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Reichmar's Rant: Set Phasers To.....
by Reichmar12, Member — Category: Editorials
Post #20721

Phasing. We’ve all heard of it. To some extent, we MMO players have all experienced it as well. Developers advertise it with catchy phrases such as “dynamic content” or “a world that changes with you”. As gamers, we get these and other marketing keywords pushed down our throats by various developers, hoping that we digest enough of their marketing dollars to go out and buy their product. Maybe we, ourselves, are to blame – always imploring companies for more content, faster content, different content -- always crying over imbalance, accusing them of faction or class favoritism and being giant, throbbing dicks towards players. Maybe they come up with these “new” things to distract us, hoping that we’ll stare at the new shiny object enough to where we won’t badger them with criticism over a bug here or an oversight there.

Okay, let’s be real. It doesn’t matter what you think about the issue, phasing is here and it’s here to stay. So, since we aren’t getting away from the idea, lets at least try to understand it better, shall we?

Phasing is, at a very basic level, a means through which a player experiences game content differently than another player by crossing certain thresholds which lead to observable changes in the game environment – that’s the Reichmar’s Dictionary version for those keeping track. Essentially, we do things like completing a quest or taking part in a world event and the game world changes to reflect the lore results of what we just did. It allows for the individual player to see the world change as a direct result of what he (or she) did, whether it was saving a farm from wild boars, saving an outpost from the undead, or triggering a world even. This, supposedly, enhances the single player experience by allowing players to watch as things change around them.

Phasing is not an in game event. This isn’t something that you just miss if you don’t log in one night. You can’t log in the next morning and see the changes in the world for yourself. Let’s take the opening of AQ in World of Warcraft as an example. In that world event (which, by the way, was pretty damned fun if you happen to have been there), players on both factions performed contributing actions towards a set goal. After the goals were reached, players all descended on the world zone where this Egyptian-themed temple was set to open. They all congregated in front of the temple gates and formed ranks (on my server, at least). When the gates opened, large, hulking NPC mobs fought the group -- which proceeded to kill them all ... then turn and kill each other (though the dedicated raid groups were sure to jump inside as soon as possible). If you missed the event you could still enter the raid; sure, you missed the ceremony, but you weren’t kept from experiencing the content.

This is not phasing.

Let’s take another example from World of Warcraft, for the sake of familiarity, this time of a true phasing event. When players began the quest line in Icecrown, the lore had you defending a small crusader outpost from attacks by the undead. That outpost, at first, was in shambles – fires all over the place, walls falling, and undead everywhere. After the player completes the quest chain, they’re awarded some decent piece of leveling gear, and suddenly, the world changes. The outpost goes from being rundown to getting a facelift. The undead are gone, the good NPCs are advancing, and you feel pretty good. Now, if I were to stand at specific coordinates, and if a player who hasn’t completed that quest line were to stand right next to me, we wouldn’t be able to see each other. I couldn't experience his content. That is phasing, folks. My decision to complete that quest led me to experience different content than the player who didn’t make the same decision.


Is phasing a good thing or a bad thing in MMOs? Well, it’s tricky. In my view, MMOs are designed around you playing with other people and quests shouldn’t lead to artificial barriers put up between players. However, if you’re a developer wanting to make people who play alone for the most part happy, changing the game world based off of individual decisions is quite useful as an immersion-creating and story-telling tool. I should be clear, not everyone that gets really into questing and lore wants to play alone – but if you do, why play an MMO? Phasing puts up lore barriers between players that don’t complete certain content, but it also takes them down by creating some individual story immersion. It makes player’s choices significant, but it also isolates them from others of different perspectives. It makes the world come alive around the individual, but also makes the world inconsistent.

What we’re left with is a system that giveth yet taketh away; a system that offers lots of possibilities for quest and story development, but one that can seem immersion breaking to some and pointless to others.

Since I am writing this for an Elder Scrolls Online fansite, the appropriate question to ask here would be how will this affect ESO? Based on what we know thus far, ESO is sounding to be both quite conducive to phasing and not obtrusive to player interaction. Let’s dive in…

The Elder Scrolls, as a series, is based around player choice and player development. Your choices impact the world in various ways, albeit good or bad. You can steal, murder, save, marry and generally follow the role you want your character to have. These features, in themselves, aren’t very conducive to the MMO world. But phasing allows the individual player to retain a certain degree of uniqueness by deciding the outcome of certain game events. Do you want to save the town? It’ll be here every time you return and people will be chanting your name in the streets. Or do you want to join the raiding party instead? The town will be a wasteland every time you ride by. Your faction mates will appear in your “phase” based upon the decisions you all made.


