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The Pub at MMORPG.COM  » Is there something the Sandbox genre can do better at?

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75 posts found
  MMOExposed

Spotlight Poster

Joined: 6/17/10
Posts: 5910

 
OP  3/06/13 6:50:36 PM#1
To improve the Sandbox genre, is there something that need to be improved? What can be done to improve the genre?

  BitterClinger

Apprentice Member

Joined: 11/19/12
Posts: 205

2014 Watch List: World of Warships, Wildstar Online

3/06/13 7:02:05 PM#2
I don't have a real answer.  I can only think that the next successful sandbox MMO will either be hyper-niche or implement a lot of hand-holding for new players to get them into the meat of the game and the economy. Oh yeah, and drop the "sandbox = open world pvp" thing (unless you're going hyper-niche).

Top Games Played JAN 2014: World of Warplanes, Guild Wars 2, World of Tanks

  jimdandy26

Apprentice Member

Joined: 6/28/12
Posts: 559

3/06/13 7:04:49 PM#3
Telling a decent story for a start.

I did battle with ignorance today, and ignorance won.

To exercise power costs effort and demands courage. That is why so many fail to assert rights to which they are perfectly entitled - because a right is a kind of power but they are too lazy or too cowardly to exercise it. The virtues which cloak these faults are called patience and forbearance.

  ice-vortex

Apprentice Member

Joined: 5/21/10
Posts: 903

3/06/13 8:00:17 PM#4
It needs more advanced sandbox systems such as dynamic ecology, dynamic weather and seasons, advanced mob and NPC AI, ability for players to truly build and populate a city and the ability for players to give out their own quests.
  Axehilt

Novice Member

Joined: 5/09/09
Posts: 7213

3/06/13 8:05:31 PM#5

Quite a lot, but the most obvious is that moment-to-moment gameplay needs to not suck.  Games like ATITD or Haven & Hearth get close, as their crafting is involved enough and varied enough to be rather enjoyable.  Basically it has to feel like you're actually playing a game and not simply wasting time in a massive decision-less timesink, like harvesting resources in most sandboxes.

  Loktofeit

Elite Member

Joined: 1/13/10
Posts: 11902

Currently playing EVE, SMITE, Wildstar, and Combat Arms

3/06/13 8:34:06 PM#6
Originally posted by jimdandy26
Telling a decent story for a start.

That's like saying a hammer can do better at being a screwdriver. Probably, but it seems like that's more a matter of the person using the wrong too than the tool needed to be better at the other task.

  Yaevindusk

Elite Member

Joined: 9/05/10
Posts: 1147

Logic, reason and fact do not supersede human nature. Ignorance reigns without justice.

3/06/13 8:37:29 PM#7

 

I've posted this link two times before, but when it's relevant to the thread at hand, I'll continue doing so.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nvK8fua6O64  

 

It's called "Un-ruining the MMO" and specifically talks about Themeparks versus Sandbox and how Sandbox type games will essentially save MMOs if people start making them since their most valuable assets are the player and pure innovation / creativity.

When faced with strife or discontent, the true nature of a man is brought forth. It is then when we see the character of the individual. It is then we are able to tell if he is mature enough to grin and bare it, or subject his fellow man to his complaints and woes.

  Quirhid

Novice Member

Joined: 1/28/05
Posts: 5492

I dare you to pin a label on me.

3/06/13 8:38:21 PM#8

Like the Axehilt said, pretty much everything, but the worst of all is the moment to moment gameplay. They are mostly about doing arduous and mundane activities with few peaks of actual fun here and there. Often its not worth it all. The fun you may have in them is not worth the effort.

I also think too many games have just too much unnecessary shit tacked on to them. "Ooh, but the flowers turn towards the sun!" -Nobody really gives a crap! Features like that are wasted manhours and resources. How can they concentrate on fluff like that when half the time the core gameplay already makes you want to stick toothpicks under your toenails and kick a wall?

Make sure the game is fun and works before adding unnecessary shit.

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

  Jenuviel

Apprentice Member

Joined: 5/26/05
Posts: 958

Sadness is but a wall between two gardens. -Kahlil Gibran

3/06/13 8:43:40 PM#9

I think a big thing they could do to achieve more mainstream success is to stop scaring away the pve crowd with pvp-focused gameplay. I know most of this site's forum-goers are big supporters of open-world-pvp, but the second you decide to make pve players unwilling targets, you've gone from a mainstream title to a niche title. I absolutely believe there should be open-world-pvp sandboxes out there (and there are), but we need a AAA, mainstream, financially successful sandbox if we ever want to see the model catch on.

 

Conventional wisdom tends toward the belief that social and political conflicts between players are the only way to give long-term life to a sandbox. While such conflicts can certainly add longevity to the game,  they're not the only method of doing so (see: A Tale in the Desert), nor is player-versus-player combat always necessarily when it comes to conflict resolution. The best way to make a breakthrough sandbox, in my opinion, is to build with a focus on systems rather than "content." Provide player authoring tools, social tools, deep crafting systems with dynamic resources, a skill system rather than a class system, a huge open world, and include some goals that give those new to MMOs a sense of direction.

