About a Horse

Ever since I became a wanderer through several MMOs rather than sticking with one I’ve been playing with other people less. Sure, I’m running dungeons from time to time with four strangers from other servers whom I will likely never see again but that is not the same thing as playing regularly with the same guild members. Going forward I will be looking for opportunities to socialize in game every week so that I can connect with other players and make this hobby social again. Not that I need to spend every moment in game with a group, but I want to move away from a single player approach to MMOs and reconnect with the single greatest feature in any gaming experience: the people.


I’m not actually fishing, just waiting for the NPC next to me to catch more so that I can continue to steal them from his wooden bucket.

That said, expect a post every now and again in which I record my attempts at joining the human race and engaging others in the virtual worlds I inhabit beginning with a story about a horse in The Elder Scrolls Online. Last night I logged in to ESO for the first time in almost a week. It was a little disorienting at first but once I got my bearings I began robbing NPCs in order to gather ingredients for my crafting post on provisioning. That was when guild chat announced a final call to Cyrodiil for a group run to collect skyshards (a type of node that provides a skill point for every three shards collected) and visit the public dungeons.

"Run away!"

“Run away!”

After asking if I could join I was caught by a local guard and had to run for my life or pony up the stolen crafting materials and gold before I could accept the group invite (I ran of course). Once my flight from the law was successful I teleported to Cyrodiil and instantly realized how little I knew about this part of the game and how ill prepared I was for group content. Thankfully, Esa—one of my guild’s leaders— was there to help me out. Esa was the commander of our party and with each question I had he patiently answered and went out of his way to provide me with direction.


First he teleported back to the start in order to help me figure out how to travel on the PvP map. What I didn’t realize is that you can travel between capture points controlled by your faction. He showed me what the portals looked like and how to use them. In the meantime our faction lost control of the location nearest our party, meaning we were going to have to ride part of the way in order to join them. Or at least it would have if I had owned a mount. Mounts are expensive in ESO and I’ve spent most of my gold adding inventory space because the base bank and bag storage is ridiculous given the amount of materials and gear you collect so I did not have money for a horse.

Dejected, I told the members of my guild it would be best if I joined them another night because I did not have a mount and would only slow them down. Esa more or less said “bollocks” and came to my rescue once again. He ponied up the cash (pun intended) for an introductory level equine mount and showed me where the vendor was located in Cyrodiil. Keep in mind I’m new to the guild, new to the game, and I don’t think I had ever spoken in guild chat before. There was even a second guild member who offered to buy me a mount as Esa was making the trade. This was extremely generous.


After that we were off! The rest of the night was spent roaming around the map in search of dungeons and skyshards. The activity itself was not always interesting nor was it efficient for leveling but that is the kind of thinking I need to move away from. Instead I want to enjoy the company of strangers (soon friends, I hope) and I look forward to grouping with them again. Normally I avoid situations like this where I don’t understand what things are and how they work. It is one of the reasons I like to play alone, otherwise I feel obligated to do extensive research on a class, dungeon, or game mechanic before interacting with others for fear of looking the fool. Having someone be so helpful while I was in a situation where I felt so ignorant was a blessing.

Interacting with others in game can be a risk—you never know what kind of reception you will find and there are plenty of players who would have ridiculed my inexperience. Approaching MMOs as a single player experience is the quickest solution to that problem. However playing alone also means never providing others who genuinely want to be helpful the opportunity to express that generosity nor does it offer a chance to be generous toward others yourself. Hopefully my future adventures in MMO socializing will continually prove to be fruitful in both regards.

State of the Rez: Green Lantern’s Light

Normally I’m a one MMO at a time sort of guy— I have never been able to juggle several titles at once—but recently I have found a nice balance between playing The Elder Scrolls Online and Final Fantasy XIV, both great games and varied enough to satisfy different elements that I enjoy in my MMOs. So naturally, having finally established a comfortable multi-game routine I decided to upset the hard earned equilibrium and add a third: DC Universe Online. I have played this title before and overall I am still not impressed with the game, but I am enjoying the play style of the “light” power set to which I gained access when I purchased the “Fight for the Light” DLC. It changes the combat into something I enjoy and grants me the privilege of joining the Green Lantern Corp which just may be enough to keep me around for a while. More on that in a bit, first an update on how things are going in the other two games I’m playing.



Having initially purchased the game over 6 months ago I have only recently entered the 40s on any job or class. I have repeatedly changed my mind on which job to focus on, lost momentum as a result, and then inevitably I end up taking a break from the game only to start over with a new class the next time I sub. This time was no different, I started over with the Ninja. However the Ninja gameplay has been such a great match for my preferred DPS play style that I have progressed in the game farther than ever before.

I recently hit level 42 and entered Coerthas for the first time, a beautiful winter zone with an intriguing story about a missing airship and the High Houses of Ishgard. I have once more out leveled the main scenario quests but I am not worrying about that anymore, I’m going to continue playing the way I enjoy—pursuing the storyline regardless of my current level, completing a few challenge logs, and running a dungeon once every play session. I will likely hit 50 long before I finish the main scenario and that’s okay.



