Tobold's Blog
Friday, November 18, 2011
How much Skyrim?

There seems to be some disagreement here and in other places on the "size" of Skyrim. Some people call it a huge and epic world, others point out that it is much smaller than a MMORPG. I've seen estimates of the time required to play the main quest to the end of about 30 hours, and completely playing through all side quests of 100 hours. Which isn't half bad for a modern single-player game, but doesn't compare well to thousands of hours of content of a MMORPG.

Furthermore if you play Skyrim at a typical MMORPG rate of over 20 hours per week, 100 hours per month, there is a good chance that the Skyrim buzz will be over in a month. The question "Skyrim or SWTOR" won't pose itself, because by the time SWTOR is out, Skyrim might already be yesterday's news.

What do you think about the size of Skyrim, it's replayability? How many months do you think you will play the game? How does it compare in size to a typical MMORPG?

The blogosphere will have moved on by Christmas.

And I expect people to have burnt out on SWTOR by the release of Diablo3, unless a patch is timed to address all of the issues and add some new compelling features.

The average gamer will find lots to keep them busy in Skyrim, just going on how long Oblivion took my friends. Indeed, some of them are still dipping in from time to time.
> What do you think about the size
> of Skyrim?

A direct "MMO vs. Skyrim" comparison is hard and risky, because they're way too different. MMO's are generally VERY repetitive. Yes, WoW can keep you tied for years but... what you really do in Azeroth is repeating daily quests, heroics and raids on a daily/weekly basis. Forever. And you keep replacing gear tiers after tiers. Forever.

Is Skyrim big? I don't know, yet, it's too early. I am not a "rush" player, I enjoy visuals, side stuff, experimenting, die->reload->do-better stuff.

Of course it wont last forever, because it's offline. And because there're too many titles out there that will grab our attention. But for a single-player game, IT IS huge, and IT IS different, interesting and fun. A lot.

> it's replayability?

It all depends on your playstyle. Are you able to do daily quests in WoW and grind reputation for weeks (or months)? Nobody stops you from doing the same in Skyrim.

Do you like achieving hard tasks, doing "better" when you learn new techniques, test new races/classes, explore worlds, read (lore), level, craft, ...? In that case it will last for a very long time.

After a long era of "kill 10 boars", "collect 20 apples" and similar stuff... Skyrim really brings a lot of fresh air. And the most interesting thing is that you feel "epic" from the very beginning, at level 1. Plus, it's like you're part of a living world, contrary to ANY mmo where you're surrounded by randon nicknames and static npc's.

> How many months do you think
> you will play the game?

Hard to say but having the PC version I guess I'll be tied for quite a lot. Mods, expansions, patches. Yes please, I love them.

> How does it compare in size
> to a typical MMORPG?

It's a single-player game, so its lasting appeal can't be put in relation with a MMO, in my opinion. But the PC version can last much more than a console counterpart.
I guess I can feel your sentiments: you are tempted to get Skyrim but you're not sure it's REALLY worth it (also considering the mouse problem that you mentioned yesterday).

I can tell you this: I started bashing the game, because the first attempt to play it was *horrible*. The inventory system was a REAL pain for me. Also, animations and textures where way far from being what I was looking for.

So yes, I admit I was almost dropping it forever. Then I made a step back and thought... ok, let's see if I can ignore the con's and focus on the pro's.

That's when the magic happened: I started to "feel" the story, the environment, the musics, everything. By level 4 I was already doomed and sucked in this AMAZING world.

If you play it and find some nasty stuff, I beg you to force yourself to go deeper and experiment until you can master the inventory, the skills, the fights. You will LOVE it, trust me.
With mod tools coming out it will extend the life of it quite a bit. But the first mods will be stuff like UI changes and texture resolution changes ect. It takes time for some serious content mods to be produced (like fallout / FO:vegas / oblivion).

I am currently loving the game, but I did spare some time out to beta test (I use the term loosely) The Old republic last weekend, and from what I saw I wasn't overly impressed. I was hoping for some thing more than WoW with guns but alas that is what I got.

Sure there are some decent voice over work and the story isn't half bad, but that pretty much the same as Skryim though isn't it? You level up get past the story and all you're left with is a mediocre MMO. That's the reason I quit WoW months and months ago, I don't want to sign up for another one.
This is a pretty good example of how Skyrim is different and -overall- a great experience.

This player gathered some dead bodies, reanimated them and raised a small "personal" army. Then he used it to raid a town.

Skyrim is filled with "creative" content like this.
WoW-model MMOs, which is what we're talking about with SWTOR, garner their thousands of hours by making you complete the same repetitive tasks over and over. There is new content pushed out occasionally, but that's just more cut from the same cloth. Skyrim will have new content too, from Bethesda and from modders, and at least some of it will bring variety. Too, Skyrim gains replayability becuase there are many ways to interact with its world outside of the context of what MMO gamers whould call "content." It's an asset that SWTOR will not have.

