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The Pub at MMORPG.COM  » Do Sandboxes Overwhelm You With Choices?

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135 posts found
  Sovrath

Elite Member

Joined: 1/06/05
Posts: 17013

5/03/13 11:06:17 AM#21

I think it depends on the person and "their reason" for playing in the first place.

"for me" too much choice is "A-Ok". I don't get option anxiety nor am I compelled to be a completist.

The more choice the better.

However, there are people who are wired differently and/or play these games to be entertained and to get a specific type of entertainment experience.

So, for example, a coworker of mine who is a "gamer" prefers games such as Dishonored or Bio-Shock (among many others) because they are first and foremost games. He wants to be given challenges and he wants to overcome them and then move on.

A game such as skyrim didn't hold him at all (regardless of the argument of it being sandbox or open world, let's just accept the game doesn't force you down its game play paths) and he only played about 15 minutes after the starter part.

His comments were that it was too open, too many options and wandering around was to him boring. Even if that meant opening up opportunities or discovering.

He wants linear game play with challenges, doesn't have to be strictly linear but he wants set paths where he is clear where the next stop is.

And it's not an intellgence thing. Sometimes I get the sense from the mmo/gamer crowd that if you aren't on board with open "non-handholding" game play then you are a bit "less than".

There are people out there who are interested in these games as "games". They don't want to explore a world. They don't want many choices. Just give them one choice that is fun that leads to the next choice that is fun.

 

  waynejr2

Hard Core Member

Joined: 4/12/11
Posts: 3712

RIP City of Heroes!

5/03/13 11:09:33 AM#22
Originally posted by nariusseldon

It is well known in psychology that too many choices paralyze people (look up the book "The Paradox of Choice".

And even in gameplay, more is not always better. I want interesting choices, not just choice.

Let me use this extreme example to illustrate. You can create 100 fireball skills, and each does one point of damage more than the previous one. So there are 100 choices ... but it is not fun, because you may was well just use the highest damage one. There is no reason to use any other. (That reminds me of EQ, if you play a wiz, you get a new "nuke" every few levels, that essentially just do more damage ... everyone just use the lastest. There is no reason to have the earlier nuke at the later part of the game).

So it is not about the number of choices, it is about intersting choices, and trade-offs.

 The classic choice problem that is often illustrated was the auto industry.  Back in the day they would have more colors to offer than we do today.  The deal would almost get closed but the spouses would get hung up on color selection and leave to take time to figure it out.  Leading to a Lost sale.  So they narrowed the choices down. 

  VengeSunsoar

Advanced Member

Joined: 3/10/04
Posts: 4718

Be Brief, Be Bright... Be Gone.

5/03/13 11:14:52 AM#23
Originally posted by waynejr2
Originally posted by VengeSunsoar

A sandbox should offer a lot of choice, however IMO most offer significantly less choice than themepark.

In most sandbox the choices are what to level/train and what to craft/kill.  There may be a lot of crafting but there is very little variety between crafting so the gameplay ends up being the same.  Same with adventuring, lots of things to train, but very little variety between them so you really end up doing the same thing over and over and over again with several different skills.

To me that is not really meaningfull choice. 

However yes.  In the beginning the lack of direction, not knowing anything about the game, not knowing how well various skills/classes perform can be a bit daunting especially if there is no way to redo/relearn/re-distribute points.

 

 Shouldn't a system with free choices allow for the player to choose a gimped build? 

What about infomation about the game mechanics?  Could that be part of the players exploration of the game or do players need a complete manual spelling it all out...

 Of course, sometimes I choose a gimped build on purpose.  I still want a way to correct unintentioned mistakes without having to delete the character and redo everything I just did.  Repeating content just to get to the same place you were at before with a couple minor changes is usually not very fun.

Exploration of game mechanics can and often is fun.  However usually there is such very little difference in gameplay between each aspect of fighting or each aspect of crafting that it becomes just a grind.

