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The Pub at MMORPG.COM  » The majority of players will never like a sandbox game argument

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44 posts found
  Creslin321

Spotlight Poster

Joined: 2/27/09
Posts: 5424

 
OP  10/11/10 11:09:54 PM#1

I have seen many people on this forum argue that the majority of players will never enjoy the sandbox experience, and that it is meant only for the "hardcore" niche.  This argument would seem valid as subscriptions sure seem to corroborate it.  Theme park MMORPGs have more subscriptions than sandbox MMORPGs ever did when taken as a whole.

But I think this argument is bunk.  I think that the majority of players DO like a sandbox experience, and my case in point is single player games.  Look at popular sandbox single player games, Red Dead Redemption, GTA series, Elder Scrolls series, Fallout series.

These games are EXTREMELY popular and what sets them apart is the fact that hey all offer a non-linear sandbox experience.  Sure they all have stories, sometimes great stories, but that's not what makes the game truly great.  If you removed the sandbox elements from these games, they would all just be mediocre linear mission games.

So if single player sandboxes are so popular, why have MMORPG sandboxes not done as well?  Personally, I think one of the main reasons is accessibility and polish.  The single player sandboxes are mentioned were all very easy to pick up and extremely polished.  Anyone gamer could pick up a controller and play GTA with little difficulty.  Sandbox MMORPGs on the other hand tend to be extremely inaccessible and unpolished.  The UI is often terrible, and sometimes you have to do research on the internet just to find out how to do basic tasks.

Everything about sandbox MMORPGs screams hardcore simply because you need a significant investment in time just to learn to play the game.  But it doesn't have to be that way!  I really think that if someone made a polished, accessible sandbox MMORPG it could do well.  If people like the non-linear sandbox experience in single-player then why can't they like it in multiplayer?

What do you guys think?  Do you buy into the argument that sandbox MMORPGs are a way of the past?  Or do you think a successful sandbox MMORPG could be made?

Are you team Azeroth, team Tyria, or team Jacob?

  M1sf1t

Novice Member

Joined: 4/15/06
Posts: 1599

10/11/10 11:14:09 PM#2

When someone makes a well made and polished sand-box MMO (See Mortal Online for examples on what not to release.) that isn't hindered by flawed FFA PvP mechanics (See DFO) it will be a winner like CCP's EVE-Online. Right now I'd loved to see Ryzom Online get a graphical update and game play improvements. The core game play and game world is there but it needs funding and a influx of new players badly to get it to the next level.

Games I've played/tried out:WAR, LOTRO, Tabula Rasa, AoC, EQ1, EQ2, WoW, Vangaurd, FFXI, D&DO, Lineage 2, Saga Of Ryzom, EvE Online, DAoC, Guild Wars,Star Wars Galaxies, Hell Gate London, Auto Assault, Grando Espada ( AKA SoTNW ), Archlord, CoV/H, Star Trek Online, APB, Champions Online, FFXIV, Rift Online, GW2.

Game(s) I Am Currently Playing:

GW2 (+LoL and BF3)

  User Deleted
10/11/10 11:16:43 PM#3

I think the real issue behind the disagreements over the potential of sandbox has to do with definition.

 

From a console standpoint, a sandbox is a free roaming non-linear environment to interact with.

From an old-school MMO standpoint, a sandbox is a moldable environment where players shape the world and create their own content (build cities, wage wars, etc).

 

Console sandboxes don't have pvp as the major activity.  Most are simply non-linear PVE games where content scales to the player.

 

TES Morrowind and Oblivion are both examples of the first one.

From what I understand, UO and the original SWG games are examples of the second.

 

Even though many will call both "sandbox"... they aren't the same game mechanics.

  VirusDancer

Novice Member

Joined: 11/18/04
Posts: 3684

Heroes are about character - not gear.

10/11/10 11:20:38 PM#4

I question your defining those single player games as sandbox games.  Are they somewhat more open than a simple linear game on rails?  Yes.  But is there still a line of progression that you go through?  Yes.  So I would not say they are sandbox games.

The number one argument you see in regard to sandbox games is not about PvP.  It is about a lack of goals, direction, and motivation.

