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News & Features Discussion  » WildStar: Sandboxes & Theme Parks - Further Analysis

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29 posts found
  SBFord

Associate Editor - News Manager

Joined: 6/28/10
Posts: 13255

 
OP  10/26/12 4:19:28 PM#1

The WildStar team has posted a provocative new article on the official site that discusses the ongoing 'battle' between MMOs as theme park or as sandbox environments. The article starts right off the contention that the WildStar team is attempting to make the game a true hybrid of the two.

We try to have both ways - I like examples, because they are clear. In most zones, there is an overall 'theme park' overlay - a main quest line that brings you through the zone, has some clear story to it, and is strongly directed. So you always have a guidepost for where you "need" to go (you can skip it, but most people do it). But in the same area, you can find random quests that are either dynamic (through discoveries, for instance), or some zones have elements like poachers who might get bored, build camps, and then there is a prisoner in the camp with a quest for you.

Read more on the WildStar site.

Associate Editor: MMORPG.com
Follow me on Twitter: @MMORPGMom

  tom_gore

Novice Member

Joined: 2/27/09
Posts: 1803

10/27/12 3:06:55 AM#2

I have a feeling that the devs have no idea what a sandbox is...

 

  Karteli

Apprentice Member

Joined: 7/09/12
Posts: 2704

10/27/12 3:28:36 AM#3
Originally posted by tom_gore

I have a feeling that the devs have no idea what a sandbox is...

 

Ah yes.  Because when themeparks fail, all of a sudden, companies start saying "Sanfbox is the future!".  Even though players have been asking for sanbox for years, and giving quite detailed examples.

 

I don't like the combat in Wildstar.  It's quite frankly dumb and insulting.  Red circles or cones around every attack you might possibly face.  It's so mind numbling .. why can't players discover stuff for themselves any more?

 

Want a nice understanding of life? Try Spirit Science: "The Human History"
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U8NNHmV3QPw&feature=plcp
Recognize the voice? Yep sounds like Penny Arcade's Extra Credits.

  remyburke

Advanced Member

Joined: 7/03/04
Posts: 3006

I liked MMOs better when gamers didn't play them, and just geeks did.

10/27/12 5:30:44 AM#4
Pssst. Hey Carbine. Your game isn't a sandbox. Go look at WURM Online.

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  mcrippins

Elite Member

Joined: 7/01/07
Posts: 994

10/27/12 6:21:39 AM#5
I don't really understand what all of the confusion is about. To me a sandbox doesn't have things like quests. Quests are a linear form of guiding you through the game. In all honesty I don't think a sandbox would have levels either. Levels require linear progression. You must go to zone A which has monsters at or around your level. Then progress to zone B and do the same thing. I think this is why a game like Ultima Online did so well, and was the best sandbox type system. I would never want to limit the creativity of developers, and maybe they could come up with a leveling system for a sandbox style game, but it just doesn't make sense to me. On a side note I am really looking forward to Wildstar!
  OG_Zorvan

Apprentice Member

Joined: 8/31/12
Posts: 646

10/27/12 8:51:01 AM#6
Originally posted by afropuff420
I don't really understand what all of the confusion is about. To me a sandbox doesn't have things like quests. Quests are a linear form of guiding you through the game. In all honesty I don't think a sandbox would have levels either. Levels require linear progression. You must go to zone A which has monsters at or around your level. Then progress to zone B and do the same thing. I think this is why a game like Ultima Online did so well, and was the best sandbox type system. I would never want to limit the creativity of developers, and maybe they could come up with a leveling system for a sandbox style game, but it just doesn't make sense to me. On a side note I am really looking forward to Wildstar!

Every game has levels.

You think UO didn't/doesn't have levels?

Then how could you die from a mob easily when your "skill" ( i.e. 1 hand sword ) was 1/100 but stomp that same mobs ass at 20/100? Because you got that skill to level 20 out of 100 levels.

