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[Column] General: Two ‘Failures’ and the Sandbox Revival

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  • ronpackronpack North Charleston, SCPosts: 138Member
    Eve Online. Best sandbox spaceship MMO ever created by Icelandmankind. Good thing those devs played Ultima Online because they learned a LOT about what makes a good sandbox MMO.  Speaking of UO, I wish it could be released again with the 2D graphics....
  • madazzmadazz A town, ONPosts: 1,564Member Uncommon
    Well I am glad someone agrees with what I have been saying on these forums for months. Great minds think a like!
  • EvelknievelEvelknievel Ehrenfeld, PAPosts: 2,977Member
    Originally posted by Ozmodan
    Originally posted by P4YB4CK
    Originally posted by jusomdude
    I didn't know The Repopulation was gonna be FFA-PvP. If so it's an automatic write off.

     

    Here you go buddy, the right information directly from their website. If you remember SWG, it's pretty much the same style of PVP.

    PVP - The Repopulation

    As mentioned previously we plan to support two rule sets in The Repopulation. The normal rule set in the Repopulation encourages PvP but does not force it. Where the hardcore server will focus on a more Free For All style. We’ll focus most of the explanation in this section on the normal rule set.

    All players will begin their adventure as an Inactive member of the OWON or FPR military. Being inactive means that they will not be able to attack or be attacked by other players in protected areas. They will be subject to attack, and able to attack opposing players when they enter into contested areas, however. Players can elect to join the Active Military at any time. Active Military can be attack or be attacked other Active Military members anywhere in the world. They can not attack Inactive Military in the protected areas, however. Guards will aid friendly players in both protected and unprotected areas.

    A common question by players is what will be protected and what will not? Areas near your starting cities are fully protected. OWON and FPR civilizations are located quite far from one another. The middle areas between the two are largely unprotected, with the exception of Rogue Nation cities. You can find the full complement of tiers and difficulty levels in both protected and unprotected regions.
    If a player wished to completely avoid PvP they would be able to. That having been said, we want to encourage players to participate in the PvP aspects of the game. There is very little penalty for doing so, and it can be a rewarding experience.

    Nations can build cities and cities can be sieged and conquered. It is an open world experience with objectives created through engagements. Players will be automatically rewarded for their participation. You gain military rank through your participation, which can open up new rewards and abilities.

    The point being all the good stuff is in the contested areas.  Even crafters need things from those areas.  So you either have to pvp or spend a lot to get those items.  It always ends up in games like this that a big guild will control specific resources, hence you will be stuck buying at their prices.  Not my idea of a very good game.  You contention that pvp is optional does not meet my definition of optional.

     

    I'm just stating, your calling Repopulation a Free For All - Player vs Player game, in which you still have a choice of which type of Server Rules you will play on.

    Besides that, here is a link for folks interested in 'PvP' Sandbox terms straight from this website as well. It seems everyone defines 'Sandbox' differently.

    http://www.mmorpg.com/showFeature.cfm/loadFeature/6117

     

     

  • kol56kol56 gbfbfg, KYPosts: 124Member

    GW2 isn't a hybrid.

    It's the ultimate evolution of the themepark formula.

     

    The game still lacks tools for player made content, there are none, and it lacks the depth of a player based economy with a complex crafting.

    Once you finish all the content, there's nothing left but E-sport PVP, "casual" (in a good way, but with little long term playability) PVP (WwW), repeating content for cosmetics and waiting for new content / xpac.

     

    The Repopulation and ArcheAge are hybrids, GW2 is the best themepark ever made.

    And it's not going to be enough for those bored of themeparks.

    People aren't really bored of the gear grind, they are bored of running out of content, replacing gear with cosmetics won't change a damn thing.

    "Dogs are the leaders of the planet. If you see two life forms, one of them's making a poop, the other one's carrying it for him, who would you assume is in charge."

    "The idea behind the tuxedo is the woman's point of view that men are all the same; so we might as well dress them that way. That's why a wedding is like the joining together of a beautiful, glowing bride and some guy"
    -Seinfeld

  • DreamionDreamion GothenburgPosts: 286Member

    Great writeup! The MMO's I would like to see remakes of would be SWG and Vanguard, literally because if they were to be released NOW they would probably be a huge hit.

