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The Pub at MMORPG.COM  » Question: Why Sandbox MMOs don't work?

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196 posts found
  EndDream

Novice Member

Joined: 12/07/05
Posts: 1170

11/24/11 11:30:52 PM#21

Because they don't release with polish.

Remember Old School Ultima Online

  Maquiame

Hard Core Member

Joined: 8/21/07
Posts: 670

Power without perception is spiritually useless and of no true value

11/24/11 11:35:48 PM#22
Originally posted by SysOpPsyche
Originally posted by Talint

Hello MMORPG Community,

 

So I'm sitting here watching TV and I started to think about Skyrim, and how much I love the game.  I've never actually played a Sandbox MMO but I'm growing in love with the whole Sandbox style that Skyrim offers.  Then I thought, why aren't there any good Sandbox MMOs? (some say Darkfall is good, but I've heard both sides)  And I thought about it somemore, and then I realized this.  Maybe the reason that Sandbox MMOs don't stick is because even with a Sandbox MMO you still cannot explore the entire world, you're still stuck to ceritan zones or areas.  Take Skyrim for example.  The Monstor's / Humonoids scale to your level.  You can literally explore every inch of the world and still be able to kill something.  If you go to the farthest north point, or the farthest south point, it's all the same.  Could this possibly be why Sandbox MMOs do not stick? Or is there some other aspect that I'm clearly not thinking of.

 

Thanks all, I cannot wait to hear your responses.

 

Talint

Actually in most Sandbox MMO's the level to power ratio/scaling is typically much more narrow (meaning even a new player would have a chance, however small, at defeating the most powerful player/creature.

 

The main reasons Sandbox MMO's haven't really succeeded is:

  • Technical Requirements - Sandboxes have incredibly higher technical complexity than other styles of games (that was even true with Ultima Online without actually using 3D environments). Thats usually what kills most of them as most are attempted by Indie developers that just don't have the financing or experience to do them.
  • Lack of Identity - The Themepark vs Sandbox debate argument from the Themepark side is that Sandboxes are boring because there is no theme/story or clear progression in the game. In many ways they are right, the issue is tied to the following reason and the previous. The previous reason also causes shortages in Ambient Events/Environment development - basically most Sandboxes end up barren nothingness for the most part other than what Player create in it which pushes the specific game towards a PvP-centric environment and attitude which typically causes a lot of problems since popular PvP attitude are very destructive/disruptive to Sandbox communities and environments for the simple reason of the Sandbox [actions have lasting consequences] which popular PvP attitudes are generally not accustomed to dealing with. Basically a Sandbox/Virtual World isn't an excuse for lack of events or story or progression, if anything a sandbox requires tons more since player direction is uncontrolled. That typically requires heavy reactive events rather than scripted or planned events and dynamic/floating/shifting progression which is much more technical [AI associated with the Map/zone/worlds instead of just the individual mobs/entities & non-linear/vector like complex math for progression- more problems added to reason #1]
  • Community - Essentially a Sandbox game is made and broken by its community. That seems like a plus (and to a degree it is) but also a major problem for them since Players have Real lifes to live and aren't locked into the game hence the players themselves have an enormous amount of freedom and power to benefit the game and more likely (intentional or not) harm it. Even tight solid communities get bad moods (like after an unpopular patch or change to the game) which can turn an attractive Sandbox MMOG into a horrible one. Population management and a ton of social tools are needed to manage the community, let them manage themselves to a reasonable degree and compensate for their absence when not online [further complicating reason #1]

You've probably heard of SWG and a lot of negative and positives from various people.

Truth is, besides Ultima Online (non-3D and one of the pioneers of MMOG's and sandbox MMO's in particular) only Star Wars Galaxies has been an attempt by non-Indie developer to make a high quality Sandbox MMOG [Eve Online has been a sleeper hit but its success isn't really financially impressive by industry standards - mostly it impressed with its survival and it was an Indie development when it started] and quite simply they failed due to technical failings.

People will say it was the NGE/CU but the truth is the engine & tech running the game just couldn't handle the original design [people prefer to remember the good things about it but anyone who was there knows most of what players were talking about was the bugs/glitches and technical problems and the lack of content]. The design was too aggressive and too complex to accomplish in financially sound way (development and maintenance costs and quite simply no standard to work off of - UO wasn't 3D and Virtual Worlds had too much limitations on performance or excessively high requirements back in those days), The NGE/CU was simply a way for them to salvage the game and that probably did more than just kill it (the publicity of it & discussion of it is Still something Game Sites/MMOG developers are wary of).

 

There might be one coming though.

  • Blizzard is reputing working on a Project Titan and most people 'BELIEVE' thats its going to be a sandbox game.

