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The commercial barrier to sandboxes

QuizzicalQuizzical Posts: 14,784Member Uncommon

Imagine for a moment a world in which it was impossible to translate games into other languages.  Every game that is made could be made in exactly one language, and that's it.  Some gamers understand multiple languages pretty well, and some don't--but playing a game in a language that they don't understand at all wouldn't be very viable.

What languages do you think online games would be made in?  There would still be a lot of games made in English, because it's a language that a lot of online gamers speak.  There would still be a lot in Korean, and a lot in Chinese.  Without the possibility of translation, there would perhaps be fewer of each, but there would still be a lot of them.

But how many games do you think would be made in Dutch?  How about Swedish?  Swahili?  Tagalog?  Languages that aren't spoken by that many people would see few games made in them, and no really big budget games.  If you spend $100 million to make the greatest game ever, but it's only in Basque, even if everyone who speaks Basque (under 1 million worldwide) and plays online games (probably a small fraction of the total who speak the language) loves your game, you still lose money.

So what does this have to do with sandboxes?  Make a list of some theme park games.  Let's say WoW, LotRO, Champions Online, EverQuest II, Vanguard, Guild Wars, Runes of Magic, and throw some more games on the list of you like.  Whatever games you stick on your theme park list will probably have a lot in common.  There are important differences that could mean you like one game and not another, but there are a lot of similarities.

Now make a list of some sandbox games.  Let's say EVE, Darkfall, Fallen Earth, Uncharted Waters Online, A Tale in the Desert, Puzzle Pirates, Xyson, and throw whatever other games on the list that you want.  (But please don't be one of those silly people who wants to put Vanguard and EQ2 on lists of sandboxes.)  Now what do they have in common?  A lot less than the list of theme parks did.  We range from free for all full loot PVP to no combat at all.  The list of what a sandbox is "supposed" to have is far less standardized than for theme parks.

So why does this matter?  A single theme park game can appeal to a large fraction of the players who like theme parks.  This isn't just hypothetical, either; WoW actually does this in the real world.  There's no reason why another theme park couldn't do so.

But with sandboxes, that's not the case.  If you make a really good sandbox game, then no matter what design decisions you put into it, a large fraction of sandbox fans will refuse to play it.  If it has free for all full loot pvp, then a lot of sandbox fans will refuse to play it on that basis.  If it doesn't have PVP, then a lot of sandbox fans will refuse to pay it because of that.  If it has a heavy emphasis on the economy, more so than on combat even, then a lot of sandbox fans won't play that.  If the economy is only a minor side thing, as in most theme parks, then a lot of sandbox fans won't play that.  No matter what design decisions you make, if you have a sandbox MMORPG that is the best game ever, probably a majority of sandbox fans won't even consider it.  That's not the case with theme parks.

So a sandbox game has a much lower revenue ceiling than a theme park game.  If you want to make good money on the game, you'd better spend a lot less to create the game than what you can plausibly make by selling it.  So you end up with smaller budget niche games, just like in the hypothetical case of small budget games in obscure languages.

Comments

  • jtcgsjtcgs New Port Richey, ILPosts: 1,777Member
    Originally posted by Quizzical

    Imagine for a moment a world in which game makers didnt have their heads up their arses and knew they could make a game that was both because only closed minded people believes a game must be 100% sandbox, or its a themepark.

    Fixed that for you.

    The genre is limited and looking the same because there arent enough game makers that can actually think outside the box they put themselves in...thanks to the players.

    “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

  • SebaliSebali Staten Island, NYPosts: 392Member Uncommon

    you could apply all those reasons to not play a sandbox to themepark games and people wont play them either.

     

    the ONLY problem with sandxozes is not a single AAA studio has made one since SWG. and at its peak SWG was the #2 played game.

