of society.

Those laws are the ‘big sticks’ that make it possible for so many aggressive humans to live in close proximity to each other, but there are cultural laws as well. Concepts of equality, honour and fair play are the ‘soft’ laws that make us want to obey the big stick laws because failure to do so means that we risk being ostracized by our peers.

Or it did when I was a kid.

I remember playing some kind of make believe conflict with the neighbour’s kids. There were four of us in total. Joseph was about my age – eight – while his sister and brother were a couple of years younger.

Joseph was a bit bossy and he made me want to beat him, just because. So I came up with a brilliant plan whereby I would trick Joseph into thinking that I was on his side against the two younger kids. In reality, I’d set myself up as the ‘leader’ of the younger kids. I guess they were a bit sick of their older brother too.

We carried out my plan and the plan worked. We won, but I will never forget the look of contempt and betrayal I saw in Joseph’s eyes.

Triumph evaporated, and I stuttered something stupid like “but it’s just a game!” Only it wasn’t just a game, and Joseph knew it; lying and cheating are lying and cheating no matter what the reason.

I learned a life changing lesson that day, and it boiled down to one thing – the end never justifies the means.

That concept was taught at the Catholic primary school we all attended, but it was not until that awful day that I realised why the end doesn’t justify the means. It’s because of what it says about us, and what it does to us.

If you believe that certain, reprehensible actions or even illegal actions are ok because of X, you will eventually come to believe that winning justifies anything and everything. Winning means power, and power trumps honour any day because honourable people rarely win.

It’s a circular argument that has gained more and more adherents as neo-liberalism has taken hold all over the world. Money means power, and power is now the greatest ‘good’, so anything is justified so long as it makes money. Here in Australia, the Banking Royal Commission revealed just how much our financial institutions have taken that concept to heart:

‘Declaring that “choices must now be made”, Justice Hayne also referred some of the nation’s biggest company names to regulators for possible criminal or civil action for the way they treated their customers.’

https://www.smh.com.au/business/banking-and-finance/the-banking-royal-commission-final-report-at-a-glance-20190203-p50vg2.html

And while expediency gradually became the greatest good, honour devolved into a pathetic concept fit only for ‘Care Bears’.

Remember them? The cute little cartoon bears who solved problems by doing good things?

I watched a lot of Care Bears videos when the Offspring was little, but these days, the name has become a perjorative, especially in the gaming community. Care Bears are seen as weak players who can be bullied without consequence.

Is that an ethical shift brought about by the games being played? Or do those games reflect a society that no longer values compassion and honour?

I’ve never seen myself as a Care Bear because I will always fight back if attacked, but I won’t cheat. Ever. If I can’t win by honourable means, I’d rather lose.

And this brings me to the anger that prompted this post. Yesterday, I discovered that ESO [Elder Scrolls Online], a game I have loved for a couple of years now, actively encourages something that I can only describe as ‘suicide bombing’.

No, not the real world kind of bombing, the PVP equivalent. PVP stands for ‘Player vs Player’, and as the name suggests, players get to fight each other instead of fighting computer generated monsters.

Back when I started playing MMOs, roughly 20 years ago, PVP was supposed to be the only real test of a player’s skill. In some games, it probably was. In others, especially those that allowed ‘open world pvp’, it became a way for players to gang up and terrorize lone players. This kind of behaviour even has a name: ganking.

Yesterday, I learned from a fellow Guildie [member of a guild of players] that in ESO PVP there are a couple of built-in skills – i.e. deliberately created by the developers, not just ‘exploits’ created by the players – that allow players go invisible, sneak into a group of opposing players and…detonate their armour, ‘killing’ a lot of players at once. This is, apparently, a winning strategy.

I was shaken at what this said about ESO and the players who used this strategy to win. Being kind of naive, I assumed that all of my Guildies would feel just as shocked. Some were, and piped up in agreement. Others said things like ‘you don’t have to use it’ [meaning the suicide bomber tactic]. Others must have felt a little shame because they came back with the old ‘its just a game’ response, or, ‘just because I kill people in game doesn’t mean I kill them in RL’ [Real Life].