     

    SWG - You could do ALOT, 32? professions, skill tree'd, flying your own spaceship, housing, guild city, industry etc. (BIG world)

     

    Vanguard - 3 Sphere leveling system, LOADS of dungeons + (puzzles), Group based gameplay, advanced crafting, BIG world.

     

    These are things I've missed.

     
  • PelagatoPelagato PRPosts: 643Member

    OMG!!! Bunch of comments!!! Why do you guys bother wrtting long comments, do you guys think that people will actually read them all?????


  • EvelknievelEvelknievel Ehrenfeld, PAPosts: 2,977Member
    Originally posted by kol56

    GW2 isn't a hybrid.

    It's the ultimate evolution of the themepark formula.

     

    The game still lacks tools for player made content, there are none, and it lacks the depth of a player based economy with a complex crafting.

    Once you finish all the content, there's nothing left but E-sport PVP, "casual" (in a good way, but with little long term playability) PVP (WwW), repeating content for cosmetics and waiting for new content / xpac.

     

    The Repopulation and ArcheAge are hybrids, GW2 is the best themepark ever made.

     

    Honestly, GW2 isn't even out and your calling it the best themepark ever made, I like your over confidence, but GW2 will only be the best themepark for the players that like that style of mmo. So to say ever made is a bold statement on your behalf. I raise your statement and say that GW2 will not have a mature community of players unless your playing with a guild. You watch what type of community this game will develop with its B2P crowd. (Now I am guessing and hopefully I am wrong). But I got my money on immaturity easily. <imo>

  • RelGnRelGn halalaPosts: 494Member
    Archeage is Da Game

    image
  • GrumpyMel2GrumpyMel2 Catskills, NYPosts: 1,832Member
    Originally posted by Hrimnir
    Originally posted by Taonite
    Originally posted by Turkish4676
    Originally posted by Kyleran

    Well written article and I can agree with the major points, that SWG helped put nails in the sandbox coffin...

     

     

    I think you missed the point. SWG was the first to really offer sandbox, and the developers put the nails in the games coffin by changing that. SWG was the first major mmo that had player based weapons, armor, housing, buildings, equipment etc. etc. The game allowed players to decide what type of character they were going to be with a mixed class point delegation system. You could change allegances, change class build, build player cities, free to roam anywhere in any zone including space. (although this came after the great ruining and I mean the first ruining of the game not NGE) I have not touched on several of the games better points but in no means did SWG put the nail in the sand box's coffin.

    SWG at launch and for a few months was the essence of sand box and sadly what was not touched on, and I have never seen touched, was its utter failure to launch. My friends and I had been waiting for its launch since we saw its announcement at E3 98 or 99. (can't remember which) They never had a commercial, game magazine ad, announcement releases, websites, announced betas, etc. When it came out none of us ever knew. I chanced upon it one Friday evening after work, and had to call 20+ people to let them know. It just showed up to the store unannounced. After a couple of months playing I ran into gamers that had no idea it even existed. So essentially the game was killed before it ever launched.(secretly)

    By no means was it the nails, at one point it was a great game, just never given a proper chance. And some other poster stated that it was bleeding subs before NGE, duh like I stated previously, the game was ruined when they did the Combat Upgrade. CU was the answer to all the whiney lazy players that flood our games today. Pistoleers who only had to do one set of bars were as powerful as classes that had to do three full masteries.

    Turkish is saying something I've been saying for years. SOE/LA never - NEVER - formally advertised SWG. Perhaps a snippet commercial LONG ago, somewhere that was forgotten, but much less than the way games are advertised these days (superhype).

    Many talks between friends in-game were had on how we could make our own commercials or get the word out ourselves. This was a couple years before youtube. Now you see youtube movies about SWG everywhere. SWG PvP, SWG space battles, SWG crafting/decorating, SWGLetsPlay tutorials, SWG closure farewells.