     

    so what does that mean?

     since its all underfunded indoes making them they have to pick and choose what features they can actually put into said game. alot choose FFA pvp for some ungodly reason. some choose crafting. whatever they choose to concentrate on it leaves the rest of the game feeling....shabby? nonexistant?

     

    give me half a themepark and nobody would play it either.

    give me a themepark with no end game save bpvp battlegrounds. wouldnt have to many people in it.

    give me a themepark with only 1 end game instance and no BG's. not many people would play it.

  • PyrateLVPyrateLV Las Vegas, NVPosts: 1,096Member Common
    Originally posted by jtcgs
    Originally posted by Quizzical

    Imagine for a moment a world in which game makers didnt have their heads up their arses and knew they could make a game that was both because only closed minded people believes a game must be 100% sandbox, or its a themepark.

    Fixed that for you.

    The genre is limited and looking the same because there arent enough game makers that can actually think outside the box they put themselves in...thanks to the players.

    LOL

    Read that with a Movie Preview Guy voice (Don LaFontaine)

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  • QuizzicalQuizzical Posts: 14,784Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Sebali

    the ONLY problem with sandxozes is not a single AAA studio has made one since SWG. and at its peak SWG was the #2 played game.

    Here we go again.  Tecmo-Koei is an AAA studio.  They have several hundred million dollars per year in annual revenue, and have been making games (both on the Tecmo and Koei sides) for about 30 years.  Uncharted Waters Online released after Star Wars Galaxies.  UWO is very much a sandbox game.  Therefore, your claim is wrong.

    If you say, "but UWO isn't the sort of sandbox that I want to play!", then that (with any other sandbox game substituted in for UWO if you prefer) is basically the point of this thread.

  • maplestonemaplestone Ottawa, ONPosts: 3,099Member

    Let me see if I can paraphrase: it's hard to market "not-WoW"

  • QuirhidQuirhid TamperePosts: 5,969Member Common

    I agree except I think both themeparks and sandboxes have pretty much the same amount of variation within them. There's really only a handful of features, collection of features or implementations that exist strictly in one or the other. I think people are false to assume that sandboxes can have only classless character development or vice versa (themeparks only class-based systems), or that sandboxes can't have instances etc.

    I refuse to see all games set on a one-dimensional line with extreme themepark in one end and extreme sandbox in the other. Frankly I think its narrow-minded pigeonholing and any clear distinction between sandboxes and themeparks is more or less arbitrary.

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

  • fenistilfenistil GliwicePosts: 3,005Member
    Originally posted by Quizzical
    Originally posted by Sebali

    the ONLY problem with sandxozes is not a single AAA studio has made one since SWG. and at its peak SWG was the #2 played game.

    Here we go again.  Tecmo-Koei is an AAA studio.  They have several hundred million dollars per year in annual revenue, and have been making games (both on the Tecmo and Koei sides) for about 30 years.  Uncharted Waters Online released after Star Wars Galaxies.  UWO is very much a sandbox game.  Therefore, your claim is wrong.

    If you say, "but UWO isn't the sort of sandbox that I want to play!", then that (with any other sandbox game substituted in for UWO if you prefer) is basically the point of this thread.

    Well I tried UWO and for me is just does NOT feel like AAA production.

    I don't know maybe cause it is old? 

     

    I tried playing it, but it just does not feel like AAA production. 

    I don't want to flame. I know you like it and I know Koei studios. 

    I even remember playing Genghis Khan strategy games from them like almost 20 years ago back on my first PC.

    I know they are kinda big studio, but UWO just does not bring enough quality for me.

    AND 

    you're right - also does not provide kind of gameplay I want. Also setting does not 'scratch' where it is supposed to. Business model is another thing I don't like in it.

    ===============

     

    I just want sandbox that is similar to two most well known and biggest western sandboxes in history of mmorpg's - UO or SWG.

    Just big, polished and without pleathora of bugs like in MO, DFO.

     

    FFA or not FFA does not matter for me that much. Full or partial or none loot as well. 

