Image taken from yet another bloody cheezburger site. I mean, forget Google. At this rate “www” will be replaced with “icanhaz.”

Bethesda has unveiled very little actual information about their upcoming Elder Scrolls MMO beyond a screenshot and a teaser trailer. I think we all know that graphics and a beloved setting aren’t going to be enough to make this game a contender against the other games out there. It’s got a lot of hurdles to overcome, including:

1. The single-player Elder Scrolls games. A lot of single-player RPGs are being compared to their massively multiplayer counterparts, but they have a distinct advantage: You can often guide the story to a greater degree. Even if you find that one’s actions are largely inconsequential to the endgame, generally speaking whoever you kill stays dead, whoever you helped out gets to run things, and that two dozen bodies you spent hours decorating the Bard’s College with will always be there if you want to go back and enjoy the fruits of your labors. Unless this MMO somehow manages to let you do things that actually stay done (and without denying other players the chance to also do deeds that have consequence for everyone), I can’t see it as being nearly as satisfying.

2. No mods, I’ll bet. What would the Elder Scrolls games be without their mods? Less perverted in some cases, true, but they’d run less smoothly, have more limited character creation choices, etc. Mods have become part and parcel of popular RPG engines, and even if you can mod your own computer’s output, you’ll always know that nobody else can see the amazing codpiece you’ve added to your character.

3. You probably aren’t going to be arch-mage or head of any guild. Imagine if you could do favors for the White House, and in the end, someone in a suit gave you the keys to the Lincoln bedroom and said, “Sure, that other guy is publicly in charge, but you’re the Arch-President. Feel free to loot your room.” In Skyrim, that can wear its lampshade and not seem too strange, but if you found the Lincoln Bedroom had several thousand other residents, all the loot is gone, and being Arch-President is about as rare as Skeever Tails, it kind of takes the shine off the ol’ apple. Similarly, Daedras (stand-ins for gods) will probably have an abundance of “chosen one”-type people, giving the impression that even higher beings pull the “no, really, you’re special” line when they’re playing the field.

So all they have to do is make a dynamic world that players can affect beyond having the record for most arrows to the knee, a story that accommodates singular acts into the narrative without causing exclusion or camping out at the spawn point for said event, and while we’re at it, let’s throw in dragons as player characters just to give the devs and the munchkin players something to fight over from the word go. And all this from someone who can barely program his microwave… which I think qualifies me to head up this sort of project, doesn’t it? :)