 

  • The Secret World isn't a Sandbox Game its more of Giant Lobby game or somesuch similar to Champions Online/Anarchy Online etc. which really aren't sandbox games they are more old school themepark [Everquest] games (larger Open World zones instead of Small Instances) with little ability to impact/change the zone/world.
  • Guild Wars 2 is essentially a Hybrid of the Old school zones and Instance model themeparks (with dynamic event system to provide an illusion of a dynamic world)

I'm sure others will mention other games

  • Darkfall Online is an Indie Game
  • Mortal Online is an Indie Game
  • Perpetuum is an Indie Game and not even sure its a Sandbox but probably close enough to be considered one
  • Eve Online as successful as it is was technically an Indie game when it launched though it technically not an Indie game anymore (250k+ concurrent users last I checked)
  • Jumpgate was an Indie and peaked at 300k if I recall (lucky if there are 50 players online right now last I checked - Netdevil was bought out by Gazillion or something and Netdevil basically dissappeared - so I consider it Dead) and not even sure I'd call it a Sandbox MMO [its a space sim like game though it meets a lot of the requirements - station building, player/community driven events etc.].

 

  • If someone knows the specific stat please state it - I believe even SWG only peaked at about 750k-1mil users but thats very old and from memory which is not reliable at all [I'll remember something clearly or just have a vague sense of what I'm remembering - this one is a vague sense].

 

[need confirmation] Meridian 59 I believe was the Original MMORPG and Ultima Online was the Original Sandbox MMORPG.

 

 Smedley over at sony claims that EQ Next is going to be a sandbox

Ryzom is a damn good sandbox that nobody plays, Vanguard is a very good sandpark that again, not enough people are playing. Want a sandbox? Show support for the games that have the features that you want that are already out there. Daddy is not going to give you dessert until you finish the veggies on your plate, aka look at Vanguard getting new content recently its because people put their money where their mouths are.

Any mmo worth its salt should be like a good prostitute when it comes to its game world- One hell of a faker, and a damn good shaker!

  tyrannis

Novice Member

Joined: 7/01/10
Posts: 218

11/24/11 11:38:59 PM#23

"Question: Why Sandbox MMOs don't work?"

That's not a question.

##Best SWTOR of 2011
Posted by I_Return - SWTOR - "Forget the UI the characters and all ofhe nitpicking bullshit" "Greatest MMO Ever Created"

##Fail Thread Title of 2011
Originally posted by daveospice
"this game looks like crap?"

  free2play

Advanced Member

Joined: 10/13/05
Posts: 1834

11/24/11 11:39:53 PM#24
Originally posted by SysOpPsyche
Originally posted by Talint

Hello MMORPG Community,

 

So I'm sitting here watching TV and I started to think about Skyrim, and how much I love the game.  I've never actually played a Sandbox MMO but I'm growing in love with the whole Sandbox style that Skyrim offers.  Then I thought, why aren't there any good Sandbox MMOs? (some say Darkfall is good, but I've heard both sides)  And I thought about it somemore, and then I realized this.  Maybe the reason that Sandbox MMOs don't stick is because even with a Sandbox MMO you still cannot explore the entire world, you're still stuck to ceritan zones or areas.  Take Skyrim for example.  The Monstor's / Humonoids scale to your level.  You can literally explore every inch of the world and still be able to kill something.  If you go to the farthest north point, or the farthest south point, it's all the same.  Could this possibly be why Sandbox MMOs do not stick? Or is there some other aspect that I'm clearly not thinking of.

 

Thanks all, I cannot wait to hear your responses.

 

Talint

Actually in most Sandbox MMO's the level to power ratio/scaling is typically much more narrow (meaning even a new player would have a chance, however small, at defeating the most powerful player/creature.

 

The main reasons Sandbox MMO's haven't really succeeded is:

  • Technical Requirements - Sandboxes have incredibly higher technical complexity than other styles of games (that was even true with Ultima Online without actually using 3D environments). Thats usually what kills most of them as most are attempted by Indie developers that just don't have the financing or experience to do them.
  • Lack of Identity - The Themepark vs Sandbox debate argument from the Themepark side is that Sandboxes are boring because there is no theme/story or clear progression in the game. In many ways they are right, the issue is tied to the following reason and the previous. The previous reason also causes shortages in Ambient Events/Environment development - basically most Sandboxes end up barren nothingness for the most part other than what Player create in it which pushes the specific game towards a PvP-centric environment and attitude which typically causes a lot of problems since popular PvP attitude are very destructive/disruptive to Sandbox communities and environments for the simple reason of the Sandbox [actions have lasting consequences] which popular PvP attitudes are generally not accustomed to dealing with. Basically a Sandbox/Virtual World isn't an excuse for lack of events or story or progression, if anything a sandbox requires tons more since player direction is uncontrolled. That typically requires heavy reactive events rather than scripted or planned events and dynamic/floating/shifting progression which is much more technical [AI associated with the Map/zone/worlds instead of just the individual mobs/entities & non-linear/vector like complex math for progression- more problems added to reason #1]
  • Community - Essentially a Sandbox game is made and broken by its community. That seems like a plus (and to a degree it is) but also a major problem for them since Players have Real lifes to live and aren't locked into the game hence the players themselves have an enormous amount of freedom and power to benefit the game and more likely (intentional or not) harm it. Even tight solid communities get bad moods (like after an unpopular patch or change to the game) which can turn an attractive Sandbox MMOG into a horrible one. Population management and a ton of social tools are needed to manage the community, let them manage themselves to a reasonable degree and compensate for their absence when not online [further complicating reason #1]

You've probably heard of SWG and a lot of negative and positives from various people.

