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Q&A Why I don't have the resources to pull off a good sandbox

KenFisherKenFisher Northwest, INPosts: 5,035Member Uncommon

I had mentioned in a gallery comment section about not having the resources to pull off a good sandbox, so I took WAC in a direction that is similar to a retro-styled themepark.  I'm reposting this here because the gallery comments will be buried and this will stay visible in the forum for those who wander in.

 

MrCalhou wrote:

> Would you mind explaining what you mean by not having the resources for a sandbox as opposed to having the resources for a themepark design?

 

My response:

 

Not at all.  Glad to.

Themepark is a static world where players interact with the world based on developer provided content.  A charcter lives at the inn, progresses from quest hub to quest hub, none of their actions change the world in any way and none of their actions shape the world or provide content for other players.  In essence it is a "game".

A good sandbox is a virtual world.  Character development is free-form, they develop their character, they develop crafting skills, they produce items for the economy, the build and decorate their own home, they participate in a guild, they build their own guild hall, the guilds form alliances with other guilds and build cities with established political systems.  They participate in warfare which includes destroying what other players have built.  Different from a "game" sandboxes are a world in which characters live.  Developers provide the tools, players build the game for themselves and other characters.

An easy example of why I decided not to go the sandbox route is explained by one basic function of the engine.

A player starts the client, logs into the server, and enters a zone.  The character information is pulled from a database and installed into the world.  From there the character does game stuff and logs out.  The character information is extracted from the world and shoved back into the storage database.  They no longer exist in the world at all.  If they had built a house, the house would vanish with them.

In fact, even the concept of building a house is foreign to the engine.  Each zone is created by the developer and remains static in the zone server.  A player created spawn might be possible, but after a server reboot everything would roll back to the base zone assembly done by the developer.

Think of this as trying to hack EverQuest into an Ultima Online clone.  Yes the two are MMOs, but so different in many ways.

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Added in this post...

For clarity allow me to explain that the MMO extensions to the engine I'm working with were designed based on EQ.  With fundamental design differences such as not having character information in the server after logout, using it to create a good sandbox would have required gutting major functionality and re-writing them.


Ken Fisher - Semi retired old fart Network Administrator, now working in Network Security.  I don't Forum PVP.  If you feel I've attacked you, it was probably by accident.  When I don't understand, I ask.  Such is not intended as criticism.

Comments

  • Loke666Loke666 MalmöPosts: 19,169Member Rare

    I understand your decision.

    For some reason does many people think that sandboxes are easy to make, since most of the content is made by the players but the tools you need for that is a lot more work than a themepark.

    There are several pretty good themepark games made on a really low budget, like Guildwars and Meridian 59. In sandboxes there are nothing worth playing in that budget.

    It took SOE about 3 times as many people to make SWG in 2003 as it took ANET to make Guildwars in 2005. Sure, GW is a CORPG and they are somewhat easier to make than a non instanced game but not that much, particularly since GW had close to no bugs at luanch while SWG was full of them. Themeparks questlines are fast and easy to make, keeping players busy in a sandbox is not as easy.

    Good luck with your game. :)

  • C0MAC0MA Houson, TXPosts: 522Member

    A sandbox is actually easier to make than a theme park imo, You worry far less about story arc and character progression content and instead can focus on a world accessible at all times.

    "Sometimes people say stuff they don''t mean, but more often then that they don''t say things they do mean"
    image

  • KenFisherKenFisher Northwest, INPosts: 5,035Member Uncommon

    Originally posted by C0MA

    A sandbox is actually easier to make than a theme park imo, You worry far less about story arc and character progression content and instead can focus on a world accessible at all times.

    From a content standpoint I would agree.  Producing thousands of quests and storyline is a huge job.  However, much of that is just scripting, not actual engine code.

     

    Based on personal experience from a programming standpoint, it's much the opposite.  All those features and functionality end up making a huge complex job to produce, and even more importantly to get them running solidly.  I'm of the opinion that many Indie devs underestimate this.


    Ken Fisher - Semi retired old fart Network Administrator, now working in Network Security.  I don't Forum PVP.  If you feel I've attacked you, it was probably by accident.  When I don't understand, I ask.  Such is not intended as criticism.
  • KenFisherKenFisher Northwest, INPosts: 5,035Member Uncommon

    Originally posted by czekoskwigel

    "Hey, I have a few things I need you to add"...   "Ok, give me a few weeks".... "You mean I can't have that by the end of the day?  It only took me a few minutes to come up with it, why should it take a few weeks to code it?"

     

    I think we worked for the same people.  After a 3 month project all laid out to specifications provided, they want a 75% re-write by Thursday.


    Ken Fisher - Semi retired old fart Network Administrator, now working in Network Security.  I don't Forum PVP.  If you feel I've attacked you, it was probably by accident.  When I don't understand, I ask.  Such is not intended as criticism.
  • KenFisherKenFisher Northwest, INPosts: 5,035Member Uncommon

    Originally posted by waynejr2



    http://www.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/issues/issue_221/6582-Why-Your-Game-Idea-Sucks
     

     

    LOL, I hadn't read that one.  Great perspective!  Archived for reference.


    Ken Fisher - Semi retired old fart Network Administrator, now working in Network Security.  I don't Forum PVP.  If you feel I've attacked you, it was probably by accident.  When I don't understand, I ask.  Such is not intended as criticism.
  • czekoskwigelczekoskwigel dfs, MSPosts: 458Member

    Originally posted by ActionMMORPG


    Originally posted by waynejr2




    http://www.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/issues/issue_221/6582-Why-Your-Game-Idea-Sucks
     

     

    LOL, I hadn't read that one.  Great perspective!  Archived for reference.

    It's a great read, and it applies to 99.99% of everyone out there who thinks they have a good idea.  They key is determining that you are part of the .01% :)

  • KenFisherKenFisher Northwest, INPosts: 5,035Member Uncommon

    Originally posted by czekoskwigel


    Originally posted by ActionMMORPG



    Originally posted by waynejr2




    http://www.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/issues/issue_221/6582-Why-Your-Game-Idea-Sucks
     

     

    LOL, I hadn't read that one.  Great perspective!  Archived for reference.

    It's a great read, and it applies to 99.99% of everyone out there who thinks they have a good idea.  They key is determining that you are part of the .01% :)

     

    I've gotten it wrong so many times, I'm hoping that just by dumb luck I'll get it right eventually.

     

    I drive my consultants/testers nuts with changes...

    "Wait, but I thought you were cloning Morrowind"

    "I was but the engine doesn't like populating huge terrains, so we're throwing that out and using a GW style terrain system and zoning"

    "But you just spent 6 months on the terrain work and level design"

    "Yep"

     

    I'm a horrid administrator. image


    Ken Fisher - Semi retired old fart Network Administrator, now working in Network Security.  I don't Forum PVP.  If you feel I've attacked you, it was probably by accident.  When I don't understand, I ask.  Such is not intended as criticism.
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