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Is there something the Sandbox genre can do better at?

MMOExposedMMOExposed lalal land, DCPosts: 6,257Member Uncommon
To improve the Sandbox genre, is there something that need to be improved? What can be done to improve the genre?

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Comments

  • BitterClingerBitterClinger Newark, DEPosts: 225Member Uncommon
    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 in 2015: World of Tanks, Tera, World of Warships

  • jimdandy26jimdandy26 salem, ORPosts: 527Member
    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-vortexice-vortex Xenia, OHPosts: 951Member
    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.
  • AxehiltAxehilt San Francisco, CAPosts: 8,753Member Uncommon

    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.

    "Joe stated his case logically and passionately, but his perceived effeminate voice only drew big gales of stupid laughter..." -Idiocracy
    "There is only one good, knowledge, and one evil, ignorance." -Socrates

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

    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

  • YaevinduskYaevindusk Ul''dah, CAPosts: 1,540Member Uncommon

     

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

     

     

     

    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.

  • QuirhidQuirhid TamperePosts: 5,969Member Common

    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

  • JenuvielJenuviel Seattle, WAPosts: 960Member

    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!

  • jimdandy26jimdandy26 salem, ORPosts: 527Member
    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.

  • JimmyYOJimmyYO Columbus, OHPosts: 520Member
    Care about technical aspects of their games.
  • haplo602haplo602 Posts: 213Member Uncommon
    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.

  • wordizwordiz Eugene, ORPosts: 464Member
    It's a genre now? Meh, this generations understanding went out the window when flaming became trolling.
  • NightgroperNightgroper Aunt Em''s, NEPosts: 76Member

    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.

  • DihoruDihoru ConstantaPosts: 2,731Member

    -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.

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  • gillrmngillrmn ArnhemPosts: 250Member

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

    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.

     

     

     

    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

  • WhiteLanternWhiteLantern Nevada, MOPosts: 2,732Member Common

    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

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

    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

  • DihoruDihoru ConstantaPosts: 2,731Member
    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).

    image
  • AntiquatedAntiquated Oak Brook, MIPosts: 673Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by MMOExposed
    To improve the Sandbox genre, is there something that need to be improved? What can be done to improve the genre?

    Appealing to customers? Marketing and advertisement?

    /snerk

     

    More seriously-realise when and where you are self-limiting your player base's ultimate size. If it's intentional (say Darkfall marketing "death penalty=mad l33t yo"), ok then it's a design choice, hello micro company.

    If it's EVE taking years to realize it need players to do their learning curve education for them...that's just devs not paying attention, and/or a player base determined to be insular.

    Your players are going to shoot for maximum exclusion. That's just how gamers behave, and not limited to 'hardcore' either.

    If you want your game to sell more; you need to be aware that it's happening, and actively work against it.

    But that would make you Blizzard. Is that really what you want to be?

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

    That link is a great example of what I was saying above; thanks for posting it!

    • Chronicling by the devs in such a manner that it's not readily digestible or unclear that it isn't fiction.
    • There's no clear answer as to what the latest major events are or what is currently playing out in-game.
    • 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.

     

     

    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

  • DihoruDihoru ConstantaPosts: 2,731Member
    Originally posted by Loktofeit
    Originally posted by Dihoru
    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

    That link is a great example of what I was saying above; thanks for posting it!

    • Chronicling by the devs in such a manner that it's not readily digestible or unclear that it isn't fiction.
    • There's no clear answer as to what the latest major events are or what is currently playing out in-game.
    • 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.

    Try downloading the PDF please ^^' (in EVE there are no major events, at least not in the sense that "oh yeah this shit was big!" because in the grander scheme of things you donno what else is coming down the pipeline and what impact it would have on you, as a gamer with set goals in the sandbox of EVE, ergo major events do not exist as a universal constant, some events might be major to you, say the begining of Sansha's incursions, but to me it's just a annoying little event that crops up every now and then in my mission hubs) and as for devs telling the stories players live out... that's like asking a  war report how a soldier's life is, he/she might give a good idea but you'll never hear the full story.

     

    Edit: You can find chronicles of the wars in EVE quite easily and with a little back reading you get the general gist of things easily.

    Examples: The first Great Northen War and one of my favourites Rooks and King's Clarion's Call 3

    image
  • coretex666coretex666 PraguePosts: 1,934Member Uncommon

    In my opinion, sandbox games need to:

    a) Be more realistic (e.g. specialization in crafting, implementation of principles from real world to a MMO)

    b) Be less PvP focused (full loot arena like Darkfall is nice, but very niche, limited possibilities dont help the game ressemble a virtual world)

    c) Add more interesting PVE (I have not seen many interesting PVE activities in sandbox games)

    d) Be more complex overall (The games are still too simple, hardly appealing to an adult gamer. This is related to point 1. The game needs to implement real world principles to achieve higher complexity. It can be in sci fi or fantasy or any other setting..)

    e) Have larger budgets (I do not insist on amazing graphics or gameplay. It is less important than e.g. interesting character progression for me. To illustrate, I am currently playing Might and Magic VI: The Mandate of Heaven which is a RPG from 1998 with terrible graphics, gameplay, yet with amazing RPG mechanisms and I am having more fun with it than with TERA for instance. The sandbox MMOs obviously need larger budgets to be more developed than the ones which are currently in the market)

     

    More or less subjective points, so feel free to disagree.

    I described a simple sandbox concept in developers corner. Link is in my signature. I do not go too deep in the concept...it is long enough like this already. It addresses these and other points in greater detail.

     

    EDIT: As I suggested in the concept, specialization would bring people from the faction together and would lead to natural urbanization.

    An example from a sandbox game I have in mind: 

    Imagine a player built city. On the city hall door, there would be a sign put there by one of the player elected leaders of the city.

    "The enemy breached our defense lines. They managed to destroy our iron mine in the north before we pushed them back. We are currently unable to supply our blacksmith, so that they cannot create weapons, plate armors, agricultural tools requiring iron, etc. We hereby put to vote releasing of 10 000 gold (collected in city treasury from taxes) for hiring 20 computer controlled guards for 1 week to foster our defense lines before we manage to repair the mine. We consider it a top priority as next time, the enemy may burn our farms in the west and we will all die from hunger (or will not be able to prosper for some time, so the enemy faction would finish us off). On top of that, we also put to vote a 100 gold reward for killing a member of opposing faction who steps into our lands."

     

     

    Waiting for L2 EU Classic

  • CaldrinCaldrin CwmbranPosts: 4,533Member Uncommon

    The main thing that any dev making a sandbox needs to do is not listen to the I want it all now kiddies..

     

     

  • QuirhidQuirhid TamperePosts: 5,969Member Common
    Originally posted by haplo602
    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.

    I see you've confused two terms: sandbox and simulation. Sandboxes don't need to simulate real life, simulations/simulators on the otherhand, are meant to simulate life.

    No, sandboxes do not have to simulate anything. All they need to do is be sandboxes.

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

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