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The Pub at MMORPG.COM  » There will be no AAA "pure" sandbox

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  nariusseldon

Elite Member

Joined: 12/21/07
Posts: 19143

6/01/12 11:05:14 AM#21
Originally posted by mmaize

I agree with some of the previous posters in that I think themebox while a money maker especially in initial sales does not have the staying power as a sandbox and so ultimately someone is going to have to find the right hybrid model.

No. They can just sell boxes and forget about "staying power". There are so many games out there, the hold of a single game is just going to be weaker and weaker.

 

  L0C0Man

Advanced Member

Joined: 1/30/09
Posts: 919

6/01/12 11:05:38 AM#22
Originally posted by DAS1337
Originally posted by anemo

In simplest terms developing core mechanics(core engine, communication protocols, terrain modification, building, and similar) requires far more Programming work than design work.   Now the rule that stands for IT work so close to the metal is that for a larger group of IT people you will have larger dimishing returns on indivual productivity(as they're forced to communicate).   Yes you will get more done if everyone starts at the beginning of the project, but if you add people at anyother time in the project training actually slows things down.

Now lets look at content.  Content like raids, quests, classes, and areas are all essentially repeatable(from an infrastructure standpoint) which means you will reduce it down to scripting, then on to model work, level design, writing, and other design.  You will also not see nearly as much of a dimishing return as you add more people to a project since you can logically seperate work on content into seperate areas, have seperate teams work on different tasks(more so than barebone IT infrastructure), and will know that one mistake is far less likely to "break everything".  

Essentially when you think about the difference between Indy and AAA, the largest difference is the fact that AAA has the resources to throw far more hands and mantime at a project.   So I imagine most AAA are going to focus on their advantage of mantime, meaning content.   So I'm holding the opinion that the closest thing to a AAA sandbox we will get will be an MMO similar to Skyrim's design.  Where we have tons of content and can choose which pieces we want to do(which sounds like hell to the "pure" sandboxers).   An indy game just doesn't have the resources to produce content(an hours worth of content, has production time that starts counting in man-months), so they're going to instead to choose to invest their resources into things players will repeatably draw value from(crafting, territory control, the ability to invest your character into everything(skill based), and exploring(probably fractual terrain)).

After writing this I think I've also come up with a new personal defination of what a sandbox is, where all content is designed such that players will repeatably draw new value from the same content.

I disagree that it takes a lot more work than a themepark game.

 

What happens if you take WoW and remove the quests, or at least drastically reduce them to large story chain quests and world event style quests.  That's a massive amount of content that didn't need to be created for a sandbox game.  Remove instancing in dungeons and make them public.  Also, you'll obviously have to remove battleground PvP and instead, add some type of conflict within the game world that is meaningful.  Ultimately, you are just reshuffling the deck and removing some key aspects.  Now, use the time you saved and add housing, ships, and fluff content to the game.  FFA PvP, why not? WoW is psuedo FFA PvP as it is, it just restricts half the player base.  Add durability loss to the point that you can't repair items and have to replace them.  Adjust the loot, so that players aren't so reliant on epic gear.  Make it more about the player.  Like I said, you are just changing mechanics.  You're not adding vast amounts of code or anything, you're just reshuffling the deck.  If you wanted, you could change how progression works, but it's not vital to a sandbox.  You don't need theft or full loot.  Make all of the best items player crafted except for the very rarest of items dropped in dungeons.  It makes crafters meaningful, not like today in most themepark games.

 

Bam.. there's your sandbox.  Is it perfect?  Maybe not.  But, it takes no longer in my opinion.  That's something developers spoon feed you guys so that you have some lame excuse as to why they aren't making the game you want.  Their investors do not want a sandbox.  They want something that can make a quick buck, that's it.  It's about business.  It's about money.

 

Lift  the wool from your eyes people.  Please.

 

Now you have WoW as a sandbox.  