Truth is, besides Ultima Online (non-3D and one of the pioneers of MMOG's and sandbox MMO's in particular) only Star Wars Galaxies has been an attempt by non-Indie developer to make a high quality Sandbox MMOG [Eve Online has been a sleeper hit but its success isn't really financially impressive by industry standards - mostly it impressed with its survival and it was an Indie development when it started] and quite simply they failed due to technical failings.

People will say it was the NGE/CU but the truth is the engine & tech running the game just couldn't handle the original design [people prefer to remember the good things about it but anyone who was there knows most of what players were talking about was the bugs/glitches and technical problems and the lack of content]. The design was too aggressive and too complex to accomplish in financially sound way (development and maintenance costs and quite simply no standard to work off of - UO wasn't 3D and Virtual Worlds had too much limitations on performance or excessively high requirements back in those days), The NGE/CU was simply a way for them to salvage the game and that probably did more than just kill it (the publicity of it & discussion of it is Still something Game Sites/MMOG developers are wary of).

 

There might be one coming though.

  • Blizzard is reputing working on a Project Titan and most people 'BELIEVE' thats its going to be a sandbox game.

 

  • The Secret World isn't a Sandbox Game its more of Giant Lobby game or somesuch similar to Champions Online/Anarchy Online etc. which really aren't sandbox games they are more old school themepark [Everquest] games (larger Open World zones instead of Small Instances) with little ability to impact/change the zone/world.
  • Guild Wars 2 is essentially a Hybrid of the Old school zones and Instance model themeparks (with dynamic event system to provide an illusion of a dynamic world)

I'm sure others will mention other games

  • Darkfall Online is an Indie Game
  • Mortal Online is an Indie Game
  • Perpetuum is an Indie Game and not even sure its a Sandbox but probably close enough to be considered one
  • Eve Online as successful as it is was technically an Indie game when it launched though it technically not an Indie game anymore (250k+ concurrent users last I checked)
  • Jumpgate was an Indie and peaked at 300k if I recall (lucky if there are 50 players online right now last I checked - Netdevil was bought out by Gazillion or something and Netdevil basically dissappeared - so I consider it Dead) and not even sure I'd call it a Sandbox MMO [its a space sim like game though it meets a lot of the requirements - station building, player/community driven events etc.].

 

  • If someone knows the specific stat please state it - I believe even SWG only peaked at about 750k-1mil users but thats very old and from memory which is not reliable at all [I'll remember something clearly or just have a vague sense of what I'm remembering - this one is a vague sense].

 

[need confirmation] Meridian 59 I believe was the Original MMORPG and Ultima Online was the Original Sandbox MMORPG.

 

 I will use SWG like you because I played it but it applies to any sandbox MMO and it starts with patching, nerfing and additions to original content. Because of the way code borrows from itself, when you nerf or patch content or features it has all kinds of headaches. Rubberbanding never happened in SWG untill the new, faster speeders came in. The original mounts were set to go a speed based on the rendering. Alot of the bugs didnt creep in untill they started adjusting Jedi and other classes, adding stuff like the village.

Sanbox need to be complete at launch to be fun but dont patch well afterwards. Entropia Universe is another sandbox and they simply add new worlds complete and of themselves but Entropia scared people off with thier business model.

  User Deleted
11/24/11 11:45:44 PM#25
Originally posted by Maquiame
Originally posted by SysOpPsyche
Originally posted by Talint

Hello MMORPG Community,

 

So I'm sitting here watching TV and I started to think about Skyrim, and how much I love the game.  I've never actually played a Sandbox MMO but I'm growing in love with the whole Sandbox style that Skyrim offers.  Then I thought, why aren't there any good Sandbox MMOs? (some say Darkfall is good, but I've heard both sides)  And I thought about it somemore, and then I realized this.  Maybe the reason that Sandbox MMOs don't stick is because even with a Sandbox MMO you still cannot explore the entire world, you're still stuck to ceritan zones or areas.  Take Skyrim for example.  The Monstor's / Humonoids scale to your level.  You can literally explore every inch of the world and still be able to kill something.  If you go to the farthest north point, or the farthest south point, it's all the same.  Could this possibly be why Sandbox MMOs do not stick? Or is there some other aspect that I'm clearly not thinking of.

 

Thanks all, I cannot wait to hear your responses.

 

Talint

Actually in most Sandbox MMO's the level to power ratio/scaling is typically much more narrow (meaning even a new player would have a chance, however small, at defeating the most powerful player/creature.

