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Teala's Wickedly Cool Blog For The Masses

Just my thoughts on MMO's, roleplaying, game companies, and the people that play these games.

Author: Teala

Dear Bill Murphy - A rebuttal to his column: Bringing In The Non-MMO Gamer

Posted by Teala Tuesday September 24 2013 at 7:21PM
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Dear Bill;

I do not know how to say this without rolling my eyes after reading your latest column about Elder Scrolls Online: "Bringing In The Non-MMO Gamer", here on  Seriously.   After all the years of you being in this business, and knowing the history of MMORPG's, you wrote that column as if you are a total noob to the industry.   ::sigh::

Ugh...let's start from the simple knowledge that the MMORPG genre is filled to the brim with bad games and over the years we've seen countless games with big names fail - and fail big.  So that is your first mistake.  Thinking that the popularity of the IP will somehow get people to play it.   One thing this genre has shown us over the years is that an IP's popularity is not going to get people to buy and play it.    Here are just a few examples.

  • Sims Online - this IP's popularity is unquestionable - yet it failed to pull in the numbers and died.  (Yes Sims still holds the record for the most box units ever sold for a video game franchise - ever).
  • Matrix Online - despite its movie popularity the online game crashed and burned.
  • Warhammer - another popular gaming franchise known by millions of gamers - closing down before the end of the year. 
  • Lord of the Rings Online - big IP, huge IP, probably the biggest IP to ever be made into an MMORPG, and yet it never managed to draw in the numbers Turbine was hoping for - eventually it had to go free to play to stay afloat - just barely.
  • Star Wars: The Old Republic - LotR's is huge, but there is not a kid or many adults on this planet that haven't heard of Star Wars - this game become known as the Tortanic for a reason.
So yeah...counting on an IP's popularity to sell your game is one thing, but if that game isn't a great game right out of the chute - it just isn't going to make it.  All indications of what we know about ESO is that it is no Skyrim and it certainly isn't a TES game.   Nope...sorry, the IP alone will not make this game great.
Then we come to the selling factor that this game is being made not just for PC gamers, but for console gamers as well.   Sorry to laugh. 
If Zinamax and Matt Firor honestly think that console gamers will play their game for years to come...they don't know their market.   Console gamers are notoriously ADD.   Game publishers cannot even keep them playing games all ready on the market long enough before they(the gamers) are out looking for the next game.   Yes, FPS games do have people playing them for countless months, but that is only until something bigger and better comes along - plus FPS games like Call of Duty and Battlefield are not MMORPG's.  So we won't even count them - because they are not the gamers that Zenimax are marketing toward.  They want the MMORPG players and the fans of TES, and especially Skyrim.  I seriously doubt many console players of Skyrim still play it.  
Which brings us to the MMORPG PC market.   A market over flowing with MMORPG's, many of which are just hanging on by their teeth...and that includes free to play ones.    Now Zenimax is going to bring us a new fantasy MMORPG based on the Elder Scrolls(but isn't the Elder Scrolls based on what we know so far) and if Matt Firor thinks that slapping the name Elder Scrolls on his game is going to sell it to the MMORPG gamers - he is on some really bad mind altering chemicals that he should stay far away from.    If console gamers have ADD - MMORPG players are worse.
MMORPG gamers are not casual gamers.   Of all the gamers on the market, MMORPG gamers are like locust.  They get the latest game, and eat its contents up - faster than the Artful Dodger could pick your pockets, or Oliver and the boys of the Old Strand Workhouse ate their porridge.   We've seen it countless times, in countless MMORPG's, where players go through the content, and before the developer can get the first patch in for bugs and fixes, the players are begging for more content.  "Please, sir, may I have some more?"