All games have levels. Whether they're "skill ups" or "tiers" or whatever. Being able to beat something easily only because an arbitrary number increased via XP = levels. TSW with its "tiered gear", Darkfall and UO with their "skill gains, it's all levels.

The ONLY way you can have a "levelless game" is if you have absolutely no stats to increase. You would have to be no stronger naked at 6 months or even 6 years into the game than a naked guy that just started 5 minutes ago. Mob difficulty would be controlled by nothing more than their healthbars. Damage would be a fixed variable. Sure, adding armor would decrease the damage variable by a certain amount. Or say a "fireball" spell might add +10 to the normal damage variable. But as you go along, you realize in order to have "better" weapons, spells, armor, etc controlling the variables is an impossible task as you'd have to keep adding/subtracting from the variable while still keeping the game challenging. And since everything would have to be done through gear, balance will quickly go out the frigging window unless you make gear strictly available through "quest rewards" and strictly regulated crafting. You couldn't have a random number generator controlling loot AT ALL or you end up with one guy who hits the lottery and winds up with the "Sword of Ganking +100".

And that balancing act of "progression" is the main reason "levels" exist.

It's how those "levels" are handled that makes the important difference. For example in terms of "thempark vs sandbox", the "bad way" (WoW) or the "good way" (UO).

 

TL,DR version:

If you have to gain "experience" in any way, you are "leveling".

EA CEO John Riccitiello's on future microtransactions: "When you are six hours into playing Battlefield and you run out of ammo in your clip, and we ask you for a dollar to reload, you're really not very price sensitive at that point in time...We're not gouging, but we're charging."

  Banden

Novice Member

Joined: 3/16/11
Posts: 85

10/27/12 8:53:15 AM#7

... I was really looking forward to Wildstar, this article was a huge turn off. Seems like they missed the point of a sandbox entirely. I think where it started going wrong was were they suggested that "those of us who prefer to explore for ourselves" was some kind of crucial trait for people playing in a sandbox. Oh dear. Now I will probably be called a CCP fan boi for posting this but... 

http://gamasutra.com/view/news/179176/CCP_Onlines_three_design_pillars_for_sandbox_MMOs.php#.UIvknm_MiMA

Thats someone who knows what a bloody sandbox is supposed to be, freeform progression as  they suggest at Wildtstar is just scratching the iceberg and if you try to impliment with no other reasoning than that it needs to be freeform, because freeform is a good sandbox trait, then you are doing it wrong.

  Ice-Queen

Advanced Member

Joined: 1/02/08
Posts: 2434

"Always borrow money from a pessimist. They won't expect it back."

10/27/12 9:06:40 AM#8

 


Originally posted by Banden ... I was really looking forward to Wildstar, this article was a huge turn off. Seems like they missed the point of a sandbox entirely. I think where it started going wrong was were they suggested that "those of us who prefer to explore for ourselves" was some kind of crucial trait for people playing in a sandbox. Oh dear. Now I will probably be called a CCP fan boi for posting this but...  http://gamasutra.com/view/news/179176/CCP_Onlines_three_design_pillars_for_sandbox_MMOs.php#.UIvknm_MiMA Thats someone who knows what a bloody sandbox is supposed to be, freeform progression as  they suggest at Wildtstar is just scratching the iceberg and if you try to impliment with no other reasoning than that it needs to be freeform, because freeform is a good sandbox trait, then you are doing it wrong.
  

 

I was keeping an eye on this one too but seems from article they have no clue what a sandbox is. Ah well another themepark. Like we don't have enough mediocre ones already.