    Yes, the original game, the pre-CU game, the Raph Koster designed game that had a vision for what was a massive real life immersion in the video realm... that game made you wonder, made you design, made you THINK, made you LIVE the game. Sometimes to its own detriment - terrain negotiation, item decay, battle fatigue.

    The CU and NGE were the WoW-population-and-subscription-chasing-abominations, I can agree to that in their inceptions/implementations, but post-NGE (SWG post 2009) was by far the better game all around. Combat was fairly balanced, crafting was still FAR superior to anything out there even now, and the community and economy that the community created was second to none.

    All in all it was the advertising. WoW never stopped advertising, even after they reached 2mil, 3mil, 5mil subs, the advertising still came on strong. If it wasn't Mr. T telling you he was a night-elf-mohawk, it was Chuck Norris and his battle cat puttin' the smack-down on some Orcs. Those commercials ran on numerous channels, multiple times, day and night. THAT is was made WoW a household name. Just because it was a spin-off of Blizzard's Warcraft, only meant that the minor (or more "secret") gaming population knew about it, otherwise the game meant nothing to the population that plays/knows about it now. It was pure advertising and being in the right place at the right time.

    So you (we - my friends and I in-game) would have thought that during all that time, with all of the Star Wars movies on Spike TV being re-run month after month, year after year, they would have thrown out at least one simple ad for SWG to say "Hey, we're here and still going strong!" wouldn't have broke the bank, but actually brought in new subs... instead they took the beating like a boss, and faded away due to sneaky management and underhanded attorneys and CEOs after a pipe-dream-payday.

     

    I'm sorry but i couldn't disgree more.  The advertising certainly helped, but it wasn't the major factor.  What made WOW able to acheive those levels of subs was by opening up the MMO genre to a broader market of gamers.  Prior to wow there were somewhere between 1.2 and 1.8 million MMO players between UO, EQ, and AO, DAOC came in and added a few as well.  WOW came out and made the game accessible.  They made sure that the graphics weren't so intense so it would run on a broad range of computers.  They dumbed everything down so it was easy to see quests and such, easy to do, easy to play, and far quicker to get through than previous MMO's.  Because of this it attracted a crapton of new players.  The advertising didnt start until well after the game had 3+ million subs.

     

    One thing to understand about WOW when compared to earlier games and also todays games when compared to both WOW and earlier games is that the size of the potential market was dictated by factors ENTIRELY EXTERNAL to the games themselves. When you look at the number of households with computers and the number of individuals with reliable internet access both US and World-Wide those numbers absolutely EXPLODED between the late 90's and today.

    WOW really was in the right place in the right time, in large part not actualy due to anything WoW did but to external factors as well. You can't very well play an online game if you don't have access to a computer and don't have access to the internet.... and those numbers absolutely exploded during the period we are talking about. Alot of commentators/pundits seem to overlook that simple external reality. When WOW hit...there were not just alot more people with an interest in MMO's but alot more people with the CAPABILITY to play online games (because they didn't have access to a computer or the internet prior). It also didn't have very much in the way of competition when it was released. This is not to take anything away from WOW,  Blizzard did make and accessable, entertaining and solid product with WOW. I played vanilla WOW for about a year and a half...and I have nothing bad to say about my time there. The game was good, entertaining, cohesive and fit well it's audiences expectations. That said a good part of the crest WOW rode, had nothing to do with the qualities of the game itself.

    When we do comparisons between todays releases and past games, we have to keep in mind limitations on the size of the potential market that are entirely external to the products themselves (e.g. access to a computer and the internet). 100K subs back in 1997 really is more like $1 million+ subs today....when you start considering not just how many people chose to play the game....but how many people even had the CAPABILITY to play an online game, period.