That last comment made me see red and I said something about how normalizing such attitudes can have real life consequences. The example I gave was the pathetic excuse for a human being who planned and carried out the New Zealand massacres not long ago.

Someone piped up with “surely you don’t believe video games turn people into killers?”

The one that really threw me though, was a dismissive, “oh is that all? We have incidents like that every day”.

I’ve never believed that video games turn kids into homicidal monsters, but the normalization of violence in real life, and the need to win at any cost, which is reinforced by many of these games, is a form of conditioning. It validates the individual’s wants, right or wrong.

That lack of empathy or care for others was demonstrated in a newspaper article back in April or May in which the writer basically said that his grandfather was in his eighties and wouldn’t mind popping off to save the economy…

Politicians here, and in other Western countries, have not been quite as blatant, but the emphasis on the economy at the cost of lives has been clear. And no one from the mainstream media has connected up the dots and said “hang on, so you don’t care if the elderly die?”

What continues to shock me is not that politicians can be so callous, but that we, the public, don’t rise up in protest. We accept it as a valid argument.

When did we lose sight of fair play, and justice, and compassion for the weak?

When did we forget what being honourable actually means?

When did we stop caring?

Meeks


ESO and the kitchen sink…

I promise, this post will be unlike anything you’ve ever seen before! Mwahahaha…

– serious face –

One of the things I love about ESO [Elder Scrolls Online] is the powerful, and very flexible housing system. All my gold goes on recipes for housing ‘furniture’. But while I can make a great looking bath tub, complete with steam rising from the water, there is no recipe yet for kitchen sinks, or bathroom sinks for that matter. And don’t get me started on the lack of loos!

Ahem. In an odd twist, the very lack of a kitchen sink has generated more innovation amongst ESO housing enthusiasts than just about anything else I can think of. And I’m obsessed as well. 🙂

The video below [not mine!] shows how to create a couple of kitchen sinks from other ‘things’. When you smoosh these things together, you get some amazing results:

Smile. 🙂

Meeks


A naughty weekend in Warrandyte

No! Not that kind of weekend…;) This kind of weekend:

The lighting effects are truly glorious in Elder Scrolls Online, and they inspired me to create classically inspired interiors for my in-game house. That involved finding recipes, gathering ingredients and finally crafting beautiful items like:

…the goblets and knick knacks you can see displayed on that shelving.

I also splurged and bought a very expensive recipe for a glass goblet and some ‘food’. In this last screenshot, you can see my wedge of cheese, the bread platter, and some kebabs. Dinner chez moi. 🙂

I loved the player housing in Final Fantasy XIV, but the housing and control in ESO are an order of magnitude better. Harder to master, but I think the effects speak for themselves. And yes, I did spend a lot of time playing this weekend. But I also spent a lot of time, and most of my energy mowing. I literally did not have enough oomph left over to write. Today, though, I will make up for lost time.

cheers

Meeks

 

 


House hunting on ESO

I’ve been playing ESO [Elder Scrolls Online] for quite a few months now, and whilst I’ve enjoyed learning the game, I’ve also missed not having a player ‘house’ of my own. Player housing was one of the things that kept me at FFXIV for so many years. Anyway, I think I’ve finally found the house of my dreams! I can’t afford it yet, but now I have something to aim for, and here it is:

That’s my character, looking down at the house and walled garden.

The player housing in ESO comes in four five sizes:

  1. a room at an inn,
  2. a small house with no garden [it’s fully instanced and you teleport to it],
  3. a small house with a garden [I think that’s the category my house occupies,
  4. medium houses with gardens and
  5. walled estates, some of which can be truly huge.

As you’d expect, the price for most of the housing depends on size and the amenities offered. The largest estates also have game-play requirements that must be met before you can lay your money down.

