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General Discussion Forum » The Pub at MMORPG.COM » We are asking the wrong question.

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86 posts found
  jpnz

Elite Member

Joined: 6/29/06
Posts: 3397

 
OP  11/19/12 5:55:22 AM#1

 

One of the most frequent topic on this forum is the whole 'we love sandbox MMOs. Give us sandbox / MMO going in the wrong direction / OMG sandbox are teh winz!!'' which always results in someone (sometimes myself sometimes not) asking 'sandbox lovers are the minority when it comes to MMO and $$$ it generates. Sorry that you have less choice than themepark games'

The discussion usually dies at that point because that's a factual statement and you can't really debate against it. You can but it tends to be not that fruitful as you really need some proof to argue against a factual statement and there aren't any proof.

No, some poster saying 'I KNOW IT'LL WORK!' doesn't count as proof. 

So the question is, what's the next step? Or did we get on the right foot in the first place? The question isn't 'I like Sandbox and themepark lovers are console kiddies' in a smug tone.

Question is, how does a sandbox game appeal more towards the mainstream gamers? I'm not talking about LFG or instant teleport or raid-or-die, that's the sticky thread. I'm talking about more basic fundamental stuff.

 

I play games mostly because I want to be told a good story. That's my preference. Give me a game with awful game mechanics but a good story and I'll buy/play that.

It always interested me that 'sandbox MMOs' tend to have bad story/char or a story/char that is irrevelent to the players (I'm looking at you EVE-Online!). This is why 'Sandbox MMOs' don't appeal to me all that much. Has nothing to do with it being hard or forced grouping or w/e. 

I hope this thread starts the discussion of 'why do you play games?' and how that can be integrated into a 'sandbox MMO' without touching the 'sandbox' design.

 

 

Gdemami -
Informing people about your thoughts and impressions is not a review, it's a blog.

  Loktofeit

Hard Core Member

Joined: 1/13/10
Posts: 11358

Currently playing EVE, SMITE, ESO, and Combat Arms

11/19/12 6:12:37 AM#2

That's an interesting set of questions you present. The one about how sandbox can appeal to a wider audience is the easy one. The one about story in sandbox is the hard one.

Sandbox content appealling to a wider audience is easy when you target anything but the average MMO gamer. Free Realms is a successful game. Second Life and Kaneva are successful games. The biggest reason is they are targeting demographics that have no preconception of what a 'real MMO' should be. I don't think many of them ever even bother to think about what box to pigeonhole it in at all. 

The second question is difficult because sandbox content is toys and tools. The more story driven or scripted that content is the more it restricts the flexibility of the toys and tools. It's like looking for a story driven Etch-a-sketch. LEGO is a great example of where that leads to - hundreds of kits, each one basically only good for making one pre-defined structure or setting. MMOs could probably take that approach with their content, and it would work great with the F2P model, as it allows for a la carte selection of content.

Modulized content could allow for better mix of open-ended, creative gameplay while still offering story to follow. Maybe even allow players to DM or have contractable DMs to work with the players through the modules. Actually, that would probably bring MMOs back to their PnP roots and make for a far more interesting and engaging game in a story-driven sandbox environment.

 

 

 

  Ozmodan

Elite Member

Joined: 2/27/07
Posts: 6457

11/19/12 6:19:22 AM#3
Originally posted by jpnz

 

One of the most frequent topic on this forum is the whole 'we love sandbox MMOs. Give us sandbox / MMO going in the wrong direction / OMG sandbox are teh winz!!'' which always results in someone (sometimes myself sometimes not) asking 'sandbox lovers are the minority when it comes to MMO and $$$ it generates. Sorry that you have less choice than themepark games'

The discussion usually dies at that point because that's a factual statement and you can't really debate against it. You can but it tends to be not that fruitful as you really need some proof to argue against a factual statement and there aren't any proof.

No, some poster saying 'I KNOW IT'LL WORK!' doesn't count as proof. 