 

The main reasons Sandbox MMO's haven't really succeeded is:

  • Technical Requirements - Sandboxes have incredibly higher technical complexity than other styles of games (that was even true with Ultima Online without actually using 3D environments). Thats usually what kills most of them as most are attempted by Indie developers that just don't have the financing or experience to do them.
  • Lack of Identity - The Themepark vs Sandbox debate argument from the Themepark side is that Sandboxes are boring because there is no theme/story or clear progression in the game. In many ways they are right, the issue is tied to the following reason and the previous. The previous reason also causes shortages in Ambient Events/Environment development - basically most Sandboxes end up barren nothingness for the most part other than what Player create in it which pushes the specific game towards a PvP-centric environment and attitude which typically causes a lot of problems since popular PvP attitude are very destructive/disruptive to Sandbox communities and environments for the simple reason of the Sandbox [actions have lasting consequences] which popular PvP attitudes are generally not accustomed to dealing with. Basically a Sandbox/Virtual World isn't an excuse for lack of events or story or progression, if anything a sandbox requires tons more since player direction is uncontrolled. That typically requires heavy reactive events rather than scripted or planned events and dynamic/floating/shifting progression which is much more technical [AI associated with the Map/zone/worlds instead of just the individual mobs/entities & non-linear/vector like complex math for progression- more problems added to reason #1]
  • Community - Essentially a Sandbox game is made and broken by its community. That seems like a plus (and to a degree it is) but also a major problem for them since Players have Real lifes to live and aren't locked into the game hence the players themselves have an enormous amount of freedom and power to benefit the game and more likely (intentional or not) harm it. Even tight solid communities get bad moods (like after an unpopular patch or change to the game) which can turn an attractive Sandbox MMOG into a horrible one. Population management and a ton of social tools are needed to manage the community, let them manage themselves to a reasonable degree and compensate for their absence when not online [further complicating reason #1]

You've probably heard of SWG and a lot of negative and positives from various people.

Truth is, besides Ultima Online (non-3D and one of the pioneers of MMOG's and sandbox MMO's in particular) only Star Wars Galaxies has been an attempt by non-Indie developer to make a high quality Sandbox MMOG [Eve Online has been a sleeper hit but its success isn't really financially impressive by industry standards - mostly it impressed with its survival and it was an Indie development when it started] and quite simply they failed due to technical failings.

People will say it was the NGE/CU but the truth is the engine & tech running the game just couldn't handle the original design [people prefer to remember the good things about it but anyone who was there knows most of what players were talking about was the bugs/glitches and technical problems and the lack of content]. The design was too aggressive and too complex to accomplish in financially sound way (development and maintenance costs and quite simply no standard to work off of - UO wasn't 3D and Virtual Worlds had too much limitations on performance or excessively high requirements back in those days), The NGE/CU was simply a way for them to salvage the game and that probably did more than just kill it (the publicity of it & discussion of it is Still something Game Sites/MMOG developers are wary of).

 

There might be one coming though.

  • Blizzard is reputing working on a Project Titan and most people 'BELIEVE' thats its going to be a sandbox game.

 

  • The Secret World isn't a Sandbox Game its more of Giant Lobby game or somesuch similar to Champions Online/Anarchy Online etc. which really aren't sandbox games they are more old school themepark [Everquest] games (larger Open World zones instead of Small Instances) with little ability to impact/change the zone/world.
  • Guild Wars 2 is essentially a Hybrid of the Old school zones and Instance model themeparks (with dynamic event system to provide an illusion of a dynamic world)

I'm sure others will mention other games

  • Darkfall Online is an Indie Game
  • Mortal Online is an Indie Game
  • Perpetuum is an Indie Game and not even sure its a Sandbox but probably close enough to be considered one
  • Eve Online as successful as it is was technically an Indie game when it launched though it technically not an Indie game anymore (250k+ concurrent users last I checked)
  • Jumpgate was an Indie and peaked at 300k if I recall (lucky if there are 50 players online right now last I checked - Netdevil was bought out by Gazillion or something and Netdevil basically dissappeared - so I consider it Dead) and not even sure I'd call it a Sandbox MMO [its a space sim like game though it meets a lot of the requirements - station building, player/community driven events etc.].

 

  • If someone knows the specific stat please state it - I believe even SWG only peaked at about 750k-1mil users but thats very old and from memory which is not reliable at all [I'll remember something clearly or just have a vague sense of what I'm remembering - this one is a vague sense].

 

[need confirmation] Meridian 59 I believe was the Original MMORPG and Ultima Online was the Original Sandbox MMORPG.

 

 Smedley over at sony claims that EQ Next is going to be a sandbox

Ryzom is a damn good sandbox that nobody plays, Vanguard is a very good sandpark that again, not enough people are playing. Want a sandbox? Show support for the games that have the features that you want that are already out there. Daddy is not going to give you dessert until you finish the veggies on your plate, aka look at Vanguard getting new content recently its because people put their money where their mouths are.

So its ok for themepark fans to demand retreads like SWTOR, Rift, Aion, WAR, AoC, FFXIV and all the other F2P themeparks trash but us sandbox fans are forced to play shit gmaes?  Frack that, I want a sandbox that is devoted to PvE designed by a AAA studio with Millions of dollars investment, if WoW clones can demand it by god damn so can I PERIOD.

  kalinis

Apprentice Member

Joined: 8/11/10
Posts: 1444

11/24/11 11:46:32 PM#26

Biggest reason for me is ffa pvp. I totally believe if they got rid of the sandbox marriage with ffa pvp more people would play them.

