Elder Scrolls Online art director talks MMO limitations and stylistic influences

The Elder Scrolls Online - concept art

What’s up with the stylized visuals on display in The Elder Scrolls Online’s recent screenshot and video reveals? It’s all about marrying various takes on Tamriel with the limitations of MMORPGs, according to ZeniMax Online art director Jared Carr.

“We’re not really at the technical state with MMOs to be able to pull off photorealism,” Carr explains. He goes on to say that the target is 200 characters on screen for the game’s massive battles, and he also notes that despite concessions to tech limits and travel times, TESO is heavily influenced by previous Elder Scrolls games, particularly Oblivion and Morrowind. Head to Game Informer for the full video dev diary.



It’s just hilariously absurd that in 2012 Tera has more solid action combat than Skyrim had. And now Skyrim is being turned into an MMO, and they ditched action combat for a strange hybrid that is supposed to pretend to be action combat through a sort of compromise.


I love the Elder Scrolls, and I’ve always dreamed of an Elder Scrolls MMO, I just wish they would’ve waited a little longer before having to compromise so much here.


Firefall and Tera both have action combat that is more fun than Skyrim’s action combat. I can’t help but wonder what could have been, and now we’re left with a compromise for probably 10-15 years. By then, game genres are going to be blending I think. Every genre will have single player and MMO versions of itself, we don’t have to pretend anymore with tab targetting.


I don’t see why they have to explain. We are no where near the technology we need to produce Skyrim graphics in a mmo setting. Yeah there are some great looking MMO’s out there but if you notice the ones that do have a population of 1000.
Imagine what your computer would do if 50 people were in the same area with Skyrim graphics. Your computer would melt.
If you know that a MMO is going to have hundreds of thousands of users at a time. You have to have acceptable graphics.
You super TES fans need to understand how MMO’s work and the technology behind them. They are giving you what the technological limits that low to mid range systems can handle these days.
We are probably decades from having graphics that rival Skyrim in MMO’s. You have to take into account that developers in order to make more profit cater to lower end systems so everyone can play a game no matter the system you have.
Whats better?, a game you can play on your mid range system, or a game that gets 5 fps on your 3,000 dollar rig with 3 crossfired graphics cards?
Now on to why they chose Themepark vs the Sandbox approach. Take every Sandbox out there and combine the subs. Would those numbers equal half of what WoW has? No. Again developers are here to make money, feed their families. Sandboxes don’t appeal to the masses.
Your going to have to stomach that the game will not look great, and its not going to let you loot everything in a shop or kill all the npc’s.
This game is going to be a MMO with The Elder Scrolls lore thrown in; that also includes a little 3 way pvp a la DAOC.
Nothing less, nothing more.

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