I’d like to explain more about feeding or AP boosting. The simple explanation of the term(s) is the scenario where you have players from another faction come and allow you to kill them repeatedly to make AP. If they die on a resource and you get the defence tick, you get the same amount of AP for killing them from the tick. If they die on a fully leveled-up keep (as of 2019/Q2), then you get five times the amount of AP you made for killing them from the tick.

Keep in mind that a player’s AP value when killed resets after five minutes, and they’re worth less AP until that five minute mark has been reached. I believe that the increase from being worth zero AP one second at the time of resurrection to being worth full AP after five minutes is linear, though have never tested that. In order to optimize feeding, there will be a five-minute delay in between when the player being fed will make their AP, and this is easily noticed by those who are looking for it.

In order to identify someone who is being fed, the easiest method is to look at the leader board. If their score increases with a very consistent amount of AP every five minutes, then it’s possible that they are being fed. It’s also possible that they are in a big fight that keeps going on (we’ve seen fights last for hours where both factions keep coming back), or they may be using some over-performing skills (I’ll get into that later on). Other possibilities include players duelling, players testing skills, players testing AP returns after a patch, though in most situations it will be someone being fed.

A simple way to identify a potential feeding location is to look for small swords on the map in an area that wouldn’t otherwise make sense. They look like this: and will appear whenever multiple players are killed. If they only appear every five minutes, then the likelihood is high that someone is being fed or boosted.

An example from 2019/05/13 follows:

Here is the starting leader board positions. I was playing my warden [email protected], and the Adrestia guild group wanted to push one of their members One Chaturbate [email protected] up to get emperor. You’ll note that we’re both in the mid/high 900k area.

A few minutes later, One Chaturbate Token (hereinafter referred to as OCT) jumped up by about 75k AP. He then continued to increase by about 75k every five minutes until a few of us went to investigate Blackboot, where we saw small yellow and red swords appear every five minutes.

A direct correlation between 75k ticks at Blackboot and OCT’s increases was identified.

Looking at this leader board screen shot, OCT had 1,662,773 AP.

I took a transit shrine from Roebeck where we had just taken back the farm to Blackboot, and repaired a wall making 86 AP. Seconds later, I got a tick for 38,174 AP. This number is almost exactly half of what OCT’s leader board increases were every five minutes:¬†

You can then see in the next leader board update that OCT increased by exactly that amount (38,174 AP), and I increased by that same amount + 86 AP (which I got for the wall repair).

OCT: 1,700,947 – 1,662,773 = 38,174

Coroin: 1,151,579 – 1,113,319 = 38,174 + 86 = 38,260

From the beginning in the 900k range, about one hour passed where OCT increased by about 75k per five minutes except for the four periods where I stole half his ticks. In those four periods, he increased by the same amount as I did (around 38k excluding the 86 AP wall repairs). In some updates, he didn’t wait the full five minutes and made about 70k, with the largest update being 78k, which was probably a perfect five minute wait between the time that his guildmates resurrected each other and when he killed them again.

It looked like they would continue feeding / boosting AP regardless of my stealing half their ticks, so we went to interrupt them near Blackboot mine where we saw the small swords appear:

By this point, OCT had made about 789k AP in that hour, as can be seen on this leader board screen shot:

OCT: 1,752,460 – 963,457 = 789,003

Coroin: 1,190,081 – 992,928 = 197,153 (of which about 150k was from stealing his ticks).

Once they were located and interrupted, the players feeding scattered and logged back into their AD toons. It’s interesting to note that they claim to have all been playing together fighting “normally” the whole time, yet OCT is the only one who made any AP during the period.

This was the Adrestia group about five minutes after they were interrupted when they went back to their AD characters:

It is important to note that feeding and AP boosting is not against the Terms of Service, the EULA, or the Code of Conduct, but it is seriously frowned upon by the community and many people consider it “cheating”.