I'm annoyed that it just comes down to themepark vs. sandbox again, but here that's exactly how it will boil down. The actual "space" within each game is not really very important; what we should be valuing is some ration like stuff/some increment of travel time, and by that measure even though Skyrim has (I'm sure) a lot less "space" than SWOTOR, it doesn't matter beacuase the scope of player activity is so much larger.
well that comparison is not entirely fair - 1 hour in Skyrim content is not equal to 1 hour in MMOs.

MMOs have too much filler content - too many time-wasting mechanics and much more reskinned content (kill 10 foozles as you say)

So Skyrim is probably worth of about 3 months MMO content, not counting the social and pvp MMO mechanics, that are also in place to generate content/fill time.

And keep in mind that much of the end-game in MMOs that takes large amount of time is equal to just making some encounters in Skyrim way harder so that multiple people and attempts are required to complete them.

All in all, Skyrim is pretty hefty game contentwise.
I've so far played 6-7 hours with it and I have the feeling that I haven't seen anything yet. Done the start quest, first village and spend some time in the first big city. It looks like I only did about 5-10% of the map if I look at it. I see myself playing it for a good month.

Yes, mmorpgs are a lot bigger but is the content at the same level? The quests are often a lot more grindy and the NPC's who give them aren't as well worked out.
The Elder Scrolls series games may seem short if you play them just once to beat the plot or quests. Their real replay value comes from the multitude of options during the course of the game, as well as from the actual roleplay that the series somewhat promotes (if you ignore your average MMO incentives and try to enjoy the world).

And don't forget all the user-created content that has already started appearing. The community mods have easily provided multiple years' content for the previous games, that is, if you don't get bored with the game mechanics (that is exactly why you should avoid minmaxing it and play it like a virtual world instead).
Well I haven't finished it yet (far from it), but I really don't think there enough content to even begin to be possible to compare with a MMORPG. Still it does feel huge and you can probably spend quite some time going through the content. The replayability is there since you can of course run through it with a completely different spec which will give you another play style. But of course the stories will only differ slightly as far I can tell. I usually don't play through the games more than once though.

But of course any single player RPG is built differently than a MMORPG. It's usually bigger, yes. But the progress is also usually slowed down a lot to make the content last longer.
The content of single-player games is denser and for the most part more intense.

People hang in Ironforge for hours, basically doing nothing or chatting to their friends. Or they grind herbs for an hour. Few would play a single-player game for the equivalent experiences.
The content of single-player games is denser and for the most part more intense.

I agree that this seems to be the case. But why would it *have to* be so? Shouldn't it be possible to make a denser, more intense MMORPG experience?

The problem is probably keeping that higher density up. I think Age of Conan suffered terribly from the drop in density/intensity after leaving Tortage at level 20.
"...and completely playing through all side quests of 100 hours. Which isn't half bad for a modern single-player game ..."

what?! Not half bad? How about not-so-modern single player game like Baldurs Gate II with around 300+ hours for the complete content, including side quests.
And Im not sure a single player game can be compared with a MMO, because indeed it "doesn't compare well to thousands of hours of " wanking in Dalaran, pardon, Orgrimmar.
Anyways, Ive picked Oblivion too on steam, and as for now Oblivion simply feels like medieval Fallout 3.
As for now, Im not sure what the fuss is all about.
> Shouldn't it be possible to make
> a denser, more intense MMORPG
> experience?

Yes, but let's talk about keeping it updated, patched and what not. It would be a pain in the back for the developers. The more ramifications, choices, etc you add to the game... the more you risk your players exploit the system.

I'm 11 hours into Skyrim, right now (level 9) and boy... coming from WoW it seems I've been playing a videogame for small children, really.

Skyrim dinamically adds side-quests on the go, stuff changes based on what happens... That's almost impossible in a persistent online world, shared by thousands of players. Unless you instance something of course.
I feel like those numbers are posted by people who play this game like it's a MMORPG. "Right click NPC, don't read wall of text, hit accept, look on map for quest marker, go there."

I'm determined to make this the first TES game that I finish, so I'm taking my time, exploring the world, READING THE BOOKS, talking to everyone in the town, listening to the bards songs, no fast travel, etc.

I'm 20 hours in and I am still working my way through the Whiterun content. There is no way I'm going to finish this game in 150 hours, but finishing the game is not my end goal.

TLDR: There is a lot of content in the "small" area of Skyrim. If you want to experience it, this game is longer than you think.
So you measure skyrim about how much time you need for the quests? I just leveled another alt in wow and questing through the max level didn't took me 30 hours of gameplay for sure...

