5 Things that MMOs Can Learn from The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim - Page 2

Posted Wed, Nov 16, 2011 by jeffprime

The World Doesn’t Stop and Start with You

One amazing feature of Skyrim is that the world feels alive and that the denizens of the realm go about their daily lives whether you are there or not. Most shops close at night, vendors and NPCs go to their homes to eat and sleep, and people walk around the towns and cities plying their trade or interacting with one another. In short, the people that inhabit the world of Skyrim have lives (albeit artificial) that do not revolve around the player.

5 things that mmos can learn from the elder scrolls: skyrim
A world where life goes on even if you're not playing? Madness!

MMOs do not fully immerse you into such a vibrant world. No matter what time you visit a major city, the shops are all open and the NPCs are always found in the same spot. At most, they may have a predetermined path that they take, but it’s usually minor. Porting the realistic nature of the world from Skyrim to MMOs would add a great deal of immersion to the gameplay experience. The game companies would have to set their in-game world clocks to the various time zones and the peak hours of gameplay. Wouldn’t it be vastly more interesting to get to a city late at night where most of the shops have closed? While you would always need a place for players to sell their items, perhaps there might only be a few places open late at night. Of course, these open-all-night vendors would be located in a more dangerous part of town, where footpads or bounty hunters have a greater chance of appearing.

NPCs walking around, talking with each other (and sometimes fighting) could lead to new quests opening up. Perhaps a vendor gets into an argument with an unruly customer and then appeals to the player for aid. Another facet that could emerge is the use of rumors to give players incentives to seek out specific NPCs or locations.

Flexibility is Awesome

A tremendous aspect of The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim is the flexibility of playing your character. As that there are no classes in Skyrim (only skills), how you develop your character is up to you. Want to concentrate on sword-and-board fighting? You can. Prefer instead to be a deadly archer or perhaps a stealthy assassin? What about a combination of several models or more? In Skyrim, you can do all this. In MMOs, you cannot.

5 things that mmos can learn from the elder scrolls: skyrim
Do I play as a mage or a fighter...or both?

While there are MMOs that have decent flexibility in character progression as you level up (DDO or Rift with their soul gems), most MMOs lock you into a class progression that you choose at the beginning. Not only does this deny you the freedom of playing exactly what you want, it also adds frustration if you choose a class that you find out doesn’t suit your gameplay style. Your only recourse is to start all over again with a different class and play through the same quests you’ve just finished playing.

However, if MMOs follow Skyrim’s example, you can start out playing as a mage, but eventually switch towards another style if you don’t like slinging spells. While your perks may suffer (and this can be remedied by either paying or doing a quest to reset them), your base skills do not depend upon your character’s level. Increasing a skill in Skyrim is easy; just use it more often and it will level up. Your old skills don’t wither and die. Just imagine the surprise you can create if people know you only as a tank-style character, but you suddenly whip out some devastating Destruction magic in PvP! Greater flexibility allows gamers to play the characters they want to play and, I think, is much more fun that creating a dozen alts to cover all the various aspects of the game.

MMOs and The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim both strive to provide gamers a world rich with adventure and fantasy. However, Skyrim has features built into their design and gameplay that can positively impact MMOs. Features such as adding crime (and its consequences), flexible characters, massive content, and a dynamic world should be embraced by the next generation of MMOs. Additions such as these will vastly increase the enjoyment and experience of playing MMOs.

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