    Those are secondary things -  quality of game, exploration, viable and 'healthy' economy in game is must (some kind of item sink is a must then). Same as crafting. Community. Just virtual world.

     

    ==================

     

    Think what most folks are looking for, what is closest to "standard" - what is perceived as 'standard' sandbox by most of western mmorpg fans is either UO or SWG.

     

     

  • QuizzicalQuizzical Posts: 14,784Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by fenistil
    Originally posted by Quizzical
    Originally posted by Sebali

    the ONLY problem with sandxozes is not a single AAA studio has made one since SWG. and at its peak SWG was the #2 played game.

    Here we go again.  Tecmo-Koei is an AAA studio.  They have several hundred million dollars per year in annual revenue, and have been making games (both on the Tecmo and Koei sides) for about 30 years.  Uncharted Waters Online released after Star Wars Galaxies.  UWO is very much a sandbox game.  Therefore, your claim is wrong.

    If you say, "but UWO isn't the sort of sandbox that I want to play!", then that (with any other sandbox game substituted in for UWO if you prefer) is basically the point of this thread.

    Well I tried UWO and for me is just does NOT feel like AAA production.

    I don't know maybe cause it is old? 

    You know what?  I didn't like WoW that much.  The default UI was horrible.  The server downtime was horrible.  Therefore, I say WoW isn't AAA.

    See the problem?  You can come up with an argument like that about any game ever made.  If Tecmo-Koei isn't AAA, then there aren't many studios that are.  That would reduce the list of AAA MMORPGs ever made (whether theme park or sandbox) to perhaps WoW and SWTOR.

    "Think what most folks are looking for, what is closest to "standard" - what is perceived as 'standard' sandbox by most of western mmorpg fans is either UO or SWG."

    It's what you're looking for.  But it's not what most sandbox fans are looking for.  Because there isn't some particular thing that most sandbox fans are looking for.  And that's why most sandbox games don't fit your particular niche.  Most don't fit any other particular niche, either.

  • KhaerosKhaeros Monroe, NYPosts: 452Member

    And this is why you will be posting on the forums until some studio breaks out with a sandbox game that becomes a brand new standard, only to be copied by its successors.

     

    Sound familiar? Welcome to business.  Just because it's a 'sandbox' doesn't mean it's immune to all the problems that plague MMOs.

  • VowOfSilenceVowOfSilence wheePosts: 575Member

    Worst analogy ever.

    Millions speak Minecraft, fluently. 100k+ are desperate to learn DayZ, although it's not even a real language yet. And so on.

    Sounds profitable, doesn't it?

    Hype train -> Reality

  • TheLizardbonesTheLizardbones Arkham, VAPosts: 10,910Member


    Originally posted by Quirhid
    I agree except I think both themeparks and sandboxes have pretty much the same amount of variation within them. There's really only a handful of features, collection of features or implementations that exist strictly in one or the other. I think people are false to assume that sandboxes can have only classless character development or vice versa (themeparks only class-based systems), or that sandboxes can't have instances etc.I refuse to see all games set on a one-dimensional line with extreme themepark in one end and extreme sandbox in the other. Frankly I think its narrow-minded pigeonholing and any clear distinction between sandboxes and themeparks is more or less arbitrary.

    The differences in sandbox games seem more important to the players. A PvE "theme park" player would be more likely to play in a theme park game with open world PvP than a PvE "sandbox" player for instance. At least this is how it seems to me.

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  • anemoanemo Posts: 762Member Uncommon

    Investers would rather see large numbers rolling negative then possitive really fast, so they can move on to the next gamble.   Rather than see a return quite some distant time away from now.

    So you get what's easy to make with lots of time and manpower repeated content like quests and raids.   Rather than core content that isn't scripted like sandbox games(dynamic terrain, water, construction, some AI).   Essentially for core content you need programmers, the more you add the less efficent the system gets.   For raids, quests, custom leveling areas you need artists, level designers, designers, and scripters these people won't get in each others way and you can have teams work indepentantly on seperate gamespace areas.