What makes a game an MMO? Well replayability I think...what we do in wow?4-5 months now we do the zandalari dungeons every day?the same quests for 6 years?the same raid for 3-4-5 months? Yes you can spent thousands of hours in an MMO but not by doing something new, but by doing the same things again and again and again and again.........
A lot of the value of an MMO comes from playing with other people. So the two concepts don't really compare all that well.

I can't possibly see most people play Skyrim for as long as an MMO - but perhaps that is a good thing! Skyrim is good for playing a different type of RPG.

In the end I think this will cut both ways, once millions of people play Skyrim can they really go back to games where you have to kill 10 more foozles in a repetitive way? I personally won't and I think the pool of people yearning for a deeper better MMO grows - and that is a good thing the more we are out there the more likely we will eventually get what we want.

In skyrim picking a different character will allow you to play through in a very different manner - I am only at level 14 still around the first big city and I can clearly see that I could have taken very different paths - you can probably mostly clear some dungeons simply by luring subjects into existing traps or igniting flammable objects - this intrigues me to the level where I am tempting to roll a new character just to try it that way.

When was the last time you could clear an MMO dungeon a different way?
Yesterday I brought down a dragon from the sky, shooting fireballs from my hands while my Fire summon shot mammoths and my companion put arrows into bandits trying to rob me. On a mountain side no less. Then I absorbed the dragon soul, looted everyone and went home to take a nap.

I can only think of a few instances in MMOs where I had the feeling of and yet single player games are made of the stuff (the good ones). MMOs are no more than a grind fest these days - and I lump in the MW3-type games too.

When your friend asks you if a game is good, do you say that you spent 2 weeks killing orcs or that while on a burning plane, you got into a fightfight, pushed a guy outside, jumped while the plane was exploding, grabbed a crate in mid-air and rode the parachute into the middle of a desert?
100 hrs of well crafted single-player vs months & years of cutting-room cast-offs? That's the choice & if your of an average intelligence you can make your own choices.

It's not the size that matters, it's what you do with it that counts.
100 hours for all side quests? I say bullcrap to that claim. It would take 100 hours just to READ through all the quests.

Some quests don't open up till after you reach a certain level and others are a type of chain. SO I highly doubt they did all the quests.

As for the size of the map, walking/running from Whiterun (a city sort of in the middle of the map) to the closest major city will take just over 1 hour of real time.

Now if you factor in smithing, enchanting, alchemy that alone can add 10-20 hours to max them out.

Yes a speed run by a Beth employee did the main quest line in just over 2 hours. But is this what you would use to show how long it takes to do the main quest.

Also, Paragon cleared heroic versions of all bosses in FL in what 2 weeks or so. yet we don't use that as a standard or say that FL is only plyable for 2 weeks.

Finally, with the radiant AI there are INFINITE quests. So how could they ever do all quests when quests are continually being generated? As I said bullshit to their claims.
This is silly. It's you who constantly points out, that some games do not compete with each other, and yet somehow you end up writing a post which is in fact a thinly veiled indirect comparison of an MMO and a Single player game.

You wonder why Skyrim/Oblivion/Morrowind will last so long with a 30-100 hrs long gameplay. It's a pretty simple difference which can easily summarized by what Dash Incredible said: When everyone's special, noone is. It's the root of all other problems.

What Blizzard will put into Titan and what Skyrim partially incorporated are the random dynamic storylines. I've played 20 hrs in, and the random quests seem very much like a partial incarnation of StoryBricks. and I am pretty sure that the StoryBricks along with making NPCs killable and redundant while going more and more sandbox is the future of MMOs. Because there's only three components a good 'quest' needs: A compelling story, a chain of interesting tasks and choices to make, that will have effect. Storybricks+Sandbox MMOs will have infinite quests like that.
Skyrim partially has that, and the fact that you are the sole hero in that story (and not just another guy) only helps.
a thinly veiled indirect comparison of an MMO and a Single player game

You keep forgetting that I don't participate in the stupid "my game is better than your game" ePeen contest. I am interested in the fundamentals of what makes games good or bad. Why would we spit on a MMORPG which offers only 100 hours of content, even if that content was epic? Why don't we mind in Skyrim? Why can't we make a MMORPG which is as epic as Skyrim?

P.S. I have decided that to find out answers to these questions, I will have to risk the nausea and bad controls and I just bought Skyrim from Steam. Currently downloading.

Remember what I kindly suggested in my comment: be patient, the first 1-2 hours can be tedious. The menu system could be "ok" or horrible. Someone likes it (meh...), most of the pc gamers HATE it.

Take some time to practice, just start a random character and move around, I guess that's the best way to get used to the UI.
Skyrim, for me, is similar to Civilization X (replace X with whatever version you like) or the Sims. It does an excellent job of 'just one more thing...' and then it's four hours later and you forgot to eat.

Except this time you're killing dragons, exploring gorgeous dungeons and harvesting butterflies.

