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The Pub at MMORPG.COM  » Themepark to Sandbox Transition in-game...

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  robert4818

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Joined: 4/14/03
Posts: 661

"Everyone is born with just a spark of madness. You mustn't lose it."

--Robin Williams

 
OP  5/18/12 11:12:03 PM#1

I've started back playing Rift again, and have just reached my Capital City (Sanctum).  While I was running around (having completed my first "major" goal.  I got to thinking.

 

I would like a Themepark game that Transitions into a Sandbox fairly early.  Now, what the game is will determine what that "fairly early" actually means.  But to me it means more than just an "extended tutorial".  But instead gives players a decent amount of time to learn the game, the systems, and the paths.  And then after completion of a major goal, they find a whole world has opened up to them that they can now explore.

In the case of Rift, I would set the reaching completion of the breadtrail that leads you to the city HQ to be the start of the Sandbox content.  This doesn't mean that quests dry up, story-lines end.  It just means that level-like progression halts, and other things start to take precedence.  You can become a Rift-hunter, a soldier in the Gaurdian/Defiant war, a trader, an explorer, etc.  But the whole world then opens up, with little to no level difference from that point on.  Instead, you have other carrots to chase.

In some other games, I would set the Sandbox starter at a different spot.

Age of Conan: Leaving newbie Island.  

Star Wars Tor: Gaining your ship. (2 planets in).

EQ2: Dunno, Probably about lvl 20 or so, when you can reach Queynos or Freeport.

 

The key here is that generally, the game stops leading you by breadcrumbs, and instead opens up.  But it does so after a decent amount of time.  Starting a new character and getting to sandbox isn't something to do at the drop of a hat, but its not an insane level of work to do.  (say 5-10 hours or so of play for a new character).

 

What do you think?

 

So long, and thanks for all the fish!

  xxpigxx

Novice Member

Joined: 10/02/06
Posts: 412

5/18/12 11:13:45 PM#2
  Loktofeit

Elite Member

Joined: 1/13/10
Posts: 11822

Currently playing EVE, SMITE, ESO, and Combat Arms

5/18/12 11:16:48 PM#3

  arcanist

Novice Member

Joined: 3/16/10
Posts: 163

5/19/12 12:13:40 AM#4

so you'll be railroadeed into grinding quests before you can actually have fun playing the game, hell no.

  Larsa

Novice Member

Joined: 2/14/04
Posts: 992

5/19/12 10:08:21 AM#5
Originally posted by robert4818

...

I would like a Themepark game that Transitions into a Sandbox fairly early. ...

What do you think?

Isn't that the worst of both worlds? The themeparkers complaining that the game turns into a sandbox after level XX and the sandboxers complaining that the game is a themepark until level XX?

I'm not really sure what you want to achieve by that.

I maintain this List of Sandbox MMORPGs. Please post or send PM for corrections and suggestions.

  User Deleted
5/19/12 10:16:30 AM#6

I can see a benefit to quests to teach players how to play in a Sandbox world. Especially after years of MMORPGs treating players like morons.

  robert4818

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Joined: 4/14/03
Posts: 661

"Everyone is born with just a spark of madness. You mustn't lose it."

--Robin Williams

 
OP  5/19/12 11:04:07 AM#7
Originally posted by Amaranthar

I can see a benefit to quests to teach players how to play in a Sandbox world. Especially after years of MMORPGs treating players like morons.

Its not only to teach players how to play in a sandbox.  Its really using the Themepark portion to show players more of the world, and give them ideas on how stuff interacts before setting them loose in the world.  Too many sandboxes leave players literally floundering around with nothing more than a tutorial that shows them how to control their character, or a quick here's how to "build one item" crafting tutorial.  It them sets them loose in the world, mechanically able to play the game, but at the same time, leaving them feeling like they are still completely lost.

The T>S transition, really gives players the time to get their bearings.  It introduces them into the game world, it lets them interact with the main facets multiple times.  It gives them time to develop their charachter and abilities, and better yet, it shows them and lets them interact with many of the different primary paths that characters are liable to play once they get sandboxy.  Then once the game transitions to sandbox, they have enough experience to truly feal comfortable stepping into the wild wild world, and probably have some idea of what it is they want to do, and more importantly, how to go about accomplishing it.

As I said in the OP, I don't consider the TP time to be an "extended Tutorial".  It seems like it in a number of ways. However, the goal isn't to teach players to play the game.  There's still a tutorial that's designed around teaching the mechanics.  The TP time is really the "Get to know you" phase of the game.

