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The Wounded Timeline - And How to Mend It.

Kambo
Kambo
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Earlier this year after Elsweyr first launched a discussion went on about what year it actually takes place in, as Abnur Tharn mentions that his half-sister Euraxia conquered the city of Rimmen 6 years prior to the events of the chapter. The original conclusion I came to in that thread was that the year was 2E 583, one year after the very beginning of the game and its main story, but that it had not reached the month of Frostfall yet, as Euraxia's claiming of Rimmen was known as the Frostfall Coup. However a revelation occurred as the thread was still going on. Because the subject was on my mind and there happened to be a Reddit AMA planned I decided to ask our good Loremaster himself what year the timeline was currently set in. His answer was, in my opinion, less than enjoyable. He claimed that due to the nature of the game allowing you to do content in whichever order you like, effectively making everything relative to the player, we should assume the year is still 2E 582. I and a few others voiced concerns over this in the previously mentioned forum thread, and a few even responded directly on the AMA with their concerns, but ultimately he gave his answer. By keeping the year in 582 it effectively allows the player to enjoy the entirety of the game without the timeline progressing and potentially disrupting their own chosen flow of time.

Here is why this answer doesn't work.

To start, eventually the timeline will have to move forward. If it remains 582 forever then the year becomes incredibly bloated with events to the point where there is no reasoning the idea that it even is still 582. It was already a bit hard to believe it was still 582 by the events of Elsweyr. But when they do eventually move the timeline forward it will contradict their original philosophy on how the timeline is relative to the player.

The current year in-game really only affects those who pay attention to the lore, and most who do prefer to do content in the correct order as well. This was a concern brought up back on the AMA and original thread and I feel it still applies greatly. Those who play because they enjoy the gameplay don't care what year it is in the timeline for the most part.

There is a journal in Orsinium that flat out states the year is 583, which we can assume is now a retcon. Despite this it's still in the game and anyone who reads it and then goes and plays some other content could easily become confused and assume that Orsinium is supposed to happen after everything else. It is a bit of a slim chance to be fair, but it's still a possibility.

I've recently been talking about this topic with my friends who also think the decision was less than ideal. The result is something I'd like to propose. A suggestion. Instead of saying that the year is still 582, why not just say the game starts in 582 and then leave the passage of time ambiguous? We already know that the year 582 is confirmed to be the start and current year of the game's timeline, and it would solve many issues if the passage of time was left completely ambiguous to the player. No mentions in-game about when certain events occurred. No journals stating which year it currently is. And no need to move the timeline forward as it would make the timeline even more relative to each player and allow them to come to their own conclusions about how much time has passed.

This fulfills the idea of mixing the gameplay freedom together with the timeline, and it does it far better than assuming it's still 582. And that does bring me to fun little thing to end this whole post off. I would love to see the individual interpretations you all have for how much time has passed and which events have occurred in which order. I also would like to see all of your thoughts on the subject itself as well as my suggestion.
Straight out of Mo- uh, oh wait. Um... Ebonheart, I guess?
PC US
Characters:
Ebonheart Pact - Niveth Othrril - Dunmer Stamina Dragonknight
Daggerfall Covenant - Undetermined. - Stamina Warden
Aldmeri Dominion - Undetermined. - Magicka Necromancer
  • Danikat
    Danikat
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    I don't understand why they think it's an issue to let the timeline progress.

    Guild Wars 2 has a similar system where you can play storylines in different orders. Until level 80 you only have access to the base game story but after that you can skip ahead to the latest story, then go back and do an earlier one etc.

    But their stories progress in a linear order, with time moving forward. It was the year 1325 AE when the game started, it's now 1332 AE and NPCs will talk about the events of precious stories in the past tense.

    As the OP stated those who care about the timeline will choose to play it in order and those who don't care...well, don't care. They might sometimes question how or why something happened in a story they skipped but as far as I've seen they understand that they did it out of order and accept there will be things which don't make sense as a result.

    I can't imagine it would be much different in ESO.
    PC EU player. | PAWS (Positively Against Wrip-off Stuff) - Say No to Crown Crates!