What happens when you log off your characters????.....
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GFQhfhnjYMk
Dark Age of Camelot

  mcrippins

Elite Member

Joined: 7/01/07
Posts: 994

10/27/12 9:28:02 AM#9
Originally posted by OG_Zorvan
Originally posted by afropuff420
I don't really understand what all of the confusion is about. To me a sandbox doesn't have things like quests. Quests are a linear form of guiding you through the game. In all honesty I don't think a sandbox would have levels either. Levels require linear progression. You must go to zone A which has monsters at or around your level. Then progress to zone B and do the same thing. I think this is why a game like Ultima Online did so well, and was the best sandbox type system. I would never want to limit the creativity of developers, and maybe they could come up with a leveling system for a sandbox style game, but it just doesn't make sense to me. On a side note I am really looking forward to Wildstar!

Every game has levels.

You think UO didn't/doesn't have levels?

Then how could you die from a mob easily when your "skill" ( i.e. 1 hand sword ) was 1/100 but stomp that same mobs ass at 20/100? Because you got that skill to level 20 out of 100 levels.

All games have levels. Whether they're "skill ups" or "tiers" or whatever. Being able to beat something easily only because an arbitrary number increased via XP = levels. TSW with its "tiered gear", Darkfall and UO with their "skill gains, it's all levels.

The ONLY way you can have a "levelless game" is if you have absolutely no stats to increase. You would have to be no stronger naked at 6 months or even 6 years into the game than a naked guy that just started 5 minutes ago. Mob difficulty would be controlled by nothing more than their healthbars. Damage would be a fixed variable. Sure, adding armor would decrease the damage variable by a certain amount. Or say a "fireball" spell might add +10 to the normal damage variable. But as you go along, you realize in order to have "better" weapons, spells, armor, etc controlling the variables is an impossible task as you'd have to keep adding/subtracting from the variable while still keeping the game challenging. And since everything would have to be done through gear, balance will quickly go out the frigging window unless you make gear strictly available through "quest rewards" and strictly regulated crafting. You couldn't have a random number generator controlling loot AT ALL or you end up with one guy who hits the lottery and winds up with the "Sword of Ganking +100".

And that balancing act of "progression" is the main reason "levels" exist.

It's how those "levels" are handled that makes the important difference. For example in terms of "thempark vs sandbox", the "bad way" (WoW) or the "good way" (UO).

 

TL,DR version:

If you have to gain "experience" in any way, you are "leveling".

To say you don't have a point would be wrong, but I think you missed mine by quite a bit. Yes skill progression is infact progression. However, in UO for example I can equip any weapon I want without restriction and use it. In theory it would be possible to kill the same monster with 20/100 skill and 100/100 skill. Yet, the best part about a game like UO is that combat wasn't even a requirement to enjoying the game. I could go and be a blacksmith, fisherman, or cartogropher and never have to fight anything. In a levels based game it is more or less a requirement. GW2 has come close to being the exception. It is possible to craft to max level. Although it would be extremely difficult without being fueled by resources from either your guild, or by spending real money. I think what this all boils down to is choice. I'm talkin about REAL choice. A themepark will give you a choice of rides. They will be slightly different, but they are still rides for you to ride on and enjoy. In a sandbox the players create the rides. I personally like both. I enjoyed wow for years, as well as UO for years. I am not here to say one is better than the other. But I will always choose the game with the most freedoms. Limitations on ways to progress were the exact opposite way this genre started out.

  Icewhite

Made History

Joined: 7/11/11
Posts: 6495

Pink, it's like red but not quite.

10/27/12 9:34:08 AM#10

You have been weighed.

You have been measured.

You have been found wanting.

Just like every other game, since the opening of this site.

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.

  Ozmodan

Elite Member

Joined: 2/27/07
Posts: 6632

10/27/12 10:02:32 AM#11

Can't be a sandbox when you have classes.  Just does not fit the mold, sorry.

Oh and what a silly argument about levels.  You can have levels in a sandbox, AC1 had levels, which were in part meaningless except it just indicated you had more skill points to spend.  AC1 was a hybrid sandbox, Wildstart is not even close.