It won't last forever, but it seems like it's going to last (for me) longer than a lot of MMOs because it doesn't need to slow down and stretch out its content, you can keep things going at a good pace for the whole game. I almost never reach level cap in MMOs because they get boring.
When you do the quests A House of Horrors and A Night to Remember (or was it A Night of Drinking) you will then know why the quests in Skyrim as so good. The quests, immersion and ability to do what you want is why games like Skyrim are popular.
This comment has been removed by the author.
Something I learned from a forum that made the PC interface way more tolerable -- if you mouse over an item or spell in your Favorites and hit a number key, it'll bind that number as a hotkey.

It's a DRAMATIC increase in convenience.
A game review stated that SKYRIM's game world is about 40 square kilometers. Bethesda has done a good job of making the area seem bigger. The vistas are stunning. Of course, the game will seem smaller the more it is played.

I imagine as a casual player I will easily get a year out of it. The best thing I can say about it is that it is giving me a good dose of that 'first game' feeling.

Although the game was in development for years, I don't think it can be expected to have the complexity and size of an MMO. Also, and this is the big thing, there's only one player. Even if one solos, there's a big difference between playing alone and playing with other people around, chat running in the background, etc.
Well skyrim has a lot of content. If we would count just unique quests and dungeons I would say probably easily more than vanilla WoW.

It took me about 3 month to complete almost every single quest in vanilla wow on horde side. And most of it was the regular filler "kill x/bring y"

On the other hand Skyrim has a rather limited environment and monsters sets .WoW had was a lot more diverse in this area

As of the world size - I think wow (even vanilla) is easily several times bigger

But we comparing apple and oranges anyways here as single player game sandbox gameplay is completely different from loot hoarding wow-esque them park
The 'immersion factor' plays a huge role in the popularity of all the single players RPG games, and it's extremely true for Elder's Scrolls.

There was a post about game flow here - you can build flow in an MMO, but the levels of actual immersion in a MMO will never reach the same levels as in an Single Player Game.

The key is in-world significance.

A Player in the world never dies. Player respawn is the first and foremost immersion breaker, because it makes you in-story immortal. Sure, in single player you replay fragments of the story, but the fact that you make saves and reload them create an in-world sense on continuity.

Player's action in an MMO lack significance, because they do not affect the world in any meaningful way. I don not have to tell you how much not the case it is in SP games.

MMO stories are never Epic, because every other player is as Epic as you. There's nothing Epic about that. Plus, you never get immersed because PC characters do not speak in-world. The world does not have enough events for the players to talk about. So instead they speak about the game, and not the world. Not the case in single player games - I remember hours of discussing the storylines of sidequests and possible storyline outcomes and discussing the morality and genuity of choices made by my own and my collegues characters.

To put these factors into an MMO and make it as immersive and Epic as a Single Player game one would have to put the players into a sandbox world in which they would (first layer) have the freedom to advance in many fields combat and non-combat related (transport, trading, crafting, intelligence, taming, sciences and so on). But to avoid the boredom wormhole there would have to another layer of randomly generated content different for each player, that would interact with the world on meny levels and engaged specifically tha one player the were generated for. Like a dragon that attacks the city and wants to negotiate with the Chosen One only, but then will attack anyone else. It would have to be an actual threat to the city and it would be the player who'd have to convince other players to allow him to deal with the beast and or help find/create/discover the required artifact...
A lot of "playtime" in MMOs actually consist of downtime, like waiting for a group/raid to form up, camping for quest mobs, waiting for mandatory lockout times and so forth. The only instance of downtime I can recall in Skyrim so far is waiting 8 minutes for a buff that colors my vision green from a side quest at the College of Winterhold.

I've managed to play Morrowind as a sole game for six months on one character, from trying to finish every minor quest to screwing around with mods.

In MMOs, if I want to try a different class or build, I have to reroll, and essentially repeat a lot of content. Not in TES, where I can just mess around with the console.

I would say the fun per hour payoff in TES games are much greater, but the social interaction part of MMOs is what ultimately pulls me back to the genre.
Hello Bloggers
I bought Skyrim at the pre-launch Gamestop party, cost me 60.00. As far as many hours of game play, well, I like playing Elder Scrolls and Ubisoft's Assassin's Creed II, Brotherhood, and now Revelations and time really doesn't allow me to play RPG's like I would like to so will probably take me months to completely play/finish the games. With that said, when I retire next year and potentially open up my MMORPG gaming center/parlor gaming will be my passion the rest of my life. The gaming center/parlor has been a long dream I have had over the years and might come to pass. If this is allowed in this post and gamers would like to help me out with some needed feedback can you please visit this feedback form , take a few minutes to give me some vital information for the future opening of my gaming center/parlor
I appreciate the owners of this blog and the gamers reviewing this post:>)
Thanks Ken
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