The average gamer is more comfortable with the idea of what they are supposed to be doing in the game, having a form of familiar progression set out in front of them, short attainable goals that can hold their attention, and nifty shiny rewards.

Those are lacking from a sandbox game.

In general, I despise the sandbox vs. themepark argument.

We do not need another sandbox game.  We do not need another themepark game.

We need a next generation game that includes elements from both sandboxes and themeparks.

They can coexist.

There is no need for it to be so either or.

I miss the MMORPG genre. Will a developer ever make one again?

Explorer: 87%, Killer: 67%, Achiever: 27%, Socializer: 20%

  Creslin321

Spotlight Poster

Joined: 2/27/09
Posts: 5424

 
OP  10/11/10 11:25:46 PM#5
Originally posted by ActionMMORPG

I think the real issue behind the disagreements over the potential of sandbox has to do with definition.

 

From a console standpoint, a sandbox is a free roaming non-linear environment to interact with.

From an old-school MMO standpoint, a sandbox is a moldable environment where players shape the world and create their own content (build cities, wage wars, etc).

 

Console sandboxes don't have pvp as the major activity.  Most are simply non-linear PVE games where content scales to the player.

 

TES Morrowind and Oblivion are both examples of the first one.

From what I understand, UO and the original SWG games are examples of the second.

 

Even though many will call both "sandbox"... they aren't the same game mechanics.

Yes an no.  You're obviously correct that single player sandboxes don't have PvP as a major activity.

On the other hand, many of these sandboxes DO have features similar to what MMORPG sandboxes are supposed to have.  For example, in GTA you can buy properties and claim "turf."  Ths sounds fairly similar to the player housing feature of sandbox MMORPGs.

But the main thing that links MMOG sandboxes to SP sandboxes is the non-linear nature of the games.  In Oblivion, I can do whatever I want.  I don't have to finish the main quest, hell I can travel to the opposite side of the map and not be playing the "wrong" way.  This was true of UO as well.

However, in WoW this is not true.  In WoW, you are basically pushed along a somewhat transparent rail as you level up.  You just go to higher tiered content.  In WoW, I can't go to the other side of the map, because any mobs outside of my level range will destroy me.  In fact, in WoW, I am relegated to very specific areas at any stage in the game because only 2 or 3 zones will give me experience yield.

Games like WoW have roots in single player too...RPGs like Final Fantasy are similar to WoW whereas RPGs like Oblivion are similar to sandboxes like UO.

Are you team Azeroth, team Tyria, or team Jacob?

  mmoguy43

Spotlight Poster

Joined: 3/31/09
Posts: 2295

10/11/10 11:26:01 PM#6

Isn't that argument based on the assumtion that the players of WoW represent the majority and that there hasn't been a new solid sandbox MMO since its popularity?

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

  Creslin321

Spotlight Poster

Joined: 2/27/09
Posts: 5424

 
OP  10/11/10 11:27:58 PM#7
Originally posted by VirusDancer

I question your defining those single player games as sandbox games.  Are they somewhat more open than a simple linear game on rails?  Yes.  But is there still a line of progression that you go through?  Yes.  So I would not say they are sandbox games.

The number one argument you see in regard to sandbox games is not about PvP.  It is about a lack of goals, direction, and motivation.

The average gamer is more comfortable with the idea of what they are supposed to be doing in the game, having a form of familiar progression set out in front of them, short attainable goals that can hold their attention, and nifty shiny rewards.

Those are lacking from a sandbox game.

In general, I despise the sandbox vs. themepark argument.

We do not need another sandbox game.  We do not need another themepark game.

We need a next generation game that includes elements from both sandboxes and themeparks.

They can coexist.

There is no need for it to be so either or.

I actually agree with you.  There can (and should) be games with sandbox and theme park features.  The only problem I have been having is that games seem to be getting more and more linear, shifting to the extreme reaches of "theme park" on the sandbox/theme-park spectrum.

TOR seems like it will be a mega theme park game from BioWare's statement that it will be all about story.  WAR was also extremely linear.

Are you team Azeroth, team Tyria, or team Jacob?

  Creslin321

Spotlight Poster

Joined: 2/27/09
Posts: 5424

 
OP  10/11/10 11:29:15 PM#8
Originally posted by mmoguy43

Isn't that argument based on the assumtion that the players of WoW represent the majority and that there hasn't been a new solid sandbox MMO since its popularity?