So the question is, what's the next step? Or did we get on the right foot in the first place? The question isn't 'I like Sandbox and themepark lovers are console kiddies' in a smug tone.

Question is, how does a sandbox game appeal more towards the mainstream gamers? I'm not talking about LFG or instant teleport or raid-or-die, that's the sticky thread. I'm talking about more basic fundamental stuff.

 

I play games mostly because I want to be told a good story. That's my preference. Give me a game with awful game mechanics but a good story and I'll buy/play that.

It always interested me that 'sandbox MMOs' tend to have bad story/char or a story/char that is irrevelent to the players (I'm looking at you EVE-Online!). This is why 'Sandbox MMOs' don't appeal to me all that much. Has nothing to do with it being hard or forced grouping or w/e. 

I hope this thread starts the discussion of 'why do you play games?' and how that can be integrated into a 'sandbox MMO' without touching the 'sandbox' design.

 

 

That is probably the biggest load of nonsense I have seen on this board in a while.  Sandboxes usually have far more story than a themepark.  It is usually an evolving one at that as your input changes the game.  There are plenty of MMO players out there that would play a decent sandbox, the problem is there is no decent sandbox games at present for the casual gamer.  You just cannot play casual very well in Eve, it is too hardcore.  

It is too bad, SOE never had the guts to put a pre NGE version of SWG out there, that was a decent truely casual sandbox.

  jpnz

Elite Member

Joined: 6/29/06
Posts: 3397

 
OP  11/19/12 6:31:24 AM#4

@Loktofeit

I think a modular approach is interesting but it hits the game development model issue.

Basically, a community created content driven  MMO hits a giant QA wall where the game maker has to staff their QA department a lot more than usual. This introduces a huge overhead on a game genre that is known to have the biggest overhead.

You are also relying on your players to come up with good content.

Lets take a story for example and if you go by your average 'fan-fic', it makes the original WoW story look like Shakespear.

 

Would that appeal to the mainstream?

I think it is a solution but it has some issues to work out.

It works great in a single player game like NWN1 / NWN2 but that's because no-one cares about QA when its just that one person that's putting the content into their PC. In an MMO setting? I don't know.

Gdemami -
Informing people about your thoughts and impressions is not a review, it's a blog.

  revy66

Novice Member

Joined: 11/12/10
Posts: 470

11/19/12 6:32:03 AM#5
Man...sorry to hear there are so many misinformed people that have not experienced a sandbox mmo....In EVE there is in fact a story. It is the one that is created by the players and you can make your own in it. This is what a story is like in a sandbox mmo.
  Quirhid

Elite Member

Joined: 1/28/05
Posts: 5357

I dare you to pin a label on me.

11/19/12 6:35:31 AM#6

How to make sandboxes appeal to the mainstream?

  • Make consessions to accessibility and ease of use.
  • Promote gameplay which is easy to learn, but hard to master.
  • Focus on mechanics and features that make sense gameplay-wise and contribute and support other aspects of the game.
  • Understand that complexity does not necessarily breed depth. Similarly, a long list of features does not necessarily make a good game.
  • If you do something, do it right - don't half-arse it. If you can't do it right, don't do it at all. A game that does many things, but none of them well, is not a very good game - no matter how many things it tries to do.
  • Get rid of the clutter: cut features and mechanics which don't really make sense or can harm the gameplay experience. It gets easier if you "kill your darlings" - the same advice given to writers.
  • Focus on game first, world second. IP is merely a paintjob on top of the real substance. Make the world fit the game, not the other way around. Afterall, no one is going to enjoy the world if the game is terrible anyway.
Gameplay is king for me. I love a good story, challenge, adventure, playing with friends and all that, but gameplay is always at the core. It needs to be fresh and deep so that I can keep learning and improving as I play more and more. Once I've "mastered" a game my interest quickly fades.
 