And if we look at what Matt has planned for ESO, you the player will only see 1/3rd of the games content - which means even less content for you.   Unless of course you want to fall prey to his SWTOR selling point crap that if you wish to see all the content, just make a new character for one of the other factions.
Which then brings me to this.
It didn't work for SWTOR and other games - it isn't going to somehow magically work for Elder Scrolls either.    If you force people to have to endure making more than one character to see the content of your game - it is going to fail and fail hard.  People tend to play one character(it is known as their main character), only after they have played their main to some degree will they make a new one, and then, not necessarily to play new content - but to try something new.    In all my time playing DAoC I never played Midgard, and never played for Albion.  Can't even tell you what those two lands major cities look like.   I played as a Hibernian - Ranger and a Cleric.   Ranger was my main and my Cleric was something I ran when I wanted to do something different.    Same for any game I have played.   I played WoW for years and never played an Alliance character - ever.   All my characters were Blood Elf, and I played my main a Huntress the most.   I am loyal to my character - not some faction.
Know what  the difference between WoW and Elder Scrolls is?   WoW has an open world.   No lines in the dirt stopping me from exploring.   Elder Scrolls - lines in the dirt.   For that alone WoW is a better game and if I were asked which game I would suggest a new non-MMORPG gamer play  for the first time - I'd point them to WoW.
And that brings me to this...
...Matt Firor also thinks that he can copy Blizzards success with faction loyalty(Horde vs Alliance) by having players jump around playing the other factions.   So tell me Matt how does having to switch races and factions and forcing me to create a whole new character build loyalty?   Clearly he is clueless on why people play the race and characters they do and it has nothing to do with loyalty to a faction.   Because if I had my way, I would have defected with my Blood Elf to the Alliance when Garrosh took control of the Horde in World of Warcraft.   I do not play a character for the faction - I play the character for who it is and what it is.   I played a Blood Elf because I liked them.  I played a Hunter because I liked that class.  I could have cared less if it were Horde or the time my Blood Elf was for the Horde, but as I said, after Garrosh came to power - I'd gladly switch sides and join the Alliance.
Forcing artificial alliances between races in TES is just stupid, and he is only doing it so he can put in what will ultimate fail as RvR.   That topic however is for a whole other article - which I will be putting up a little later on why Zinemax's Elder Scrolls Online as a game  is doomed to fail.
So yeah...not going to happen - ESO is dead before it even launches if Zinemax releases it as the mess they intend to release.
Now we come to this games other so-called big selling point - PvP/RvR.   Yeah...hello!  Did I just wake up in some bizarro alternate gaming genre where PvP has been a big selling point of MMORPG's?   MMORPG players are not exactly huge fans of PvP, not even controlled and limited PvP.    Sure there are lots of MMORPG's that offer PvP in some manner, but the number of actual players that participate in that aspect of the game is never in great numbers.   
Matt Firor is still thinking it is 2001 and he is releasing DAoC.    Well sorry Matt, that was then and this is now.   Back then, DAoC succeeded not because of of the PvP or RvR, it succeeded because there were only two other titles it was competing with:  EverQuest and Asheron's Call.   Some MMORPG gamers were looking for something different and DAoC fit the bill.   It was an MMORPG with a twist - it had built in PvP and or RvR.    It was different, and it was new, and one of a couple of games available for online RPG players.
Now let's look at today's market.   No MMORPG launches without some form of PvP, but is that what gets people to buy and play it?   If it is, than Warhammer should still be going strong!   Oh wait...that is right, game is shutting the servers off on Dec 18th of this year - RvR didn't save Warhammer.   If PvP is what sells MMORPG's than games like GW2 would be packed with players, Rift wouldn't have gone free to play, Aion would still be big, Age of Conan would not be merging the last of their servers, and games like Darkfall:Unholy Wars and Planetside 2(and PS2 is free to play!) would be blockbusters.   Yeah...PvP certainly sells games...not.
I am sorry Bill, but Elder Scrolls will not make new MMORPG players.   Not the way World of Warcraft did.    Elder Scrolls is all ready shooting itself in the foot, the hand, the stomach, and the head due to the way they are making the game play.   Sure...they will sell maybe a couple of million copies, but not to the people that he thinks.   Console gamers hate monthly fees.   If they have to pay for the service, and then also subscribe - lol - forget it, you can count them out.   No the ones that will buy it are the locust of the MMORPG genre.   The ones that buy any piece of fey wu game and then abandon it when they get bored.   Then, like many MMORPG's before it, Elder Scrolls will fade slowly into the abyss of bad games.
That is Elder Scrolls fate - it is all ready written - because Matt and company have learned nothing about what makes a good MMORPG(despite all the failed games they could have learned from), and the definitely do not know what made TES: Skyrim the great game it is and why it was so successful. 
Yes I do have a crystal ball.   Yes I am that accurate in my predictions for games.    But hey, don't take my word for it, just watch and see.
Stay tuned for my next entry - Elder Scrolls Online: Why it is the next big title that is doomed to fail.   :)  

Skyrim - still kicking arse in the gaming verse!

