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The Pub at MMORPG.COM  » Sandbox vs Themepark Discussion Thread

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470 posts found
  Ozmodan

Elite Member

Joined: 2/27/07
Posts: 6789

2/22/12 4:19:50 PM#181
Originally posted by VengeSunsoar
Originally posted by Ozmodan
Originally posted by VengeSunsoar
Originally posted by RefMinor
Originally posted by Ozmodan

No you are wrong.  A sandbox game cannot have classes.  Classes immediately take away choice which a sandbox game needs to be called a sandbox.

Obviously you don't understand what a sandbox is, it is freedom of choice to chose how your avatar develops.  Classes immediately restrict such choice.

I personally have never seen a game with classes that is essentially a sandbox.  Istaria is NOT a sandbox game although it does have elements of such with it's crafting.  It fails the test because it has classes which restrict your avatar.

 

I think you can have classes to begin with, so long as the skills you can acquire are not limited, eg start as a fighter and then learn scouting skills or start as a scout and learn fighting skills etc

 Refminor is righ tand Ozmodan is wrong.  You can have classes however you still need freedom of choice which is exactly what Istaria does.  It has classes however you can drop learn any class and the skills/abilities of them (many things anyway) stay with you.

So again having classes does not necessarily limit your choice, and therefore do not limit your freedom and so aare not the definiing feature of sandbox and themepark.   The definiting features are freedom and impact.  If the way the class system is set up limits your freedom it is not or is less of a sandbox, if it does not than it can still be a sandbox.

Istaria is most definately a sandbox.  You can learn every skill in the game, every fighting, magic, and craft.  It has a more indepth crafting system than probably every game on the market and it is one of the few games out there that actually lets the things you craft have an actual lasting impact on the world.  No doubt it is a sandbox.  The classes do not restrict your avatar as you can learn everything and so design your character any way you want.  Want to be a paladin with mage abilties, and monk dexterity  - no problem.

 

 

What you are talking about in Istaria is not really classes.  I would have to say, it is a suggested skill design that the developers assigned a name to for starting players.  I was wrong about Istaria, it is a sandbox.  My apologies. 

I will refine my rule, you cannot have classes that restrict character development.  You are probably correct, any sandbox game would be foolish to not have at least initial class design because so many of today's players would be lost without it, as long as it did not restrict you from learning other skillsets.

Istaria is rather a bad example, it was a game with great potential that due to a bad development staff, never went anywhere.

 

 Absolutely agree with you.  For a sandbox you cannot have classes that restrict character development, so it may be easier to just not have classes at all, but if they are there needs to be a way to mix/match them. 

And Istaria unforunately did have a very bad start and is only played by a few hundred/ few thousand?  people today.   Sigh.

Ah... you added a few too many zeroes there, they are lucky to have a few thousand at best and the game is still full of buggy code.

  Zorgo

Elite Member

Joined: 12/05/05
Posts: 2242

Who did wrong? The advertiser hired to sell the game or the consumer who put faith in advertising?

2/22/12 8:06:02 PM#182
Originally posted by psysention
Originally posted by Zorgo
Originally posted by psysention

you can not compare "themepark" and "sandbox" mmos

its total different ballpark

not to mention its even total different ballgame...

 

in themepark mmos there is generally 3 archetypes of class choice which are DPS/HEAL/Tank in certain cases there can be hybrids..

sandbox gives you freedom from level and class like Ultima Online or pre-cu SWG, where you can mix skills instead of choosing a class...

 

total different ballgame...

 

players who are casual and who don't have much time for gaming always goes for "themepark" mmos where they can sit in their major cities and use tools like battleground/warzone/warfront  or they can LFG for dungeons etc..

 

players who are hardcore gamers generally sick of themepark and waiting for the next UO where who plays more gets more cookies..

Are you totally sure that a sandbox cannot have classes and lvls? old SWG had classes. Are you sure you can't have a sandbox with the trinity? Or vice-versa is it possible to have a themepark without lvls and classes?

I'm not sure the definition of sandbox has been set this firmly yet.

What I've also noticed in sandboxes, is that although people don't HAVE to choose a class, they often build a badass tank, healer or dps, and judging from your logo, you might as well.

Old swg had "Skills" not classes

you had 250 skill points and you basically were able to grind skills.. there was around 34 skills... For example, marksmanship, teras kasi artist, scout, merchant, entertainer, dancer, bounty hunter, commando etc..

