ZeniMax: TESO not a MMO … sorta

This is why community managers are so important: The Elder Scrolls Online Game Director Matt Firor is quoted in an interview today saying the following:

“This is more a multiplayer Elder Scrolls game than an MMO. [You’ll see] very limited UI, nice and clean, not a lot of bars.. the combat system is very much action-based. It’s also soloable… you can solo almost the entire game. […]” [Source]

Solo the entire game in this mostly multiplayer RPG MMO.

He has a point.  TESO has already been outed as highly-instanced, and that’s not the first time Firor has come out to saying the entire game is soloable.  The thought crossed my mind to go to their site and look for any references at all to TESO being a MMO, and sure enough I wasn’t able to find a single reference; not that there’s much info on their site at all, though.  But they haven’t really been honest in their marketing either.  ZeniMax has taken every opportunity to feed major MMO sites with TESO info, their videos emphasize MMO, and the beta application is clearly MMO bait.  Ask 9/10 people and they’ll tell you TESO is going to be a MMO.

I should be really happy, though.  I don’t want TESO to be an MMO.  TESO should never even have hinted at MMO design, even in the vaguest possible sense.  They should have always marketed and designed TESO to be a multiplayer RPG.  If TESO even smells like a MMO then it will be judged like one, and I can already tell you the crippling wave of fear is settling in on the ZeniMax team, likely fueling the backpeddaling, that being a MMO and falling short of the mark will be the kiss of death.

Someone needs to take charge and get the MMO community some much needed clarification.  You’re confusing the hell out of people, Zenimax.  You’re sending mixed messages, designing it like a themepark MMO, but calling it multiplayer RPG.  TESO has SWTOR written all over it, and that’s horrifying.

  • They just wanna establish early on that they aren’t an MMO so everyone doesn’t bitch and moan when there’s a lack of endgame, as happens with pretty much every self-styled MMO released these days.

  • Just became a lot more interested in this. I was completely disinterested when I thought it was going to be made as an MMO. If this has actually been designed as a multiplayer RPG from the start (which should mean a lot of focus on PvE, soloable, good story, with the option of sharing it with others imo) then I am all for it. If they wanted to make it an MMO from the start and are now changing realizing they would be falling short… maybe not so much. But I will definitely be watching it closer now.

  • you guys are dumb, the only reason he said that was to make elder scroll fans not feel nervous about entering an mmo, all matt has done is make mmo’s, read wayyyy to much into 1 line and take it how you want to take it

  • People will look at it just like they did the first Guild Wars. ArenaNet went out of their way to tell people, THIS IS NOT AN MMO it is a Massive Online CRPG, yet there was and still are people to this day that call the first GW an MMO.

    Personally I am not against instances. While open world is nice as someone who largely solos I like having zones to myself or a limited number of people in the zone I am in to avoid having to wait for forty minutes to have a chance at a particular quest mob.

    As much as I enjoy TES series I had mixed feelings about a true TES MMO. Actually this makes me feel better about it.

  • @ Keen, I do agree with the SWTOR feeling. I sure hope ZeniMax does better than BioWare when it comes to how they market their product.

  • More over-hyped garbage, pretty much what this industry does best now with big studios and mega-publishers.

  • @Loud: Hard to read into someone literally saying that their game is more multiplayer RPG than MMO. So we’re supposed to take exactly what he said, and think the opposite? Yeah, okay, that’s not confusing AT ALL. Come on, the point of what I’m saying here isn’t that this is true; I’m saying they better start doing a better job at clearing up the message.

    @Michael: Like I said, I should be happy too. I don’t want TESO to be an MMO because it’s going to be a pretty awful one. Make it a multiplayer RPG, and suddenly I’m interested a whole lot more. Problem is, we know they’re shooting for Themepark. All they’re doing here is appealing to the Elder Scrolls fans who don’t want a Themepark MMO. In the end, you piss off both the ES fans and the MMO fans.

  • Age of Conan tried doing the same thing. They called themselves an online action cooperative RPG or something like that. This game is going to be judged as an MMO whether they like it or not.

  • Seems like complete and total hedging to me. The closer they get to release (and E3 if they will have new content on display there), it will be harder and harder to hide that TESO is really just another WoW-like in design. Solo to endgame, no reliance on other people (which means crafting is likely to be non-necessary), repeatitive endgame.

    Perhaps a better way to put that idea would be TESO was very likely of the last generation of MMOs designed to compete with WoW on its own turf.

    That’s my guess anyway. They’ve avoided talking about it for a long time but it will be hard to hide that reality for much longer if it’s true. That statement was the “don’t be mad if there’s not much MMO in this MMO” clause.