Look at Ryzom.  While great variation in armor stats, only a few dozen types of armor.  While dozens of different crafting it is all the exact same thing.  Digging in the dirt the same way over and over and over and over again.  No variation in crafting mechanics at all. 

That is not good exploration.  That is one gameplay activity copied dozens of times. 

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

  bcbully

Elite Member

Joined: 3/03/12
Posts: 7027

5/03/13 11:17:52 AM#24
Originally posted by NetSage
A good and true sandbox may.  I mean look at EVE it's complexity lies in the fact of how much people can do.  But, if you break it down into a specific professions it can be a lot more manageable.  I think people are to used to being able to do everything a game has to offer in one go.  Well sandbox makes that hard and makes you specialized your development which leads to people digging their own grave since they aren't great at anything now.

good point.

  Ghavrigg

Hard Core Member

Joined: 8/10/12
Posts: 713

5/03/13 11:19:37 AM#25

Not always. Personally, I've been overwhelmed by sandbox games' choices, but I've also been overwhelmed for other reasons in themeparks, like LotRO, mainly due to the excessive amounts of quests popping up in many small areas. I'd say I was actually more overwhelmed by the quests in LotRO when I played than I ever was in a sandbox, though. I'd rather have to learn mechanics than run a bunch of random quests that don't mean a whole lot overall.

 

  Axehilt

Novice Member

Joined: 5/09/09
Posts: 7213

5/03/13 11:19:45 AM#26

Nobody who played Glitch would claim the game "overwhelmed" them with choices.  "Empty" and "nothing to do" would be the words they would use.

You can't create an empty world with nothing to do and expect players to like it just because you slap a "sandbox!" sticker on the box.

So sandboxes underwhelm me with lack of choice.  I want a game filled with interesting possibilities, and they simply provide some terrain (or star systems) to move through very slowly and whatever tools they provide for me to manipulate that world are typically dull (if not outright tedious.)

Which isn't to say sandbox is a bad idea.  Just that you have to approach it more like Terraria or ATITD or Puzzle Pirates, where the world is manipulatable and that's what makes it a sandbox, but the moment-to-moment gameplay is enjoyable: it's a game.

There is no sandbox where choice overwhelms currently.  If you took Terraria and added 20 features which were all available from the beginning of the game, you would have a sandbox where choice is overwhelming.  But too much choice isn't the typical sandbox problem.  The typical sandbox problem is they're empty.  If there's barely any game, there's barely any choice.

  Sabas

Advanced Member

Joined: 8/26/05
Posts: 203

This is the sound of me

5/03/13 11:20:27 AM#27
Originally posted by lizardbones

Do Sandboxes Overwhelm You?
To Summarize:
Sandboxes offer a lot of choice, and often they have very little direction on what to do. Does the lack of direction and number of possible directions to go overwhelm you?

 

That is a good question indeed.

For me its never really the amount of choice that poses the problem.

It comes to pacing and formatting.

I've come to think that depth shouldn't be an excuse for inaccessibility or poor U.I. design.

Nor should choice translate into überhardcore more work then game.

 

 

 

  VengeSunsoar

Advanced Member

Joined: 3/10/04
Posts: 4718

Be Brief, Be Bright... Be Gone.

5/03/13 11:21:12 AM#28
Originally posted by Axehilt

Nobody who played Glitch would claim the game "overwhelmed" them with choices.  "Empty" and "nothing to do" would be the words they would use.

You can't create an empty world with nothing to do and expect players to like it just because you slap a "sandbox!" sticker on the box.

So sandboxes underwhelm me with lack of choice.  I want a game filled with interesting possibilities, and they simply provide some terrain (or star systems) to move through very slowly and whatever tools they provide for me to manipulate that world are typically dull (if not outright tedious.)

Which isn't to say sandbox is a bad idea.  Just that you have to approach it more like Terraria or ATITD or Puzzle Pirates, where the world is manipulatable and that's what makes it a sandbox, but the moment-to-moment gameplay is enjoyable: it's a game.