I've noticed I lose interest when things start to go "too well" such as in varying strategy games where you start to pull ahead or in RPGs where your character starts to feel like it is invincible. Usually the challenge feels right in the early-mid game but gets too easy in the late game. Games that I've felt were not challenging enough, such as Jade Empire, I didn't finish simply because it was too easy - even on the hardest settings (which was done through character selection, I believe. Just like in Diablo 1). At that point, a good story can still save much, but if it doesn't quite deliver, I quit.
 
In games that have multiplayer, I turn to PvP, and it usually keeps me playing if the game is balanced and has a good degree of variety - in a word "depth". But when I "get good" I tend to lose my interest there too. Then I turn to the next game. Preferably something different or new, so that it doesn't feel like I've played this before, and there is little to nothing to master.
 
I guess its all about mastering stuff for me. What has bugged me in the past is that the basic gameplay in MMORPGs has stayed the same for decades, no matter if its a themepark or a sandbox. I''m hopingl that one of the more action-combat oriented games would get it right soon. So far, the attempts haven't been all that bad, but they've not been great either.
 
Games like Archeage don't interest me since by looking at the gameplay videos, it tries very little new. Its basically the same game with a lot of rehashed ideas and a long list of features. Very little new for me to master.

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

  jpnz

Elite Member

Joined: 6/29/06
Posts: 3397

 
OP  11/19/12 6:36:21 AM#7
Originally posted by revy66
Man...sorry to hear there are so many misinformed people that have not experienced a sandbox mmo....In EVE there is in fact a story. It is the one that is created by the players and you can make your own in it. This is what a story is like in a sandbox mmo.

Some people like to write, some people like to read.

Majority of people read more than they write for entertainment.

EVE's meta-gaming is a story but it is one that takes a long time and it is created by players with zero-production values.

From my point of view, that is not that appealing.

Btw, I have played EVE-Online and yes, I was there when some of that stuff went down.

Gdemami -
Informing people about your thoughts and impressions is not a review, it's a blog.

  jpnz

Elite Member

Joined: 6/29/06
Posts: 3397

 
OP  11/19/12 6:41:55 AM#8

@Quirhid

Why do I feel like you'll love Faster Than Light? Cause my god does that game kick you in the nuts on a dime. :P

Due to lag / technical issues, I don't think MMOs will have complex combat mechanics like Devil May Cry or w/e. Though TERA tries this to an extend.

This post is a good answer since gameplay doesn't touch the game design (it sometimes does but only if it is suppose to or built that way) most of the time.

Gdemami -
Informing people about your thoughts and impressions is not a review, it's a blog.

  Loktofeit

Hard Core Member

Joined: 1/13/10
Posts: 11358

Currently playing EVE, SMITE, ESO, and Combat Arms

11/19/12 6:43:56 AM#9
Originally posted by jpnz

@Loktofeit

I think a modular approach is interesting but it hits the game development model issue.

Basically, a community created content driven  MMO hits a giant QA wall where the game maker has to staff their QA department a lot more than usual. This introduces a huge overhead on a game genre that is known to have the biggest overhead.

You are also relying on your players to come up with good content.

Lets take a story for example and if you go by your average 'fan-fic', it makes the original WoW story look like Shakespear.

 

Would that appeal to the mainstream?

I think it is a solution but it has some issues to work out.

It works great in a single player game like NWN1 / NWN2 but that's because no-one cares about QA when its just that one person that's putting the content into their PC. In an MMO setting? I don't know.

When I say modules, I am referring to developer created modules. For example, there would be a list like this that players could choose from. The framework and overall story are created by the developers. For an MMO, there's the matter of how you go about dealing with that - CPU, Dev or Player DM to oversee it.

Think 'virtual tabletop' but on a much more polished, asset-rich and commercial scale than OpenRPG, Roll20 or D20Pro.

 

  Mordred1

Novice Member

Joined: 5/28/11
Posts: 80

11/19/12 6:50:35 AM#10

You are starting with the wrong premise that theme-park players like their games because of story. Theme-park  games are successful because they are easy, accessible, constantly rewards players and give them a clear sense of progression.

