So as many, if not all of you have heard, there has been an announcement of an Elder Scrolls MMO. Epic, right? Totally my first thought, too but then I focused on a critical detail.
This is Bethesda we’re talking about.
Frightening, I know. I mean Bethesda screams innovation, epic journeys and awesome landscapes. They are flush with talented writers, story-boarders and people that can make an engrossing game. But it’s where they fail that brings that chill down my spine. They are, simply put, terrible programmers. Not a single one of their games of recent memory have been released without bugs ranging from game-breaking to stupid and just plain annoying. Upon each release are message boards packed with people crying out for a patch to fix their woes. I won’t even mention how they make the ugliest women of any AAA developer. Oops.
Skyrim is an amazing journey with epic battles. Firing my arrow into invisible rocks during said battles is not so amazing. Neither is trying to find where my companion went or my horse taking off from the ground for no apparent reason or wondering why the hell it and my companion are attacking me. Oh, and that story-line quest that I need to go further into the game? Broken.
“This gate should open, right?” “Well, yes it should.” “So, now what do I do?” “Go into your control panel and walk thru the wall.”
These things are somewhat passable if you know a workaround, but now we’re talking about an MMO. You can’t give people console commands in a Massively Multiplayer Online game and you can’t expect paying customers to put up with things like this. That is assuming Elder Scrolls is a pay-to-play, but even if it isn’t there will still be micro transactions up the yin-yang.
The Modding Community.
Just today Bethesda tweeted that 13.6 million downloads have occurred on the Steam Workshop for Skyrim. That is insane. It also speaks loudly to how much 1) the devs lean on the modding community to lengthen the life of their game, and 2) how large of a modding community there is. I’d say a large amount of people hardly play other than testing their mods.
So, what happens in an MMO? The life of a modder is greatly reduced. Beyond some graphical and UI edits there isn’t a lot of open code being handed out to random people on the ‘net. It’s not like in an MMO they are going to let you mod in a saber cat mount so you can set it loose on a town of innocent people (never done it, swear). But, seriously? That is a large positive to Skyrim just as it was for Oblivion. The modding communities are HUGE and active. I can’t see that carrying over to a standard MMO. Certainly not in the same capacity.
That isn’t to say Bethesda isn’t going to do something different, but I’m still mostly afraid of the bugs in their single player games carrying over into this game. Bethesda, MMOs are a different ballgame. I hope you’re ready for the wild ride. Go ask BioWare how it’s going. They’re already handing out “come back” and “don’t go” packages.
I hope I’m wrong so I will take this mindset: Hope for the best; expect the worst.
And if it’s great…
Here’s to hoping!