Though keep in mind, my concept of sandbox would probably STILL be considered themepark by many of the extreme sandobx players.  (I've heard them refer to Red Dead Redemption, and GTA games as Themepark, and that would be closer to the concept of the type of sandbox I would like to play in.)

 

 

So long, and thanks for all the fish!

  robert4818

Spotlight Poster

Joined: 4/14/03
Posts: 661

"Everyone is born with just a spark of madness. You mustn't lose it."

--Robin Williams

 
OP  5/19/12 11:14:22 AM#8
Originally posted by Larsa
Originally posted by robert4818

...

I would like a Themepark game that Transitions into a Sandbox fairly early. ...

What do you think?

Isn't that the worst of both worlds? The themeparkers complaining that the game turns into a sandbox after level XX and the sandboxers complaining that the game is a themepark until level XX?

I'm not really sure what you want to achieve by that.

I don't think so.  As I said, many Hard Core sandbox users call what I think of as "Sandbox" as "Themepark" SP games like the GTA series, Red Dead Redemption, Elder Scrolls, Fallout etc.  I've heard all of those referred to as Themepark.  To me, they are pretty much sandbox to me.

This isn't a new concept, though it might be for some MMO players.  The Final Fantasy Series has been doing this for years in its game.  A good portion of the game is story-driven and linear.  Then as you play on, things get a little more open.  When you reach the point of being ready to go to the last boss, you have complete freedom, open world, lots of things to chase after.  Admittedly, the full sandbox doesn't come until around 1/2 way through or later, but it exists.

I would argue that the problems many have with sandbox games are that often they are left feeling lost on what to do.  The tutorial teaches them how to move and fight, but they are still left feeling like a fish out of water.  The themepark introduction minimizes that feeling.  The second is the general lack of "things to do" (content) in many sand box games.  Ideally, this concept goes away in the T>S game.  The idea being that the types of "paths" that are shown to players in the Theme park portion of the game, are still available in the sandbox portion, and are still available.

Take Rift as the example, since I was playing it.  Its generally a WoW clone to much extent of Themepark discussion.  However it introduces a number of paths that could be taken Sandbox wise.  There's Rift hunting, There's the war between factions, there's the exploration, etc.  There are many ways to take these different paths, and make them much more sandboxy instead of the linear breadcrum trail that exists in the world now.

So long, and thanks for all the fish!

  Quirhid

Hard Core Member

Joined: 1/28/05
Posts: 5492

I dare you to pin a label on me.

5/19/12 11:49:10 AM#9

Drastically transforming the gameplay mid-way would be a huge mistake imo. Not only people who have been playing up until that point will feel like you've butt-f***ed them, but the people who could potentially enjoy your "end-game" would never get there.

I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been -Wayne Gretzky

  robert4818

Spotlight Poster

Joined: 4/14/03
Posts: 661

"Everyone is born with just a spark of madness. You mustn't lose it."

--Robin Williams

 
OP  5/19/12 12:03:31 PM#10
Originally posted by Quirhid

Drastically transforming the gameplay mid-way would be a huge mistake imo. Not only people who have been playing up until that point will feel like you've butt-f***ed them, but the people who could potentially enjoy your "end-game" would never get there.

I disagree.

 

There are a number of reasons.

First, As I've said in an earlier post, its been done before.  There are many SRPG's that take this route.  The key is to make the gameplay shift feel natural.  We aren't going from RIFT to Ultima Online.  We are going from "Focused RIFT to Open RIFT", so to speak.

You've not really changed the gameplay, so much as you've gone from focused story line, and transitioned into, now you have your freedom.   So, to continue using RIFT as a basis.  You've gone from following a trail of breadcrumbs that introduce you to the world, the war, the rifts, etc.  To a point where all of these things now exist, but you are now free to chase them as you feel fit.  You can explore the world, maybe set up some towns, close rifts, etc.  Only the breadcrumbs stopped at the Sanctum.  

So long, and thanks for all the fish!

  Quirhid

Hard Core Member

Joined: 1/28/05
Posts: 5492

I dare you to pin a label on me.

5/19/12 12:58:55 PM#11
Originally posted by robert4818
Originally posted by Quirhid

Drastically transforming the gameplay mid-way would be a huge mistake imo. Not only people who have been playing up until that point will feel like you've butt-f***ed them, but the people who could potentially enjoy your "end-game" would never get there.

I disagree.

 

There are a number of reasons.