  • They can call it whatever they want, it’s the same uninteresting garbage that’s been getting released for the last 8 or so years. I’m sure there will be tons of people completing one inane task after another, getting their loot pellets at the end and feeling awfully proud of themselves.

  • So far, all I see is “meh”. If it ends up being anything but a combination of mediocre MMO and mediocre TES game (i.e. unworthy of being a TES game), then I will be extremely surprised.

  • “If TESO even smells like a MMO then it will be judged like one”

    I am not sure what standard I would TESO to be judged by if I was a developer. MMOs get away with less than state of the art graphics, people begrudgingly accept the “Kill 10 Rats” type of quests in MMOs, MMO storytelling standards are usually lower than comparable single player game experiences, and incompleteness is forgiven as MMOs are seen as a living project. It seems like the overall MMO standard is lower than the single player standard but it is generally accepted because of the “MMO experience.”

    If people start comparing TESO with equivalent high quality single player games (just with added multiplayer) it may fall short if it has made some of the usual cuts seen in MMO development.

  • @Chris: Oh it’s completely hedging for sure; that’s the best way to put it. I think the devs are scared that TESO will get stuck between ‘Not an Elder Scrolls game’ and ‘Another WoW Clone’.

    @Argorius: Therein is the root of the problem. You can’t satisfy either crowd if you hedge, but you can maybe squeeze out a little more favor from the bottom-feeders in the MMO market. Personally, I can’t get excited for a game targeting that market.

  • See, I am having the opposite reaction to some of you. If TESO does not try to be an MMO, then sign me up for day 1. I love the Elder Scrolls games, and I love MMOs, but an Elder Scrolls MMO will never work.

    If it is just an Elder Scrolls game that I can run around with my friends? Awesome.

  • Keen, mmorpg’s are dead. Any doubt about that was erased when Blizz gave Titan the boot.

    A single player Elder Scrolls that lets me be in a guild and chat sometimes and jump in a pvp match when I’m in the mood?

    Works for me.

  • @Tumorseal & Jim: Don’t neglect the fact that I would prefer TESO as a multiplayer RPG. Keep in mind that what I’m pointing out here is that all signs point to TESO being like SWTOR, which, in my opinion, is not a multiplayer RPG — it’s a watered down MMO.

  • Keen, I hope they will make it like Jim said and not like you said “watered down MMO”. Something like Shroud of Avatar. I also agree with Jim that MMORPGs are dead…same old story

    -A game is going to release
    -people ask and cry and loudly demand x,y,z “make it like x,y,z or die”
    -the game release with z,x,y,z,v,b,n,m,k,…. but then people find an excuse “it doesn’t have “f”, so I quit”

    And those who are the “wolfs” as they call themselves and also call as “sheeps” they say make it sandbox with ffa pvp or it will FAIL…and yet we ve seen lot of sandbox ffa pvp games fail too…why they don’t play eve, Darkfall, and others, and come into every new game forums to ask for sandbox ffa pvp?

    In conclusion, players are all burned out of MMOs, they have fond memories of their old “happy” MMO days and they desperately try to live the same moments again in every peace of MMO is going out and they all get disappointed. At first I thought that it wasn’t players problem, but the developers couldn’t make a worthy game but after so many years, I am now convinced(personal opinion) that players nowdays cannot get happy with any game..

  • @John: You probably would be correct if modern MMOs were designed the same as the “old school MMOs.” However, they are not…as long as you can clearly see and articulate major design differences, it just seems unreasonable to generally blame the players. Design choices have actual consequences on players. The old “rose tinted glasses” analogy simplifies an extremely complex problem in MMO development over the last decade.

  • @Argorius You are right and in no way I was referring on the old school MMO players. I am an old school player and I can clearly see the difference on game designs. I argue with anyone speak about “nostalgia” because this is not the point…I know the part of my post say abound “fond memories” may be confusing, cause my english is also bad..but I was more referring to the new gamers that have 10000 expectations and they cannot play not even a month or 2..

    however I think that we are minority now..most of us grow up with way too many real life responsibilities and we are unable to spend so much time again in our games or follow a guild schedule. Games cannot target us because we are very few sadly..

  • @John: You hit the nail on the head for many of us. I have school, work, and a family now. Even 5 years ago I could spend 40 hrs a week gaming. I’m thrilled today when I can squeeze in an uninterrupted 2 hour session.

    I miss raiding, I miss hc mmorpg’s. I’m waiting for the game that can give me that same social raid progression challenge/experience without the brutal time sink/grind. Not that I didn’t like that part before…it’s simply that I don’t have the time anymore.

    A vanilla WoW raid game where I could progress doing 2 2hr sessions a week and 12 hours of grinding? I’d be all over that.