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[Column] WildStar: Is a 'Sandpark' Even Possible?

SBFordSBFord Associate Editor - News ManagerThe Land of AZPosts: 16,633MMORPG.COM Staff Uncommon

On one side, we have theme park fans. On the other, we have sandbox fans. Which side deserves the most attention? Carbine Studios thinks that both do and are aiming to create a "sandpark" game with WildStar. Check out our thoughts on the issue and then join the conversation in the comments.

One of the things that Carbine Studios is aiming to do with WildStar is to create the first true hybrid between the theme park MMO and the sandbox MMO. What remains to be seen is whether or not that can actually happen or not. What I really want to know is if such a thing is even possible and, if it is, will either side ever be truly happy?

Read more of Suzie Ford's WildStar: Is a 'Sandpark' Even Possible?

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Associate Editor: MMORPG.com
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Comments

  • ValentinaValentina Los Angeles, CAPosts: 1,675Member Uncommon
    A true sandpark is possible, pleasing -everyone- isn't and never will be with anything, ever. I firmly believe sandparks are the direction of the genre for the most part going forward. I'm hard pressed to enjoy sandbox only games for a long period of time, but then I'm hard pressed to stick with a themepark only game for a long time these days. The hybrid of the two is something I think is going to be necessary in order to keep players around for the long term. But there's always going to be people who are unhappy about everything, and they tend to be the most vocal individuals within the gaming communities, so I don't believe that will ever change.
  • AvarixAvarix Chicago, ILPosts: 382Member Uncommon
    I get a very Guild Wars 2 feel from this. For me, that's not a good thing. I will see how it plays out though.
  • BillMurphyBillMurphy Managing Editor Berea, OHPosts: 2,369MMORPG.COM Staff Uncommon

    The thing about meshing the two? Personally, it could be a brilliant move. I'm the type of player who adores good quality scripted content, but the problem with many MMOs is that the journey comes to an end. What Carbine seems intent on doing is setting us on that epic adventure, while also ensuring that there are other things for us to do once we hit that wall at the "endgame". That's precisely what many themepark MMOs are lacking. If they can do it, I'll be happy.  

    The problem with all themepark MMOs is that the rides get old, and waiting for new ones is not something I'm content to pay for. If an MMO wants us to stick around for a length of time, it needs both quality new content on a regular basis, and systems that support players becoming invested in the world and their characters (lateral progression, housing, customization, personalization, world changing). It sounds like Carbine understands this.

  • BadSpockBadSpock Somewhere, MIPosts: 7,974Member

    I think it's possible - but as with all things, the devil's in the details.

    Each "path" has to be meaningul and fun in its own way.

  • ScellowScellow Posts: 125Member Uncommon
    Sandbox mmo = Future
  • DaGafferDaGaffer Carbine Studios Laguna Niguel, CAPosts: 62Member

    Internally at Carbine we're starting to use the term "Modern Playground" for WildStar as opposed to either Theme Park or Sandbox:

        There are a number of things you can do near each other.  These can interact with each other.

        Some of those things are literally (figurative) sandboxes (metaphysical awesomesauce there).

        There are occasionally events that happen that tie everyone in the area together

        The playground is an environment in which fun happens - but you get to choose what you play, and if you are going to use it for it's "intended" purpose.

       Friends in the area change the interaction with everything.

    I'll probably do a more full writeup in a dev blog or some such as we formalize it, but the short form is that we're really interested in the mix of making the most fun "playspace" possible, for each individual area of the game.  For us, the environment, or battlefield is one of the combatants in fights and quests in the area  -  sometimes helping, sometimes challenging, but something that makes each area feel a bit unique. 

    Just a thought -

    -jg

    (Executive Producer for Carbine, yadda yadda)

    Jeremy Gaffney
    Executive Producer, Carbine Studios (Wildstar Online)

  • superniceguysuperniceguy AnchorheadPosts: 2,278Member Uncommon
    The twee graphics are putting me off, and sandbox games are meant to provide longevity, but with NC Soft they rarely let you, so giving this game a complete miss.
  • daydreamerxxdaydreamerxx Saint Cloud, FLPosts: 178Member
    Star Wars Galaxies became a Sandpark game. A large sandbox game filled with smaller themeparks and story arcs. 

    image

  • ObiClownobiObiClownobi CoruscantPosts: 186Member

    "Clearly Carbine thinks that WildStar can be all things to all players"

    That rings alarm bells.

    image
    "It's a sandbox, if you are not willing to create a castle then all you have is sand" - jtcgs

  • jtcgsjtcgs New Port Richey, ILPosts: 1,777Member

    Can there be a hybrid? Yes. And it can be done well.

    Can there be a game that makes gamers happy? No. Nothing will ever make everyone happy. But a game can make MANY gamers happy.

    A hybrid only needs to make the MAIN world a sandbox, be large and complete sandbox with no story or even level based. Have the "park" part of the game outside the main world that can be enter via portals.

    Main world open, themepark instanced outside the main world.