First, As I've said in an earlier post, its been done before.  There are many SRPG's that take this route.  The key is to make the gameplay shift feel natural.  We aren't going from RIFT to Ultima Online.  We are going from "Focused RIFT to Open RIFT", so to speak.

You've not really changed the gameplay, so much as you've gone from focused story line, and transitioned into, now you have your freedom.   So, to continue using RIFT as a basis.  You've gone from following a trail of breadcrumbs that introduce you to the world, the war, the rifts, etc.  To a point where all of these things now exist, but you are now free to chase them as you feel fit.  You can explore the world, maybe set up some towns, close rifts, etc.  Only the breadcrumbs stopped at the Sanctum.  

There is no "natural shift" from concentrated, condenced fun to scarce and scattered make-your-own-fun. Most people don't want sandbox. If they would, they would play one. Sneaking a sandbox in would be butt-f***ing them.

I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been -Wayne Gretzky

  lizardbones

Elite Member

Joined: 6/11/08
Posts: 10375

I've become dependent upon spell check. My apologies for stupid grammatical errors.

5/19/12 1:58:55 PM#12

I'm not sure it's a good idea, but if anyone could combine the theme park elements of Rift with more sandbox style play, I think it's Trion. I don't think the game play would benefit from a transition though. Sandbox elements should be added, with nothing taken away.

For every large, complex problem, there is a simple, clear solution that also happens to be absolutely wrong.

  waynejr2

Advanced Member

Joined: 4/12/11
Posts: 3705

RIP City of Heroes!

5/19/12 6:19:08 PM#13
Originally posted by Quirhid

Drastically transforming the gameplay mid-way would be a huge mistake imo. Not only people who have been playing up until that point will feel like you've butt-f***ed them, but the people who could potentially enjoy your "end-game" would never get there.

Certainly if mmorpg history holds true, it would be a bait and switch.   Look at the complaints at recent releases and those of SWG->NGE and AOC post level 20.  Playerbase would be complaining up a storm.

  Quizzical

Guide

Joined: 12/11/08
Posts: 13107

5/19/12 6:52:07 PM#14

You can have a tutorial in a sandbox, but I don't think it's good to make it mandatory.  See how Uncharted Waters Online does it, for example.  There are adventuring, merchant, and maritime tutorials, with beginner, intermediate, and advanced versions of each.  A brand new player should start with the beginner tutorials, because otherwise, he'll be hopelessly lost.  But an alt for a veteran player can skip it if so inclined.  And the other tutorials are there for whenever you get around to doing them.

  robert4818

Spotlight Poster

Joined: 4/14/03
Posts: 661

"Everyone is born with just a spark of madness. You mustn't lose it."

--Robin Williams

 
OP  5/20/12 12:03:43 AM#15
Originally posted by Quirhid
Originally posted by robert4818
Originally posted by Quirhid

Drastically transforming the gameplay mid-way would be a huge mistake imo. Not only people who have been playing up until that point will feel like you've butt-f***ed them, but the people who could potentially enjoy your "end-game" would never get there.

I disagree.

 

There are a number of reasons.

First, As I've said in an earlier post, its been done before.  There are many SRPG's that take this route.  The key is to make the gameplay shift feel natural.  We aren't going from RIFT to Ultima Online.  We are going from "Focused RIFT to Open RIFT", so to speak.

You've not really changed the gameplay, so much as you've gone from focused story line, and transitioned into, now you have your freedom.   So, to continue using RIFT as a basis.  You've gone from following a trail of breadcrumbs that introduce you to the world, the war, the rifts, etc.  To a point where all of these things now exist, but you are now free to chase them as you feel fit.  You can explore the world, maybe set up some towns, close rifts, etc.  Only the breadcrumbs stopped at the Sanctum.  

There is no "natural shift" from concentrated, condenced fun to scarce and scattered make-your-own-fun. Most people don't want sandbox. If they would, they would play one. Sneaking a sandbox in would be butt-f***ing them.

I'm using An existing Game as a common ground concept.  This is NOT a proposal to change an existing game.

So, I have no idea what you mean by "Sneaking a sandbox in".  As it would be  a new game, its not like this is a "hidden" or "surprise" feature.

So long, and thanks for all the fish!

  mmoguy43

Spotlight Poster

Joined: 3/31/09
Posts: 2293

5/20/12 12:31:17 AM#16

Could you be more specific to how it becomes a sandbox? How does it open up?

By bread crumbs I assume you mean a continuous stream of quests? So it goes from a long line of quests to quests scattered around the world?