    Admitably this simplifies things a bit too much.   But this is why AAA developers prefer content rich games over dynamic ones, because it focuses on their strength of being able to buy A LOT of hands and time.   Also why smaller developers prefer games that are closer to sandboxes since they won't have the disadvantage of lot of time for content.

    Even Skyrim which can be played as a sandbox, still takes on the AAA approach of lots of content and manhours.

    Practice doesn't make perfect, practice makes permanent.

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  • jtcgsjtcgs New Port Richey, ILPosts: 1,777Member
    Originally posted by fenistil
    Originally posted by Quizzical
    Originally posted by Sebali

    the ONLY problem with sandxozes is not a single AAA studio has made one since SWG. and at its peak SWG was the #2 played game.

    Here we go again.  Tecmo-Koei is an AAA studio.  They have several hundred million dollars per year in annual revenue, and have been making games (both on the Tecmo and Koei sides) for about 30 years.  Uncharted Waters Online released after Star Wars Galaxies.  UWO is very much a sandbox game.  Therefore, your claim is wrong.

    If you say, "but UWO isn't the sort of sandbox that I want to play!", then that (with any other sandbox game substituted in for UWO if you prefer) is basically the point of this thread.

    Well I tried UWO and for me is just does NOT feel like AAA production.

     Ok, so you say there hasnt been a sandbox made by a AAA studio and in answer to someone who pointed out there is one was to say it didnt FEEL like it was made by one...

    If its made by a AAA company....you are wrong. All you had to do was say, you are correct and then could have moved forward instead of standing still and looking bad.

    This isnt a pissing contest. Most people defending themepark based games do so with "its making a profit"...the same can actually be said about sandbox games. What really gets me is this whole idea that everyone seems to be pushing is that a game can only be one or the other....a game can be a mix of both. A game can have instanced dungeons and still be sandbox. A game can have dailes and still be sandbox. A game can have levels and still be sandbox. A game can have a storyline progression and still be sandbox...by not creating the world in a closed linear way.

    A sandbox game can have themepark elements and vice versa. It takes a development team that is willing to make a game for more than just a segment of players and doing so from the beginning.

    “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

  • ThorqemadaThorqemada BerlinPosts: 1,277Member Uncommon


    Originally posted by Quizzical
    Imagine for a moment a world in which it was impossible to translate games into other languages.  Every game that is made could be made in exactly one language, and that's it.  Some gamers understand multiple languages pretty well, and some don't--but playing a game in a language that they don't understand at all wouldn't be very viable.What languages do you think online games would be made in?  There would still be a lot of games made in English, because it's a language that a lot of online gamers speak.  There would still be a lot in Korean, and a lot in Chinese.  Without the possibility of translation, there would perhaps be fewer of each, but there would still be a lot of them.But how many games do you think would be made in Dutch?  How about Swedish?  Swahili?  Tagalog?  Languages that aren't spoken by that many people would see few games made in them, and no really big budget games.  If you spend $100 million to make the greatest game ever, but it's only in Basque, even if everyone who speaks Basque (under 1 million worldwide) and plays online games (probably a small fraction of the total who speak the language) loves your game, you still lose money.So what does this have to do with sandboxes?  Make a list of some theme park games.  Let's say WoW, LotRO, Champions Online, EverQuest II, Vanguard, Guild Wars, Runes of Magic, and throw some more games on the list of you like.  Whatever games you stick on your theme park list will probably have a lot in common.  There are important differences that could mean you like one game and not another, but there are a lot of similarities.Now make a list of some sandbox games.  Let's say EVE, Darkfall, Fallen Earth, Uncharted Waters Online, A Tale in the Desert, Puzzle Pirates, Xyson, and throw whatever other games on the list that you want.  (But please don't be one of those silly people who wants to put Vanguard and EQ2 on lists of sandboxes.)  Now what do they have in common?  A lot less than the list of theme parks did.  We range from free for all full loot PVP to no combat at all.  The list of what a sandbox is "supposed" to have is far less standardized than for theme parks.So why does this matter?  A single theme park game can appeal to a large fraction of the players who like theme parks.  This isn't just hypothetical, either; WoW actually does this in the real world.  There's no reason why another theme park couldn't do so.But with sandboxes, that's not the case.  If you make a really good sandbox game, then no matter what design decisions you put into it, a large fraction of sandbox fans will refuse to play it.  If it has free for all full loot pvp, then a lot of sandbox fans will refuse to play it on that basis.  If it doesn't have PVP, then a lot of sandbox fans will refuse to pay it because of that.  If it has a heavy emphasis on the economy, more so than on combat even, then a lot of sandbox fans won't play that.  If the economy is only a minor side thing, as in most theme parks, then a lot of sandbox fans won't play that.  No matter what design decisions you make, if you have a sandbox MMORPG that is the best game ever, probably a majority of sandbox fans won't even consider it.  That's not the case with theme parks.So a sandbox game has a much lower revenue ceiling than a theme park game.  If you want to make good money on the game, you'd better spend a lot less to create the game than what you can plausibly make by selling it.  So you end up with smaller budget niche games, just like in the hypothetical case of small budget games in obscure languages.