You can't have themepark without levels and classes bro.. because if you don't have level and classes than you give players the freedom of mixing skills.. there can be sandbox mmo with themepark mmo features like Tera Online.. But you can't have themepark  with sandbox features.. i am 95% sure..

whole point of themepark is there is no freedom in game.. whole point of sandbox is there are no boundries.. i think

Point taken about the SWG classes, but I still felt like I was building a 'bounty hunter' class or an 'entertainer' class....but I guess it is different enough from other games to call them something other than 'classes'.

But I beg to differ on the themepark without levels and classes, you can have a free form skill building toon which has a very linear set of quests and content to build those skills. It would be possible.

In fact, my guess is the first 'BIG' sandbox will actually be more of a hybrid themepark/sandbox - although how they mix the two, I'm not sure. I think VG attempted this hybrid, although at the end of the day it falls clearly in the themepark catagory. Although instead of having one big long ride, it has hundreds of little ones. Anyway...I digress.

  VengeSunsoar

Advanced Member

Joined: 3/10/04
Posts: 4877

Be Brief, Be Bright... Be Gone.

2/22/12 9:18:28 PM#183
Originally posted by Ozmodan
Originally posted by VengeSunsoar
Originally posted by Ozmodan
Originally posted by VengeSunsoar
Originally posted by RefMinor
Originally posted by Ozmodan

No you are wrong.  A sandbox game cannot have classes.  Classes immediately take away choice which a sandbox game needs to be called a sandbox.

Obviously you don't understand what a sandbox is, it is freedom of choice to chose how your avatar develops.  Classes immediately restrict such choice.

I personally have never seen a game with classes that is essentially a sandbox.  Istaria is NOT a sandbox game although it does have elements of such with it's crafting.  It fails the test because it has classes which restrict your avatar.

 

I think you can have classes to begin with, so long as the skills you can acquire are not limited, eg start as a fighter and then learn scouting skills or start as a scout and learn fighting skills etc

 Refminor is righ tand Ozmodan is wrong.  You can have classes however you still need freedom of choice which is exactly what Istaria does.  It has classes however you can drop learn any class and the skills/abilities of them (many things anyway) stay with you.

So again having classes does not necessarily limit your choice, and therefore do not limit your freedom and so aare not the definiing feature of sandbox and themepark.   The definiting features are freedom and impact.  If the way the class system is set up limits your freedom it is not or is less of a sandbox, if it does not than it can still be a sandbox.

Istaria is most definately a sandbox.  You can learn every skill in the game, every fighting, magic, and craft.  It has a more indepth crafting system than probably every game on the market and it is one of the few games out there that actually lets the things you craft have an actual lasting impact on the world.  No doubt it is a sandbox.  The classes do not restrict your avatar as you can learn everything and so design your character any way you want.  Want to be a paladin with mage abilties, and monk dexterity  - no problem.

 

 

What you are talking about in Istaria is not really classes.  I would have to say, it is a suggested skill design that the developers assigned a name to for starting players.  I was wrong about Istaria, it is a sandbox.  My apologies. 

I will refine my rule, you cannot have classes that restrict character development.  You are probably correct, any sandbox game would be foolish to not have at least initial class design because so many of today's players would be lost without it, as long as it did not restrict you from learning other skillsets.

Istaria is rather a bad example, it was a game with great potential that due to a bad development staff, never went anywhere.

 

 Absolutely agree with you.  For a sandbox you cannot have classes that restrict character development, so it may be easier to just not have classes at all, but if they are there needs to be a way to mix/match them. 

And Istaria unforunately did have a very bad start and is only played by a few hundred/ few thousand?  people today.   Sigh.

Ah... you added a few too many zeroes there, they are lucky to have a few thousand at best and the game is still full of buggy code.

Haha I didn't mean a few hundred thousand, I put the / in there to indicate a few hundred or a few thousand.  I would be suprised if there were 5000 people playing.... actually I'd be surprised if there were 500.

But the code is not so bad anymore.  Still gets laggy at times but not nearly like it was. 

Quit worrying about other players in a game and just play.

  Roqoco

Apprentice Member

Joined: 2/05/12
Posts: 22

Try to be nice

2/23/12 8:22:14 PM#184

A  Themepark is:

A derogatory term used by Eve players for all other online role playing games.