    “I hope we shall crush...in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations, which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength and bid defiance to the laws of our country." ~Thomes Jefferson

  • MikeBMikeB MMORPG.com Community Manager Queens, NYPosts: 5,724Administrator Uncommon
    Originally posted by DaGaffer

    Internally at Carbine we're starting to use the term "Modern Playground" for WildStar as opposed to either Theme Park or Sandbox:

        There are a number of things you can do near each other.  These can interact with each other.

        Some of those things are literally (figurative) sandboxes (metaphysical awesomesauce there).

        There are occasionally events that happen that tie everyone in the area together

        The playground is an environment in which fun happens - but you get to choose what you play, and if you are going to use it for it's "intended" purpose.

       Friends in the area change the interaction with everything.

    I'll probably do a more full writeup in a dev blog or some such as we formalize it, but the short form is that we're really interested in the mix of making the most fun "playspace" possible, for each individual area of the game.  For us, the environment, or battlefield is one of the combatants in fights and quests in the area  -  sometimes helping, sometimes challenging, but something that makes each area feel a bit unique. 

    Just a thought -

    -jg

    (Executive Producer for Carbine, yadda yadda)

    Thanks for dropping by, Jeremy!

    Michael "MikeB" Bitton
    Community Manager
    Twitter: @eMikeB

  • MaissonMaisson east hartford, CTPosts: 28Member

    A lot of people talk about sandbox vs themepark and how sandbox is what is now needed in an MMO, however with a sandbox style MMO's you really have no sense of direction and never will by the developer. You will have to figure everything out on your own and what to do next is up to you. Sounds great right, not so much when you are actually playing for the first time and running around trying to find some one with a quest to give you or some kind of hint or direction to go in. Themepark style does get old and boring if you're on the same ride over and over again. I think a "sandpark" is the best of both worlds that MMO companies need to focus on.

    I still think that it can be done where the developer has their theme park quests, players can also create quest for other players, such as I need 40 light leather, so I will make 2 quests of gathering 20 light leathers and in return I will pay you or give you an item and since its a gathering quest make the XP based on zones to gather in or you can have a quest that helps you run dungeons or for world bosses. There is also mercenary quests and pvp bounty quests again all player created and still have the NPC quests as well, this is just an example.  Having lateral proression such as housing, halls, crafting discovery, and so forth is also a needed piece of the MMO puzzle.

    A huge problem themepark MMO's face is they cannot produce content quick enough and eventually players look to the next thrill ride. Having some content player created or lateral progression will help those between times of waiting on content.

  • garrettgarrett Posts: 261MMORPG.COM Staff Uncommon
    Nice Jeremy!
     :p 
  • RyowulfRyowulf Greensburg, PAPosts: 668Member Uncommon
    Are sandbox people ever happy?  Don't they just point to a game in the past as a great sandbox, but nothihng currrent is ever good enough?
  • mmoguy43mmoguy43 , CAPosts: 2,446Member Uncommon
    I'm all for dropping tired terms like themepark, sandbox, and especially sandpark if we can just get an MMO to actually redefine the next direction of MMOs. Wildstar, make it happen.
  • MaissonMaisson east hartford, CTPosts: 28Member
    posted twice :(
  • paulythebpaulytheb Wauwatosa, WIPosts: 261Member Uncommon

    I will be surprised if they can actually pull it off.

    Pleasantly surprised, but surprised none the less.

    I like what they have had to say about the game, (quester/settler/ ect.) I just don't feel there is enough info available on how that is going to all tie together. If most people do the quests, then what is so special about the quester?  If you are not an explorer then should you bother to look in that cave over there? If yes, then why be an explorer? 

    There are more questions than answers as far as I am concerened right now. Lots of talk but very little actual information.   Like, they talked about housing, but does anyone know if it is instanced? As far as I know the only info is that rockets will launch earth up in the sky, but that doesn't tell you if it is instanced or not even though there was a whole big reveal on housing. Which just leads me into my next question, why play a settler if everyone gets housing, and its in an instance. 

    Too many things not adding up here to me.

     

    ( Note to self-Don't say anything bad about Drizzt.)

    An acerbic sense of humor is NOT allowed here.

  • adam_noxadam_nox hays, KSPosts: 2,036Member Uncommon
    I believe a main motivation and aspect of sandbox is immersion, I know in the past with classic sandbox games there wasn't the tech to support graphical immersion, but there is today.  Using pixar style graphics is not the way to get there. 
  • TorvalTorval Oregon CountryPosts: 7,221Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by mmoguy43
    I'm all for dropping tired terms like themepark, sandbox, and especially sandpark if we can just get an MMO to actually redefine the next direction of MMOs. Wildstar, make it happen.

    They don't need to redefine it for the entire genre.  They just need to draw their own definition for their own game.  Let the industry do with that what they will.  Developers and gamers alike need to stop taking the pulse of industry definitions and return to making their own games.  Once we stop trying to shoehorn everything into neat little boxes maybe we can look at what we have and where we're at and take things as they are.

     

    @Jeremy - Interesting post.  I like that you're using the term modern playground.  Thank you for taking the time to stop by.