Regrettably, I have not spent as much time in The Elder Scrolls over the last week or two as anticipated, largely because I was pushing past that level 40 barrier in FFXIV and finally moving into new content. With the time I have spent in The Elder Scrolls I have continued to focus on leveling my Daggerfall Covenant Sorcerer and trying out the new justice system. I don’t think I will ever spend a lot of time in game pursuing a life of crime, but all the same I’m glad it is there. It makes me feel like my character has more of an impact on the world and that my actions have meaning.

Now I have to be careful of who I attack and who I “borrow” materials from or else I will have to deal with slightly more realistic consequences than the standard theme park MMO where murder and theft appear only as a rewarded quest mechanic. What I have discovered is that while I love heroic quest lines and defeating world destroyers in a dungeon or raid, these big epic moments are not what endear me to a studio’s virtual world but rather it is the small interactions and environmental details that do, bringing the world to life and rooting my character in the matrix rather than placing him or her outside and above it. The justice system accomplishes exactly that, and I look forward to tinkering with it some more.

One last note regarding ESO, I do still plan on writing a second and possibly a third post on writ certification and the crafting system but it will probably be another week before I am ready. I am less versed in the consumable crafts to begin with and there were a number of big changes to provisioning with update 6 such that I need to spend a little more time in game playing around with all three consumable crafting lines but especially with the improvements to provisioning.



Downloading the client for this game was impulsive, I’ll admit. As I have stated already, the game as a whole does not impress me and I had no intention of returning after my last visit. Leveling is even more of a carbon copy experience than other MMOs with the predictable pattern of quest, quest, solo instance repeating itself ad naseam for at least the first seventeen levels of gameplay (I have yet to level further). My previous experience with the combat has been lackluster as well, with the power and weapon skill lines feeling like two separate systems operating parallel to one another rather than in tandem. It is an awkward implementation of action combat and I do not enjoy it.

However when you select light as your power set your abilities work a little differently. Normally your power set abilities are bound to keys 1-6 and your weapon set abilities are tied to a combo system conducted with your mouse. That is why it feels like two separate modes of combat— because it is. Heroes using the light powers still have a weapon set; that does not change. What is different is how the powers are integrated with mouse key combos.

As a green lantern, your hero can create a construct and then use the mouse keys in a distinct combination to create a second or third construct, chaining them one after another. So instead of using the keyboard for power set abilities and the mouse for weapon set abilities (which you still have but I largely ignore) you are enhancing your keyboard abilities with mouse combinations. Functionally this allows you to cast two to three “spells” for the cost of one, because the only resources used are on the initial construct.

This back and forth between initiating with one power and then chaining additional abilities with the mouse is much more integrated than the standard relationship between mouse and keyboard that I have experienced with other classes. Even though I technically still have a weapon set in addition to all of this, if I execute the combos correctly I never run out of resources (so far) and thus rarely have to get into brawling (which I despise).

Logically, I should not be playing this game— there is very little I find admirable about the design. Nevertheless I am enjoying myself and I will continue to play one or two days a week until I am no longer having fun. Even though I find the game to be poorly executed, there is something compelling about a super hero MMO. My hope is that in the coming years we see another studio successfully launch a well-designed game for this sub-genre. Until then you can find me wearing tights and sporting a green, glowing ring in either DCUO or at your local grocery store.

Crafting in ESO: Writ Certification Part 1

One of the systems I like most in The Elder Scrolls Online is the crafting. I am not a dedicated crafter in any MMO but I look forward to it as additional gameplay and I want crafting that is deeper than the gather, queue, and wait motif that games like World of Warcraft offer. If you have never played ESO at all or if you did but have not tried crafting on a new character since update five I’ll be dedicating several posts to crafting from the beginner’s perspective over the next few weeks.


Danel is kind of a jerk. This is his answer when I asked about the difference between crafting food and beverages. Thank you, Grand Master Obvious.


Millenith on the other hand is quite pleasant, despite the fact that she looks like a possessed elven blacksmith from an unaired episode of Supernatural.

Crafting in The Elder Scrolls Online begins when you discover the fighter’s guild or mage’s guild for the first time in either Davon’s Watch, Daggerfall, or Vulkhel Guard depending on your faction. While the guilds have nothing to do with crafting, each one houses an NPC that starts the certification process for crafting writs. Introduced with update five, writs are crafting dailies for the six crafts in ESO. Each crafting writ can be completed once daily after you hit level 6 and the certification process serves as a tutorial. Millenith is waiting for you at the fighter’s guild and will certify you as a blacksmith, carpenter, and clothier. Danel Telleno will certify you in alchemy, enchanting, and provisioning and can be found at the mage’s guild. Each certification requires a simple quest chain that will walk you through the basics and you can work on one certification per NPC at a time.

