Elder Scrolls Online and Inventory Management

Lately I have been seeing threads appear regarding lack of inventory space on the official Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited (ESO: TU) forums. I thought I would share my list of tips and tricks to maximize the use of your inventory space.

First make a small guild with 9 friends who can all be trusted. Then keep (as a group) a full stack of each crafting item in the bank, style material and common trait materials.

We keep all the rarer materials to ourselves and sell excess. But 500 slots worth of common crafting mats makes it a non issue on my inventory.

Another solution is to create all of your characters and increase their bag space (buy bag upgrades, and buy capacity on your horse, and buy bank size upgrades).

Limit crafts to 1-3 per character ( I usually do about two crafts per toon) but some of the more intensives crafts I limit to 1.

The game is b2p, perhaps the easiest and most convienant thing you can do to help manage your inventory is to buy a second account this adds all kinds of inventory management bonuses, a second bank, 8 inventories, 5 guild slots for additional trade guilds (if 5 trade guilds cannot jeep everything sold you need better trade guilds). Additionally you can mail all stuff back and forth so you don’t have to jet back to town immediately when inventory is full. If you get 5 people with 2 accounts each then you can make five guilds and each player has their own guild bank….thats a lot of additional bank space for a player.

The old return-a-rooskie routine….make a friend in the game mail your items to them and mark the title as return please….when they receive then hopefully they will press ‘r’ sending the items back for you to deal with in town at a later time.

Join auction guilds and sell everything (you can make a metric ton of money) then just buy mats or gear when you need it.  Gold is the common denominator, everything has a gold value and everything can be bought with gold. If you sell everything you will quickly gain enough money to buy the necessary thinks to level alchemy and provisioning (takes an hour or two to go from 1-50 if you buy mats). If you deconstruct all armors, weapons and enchants then your other four crafting skills should be maxed sometime between vr1 and vr14. Sell everything and buy what you will use….

This brings me to my biggest trick, weapon and armor crafting materials are worthless, don’t buy them and don’t store them, they are essentially for auctioning or vendor trash. All that jute iron leather, hide etc… You can guaranteed in about 5 min acquire level appropriate mats with plenty left over to make a full armor set. How? Simple goto town, goto the vendor area and ‘steal’ all the armors and weapons from the tables. It has to be stolen ones so if it doesn’t say steal then the item is worthless and will vendor for 0g and deconstruct into nothing…you have to take a risk to get a reward.

Essentially the only crafting mats I keep are the green, blue, purple, yellow upgrade items and style and trait materials…everything else is in the guild bank (small guild of friends) and when it isn’t in the guild bank it is easily acquired. Just make sure you research research research cause thats the real limiter.

Hopefully some of these tips and tricks will help you not feel overwhelmed in the next group dungeon you run or the next long outing into the wilderness.

Selling Character Slots Elder Scrolls Online

I ran two surveys on the TESO:TU (The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited) forums to attempt to get a feel for how much demand there is within the player base for the purchase of character slots and what sort of value those character slots may carry.

Hypothetical Sales based on 100k Active subscribers
Hypothetical Sales based on 100k Active subscribers added for a graphical representation for folks.

 

Essentially I ask people if character slots were sold how many would they likely purchase. The following categories were utilized: 0, 1 to 3, 4 to 6, 7 to 9, 10 to 12, 13 to 15, 16 to 18, 19 to 21, 22 to 24 and more than 24.

The second survey included various price points per additional character slot and prompted the voter to select the highest price they would be willing to pay. To determine the appropriate values to use I had to find some benchmarks. I used the purchase of a new copy of the game at $50 and the console transfer deal value (16 character slots on a different platform for people who already had the pc version at $20. Note: it seems the 16 slots for $20 may have been a bug and it may have actually been 8 slots for $20 in any case I used 16 slots for $20). I also was limited to 8 voting categories to cover that range (plus an over and an under category). The following price points were used: $0, $0.01 to $1.25, $1.26 to $2.00, $2.01 to $2.75, $2.76 to $3.50, $3.51 to $4.25, $4.26 to $5.00, $5.01 to $5.75, $5.76 to $6.25 and greater than $6.25

The actual surveys are at:

http://forums.elderscrollsonline.com/en/discussion/169573/if-zos-sold-additional-character-slots-what-is-the-most-you-would-pay-per-slot/p1

and

http://forums.elderscrollsonline.com/en/discussion/169577/if-zos-sold-additional-character-slots-how-many-would-you-buy/p1

After a day of voting I took the totals from each category and took them to my excel spreadsheet for a little number crunching.