  • gilgamesh9gilgamesh9 austin, TXPosts: 133Member
    SWG bombed because it wasn't Star Wars, it was a crafting sim (Ultima Online 2) pretending to be Star Wars.  This was Koster's big mistake in thinking that just slapping a Star Wars veneer over his scuttled UO plans, everything would work out.  It didn't.  Square peg met round hole.   If it had remained UO2, or even created as a fresh IP where having crafting dominate was not out of place, it would have done far better.
  • ignore_meignore_me Apple Valley, CAPosts: 1,987Member
    Originally posted by gilgamesh9
    SWG bombed because it wasn't Star Wars, it was a crafting sim (Ultima Online 2) pretending to be Star Wars.  This was Koster's big mistake in thinking that just slapping a Star Wars veneer over his scuttled UO plans, everything would work out.  It didn't.  Square peg met round hole.   If it had remained UO2, or even created as a fresh IP where having crafting dominate was not out of place, it would have done far better.

    Somebody wasn't any good at crafting I think ...

    Survivor of the great MMORPG Famine of 2011

  • Creslin321Creslin321 Baltimore, MDPosts: 5,359Member

    Good article, and I agree.

    The biggest problem themeparks have is that they are not very sel-sustaining.  Themeparks, like a book or a movie, can be "consumed" by the player, and then they are basically done.  This just does not work well with an MMORPG that is supposed to be played for years and years.

    Sandboxes, on the other hand, are typically more self-sustaining.  Much like a lego-kit or a box of crayons, a sandbox game can be played for years and years and never get old.  Minecraft is like this...the game is basically built as a "framework" that lets people do whatever they want in it, and many players keep themselves amused for months and months finding new things to do in the game.

    At the end of the day, devs have got to realize that they will never be able to put out enough static content to keep up with player consumption...the only real solution is to make content that sustains itself.

    Are you team Azeroth, team Tyria, or team Jacob?

  • Creslin321Creslin321 Baltimore, MDPosts: 5,359Member
    Originally posted by ignore_me
    Originally posted by gilgamesh9
    SWG bombed because it wasn't Star Wars, it was a crafting sim (Ultima Online 2) pretending to be Star Wars.  This was Koster's big mistake in thinking that just slapping a Star Wars veneer over his scuttled UO plans, everything would work out.  It didn't.  Square peg met round hole.   If it had remained UO2, or even created as a fresh IP where having crafting dominate was not out of place, it would have done far better.

    Somebody wasn't any good at crafting I think ...

     Tell you the truth, I can see where gilgamesh is coming from here...

    I was SUPER pysched for SWG, but when I played the beta, I decided not to buy the game.  It just....wasn't that exciting.

    The combat was incredibly dull...I hated watching my guy stand in place and go "pew pew pew" while I just watched.  I can even remember when SOE said that they made combat more exciting by having your character shoot three times instead of once on each auto-attack...I kind of LOL'd internally at this.

    Also, the world felt VERY barren.  I remember I wanted to go from one city to another...I literally just left auto-run on and then ate lunch and I think I still wasn't there when I came back.

    I love sandboxes, don't get me wrong...but I want a sandbox with exciting combat, and a world that is exciting to explore.  I don't really see these as "themepark" elements...I just see them as things that sandbox games unfortunately tend to fall short on.

    Are you team Azeroth, team Tyria, or team Jacob?

  • MumboJumboMumboJumbo LondonPosts: 3,221Member

    After a crash, is a good time for small risks to possibly give rise to a new approach?

  • ignore_meignore_me Apple Valley, CAPosts: 1,987Member
    Originally posted by Creslin321
    Originally posted by ignore_me
    Originally posted by gilgamesh9
    SWG bombed because it wasn't Star Wars, it was a crafting sim (Ultima Online 2) pretending to be Star Wars.  This was Koster's big mistake in thinking that just slapping a Star Wars veneer over his scuttled UO plans, everything would work out.  It didn't.  Square peg met round hole.   If it had remained UO2, or even created as a fresh IP where having crafting dominate was not out of place, it would have done far better.

    Somebody wasn't any good at crafting I think ...

     Tell you the truth, I can see where gilgamesh is coming from here...

    I was SUPER pysched for SWG, but when I played the beta, I decided not to buy the game.  It just....wasn't that exciting.