    OP is wrong with his whole posting bcs a sondbox is a multilingual game while a themepark is english only and english is spoken native by around 3% of all mankind which shows that themeparks simply be not a choice of free will but a forcefeed approach.

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  • AxehiltAxehilt San Francisco, CAPosts: 8,743Member Uncommon

    Puzzle Pirates is sandbox?  The core gameplay definitely isn't.  You ride each of the static rides (puzzles) that the developers have created 99% of the time, and any customization apart from that is sort of like creating your fashion outfit in WOW or EQ2: completely optional, and a very light form of player authorship.

    But yes, overall your post is why sandboxes don't get made.  Interest vs. Cost.

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  • SuraknarSuraknar Montreal, QCPosts: 824Member
    Originally posted by Quizzical

    So why does this matter?  A single theme park game can appeal to a large fraction of the players who like theme parks.  This isn't just hypothetical, either; WoW actually does this in the real world.  There's no reason why another theme park couldn't do so.

    Is this why every single AAA Themepark that followed WoW has Failed?

    But with sandboxes, that's not the case.  If you make a really good sandbox game, then no matter what design decisions you put into it, a large fraction of sandbox fans will refuse to play it.  If it has free for all full loot pvp, then a lot of sandbox fans will refuse to play it on that basis.  If it doesn't have PVP, then a lot of sandbox fans will refuse to pay it because of that.  If it has a heavy emphasis on the economy, more so than on combat even, then a lot of sandbox fans won't play that.  If the economy is only a minor side thing, as in most theme parks, then a lot of sandbox fans won't play that.  No matter what design decisions you make, if you have a sandbox MMORPG that is the best game ever, probably a majority of sandbox fans won't even consider it.  That's not the case with theme parks.

    Can we please find people who actually have some Divergent Intelligence in the plethora of Convergenet thinkers now days? A sandbox game must have ALL of the above properly balanced. UO and SWG are good examples to start from. Both had PvP and PVE, Economy, Crafting and Social elements. the key is to properly implement all of them in the right balance. Only few have done so successfully, and therefore, many of the Sandbox Players have rejected the ones which did not strike that balance.

    So a sandbox game has a much lower revenue ceiling than a theme park game.  If you want to make good money on the game, you'd better spend a lot less to create the game than what you can plausibly make by selling it.  So you end up with smaller budget niche games, just like in the hypothetical case of small budget games in obscure languages.