My understanding is before the nge galaxies had a pretty huge population. So id say dont mess with what works. that said games have to run smoothly no matter what style of game u play. Themepark or sandbox if it releases a borken mess its never gonna be a sucess.

Not to say sandbox games dont owrk they are just a niche group right now that peaks at arond 500k in a game like eve. Which from what ive read is the b est sandbox game out there.

im not saying sandbox cant work but ud think with less content driven by devs the budget wouldnt cost as much and u could actually make sure the game isnt a broken mess when it releases allowing those players that like sandbox games the freedom they crave. 

  Rusque

Elite Member

Joined: 6/08/10
Posts: 1878

11/24/11 11:46:47 PM#27
If a company was to develop a PLAYER vs ENVIRONMENT (PvE) and allocate just as much $$$$ as your run of the mill themepark WoW clone then you would have an amazing hit.  Just imagine a Sandbox PvE world similar to Skyrim, with the combat and production quality of a WoW, the Dynamic content of a GW2, and the skill based character and Loot/Craft based systems of an Asherons Call.  The possibilities are endless.

It's this. Far too many people equate sandbox with pvp, which, in short, ruins everything.

 

  CujoSWAoA

Apprentice Member

Joined: 10/27/04
Posts: 1848

"Pablo Picasso said art is a lie that tells the truth."

11/24/11 11:47:31 PM#28

No company has put real money into one since SWG.

And it had the wrong people working on it.

  SysOpPsyche

Novice Member

Joined: 8/25/07
Posts: 103

11/24/11 11:56:04 PM#29

...

 I will use SWG like you because I played it but it applies to any sandbox MMO and it starts with patching, nerfing and additions to original content. Because of the way code borrows from itself, when you nerf or patch content or features it has all kinds of headaches. Rubberbanding never happened in SWG untill the new, faster speeders came in. The original mounts were set to go a speed based on the rendering. Alot of the bugs didnt creep in untill they started adjusting Jedi and other classes, adding stuff like the village.

Sanbox need to be complete at launch to be fun but dont patch well afterwards. Entropia Universe is another sandbox and they simply add new worlds complete and of themselves but Entropia scared people off with thier business model.

Entropia Universe - forgot about that one but isn't that a Virtual World?

 

BTW you just confirmed what I was talking about with the Technical Issues on SWG:

An MMO needs to be maintainable, changing elements in the game shouldn't break it. After all, the community will be changing it almost non-stop as there really is no way for a Sandbox to be complete at launch otherwise what would be the point of playing in the sandbox (I do understand the gist of what you mean by complete though - it needs to populated and fully functional & stable at a technical level as well as able to be modifiable/maintainable).

 

  Maddog1195

Novice Member

Joined: 1/12/09
Posts: 16

11/25/11 12:02:06 AM#30
Originally posted by Zylaxx

If a company was to develop a PLAYER vs ENVIRONMENT (PvE) and allocate just as much $$$$ as your run of the mill themepark WoW clone then you would have an amazing hit.  Just imagine a Sandbox PvE world similar to Skyrim, with the combat and production quality of a WoW, the Dynamic content of a GW2, and the skill based character and Loot/Craft based systems of an Asherons Call.  The possibilities are endless.

 

It's like you went into my brain and posted my thoughts.  MINDTAKER!

  SysOpPsyche

Novice Member

Joined: 8/25/07
Posts: 103

11/25/11 12:03:05 AM#31
Originally posted by Maquiame

...

 Smedley over at sony claims that EQ Next is going to be a sandbox

Ryzom is a damn good sandbox that nobody plays, Vanguard is a very good sandpark that again, not enough people are playing. Want a sandbox? Show support for the games that have the features that you want that are already out there. Daddy is not going to give you dessert until you finish the veggies on your plate, aka look at Vanguard getting new content recently its because people put their money where their mouths are.

Smedley has said a lot of stuff honestly, may or may not happen.

 

Ryzom - I recall hearing about that one, French company? Indie that had problems at launch if I recall.

 

As another poster stated, I spend money as I see fit. I've supported Darkfall Online, Mortal Online, Jumpgate, SWG and tried a number of others. If a product provides entertainment then I'll stick with it unfortunately most of them don't.

 

Oh yeah, Earthrise, wait nevermind thats not a Sandbox I don't think. Couldn't say, the game barely works (apparently the developer got a deal to make the engine for Fallout Online).

 

  xenogias

Advanced Member

Joined: 9/13/07
Posts: 1945

11/25/11 12:17:54 AM#32
Originally posted by Talint

Hello MMORPG Community,

 

So I'm sitting here watching TV and I started to think about Skyrim, and how much I love the game.  I've never actually played a Sandbox MMO but I'm growing in love with the whole Sandbox style that Skyrim offers.  Then I thought, why aren't there any good Sandbox MMOs? (some say Darkfall is good, but I've heard both sides)  And I thought about it somemore, and then I realized this.  Maybe the reason that Sandbox MMOs don't stick is because even with a Sandbox MMO you still cannot explore the entire world, you're still stuck to ceritan zones or areas.  Take Skyrim for example.  The Monstor's / Humonoids scale to your level.  You can literally explore every inch of the world and still be able to kill something.  If you go to the farthest north point, or the farthest south point, it's all the same.  Could this possibly be why Sandbox MMOs do not stick? Or is there some other aspect that I'm clearly not thinking of.

