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 Elder Scrolls Online  makes MMO of popular offline RPG series
Elder Scrolls Online makes MMO of popular offline RPG series
May 3, 2012 | By Eric Caoili

Bethesda Softworks will bring its popular Elder Scrolls series of single-player RPGs online next year.

The Elder Scrolls Online, developed by Zenimax Online, will be the first multiplayer version for the critically-acclaimed and commercially successful franchise since its debut 18 years ago.

The series' last release, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, was one of the biggest releases in 2011, and had shipped more than 10 million copies around the world before the end of the year. Previous Elder Scrolls games were developed by Bethesda Softworks, a subsidiary of Zenimax Online's parent company Zenimax.

Set up in 2007 in Hunt Valley, Maryland as an MMO-focused studio, Zenimax Online is headed by Matt Firor, co-founder of Dark Age of Camelot developer Mythic Entertainment (now BioWare Mythic). This will be Zenimax Online's first release.

The game explores a new period in Elder Scrolls' history, and is set a millennium before the events of Skyrim, according to a report from Game Informer.

Bethesda Softworks will publish The Elder Scrolls Online in North America, Europe, and Japan next year for Windows and Macintosh-based PCs.

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Terry Matthes
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Seems like a pretty natural evolution for the series.

Chris OKeefe
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I swear to god if this turns into an Elder Scrolls themed WoW clone I'm going to be deeply unhappy. =(Really all I want out of Elder Scrolls is the ability to play cooperatively with friends. I would pay my weight in gold for the ability to log into a friend's game and explore together. Major gameplay changes not required or desired.

I realize there are almost certainly technical issues (nevermind balance issues) that prevent a game like Skyrim or Oblivion from being ported wholly to an MMO medium, but if the design doesn't take its gameplay cues from internal sources, and instead looks to traditional MMOs for inspiration, then in my opinion it would be a disaster.

Matt Robb
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Agreed. And I *like* WoW. I just don't have any desire to buy the same game with different graphics and less balancing or polish.

Ben Gardner
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I would imagine it would be closer to a game like Guild Wars 1/2 has many of the single player RPG elements that Elder Scrolls has. I would be worried about the quality, its rare for any MMO to be good unless its done by an experienced company.

[User Banned]
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This user violated Gamasutra’s Comment Guidelines and has been banned.

Jacob Johnson
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MMOs are dead unless they introduce something other than killing enemies and leveling with friends...same old song and dance in every MMO I play...just because it's Elder Scrolls doesn't make it cool or entitle it to be an MMO. But since I love Skyrim, and still play Oblivion, I have hope for this I guess.

Ron Dippold
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Hmmm. I'd like to see the whole world done up like Skyrim, but there are some serious issues with this:

- TES solo games are buggy buggy buggy. MMOs are a whole new level of complexity I have no confidence they can handle.
- How's the combat going to work if you can't pause and scroll through your gigantic, stupidly sorted inventory (alphabetical by adjective, really?) looking for that perfect potion?
- I'm not sure I want a TES game you can't use user mods with. Those are what really make the game.
- All the fantasy MMO corpses already littering the ground.

I guess we'll see.

Chris Huston
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The bugs issue was what first came to mind for me, too. If they have so much trouble with a single player, offline game, I cringe at the thought of how an MMO version would play.

Alan Rimkeit
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As long as they make more single player RPG's of the Elder Scrolls series then I am all for it. Good for them, I am sure it will sell very very well. It might even be awesome. Otherwise I will be very very unhappy with Zenimax and Bethesda.

I just hope they do not do as Bioware did. I play SW:TOR and it is fun, but I would much rather had another single player RPG KOTOR. Maybe they will do it later on. One can only wish.

Bob Johnson
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Wake me up when it's out.

John McMahon
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Wonder how long before the infamous Fallout MMO?

Celso Duran
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Been asking myself the same thing, or any universe like Fallout for that matter. Until then, MMO's are not in my list of game genre's.

John McMahon
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Nor mine, but considering the lawsuit Bethesda went through...I thought it would have been at the tip of their tongue.

I'm way pass MMOs. I just do not have the time to commit.

Kevin Patterson
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I love the elder Scrolls and have been a fan since Daggerfall, this MMO will have alot to live up to.

First person had better be a true gameplay option and not stick elder scrolls fans with 3rd person Wow/every other MMO gameplay. The elder scrolls should be true to it's fans and RPG games or it's going to get crucified and tank after 1 year.
I want the world to look like the games that came before, Cyrodiil should be forestry like Oblivion was and not the current "MMO" style forest, Morrowind should be have that almost alien like atmosphere, locations from prior games should be there and not just destroyed or so drastically changed it looks nothing like the prior games. I understand to make it fit for an MMO changes in locations will need to be done, but it's a cop-out to not have most of them recognizable, or at least a similar layout.