  OG_Zorvan

Apprentice Member

Joined: 8/31/12
Posts: 646

10/27/12 10:34:43 AM#12
Originally posted by afropuff420
Originally posted by OG_Zorvan

 *snip for length*

TL,DR version:

If you have to gain "experience" in any way, you are "leveling".

To say you don't have a point would be wrong, but I think you missed mine by quite a bit. Yes skill progression is infact progression. However, in UO for example I can equip any weapon I want without restriction and use it. In theory it would be possible to kill the same monster with 20/100 skill and 100/100 skill. Yet, the best part about a game like UO is that combat wasn't even a requirement to enjoying the game. I could go and be a blacksmith, fisherman, or cartogropher and never have to fight anything. In a levels based game it is more or less a requirement. GW2 has come close to being the exception. It is possible to craft to max level. Although it would be extremely difficult without being fueled by resources from either your guild, or by spending real money. I think what this all boils down to is choice. I'm talkin about REAL choice. A themepark will give you a choice of rides. They will be slightly different, but they are still rides for you to ride on and enjoy. In a sandbox the players create the rides. I personally like both. I enjoyed wow for years, as well as UO for years. I am not here to say one is better than the other. But I will always choose the game with the most freedoms. Limitations on ways to progress were the exact opposite way this genre started out.

Well I agree with you there. You cannot have any kind of weapon/gear restrictions at all in a "true" sandbox game, nor should you be relegated to one form of "content" in order to progress.

EA CEO John Riccitiello's on future microtransactions: "When you are six hours into playing Battlefield and you run out of ammo in your clip, and we ask you for a dollar to reload, you're really not very price sensitive at that point in time...We're not gouging, but we're charging."

  adam_nox

Hard Core Member

Joined: 7/31/06
Posts: 2062

10/27/12 10:48:20 AM#13

Seems like everyone is running around with their own personal set of rules about what is or isn't a sandbox.  And that's fine, but being a sandbox is more of meeting at least a few criteria out of a wide array rather than meeting every single one.

Those criteria are:

1. large open areas that require real exploration to discover significant amounts of content.

2. can terraform or customize geography in some way, housing, player cities, guild forts.

3. crafting is as efficacious as combat

4. quests don't tell you where to go (I don't really count this one but I throw it in because some do)

5. player is not guided towards questgivers and content aka the escalator

6. players must rely on other players at some level

7. limited ability to grief other players in some way, through property destruction, disruption of content, or non-consentual pvp

8. no classes or levels, maybe even no xp.  skills are emphasized.

9. highly involved character creation and customization

10. Graphics that attempt to be less stylized, more realistic for the immersion factor.

11. Some sort of frontiers or world pvp that involves capturable terrain or structures for profit.

12. Large powerful enemies roam open world where any number of players can raid.

13.  Open world dungeons, factional/group pvp dungeons (once again, a bit iffy but mmos have become so instanced and dynamic that this is considered sandboxy by comparison).

That's 13.  I'm sure I'm missing some, but someone should compile a list, clean it up, and just repaste every time a topic comes up, and in my opinion, if you have 5 of these, you are on the cusp of being a sandbox at the least, maybe could be considered a hybrid if you can come up with even 3.  Even then, I'm skeptical Wildstar could without stretching the truth a bit.

You'll note dynamic events is NOT on the list lol.

  Emeraq

Apprentice Member

Joined: 10/07/06
Posts: 925

10/27/12 11:03:43 AM#14
Originally posted by afropuff420
Originally posted by OG_Zorvan
Originally posted by afropuff420
I don't really understand what all of the confusion is about. To me a sandbox doesn't have things like quests. Quests are a linear form of guiding you through the game. In all honesty I don't think a sandbox would have levels either. Levels require linear progression. You must go to zone A which has monsters at or around your level. Then progress to zone B and do the same thing. I think this is why a game like Ultima Online did so well, and was the best sandbox type system. I would never want to limit the creativity of developers, and maybe they could come up with a leveling system for a sandbox style game, but it just doesn't make sense to me. On a side note I am really looking forward to Wildstar!