  • LoktofeitLoktofeit Stone Mountain, GAPosts: 13,672Member Uncommon

    Since each MMO is a combination of themepark and sandbox (among other elements), it not only is doable but has been done almost every time an MMO has been made. Did a columnist here really just use the term 'sandpark' or was this a spotlight of a poster's thread?

    EDIT: Regarding Wildstar - their goal seems to be a focus on entertainment spaces. Whether those spaces can be pigeonholed into a particular category doesn't seem to be their concern. "Modern playground" is actually a brilliant term and I really want to hear more about that. It puts the thinking in terms of an arena for playing, and that can encompass rides, toys, rulesets and the social interaction that tethers them together.

     

    There isn't a "right" or "wrong" way to play, if you want to use a screwdriver to put nails into wood, have at it, simply don't complain when the guy next to you with the hammer is doing it much better and easier. - Allein
    "Graphics are often supplied by Engines that (some) MMORPG's are built in" - Spuffyre

  • OgreRaperOgreRaper Detroit, MIPosts: 376Member
    I'm looking forward to WildStar. I just hope it doesn't feel like it's another game on rails (WOW), cause I get bored of those really fast.
  • PittyHPittyH MelbournePosts: 116Member

    Ask 100 people what a sandbox is and get 100 different answers.

    A sandbox can most certainly have thempark elements like quests/dungeons even raids.

    The key to a sandbox is having degradable/destroyable items and a robust crafting system, this in turn creates a supply/demand ecconomy where player interaction is essential.

    The key to a sandbox is also having an open world area of the game where pvp can take place usually with a reason to be there i.e resources.

    And thus begins the endless cycle of territorial control and crafting supply and demand

     

    A sandbox has nothing to do with non instanced player housing or terrain deformation like i've read in some threads. Just look at EVE which has neither of these things.

    The ability to effect the game world comes primarily from player interactions, and the stories that arise from said interactions.

    my web design: www.advancedws.com.au

  • LarsaLarsa NurembergPosts: 990Member


    Originally posted by Suzie Ford

    One of the things that Carbine Studios is aiming to do with WildStar is to create the first true hybrid between the theme park MMO and the sandbox MMO. ...


    Well, it's certainly not the first hybrid, see Vanguard for example.

    Apart from that, I believe, studios are starting to see that the revenue gained from themeparks is limited by the game's longevity: cue in the attempt to make a themepark that captures the players' attention for more than a month or so.

    And that is what Wildstar will be trying as well. It's a themepark that may have a few "sandboxy" features, very few I believe - and those features are not in the game to capture the sandbox crowd (those won't play Wildstar anyway), those features are in the game to provide some longevity to the themepark crowd.

    That doesn't make the game a sandbox or a "sandpark", that just makes the game a themepark with an attention span of more than a few weeks. Good luck to them.

    I maintain this List of Sandbox MMORPGs. Please post or send PM for corrections and suggestions.

  • darkhalf357xdarkhalf357x Brooklyn, NYPosts: 1,164Member Uncommon

    Sandpark is totally achieveable and also agree it should (will) be the future of successful MMOs. At the end of the day it gives us (the players) choice which has been missing for a while.

    Sometimes I feel like questing.  I can (tie a nice story to it to boot).   If I get bored then I can run off and do a plethora of other things.  Always having the ability to come back to a quest if I so decide. 

    It has to be done right and that is in the art of design.  Go kill 10 rats is not questing in my opinion. Its lazy design.  Make questing a strong context of the overall conflict (whatever that is) and it can be interesting.  If you have levels (since its a hybrid) make it worth while and not just a pass time to get to "max" 

    I believe whichever developer "gets" this will have a successful MMO. 

    Im ready with wallet in hand... 

    image
  • LoktofeitLoktofeit Stone Mountain, GAPosts: 13,672Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Larsa

     


    Originally posted by Suzie Ford

     

    One of the things that Carbine Studios is aiming to do with WildStar is to create the first true hybrid between the theme park MMO and the sandbox MMO. ...


     

    Well, it's certainly not the first hybrid, see Vanguard for example.

    Apart from that, I believe, studios are starting to see that the revenue gained from themeparks is limited by the game's longevity: cue in the attempt to make a themepark that captures the players' attention for more than a month or so.

    And that is what Wildstar will be trying as well. It's a themepark that may have a few "sandboxy" features, very few I believe - and those features are not in the game to capture the sandbox crowd (those won't play Wildstar anyway), those features are in the game to provide some longevity to the themepark crowd.

    That doesn't make the game a sandbox or a "sandpark", that just makes the game a themepark with an attention span of more than a few weeks. Good luck to them.

    Yeah, it seems like more and more devs are starting to realize that toys and tools help maintain longevity much more than the scripted content does. I'm hopeful lfor the next round of MMOs to come out.

    There isn't a "right" or "wrong" way to play, if you want to use a screwdriver to put nails into wood, have at it, simply don't complain when the guy next to you with the hammer is doing it much better and easier. - Allein
    "Graphics are often supplied by Engines that (some) MMORPG's are built in" - Spuffyre

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