That's not an assumption, it's a fact ;).  The argument is basically stating that a developer should make a high quality MMORPG with sandbox features because single player sandboxes do have mass market appeal.

Are you team Azeroth, team Tyria, or team Jacob?

  skeaser

Advanced Member

Joined: 6/13/07
Posts: 3685

Don't die mad, just die.

10/11/10 11:31:32 PM#9

I think Oblivion, Fallout 3 and the like prove that sandbox can be done, but must be done well.


A casual stroll through the lunatic asylum shows that faith does not prove anything.
-Friedrich Nietzsche

  VirusDancer

Novice Member

Joined: 11/18/04
Posts: 3684

Heroes are about character - not gear.

10/11/10 11:33:47 PM#10
Originally posted by mmoguy43

Isn't that argument based on the assumtion that the players of WoW represent the majority and that there hasn't been a new solid sandbox MMO since its popularity?

Many people consider WoW to be an anomaly.  They compare sandbox games to other themepark games besides WoW.  Generally speaking, they do not do as well.

I miss the MMORPG genre. Will a developer ever make one again?

Explorer: 87%, Killer: 67%, Achiever: 27%, Socializer: 20%

  MumboJumbo

Advanced Member

Joined: 7/18/10
Posts: 3117

Veni, Vidi, Converti

10/11/10 11:36:38 PM#11
Originally posted by M1sf1t

When someone makes a well made and polished sand-box MMO (See Mortal Online for examples on what not to release.) that isn't hindered by flawed FFA PvP mechanics (See DFO) it will be a winner like CCP's EVE-Online. Right now I'd loved to see Ryzom Online get a graphical update and game play improvements. The core game play and game world is there but it needs funding and a influx of new players badly to get it to the next level.

I'd like to see something like this also. Updating the graphics and expanding more options to the Ryzom Ring could make this game come alive.

  mmoguy43

Spotlight Poster

Joined: 3/31/09
Posts: 2295

10/11/10 11:41:59 PM#12

Or do you think a successful sandbox MMORPG could be made?

I think it could and I know I'd be the one enjoying it but I don't represent the majority's wants.

 

In my defining of sandbox I gather:

Questing isn't the focus of PvE and repetative mob killing is a portion of it. (something the majority may not like)

PvP is either part or the primary thing to do when capped (the majority seem to avoid PvP)

The world is large and open

There are a lot of other things to do that immerse you in the game

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

  EricDanie

Tipster

Joined: 2/10/05
Posts: 2244

10/11/10 11:42:14 PM#13

The sandboxiest sandbox is real life, in games you don't have absolute sandboxes but games with sandbox features. This is just to address the "but these games aren't sandboxes when compared to old school UO/SWG", each and every one of them features limitations.

Anyway, I think the problem with sandbox MMOs has to do with their overall quality more than the lack of carrots one feels when not used to them (for example EVE, many will argue about the lack of objectives in the game yet others will find themselves completely overwhelmed by the possibilities), and this doesn't have anything to do with complexity but with the instant gratification idea around. People want to login and have fun right away rather than work on something (the steep difficulty curves or progress curves) to achieve what they consider to be fun later, and they don't want to lose their items which is apparently a virtual manifestation of "fun".

And they are in no way something that belongs to the past.

  VirusDancer

Novice Member

Joined: 11/18/04
Posts: 3684

Heroes are about character - not gear.

10/11/10 11:42:14 PM#14
Originally posted by Creslin321
 

I actually agree with you.  There can (and should) be games with sandbox and theme park features.  The only problem I have been having is that games seem to be getting more and more linear, shifting to the extreme reaches of "theme park" on the sandbox/theme-park spectrum.

TOR seems like it will be a mega theme park game from BioWare's statement that it will be all about story.  WAR was also extremely linear.

SWG vs. TOR definitely comes to mind there.  The way I usually attempt to explain my dislike for them comes down to ACTIVE vs. PASSIVE.

If I want to enjoy a good story, I will read a book or watch a movie.  I will be in the passive mode, and I will enjoy it.

In a MMORPG, I want to take an active role.  I want to drive the story, not simply be along for the ride with tens of thousands of other people.