    The combat was incredibly dull...I hated watching my guy stand in place and go "pew pew pew" while I just watched.  I can even remember when SOE said that they made combat more exciting by having your character shoot three times instead of once on each auto-attack...I kind of LOL'd internally at this.

    Also, the world felt VERY barren.  I remember I wanted to go from one city to another...I literally just left auto-run on and then ate lunch and I think I still wasn't there when I came back.

    I love sandboxes, don't get me wrong...but I want a sandbox with exciting combat, and a world that is exciting to explore.  I don't really see these as "themepark" elements...I just see them as things that sandbox games unfortunately tend to fall short on.

    You are right about the combat.

    My theory is that the Star Wars universe was originally delivered to us as a fast moving, low exposition, fantasy. It's really hard to keep true to the original feel while allowing for hours upon hours of existing in that setting.

    SWG went the opposite of the movies in this respect, and I think that was the right answer. The movies aren't suitable as a living space, SWG was (except for the bad combat) and allowed you to mix your love of SW and a good virtual world.

    SWTOR tried to make a movie that you live in.

    Survivor of the great MMORPG Famine of 2011

  • RaysheRayshe London, ONPosts: 1,284Member

    I've said this in other threads as to why Sandbox games have it rough, and gave reasoning to why Eve online worked.

     

    FIrst of all if you make a sandbox game with everyone starting equally. you just get Grand theft auto with players driving on the sidewalks. You will also have the players that want to create some kind of order and get the game flowing however the Xbox Generation walks in and just wants to shoot things. Eve avoided this the best by making a specific area that is open world sandbox, also they told no one about it so people wouldnt just fly there right away.

     

    Face of mankind was a great example. you had 8 factions that were working togeather and going to war for reasons more than "lolz" Mercs acted like Mercs, and the Mafia type faction delt drugs in the street. Cops acted like cops, some good some corrupt. then the element that proves my theory correct came in. Gankers, they cared little about the ingame politics, Economy or flow of game. their idea was "i have a gun i go shoot someone". This is the downfall of sandbox, the only way to make the game work is to make it incredibly complicated so it takes too much work for them to murder a small village.  Sadly this throws other players off it aswell.

    Because i can.
    I'm Hopeful For Every Game, Until the Fan Boys Attack My Games. Then the Knives Come Out.
    Logic every gamers worst enemy.

  • OldBikerOldBiker San Diego, CAPosts: 75Member

    I belive the main thing people look for in a MMO game is meaning.  No matter what type of MMO, we want our actions to matter and make an impact on our in-game world.  The definition of meaningful play will differ from player to player and people will gravitate to the titles that suit them.

    Eve Online is a great sandbox game and it is very polarizing.  People either love it or hate it.  Some of the biggest complaints I hear are that people were bored and didn't know what to do.  The answer in a sandbox game should always be the same.  "You can do anything you want."  Lot's of people cannot grasp this concept and end up leaving the sandbox.  A sandbox game is based on player generated content or "emergent gameplay".  So many people these days just don't have the kind of imagination that it takes to grasp these games.  People are used to being spoonfed thought that they never bother to come up with an original one of their own. 

    This is clear in the types of games that are being developed.  While the (usually) more intelligent readers of this site may have different opinions that doesn't mean we are the majority.  The mainstream developers are cattering to the masses and whoring after the almighty dollar.  The only changes to this genre will come from the indy developers who, to coin an Apple term, think different.

  • 7star7star SeoulPosts: 405Member
    Just the number of responses this article got should say something about what gaming otaku want.
  • Hydros13Hydros13 New York, NYPosts: 30Member
    Good article, and pretty much why I'm looking forward to GW2,Archeage , Wildstar and World of Darkness!
  • GardavsshadeGardavsshade Cedar Springs, MIPosts: 755Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by PyrateLV

    MMO Game Developers need to comprehend the fact that WoW was a fluke. A Perfect Storm so to speak.

    It came at the right time, with the right features.

     

    Will it happen again? Sure, but not by repeating what Blizzard did.

    The only way to beat WoW is to NOT be like WoW.

     

    Different. Unique.