This, big thing is ultimately money.

A sandbox by design depends a LOT on the players, to use the example showed here. Remove most quests, and you need players to make their own content so they're not just grinding monsters around (even if the quests are just disguised grinding, gives players a start and end to it so they feel it's easier done in smaller chunks). Remove battlegrounds and add world PvP, you need players doing it for it to be meaningful. Housing, ships, stuff like that, need players with enough time to farm resources for them. Crafter items being the best requires players building an economy, getting mats, crafting and so on. All of that takes time develop, but the bulk of MMO players today don't want to jump into a developing world, they want one that is already developed for them.

Look at the most succesful sandbox MMO today, EVE Online. It's a big success now, but because new players jump in today and have a developed and mature world with lots of things to do, economy, join corporation, take part in corporation wars, and so on. Getting to that point took time, though, when it launched there was nothing like that, but CCP stuck to their guns and managed to keep enough people playing in order to create the world as it is now.

However they did this because they are an independent, self published house. Most AAA MMOs out there have a publisher breathing behind their necks pressuring to repay all the money they invested in the title and to make changes if they feel it's not an inmediate success, and the main hurdle of a pure sandbox game is to retain enough players at first until the community, economy and other player driven aspects take hold, and until then they tend to have smaller playerbase than comparable themeparks of the same quality.

What can men do against such reckless hate?

  Loktofeit

Elite Member

Joined: 1/13/10
Posts: 11839

Currently playing EVE, SMITE, ESO, and Combat Arms

6/01/12 11:09:56 AM#23
Originally posted by Thorbrand

MMOs today are about making money not about making games for gamers.

Who is it that you are suggesting they are making the games for then? 

  NaughtyP

Novice Member

Joined: 12/02/11
Posts: 795

6/01/12 12:47:06 PM#24

So what makes something AAA? The cost? Well, SWTOR cost a lot. The company reputation? EA voted worst company by consumers, but SWTOR still labeled AAA. The quality actually delivered to the consumer? Tell that to the thousands of people who have quit AAA touted MMOs in the last few years. To me, AAA is another hype term. Nothing more. Nothing less.

Enter a whole new realm of challenge and adventure.

  BigHatLogan

Spotlight Poster

Joined: 1/09/06
Posts: 695

6/01/12 12:51:27 PM#25

This thread is dumb.  There already is a AAA sandbox.  It's called EVE.  It's been around for a long time.  World of Darkness is another AAA sandbox in development.  Made by the same company as EVE.  Perhaps it's just that most big companies don't want to invest in sandboxes for reasons unknown?  One company in Iceland has made one and is making another, so it's hardly impossible. 

Are you a Pavlovian Fish Biscuit Addict? Get Help Now!

I will play no more MMORPGs until somethign good comes out!

  jtcgs

Advanced Member

Joined: 9/28/04
Posts: 1843

6/01/12 12:55:43 PM#26
Originally posted by BigHatLogan

This thread is dumb.  

 

One company in Iceland has made one and is making another, so it's hardly impossible. 

 lol...

Yeah, anyway...it doesnt take a big studio to make a great game, sandbox or otherwise...anyone that has played Mount and Blade can tell you that.

“I hope we shall crush...in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations, which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength and bid defiance to the laws of our country." ~Thomes Jefferson

  Zeref.Dyver

Novice Member

Joined: 2/18/07
Posts: 281

6/01/12 12:57:39 PM#27

This thread is kind of pointless. There is already a AAA pure sandbox game, and that is EVE Online.

Also, SWG was a AAA pure sandbox as well back in it's glory days.

  anemo

Novice Member

Joined: 12/24/10
Posts: 698

 
OP  6/01/12 1:18:26 PM#28

It's laughable to think of EvE as starting as a AAA release when at the time of release they had under 50K subs.   Less than Runescape had online any point at that point in time.

