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The Pub at MMORPG.COM  » Theme Park Trap

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  StonesDK

Apprentice Member

Joined: 8/06/11
Posts: 1836

12/30/12 12:32:43 PM#41

EvE is a space simulator on top of being a sandbox. Because of that its filling a niche which can easily account for the growth along with improvements to the game. It has no competition. There's only one solid place to turn for a good space sim/sandbox. Where as people wanting a landbased sandbox has quite a few choices

 

Because of that you can't really compare it to any existing or dead sandbox games. Specially not sword/sorcery fantasy games

 

having said that, I do think sandbox games has the biggest potential to grow its playerbases simply because you don't run out of "rides"

  quseio

Apprentice Member

Joined: 4/18/07
Posts: 222

12/30/12 12:34:55 PM#42

i dont see how this is possibly correct  soe hasnt released eq1s  subscriber #s in years as far as i know and could you choose colors a bit better its very hard to differentiate some of them i as well detest the sandbox term

typical sandbox stuff is nice  as long as its inside a nice theme park as well  houses, and player cities are all nice but who cares if the world is uninteresting, the story bland

  MumboJumbo

Elite Member

Joined: 7/18/10
Posts: 3177

Veni, Vidi, Converti

12/30/12 1:03:38 PM#43

I expect to see the "Ideal Sandbox" model repeated in future mmorpgs. f2p already caters for the cheap and casual. The other side of the market is clearly under-served.

RE: UO, also due to advent of 3D mmorpgs that must have had a bearing on that sandbox (as well as being a crash-test mmorpg) re ffa-pvp subsuming other parts of the game, as far as I know.

Also of relevance to the discussion:  A Journey of a Thousand Miles Begins with a Single Step

 

Big Things Come in Small Packages

The second critical issue with theme park MMOs is that it's very difficult to entertain a crowd of theme park enthusiasts who have completed all the theme park content... and theme park enthusiasts can blast through content in no time. If new content isn't ready when players have finished the old content, they'll flee to another MMO (many will go back to World of Warcraft). The result is the "spike & crash" pattern we've seen with every major fantasy theme park MMO released in the past five years. Companies are then in the position where they no longer have enough customers to cover the cost of the enormous infrastructure they've built up for the launch. This is why many MMOs don't have long-term success.

Lisa's challenge to figure out how to make the game on a lean budget led me to the realization that the last thing we want is a huge spike of players followed by a rapid decline. What we want instead is a slow, steady growth of players— the same kind of growth that EVE Online has experienced almost every year since its launch. Since Goblinworks won't have to pay off a huge theme park mortgage, our focus will instead be on making our virtual world as engaging as possible and sustaining that virtual world as the population grows over years of time.

But a sandbox needs a critical mass of players to interact with each other, or they may as well be playing a solo game. One part of the design that helps determine the amount of interaction is the density of the world—how big is it and how many characters are in that space?

I Heard It through the Grapevine

We believe that GuildWars 2 is the second-to-last AAA fantasy theme park MMO in development; the last we know about is Elder Scrolls Online from Zenimax. Since its pretty hard to hide a full-blown theme park MMO team, we're pretty confident that there's nothing queued up behind these two titles. (We know that Blizzard is working on a new MMO codenamed Titan, but we don't think its a fantasy game—although we could of course be wrong!)

Since World of Warcraft was released in 2004, it has been the target against which most MMOs measured themselves. It takes a couple years to build a AAA theme park MMO, but these eight years have nevertheless seen many attempts to knock WoW off its throne: EverQuest II, Dungeons & Dragons Online, Vanguard, Lord of the Rings Online, Age of Conan, Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning, Aion, Final Fantasy XIV, Rift, Tera, and Star Wars: The Old Republic. Each of these games succeeded in certain ways, but none were able to take a significant number of players away from World of Warcraft.

As the age of the fantasy theme park MMO comes to a close, we can look back and see a number of really important lessons from these games, as well as from sandbox MMOs like EVE Online and Darkfall. One of those lessons is the importance of establishing and maintaining community standards early.

 

  Loktofeit

Elite Member

Joined: 1/13/10
Posts: 12298

Currently playing EVE, SMITE, Project Gorgon, and Combat Arms

12/30/12 2:16:24 PM#44
Originally posted by Quizzical
It's not a theme park versus sandbox thing.  It's a "heavily hyped game that didn't live up to the hype" versus "game that did live up to the hype, largely because it didn't have much when it launched" thing.

Yup. ATITD, Puzzle Pirates, Wizard 101, EVE Online, DOFUS... all games that had a similar pattern.

  • - targetted their audience
  • - didn't hype to hell and back
  • - didn't try to be everything to everyone, rather tried to be great at what it focuses on
Each one has been successful and a healthy population since release.
 