Section 9 of the Terms of Service state:

You agree not to use any hardware or software or any other method of support that is not authorized by ZeniMax or that may in any way influence or advantage Your playing abilities, or influence or advantage Your use of the Services.

To our knowledge, this is the only paragraph that can be relevant to these activities, though ZOS’ interpretation of said paragraph is only related to the use of cheating programs and hardware – and not activities taken by players without any of these types of cheating mechanisms.

If you’re considering being fed AP, then keep the following in mind:

    • The people feeding AP are not going to be making AP while feeding, so there’s no real value to them in doing so. They probably won’t want to do this for long (unless you’re compensating them).
    • People will talk, and take screen shots or videos like the ones above, and it will get out. It’s very easy to accuse people of such when you don’t understand AP farming techniques and strategies, and many of the high AP earning players have been accused of this (myself included). Consider that it’s one thing for whining jealous people to accuse others, though it’s another if there is actual proof. With proof, your reputation (if you have one) will take a hit, and it can impact your social enjoyment of the game. Some people don’t care, and we’ve seen many posts on the forums and screen shots of players being fed both on the map and using exploits to get outside of the map (under the world or past the mountain barriers).
    • If people are aware that you’re not making your AP legitimately, then they won’t want to help you get Emperor.
    • It is very easy to find you doing this, as when you kill a few players in an area, there will be swords on the map. Seeing consistent swords on a resource that is not flipping during the early campaign is very obvious, and it’s very likely that people will come to disrupt your activities.
    • We’ve heard of a few PvE guilds who would do this in order to help new players or new characters get the required skills in the Alliance War skill line (caltrops / vigor / proxy). I personally believe that this has less of an impact, as it won’t affect the leader boards past the first few hours of a campaign.

I posted the below on 2019/05/14 in Discord explaining my position on this event:

Yesterday someone was caught with their guild feeding them to top the AD Vivec leader boards. I’d like to make my position clear on that, as there have been quite a few arguments on the matter.

My issue with this is case of balance, where everyone has an opportunity with the same potential.

The players / guild who were feeding are good players, and are probably all among the top 5% of PvP players in the game in terms of skill. They have the skills to make top AP. There’s no need for them to play unethically (subjective statement).

Regarding other types of activities that make more AP than is expected with normal fighting (this point was brought up by one of them that other people do or did these in the past so it’s ok for them to feed):

  • There is a case of skills over-performing such as undaunted skill line abilities with synergies. If you are a solo player (not in group) and use them around many other players, you can get higher returns on AP while in range of the players who have used your synergies. Many players know about this (including the ones who were feeding), as it was made public months ago and they were directly told in voice comms (Discord) the morning of this event.
    If done well, having personally used these skills a lot as a player who is solo most of the time (including that morning), I know that it can result in between 20% and 35% more AP per hour than you would make normally.
    If someone wants to slot a skill on their bar, then use that skill on the Alessia bridge (example of where many players congregate), then they’re not doing anything outside of normal fighting activities even if a skill is over-performing. I use these skills regularly, and while you may disagree with using them to make AP, they are skills that anyone can use anywhere at any time.
  • In the case of a resource or outpost swapping (which was a thing with broken BB mine a while back, and outposts before ZOS changed the tick requirement to having 5 minutes pass), anyone could participate in taking the resource repeatedly, and everyone had the same potential for AP. Show up and you get AP. Everyone can see it happening and can join in, so there’s nothing unbalanced. There were cases of players leaving an AFK macro at Bleakers (where DC and EP swapped it continuously for days) achieving AR50 Grand Overlord in less than a week.