Posted by Teala Sunday September 15 2013 at 8:30PM
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Amazing...12+ million copies sold is almost 2 years old and is still going strong and still selling.   Why?   Because Bethesda got it right.   They gave people a game that is timeless and will no doubt be played for years and years to come.   I'm going to say it again, and keep saying it, to whomever will listen - this is how an RPG should be done.   Open world, no restrictions, with tons of content(with the option to add content as you go).    Of all the games I have ever played Skyrim is almost my perfect game.

I say almost because the one thing I wish Bethesda had given us is co-op game play.   If they had done this...MMORPG's as we know it would probably be dead or would at least have taken a huge hit.   A co-op version of Skyrim would be the perfect computer RPG.   

Think about it.   It would be like that perfect vision of a computer based dungeon master I am sure many RPG gamers dreamed of when they were younger.  I know I did.   TES Skyrim is, for me, that vision.   With Skyrim I can have hundreds of hours of adventuring in a make believe world of dungeons and dragons.    

With the ability to mod and add adventures - I see me still playing Skyrim years down the road - at least until Bethesda releases the full world version of TES Tamriel - with full immerssive graphics in 4k.    Well I can dream can't I?

Back to the topic at hand - why does Skyrim kick so much arse?   I have played countless computer RPG games, many since Skyrim's release and none have come close to the level of Skyrim.   Skyrim is a 12 while the others barely score a 7 on a scale of 1-10.   I know...but the scale only goes to how can Skyrim score a 12?  Because this is my blog and I say it does.  

Let's talk graphics.   I'll just let Skyrim's speak for themselves.  

Seen enough yet?  No...ok then...bam!

I know right...still not enough to convince you...then how about these?

Graphics aren't everything - but frakking "fus ro dah" - tell me graphics like this don't help with immersion - go on - I'm listening.  In the mean time - here's a few more pieces of gaming eye candy for your enjoyment.

No...but seriously, name me one computer RPG that is as rich graphically and stunningly beautiful on the scale that is Skyrim.   If you have played a computer RPG with better graphics tell me what game it is I'd really like to know.   Seriously, the graphics in Skyrim are mind blowing awesome.  

Now I know some people are wondering how you can get such rich graphics in Skyrim.  You can, if your computer can handle the graphics levels that  the game is capable of putting out.   With a few mods to enhance the graphics and a little tweaking the game is incredibly beautiful and none...none of these screenshots do it justice.   You have to play it on a good monitor, with all the bells and whistles turned on to see TES Skyrim in its full glory.   And yes - graphics are important in a game like this - it helps draw you into its magical world of dragons, demons and sorcerers.    It's like taking part in a fantasy movie and you're the main character.   That is how a game should be and wow...Bethesda nailed it with their game.

What else makes Skyrim a game that game developers can learn from?  It's openness and scalability.  I have never played a game that was so open.   You can literally go where you want and never not find something to do.

For example.

I was put to a quest by a mage to retrieve some lost script that would help him unlock the secrets to a powerful conjuration spell.   So off I go in the direction that the mage said I should go to get more information that might lead me to this lost script.   I get on my horse and no more than a few minutes pass and I am off chasing butterflies for their wings.    Not that I wasn't hard pressed to finished the quest I had just begun, but I saw the butterflies and knew I needed them for a potion.   Next thing I know I'm hunting an elk.   Then - what's this?  What is that glowing tree? 

Oh cool!   A grotto. 

Oh and look...a cave behind the waterfall.  Hmmm...I wonder what's inside?  Quest?  What be damned I found a cave!   