 

 

"And wikipedia is as accurate as Britannica. Wikipedia is very reliable. You would be hard pressed to find a more reliable source for these kinds of things." -fivoroth

  shawn01

Advanced Member

Joined: 11/26/08
Posts: 148

12/30/12 2:44:51 PM#45
I see a lot of people complaining about open world pvp. I hate open world pvp, but i love pvp. I think it's stupid to have your pve and pvp in the same place. Seperate zones for pve and pvp are the way to go, like they did in DAoC, and less well in GW2. Sometimes you just want to grind away farming cash or helping friends level while you watch a little tv. Nothing lamer than getting ganked while you are fighting a mob or mobs, and that is what every open world pvp game ive been in was all about.
  Rydeson

Elite Member

Joined: 3/05/07
Posts: 3346

12/30/12 3:13:47 PM#46
Originally posted by Starpower

EvE is a space simulator on top of being a sandbox. Because of that its filling a niche which can easily account for the growth along with improvements to the game. It has no competition. There's only one solid place to turn for a good space sim/sandbox. Where as people wanting a landbased sandbox has quite a few choices

 

Because of that you can't really compare it to any existing or dead sandbox games. Specially not sword/sorcery fantasy games

 

having said that, I do think sandbox games has the biggest potential to grow its playerbases simply because you don't run out of "rides"

     Good points..  I wouldn't even say only sandbox is the answer, but the dynamic world..  Sandboxes are normally ever changing, evolving based on players actions and reactions..   The same can take place with a themepark game as well.. IF the devs would use their brains..  Today's themeparks are just too small and too linear (restrictive) to be dynamic.. There just aren't enough choices for the players to make.. I've always said that themepark worlds need to be designed like a spider web, with limited breadcrumb quest and more dynamic events or similar..  Personally, I think 70% of the devs in the industry today need to find a new career..  They may be good computer geeks what know how to program, BUT lack the needed skills to make a living game..

  Myria

Apprentice Member

Joined: 5/07/09
Posts: 544

12/30/12 3:41:58 PM#47
Originally posted by Starpower

EvE is a space simulator on top of being a sandbox.

Honestly, while Eve uses 'space' graphics, it's about as far from being a space simulator as you can get. Everything from scale to the fluidic-space physics is, from a simulation point-of-view, a bad joke. Even the much-vaunted combat physics are laughable, if you look at how combat would have to work in real space at those kinds of velocities (ZFT weapons only, for starters).

Not, mind you, that it matters to whether the game is good, bad, or indifferent, but I cringe every time someone calls Eve a space simulator.

One thing that never seems to get mentioned about Eve in these sorts of discussions is that it is the only major MMO that not only doesn't frown on anti-social behavior, but encourages it to the point of discouraging anything else.

Just today I saw someone running a Plex scam (trying to sell something as a Plex, for $250K, when it wasn't a Plex they were selling). In most games if you were reported for anything similar you'd be lucky if you didn't get a perma-ban, but in Eve cons are a sacrament. Whether one considers that a good or bad thing, it is fairly unique and much of the playerbase has built up around it.

In short, I'm not sure it's the 'sandbox' elements (what of them there actually are, if you take a good hard look) that matter nearly as much as the game outright encouraging and rewarding one for being the biggest arse one can possibly be.

  StonesDK

Apprentice Member

Joined: 8/06/11
Posts: 1836

12/30/12 4:24:50 PM#48
Originally posted by Myria
Originally posted by Starpower

EvE is a space simulator on top of being a sandbox.

Honestly, while Eve uses 'space' graphics, it's about as far from being a space simulator as you can get. Everything from scale to the fluidic-space physics is, from a simulation point-of-view, a bad joke. Even the much-vaunted combat physics are laughable, if you look at how combat would have to work in real space at those kinds of velocities (ZFT weapons only, for starters).

Not, mind you, that it matters to whether the game is good, bad, or indifferent, but I cringe every time someone calls Eve a space simulator.

One thing that never seems to get mentioned about Eve in these sorts of discussions is that it is the only major MMO that not only doesn't frown on anti-social behavior, but encourages it to the point of discouraging anything else.

Just today I saw someone running a Plex scam (trying to sell something as a Plex, for $250K, when it wasn't a Plex they were selling). In most games if you were reported for anything similar you'd be lucky if you didn't get a perma-ban, but in Eve cons are a sacrament. Whether one considers that a good or bad thing, it is fairly unique and much of the playerbase has built up around it.

In short, I'm not sure it's the 'sandbox' elements (what of them there actually are, if you take a good hard look) that matter nearly as much as the game outright encouraging and rewarding one for being the biggest arse one can possibly be.

My point still stand. Your feelings towards the game in general is irrelevant to that point

  Banaghran

Novice Member

Joined: 1/17/12
Posts: 872

12/30/12 4:32:40 PM#49
Originally posted by Loktofeit
Originally posted by Quizzical
It's not a theme park versus sandbox thing.  It's a "heavily hyped game that didn't live up to the hype" versus "game that did live up to the hype, largely because it didn't have much when it launched" thing.