A Sandbox is:

A term used when referring to Ultima Online. Usually, by players who in the same breath claim that they really like being ganked in that game, but for some reason (maybe they forgot their password) are playing SWTOR instead. 

 

  ignore_me

Apprentice Member

Joined: 7/04/11
Posts: 2034

3/16/12 4:11:19 AM#185

Isn't a sandbox a game where you can leave some evidence that players were there? If the world is static it's not a sandbox imo.

Survivor of the great MMORPG Famine of 2011

  PheerMeeh

Novice Member

Joined: 3/25/04
Posts: 42

3/17/12 8:25:00 PM#186

its simple. A Sandbox is a free open world ready for punishment. And then the players are given tools in this open world/sandbox to create their OWN content. TOOLS are very important for a sandbox game. Tools can be incentives for people to do things... or just random crap put into the world by the devs. Tools could be things like giving the players the ability to build houses anywhere, fight anywhere, farm food, rob people. These are tools. You give them these "tools" and then drop them into an open world/sandbox and players will start making their own content. This is a good Sandbox game.

Of course you could just drop players into an open world with no tools at all and it would still be a sandbox. People will eventually find some dumb crap to do. How long they'll end up doing it is another thing.

  anthonyc999

Novice Member

Joined: 1/31/11
Posts: 18

I'm completely sane i murdered all the other people in my head

3/18/12 9:10:44 PM#187

I think having a hybrid version would be the closet either side would get to what they call a good game

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  Florence76

Novice Member

Joined: 3/14/12
Posts: 5

3/18/12 11:08:27 PM#188

I am upset as my heir will ruin my kingdom.

  Heartily24

Novice Member

Joined: 3/19/12
Posts: 11

3/22/12 2:41:55 AM#189
Originally posted by anthonyc999

I think having a hybrid version would be the closet either side would get to what they call a good game

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I second the motion1,.,

  musicmann

Advanced Member

Joined: 12/25/05
Posts: 1123

3/24/12 12:43:17 AM#190

I've been doing some thinking about this subject as well as reading a few opinions on how AAA devs don't want to make a Sandbox mmorpg because it wouldn't make any money for them. I can't help but look at a game like TOR and what it cost, around 200 million i believe to make and how shallow and empty the mmo side of it is and how it appears that most of the investment went on VO actors and cutscene work. Then i look at a mmo like Rift and if i'm somewhat correct, it cost like 60 million to make and has all the features of a well made themepark even if it didn't stray too far from the norm.

Now with the newest game engines becoming more dev friendly, wouldn't it be a safe investment to make a sandbox mmorpg in the vein of say, SWG pre-cu with the dynamic event system that GW2 will have. It surely would probably cost around the same as Rift and wouldn't need as many subs to break even and make a profit. Let's use TOR again as an example. If it cost 200 million to make, and they got 2 million pre-orders at 60 bucks a pop, that come's in around 120 million up front for the game with an 80 million needed to just break even. 1.7 million subs at $15.00 bucks is around 25 million a month, so it is easy to say they have already broke even.

Now take a new mmo like i mentioned that only cost 60 million to make and sells 750k pre orders at 60 bucks a pop. That comes to around 45 million up front. Say they keep around 600k subs at $15.00 bucks and that comes to around 7.5 million a month, so in about 2 months they already broke even as well.

I guess i'm trying to figure out why does these big dev companies keep pushing out the same old tired themepark games that are nothing more than a dungeon crawling / instanced warzone gear grind, than creating an up to date virtual world that is actually what the term MMORPG really means. You would think these dev companies would GET IT by now. Continueing to make these clones of WOW and keep going after their sub numbers with games that have the exact same systems in a different skin is so pointless and down right extravagent. They seem like they don't want to take a chance and spend the money on a sandbox mmorpg, yet their willing to spend upwards to 100 million on a copycat game that has far more to lose under the public scrutiny of being labeled a WOW clone. Doesn't make common nor money sense at all.

  ArChWind

Elite Member

Joined: 3/19/11
Posts: 531

3/24/12 12:51:34 AM#191
Originally posted by musicmann

I've been doing some thinking about this subject as well as reading a few opinions on how AAA devs don't want to make a Sandbox mmorpg because it wouldn't make any money for them. I can't help but look at a game like TOR and what it cost, around 200 million i believe to make and how shallow and empty the mmo side of it is and how it appears that most of the investment went on VO actors and cutscene work. Then i look at a mmo like Rift and if i'm somewhat correct, it cost like 60 million to make and has all the features of a well made themepark even if it didn't stray too far from the norm.