I can accept the linear story more in a single player game, simply because it is single player.  I am playing the part of the hero.  There is nobody else that has already done what I am doing, is currently doing what I am doing, nor is waiting to do what I am doing.

I consider WoW to be a game lobby and not a MMORPG.  Players chat while waiting to enter whatever instance they are waiting for... the game used to be more, but it is pretty much a game lobby at this point.

Many games are like that.  You follow a tutorial for how many ever levels to sit in a game lobby called endgame.  With nothing you doing mattering in the least.

I am interested in the hype surrounding what GW2 is supposed to offer with dynamic events.

I miss the MMORPG genre. Will a developer ever make one again?

Explorer: 87%, Killer: 67%, Achiever: 27%, Socializer: 20%

  Omali

Hard Core Member

Joined: 2/16/09
Posts: 1093

10/11/10 11:49:45 PM#15

Don't confuse free roaming with sandbox. Grand Theft Auto isn't a sandbox game, neither are Red Dead Redemption or the Elder Scrolls. 

Minecraft Survival Mode is an example of a single player sandbox game. You're given a shell of a world and are forced to build and excavate in order to survive. 

Also: Consider that none of the games you listed have subscriptions.

  Creslin321

Spotlight Poster

Joined: 2/27/09
Posts: 5424

 
OP  10/11/10 11:50:21 PM#16
Originally posted by VirusDancer
Originally posted by Creslin321
 

...

SWG vs. TOR definitely comes to mind there.  The way I usually attempt to explain my dislike for them comes down to ACTIVE vs. PASSIVE.

If I want to enjoy a good story, I will read a book or watch a movie.  I will be in the passive mode, and I will enjoy it.

In a MMORPG, I want to take an active role.  I want to drive the story, not simply be along for the ride with tens of thousands of other people.

I can accept the linear story more in a single player game, simply because it is single player.  I am playing the part of the hero.  There is nobody else that has already done what I am doing, is currently doing what I am doing, nor is waiting to do what I am doing.

I consider WoW to be a game lobby and not a MMORPG.  Players chat while waiting to enter whatever instance they are waiting for... the game used to be more, but it is pretty much a game lobby at this point.

Many games are like that.  You follow a tutorial for how many ever levels to sit in a game lobby called endgame.  With nothing you doing mattering in the least.

I am interested in the hype surrounding what GW2 is supposed to offer with dynamic events.

Yeah me too, I will admit I am pretty hyped for GW2.  However, I have tempered my hype with a bit of reality where dynamic events are concerned.  I think they will be more like a "finite state machine" then truly dynamic.

To elaborate on this, a finite state machine (FSM) is basically a system that can be in one of several "states" at a time, and moves to different states based on some trigger.

An example of an FSM could be something as simple as a door.  There are two states, opened and closed, the action that moves the FSM from open to close is "close the door."  The action that move the FSM from closed to open is "open the door."

I think dynamic events will be similar.  To move this example into GW2, imagine that there is a dynamic event FSM called "goblin attack."  It has several states:

1.  Goblins in underground lair

2.  Goblins own village

3.  Goblins own castle

In this FSM, the goblins will attempt to attack a village while in state 1, if they succeed, then the FSM moves to state 2.  If they fail, it moves back to state 1.  While it state 2, they will attmpt to attack the castle etc. etc.

It's a simple example, but I believe this is how dynamic events will work from what I've heard.  I'm sure the real ones will have much more branching and complexity.

Are you team Azeroth, team Tyria, or team Jacob?

  VirusDancer

Novice Member

Joined: 11/18/04
Posts: 3684

Heroes are about character - not gear.

10/11/10 11:58:48 PM#17
Originally posted by Creslin321
 

Yeah me too, I will admit I am pretty hyped for GW2.  However, I have tempered my hype with a bit of reality where dynamic events are concerned.  I think they will be more like a "finite state machine" then truly dynamic.

To elaborate on this, a finite state machine (FSM) is basically a system that can be in one of several "states" at a time, and moves to different states based on some trigger.

An example of an FSM could be something as simple as a door.  There are two states, opened and closed, the action that moves the FSM from open to close is "close the door."  The action that move the FSM from closed to open is "open the door."