Yup. ATITD, Puzzle Pirates, Wizard 101, EVE Online, DOFUS... all games that had a similar pattern.

  • - targetted their audience
  • - didn't hype to hell and back
  • - didn't try to be everything to everyone, rather tried to be great at what it focuses on
Each one has been successful and a healthy population since release.
 
 

 

Dunno, do you see eve as a single-purpose game?

Just from looking from the outside, i see players who like gathering and other menial things, players who like manipulating money systems, players who like chaotic pvp, players who like organized pvp, players who like politics...

So what is the audience?

I always saw the point where you just throw away everything else besides the "engame activity" in the other bunch of games as a mayor turnoff in general for the players, since you have to like the "engame activity".

Flame on!

:)

  Nightfyre

Novice Member

Joined: 1/25/04
Posts: 157

12/30/12 4:45:23 PM#50

with UO, Electronic Arts/Origins is what destroyed them after they got rid of Richard Garriet they went away from his grand design and added things like the Trammel and Felucia thing, they also added in other races things he never wanted to have. 

So you see people cloning the servers and not adding in things like the races but keeping true to what it was in the beginning. They may add their own mechanics but still keeping it with the trend of we won't be allowing you to have a pvp free world, if you can't handle it then this isn't the game for you or just stay near town and craft.

Really I don't think Ultima Online lost people from the game, Electronic Arts just lost the subscribers and those people went to private servers where none of the BS was at.

 

I have heard rumors he is trying to get it back, we'll see what happens there.

 

Ultima Online and Star Wars Galaxies are the two best examples of how games should be, they offered numorous things to do that not everyone was likely to get board quickly.  The only thing that failed both of these games was the company.

  Drakynn

Novice Member

Joined: 3/02/08
Posts: 2051

12/30/12 4:51:42 PM#51

Imagine my dissapointment that this is just a same old same old discussion and not a thread about a new Slasher horror Flick.

Theme Park Trap : A Ride into Terror!!!

  Quirhid

Elite Member

Joined: 1/28/05
Posts: 5547

Correcting wrongs on the Internet...

12/30/12 5:08:13 PM#52

Oh lookie here, another silver bullet salesman. Here, take my money!

You can most certainly be done with a sandbox. It works exactly the same as in any other game. Once you've seen most of what the game has to offer, and its not worth repeating, then thats it.

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

  Boardwalker

Novice Member

Joined: 11/12/07
Posts: 383

12/30/12 5:27:27 PM#53
Originally posted by Nightfyre

Ultima Online and Star Wars Galaxies are the two best examples of how games should be, they offered numorous things to do that not everyone was likely to get bored quickly.  

 

I'd add EVE to that group. Actually, I'd place it at the top of that group.

They can adjust a game all day, but they can't help the issue between the keyboard and the chair.
Played: UO, DAoC, AC, WoW, EVE, TR, WAR, Aion, Rift, SWTOR, GW2, TSW, ESO, Elite:D
Play EVE for free for 21 days

  MumboJumbo

Elite Member

Joined: 7/18/10
Posts: 3177

Veni, Vidi, Converti

1/01/13 9:19:18 AM#54

Topia Online has an interesting approach of allowing players to create content via scripting: Topia Online - Promotional Trailer

It's one way to avoid the "Theme Park Trap".

  Scot

Elite Member

Joined: 10/10/03
Posts: 5251

1/01/13 9:48:14 AM#55
I object to Lotro being called a themepark, it held on to a lot of old MMO gameplay, it is a hybrid MMO, more themepark than sandbox but not a themepark as such. That distinction has become more important as we see how much more themepark a more recent MMO like Rift is.
  Caliburn101

Novice Member

Joined: 3/30/11
Posts: 647

"Imagination is more important than knowledge." Albert Einstein

1/02/13 3:20:12 AM#56

Probably accurate, but arguably imprecise figures.

Nevertheless...

Box sales are a huge attraction for games companies.

Ongoing subscriptions make a game a good earner in the long term.

Received 'wisdom' says you cannot have a game which is both themepark and sandbox.

This is the kind of thinking which would have had us still crouching round fires and living in caves.

The solution here is to have a truly hybrid game - then you would see a saddle shaped curve with the 'bow' in the saddle shallower in relation to the quality of the game.

If this does not happen - we will have niche (and yes Eve is still niche, and graphically 99% empty space) games in the sandbox genre which don't acheive great numbers meaning lots of small titles which people bounce around between, and on the other side, big hyped themeparks which know they need to make their money in box sales and the first 3-6 months and then fizzle.

I don't like either option - but mayfly players and launch results focussed designers force the issue.