This image shows the weighted average calculation of the represented population as a whole.
Table 1. The weighted average calculation of the represented population as a whole. Average Slots in bracket is the median of the bracket so if the vote option was 1 to 3 then this number would be 2. The weighted average is calculated by taking the number of votes for a bracket divided by the total number of votes then multiplied by the Avg slots in bracket. The weighted average numbers were then summed to yield 3.41 which represents the average number of slots that would be purchased per person by a population represented by the sample 169 voters.

First I wanted to determine how many characters the average player would purchase so I devised a weighting metric to isolate that value which was 3.41 as can be seen in Table 1. Then just for curiosity sake I removed the votes who would purchase no slots and that yielded 6.87 as seen in Table 2.

Table 1. The weighted average calculation of the represented population as a whole. Average Slots in bracket is the median of the bracket so if the vote option was 1 to 3 then this number would be 2. The weighted average is calculated by taking the number of votes for a bracket divided by the total number of votes then multiplied by the Avg slots in bracket. The weighted average numbers were then summed to yield 3.41 which represents the average number of slots that would be purchased per person by a population represented by the sample 169 voters.
Table 2. The weighted average calculation of the represented population as a whole. Average Slots in bracket is the median of the bracket so if the vote option was 1 to 3 then this number would be 2. The weighted average is calculated by taking the number of votes for a bracket divided by the total number of votes then multiplied by the Avg slots in bracket. The weighted average numbers were then summed to yield 6.87 which represents the average number of slots that would be purchased per person by a population represented by the sample 84 voters that would purchase character slots.

Next I wanted to take the price data and determine what the ideal price would be to price a character slot in order to maximize the sale revenue. In order to do this I summed the number of players who voted in a particular price bracket and all more expensive brackets (the assumption is that someone who said their maximum price was $6.25 would be willing to pay a lower price as well, the same for other maximum pay values). These values are marked in the “vote at or below” column which is the number of voters expected to be willing to purchase at that price point. The “vote at or below” value was then converted to a percent by dividing the bracket value by the total number of votes to create a value which represents the percent of the population willing to spend money in that bracket to purchase character slots. The data were then multiplied (Avg Price in bracket * % that would buy * avg slots per player (3.41 and 6.87)). This creates a dollar value estimating the sales revenue per player for each price bracket (Note: Average price bracket is the median between the high and low values within a price range).

The 3.41 slots per player sales price indicates the average price each player (including the players who buy 0 slots) would spend. The 6.87 slots per player indicates the average prices that players who would spend money would spend. The end calculations for each step can be examined in Table 3.

Table 3.
Table 3. The calculation of the price a player would pay for character slots compared to how many slots a player would purchase. The highlighted row indicates the optimal price point for a character slot as indicated from the two surveys in this study. The optimal price is determined by identifying the bracket which maximizes the money spent per player and thus maximizes the profits (click to enlarge). It should be noted that $3.88 and $4.63 result in almost identical sales as such the cheaper value might be recommended so that psychologically more players feel included in the ability to purchase character slots.

Finally, these profits per player were multiplied by hypothetical active player counts to create a table (Table 4.) which allows an easy ballpark reference to estimate sales in the represented population at 50,000 account intervals.

Table 4.
Table 4. Estimated total sales at different numbers of active players in 50,000 account intervals.

Utilizing Table 4 should make it easy to ballpark potential sales on the developer side they would need to determine an accurate estimate of the cost to implement a character purchase option and then compare the value to the estimated sales value for their subscriber level. Simply subtract costs from sales and voila an estimate of the potential profits.

A last thought, these estimates should be used conservatively. They are accurate with regards to the sample population however without more information I cannot say how well the sample population represents the entire active accounts population.

 

How to make the next successful MMO

You might look back nostalgically at previous mmorpgs: World of Warcraft, Ultima Online, EverQuest, Lineage 2 and you might think…wow those guys were at the right place at the right time.