Now with the newest game engines becoming more dev friendly, wouldn't it be a safe investment to make a sandbox mmorpg in the vein of say, SWG pre-cu with the dynamic event system that GW2 will have. It surely would probably cost around the same as Rift and wouldn't need as many subs to break even and make a profit. Let's use TOR again as an example. If it cost 200 million to make, and they got 2 million pre-orders at 60 bucks a pop, that come's in around 120 million up front for the game with an 80 million needed to just break even. 1.7 million subs at $15.00 bucks is around 25 million a month, so it is easy to say they have already broke even.

Now take a new mmo like i mentioned that only cost 60 million to make and sells 750k pre orders at 60 bucks a pop. That comes to around 45 million up front. Say they keep around 600k subs at $15.00 bucks and that comes to around 7.5 million a month, so in about 2 months they already broke even as well.

I guess i'm trying to figure out why does these big dev companies keep pushing out the same old tired themepark games that are nothing more than a dungeon crawling / instanced warzone gear grind, than creating an up to date virtual world that is actually what the term MMORPG really means. You would think these dev companies would GET IT by now. Continueing to make these clones of WOW and keep going after their sub numbers with games that have the exact same systems in a different skin is so pointless and down right extravagent. They seem like they don't want to take a chance and spend the money on a sandbox mmorpg, yet their willing to spend upwards to 100 million on a copycat game that has for more to lose under the public scrutiny of being labeled a WOW clone. Doesn't make common nor money sense at all.

Because -- It's all about the fast buck.

  Jaedor

Hard Core Member

Joined: 8/17/09
Posts: 998

3/24/12 1:02:02 AM#192

There are so many very different ideas for what a sandbox is and how it could operate, that it always seems to end up in lala-land as just an idea rather than ever coming to earth in a practical way that we could support.

 

Game companies spend millions of dollars to produce an item that they hope will appeal to their target audience. How are they going to recoup that investment in order to be able to keep the servers running and add more space/resources for player-created content? I have to ask: what will the game company make money on once they build you a sandbox to play in?

 

Should they charge a flat sub for access? Should they make a cash shop for sandbox-developing tools? Should they charge you for the in-game raw materials to make and build things? Where are the boundaries between what the game company should provide in the way of content and what the player wants to be able to create?

 

  musicmann

Advanced Member

Joined: 12/25/05
Posts: 1123

3/24/12 9:52:26 AM#193
Originally posted by Jaedor

There are so many very different ideas for what a sandbox is and how it could operate, that it always seems to end up in lala-land as just an idea rather than ever coming to earth in a practical way that we could support.

 

Game companies spend millions of dollars to produce an item that they hope will appeal to their target audience. How are they going to recoup that investment in order to be able to keep the servers running and add more space/resources for player-created content? I have to ask: what will the game company make money on once they build you a sandbox to play in?

 

Should they charge a flat sub for access? Should they make a cash shop for sandbox-developing tools? Should they charge you for the in-game raw materials to make and build things? Where are the boundaries between what the game company should provide in the way of content and what the player wants to be able to create?

 

A sub fee would be the most practical way, and i really don't think in this day and age people would mind, if the game was very well made. Content could come in the way of dynamic events, like GW2 will have. You have to remember that in a sandbox mmorpg the main content comes from the tools that create interdependency among the players, a player run economy, a deep crafting system that has crafters that make all the items in the game and other stuff.

In my opinion, it's really time for devs to realize that it's ok to break free of the end game gear grind systems that was thought to be so cool in WOW 7 yrs. ago. There may not be 10 million subs out there but i would guess somewhere close to a million mmorpg gamers out there that would love a AAA sandbox mmorpg. Let's really think about it for a sec. The last AAA mmorpg that was made and released was SWG in 2003, that's 9 freaking yrs. ago. Every new AAA mmorpg that has come out since that time has tried to copy WOW and it's themepark model and has ended up with very moderate success and did not capture the subs of WOW, which was probably the motivation to create those mmo's.