 

Thanks all, I cannot wait to hear your responses.

 

Talint

They can absolutly work. I think the reason we really dont have one is because developers take it to the extreem one way or the other. For some reason they think for it to be a true sandbox you have to build everything, have no levels per say, ffa PvP, ect ect.

Skyrim is a perfect example of how a sandbox MMO could work. Just hear me out. Lets start by talking about "leveling". In an MMO you HAVE to have leveling of some sort. Be it crafting better weapons/armor to finding and learning new and more powerfull spells. Its all a form of leveling. But show me where it is in the MMO rules handbook that says upgrades have to make a HUGE diffrence instead of a minor one. That ideal is the one that causes the "Well I cant go there the mobs are to hard" issue. But if the armor/weapons/spells only offer a 1-2 pt diffrence then from worst to best is still an accomplishment but its not such a huge change that mobs would have to get drastically harder.

Player houseing. I think for an MMO it would really have to work like skyrim houses do. You can buy them and decorate them but not build them. That is simply for lag concerns. Non instanced housing is laggy as hell as it is. Letting people build wherever they want just wouldnt work with todays graphics. I will talk about housing in a PvP setting when I get to that.

Crafting. Simply do it like Skyrim though I think for a sandbox MMO most people, myself included would like armorcrafting to be alittle more indepth. Maybe add ways to add new hilts or designs to weapons. I dont know exactly how you would but click on this then click on that and bam you have your item isnt really in the sandbox idea. The alchemy in Skyrim is amazing imo.

PvP. And this is a HUGE one for people on both sides of the fence. Its really a simple fix. Its called diffrent server types. FFA PvP and a PvE server where you have to pray to some god, which enables full PvP. Full looting everything if you are on a FFA server or flag for PvP. Why full looting? Its a sandbox thats why. If you want to kill people there are consiquences (spelling I know).  One is you die you loose your stuff. As far as houses go they couldnt go so far as to allow houses to be burnt down like you can in Skyrim. But on the FFA PvP servers they could allow people to pick locks ect and steal peoples belongings. Again I'm looking at that from a sandbox point of view. On a PvE server if you wherent smart enough to store your house key and its on your body guess what. That player can raid your house if they want. Or the dev could add a way to code it so if you are pvp flagged so is your house thus allowing other pvp players to lockpick your door and steal your stuff.  This is not perfect by any means but it allows for PvP to be in the spirit of sandboxes and not force it on thoes that dont want the PvP experience that a sandbox SHOULD offer.

Last and not least is world size and content. The ONLY way for a sandbox to work is for the world to be MASSIVE. I'm talking world of warcraft x5. Not only that it would have to be filled with content. Everything from the random quest thats there for no other reason than a lady needs help getting bandits out of her farm house to some random guy asking you to go kill a powerfull mage in a cave. Lots and lots of caves/ruins/towers/mountains that are there for no other reason than because they are. Some of them have some really cool looking items in them for your house or jewels to add to your weapon/armor stuff like that.

The reason there are no sandbox games is because investers arent willing to spend millions on something that hasnt been a hit like WoW was. I dont blame WoW either. I blame investors for not being willing to take a risk. The investers for blizzard didnt know wow would be the hit it was. No other MMO to that point had even been close to that popular.

  Axehilt

Novice Member

Joined: 5/09/09
Posts: 7213

11/25/11 12:35:09 AM#33

Sandbox MMOs usually let players ruin other players' fun.

 (The exploration bit the OP mentions is sort of an extension of this.)

Although as an aside, I feel like Skyrim would work better with area-based difficulty.  Free-roam within large areas, but with clear 'easy', 'medium', and 'hard' difficulties to specific parts of the game world.

  Ceridith

Novice Member

Joined: 11/24/09
Posts: 3001

The more you hype an upcoming game in your mind, the more it will fail to meet your expectations.

11/25/11 12:43:39 AM#34
Originally posted by Axehilt

Sandbox MMOs usually let players ruin other players' fun.

 (The exploration bit the OP mentions is sort of an extension of this.)

Although as an aside, I feel like Skyrim would work better with area-based difficulty.  Free-roam within large areas, but with clear 'easy', 'medium', and 'hard' difficulties to specific parts of the game world.

FFA PvP is what lets players ruin each others fun.

FFA PvP is not a requisite of a sandbox MMO.

That's half the problem of why sandbox MMOs are considered a broken concept, because everyone lumps that niche mechanic in with it.

...

As for Skyrim, there are areas in the game that are always easier or always harder. But realize that many areas level lock the first time you visit to give a feeling of consistency in the world.

  User Deleted
11/25/11 12:43:49 AM#35
Originally posted by Axehilt

Sandbox MMOs usually let players ruin other players' fun.

 (The exploration bit the OP mentions is sort of an extension of this.)