It's of course pointless to argue if CCP is AAA or not now with the amount of manpower they have access to.

edit: as a matter of fact when you look at EvE's release in china, it got a pretty awesome release that trumps most other games.  Essentially I'll say that EvE in it's current status is AAA, and more reliable that most AAA games(which is one reason I've loved playing it).

Practice doesn't make perfect, practice makes permanent.

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  General-Zod

Elite Member

Joined: 9/19/06
Posts: 543

Kneel.

6/01/12 1:24:06 PM#29
Originally posted by Anubisan
Originally posted by Mahavishnu

No.

Look at GW2 and how ArenaNet tries to do so many things differently. The next step to make a successful MMO will obviously be to make it different to WoW and its clones. And what is the next step? A sandbox MMO!

I think a good sandbox MMO could be awesome, but they have to find a solution to the core problems:

-progression:

Pure sandbox games were NEVER popular because they alienate huge groups of players. The mainstream gamer does not want to be left in a world with no direction and no clue as to what he/she is supposed to do. They also don't want to deal with many of the harsh realities that usually accompany sandbox games. This is why games like UO and SWG failed to gain the kind of subscriber numbers that games like WoW and other popular themeparks were able to attain. Themepark games are just simply more accessible to mainstream gamers.

That being said, I do think that a well done hybrid of themepark/sandbox could be done that would satisfy both playerbases, but I have yet to see any developer even attempt to do this right (except for maybe Archeage).

I second this,

Iv been saying this all along ... MMo's were introduced to a large portion of gamers who really shouldnt be playing MMo's. Nothing to differentiate the players... No skill required, no penalties and everybody wins. Its like a religion where everybody gets to goto heaven no matter what.  The funny thing is the sense of pride they have for their choice of "McDonalds style" Mmo's... 

Ok its not funny XD

  Grunch

Apprentice Member

Joined: 2/14/05
Posts: 520

6/01/12 1:59:21 PM#30

Its easy to get burned out playing a theme park mmo. Sandbox seems to go on forever. I consider DAoC to be a mainly theme park with rvr being the sandbox. Sure there were goals such as taking keeps, towers, relics, defending areas, ambushing other players. The things you could do in an open RvR world are almost endless. Instead we are force fed the same "Battlegrounds" or whatever you want to kill the pvp instances in the crap today.

"I'm sorry but your mmo has been diagnosed with EA and only has X number of days to live."

  Thoric485

Novice Member

Joined: 7/01/08
Posts: 554

6/01/12 10:27:51 PM#31

I'd agree, if UO and SWG never existed.

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On we sweep with threshing oar, our only goal will be the western shore."

  kantseeme

Apprentice Member

Joined: 2/07/09
Posts: 739

6/01/12 10:38:30 PM#32
Originally posted by NaughtyP

So what makes something AAA? The cost? Well, SWTOR cost a lot. The company reputation? EA voted worst company by consumers, but SWTOR still labeled AAA. The quality actually delivered to the consumer? Tell that to the thousands of people who have quit AAA touted MMOs in the last few years. To me, AAA is another hype term. Nothing more. Nothing less.

^THIS^

  kantseeme

Apprentice Member

Joined: 2/07/09
Posts: 739

6/01/12 10:45:32 PM#33
Originally posted by anemo

It's laughable to think of EvE as starting as a AAA release when at the time of release they had under 50K subs.   Less than Runescape had online any point at that point in time.

It's of course pointless to argue if CCP is AAA or not now with the amount of manpower they have access to.

edit: as a matter of fact when you look at EvE's release in china, it got a pretty awesome release that trumps most other games.  Essentially I'll say that EvE in it's current status is AAA, and more reliable that most AAA games(which is one reason I've loved playing it).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G2y8Sx4B2Sk

  Irus

Novice Member

Joined: 1/11/11
Posts: 780

6/01/12 10:52:31 PM#34

I'm quite certain it's a fact that pure sandboxes (I presume that means hyper-realistic FFA PvP sandboxes with 0 dev content or something, I still disagree that's even a valid definition) won't ever be anything but niche. There are just not that many people who like that for an AAA dev to bother.