While this isn’t revolutionary, your ability to cross “phases” at-will is. Normally, phases put up an artificial barrier between players that do X, and players that do Y. In ESO we’ve been promised a system that encourages phase-affecting choices to be made, but allows you to join your friends in their “phase” at will. This basically lets debaters of the mechanic to have their cake and eat it too – you can make all the single-player choices you want, you can choose to progress the story in any way, but if you want to group with people, you can switch “phases” and get to work. That option – that choice – instantly breaks down whatever barriers you thought phasing created.

Does this mean phasing is going to be great in ESO? Well, not necessarily. This phasing system sounds both intriguing and intuitive at the same time, in my opinion. You have the freedom to make choices, but also the freedom to make those choices as relevant or irrelevant as you’d like. This mechanic can most certainly work well in questing zones and questing areas…

What about in Cyrodiil? Will there be phasing there too? This is what makes me most nervous about this system. If all of Cyrodiil – from towns, farms and villages, to cities, keeps and castles – is as crucial to PvP as we’ve been led to believe, I absolutely don’t want loading screens, or any delay resulting from phasing, in my PvP zone. If my trip from keep A to keep B takes me through a town that also serves as a quest hub, will phasing affect my ability to travel through the town without encountering a loading screen (if said town has quests that cause phasing)? If that is the case, will my raid group have to “sync” in some way to make sure we don’t encounter loading screens?

I love TES, more than any of you can likely imagine, but this possibility tames my excitement for this game simply because I want my faction PvP to be seamless…..like I’m already accustomed to. Phasing is a great technology and really opens the floodgates for developer creativity. I think it can be implemented very well in ESO, but I also certainly believe that its success, and acceptance, will not be decided in the valleys of Morrowind or the beaches of the Summerset Isles, but rather on the plains of Cyrodiil where noo-- umm ... players rush to their slaughter.

If I have to wait through loading screens as I’m rushing to a keep in Cyrodiil, I swear I’m gonna flip tables....


(╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻


What do you think about phasing in The Elder Scrolls Online? Should it be done in Cyrodiil?




The views in this editorial are those of Reichmar12 and do not represent those of TESOF, Zenimax Online Studios or any of its subsidiaries.
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Comments on Reichmar's Rant: Set Phasers To.....
Post #20735
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I think it is perfectly fine to use and abuse phasing with personal story lines and how one views the world of the choices they have made. If you make choices that affect the world it should change the direction that you go and also the view of where you are or are going.

Thats why they are pretty much called a personal storyline, to be done by you alone. They will have many other area's to play along with groups of people that would require a group. Storylines never really require a group of people until its a dungeon or very difficult area to get by, then its usually back to the story after completed and you go your seperate or same ways depending on your choice.

Immersion breaking? Not really if you don't know its happening. It could be hidden behind a cut scene so you will probably not notice it like going into an instance, where you get game tips and a loading screen.

I doubt there will be any phasing in Cyrodiil, I don't see how they can have PvP and phasing at the same time.
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Post #20739
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I think the way I understood phasing in Cyrodiil is that the whole of Cyrodiil will be your phase of it, and the campaign you are part of will all be in the same phase.

So when you first roll a char, or when you reach level 10 and start to PvP, you will then be placed into a PvP phase of Cyrodiil the same way you were set into a phase of your faction area when you first rolled your char up.

Now comes the part where you can change your phase. Say for some reason the mega server placed you in a phase of Cyrodiil and for some reason your guild is all in a different phase. Then you can use some of your alliance points and change your PvP phase so that you will be in the same one as your guild

Not sure what is going to happen if you are late coming to the party and the phase your guild is in is already maxed out, do you just get a random phase then? Do you have to log in at a non peak play time to be able to switch to your guilds phase?

I think it all works the same for your PvE phase as well, say you log in and for what ever reason you don't like the phase you are in. They have said there is a way to change your PvE phase as well.

Anyway I think thats how it works...I could be wrong but that was my interpretation of what they said.
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Post #20741
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(December 30th 2012 08:50 PM)Elember Wrote:  I think the way I understood phasing in Cyrodiil is that the whole of Cyrodiil will be your phase of it, and the campaign you are part of will all be in the same phase.

So when you first roll a char, or when you reach level 10 and start to PvP, you will then be placed into a PvP phase of Cyrodiil the same way you were set into a phase of your faction area when you first rolled your char up.