Although as an aside, I feel like Skyrim would work better with area-based difficulty.  Free-roam within large areas, but with clear 'easy', 'medium', and 'hard' difficulties to specific parts of the game world.

Sort of how Asherons Call does it.  Close to towns is newb central, further out along rivers and forests medium difficulties, way the frack out in no mans land you can rest assured your not killing rabbits or goats.  Pretty easy to differentiate based on closeness to civilization.  Als oonly FFA PvP Sandboxxes ruin others fun, I still say a skyrim based MMO would do wonders especially considering the single player version has already sold 3.5 million copies.

  MMOExposed

Spotlight Poster

Joined: 6/17/10
Posts: 6241

11/25/11 1:36:53 AM#36

Wait, how is Skyrim and Oblivion Sandbox RPGs?

 

you do nothing but quest in them. just like themepark RPGs.

the rails are just hidden well with the large map and single player (lack of competition that usually leads to speed leveling to the top)

 

Skyrim is Themepark like the rest.

  Nefari0us

Novice Member

Joined: 11/23/11
Posts: 41

11/25/11 1:42:55 AM#37
Originally posted by MMOExposed

Wait, how is Skyrim and Oblivion Sandbox RPGs?

 

you do nothing but quest in them. just like themepark RPGs.

the rails are just hidden well with the large map and single player (lack of competition that usually leads to speed leveling to the top)

 

Skyrim is Themepark like the rest.

I've been wondering the same thing...

Not happy with the current state of MMORPG's? Think you can do better? What would you do different?

  Grahor

Apprentice Member

Joined: 5/08/11
Posts: 854

11/25/11 3:38:29 AM#38

There is absolutely nothing in Skyrim that makes it "sandbox". Hell, its quests aren't even that good! For example, I didn't like thieves guild and wanted to finish it off, to change the Riften society. But there is no option. You either follow the questline for the guild... or nothing!

 

I kind of bored with Skyrim already, and I'm not even through a third of it. Sidequests in Oblivion were more interesting, even if scaling sucked something terrible.

  honoursword

Novice Member

Joined: 8/11/10
Posts: 77

11/25/11 4:00:16 AM#39
Originally posted by free2play
Originally posted by SysOpPsyche
Originally posted by Talint

Hello MMORPG Community,

 

So I'm sitting here watching TV and I started to think about Skyrim, and how much I love the game.  I've never actually played a Sandbox MMO but I'm growing in love with the whole Sandbox style that Skyrim offers.  Then I thought, why aren't there any good Sandbox MMOs? (some say Darkfall is good, but I've heard both sides)  And I thought about it somemore, and then I realized this.  Maybe the reason that Sandbox MMOs don't stick is because even with a Sandbox MMO you still cannot explore the entire world, you're still stuck to ceritan zones or areas.  Take Skyrim for example.  The Monstor's / Humonoids scale to your level.  You can literally explore every inch of the world and still be able to kill something.  If you go to the farthest north point, or the farthest south point, it's all the same.  Could this possibly be why Sandbox MMOs do not stick? Or is there some other aspect that I'm clearly not thinking of.

 

Thanks all, I cannot wait to hear your responses.

 

Talint

Actually in most Sandbox MMO's the level to power ratio/scaling is typically much more narrow (meaning even a new player would have a chance, however small, at defeating the most powerful player/creature.

 

The main reasons Sandbox MMO's haven't really succeeded is:

  • Technical Requirements - Sandboxes have incredibly higher technical complexity than other styles of games (that was even true with Ultima Online without actually using 3D environments). Thats usually what kills most of them as most are attempted by Indie developers that just don't have the financing or experience to do them.
  • Lack of Identity - The Themepark vs Sandbox debate argument from the Themepark side is that Sandboxes are boring because there is no theme/story or clear progression in the game. In many ways they are right, the issue is tied to the following reason and the previous. The previous reason also causes shortages in Ambient Events/Environment development - basically most Sandboxes end up barren nothingness for the most part other than what Player create in it which pushes the specific game towards a PvP-centric environment and attitude which typically causes a lot of problems since popular PvP attitude are very destructive/disruptive to Sandbox communities and environments for the simple reason of the Sandbox [actions have lasting consequences] which popular PvP attitudes are generally not accustomed to dealing with. Basically a Sandbox/Virtual World isn't an excuse for lack of events or story or progression, if anything a sandbox requires tons more since player direction is uncontrolled. That typically requires heavy reactive events rather than scripted or planned events and dynamic/floating/shifting progression which is much more technical [AI associated with the Map/zone/worlds instead of just the individual mobs/entities & non-linear/vector like complex math for progression- more problems added to reason #1]
  • Community - Essentially a Sandbox game is made and broken by its community. That seems like a plus (and to a degree it is) but also a major problem for them since Players have Real lifes to live and aren't locked into the game hence the players themselves have an enormous amount of freedom and power to benefit the game and more likely (intentional or not) harm it. Even tight solid communities get bad moods (like after an unpopular patch or change to the game) which can turn an attractive Sandbox MMOG into a horrible one. Population management and a ton of social tools are needed to manage the community, let them manage themselves to a reasonable degree and compensate for their absence when not online [further complicating reason #1]

You've probably heard of SWG and a lot of negative and positives from various people.