So, if these dev companies are making these WOW clone mmo's and are only getting a few hundred thousand subs, then why not grow a set and really be innovative and make a full blown up to date sandbox that will surely do as well or even better than those other games that are copies of copies of WOW. I guess being realistic, maybe they have been waiting for a mmorpg like Archeage to come around from a Eastern AAA company and want to see how it will do in the west. I can only hope that it will get a western publisher and do very well. Then maybe these companies will start to become more open and creative.

  Heinz130

Novice Member

Joined: 3/13/12
Posts: 227

War...war never change

3/27/12 11:34:35 AM#194

Entropia universe

- Unique land owning wich allow players to rule a large piece of land on this huge map mmorpg

- players can own and customise theyr own apartament and house

Archeage

- now even more versatily ways to afect the enviroment

 

Personaly,im truly sick of CLIQ games,"craft,leveling,iteraction and questining" WoW clones...i look and taste any new game that ofer new and more of contents like EU and archeage.

WoW 4ys,EVE 4ys,EU 4ys
FH1942 best tanker for 4years
Playing WWII OL for some years untill now
many other for some months

  Moaky07

Advanced Member

Joined: 2/24/07
Posts: 2199

MMO sandbox games are as exciting as watching paint dry.

4/03/12 3:53:18 AM#195
Originally posted by Heinz130

Entropia universe

- Unique land owning wich allow players to rule a large piece of land on this huge map mmorpg

- players can own and customise theyr own apartament and house

Archeage

- now even more versatily ways to afect the enviroment

 

Personaly,im truly sick of CLIQ games,"craft,leveling,iteraction and questining" WoW clones...i look and taste any new game that ofer new and more of contents like EU and archeage.

Then get out there n support em champ.

 

AFAIAC "sandbox" is slang for "a game that will be lacking in unique subs". Also known as "a waste of investment dollars".

Asking Devs to make AAA sandbox titles is like trying to get fine dining on a McDonalds dollar menu budget.

  ignore_me

Apprentice Member

Joined: 7/04/11
Posts: 2034

4/03/12 4:00:10 AM#196
Originally posted by Moaky07
Originally posted by Heinz130

Entropia universe

- Unique land owning wich allow players to rule a large piece of land on this huge map mmorpg

- players can own and customise theyr own apartament and house

Archeage

- now even more versatily ways to afect the enviroment

 

Personaly,im truly sick of CLIQ games,"craft,leveling,iteraction and questining" WoW clones...i look and taste any new game that ofer new and more of contents like EU and archeage.

Then get out there n support em champ.

 

AFAIAC "sandbox" is slang for "a game that will be lacking in unique subs". Also known as "a waste of investment dollars".

I'm genuinely curious. What are the best features of theme park games as you see them? If you could just put it in positive terms as an advocate of Theme Park (vs an opponent of Sandbox) I would like to have a better idea of your perspective. Thanks. And I am not trying to set up a rebuttal, I just want to know.

Survivor of the great MMORPG Famine of 2011

  jpnz

Novice Member

Joined: 6/29/06
Posts: 3565

4/03/12 5:43:30 AM#197
Originally posted by ignore_me
Originally posted by Moaky07
Originally posted by Heinz130

Entropia universe

- Unique land owning wich allow players to rule a large piece of land on this huge map mmorpg

- players can own and customise theyr own apartament and house

Archeage

- now even more versatily ways to afect the enviroment

 

Personaly,im truly sick of CLIQ games,"craft,leveling,iteraction and questining" WoW clones...i look and taste any new game that ofer new and more of contents like EU and archeage.

Then get out there n support em champ.

 

AFAIAC "sandbox" is slang for "a game that will be lacking in unique subs". Also known as "a waste of investment dollars".

I'm genuinely curious. What are the best features of theme park games as you see them? If you could just put it in positive terms as an advocate of Theme Park (vs an opponent of Sandbox) I would like to have a better idea of your perspective. Thanks. And I am not trying to set up a rebuttal, I just want to know.

How about 'gives people what they want?'.

Games ultimately are an entertainment form and for the vast majority of people, they'd rather let a game tell them a story than make one of their own.

Both are equally valid, it is just a case of personal preference.

I do not like Jazz, but that doesn't mean I consider Jazz a lower music genre.

Gdemami -
Informing people about your thoughts and impressions is not a review, it's a blog.