Wrong, Ultima wasn’t new, WoW wasn’t new, these games were well marketed and had follow through with their products. There was Lineage 1 also popular and prior to that there were literally thousands of muds mush muck etc…. Yeah they weren’t quite as big or as graphically pleasing but it was there…ever since the early 90s at least. Some of them were in fact massively popular and had subscripton fees….here is a list of still active variants…. http://mudstats.com.

It may have been novel to the masses just like a lot of modern mmorpg content is novel to the masses, but wow, ultima, eq, etc…were just the next stepping stone with good marketing they weren’t ground breaking people already played games with thousands of users online and they already played graphical games offline…once DSL, cable, satellite …etc connections caught up naturally stuff moved there…we were playing Warcraft 1 on LANs with 8 people connected to larger online servers in the mid 90s you could reset these RTS and play online against opponents ….yeah wow, uo, eq etc… Did it bigger (and your character progressed longer, much like pen and paper rpgs) but it wasn’t new. Good design, good product, follow through, and good marketing is where it is certainly within the realm of doable but if you try to be like someone else you will never be better than them. That’s where everyone gets it wrong… You don’t try to beat WOW by doing what they do better….they have more money, more staff, more time and more experience at doing what they are doing….how are you gonna surpass them? Hint: you won’t…how much money do you think ole blizz has spent perfecting their product? What AAA is gonna invest that upfront? You can’t out WOW Blizz, but the sky is the limit.

What will be successful? Something new and origional, say Eve…Eve did space, it was new and original whatever they did, that’s why it creeped up the way it did….I never played it so I dunno what that was…..what does an AAA gotta do today? Step out of the box (ESO has the potential to do this IMHO but they got a lot of work to do if they are going to pull it off), go with it, don’t be afraid to be different…and when you do that…do it flawlessly in a way that leaves no bad thought in the users mind…its gotta be fun, fast paced, active (people are tired of just mashing buttons on an endless gear grind)….content is king…but content is time consuming to create. New added content should be flawless.

I goto the bank teller machine it works it has money I slide in my card I slide it out I punch in my code and my money comes out….it just works, that’s how mmo developers need to look at their products (before launch) if you can assign a swarm of beta testers to the product for a week and you’re still finding more than one or two bugs….better send out a notice and say “sorry the product is not quite ready” …are there going to be more bugs found at launch? Sure but you’ve eliminated everything possible prior to that.

What do I see as the next big thing? Player created content. A developer will release a game and reward player created content (so many players can produce so much more content)…but wait that’s been tried….well kinda….this player made content will be highly moderated, require lore friendly and be tested by the developers prior to public release. These player made content will consist of many dungeons to explore (devs will constantly increase the number of quality tools player driven content creators can use). The game developers will be responsible for the world map and integrating the player created zones into the larger world. A developer who creates a dungeon that gets integrated into the game gets a free year of playing (on a sub game) or $150 cash in a b2p/f2p game. Why? Cause he has provided an hour of content for the entire playerbase….thats value. You get 12,000 player creators working on that task each one releasing one dungeon a year then you have suddenly 12,000 new dungeons worth of content…each year…and figuring an hour a dungeon thats 12,000 hours of unique content for players. That is also high quality (cause it was fine tuned by the company before actual release and properly vetted). How many of you played 12,000 hours last year?…total cost to the company for the bulk of the content work 1.8 million (a drop in the bucket compared to the alleged cost of making this game). The internal beta review of the content before public release and payment would take a decent staff of testers (full time work is 2000 hours a year…so just to play through the content once on each submission would require 6 fulltime testers…plus all the content that didn’t make it…plus actually doing proper testing…you might need 20-100 actual internal testers. At 30k a year per tester a hundred testers is 3,000,000 per year…and you have the polishers who take the submitted products and improve them to perfection ….maybe another 1.5 million a year. The total annual expense of 12,000 hours of unique playable content about 6.5 million a year in development costs only.

Now how many of you would sub ($15 a month) to a game that released 12,000 hours of flawless unique content each year? If that number is over 40,000 people then the development costs are paid for…the only expense left is management, financial, maintenance, server etc… I bet a paltry 100k sub’s could completely support this and with all that content …I bet sub numbers would grow!!!