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

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim has ensnared countless gamers in its gameplay web. MMOs can learn a few things from Skyrim’s gameplay and design to improve their own gameplay. Jeffprime lists 5 features that MMOs can learn from Skyrim.

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Since its launch, The Elder
Scrolls V: Skyrim
has ensnared
gamers in
its gameplay web. Eschewing work, school, and marital duties, players
have devoted every waking moment to exploring the vast realm of Skyrim,
doing countless quests, and defeating dragons to become a mighty hero.
While Skyrim
is, proudly, a single-player RPG, a number of features can
be found within the game that MMOs could learn from to make their
gameplay better. As that both MMOs and Skryim promise similar goals of
heroic adventures in a vast world that players can explore and
adventure in, features found within Skyrim
could easily be applied to
MMOs. In no particular order, Ten Ton Hammer presents five features of
that will enhance MMO gameplay if adopted.

Content! Content! Content!

One of the best features found in Skyrim
is the sheer number of quests
that players can undertake. Many players actually ignore the main quest
line in order to run around the realm of Skyrim
doing endless
side-quests. Each organization that a player can join, from the
Companions to the Thieves’ Guild, all have their own quests
for players to undertake. This leads to an extremely high replay value
(as shown in our href="http://tentonhammer.com/reviews/elder-scrolls-skyrim">review
of The
Elder Scrolls: Skyrim

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So many quests to do...so
little time...and health!

A key feature of MMOs is that players make tons of alts once
they’ve maxed out their main character. Usually, the only
different quests to be found when playing a new character are either
from playing a totally different faction or the starting zone quests
for specific races, such as in
of Warcraft
After doing a
character or two, you find yourself doing the same old quests over and
over again. However, in Skyrim,
while there aren’t an
infinite number of quests, there are plenty enough to do for a number
of characters, especially if they really focus on playing a specific
style such as full mage or fighter.

Adding more quests to MMOs should be a no-brainer. The quests found in
also tend not to follow the usual MMO style of “gather
x number of herbs” or “kill x number of
beasts.” Rather, the quests in Skyrim
tend to focus on a
specific story or plot that the player tries to complete. Adding lots
of additional quests, and having those quests have a good back story
which makes them more fulfilling to complete, is something that MMOs
should take from Skyrim.

Crime Can Pay

One facet of gameplay that most MMOs ignore completely, but is a
functional feature of Skyrim,
is crime. In fact, the red hand of theft
in Skryim can be extremely profitable and lead to further adventures,
such as quests from joining the Thieves’ Guild or the Dark
Brotherhood. While some games allow you to pickpocket (WoW)
or pick
locks (Dungeons
and Dragons Online
the freedom to go down the bad
path is never an option. Isn’t gaming about indulging our
fantasies and playing as something that we are not? Why can’t
we play a REAL thief or assassin in a MMO? Why can’t I break
into a merchant’s shop and steal his inventory to resell at
some other place? Just imagine players burglar-proofing their in-game
housing to make sure that their goodies aren’t stolen. By not
having crime as a viable option for players to do, MMOs are forcing
gamers to play good guys all the time and are depriving players of the
added tension and intensity of….

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I think I picked the wrong

Crime Has Consequences

If players can kill innocent people and steal, consequences should be
part of the bargain. In
if players get caught stealing or
killing within a town, they can be arrested, attacked by the guards, or
have a bounty put upon them. Sticky-fingered characters can skip town
to live in a different locale to attempt to avoid the trouble
they’ve stirred up.

Just think of the opportunities that can arise in MMOs from crime and
its consequences. If players act too badly within the borders of a
particular faction, they could be barred from entering their territory
or forced to do specific quests to get back in that faction’s
good graces. Bounties are something that could add some nice suspense
and tension to online gaming. What if in your favorite MMO, you royally
pissed off some faction and they put a bounty out on you? No matter
where you went, you would always be under the threat of constant attack
from bounty hunters or agents of that faction.  How awesome
would it be if you were taking the tram to Ironforge and you were
suddenly attacked by agents hired by the Silverwing Sentinels? Even
better, if you wronged a player by stealing from them or hurting them,
they could put a bounty out on you. Think of the possibilities! MMOs
could have even more player interaction, actual interest of not pissing
off factions, and additional quests to either anger a faction or get
back in their good graces.

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.

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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
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.

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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:
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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