Truth is, besides Ultima Online (non-3D and one of the pioneers of MMOG's and sandbox MMO's in particular) only Star Wars Galaxies has been an attempt by non-Indie developer to make a high quality Sandbox MMOG [Eve Online has been a sleeper hit but its success isn't really financially impressive by industry standards - mostly it impressed with its survival and it was an Indie development when it started] and quite simply they failed due to technical failings.

People will say it was the NGE/CU but the truth is the engine & tech running the game just couldn't handle the original design [people prefer to remember the good things about it but anyone who was there knows most of what players were talking about was the bugs/glitches and technical problems and the lack of content]. The design was too aggressive and too complex to accomplish in financially sound way (development and maintenance costs and quite simply no standard to work off of - UO wasn't 3D and Virtual Worlds had too much limitations on performance or excessively high requirements back in those days), The NGE/CU was simply a way for them to salvage the game and that probably did more than just kill it (the publicity of it & discussion of it is Still something Game Sites/MMOG developers are wary of).

 

There might be one coming though.

  • Blizzard is reputing working on a Project Titan and most people 'BELIEVE' thats its going to be a sandbox game.

 

  • The Secret World isn't a Sandbox Game its more of Giant Lobby game or somesuch similar to Champions Online/Anarchy Online etc. which really aren't sandbox games they are more old school themepark [Everquest] games (larger Open World zones instead of Small Instances) with little ability to impact/change the zone/world.
  • Guild Wars 2 is essentially a Hybrid of the Old school zones and Instance model themeparks (with dynamic event system to provide an illusion of a dynamic world)

I'm sure others will mention other games

  • Darkfall Online is an Indie Game
  • Mortal Online is an Indie Game
  • Perpetuum is an Indie Game and not even sure its a Sandbox but probably close enough to be considered one
  • Eve Online as successful as it is was technically an Indie game when it launched though it technically not an Indie game anymore (250k+ concurrent users last I checked)
  • Jumpgate was an Indie and peaked at 300k if I recall (lucky if there are 50 players online right now last I checked - Netdevil was bought out by Gazillion or something and Netdevil basically dissappeared - so I consider it Dead) and not even sure I'd call it a Sandbox MMO [its a space sim like game though it meets a lot of the requirements - station building, player/community driven events etc.].

 

  • If someone knows the specific stat please state it - I believe even SWG only peaked at about 750k-1mil users but thats very old and from memory which is not reliable at all [I'll remember something clearly or just have a vague sense of what I'm remembering - this one is a vague sense].

 

[need confirmation] Meridian 59 I believe was the Original MMORPG and Ultima Online was the Original Sandbox MMORPG.

 

 I will use SWG like you because I played it but it applies to any sandbox MMO and it starts with patching, nerfing and additions to original content. Because of the way code borrows from itself, when you nerf or patch content or features it has all kinds of headaches. Rubberbanding never happened in SWG untill the new, faster speeders came in. The original mounts were set to go a speed based on the rendering. Alot of the bugs didnt creep in untill they started adjusting Jedi and other classes, adding stuff like the village.

Sanbox need to be complete at launch to be fun but dont patch well afterwards. Entropia Universe is another sandbox and they simply add new worlds complete and of themselves but Entropia scared people off with thier business model.

The problem with SWG was that they ignored the issues that the game had, yes it had bugs, yes it lacked content, but in my opinion it had the bare bones and framework of a truelly awesome game. Instead of concentrating on resolving the issues they had, the bugs etc... they started releasing expansions, and then due to falling numbers decided to slap a WOW clone engine on top of what they had. And as we all know it was a disaster!!!

SWG did have falling numbers at the time but as this was when WOW was truelly taking off and of course the MMO market was a lot smaller than it currently is, it is understandable. Once the hype of WOW had worn off I think the numbers would have returned. Heck, I myself have gone back to SWG at least 4 times.

If they just weathered the storm, concentrated on fixing bugs and deliverying polished content and keeping the original SWG engine than I think SWG would have bounced back and be well and truelly up there with the best. Especially as everyone seems to be suffering from WOW fatigue so to speak.

  Adamantine

Advanced Member

Joined: 1/07/08
Posts: 3394

War is not the ultima ratio, but the ultima irratio - Willy Brandt

11/25/11 6:43:36 AM#40

Gah.

Skyrim is a themepark.

First thing people need to figure out before discussing sandboxes is probably what sandbox games are in the first place.

Sandboxes are simulations that work according to certain rules. The player himself has to build the world, which is changed by the actions of the players. The game itself is dynamic.

Themeparks are preconfigured games that tell specific and static stories. The player just experiences the content of the game, but cannot change it. The game itself is static.

Questions like if the game is skillbased or if the game is linear are completely secondary. Yeah, sandboxes cannot be linear, obviously; but themeparks arent required to be linear, either, and both sandboxes as well as themeparks might be classbased or skillbased, there is absolutely no hard link between these concepts and how you design the character progression.

 

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