There is no sandbox where choice overwhelms currently.  If you took Terraria and added 20 features which were all available from the beginning of the game, you would have a sandbox where choice is overwhelming.  But too much choice isn't the typical sandbox problem.  The typical sandbox problem is they're empty.  If there's barely any game, there's barely any choice.

 This.  Sandbox idea is great.  In practice there really are very few meaningfull choices.  It comes down to a few tasks repeated thousands of times.  Very few gameplay options.

 

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

  lizardbones

Elite Member

Joined: 6/11/08
Posts: 10427

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

 
OP  5/03/13 11:26:59 AM#29


Originally posted by waynejr2

Originally posted by VengeSunsoar A sandbox should offer a lot of choice, however IMO most offer significantly less choice than themepark. In most sandbox the choices are what to level/train and what to craft/kill.  There may be a lot of crafting but there is very little variety between crafting so the gameplay ends up being the same.  Same with adventuring, lots of things to train, but very little variety between them so you really end up doing the same thing over and over and over again with several different skills. To me that is not really meaningfull choice.  However yes.  In the beginning the lack of direction, not knowing anything about the game, not knowing how well various skills/classes perform can be a bit daunting especially if there is no way to redo/relearn/re-distribute points.  
 Shouldn't a system with free choices allow for the player to choose a gimped build? 

What about infomation about the game mechanics?  Could that be part of the players exploration of the game or do players need a complete manual spelling it all out...




If your goal is to give players freedom with the responsibility that comes with it, yes. If your goal is for players to not become discouraged and eventually quit the game because the good choices look just like the bad choices, then further choices that can fix bad choices might be something to consider.

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

  Dahkoht

Novice Member

Joined: 4/03/13
Posts: 289

5/03/13 11:28:39 AM#30
Originally posted by nariusseldon
Originally posted by veritas723

One of the greatest strengths of a good sandbox MMO  is the freedom to have fun doing nothing,  that's the one choice I always wish a lot of other mmos had.  

Doing nothing is not fun for me. Given the prevalence of combat centric games, i doubt many would find it fun to do nothing.

 

 

Minecraft would like a word with you, it's sold a few copies.

There are tons of folks who like to craft , decorate houses , virtual farm , and so on , a huge sandbox world mmorpg that allows people to do things besides fight is something many , many people would enjoy.

It's easy to make shoot this games. That's why there are so many.

It takes effort to give choices that don't involve combat only.

Nothing wrong with liking combat only , but you are dead wrong about not many would enjoy "doing nothing" , because that was simply the phrase Verit used to represent doing something besides fighting.

 

 

  Darth-Batman

Hard Core Member

Joined: 5/26/05
Posts: 707

Bruce, I am your father.

5/03/13 11:29:40 AM#31
Sandboxes dont overwhelm me but most mmos underwhelm me.
  Punk999

Novice Member

Joined: 10/26/04
Posts: 878

5/03/13 11:30:36 AM#32
At first it can be but once you learn overtime you are happy with so much choice.

"Negaholics are people who become addicted to negativity and self-doubt, they find fault in most things and never seem to be satisfied."
^MMORPG.com

  Phry

Elite Member

Joined: 7/01/04
Posts: 5102

5/03/13 11:35:54 AM#33

Its not that sandbox games like Eve overwhelm players with choices, as such, its just that so many games now are so linear that players are used to having a few choices about their path, but no matter which one, there is a clear path to follow that leads to a set destination, and with very little in the way of variation in the points between them. Players coming to Eve for instance, from World of Warcraft probably think things are very slow in Eve because they think in Eve, that character progression is related to the skills they have, and that everything in the game is trying to kill them, especially other players... which is sort of true, but not really

Sandboxes and Themeparks are like wild horses and merry-go-rounds

  nariusseldon

Elite Member

Joined: 12/21/07
Posts: 19248

5/03/13 11:36:23 AM#34
Originally posted by Sovrath

I think it depends on the person and "their reason" for playing in the first place.

"for me" too much choice is "A-Ok". I don't get option anxiety nor am I compelled to be a completist.