Nobody has the vision to go full hybrid, and so the MMO genre becomes a case of too much choice between 'different' styles of gruel endlessly repackaged.

A games company needs to grow a pair and use established software like Massive and GIS applications to bring the sandbox into the themepark and make a truly great MMO once again.

  Icewhite

Made History

Joined: 7/11/11
Posts: 6495

Pink, it's like red but not quite.

1/02/13 3:24:01 AM#57
Originally posted by Xepo

I love your graphs. I love your premise.

Unfortunately, one game fails to establish a trend.  Graph the other sandbox curves against EVEs...

The EVE curve establishes that troubled launches, combined with companies that believe in their product and keep plugging away, eventually get somewhere.

As opposed to the inverse, companies who pass an early spike, declare the sky is falling, and cut their staff to the bone.

Eve vs Darkfall?  What happened there, that your theory doesn't seem to encompass?  EVE vs WoW?

 

Originally posted by Drakynn
Theme Park Trap : A Ride into Terror!!!

It does read like a bad TV synopsis, doesn't it?  I want the merchandising.

 

Originally posted by Caliburn101

This is the kind of thinking which would have had us still crouching round fires and living in caves.

Makes sense, since it began in the marketing department wanting to sell a sandbox.--see "Goblinsquad" in the video. (They're recruiting viral marketers willing to work for nothing. Glance op. Question mark?)

Gamers seem to go for superstitious thinking and bad statistics.

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.

  Caliburn101

Novice Member

Joined: 3/30/11
Posts: 647

"Imagination is more important than knowledge." Albert Einstein

1/02/13 3:24:41 AM#58
Originally posted by Boardwalker
Originally posted by Nightfyre

Ultima Online and Star Wars Galaxies are the two best examples of how games should be, they offered numorous things to do that not everyone was likely to get bored quickly.  

 

I'd add EVE to that group. Actually, I'd place it at the top of that group.

EVE is not a useful comparison. It is a space game whose strengths do not easily translate (or indeed translate at all in some cases...) into a more usual MMO.

In the flipside, there are some elements which could be stolen and adapted - the offline character development system for instance.

  Magiknight

Apprentice Member

Joined: 4/10/09
Posts: 744

1/02/13 3:28:31 AM#59
I hate the themepark and sandbox dichotomy. Everyone has different definitions of both of them. If themepark means the games you listed, besides everyquest, as themepark then yeah themepark sucks.
  GrumpyMel2

Hard Core Member

Joined: 3/24/09
Posts: 1824

1/03/13 12:21:12 PM#60

The thing with the Themepark Trap....regardless of whether you like that sort of game as a player or not....is that the cost to create content starts to exceed the amount of revenue you gain back from that content, or at least it's a very poor return on that labor and the investment involved. In Themeparks players play the game primarly to consume content. Creating that content tends to be a very labor intensive and cost intensive process, at least if you want to include many of the items (high rez graphics, cutscenes and voice-acting) that are "expected" in many themeparks. This hasn't been so much of the issue in the past when the market only had a few competitors and the subscription model was prevealent. People would maintain a sub and find fun things to do in it, hanging around month after month and paying you the sub price month after month. The problem is today they don't actualy NEED to do that anymore. They pay to go through your game F2P or Hybrid/Sub and when they are done with all the content you've built for them in a couple months rather then stiking around (and paying you), they go off to any one of the 2 dozen other Themeparks out there that they haven't consumed yet. They might come back to you when you release new content and pay for a few weeks to go through that. But then they'll be gone again.

It's a bad value proposition for the investor and developer because there is just too much labor (and cash) involved in creating the content for too little return on it.

Imagine if your cell phone provider had to give you a new cell phone every month in order for you to pay them. They wouldn't be making a very good return on thier money. Instead they make ALOT more money if they just give you the phone once, and let you continue to pay them money month after month, year after year without them having to do anything new (and costly) for you. That's the basic service model, and it's one that maximizes return on investment IF they can get customers.

So what MMO's are TRYING to do is build the game structure and have the players amuse themselves (be thier own content) because it's a MUCH better return on investment for them. Sandbox games fit right into that wheelhouse as do FPS type games like Planetside2. The Developer doesn't have spend a ton of resources building content that the players will consume far too quickly (and for too little return) .

The other way out of Themepark Trap...or at least to make it a have a reasonable ROI is to find a way to deliver high quality content to the players for very little money. I'm not sure if that's possible today, might have been in the past with lesser expectations of standards in MMO....but if it is, then it's not that big of a deal if people burned through your content quickly because it didn't cost you much time/money to build.

Anyway I don't think will see alot of investment capital for big budget MMO's after TESO. It's just not enough return for the amount of risk involved...especialy in this climate. People aren't going to throw hundreds of millions of dollars to make an MMO anymore.

 

 

 

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