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Today Zenimax Online Studios, a division of Bethesda Softworks, announced The Elder Scrolls Online, an MMO based on their most popular franchise.  The Internet has arisen with a collective cry of joy, particularly because of the success of the last game in the series, The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim.  But not everything that glitters in this announcement is gold.

"We have been working hard to create an online world in which players will be able to experience the epic Elder Scrolls universe with their friends, something fans have long said they wanted," said Matt Firor, game director of The Elder Scrolls Online. "It will be extremely rewarding finally to unveil what we have been developing the last several years. The entire team is committed to creating the best MMO ever made – and one that is worthy of The Elder Scrolls franchise."

Zenimax Online Studios started up in 2007 with the suspected intention of creating an MMO based in the Fallout universe.  Unfortunately, Bethesda had to battle for the IP with the original developer, Interplay, and said lawsuit halted production on the game indefinitely.  It seems that instead of stopping development on an MMO project, Zenimax Online Studios switched to working with an IP Bethesda already owned outright:  The Elder Scrolls

But those in the gaming community that think that this game will just be an online version of Skyrim must first realize that the people who worked on Skyrim have been busy with their own single player projects (Skyrim included) and have not been making TESO.  Matt Firor, the Game Director for this new MMO, cut his teeth on MMOs at Mythic with Dark Age of Camelot.  This means that he is an MMO guy first and an Elder Scrolls guy only recently.  Chances are the game will look and feel very different from a Skyrim experience, mostly because a world full of demigods would feel completely unbalanced. 

I have serious reservations about applying this IP to an online game. While Fallout would translate well to an online experience, I feel like The Elder Scrolls experience would be greatly cheapened by shoehorning it into an MMO.  We will have more information about the game format when the Game Informer exclusive article comes out next month.  Until then, I won't hold my breath.

The Elder Scrolls Online will be available on Mac and PC sometime in the future.

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I completely agree - I'm very concerned that the changes needed to fit an Elder Scrolls game into the limitations of the MMO architecture may take away a core part of what makes a TES game distinct. Honestly, I would *love* to be proven wrong on this, but we wont know for sure until more information is released.

I will not, however, be surprised to see Action Bars, Class-based abilities and other long-tested core elements of the MMO genre forced into this game. Saddened, perhaps, but not surprised.

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