Before I tell you how much my house will cost, let me show you some more views. This first one is the view that sold me on the house:

I’m stand on a large deck that leads to the front door. Because it’s so high up, I actually get a view over the top of the walled garden to the river beyond [most houses have no view]. The house is called Sleek Creek House and it’s located in an area called Reaper’s March. As an Aussie, that vista feels strangely like home. 🙂

The next view is from the shallows, looking back up at the house. The graphics are truly incredible, especially the quality of the light. Oh, and there are gathering nodes right outside the garden!:

Next up is a view of the small town that overlooks the house. It’s called Rawl’hka. Sounds like something out of Vokhtah, doesn’t it?

Apart from being very picturesque, Rawl’hka also contains all the amenities available in the large cities – stablemaster, crafting, bank, guild traders, and what appears to be a large, vibrant player population.

And now the fly in the ointment. Sleek Creek House costs 335,000 gold. I currently possess 38,000 gold. I’m not going to do the math because I’ll simply become depressed. The important thing is that I have a goal. Now I just have to find a way to achieve it.

“Everyone needs a reason to get up in the morning.” 😀

cheers,

Meeks


Elder Scrolls Online [ESO] — first impressions

This post first appeared on my Medium publication, Tikh Tokh.

Disclaimer: I’m an older gamer whose main interests are crafting, exploration, lore, game design and aesthetics. If you want to know if ESO has the best dungeons or the most exciting PVP, you’ve come to the wrong place.

So…first impressions:

“God, the characters are ugly.”

“Help! The camera is awful!”

“Bloody hell, how do you move around in this game?”

But then there came a moment when I saw my first ‘mansion’…

…and the graphics whore in me kicked in. Jaw agape, I wandered through this empty mansion and was transported back to my favourite game of all time – Vagrant Story. Created by Square Enix, Vagrant Story was probably the most beautiful game ever developed for the first PlayStation console, and the graphics had the same effect on me.

But this article isn’t about Vagrant Story, it’s about ESO, and the reason I bring the comparison up so early in the piece is because this was the moment when all my other first impressions faded into insignificance. I still hated the appearance of my character [and all the npcs]. I still found moving around difficult, and battling excruciatingly hit or miss, but…the beauty of the ‘world’ had me hooked.

The following is a watery vista just to the north of Balmora:

The next is a close-up view of the texture of a wall in Balmora. The dark shapes are shadows from a tree:

Before playing ESO, I honestly thought Final Fantasy XIV [FFXIV] was the most beautiful MMORPG currently available. I still think FFXIV is beautiful in that distinctly Asian, manga-esque way, but I no longer think it’s the best out there. ESO is.

The grass and bushes in ESO are thicker, richer, more real looking. The textures are a million times better, and the abundance of fauna, both large and small, make the environment feel alive. Plus the whole landscape is full of things to find, but more on that later. Time now for some negatives.

I began this article by saying that ESO characters are ugly. I stand by that. Nevertheless, I do acknowledge that my aesthetic may not appeal to everyone. I have played Western MMOs [WoW, GW2 and a couple of forgettables], but the bulk of my playing time has been on Japanese or Korean MMOs. Bear that in mind as you look at the following screenshots. The first is of a Dark Elf male and a Nord female:

I love character customisation, but I found it next to impossible to create attractive characters in ESO. The faces shown above are two of the most attractive ones, but I don’t think either is that attractive.

The two characters above are from Asian MMOs. The character on the left is from my brief foray into Blade and Soul. Loved the aesthetic of the characters, hated the game. The character on the right is from FFXIV. Both are gorgeous, and as a female player I make no apology for prefering them to the ESO offering.

I’m not impressed with the ESO body aesthetic either:

To me, the legs in ESO look too short for the bodies, but that could just be me. The monotony of the faces, however, is not my imagination. It is possible to create some differences between races, but within races, all the faces come out looking almost identical. As for the Cat and Lizard races…rolls eyes. Really? Stick an unmodified cat head on a human body and that’s it? Instant Cat race? The less said about those two races the better.

And now to the camera and movement settings in ESO. Having the camera locked to the head of the character may work in first person shooters, but for those of us who prefer a 3rd person perspective — i.e. seeing our characters from behind as they move about — the camera is nauseating, literally. You can’t just point to some ‘object’ with the mouse and look at it. You have to move the character until the cross hairs at head level pan over the object you want to check out.