    Darkfall was made with 10 million (it had all of the required content when it launched, its problem was the way it was implemented in terms of gameplay)...WAR was made with 100 Million...TOR was made with at least 200 million...seems to me that Themeparks cost way more to make...and fail shortly after Launch.

    I am willing to bet that a wonderfull Sandbox can be made with a mere (in comparison) 30 mill and 4 years Devellopment Cycle.

     

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  • fenistilfenistil GliwicePosts: 3,005Member
    Originally posted by Quizzical
     

    You know what?  I didn't like WoW that much.  The default UI was horrible.  The server downtime was horrible.  Therefore, I say WoW isn't AAA.

    See the problem?  You can come up with an argument like that about any game ever made.  If Tecmo-Koei isn't AAA, then there aren't many studios that are.  That would reduce the list of AAA MMORPGs ever made (whether theme park or sandbox) to perhaps WoW and SWTOR.

     

    Just because STUDIO is AAA, does not automatically mean game is AAA.

    Some unknown studio (Trion) can make it's first game as AAA and some well established big AAA studio can make a game that is not big AAA production.

     

    Game being AAA or not beign AAA is simply matter of how much money and workhours. How game is polished, advertised, etc

    If game is good or bad - it does not matter.

    =====================

     

    Anyway I might be wrong and I can admit to that.  

     

    "It's what you're looking for.  But it's not what most sandbox fans are looking for.  Because there isn't some particular thing that most sandbox fans are looking for.  And that's why most sandbox games don't fit your particular niche.  Most don't fit any other particular niche, either."

     

    Maybe.

     

    You don't have any data though. 

    Me neither.

    Noone really has.

     

    So you cannot really say what most sandbox fans are looking for - noone can.

     

    Yes - that is a problem I presume.

     

    It is a problem that cannot really be solved imo.

    So either there will be some crazy investor that will try to invest fat millions in that market or it will never change.

     

    You can forget about many players flocking into inide sandboxes. 

    Well one game did that - EVE growing from underfunded small project into a game that can rival some of big AAA themeparks with population ( EQ2, Lotro, Rift) and even have bigger population that some of them (AoC, Warhammer Online). Not to mention older titles.

    Yet that did not really brough much big investors into sandbox mmorpg subgenre. 

    Same with old sandboxes. 

    Not much players would went back to UO or heck I dare to say - not even to SWG. Even if they would go F2P. (brr I personally don't want to play cash shopped f2p sandbox,  even in themepark I don't enjoy it, but in virtual world game it would be much worse).

     

    You give UWO example.  When we put aside what we think about this title and focus one one thing.

    It was released in western markets 5,5 year after it was released in Asia. = decreasing chance of achieving great popularity by ALOT. 

    Not having big graphical overhaul since it's 2005 - does not help either. Unless it had, but it did not look like it did. (one of things that turned me off - weirdly I can play 2 d or so called 2,5 D isometric old games, but cannot stand old 3d games).

     

     ===========

     

    So while you may have right your post does not brought me much.

    I understand that investors simply don't want to invest in sandboxes.

     

    Still me knowing it does not change much - does it?

     

     

     

     

  • fenistilfenistil GliwicePosts: 3,005Member
    Originally posted by Khaeros

    And this is why you will be posting on the forums until some studio breaks out with a sandbox game that becomes a brand new standard, only to be copied by its successors.

     

    Sound familiar? Welcome to business.  Just because it's a 'sandbox' doesn't mean it's immune to all the problems that plague MMOs.

    Basically this. Very much agreed.

  • BanquettoBanquetto CityPosts: 1,037Member Uncommon
    I liked UWO (until the brutal grind drove me away, like most people) and it might be AAA in its native tongue, but the English translation is not a AAA product. There is a certain level of polish required, and when a game is that badly translated, the polish is just not there.

    Graphics and UI are far below current standards too but I'd give it a pass on that because I think it's more due to age.
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