Tuesday, April 23, 2019

ESO Needs A Research Queue

Having played EVE Online for nearly a decade, I appreciate some of the simple things. One of the greatest innovations CCP made to the game was the skill queue. When the game launched in 2003, characters could only train one skill at a time. No queuing another skill to start immediately upon completion of the learning of the first skill. This led to trying to time the end of a skill's training time during a player's normal play time or setting an alarm clock to wake up in the middle of the night to start the next skill. Yes, every skill point mattered, even in 2003.

By the time I started playing in 2009, the mechanics had changed a little. CCP had instituted a 24 hour skill queue, meaning that as long as a character had less than 24 hours of skills training, additional skills could be added. No more waking up in the middle of the night to maintain an EVE account.

If not for changes to jump drive ranges and the introduction of jump fatigue, the Phoebe release in November 2014 would have gone down in EVE histaory as the introduction of the 50-skill queue. Gone were the days of players needing to check their skill queues every day (or every week). I personally made a skill queue 2 1/2 years long. Of course, once Alpha clones were introduced, the 50-skill queue was reserved for Omega accounts while Alphas received the old 24-hour skill queue.

Elder Scrolls Online has its own version of time-based skill training in the crafting system. In the base game, some of the best gear was crafted, like the Kagrenac's Hope armor set I'm working on now. Each piece of crafted gear has an innate ability, or trait, that a player can add to the piece during the crafting process. In order to create the crafted set gear, a player needs to know how to create gear with a certain number of traits. The Kagrenac's Hope gear requires the knowledge of 8 traits for each piece of gear, while the Torug's Pact set (which I use for my weapons) only requires the knowledge of 3 traits.

To learn a trait, the player has to do two things. First, obtain a piece of gear with the desired trait. Second, go to a crafting station and research the trait. The researching process destroys the item (so don't research an item you wish to use) and then requires a wait. How long a wait? Much like EVE, the training time depends on how many traits the character already knows how to craft into a weapon.

For the first 3 traits, the base training time in days scales exponentially using the following formula...
2 n-2

... where n is the number of traits already known on the piece of gear. So the first trait takes .25 days, or 6 hours to train, while the 9th trait takes 64 days to train.

Zenimax did provide a few ways to reduce the time. Each crafting profession has a passive skill line that not only allows the researching of multiple items, but shortens the research time as well. The final level of the skill prevents research times from exceeding 30 days, which is a welcome skill when researching the 9th and final trait on gear.

Now, in true free-to-play fashion, Elder Scrolls Online provides plenty of ways to speed up the research times using real life currency. The first involves the ESO Plus optional subscription. In addition to all the other perks, having an ESO Plus subscription speeds up research times by 10%.
The next items are research scrolls. Zenimax gives out scrolls with the daily rewards to get people hooked. I hear that the Master Writ merchants sell 1 day scrolls also. But the other way to get the scrolls, and the really powerful scrolls, is to visit the cash shop. In the cash shop, a player can purchase scrolls that will reduce the training time by 7 or 15 days for all items being researched in a single profession. The 15 day scrolls cost 5000 crowns, or 50 more than a player gets for a three-month ESO Plus subscription. Yes, in addition to the 10% reduction of researching time, ESO Plus members also get crowns to purchase time reductions. Did I mention the ESO Plus subscription is worth getting?

For those wishing to purchase more, the 5500 crown package costs $39.99 when not on sale. For EVE players, that equates to an exchange rate of 5 crowns for 1 PLEX. So, for example, if a dedicated crafter wanted to train a 9th trait on all clothing items when Summerset came out, it would have cost 40,000 crowns for the instant research scrolls. In real life cash, that comes out to $294.92 (7 5,500 crown packs and 1 1,500 crown pack). Assuming, of course, the player had maxed out the passive skills on the character performing the research.

Finally, I get to the inspiration for this post. Elder Scrolls Online really needs a research queue so I can put in all my research. As I often do, I type these posts on the train, and I really just want to log in and start researching the next item. Instead, I have to wait until I get home and waste 6 hours of potential research time. I'm not so far gone that I'd stay home from work just to set my research queue, although I could if I really want to.

I realize that, like with training my mount, logging in to maintain my crafting research queues is a way to keep me engaged with the game. But maybe Zenimax could add a queue to the cash shop? I'd probably buy that.

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