EVE is probably as close as it will ever get, which isn't too bad.

  Moaky07

Advanced Member

Joined: 2/24/07
Posts: 2199

MMO sandbox games are as exciting as watching paint dry.

6/02/12 2:12:34 AM#35
Originally posted by BigHatLogan

This thread is dumb.  There already is a AAA sandbox.  It's called EVE.  It's been around for a long time.  World of Darkness is another AAA sandbox in development.  Made by the same company as EVE.  Perhaps it's just that most big companies don't want to invest in sandboxes for reasons unknown?  One company in Iceland has made one and is making another, so it's hardly impossible. 

EVE still hasnt matched EQ numbers during its heyday, and themepark gamers have grown substantially since 03/04.

 

You take away the Plex system, and EVE would be lucky to sport 200k IMO. By tapping the gold sale market themselves, EVE devs are able to inflate their numbers.

 

You mention WoD, and there is also ArcheAge incoming. I certainly dont see either pulling a bunch of new sandbox MMO gamers in North America. Instead I see a redistribution of the pitiful amount of players already found in EVE.

 

Then again that is my opinion, and we will have to wait n see.

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

  Icewhite

Made History

Joined: 7/11/11
Posts: 6495

Pink, it's like red but not quite.

6/02/12 8:00:11 AM#36

Three dubiously defined terms in the title alone.  Uh..no thanks.

Self-pity imprisons us in the walls of our own self-absorption. The whole world shrinks down to the size of our problem, and the more we dwell on it, the smaller we are and the larger the problem seems to grow.

  Luxthor

Novice Member

Joined: 12/31/06
Posts: 171

6/02/12 8:32:08 AM#37
Originally posted by Thorbrand

I like how everyone is so against sandboxes and thinks they all fail when the almost perfect MMO ever released was a sandbox!

Now we won't see any AAA sandbox games because no one knows how to make them any longer and no one has the balls to try it.

MMOs today are about making money not about making games for gamers.

Don't loose your faith, concept of 'sandbox' will never get old/forgotten. ;)

---
"I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that."

  Tierless

Apprentice Member

Joined: 7/01/08
Posts: 2090

joie de vivre

6/02/12 8:35:42 AM#38

Get over the avatar and eve is an amazing sb.

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  UOvet

Novice Member

Joined: 6/26/07
Posts: 510

6/02/12 11:32:58 AM#39

If indie companies can make sandbox games with terraforming I don't see why a company with 50 mil can't. It's just an excuse.

 

Id rather make a game where people feel inclined to stick around for years and not just months once they hit level cap.

  TangentPoint

Elite Member

Joined: 2/12/12
Posts: 1095

The "Real Game" begins at character creation.

6/02/12 12:44:18 PM#40
Originally posted by Grunch
Originally posted by Anubisan

 

Pure sandbox games were NEVER popular because they alienate huge groups of players. The mainstream gamer does not want to be left in a world with no direction and no clue as to what he/she is supposed to do. They also don't want to deal with many of the harsh realities that usually accompany sandbox games. This is why games like UO and SWG failed to gain the kind of subscriber numbers that games like WoW and other popular themeparks were able to attain. Themepark games are just simply more accessible to mainstream gamers.

 

The only reason WoW did so good in the sales department was because they ADVERTISED. Before WoW I do not recall any television advertisments for mmorpgs specially not a South Park episode based off them. Basically developers just put a worm on a hook where as Blizzard threw chum in the water.

 

P.S. WoW sucks as well as its clones.

Having the name of an already hugely popular game, like "Warcraft" in the game's title helped too, I'm sure.

My philosophy on MMORPGs:

Leveling is what happens while you're playing the rest of the game.

Don't worry about levels. Just play.

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