I would to see ships and ocean travel be more than just jumpgates as well. Zenimax, we don't need or want another WOW clone that has the elder scroll layout.

sean lindskog
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I think Kevin's comment really shows the uphill battle Bethesda is up against here. TES has a huge devoted fanbase with very specific expectations for a TES game. But many mechanics that work in a single player RPG just don't work in an MMO. So somethin's gotta give, and that's gonna piss people off.

I guess SW:TOR had a similar issue with KOTOR. But Star Wars isn't solely defined by KOTOR - only some Star Wars fans are hardcore KOTOR players. Whereas TES is entirely defined by the single player RPG games.

You can come close to an RPG-like game with heavy use of MMO instancing. But that makes MMO players mad too. Then again, most things make MMO players mad. ;)

One good thing is that TES has such a tremendously rich and fleshed-out story, that there will be massive amounts of lore to draw from to create content and quests.

Kyle Redd
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I don't see how Bethesda will be able to create as much entertainment-per-dollar value in a monthly-fee MMO as they have in the previous Elder Scrolls games. Unless they're planning on going the Guild Wars route, this will be a very tough sale.

Eric Schwarz
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Interesting, but remember this is a different developer with potentially very different gameplay goals and mechanics to achieve them. I certainly doing expect "Skyrim with multiplayer", but returning to Daggerfall-style procedural worlds has a lot of potential.

John Flush
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* Reads MMO, online...*

I'm out. Grinding, poor mechanics, and never ending. I don't have time or care to play such experiences. Wake me up when they release an Elder Scrolls game, or a KOTOR game for that matter.

Ruthaniel van-den-Naar
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They should make some mugs and mouse pads for milking franchise (i realy hate this term).. at least they wouldn't do so much damage to series by that.

Gil Salvado
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Gosh, I wonder how they are going to implement community fixes as a 'feature' into an MMO, that's going to be a massive USP [/sarcasm].

David Navarro
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From the comments here, it looks like this game has placed itself right at the nexus between Bethesda haters and MMO haters. For that reason alone, I wish it wild, unprecedented success.

Maria Jayne
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The synopsis I read - No housing, No realtime combat, classes, species limited factions, and no vampire or werewolf options. To top it all off, they took a game world famous for its single player rpg and touted it in its big reveal as having 3 faction pvp.

This sounds exactly like every other fantasy mmo out there in one way or another. I already feel like I don't want to play this.

Rob Wright
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It's sad....Tom's Hardware scooped this story back in March, well before Zenimax spoon-fed this "exclusive" to Game Informer.

(edit: not bashing Gamasutra or the author, just think its disappointing when good reporting doesn't get proper credit and is ignored/forgotten)

Eric McVinney
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I'd be more inclined to buy the game if it actually did come out and the online features were related to that of Demon's/Dark Souls. Still stick with a huge open world, but have the user-to-user interaction minimal :|

Anthony Boterf
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Plenty of "new" MMO's cropping up (GW2, Tera, this) , yet once again, NO ONE has seriously tried to change or update the genre in any meaningful way. Judging from the comments here, as well as everywhere else, nobody really wants another same-old same-old. If any game devs reading this want to hear some seriously new ideas for an MMO, please contact me. Once I can get funding, the world (of MMO gaming) will never be the same.

PS: If I can get a lead developer and a lead artist to commit, I'd be willing to take a chance on Kickstarter.

Chuck Bartholomew
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I am cautiously optimistic that this project will bring something new to the MMO genre. I would love to see a derivative of Bethesda's radiant story system in an MMO - and as I rule I don't play MMOs because I hate the forced social aspect - its just not my style preference.

From a business perspective, this move makes sense as Single-player RPGs and MMOs potentially draw players (and the associated disposable income) from different audiences. I don't know that an Elder Scrolls MMO will attract Elder Scrolls players, but it might draw MMO players.

Victor Gont
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This is the first thing that I thought of when I saw the teaser. A radiant quest system together with phased, persistent world changes would be an amazing leap forward that the MMO genre is sorely lacking at this moment. A cooperative Skyrim sandbox if you will.

Unfortunately, I think they will go with the safe wow-clone design and rake in the profit from the hype, then downscale to the 1 mil. subs that the hardcore TES fans will bring - much like every AAA MMO did in the post-Warcraft era.

Brian Buchner
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I play the Elder Scrolls series to *escape* people, not join with them. I'd love to think this isn't the end of this franchise, but...

Craig Page
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Goodbye two months of my life in 2013. :(