The vast majority of gamers don't even read quest lines.

In my opinion the perfect MMO would be a sandbox game that could give casual/theme-park gamers a good experience without envolving them in heavy crafting, politics and full loot. All these aspects would be present but players would not be obliged to take part in them. Half of the game's territory would be a big safe zone where you don't need to leave if you don't want it. On the other hand getting involved with the sandbox part would make it a more complex experience  with housing, crafting, sieges and what more. 

  timtrack

Spotlight Poster

Joined: 10/03/06
Posts: 392

11/19/12 6:53:27 AM#11

Just like with music, i put my games in 2 genres.

  1. Games i like
  2. Games i don't like
Genres are really merging these days, in games, and music. They are less and less important. FPS's implementing RPG-style features. RPG's implementing FPS-style features... etc. I think that a proper direction is to remove all the barriers that genres hold. Don't try to make a sandbox MMO or themepark MMO or MOBA or RTS or FPS... Make a game, a good game. Don't start from "Lets make a sandbox MMO with super-sandbox-features", start from "Let's make an awesome game with awesome features". The genre and direction for a game should be the creators vision, not a pre-defined set of barriers.
 
Indie games are starting to look real good, and many indie developers are doing exactly this. They take risks that many big companies don't want to take because they are driven by passion for the creation itself, not by the profit of the end-result.
  Sovrath

Elite Member

Joined: 1/06/05
Posts: 16607

11/19/12 6:55:52 AM#12
Originally posted by revy66
Man...sorry to hear there are so many misinformed people that have not experienced a sandbox mmo....In EVE there is in fact a story. It is the one that is created by the players and you can make your own in it. This is what a story is like in a sandbox mmo.

I suspect that is little to do with actually experiencing "story" and more to do with taking the events that happened and stripping them of the nonsense that actually went on and forming it into a well written account.

Are you sayng that the details of the "story" went down like a bioware story or one that GW2 is telling or or was it a bit more, um "rough".

My guess is the latter.

  zymurgeist

Hard Core Member

Joined: 12/24/04
Posts: 5143

11/19/12 7:04:12 AM#13
You're right and wrong at the same time. The question isn't if a MMO has this feature or that. The question asked should be is the MMO any good. No matter what type of MMO you like the answer has been overwhelmingly no. These just aren't good games. Mostly they have a very few poorly thought out and  implemented features and very little content of any kind. For instance Darkfall and SWtoR are completely different games that suffer from the same failings. There's just not much to do in these worlds.

"Any sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice." ~Greys Law

  Loktofeit

Hard Core Member

Joined: 1/13/10
Posts: 11358

Currently playing EVE, SMITE, ESO, and Combat Arms

11/19/12 7:21:07 AM#14
Originally posted by Mordred1

You are starting with the wrong premise that theme-park players like their games because of story. Theme-park  games are successful because they are easy, accessible, constantly rewards players and give them a clear sense of progression.

The vast majority of gamers don't even read quest lines.

He didn't say themepark players like that; just that he, personally, perfers that. It is a feature often absent from sandbox-focused MMOs or largely irrelevant to the gameplay in sandbox-focused MMOs. The EVE example he gave was an interesting one. Here are the latest entries in EVE's storyline news:

  • Blood Raider Scouts Destroyed by Capsuleers
  • Serpentis heist foiled by capsule pilots in Evaulon
  • Unknown military force strikes Gallente planet, hundreds believed dead
  • Empires increase security in the wake of planetary attacks

The problem there is that half of the storyline stuff is reports of actual player interaction in the story. Players often interact with and affect the story of EVE, but it's unfortunately mixed in with the made up crap, so most players don't really know that this stuff is actually happening in-game.

 

  Sandbox

Hard Core Member

Joined: 8/23/06
Posts: 309

11/19/12 7:52:56 AM#15

@OP

I think your "factual statement" makes this thread a one way discussion, at best.

Honestly, I think your OP is a troll and flamebait post. Trolling is worse than nonsense.