 

That last part's important. Mainstream adoption means grabbing people from a broader market, and most  people just have no clue what to do when they log into a sandbox; they wander around for awhile, get listless, then leave. That's fine if you're CCP and you're aiming for a fairly specific demographic, but it's never going to result in market penetration. There has to be some sort of linear quest mechanism in place; it shouldn't be the focus of the game, but it should be there, it should be of decent quality, and it should be supplemented by the aforementioned player authoring tools (hopefully peer-reviewed), so people have direction if and when they need it. Also have things like City of Heroes' badge/title collections. It was quite a simple system, but collecting badges and titles provided concrete goals for achievers and explorers.

 

Also, I'm probably totally wrong, because I know nothing about game design. Maybe I should have put that sentence first...

Nah!

  jimdandy26

Apprentice Member

Joined: 6/28/12
Posts: 559

3/06/13 8:45:58 PM#10
Originally posted by Loktofeit
Originally posted by jimdandy26
Telling a decent story for a start.

That's like saying a hammer can do better at being a screwdriver. Probably, but it seems like that's more a matter of the person using the wrong too than the tool needed to be better at the other task.

Not at all. Generally speaking I am against player created content simply because you have to wade through so much garbage to get to the good stuff. However, when player created mods tell better stories within the same medium than the vanilla game there is a problem. It seems like every sandbox developer around completely forgets that merely creating place is not the same thing as a setting.

I did battle with ignorance today, and ignorance won.

To exercise power costs effort and demands courage. That is why so many fail to assert rights to which they are perfectly entitled - because a right is a kind of power but they are too lazy or too cowardly to exercise it. The virtues which cloak these faults are called patience and forbearance.

  JimmyYO

Apprentice Member

Joined: 9/13/11
Posts: 521

3/06/13 8:48:31 PM#11
Care about technical aspects of their games.
  haplo602

Apprentice Member

Joined: 5/31/05
Posts: 150

3/11/13 4:26:57 AM#12
Originally posted by Quirhid

Like the Axehilt said, pretty much everything, but the worst of all is the moment to moment gameplay. They are mostly about doing arduous and mundane activities with few peaks of actual fun here and there. Often its not worth it all. The fun you may have in them is not worth the effort.

I also think too many games have just too much unnecessary shit tacked on to them. "Ooh, but the flowers turn towards the sun!" -Nobody really gives a crap! Features like that are wasted manhours and resources. How can they concentrate on fluff like that when half the time the core gameplay already makes you want to stick toothpicks under your toenails and kick a wall?

Make sure the game is fun and works before adding unnecessary shit.

You have a problem with the first part. Sandboxes mimic real life to a great extent and mundane and repetitive tasks are part of your daily life (work, school etc.). Even the themeparks get this wrong. You end in a gear/raid/quest treadmill in the end. Sandboxes usualy have the advantage of you picking the means to an end, themeparks do not.

 

Anyway on topic: Backstory/RP influence on the world. The worst part of sandboxes is that they usualy don't have continuous backstory. It stops at a point and then the players are let loos on to the world. However there should be goals based on the backstory that advance the world and are milestones for player activity. This way the game has direction but players are free to achieve the goals as they see fit. You even get the bad guys to appear this way. They simply disrupt the players working at the backstory goal.

 

F.e. you can have some apocalyptic event in the future (a prophecy) and players try to avert it. The prophecy evolves based on the player factions completing goals. It can even end in a bad way so the world gets a "fresh start" all withing the limits of the backstory and direction.

  wordiz

Advanced Member

Joined: 6/13/12
Posts: 481

3/11/13 4:37:13 AM#13
It's a genre now? Meh, this generations understanding went out the window when flaming became trolling.

http://thewordiz.wordpress.com/

  Nightgroper

Apprentice Member

Joined: 7/28/12
Posts: 77

3/11/13 4:43:15 AM#14

Make the players build the cities. No respawning monsters(you hardcore sandbox players would love it, and you know it). Limited resources. Wait a minute this is sounding way too much like that thing that exists outside, I think it's called real life?

Alright my bitching aside, the building of the cities I think does need to happen, and don't just say minecraft did it.

The more I'm around the forums on this site, the more bitter I become.

  Dihoru

Elite Member

Joined: 1/11/06
Posts: 2666

3/11/13 4:56:12 AM#15

-sighs- better =/= more people playing it, someone already went that route and I am still giggling about that particular person's logic.

 

A mainstream sandbox is like the cure for cancer, it will never happen within the current frame of reference for video games and MMOs in particular. The only way sandbox games will cater to a wider audience is if multiple developers accept the fact their games will be niche products and go for broke building the best sandboxes possible within their niche and that's already happening (EVE dominates its SF niche quite well and there are multiple sandbox projects already under way to create games for the medieval/fantasy niche).

 

That said I will repeat: A sandbox without pvp is a singleplayer game, a open world game is what you get when you strip MMO sandboxes of their PVP, stop mistaking one for the other gents.

  gillrmn

Apprentice Member

Joined: 8/04/12
Posts: 251

3/11/13 5:10:26 AM#16

Reposting what I post below the blog:-

 

The sandbox games need time to engross oneself into it. It is not a good medium for story telling. Because of a lot of options presented, the focus of the game shifts completely.