    "Remember in this game we call life that no one said it's fair"
  • Kambo
    Kambo
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    Danikat wrote: »
    I don't understand why they think it's an issue to let the timeline progress.

    Guild Wars 2 has a similar system where you can play storylines in different orders. Until level 80 you only have access to the base game story but after that you can skip ahead to the latest story, then go back and do an earlier one etc.

    But their stories progress in a linear order, with time moving forward. It was the year 1325 AE when the game started, it's now 1332 AE and NPCs will talk about the events of precious stories in the past tense.

    As the OP stated those who care about the timeline will choose to play it in order and those who don't care...well, don't care. They might sometimes question how or why something happened in a story they skipped but as far as I've seen they understand that they did it out of order and accept there will be things which don't make sense as a result.

    I can't imagine it would be much different in ESO.

    Like I suggested in the OP if they want to tie the gameplay and timeline together the best way to do it is to simply act like the game started in 582 and that everything after the beginning is ambiguous and relative to each player.

    The thing about how they're doing it right now where it should be assumed that every event happens in 582 is that it also is more of a suggestion than anything. They want players to experience the events and passage of time in each of their individual ways, so technically they're already doing the right thing here, but they don't act like it with how they describe certain events in-game. As mentioned before it's flat out stated that Euraxia conquered Rimmen 6 years prior to the events of Elsweyr, with the exact year in which that event takes place being 576. You could have just left out the specific line that it happened 6 years prior and replaced it with "a few years back" and it would have genuinely been a lot more smooth and interpretation friendly.

    Now I'm not trying to rag on the writers or devs or anything with the OP and this reply here, trust me I love the work they've all been doing and I think ESO overall has the best lore out of all of the ES games I've played, Morrowind included. But as a self proclaimed lore master I feel it's only fair to criticize the decisions that don't quite sit right.
    Straight out of Mo- uh, oh wait. Um... Ebonheart, I guess?
    PC US
    Characters:
    Ebonheart Pact - Niveth Othrril - Dunmer Stamina Dragonknight
    Daggerfall Covenant - Undetermined. - Stamina Warden
    Aldmeri Dominion - Undetermined. - Magicka Necromancer
  • Juzz
    Juzz
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    Usin’ a simple but comfy clock addon, who’s sayin’ that it’s 605 for me, explainin’ that ye’re not a Superman, who definitely should put yer nose in all the stuff goin’ on in parallele. Just one person, aye, vestige person, who’s takin’ act in some of the stuff goin’ in big-big Tamriel, innit?

    And about mendin’ itself, aye, it’s a good idea, if the lorekeeper gonna place it in the right order, but still doesn’t work for the huge part of the players who don’t even care, just gettin’ undaunted keys all the time not even knowin’ why they’re doin the same stuff in a sequence.
    Edited by Juzz on December 27, 2019 3:29PM
    Make Skyrim great again.
  • Vrienda
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    Not progressing the timeline harms the story, everything feels vague and disconnected. We don’t see Molag Bal’s dolmens in new zones yet supposedly he’s still invading? We should be in 2E 587 by now. So much has gone on.
    720+ CP Dunmer Stam DK and Bosmer Stam Templar mains.

    Waiting for the day when ALL of Craglorn becomes soloable by the average player. *Glares at group delves and the lower Craglorn Mage and Warrior questlines*.

    Also waiting for the day when characters not created in Morrowind are allowed to have that extra skill point we were denied!
  • RaddlemanNumber7
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    I haven't given any real thought to this 2E 582 business. It doesn't affect my in-game experience, so I'm pretty much ignoring it.

    But, if I was going to get to grips with this issue I would treat the Lore Master's statement as a Galileo moment. This does not mean that I would be trying to get him to recant, or demanding that he be burned at the stake (unlike some people here). What I would do is bury my old theories about how the Cosmos works, and then have fun developing some new ones based on the new information.

    In the same way that it was proven that the cosmos is not geocentric, it has been authoritatively stated that ESO takes place in 2E 582. I would base my new theories on that.
    PC EU
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