Every game has levels.

You think UO didn't/doesn't have levels?

Then how could you die from a mob easily when your "skill" ( i.e. 1 hand sword ) was 1/100 but stomp that same mobs ass at 20/100? Because you got that skill to level 20 out of 100 levels.

All games have levels. Whether they're "skill ups" or "tiers" or whatever. Being able to beat something easily only because an arbitrary number increased via XP = levels. TSW with its "tiered gear", Darkfall and UO with their "skill gains, it's all levels.

The ONLY way you can have a "levelless game" is if you have absolutely no stats to increase. You would have to be no stronger naked at 6 months or even 6 years into the game than a naked guy that just started 5 minutes ago. Mob difficulty would be controlled by nothing more than their healthbars. Damage would be a fixed variable. Sure, adding armor would decrease the damage variable by a certain amount. Or say a "fireball" spell might add +10 to the normal damage variable. But as you go along, you realize in order to have "better" weapons, spells, armor, etc controlling the variables is an impossible task as you'd have to keep adding/subtracting from the variable while still keeping the game challenging. And since everything would have to be done through gear, balance will quickly go out the frigging window unless you make gear strictly available through "quest rewards" and strictly regulated crafting. You couldn't have a random number generator controlling loot AT ALL or you end up with one guy who hits the lottery and winds up with the "Sword of Ganking +100".

And that balancing act of "progression" is the main reason "levels" exist.

It's how those "levels" are handled that makes the important difference. For example in terms of "thempark vs sandbox", the "bad way" (WoW) or the "good way" (UO).

 

TL,DR version:

If you have to gain "experience" in any way, you are "leveling".

To say you don't have a point would be wrong, but I think you missed mine by quite a bit. Yes skill progression is infact progression. However, in UO for example I can equip any weapon I want without restriction and use it. In theory it would be possible to kill the same monster with 20/100 skill and 100/100 skill. Yet, the best part about a game like UO is that combat wasn't even a requirement to enjoying the game. I could go and be a blacksmith, fisherman, or cartogropher and never have to fight anything. In a levels based game it is more or less a requirement. GW2 has come close to being the exception. It is possible to craft to max level. Although it would be extremely difficult without being fueled by resources from either your guild, or by spending real money. I think what this all boils down to is choice. I'm talkin about REAL choice. A themepark will give you a choice of rides. They will be slightly different, but they are still rides for you to ride on and enjoy. In a sandbox the players create the rides. I personally like both. I enjoyed wow for years, as well as UO for years. I am not here to say one is better than the other. But I will always choose the game with the most freedoms. Limitations on ways to progress were the exact opposite way this genre started out.

The UO I remember had "level" restrictions on weapons and armor.. Strength level that is. If you didn't have the necessary number of points in STR you wouldn't wear or wield certain items, that IS a restriction.

  Ozmodan

Elite Member

Joined: 2/27/07
Posts: 6632

10/27/12 12:28:34 PM#15
Yes, restrictions on equipment/weapons really depends on what kind of restrictions they are.  In UO you could wear plate as a mage, except that your mana recovery was almost non existent.
  User Deleted
10/27/12 12:41:20 PM#16
Originally posted by adam_nox

10. Graphics that attempt to be less stylized, more realistic for the immersion factor.

What about the Uncanny Valley? The immersion can be broken if something realistic does something unrealistic, like clipping through a wall or something along that line. I'd argue that immersion can occur with something stylized if the world does a good enough job of getting you interested in the world in the first place?

  MindTrigger

Advanced Member

Joined: 12/19/07
Posts: 2628

10/27/12 3:34:11 PM#17

The thing that is worrisome to me about that article, is that what makes a game a sand box just isn't about linear vs non-linear content, or quests vs open exploration.  You can have both of these in both types of game, and not substantially change one of them into a "hybrid".