  Adamantine

Apprentice Member

Joined: 1/07/08
Posts: 3252

War is not the ultima ratio, but the ultima irratio - Willy Brandt

11/19/12 7:58:34 AM#16

Trolling is if you post something offensive not because its your actual opinion, but just to generate responses.

I dont think that is the case here.

  Sandbox

Hard Core Member

Joined: 8/23/06
Posts: 309

11/19/12 8:01:41 AM#17
Originally posted by Adamantine

Trolling is if you post something offensive not because its your actual opinion, but just to generate responses.

I dont think that is the case here.

Flamebait is considered trolling.

  Kyleran

Bitter Vet™

Joined: 9/13/06
Posts: 18361

Fools find no pleasure in understanding, but delight in airing their own opinions. Pvbs 18:2, NIV

11/19/12 8:20:35 AM#18
Originally posted by Sandbox
Originally posted by Adamantine

Trolling is if you post something offensive not because its your actual opinion, but just to generate responses.

I dont think that is the case here.

Flamebait is considered trolling.

Surpising how we disagree in viewpoint. I viewed the OP as an opportunity to have a discussion.

I'll be joining in shortly.

 

"The discrepancy between what we know is possible and what we currently have to choose from is beyond disappointing" - GeezerGamer
Kyleran - Bitter Vet ™ since 2006
"This is the most intelligent, well qualified and articulate response to a post I have ever seen on these forums. It's a shame most people here won't have the attention span to read past the second line." - Anon

  Icewhite

Made History

Joined: 7/11/11
Posts: 6495

Pink, it's like red but not quite.

11/19/12 8:49:17 AM#19
Originally posted by Loktofeit

Modulized content could allow for better mix of open-ended, creative gameplay while still offering story to follow. Maybe even allow players to DM or have contractable DMs to work with the players through the modules. Actually, that would probably bring MMOs back to their PnP roots and make for a far more interesting and engaging game in a story-driven sandbox environment.

Which makes me wonder if it could possibly pass.

We're loaded to the rafters with Old Guys. 

Demonstrably, what we wanted/liked doesn't seem to sell well with GenX and GenY and etc.

But we keep trying to force them into old molds.  The majority of species "gamer" grew up with an internet and smartphones and tablets--we didn't.  Bitching about the lost glories of bygone ages, PnP, MUDs, GEnie, Dial Up, Acoustic Modems(!)--they must think we're (mostly) insane.

Maybe the we should open a Game Design for the Real World forum--no one born before 1990 allowed to participate.

(counts on fingers1990..that's...22, yeah that works)

Consider a plot of gamer ages--I am way, way out the on the right-hand tip, two, three, maybe four stdevs above the mean.

I should be driving game design for the other 95%+ of the gamer pop?  I don't think so. That's just how far out in right field I am from "the average gamer".  See me dropping the fly balls? :waves:

22 year old? His ideas and his influence can only grow greater.

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.

  Sovrath

Elite Member

Joined: 1/06/05
Posts: 16607

11/19/12 9:00:43 AM#20
Originally posted by Icewhite
 

Which makes me wonder if it could possibly pass.

We're loaded to the rafters with Old Guys. 

Demonstrably, what we wanted/liked doesn't seem to sell well with GenX and GenY and etc.

But we keep trying to force them into old molds.  The majority of species "gamer" grew up with an internet and smartphones and tablets--we didn't.  Bitching about the lost glories of bygone ages, PnP, MUDs, GEnie, Dial Up, Acoustic Modems(!)--they must think we're (mostly) insane.

Maybe the we should open a Game Design for the Real World forum--no one born before 1990 allowed to participate.

(counts on fingers1990..that's...22, yeah that works)

Consider a plot of gamer ages--I am way, way out the on the right-hand tip, two, three, maybe four stdevs above the mean.

I should be driving game design for the other 95%+ of the gamer pop?  I don't think so.

22 year old? His ideas and his influence can only grow greater.

There'a a lot of truth in what you say.

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