  Heinz130

Novice Member

Joined: 3/13/12
Posts: 227

War...war never change

4/03/12 11:26:05 AM#198
Originally posted by ignore_me
Originally posted by Moaky07
Originally posted by Heinz130

Entropia universe

- Unique land owning wich allow players to rule a large piece of land on this huge map mmorpg

- players can own and customise theyr own apartament and house

Archeage

- now even more versatily ways to afect the enviroment

 

Personaly,im truly sick of CLIQ games,"craft,leveling,iteraction and questining" WoW clones...i look and taste any new game that ofer new and more of contents like EU and archeage.

Then get out there n support em champ.

 

AFAIAC "sandbox" is slang for "a game that will be lacking in unique subs". Also known as "a waste of investment dollars".

I'm genuinely curious. What are the best features of theme park games as you see them? If you could just put it in positive terms as an advocate of Theme Park (vs an opponent of Sandbox) I would like to have a better idea of your perspective. Thanks. And I am not trying to set up a rebuttal, I just want to know.

Ill answer this one:

Ppl just want new and diferent features,in my case i play games for 28 years now,mmos for over 12 years and im just sick of "CLIQ" games,i want more to deal with than my char and my itens.

Finaly,we have way more than we need of sandold.

-Game producer: Hey,look,another WoW with better grafics and guns!

-me: No thx

WoW 4ys,EVE 4ys,EU 4ys
FH1942 best tanker for 4years
Playing WWII OL for some years untill now
many other for some months

  LEmmopeasant

Apprentice Member

Joined: 4/12/12
Posts: 46

4/12/12 4:45:56 PM#199

Attracting new players is a major obstacle for sandboxes. "I made a character, but I didn't know what to do. I went out to find something to do, but somebody killed me and took all my stuff." So a shiny themepark needs to be smuggled in with the sandbox to get people playing/going. It can't be separate from the sandbox. Their workings need to intertwine. At first, it'll be easy for the new people to stay in themepark land. As they progress higher, worlds need to collide. Maybe that means they're forced into more open PVP areas (I don't know, it's not MY sandbox!). Maybe it means they HAVE to start crafting to get better gear to be able to keep going (if you believe crafting is core to sandbox, like I said, whatever). Point is... you wean them into it. Then by the time they're almost done with the themepark, BAM, they in the sandbox. Ideally, they wouldn't even really feel the transition. They might feel like now they're more into "endgame content" or something. Ideally, after this game came out, people would be all up on the forums "'DERPADERP it's a themepark!' 'DERKADURP, no! It's a sandbox!'" Meanwhile the people who just started playing MMOs like two months ago are like "Hey this game's way cooler than that last game I played, I don't know why, but there's like so much more going on in it!" At this point, everyone is just playing the game, hopefully getting all sandy, not canceling their account. Then the themepark doesn't even need to end. While everyone is off in Emergentgameplayville, an expansion could be in the works. New raids, PvE challenges, whatever extra junk to fatten it up. If it's true what everyone says that sandboxes keep players longer... that expansion should sell better than Cloney Island Themepark MMO of the Week's expansion. Same with the next expansion. And the next expansion. And so on. Seriously... a blockbuster MMO w/the fanaticism of a sandbox crowd? $$$ for like a decade.

 

But that'll never happen. lol

  Apraxis

Advanced Member

Joined: 9/28/05
Posts: 1509

4/13/12 9:42:05 AM#200
Originally posted by musicmann

I've been doing some thinking about this subject as well as reading a few opinions on how AAA devs don't want to make a Sandbox mmorpg because it wouldn't make any money for them. I can't help but look at a game like TOR and what it cost, around 200 million i believe to make and how shallow and empty the mmo side of it is and how it appears that most of the investment went on VO actors and cutscene work. Then i look at a mmo like Rift and if i'm somewhat correct, it cost like 60 million to make and has all the features of a well made themepark even if it didn't stray too far from the norm.

Now with the newest game engines becoming more dev friendly, wouldn't it be a safe investment to make a sandbox mmorpg in the vein of say, SWG pre-cu with the dynamic event system that GW2 will have. It surely would probably cost around the same as Rift and wouldn't need as many subs to break even and make a profit. Let's use TOR again as an example. If it cost 200 million to make, and they got 2 million pre-orders at 60 bucks a pop, that come's in around 120 million up front for the game with an 80 million needed to just break even. 1.7 million subs at $15.00 bucks is around 25 million a month, so it is easy to say they have already broke even.

