Dear Zenimax Online Studios,
Yo. Allow me to introduce myself. I was born 87 years ago…wait that’s been done already. Scratch that.
Yo. My name is High King Shank “the” Tank III Esquire, The First of My Name, King of the Andals, the Rhoynar and the First Men, Lord of the Seven Kingdoms, Discounter of Pumice Stones, and Protector of the Realm. I write this letter to you as a fan of the series, but more importantly, as a newcomer to the MMO genre.
You see, I have always despised MMOs. I’ve never really liked their UI, their style of combat, lack of a true first person view, really weird control schemes, the list goes on and on. And so, when I heard that you were creating an MMO based on my favorite game series of all time, I naturally panicked and immediately became defensive.
You must understand, I am a console baby. I love using my gamepad. My first Elder Scrolls game was Oblivion – a game I still play to this day on my Xbox having logged over 650 hours in it. I love that it’s a truly immersive single-player experience, where my adventures and story are truly my own. I first bought Skyrim on PS3 and sunk 226 hours into that game. In fact, when I saw my friend play it on his PC, I ran out, bought a PC, re-bought Skyrim, and began playing. I currently own 4 copies of Oblivion and 2 copies of Skyrim. If I do the math, I have spent $1575 and over 1000 hours on the Elder Scrolls.
Why am I inundating you with these facts and figures? I want establish my love for this series. By now, you probably know that I come from the single-player camp, we who have probably never really played an MMO. So we have some concerns regarding how you will take on the gargantuan task of not only creating an MMO out of this single-player series, but appeal to us – the TES veterans – and convince us to give this game a shot. What are some of my concerns?
The single-most important feature of any Elder Scrolls game for me is true first person perspective. This is also the biggest reason why I dislike MMOs. First person allows me to be in the world, interact with the characters, the monsters, etc. In short, it makes me feel that I am in the game. Fortunately, you seemed to have genuinely listened to your community. It wasn’t until you announced this true first person perspective that I was convinced of this game. Just last week, you released footage showing off this perspective, and as an Elder Scrolls diehard veteran, I can honestly say you’ve gone above and beyond my expectations. Not only does your implementation look awesome, but in my eyes, it surpasses that of Skyrim and Oblivion. In fact, there was a moment in this video where I genuinely thought I was watching footage of Skyrim. Bravo.
Another concern I have, which I believe can be echoed by Elder Scrolls players like myself, revolves around exploration. I believe that it can be successfully argued that the reason Elder Scrolls stands head and shoulders above other RPGs is its free-form nature, not just in the way you can accomplish tasks, but the world itself. The first thing I did in Skyrim was immediately walk east. Why? Because the world was wide-open and deserved to be explored. You see, the world is very much a character much like any of the NPCs. In fact, I believe the world is the most important character of the whole game.
So, where does my concern lie? I fear that given the MMO nature of this game, that sense of exploration will be lost. Will I be able to pick a direction and just endlessly walk? Will I be required to complete certain quests before I can ‘move on’ to some larger area? Will my hand be held? You have released some information which has made me hopeful. I only hope that the degree to which I am able to explore will not be hindered by the fact that others are enjoying the game around me. Prove me right, good sirs.
I would like to reiterate that I am a console baby. I started my gaming on consoles and continue to play Elder Scrolls on my consoles. That being said, my primary input method is a gamepad. I know what you are saying, “This is a PC game, and therefore uses a keyboard and mouse”, and I understand that. In fact, using the word “gamepad” to any PC gamer is essentially blasphemy, but I only request that you hear me out on this one.
As I understand it, one of the tasks ahead of you is courting the Elder Scrolls players who are new to the MMO space – like myself. Naturally, if we look at that set of gamers, a sizable subset arises in the form of console Elder Scrolls gamers – like myself. This means that you are inherently trying to attract a subset of players who have played Elder Scrolls on a console. This also means that this subset of players are accustomed to playing Elder Scrolls using a gamepad. I don’t want to speak on behalf of this entire subset of players, but I know that for me, the fact that many PC games now utilize gamepad functionality is a huge plus. In fact, I’m not sure I’d be playing games on PC if using a gamepad wasn’t an option.
Now, I’m not requesting you implement gamepad support. Rather, I wish to ask you if gamepad support is being seriously considered. Why do I believe this is feasible in your game? For one, you have stated that combat will be real-time – just like in any Elder Scrolls games. Attacks also don’t have cooldowns and are instead dependent on your Stamina and Magicka reserves – just like in any Elder Scrolls games. And while a “hotbar” does exist, it is limited to five slots which can be cast at will. This doesn’t sound so dissimilar to the hotkey system in Oblivion – which can be accessed via the d-pad.
It is for this reason that I ask you, as an Elder Scrolls fan who grew to love these games on a console, if you are considering implementing gamepad support. While many of my fellow gamers will surely look at this question with disdain, I merely ask that you give it a chance.
And so, Zenimax Online Studios, we have come to the end of my letter. I write to you not because I am disheartened by your game – quite the opposite really. I want Elder Scrolls Online to succeed. I want you to buck the current trend of MMOs. I know the task ahead of you surely seems impassible at points, but trust me when I say this – your community is behind you.
I only ask that you don’t forget about us – the Elder Scrolls players who grew up on console, who have never played an MMO before.
Please don’t let us down.