The more choice the better.

However, there are people who are wired differently and/or play these games to be entertained and to get a specific type of entertainment experience.

So, for example, a coworker of mine who is a "gamer" prefers games such as Dishonored or Bio-Shock (among many others) because they are first and foremost games. He wants to be given challenges and he wants to overcome them and then move on.

A game such as skyrim didn't hold him at all (regardless of the argument of it being sandbox or open world, let's just accept the game doesn't force you down its game play paths) and he only played about 15 minutes after the starter part.

His comments were that it was too open, too many options and wandering around was to him boring. Even if that meant opening up opportunities or discovering.

He wants linear game play with challenges, doesn't have to be strictly linear but he wants set paths where he is clear where the next stop is.

And it's not an intellgence thing. Sometimes I get the sense from the mmo/gamer crowd that if you aren't on board with open "non-handholding" game play then you are a bit "less than".

There are people out there who are interested in these games as "games". They don't want to explore a world. They don't want many choices. Just give them one choice that is fun that leads to the next choice that is fun.

 

It is really about what is fun. Exploration is not always fun to everyone. Some (and I) will look upon it as a lot of boring choices. I have no desire to go see another hill, because it is not interesting to me. And even if there is some interesting stuff, i don't want to waste 30 min search for it.

Scripted story events, like those in Dishonored, OTOH, is interesting and fun. And number of choices has nothing to do with challenge. Play D3 MP10, play Dishonored, or Bioshock on the highest difficulty. They are all challenging, and there is not even a virtual world.

 

  nariusseldon

Elite Member

Joined: 12/21/07
Posts: 19248

5/03/13 11:38:16 AM#35
Originally posted by Dahkoht
Originally posted by nariusseldon
Originally posted by veritas723

One of the greatest strengths of a good sandbox MMO  is the freedom to have fun doing nothing,  that's the one choice I always wish a lot of other mmos had.  

Doing nothing is not fun for me. Given the prevalence of combat centric games, i doubt many would find it fun to do nothing.

 

 

Minecraft would like a word with you, it's sold a few copies.


 

 

1) Minecraft is not about doing nothing .. it is about building stuff.

2) Minecraft is not fun for me. Selling a lot of copies has nothing to do with whether it is fun for me. I didn't buy a copy, did i?

  Robokapp

Elite Member

Joined: 11/15/09
Posts: 4530

The only luck I had today was to have you as my opponent.

5/03/13 11:42:14 AM#36
Originally posted by lizardbones

Yet another interesting discussion over at Massively.com, but they don't have a forum format for the interactive experience you can get here.

Do Sandboxes Overwhelm You?

To Summarize:
Sandboxes offer a lot of choice, and often they have very little direction on what to do. Does the lack of direction and number of possible directions to go overwhelm you?

This is a simple question, but I expect the answers aren't so simple.

If I can think of a good set of poll choices, I'll add a poll. That is assuming we can avoid getting the thread locked by descending into a sandbox vs theme park argument.

they don't overwhelm with choices but what they MUST do is quickly and briefly inform you of the choices available.

 

when i started EVE I didn't know learning skills exist. They were exactly what I was looking for but I didn't know about them.

 

a lot of times I needed a special module. The exact module i wanted exists, I just didn't know what it is, where to find it etc.

 

choices need some presentation. If i find an afterburner, I need to also be told 'by the way there's also a microwarpdrive, maybe you want that instead??". A new player wouldn't know. the mwd might be better for him but he's not aware it exists.

 

5 years later when i open the "ship equipment" market tab i dont know what 70% of that stuff is. :)

  apocoluster

Advanced Member

Joined: 4/15/07
Posts: 1295

\m/,

5/03/13 11:47:58 AM#37
   Never had a problem with choices in the sand.  6 years between Eve and Swg. Truth be told though the only choice I make is killin everything in sight. :)

No matter how cynical you become, its never enough to keep up - Lily Tomlin

  Phry

Elite Member

Joined: 7/01/04
Posts: 5102

5/03/13 11:48:37 AM#38
Originally posted by nariusseldon
Originally posted by Dahkoht
Originally posted by nariusseldon
Originally posted by veritas723

One of the greatest strengths of a good sandbox MMO  is the freedom to have fun doing nothing,  that's the one choice I always wish a lot of other mmos had.  