Now comes the part where you can change your phase. Say for some reason the mega server placed you in a phase of Cyrodiil and for some reason your guild is all in a different phase. Then you can use some of your alliance points and change your PvP phase so that you will be in the same one as your guild

Not sure what is going to happen if you are late coming to the party and the phase your guild is in is already maxed out, do you just get a random phase then? Do you have to log in at a non peak play time to be able to switch to your guilds phase?

I think it all works the same for your PvE phase as well, say you log in and for what ever reason you don't like the phase you are in. They have said there is a way to change your PvE phase as well.

Anyway I think thats how it works...I could be wrong but that was my interpretation of what they said.

The phase of Cyrodiil you are referring to is called a "Campaign". It essentially turns Cyrodiil into its own server, hosting you and several hundred other players. You, and your guild, can switch Campaigns for a "significant" cost -- one which they haven't elaborated on yet.

The phasing that I was referring to is that caused by a story arc or quest chain within Cyrodiil.

Thanks for responding!
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Post #20828
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Cyrodiil is already divided between factions - player and NPC - at the beginning, each player faction having their core area. I would imagine the possibility of some limited phasing after the end of a campaign, changing the architecture of fortifications etc if they change hands, but that's probably too much to expect. Personally I put my hopes on the eventual opening of the IC, that in there would be changes based on the faction having the Emperor and thus different phases.
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Reichmar12
Post #20982
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Honestly, I think your slightly misinforming readers. What I believe they meant by "changing phases at will" had to do with the mega server and you being on a different shard than your friends for some reason. No biggie, you can change shards at will and then you can see your friends again.

What you said (and what I hope to be true as well), is that while questing you can make your decisions and effect the world as you see fit, but then if you join a friend's group to help them in that area then the phase automatically changes for everyone in the group to the group leader's phase.
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Post #20994
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(January 1st 2013 05:07 AM)voren Wrote:  Honestly, I think your slightly misinforming readers. What I believe they meant by "changing phases at will" had to do with the mega server and you being on a different shard than your friends for some reason. No biggie, you can change shards at will and then you can see your friends again.

What you said (and what I hope to be true as well), is that while questing you can make your decisions and effect the world as you see fit, but then if you join a friend's group to help them in that area then the phase automatically changes for everyone in the group to the group leader's phase.

There wont be "shards", phases or campaigns in pvp, if you want to change to the same as your friends there will be cost to do it.

As for Cyrodill quests and there phasing i doubt it will be the same as in PvE areas, i think that in PvP zones phase will effect every one and not individual, since all the quests you do in there will be contributing to your campaign and since player are separated by "campaigns" there wont be cases where new players joins and doesn't belong to same phase as you.

Phases in PvE zones, you will be bale to join "phase" of your friends, the devs confirmed this fact in several videos, a fun mechanic that you will haw, after completing the game main quest (i think they dint confirm this yet) at cost of "alliance points" you can repeat same quest and make different choices and enter other phase that you dint see before.
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Reichmar12
Post #21000
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(January 1st 2013 05:07 AM)voren Wrote:  Honestly, I think your slightly misinforming readers. What I believe they meant by "changing phases at will" had to do with the mega server and you being on a different shard than your friends for some reason. No biggie, you can change shards at will and then you can see your friends again.

What you said (and what I hope to be true as well), is that while questing you can make your decisions and effect the world as you see fit, but then if you join a friend's group to help them in that area then the phase automatically changes for everyone in the group to the group leader's phase.

From what we've been told, players will be able to join their friends' phase of an area if they want to group together. That is, essentially, being able to change phases at will. No worries, I wasn't misleading readers.

It isn't a case of changing shards. The game simply chooses to display certain content based upon set criteria. If you did X and Y, the server will show Z -- so if you want to join your friends, it temporarily sets those criterion to 1 instead of 0, for example. Everyone is still on the same shard. We don't know if it will be tied to the group leader, as you said, but its a pretty decent guess and makes sense to me.

From what we know, the only true shard-esque feature is Cyrodiil, which functions as essentially its own server with a set population -- called a "campaign".
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Post #21177
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Couldn't the Phasing happen on two or more levels?
It must be possible to have an 'individual phasing' and a 'Guild phasing' and letting the player choose his 'phase' at login, so one could choose the 'guild phase' when logging in to raid or just play with Guildies, and use his 'personal phase' when logging in to enjoy the single-player content of TESO...
This would add to immersion for the ones that do not want to 'switch phases' while playing, and still give the choice to 'switch phase' ingame for those that want to...
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Post #21222
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yes there still seems to be a lot of questions about their mega server tech and how you get shunted off to the various phases, and I hope someone pins the devs down on this and gets a better explanation, soon!
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