    They need to leave the Themeparks and start thinking Outside the Sandbox

    This. Plus.. Blizzard did others things in a business sort of "Right" way... such as....

    1.) Total domination of RETAIL Store shelf space. Their Marketing Execs figured out how to get the big Retailers to put Blizzard products on over 50% of Retail shelf area in many Retail Stores nationwide in the US. That's a lot of visability. Not just WoW, but also Warcraft itself, Battelchests, Diablo series, Starcraft.

    2.) TV Commercials... the only MMO I ever saw that had a TV commercial was WoW.

    Those two all by themselves ensured Blizzard's domination of the MMO genre, even with the once in a lifetime perfect timing of their unique "perfect storm". Blizzard got lucky, then they got smart.

    I hate WoW, because I played it and I dislike it enough to puke... but I REALLY hate Blizzard because no other MMO Publisher was as smart as they were in the business department... damn it.

    Just got to respect an enemy that's THAT good at what they do.

     

  • CeleberegCelebereg Valencia, CAPosts: 38Member

    - = SANDBOX = - was never the issue.  Sandbox is synonymous to "MMO", an expectation to immerse yourself in an avatar. 

     

    SWG was the best of breed for MMO.  It was however released before it and its content was ready due to corporate greed (fact), and could never catch up.  That was followed by deplorably inept project leadership, young kids, who couldn't hold a vision, hold course to the vision, and close the gaps from premature release.  Their inept leadership resulted in chaotic, shoot from the hip development responses to community shouting, that was never on course, never consistent, and ineffective.  SWG failed solely due to SOE and project team leadership.

     

    Because (young) "artists" in the industry can't tell that leadership was the issue, they all assume - = SANDBOX = - was the problem, so it became an outcast in an "MMO" industry, but the joke on them is that  - = SANDBOX = - is the very nature of an MMO.  You can't have one without the other.  Build a good MMO, they will come.  Build a good MMO, it is a  - = SANDBOX = - they're one and the same.

     

    The MMO should allow you to explore your avatars world environment, and engage systems like crafting, or decorating, or trade, or PvP, or raiding, or exploration, or gathering/hunting, or being a shopkeeper, or being a community leader (in game), or coordinating any variety of cooperative ventures for any of the above.  All of the things the avatar should experience and the player with it.

     

     

    I don't like the word - = SANDBOX = - because in truth, as stated in my intro, it is the nature of an MMO.  Despite the lack of content, SWG was the best of breed out of the gate, and its core systems, from crafting to class design, continue to be the benchmark for which MMO's are compared (and inevitably fall short).

     

    SWTOR fails and falls into the same trap as all comers since SWG.  A small segment rushes to endgame and complains, and new content is rushed out so that the small segment is kept on the rails, but meanwhile everyone else who doesn't play 80 hrs a week and make it a career falls behind the grind, and doesn't complete 90% of the first round of endgame content, never gets the satisfaction of endgame content, before they're told there's a level cap increase and you're starting off the mousewheel again before you could ever enjoy getting off the previous grind to enjoy some fully geared endgame, teamwork, and accomplishment for your avatar.  It's a mouse wheel where nobody is ever satisfied. 

     

    Remove the - = THEMEPARK = - level-cap perpetuated gear grind, so that more are raid ready sooner, so that raiding and PvP is a matter of progression of class skills, teamwork, and communication to beat tough challenges - rather than gearing up, class skills, teamwork, and communication to beat tough challenges.  

     

    Mitigate the reliance on gear in the equation as a gate to participation and enjoyment.  Class skills, teamwork, and communication are not only fun, but plenty to deal with for any group without needing a gear grind to gate people.  With the gear grind, we never "arrive" to enjoy and tackle content - or at least most don't.  Fail for all involved.

     

    I'm still playing SWTOR, down from 4 accounts in the household to 1 account, but like every other MMO since SWG, it's a limp ride, a pseudo MMO.  A pale imitation. 

     
     
     
     
     
     
  • jacklojacklo BlackpoolPosts: 570Member

    Mike,

    This is not meant to be condescending. That's quite possibly the most intelligent piece you've ever written. Kudos.

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