If you feed, you’re unleveling the playing field and it becomes a question of resources, which we measure in time, money, and people:

  • With enough time, you can make more AP than people with less time. As an example, working full time gives me less time to play, so someone who is off school for the summer or unemployed (such as many of the Adrestia guild members) can easily make more AP than me. There’s nothing wrong with this in principle, as better players can make more AP in less time, though there is a balance here – which many of us don’t like, but it is still a balance.
  • With enough money, you can pay people to stand and die for you feeding you ticks. What’s to stop a player from bringing in 50 other players to feed ticks? Absolutely nothing. For each player feeding another, the one being fed can make about 140k / hour in an optimal situation.
    If feeding were included in acceptable activities, then that player will make 7.5 million AP / hour. Many, many people in ESO have gold measured in hundreds of millions or even billions. If someone offered other players one million gold to stand there for an hour or two and die every 5 minutes, would people do it? I’m sure that they would. There would be no way to beat that person on the leader board (not considering seeing swords on the map and interrupting for the sake of this point).
  • With enough friends or guild mates who want to help, a similar scenario to the point above is applicable. In the case of this event, based on the ticks I saw (repaired a wall and got half the tick), there were probably 6 (maybe 7) players feeding. One player gives about 2k AP when killed, and the tick for that player is about 10k (five times at a fully upgraded keep). Ticks of about 75k with a bit less than 12k per player (considering imperfect timing) would require seven players feeding.

None of the above feeding scenarios are against the Terms of Service, EULA, or Code of Conduct. ZOS have made their position clearly known that the players can do what they want, and if they want to role-play killing each other, they are welcome to do so. Many people talk about players policing themselves, though we all know that’s not going to happen. There’s very little that we can do to stop feeding, and I’ve always argued vehemently against feeding because it messes up the balance of the boards.

That’s the summary of my position. If you want to feed, you can go right ahead, but I’m going to clearly state that I believe that it’s a shitty thing to do.

Regarding the allegation that I myself use over performing skills to make more AP, I freely admit that, and some may call me a hypocrite for such. The techniques and methodologies that I use to find those skills and determine their performance for AP percentage returns were also made public as well as the use of synergies, applying debuffs, and spamming skills like Inevitable Detonation when running solo to get very high returns on other players’ efforts killing.

Some people disagree with using them, and they’re entitled to their opinion. Bug reports were made for every skill and set that we believe is over or under performing, and it’s on the ZOS development team to change these things if they want to. If they want to declare something “an exploit” as they did gap closing over non-contiguous ground until they changed their code, they are entitled to do that. If they declare something an exploit, then we will obviously not use it – though we may argue with them. Until and unless they explicitly state that “using the altar skill when you are solo and there are other players around you is an exploit”, I fully intend to keep using altars on the Alessia bridge until they change how that skill works. Incidentally we’ve tested on PTS, and it looks like AP percentage returns are being much better balanced in the Necromancer update (2019/05/20).

In my opinion, and you are welcome to disagree (as I’m sure many of you do), there is a very big difference between:

  • Running up to the bridge or a breach and dropping an altar, then spamming trapping webs or inner fire.
    and
  • Having your guild mates swap factions and feed you ticks.

In ZOS’ opinion they are both acceptable practice. If you as a player disagree, again, you’re entitled to your opinion. The ToS allow for all of this, and it’s on each player to determine their own code of ethics.

A very simple method for ZOS to address these types of situations would be to eliminate any AP that one player gets from killing another if there have not been any other players who made AP off of the killed player in a subsequent kill/death. If you are against feeding, suggest this or something like this to ZOS. If you have other ideas on how to combat feeding, please feel free to let me know the details, and I’ll add them here and suggest them to ZOS myself.

Incidentally, after a heated debate / argument in the ESO PvP discord the evening of 2019/05/14, the server hosting this web site came under attack around 1:30 am eastern and the ESO PvP Discord disappeared.

For those interested in web server attack details:

This is the normal level of traffic from a week prior to the attack:

This was the traffic from the day of the attack:

The web site was down until about 5 pm when I got home from work and could migrate it to an AWS stack with CloudFlare front-end.

No direct accusations are being made with regards to the party or parties responsible, though it was rather coincidental and interesting timing.