The Elder Scrolls

The true history of Cyrodiil’s server problems and hope for the future.

TheElderScrolls6 - The true history of Cyrodiil's server problems and hope for the future.
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I posted this to the official forum, where it is getting a lot of responses, and I was told that I should post it here as well.

While discussing Cyrodiils performance in guild last night, I found that the majority of players version of history seemed to be unfortunately incorrect, obscured by time and lack of communication. At this point, fixing Cyrodiil requires a good understanding of how we got here.

During development, it was determined that adding PvP would bring in a vast crowd of players from the other side of the market. The most successful PvP game to date, Dark Age of Camelot, which at one point had hundreds of thousands of accounts, was determined to be the model, due to its design around 3 sided realm combat, which could be easily fit into the ESO universe. Members of DAoCs team were brought in to work on it. The design was worked out, and Cyrodiil was chosen as the location, mainly due to its centralized map geography, and being centered around the Imperial City, which would serve as this games Darkness Falls, a pve/pvp location open to only whichever side was winning.

The marketing campaign to court PvPers was extensive, and worked very well. Tens of thousands of PvP focused players flooded the beta server at launch. During this beta, hundreds of players on screen at the same time fought with very little lag, all skills fired when pressed, bars swapped, no health desyncs, etc.

What happened next, was unfortunate.

During this time period, small skilled groups coming from DAoC and another pvp games, dominated the large zergs, as can be expected. This lead to the usual spam reports of statements like "we had 40 people, how did we lose to 4 people?!?" and "they must be hacking, theres no way…" and "if this isnt changed, me and my massive zerg guild will cancel our subscriptions," etc.

Now a quick history lesson on the subject of zerging.

DAoC devs were use to the flood of angry reports from zergers dying, and knew to disregard it, because logically you cannot die to 4 players AoE abilities unless you are stacked like a blob and not paying attention. In truth, most of these threats to quit were just salty nonsense, as people hate losing in anything competitive, and would rather blame the system itself than their own failures. In DAoC, the answer given to them, and adopted by the good groups, was "spread on incoming" and "pay attention to your surroundings” aka pan your camera. This resulted in a strong pvp community with dozens of groups 8v8ing every night, as well as zergs still roaming with 100+ people. Due to a high skill ceiling, the pvp community was very healthy and lasted many many years.

Fast forward to Warhammer Online. During its beta, zergs were getting dominated by small skilled groups, and made the usual demands and threats to quit. Unfortunately, the dev team had changed quite a bit since DAoC, and they were not experienced enough to know to ignore the flood of reports. I can understand it from a customer service reps view (being a non game player) that if the majority demand it change, it should change. Thus, a massive change was wedged into the launch patch notes to say that AoE caps were now enabled, so that you could only hit a few people with your AoE abilities, allowing zergs to win via sheer numbers. Unfortunately, and as expected by me and other experienced PvPers, the result was a mass exodus of all the skilled groups within a month from launch, which left only zergs. With no actual competition going on (zerg v zerg isnt competition, its an unorganized mess), the pvp community died, and thus the game died quickly.

The exact same thing happened in Guild Wars 2, so I wont go into detail there.

Now back to ESO. During the week before launch, due to the mass reports from zergers dying to skilled small groups, an internal discussion was had on the subject, resulting in somehow the same quick decision being made, to add AoE caps to the launch build. it was wedged into the patch notes claiming it had always been there, despite that being both incorrect and clearly a very strange thing to say in patch notes. Patch notes are to update you to changes, not to say "this is how this works FYI" for no apparent reason. This had two major consequences. One being the mass exodus of the skilled groups for obvious reasons, and the introduction of blob groups. In a blob zerg, due to the AoE cap, you could be content to be nearly unkillable, since any AoE would likely hit a different 6 people each time due to movement. The combination of a loss of skilled smallman groups, and introduction of blob zergs, drove away the majority of the tens of thousands of PvP only players who came to play ESO.

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The massive loss of the pvp crowd, resulted in a removal of resources from the cyrodiil servers, which combined with blob zergs, caused massive server calculation issues. The movement of dozens of players tight together spamming AoE abilities was/is tough on the server, as it has to determine which players receive the effects of AoE abilities (again limited to 6) on constantly moving blobs based on the individuals x y z coordinates, not to mention the lighting effects involved as well. This caused constant server crashes and performance loss to all involved, resulting in even further exodus of pvp players.

The unfortunate solution to all this, was to first lower the population caps from the thousands boasted before launch to much lower numbers, to make the population bars look higher. Then to address the players, by stating the creation of a new spell, magika detonation, which would by design, only destroy zergs. The concept of removing AoE caps, which had been repeatedly stated over and over to be the only real solution, was once again pushed into the light by the few skilled PvP groups left, because magika detonation wouldnt work unless AoE caps were removed as well. Unfortunately, once again the zergers immediately began their angry campaign against the changes, and once again due to sheer numbers of them, magika detonation was nerfed to increase only 25% per player, up to a cap of 250%. This meant zero change to blob groups, and the server instabilities continued. Eventually, after the second major population cap drop (now only a few hundred players) to make the bars look populated again, somebody got the message that AoE caps were the cause of Cyrodiils problems. The statement was made that they may be removed, once again followed by the zergers angry demands and threats against what would destroy their only playstyle (stack on crown and spam 11121), thus AoE caps were only nerfed, to where now the first 6 players take full damage, then 6 more take 50%, then 25% for the next 6, etc… Thus the blobbings continued, because that was meaningless to a 24+ player blob group.

The end result. Finally, many years too late, the decision was made to remove AoE caps completely. Most of these blob groups then either left the game, or started playing smaller groups to avoid embarrassment at losing to 4 people. Cyrodiil finally had the chance to be playable. Unfortunately, due to most of the server resources having been moved away from Cyrodiil in the years prior, it was now unplayable with 20+ people in one area at once, with massive health desyncs, skills and bar swaps not happening, nobody taking damage, and ping jumping around between 300 and 999+. The loss of both the skilled groups and the majority of zergers, lead to the tiny Cyrodiil population we have now, with not even enough players to fill two campaigns.

So here we are today. The big reason for this thread, is because going forward, a correct analysis of what happened is important. Its not that the MMO market consists of only 1-2% pvp players now, its that they all left for good reason, because no games are offering them a competitive environment with servers that can handle a fight.

My conclusion, and the big takeaway here, is that Cyrodiil CAN be popular. It was hindered from its potential for so long that it lost its following, but the system itself is still viable. As stated by numerous players, during PvP events you see spikes of server performance that are unseen the rest of the year, which are clearly a resource shift, which then disappears at the end of the event. If ZOS adds resources (a lot of resources) and creates a new marketing campaign to announce this, they will bring in a massive influx of thousands of new and old players, excited to see Cyrodiil at the potential they saw in beta. These players are still out there, waiting for any MMO with a good combat system to make the correct environment available.

We want to like your system.
We want to give you our money.
We want to play your game.
We cannot if you dont allow the environment required for PvP.

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