Doing nothing is not fun for me. Given the prevalence of combat centric games, i doubt many would find it fun to do nothing.

 

 

Minecraft would like a word with you, it's sold a few copies.


 

 

1) Minecraft is not about doing nothing .. it is about building stuff.

2) Minecraft is not fun for me. Selling a lot of copies has nothing to do with whether it is fun for me. I didn't buy a copy, did i?

over 20 million copies aparently, thats kind of impressive for an indie developer working from a garage

it is a great sandbox game, and yes, i do have a copy

  nariusseldon

Elite Member

Joined: 12/21/07
Posts: 19248

5/03/13 11:54:57 AM#39
Originally posted by Phry
Originally posted by nariusseldon
Originally posted by Dahkoht
Originally posted by nariusseldon
Originally posted by veritas723

One of the greatest strengths of a good sandbox MMO  is the freedom to have fun doing nothing,  that's the one choice I always wish a lot of other mmos had.  

Doing nothing is not fun for me. Given the prevalence of combat centric games, i doubt many would find it fun to do nothing.

 

 

Minecraft would like a word with you, it's sold a few copies.


 

 

1) Minecraft is not about doing nothing .. it is about building stuff.

2) Minecraft is not fun for me. Selling a lot of copies has nothing to do with whether it is fun for me. I didn't buy a copy, did i?

over 20 million copies aparently, thats kind of impressive for an indie developer working from a garage

it is a great sandbox game, and yes, i do have a copy

Sure. You like it, i don't. Still didn't change the fact "doing nothing is not fun for me". Minecraft is totally irrelevant to that statement.

  MindTrigger

Advanced Member

Joined: 12/19/07
Posts: 2628

5/03/13 12:00:38 PM#40

The answer, for me, is NO.  I never felt overwhelemed by choices.  In fact, this is one of the best things about a good sandbox game.  You may not know what you are going to do until after you login and and get swept up in something.  You may log in with an elaborate plan on how you intend to spend your gaming session, but then end up on some totally different random adventure with people you don't even know having one of the best gaming times of your life.  All the while making new friends, and planning to hang out again with them in the future.

For those of you who haven't played a good sandbox, it's a bit like Skyrim in the sense that you may head off on some side-quest, and not even remotely accomplish what you thought you were going to.  Only the sidequest in a sandbox is a friend calling you for help, or you running into someone you've never met before who wants to join you, or meeting a brand new player and deciding to help them begin their journey, or deciding to go exploring just because, etc.  After a while with SWG, I would just log in and go where the wind blew me.  I rarely had a plan to accomplish, and if I did I always remained open to doing something completely different. 

One of the best things about Star Wars Galaxies for me was that I had two accounts most of the time. One was my combat toon, and the other was my "whatever I felt like being that month" toon.  Sometimes my alt was a Master Weaponsmith running an elite weapon store, and other times he was chef, a doctor, scientists, explorer, pilot or whatever.

Sometimes I would play combat only for weeks, and other times I would log in to my alt and experience the world from a completely different perspective for weeks at a time, avoiding combat and enjoying things like crafting and social events.

It's hard to explain the whole experience in a few paragraphs to someone who has never played a sandbox . The best way to explain it is that you are making your own story, not following a pre-set story that everyone else is following.

My fondest memories where when I would grab a bunch of food and gear, and go on long walkabouts around the planets.  I had no plan at all, but I knew I would run into people along the way and end up doing all kinds of fun stuff and being pulled into adventures with random strangers.  Sometimes I would just sit by my campfire talking to random strangers who saw the smoke from my fire, and decided to drop in.  I'm sorry, but I have never experienced anything like this in a themepark game over the past eight years, and I miss it dearly.

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.

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