Now take a new mmo like i mentioned that only cost 60 million to make and sells 750k pre orders at 60 bucks a pop. That comes to around 45 million up front. Say they keep around 600k subs at $15.00 bucks and that comes to around 7.5 million a month, so in about 2 months they already broke even as well.

I guess i'm trying to figure out why does these big dev companies keep pushing out the same old tired themepark games that are nothing more than a dungeon crawling / instanced warzone gear grind, than creating an up to date virtual world that is actually what the term MMORPG really means. You would think these dev companies would GET IT by now. Continueing to make these clones of WOW and keep going after their sub numbers with games that have the exact same systems in a different skin is so pointless and down right extravagent. They seem like they don't want to take a chance and spend the money on a sandbox mmorpg, yet their willing to spend upwards to 100 million on a copycat game that has far more to lose under the public scrutiny of being labeled a WOW clone. Doesn't make common nor money sense at all.

Replying to text highligthed in green.

The problem is, that the usual game engines wont work for a real sandbox game. It requires different features(from the engine), or even completely other ones.

As example. Network code. Seamless vs. Zoned. With a zoned game(more or less all themeparks) you can more accuratly predict the network traffic and the amount of rendering(so both for network code and graphic engine), and you know how to handle it. By switching the zone you can switch easily the amount of network traffic and graphics/polygons to render during the loading screen.

In a seamless world you have to write a dynamic network and graphic render code. With some kind of Radius of Transmission(for what have to be transmitted) and a Radius of View(what have to be rendered), which have both to be dynamically adjusted at any given time. Now lets assume you run into a big city with a lot of people in there, a lot of polygons and a lot of network traffic, the Radius have to be reduced very fast and in real time, which almost always will end in sum amount of lag. In the zoned design the city is just a new zone and you got your loading screen for it.

But thats not all. Sandboxes are about to manipulate your surroundings.. this requires also a lot of features which are not in place in the usual themepark game engines, and are not that easy to implement in already existing engine. In most cases it is easier to write a new one from the ground up. BUT, you need a lot of experienced ppl capable of it, and a lot of time beforehand you even start to design such a game.

So look at it from that side. The Clonewarriors(companies developing a new themepark clone, or in every other genre) are foremost designers, graphic ppl and all that stuff, working with existing technology(different engines) to craft a new game, but withit they are limited with what features they can offer. They are not capable of making a new game with completely new features.

But with all those features a sandbox requires, it has to have also as much polish, grapical quality, filled with content, tutorials and stuff. So you need the 60 mil. like Rift for the quality, and another undeterminated amount of time and money to create your new engines, test your engines and required mechanics before you even start to "design" the game. And new technology is always risky, but there can be unexpected problems, well even unsolvable problems, where you have to start from beginnings.

E.g. look at Shadowbane, they got a engine with deformable terrain, but withit a lot of unsolved bugs in their engines, and just not the graphical quality of other titles at their time. They never perfected their engine, and they went out of time and money to make a quality mmo.

But thats not even the end of it. In a sandbox environment you have to many unknown variables how things turn out, or what can be expected, that it requires a whole lot more testing and research beforehand, and you need more or less a ready game for it(maybe not the top notch graphic texture or end objects, but all objects(placeholders) have to be in place. So you have to iterate your graphics(animation, textures, 3D objects) a whole lot more often as for a known environment, where it is more or less enough if you do it one time. This all makes it a lot more risky, a lot more unpredictable, and as a investor you dont like unknown variables, you dont like risk or unpredictablility. And therefor you dont see a lot of big money investments in sandbox titles.

As much as i see it, the best bet for a quality sandbox mmo is from CCP, with other words World of Darkness. They have some amount of money, they have the experienced ppl to be capable of doing it, they have experience in the required engines/code, they have experience with sandbox mechanics. So with all that, if we can expect a AAA sandbox it will be most probably from CCP.

 

Edit: Prototyping is the key for sandbox development. Start with a small world(as example a small island, but with everything filled what can happen in the big world) just with a lot of placeholders(textures, polygon objects, animation) and test your engines and sandbox mechanics to the limit. This will requires more or less at least the time of the development of a usual themepark. And if you got everything right, working engines, working technology, when you know, for what you are capable of doing. Then start to design the game, and during this improve your engines further. At the end, themeparks are a lot cheaper, a lot easier and a lot more predictable to develop, and even the success is easier to predict.

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