I think dynamic events will be similar.  To move this example into GW2, imagine that there is a dynamic event FSM called "goblin attack."  It has several states:

1.  Goblins in underground lair

2.  Goblins own village

3.  Goblins own castle

In this FSM, the goblins will attempt to attack a village while in state 1, if they succeed, then the FSM moves to state 2.  If they fail, it moves back to state 1.  While it state 2, they will attmpt to attack the castle etc. etc.

It's a simple example, but I believe this is how dynamic events will work from what I've heard.  I'm sure the real ones will have much more branching and complexity.

I had thought they were going more with the "environment" aspect of it?  That they wanted to go with something akin to the Artificial Life System (or whatever it was called) that Origin originally wanted for UO wanted but dropped...perhaps it had been during one of my more drowsy reading endeavors though.

It is funny though, because the FSM does sound like what UO ended up with there for a bit...

I miss the MMORPG genre. Will a developer ever make one again?

Explorer: 87%, Killer: 67%, Achiever: 27%, Socializer: 20%

  MMO.Maverick

Inquisitor

Joined: 3/05/10
Posts: 7792

The middle road is the place to be!

10/12/10 12:06:50 AM#18

Polish and accessibility.

As another post earlier in this thread mentioned.

 

That's why WoW was so successful, because it had that to offer in bucketloads. And that's why EVE doesn't click for many MMO gamers, because that accessibility is too little and the learning curve too high before they get to the fun.

 

Sandbox, oldschool or themepark style aside, what MMO gamers want most in their games is to have fun. If they have to do too much boring stuff for too long in order to get to the fun part, then it isn't as fun as games where they can have that right away. Next to that, there should be enough varied content for gamers to do for whatever mood fits them.

MMO gamers aren't so much against sandboxes, but more how all those sandbox MMO's were set up. Like SWG, where it took too long or there was too much boring stuff for gamers before they reached the fun. And there wasn't enough content to fit their different gaming moods. So a lot of gamers them left. Same with EVE Online, if it takes too long to get to the real juicy stuff and there isn't enough variety at some point for them to keep busy, then you lose a lot of gamers on the way.

 

That's what made WoW so attractive and addictive to many, there was fun to be had of all kinds along the way, and on top of that, it was highly polished and accessible. And that's why a lof of those other themepark MMORPG's failed, they were too unfinished, lacked polish, or didn't have enough content to prevent boredom. People quitted Aion because of the grind after a certain level, which wasn't fun anymore.

 

If a sandbox MMORPG can provide that, high polish, accessibility and enough varied content to suit the different gaming moods that MMO gamers can have, then it can keep a lot of MMO gamers around in it.

Because in the end MMO gamers don't really care whether a MMORPG is sandbox, themepark, next-gen or old school, what they care about is whether a game is fun enough to keep them entertained.

The ACTUAL size of MMORPG worlds: a comparison list between MMO's

The ease with which predictions are made on these forums:
Fratman: "I'm saying Spring 2012 at the earliest [for TOR release]. Anyone still clinging to 2011 is deluding themself at this point."

  thinktank001

Advanced Member

Joined: 12/13/08
Posts: 1780

10/12/10 12:13:45 AM#19
Originally posted by Omali

Don't confuse free roaming with sandbox. Grand Theft Auto isn't a sandbox game, neither are Red Dead Redemption or the Elder Scrolls. 

Minecraft Survival Mode is an example of a single player sandbox game. You're given a shell of a world and are forced to build and excavate in order to survive. 

Also: Consider that none of the games you listed have subscriptions.

 This isn't correct.  Free roaming can be a sandbox depending on the limitations that are placed on players. I found it kind of ironic that  you mentioned GTA, since it is the first 3-D sandbox to exist.

  mmoguy43

Spotlight Poster

Joined: 3/31/09
Posts: 2295

10/12/10 12:16:22 AM#20

Hmm.. that is true players rely on variety to have fun. In a theme park mmo they are force into have a variety of gameplay with quests that have them constantly doing different things. But in most sandboxes its seems players choose what the like and go do that one thing. In Eve you choose to go the missioning route, get to L4s or multibox L5s and you are pretty much done- no variety makes you bored.

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

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