4Locating Materials

After initiating the writ certification quest you are directed to an area near the city where you can harvest the relevant materials. Every player can gather all materials and some of them you need to collect are difficult to identify until you’ve seen them at least once. Writ certification gives you an opportunity to see the nodes for the first time when they are marked on your mini map so you know what to expect. Later on if you chose to focus on a particular material to gather you can use a skill point on a passive that will cause a glowing mist to appear over the nodes as you approach them but until then the writ quests will help you identify what you need to gather by its appearance.

Once you’ve collected your materials you will return to the city and meet either Danel or Millenith at the respective crating station for whichever writ you are certifying. For now I am going to focus on Millenith and the fabrication crafts. Whether you chose carpenter, blacksmith, or clothier your first step will be refining the raw materials you’ve gathered. For example, if you begin with the blacksmithing profession you will refine your raw iron into iron ingots. With the refining process complete, Millenith will ask you to craft your first piece of gear.

6Crafting Gear

Crafting in ESO is very different from the system in World of Warcraft and similar games. Here you have several ways of tweaking an item before you create it. Thankfully the UI and accompanying tutorial are more than enough to get you started without problem. First you choose an item to craft by scrolling left or right at the top of your menu to find the weapon or armor piece you want to make. If you have the correct materials you will then have the option to increase the amount used in order to craft a higher level weapon. So a simple dagger for a level one character may only require 2 iron ingots but if you’d like to make it usable to your level 8 Nightblade you can increase the iron amount until the weapon’s level matches your own.

After that you’ll need to select a crafting ingredient specific to your racial style. At first you will have to craft your own race’s gear but from what I understand you will eventually be able to find motifs that allow you to craft in the style of other races or you can purchase them from other players. I’m not sure how rare the drop is but if you are into crafting, collecting these motifs provides a sizeable endgame focus. If you like to adventure you can try and collect them in the open world or you could make money from crafting and use it to buy additional motifs in order to make even more money through crafting. With eight races (in addition to your own) and seven pieces of gear there are a lot of style motifs to collect.

9Researching Traits

Next, traits can be applied to crafted item. However I don’t know much about this aspect of crafting because I have yet to use it on anything I have made. What I do know is that I can take gear and use it to research traits which can eventually be applied to a crafted item of the same type. Each item has nine possible traits to research that can change the effectiveness of enchantments, increase spell resistance, improve the speed at which you level up weapon skills, or a number of other buffs. However researching a trait on one item does not allow the use of that trait on another item. For example with carpentry there are five weapons that can be crafted, each with nine possible traits. That’s forty-five traits you’ll need to research for wooden weapons alone.

8Improving Gear

Later you will also have the option to upgrade the quality of your crafted gear to uncommon, rare, epic, etc. This is not necessary for certification but it is helpful to know for later on when you want to make something for your character to use. The upgrade is applied after the item is made and each tier requires a unique ingredient. For every single use of the required ingredient you gain a 20% chance to upgrade the item. If you want a guaranteed upgrade you will need 5 of the upgrade ingredients. You will not receive enough early on to craft a full set of green quality gear, but you will have plenty to craft one or two items to fill any holes in your gear set.

Once you have crafted your first item, return to Millenith. She will inspect what you’ve made and then ask you to deconstruct it, a process by which you take the gear you no longer need or cannot use and turn it into materials for crafting. I love it when games add this to the crafting system, it gives you a meaningful use for all the gear that would otherwise be vendor trash. When you deconstruct an item you have a chance of getting the base material, racial style ingredients, or even the materials required for upgrading gear. However inventory management is a problem in this game so I destroy all of the racial ingredients that do not match my own, knowing I can purchase them from a crafting vendor later when I get the required motifs.

7Deconstructing Gear

Don’t cry Fahd’ali Azim, you can always make another one!

Once you’ve deconstructed your first piece of gear you will be able to complete the quest chain with Millenith and participate in the daily crafting writs. I have found that by casually gathering while I level I do not come across enough basic materials to do the writs every day but enough to do them a few times a week. After completing your first certification, Millenith will ask if you would like to begin another. All of the fabrication professions work as I have just described, so it simply requires repeating the process but with different materials. By the time you have completed all three you will feel very comfortable with crafting gear in ESO.

I’ll stop there for this week, but hopefully you can already see that whether you are serious about crafting or only want to participate casually the system has a lot of potential. You can keep it simple and still be able to provide yourself with the gear you need as you level or you can make crafting a focus for your gameplay and there will be enough choices while making gear to keep it interesting and enough traits to research and motifs to gather to keep you occupied. Between the user-friendly UI and the approachable tutorial getting into crafting in ESO is simple even if the process is not. Next time I’ll take a look at crafting consumables—alchemy, enchanting and provisioning. Each one is a little different so I’ll try to walk through how each one works as much as I can.