What sandbox game most needs is not to be repititive. If it has a lot of similar things sprinkled around, it becomes boring very soon.

However, for that, the amount of work to differentiate one area of game from the rest completely in terms of gameplay - is a lot more resource consuming and a break even point for all that work may never be possible.

Hence the only solution is to build a sandbox community and let the community design content of each and every part of game. UGC is perhaps the only way to keep sandbox profitable and of high quality.
  Loktofeit

Elite Member

Joined: 1/13/10
Posts: 11902

Currently playing EVE, SMITE, Wildstar, and Combat Arms

3/11/13 6:23:48 AM#17

Better showcasing and recording of player impact on the game world. One of the biggest features of a sandbox-focused MMO is the one that seems least served by most developers - the history written by the players. Single-shard universes (ex: ATITD, EVE Online) would benefit greatly from putting such content on display for several reasons:

  • Universal relevance - The entirety of the playerbase is affected by it and, if we take into account the butterfly effect, had some hand in creating it.
  • An involvement resource - Many players want to take part in the sandbox gameplay but are either unsure how or simply don't know what is currently happening.
  • It answers The Freedom Question - A lot of sandbox-focused MMOs like to pitch that players can impact the game world, but they rarely say HOW. For the sandbox-curious or the new player, a timeline of sorts is a great way to show how, especially in the case of the more established sandbox-style games because it also helps to dispell the myth that new players cannot impact the game world in older MMOs.
 

Sometimes the chronicling of history is done by the devs, but it usually is in such a manner that it's not readily digestible or unclear that it isn't fiction. In most cases, there often is no single place a player can go for a clear answer as to what the latest major events are or what is currently playing out in-game.

Some MMOs put the history on a wiki. Game wikis are great for looking up information, but they are bland, limited in functionality, and they don't seem to do justice to what is one of the biggest selling points of sandbox-focused MMOs.

 

Some examples of player-created timelines.

 

Now imagine a dev-created resource in-game or on the main website (interactive, preferrably) where players could see or even update the history, emergent gameplay, politics, shifts in power, player venues, momentous events, etc.

 

 

 

  WhiteLantern

Novice Member

Joined: 1/27/10
Posts: 2778

3/11/13 6:24:38 AM#18

Production quality?

 

 

That's all I've got.

I want a mmorpg where people have gone through misery, have gone through school stuff and actually have had sex even. -sagil

  Loktofeit

Elite Member

Joined: 1/13/10
Posts: 11902

Currently playing EVE, SMITE, Wildstar, and Combat Arms

3/11/13 6:24:57 AM#19
Originally posted by wordiz
It's a genre now? Meh, this generations understanding went out the window when flaming became trolling.

It's not worth it to even go there on these boards. :)

  Dihoru

Elite Member

Joined: 1/11/06
Posts: 2666

3/11/13 6:34:53 AM#20
Originally posted by Loktofeit

Better showcasing and recording of player impact on the game world. One of the biggest features of a sandbox-focused MMO is the one that seems least served by most developers - the history written by the players. Single-shard universes (ex: ATITD, EVE Online) would benefit greatly from putting such content on display for several reasons:

  • Universal relevance - The entirety of the playerbase is affected by it and, if we take into account the butterfly effect, had some hand in creating it.
  • An involvement resource - Many players want to take part in the sandbox gameplay but are either unsure how or simply don't know what is currently happening.
  • It answers The Freedom Question - A lot of sandbox-focused MMOs like to pitch that players can impact the game world, but they rarely say HOW. For the sandbox-curious or the new player, a timeline of sorts is a great way to show how, especially in the case of the more established sandbox-style games because it also helps to dispell the myth that new players cannot impact the game world in older MMOs.
 

Sometimes the chronicling of history is done by the devs, but it usually is in such a manner that it's not readily digestible or unclear that it isn't fiction. In most cases, there often is no single place a player can go for a clear answer as to what the latest major events are or what is currently playing out in-game.

Some MMOs put the history on a wiki. Game wikis are great for looking up information, but they are bland, limited in functionality, and they don't seem to do justice to what is one of the biggest selling points of sandbox-focused MMOs.

 

Some examples of player-created timelines.

 

Now imagine a dev-created resource in-game or on the main website (interactive, preferrably) where players could see or even update the history, emergent gameplay, politics, shifts in power, player venues, momentous events, etc.

http://wiki.eveonline.com/en/wiki/The_Book_of_EVE - goes to show when you don't gawk well at things you generally don't see it in front of you (btw that contains both backstory and stories where players were a driving force in pushing the timeline of EVE ahead, examples: the first Incursions were live events where players repulsed sansha attacks without any real idea what to expect, they did things which Incursioners from nowadays would look at as being retarded but in that context it made sense because the event itself was not automated, the sansha fleets were led by live event gms and another example would be the turning of Sarum Prime from a low sec to a high sec system through live events in which players helped push things along).

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