I have a hard time imaginging how it can make the transition without already being a sandbox which instead has a lengthy guided tutorial.

Let's build the ultimate MMO 1 feature at a time
http://www.mmorpg.com/discussion2.cfm/thread/398555/page/1

  robert4818

Spotlight Poster

Joined: 4/14/03
Posts: 661

"Everyone is born with just a spark of madness. You mustn't lose it."

--Robin Williams

 
OP  5/20/12 3:02:00 AM#17
Originally posted by mmoguy43

Could you be more specific to how it becomes a sandbox? How does it open up?

By bread crumbs I assume you mean a continuous stream of quests? So it goes from a long line of quests to quests scattered around the world?

I have a hard time imaginging how it can make the transition without already being a sandbox which instead has a lengthy guided tutorial.

Sure.

Your standard MMO breadcrumb trail is the Hub A quests, then the Delivery quest to Hub B, repeat through Z.  

The way this game would work would work would be the standard breadcrumb trail until you reach the turning point.  In Rift, it would be reaching your capital city.  In FF11 it would be reaching Jueno.  Etc.  After that point, the breadcrumbs stop.  The long line of quests has reached its end.  Instead, many of the different activities you chased become something more trackable, the world more dynamic.  (For example, if you were playing rifts, the rifts start having more of an impact on the world, but you are able to combat them.  The game tracks the effects of the rifts, and the effects of closing them.

What really shifts (beyond the breadcrumbs) is that the 1 path you had, now becomes multiple paths.  Each path has its own separate significance, not only for you, but for the game world as well.  (For example, one path might be the PVP conflict.  Where winning and losing has an effect on different aspects of the world).  

It is possible to LOOK at the initial part as an extended tutorial, I don't.  I find it to be more of a familiarization period than a tutorial.  You've already LEARNED how to play through the "tutorial" that normally exists at the beginning.  The game isn't really TEACHING you anything, its more you are simply familiarizing yourself with the various parts of the game.

So long, and thanks for all the fish!

  Quirhid

Hard Core Member

Joined: 1/28/05
Posts: 5492

I dare you to pin a label on me.

5/20/12 3:54:06 AM#18
Originally posted by robert4818
Originally posted by Quirhid
 

I'm using An existing Game as a common ground concept.  This is NOT a proposal to change an existing game.

So, I have no idea what you mean by "Sneaking a sandbox in".  As it would be  a new game, its not like this is a "hidden" or "surprise" feature.

I'm not talking about changing an existing game either. I'm talking about a new game that starts out one way and transforms into something people didn't sign up for. The way you're presenting it sounds awfully like a bait and switch. You don't introduce players to sandbox with themepark. Just like you don't introduce players to PvP by applying "unsafe PvE" - for goodness sake many have tried and failed.

If you want to make sandboxes more popular, which is the ulterior motive I'm guessing you have, you do it by making hybrid from the get-go and all the way through. Not by changing the game half-way through. Like Larsa already mentioned, you'd have sandbox players racing through the "tutorial" to get to the endgame and themepark players quitting once they reach it.

 

EDIT: And its not only the themepark to sandbox transition but any dramatic transision in any game thats bad.

I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been -Wayne Gretzky

  Larsa

Novice Member

Joined: 2/14/04
Posts: 992

5/20/12 4:45:19 AM#19

Robert, I get the impression that you don't want a transition from themepark to sandbox (if that would be possible). The more I read the more I think you only want a transition from "very rigid and linear themepark" to "a little less rigid and linear themepark".

There's nothing wrong with that of course but sandbox it isn't.

I maintain this List of Sandbox MMORPGs. Please post or send PM for corrections and suggestions.

  robert4818

Spotlight Poster

Joined: 4/14/03
Posts: 661

"Everyone is born with just a spark of madness. You mustn't lose it."

--Robin Williams

 
OP  5/20/12 5:40:57 AM#20
Originally posted by Larsa

Robert, I get the impression that you don't want a transition from themepark to sandbox (if that would be possible). The more I read the more I think you only want a transition from "very rigid and linear themepark" to "a little less rigid and linear themepark".

There's nothing wrong with that of course but sandbox it isn't.

As I said, My concept of Sandbox, and some people's don't mesh well.

 

Then again, I find that many have gone overboard on their definition of sandbox.  While GTA, Red Dead Redemption, and Elder Scroll games are described by many to be sandbox, there are many people who name these things themepark.  

So long, and thanks for all the fish!

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