The camera setting also means that the character has to be pointed at and looking at any enemy it needs to fight. Getting that ‘head camera angle’ just right in 3rd person view is tricky, very tricky. Again, I imagine that the camera setting would make fighting in PVP easier as you wouldn’t have to worry about lining up the crosshair, it would just be ‘there’. Pity I don’t do PVP.

You can change the key bindings for actions and weapon skills, but after much effort I finally gave up and learned to use the default setup, more or less. These settings include:

  • left mouse button for ‘Attack’ [with your weapon]
  • right mouse button for block, and
  • left & right mouse buttons together to interrupt

Actual weapon skills are handled by the number keys, 1–5. This means you can only ever have five of the total available weapon skills active at the one time. [I haven’t reached the level at which I get weapon swap which will effectively give me another 5 weapon skills to work with and I’m ignoring Ultimates for now].

Do I enjoy the battling? Not particularly, but I’m now able to hold my own. In time I may actually become reasonably proficient at fighting. -sigh-

Still on the subject of fighting, I have to say that the solo ‘dungeons’ [delves?] are fast becoming my favourite parts of the game. Most of these instanced, solo events are part of a quest chain and occur underground, or in some dungeon-like area.

This is the map of the Vassir-Didanat Mine dungeon:

These instanced dungeons can be completed on your own or by casually joining other players who are in the same place at the same time. No need to join a party, just tag along helping each other as needed. Great fun.

Returning to the camera settings, another problem is that you can’t just sweep the mouse over the environment when you’re looking for something. This can make gathering tricky as collectables aren’t marked in any way. You have to get up close and personal, and touch the object with the crosshair before you can see its label.

In the following screenshot, the object circled in red is a maple log:

If you love gathering and crafting, you will eventually learn to recognize the appearance of collectables from a distance, but as you can see from the above screenshot, collectables don’t exactly leap out of the environment at you. Yet despite this, or perhaps because of it, each rune, flower, or lump of wood I discover feels like an achievement.

This sense of accomplishment is in stark contrast to FFXIV where gathering is ‘easy’ but horribly boring. Sadly, crafting in ESO is the exact reverse. You rock up to a crafting station, choose the item you want to craft and hit a button. If you have the required materials, the item is crafted without any further input from the crafter. Boring….

By contrast, crafting in FFXIV is a mini-game and actually requires both strategy and skill.

In an attempt to make crafting in ESO a little more substantial, higher levels require ‘traits’ that must be researched. Researching a trait involves the destruction of an ‘item’ [weapon, gear, whatever] in order to learn the trait it contains. Researching a trait takes 6 hours and again, requires no further input from the crafter.

There are other bits and pieces involved in crafting, but at this point I haven’t discovered anything in ESO that makes my heart go pitter pat. I’m still at a very low level though so I’ll reserve my final judgement until I learn more.

Before I finish this preliminary overview of ESO, there are two further positives I really have to point out. Despite the fact that my character is only level 12, the quest lines have already given me a mount and a room at the inn which I can furnish as I wish.

None of the MMOs I’ve played have ever been this generous to a newbie player. It’s almost as if ESO believes players should be enjoying themselves right from the beginning instead of having to level up for weeks before being rewarded with something ‘nice’. I’m not saying ESO is perfect, far from it, but I will say that I’ve never enjoyed these low levels in an MMO before. That has to mean something. Oh, and it’s free to play. That means something too.

cheers

Meeks

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Tikh Tokh is up and running!

Tikh Tokh is my new blog on Medium and it’s now ready for visitors.

View at Medium.com

Apologies for the HUGE graphic. When I copy pasted the link, that graphic showed up instead and I have no idea how to get rid of it. -sigh-

Anyway, I believe you can look at Tikh Tokh without being registered with Medium, so I’d really appreciate it if you could try out the various navigation tabs as they now correspond to the ‘categories’ I used to have. The post about Elder Scrolls Online shown on the Featured Page is new.

Have a great weekend,

cheers

Meeks


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