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Zenimax Online Studios | Official Site
MMORPG | Setting:Fantasy | Status:Final  (rel 04/04/14)  | Pub:Bethesda Softworks
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There's No Such Thing as Too Much Communication

By Ryan Getchell on April 20, 2016 | Columns | Comments

There's No Such Thing as Too Much Communication

Communication is key when it comes to letting players know more about Elder Scrolls Online. There is no such thing as too much communication but there is such thing as not enough communication. Not enough communication is something that a lot of players are accusing Zenimax of. But is it true and if it’s not true, how much information as players do we deserve?

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Prior to the launch of the game Zenimax was pretty open about their game.  They were willing to discuss it any chance they were given. Rightfully so, the best way to build a player base before a game has launched is to entice them with features that they can indulge themselves in.  Lately however, it feels as if they’ve stopped most communication about the game until a month or so before they launch a new update.

Recently players have taken to the official forums to discuss some of the areas they feel Zenimax is doing great, but mostly they’re discussing areas where they feel Zenimax and or the community has fallen short. The most common statement is that Zenimax has not been providing the players with the information they want, specifically about PvP lag and class balances.

If you’ve been playing ESO for any length of time you’ll have heard the players discuss, rant and become enraged about these topics. A topic that has little to no official information about its direction. You won’t find any posts from Zenimax discussing the direction or upcoming fixes that are planned in relation to these two things, besides the “we are aware of the issues and are working on a patch to fix it” post. The same goes for class balances.  Except this one is a little more secretive, because rarely, if at all, will Zenimax acknowledge an issue with class imbalance.

But is Zenimax wrong in not acknowledging or informing the players of what they are working on?  Here's why I don't think it's necessarily a bad thing that they don't always discuss upcoming changes with players.

Game development not as simple as players like to believe it is. Take the PvP lag for example. Most players lag when there is a large battle with lots of action and spells all happening at the same time. That’s a load of data to be processed by the server and transmitted to all the people playing. Aside from removing all spell effects and obstacles (walls, boxes, trees, anything with collision detected) there is no simple fix. ESO is a beautiful game and to remove all the things that make the game beautiful would be tragic.

Even if they pin point the exact issue they need to figure out how to implement a fix. Their first idea would need to be tested and see how it worked, more than likely it won’t and they’ll have to go back to the drawing board.

Then there is Class Imbalances. This game offers a wide range of ability options, there is no 100% way to ensure they are all equal and will not become more powerful than other abilities when paired with something else. That’s what makes ESO great, its uniqueness in classes. Are some classes “underpowered” in comparison to others? Yes, without a doubt.  But I wouldn’t expect them to be equal. If I wanted to play a game where everyone was equal I’d go to Guild Wars 2. PvP in the game is basically fighting a mirror image of yourself, the person who misses their opportunity once is the loser. Where is the fun in that?

Making changes to a class never goes over easily with a community. Players rush to the patch notes anytime there is an update to see if their build got an update, be it for good or bad. Having a class change is typically a surprise to the players because Zenimax never announces a head of time that there is a change coming to the class due to the outcry of the community that would happen.

In the most recent DLC, the Templar’s main healing ability got changed and the players got upset about it. Saying Templar’s are going to become useless. "This change has killed Templars ability to heal!" cried so many. And yet, Templar’s are still the best healers in the game. The outrage has calmed down since that patch release but it’s a prime example of why Zenimax can’t discuss upcoming class changes. Even if they have ideas some people will get excited for it, others will get upset and on top of that, ideas are never set in stone and will most likely be altered.

So now to the main reason for this article, I want to ask you, the readers, the ESO community, what you would like to see Zenimax do? Would you like to know the ideas and concepts that are discussed even if they are not guaranteed to ever be incorporated into the game?  Should Zenimax become more open about their ideas and concepts and discuss them in an “open forum” with the community? A place where ideas and concepts are changed and adapted regularly to fit with the flow of the game and its direction.

Or do you think ZOS should continue to have a closed door development and release information when it’s ready to be launched or finalized?  This would prevent undue rage and hostility towards the developers, for the most part. Or at least until the players have a chance to put the changes to the test on PTS.

Ryan Getchell / Ryan is our resident Elder Scrolls nerd, and columnist for Zenimax's MMO. When he's not out killing things in Tamriel, he's working in IT professionally.
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