Eventually I did finish the quest.   After traveling across the country in the wrong direction doing stuff.   Never once did I get bored or wonder what to do next.   That is Skyrim...that is what makes it such a great game.    With all the mods and down loadable content is it any wonder why so many people are still playing it.  

Speaking of mods.

Don't like vanilla Skyrim?  That's OK...the makers of the game gave us players the tools to mod the game to our hearts content!  Want to change the look of your armor?  No problem.  With the right tools you can alter textures.  Don't like the way that building or house looks, or maybe you want to increase the size of a town - get out the Skyrim Creation Kit's like being a kid with a box of Legos® - you can build anything, anywhere and put it into the game.   For example I really disliked that we had so few choices in mages robes in Skyrim...and the ones we did have for our mages were - blah at best.  Most are all dirty, torn and look like a dragon chewed up the former owner and spit the clothes back out.   So I went in and created new textures for many of the robes and put them in the game(not replaced - added - so old ones are still there, I just put new choices in the game).   Did the same for hair and name it and I probably have modded it.   See for yourself.

I cool is this?   Skyrim with the creation kit is like the ultimate tools for great game masters(aka dungeon masters for the old school players reading this - who have played or played any pen and paper RPG's).    With the tools, as I said, we can add, destroy, remake, build - do whatever we want in Skyrim.   I know there are games like Fallout and others that you can mod...but I do not think they are as easy as Skyrim is and for me - well, I'm no computer genius and if I can do it...I think just about anyone else can as well.   Which means more mods and more gaming in TES!  I think I spend as much time modding as I do gaming...hehehe.  Just another reason Skyrim is still kicking much arse.

Imagine if Bethesda decided to do a true successor to Skyrim - but as an MMO...and no, TES Online is not it's true successor - it is a hack and a wannabe.   Why make a TES game and then close it off at every turn to the players because you decide you want to change the way a TES game plays.  And then...then you also want to add realm vs realm in the world of TES!  Screw that, the head developer of TES Online needs replaced.   TES Online should be open and scalable - and if you don't wish to get involved with the BS that Matt Firor is dragging over from his time with Mythic and Dark Age of Camelot we players shouldn't have to.  It should be optional.  No imaginary lines drawn in the dirt to keep you from exploring Tamriel(like they have planned).  Classes?  Really?  really burns my britches that the people making TES Online are trashing the core game mechanics and elements that make the TES games so great.  

I still think this game could be made into either a co-op game or a multiplayer online game and retain what makes it great.    Sure a few things might need tweaked here and there, but the main core game mechanics can remain.  That would make for an awesome MMORPG.

I dream alot - huh?

Anyway...back to Skyrim.

This game is so full of awesome sauce - it oozes out of our computers and our monitors.   Game developers need to take notes and start producing more games like this for us RPG fans.   That includes the up and coming Star Citizen.   I really hope Chris Roberts is paying attention.   Give us a TES Skyrim in space - give us a Skyrim version of Star  Citizen.    Then we players can have both a high medieval fantasy RPG and a Sci-FI RPG.    We'd truly be in gaming nirvana.   

How cool would it be to be able to add and mod Star Citizen as much as we mod Skyrim?   Hear that Chris.   That is the sound of money being printed into your bank account by the millions of Skyrim fans.

I think we've been told that Star Citizen will be moddable - but I do not know to what extent.   If it is as moddable as Skyrim...cha-ching!  Chris's bank account explodes.    :)

Anyway, Skyrim is the single best game I think I have ever played.  It is the single best computer RPG I have ever played.  It is the single player RPG that plays like an MMO - but isn't - and it should be.  It is the best computer dungeon master any pen and paper gamer could ask for in this day and age.   It can be a game masters greatest tool for pen and paper fans. It is a great vehicle for telling epic stories - and you get to participate in them!  It is a great tool for present and future game developers to learn from.   It is all this and much more, and that my friends is why Skyrim is still kicking arse in the gaming verse!


NOTE: To mod Skyrim there are two great places to get them.   Here are links to them.

Skyrim Nexus

Steam Skyrim Workshop

To learn how to mod - if you are interested.  Bethesda has a complete tutorial online via Youtube.  Here is a link to their channel.

Bethesda Game Studio Skyrim Tutorial




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