What makes a game a sandbox game is much more involved.  It's a change from developer-only created content, to giving the players more power to create their own content though all kinds of different means, including combat and non-combat gameplay classes or professions, and maybe even requring a skill-based system so people can dabble and mix-match skills to build unique characters.

It's also about a player-driven economy where crafting and resources are not only more fun to play, but also mean something in the game world.  There needs to be mechanics such as item decay, and drops need to be limited more to resources and some loot items that are not quite as powerful as crafted items in *most* cases, not all.

It's about creating a large virtual world where players can make a real impact on how your particular server evolves through things like player housing, bases, player cities, etc. 

i'm just scratching the surface here, but all I really wanted to say is that whether or not you have quest based or free-roaming exploration really isn't the main issues in making these games more fun and have more longevity.  Returning power back to the players to put in a large part of the content by giving them the tools to do so, is.

A sure sign that you are in an old, dying paradigm/mindset, is when you are scared of new ideas and new technology. Don't feel bad. The world is moving on without you, and you are welcome to yell "Get Off My Lawn!" all you want while it happens. You cannot, however, stop an idea whose time has come.

  ShakyMo

Apprentice Member

Joined: 11/21/11
Posts: 7246

10/27/12 4:33:36 PM#18
Originally posted by tom_gore

I have a feeling that the devs have no idea what a sandbox is...

 

yeah, they think sandbox means "random shit happening"  or something.

theres not 1 sandbox feature in that entire atricle.   Been able to progress through events or not doing quests isnt sandbox.

Theres lots of themeparks that arent quest heavy - e.g. GW2, daoc, everquest

  ShakyMo

Apprentice Member

Joined: 11/21/11
Posts: 7246

10/27/12 4:36:50 PM#19
Originally posted by adam_nox

Seems like everyone is running around with their own personal set of rules about what is or isn't a sandbox.  And that's fine, but being a sandbox is more of meeting at least a few criteria out of a wide array rather than meeting every single one.

Those criteria are:

1. large open areas that require real exploration to discover significant amounts of content.

2. can terraform or customize geography in some way, housing, player cities, guild forts.

3. crafting is as efficacious as combat

4. quests don't tell you where to go (I don't really count this one but I throw it in because some do)

5. player is not guided towards questgivers and content aka the escalator

6. players must rely on other players at some level

7. limited ability to grief other players in some way, through property destruction, disruption of content, or non-consentual pvp

8. no classes or levels, maybe even no xp.  skills are emphasized.

9. highly involved character creation and customization

10. Graphics that attempt to be less stylized, more realistic for the immersion factor.

11. Some sort of frontiers or world pvp that involves capturable terrain or structures for profit.

12. Large powerful enemies roam open world where any number of players can raid.

13.  Open world dungeons, factional/group pvp dungeons (once again, a bit iffy but mmos have become so instanced and dynamic that this is considered sandboxy by comparison).

That's 13.  I'm sure I'm missing some, but someone should compile a list, clean it up, and just repaste every time a topic comes up, and in my opinion, if you have 5 of these, you are on the cusp of being a sandbox at the least, maybe could be considered a hybrid if you can come up with even 3.  Even then, I'm skeptical Wildstar could without stretching the truth a bit.

You'll note dynamic events is NOT on the list lol.

1 NO ENDGAME

2 player driven content

3 fully persistent world no instanced dungeons, no minigame pvp, multi copies of world zones etc..

4 player actions alter the world, permenantly

  Yamota

Advanced Member

Joined: 10/05/03
Posts: 6506

"I fight so you don't have to."

10/27/12 5:39:10 PM#20
Originally posted by tom_gore

I have a feeling that the devs have no idea what a sandbox is...

 

Yep. They seem to think that if they add some random quests around on the map then that is sandbox elements. Pfft, go back to your ThemePark building guys, you have no idea how to design a sandbox game. Hint would be: player made content and not dev. made content.

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