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Why sandboxes tend to be small budget indie games

13

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  • QuirhidQuirhid TamperePosts: 5,969Member Common
    Originally posted by RefMinor
    Originally posted by Iselin
    Originally posted by Apraxis
    If you can create, modify, interact and destroy persistent objects in a persistent world. And ideally every object would behave like that. But that is of course not possible, or at least rather hard to do. No only the amount of it.

     

    I tend to agree that this is a core concept and it's what often divides the philosophical approach to MMO design: Do you want to give everyone an opportunity to experience all of your content in an egalitarian fashion or is it a first-come-first-served world?

     

    If you can change the world, those coming after you will never see the world as you saw it, they'll see your leftovers. If you kill Harry the ultimate troll boss who wields The Club of Tremendous Smashing, he'll saty dead, you'll get the club and no one else will be able to meet Harry or take his club.

     

    I sort of think I want to play in that world and take my chances but I'm in a minority I think. The more changeable a world is the more it tends to become an elite club for early adopters...noobs need not apply 3 months after the game is released...

     

    Unless there is a comitment on the part of the devs to continue developing new content just as fast as we consume the old content so that the next guy can meet Harry's other brother Harry who has The Club of Horrible Maiming and this will be every bit as rewarding as what you saw...but in a way, that is just a small distinction from having the original Harry reset for the next player.

     

    Same thing with the concept of building a kingdom and becoming the king. I think we all want avoid seeing the world "reset" for the next guy...it does ruin the credibility of the world. But I also think we all want to be the king who eats the main course and not the serf who gets the leftovers.

    I don't think you have played sandboxes, the content is not quests to kill Harry, the content is interactions between the players, killing a troll is just a task to earn cash or gain resource to fund those interactions.

    Kingdoms rise and fall, the newer players become part of keeping the kingdom intact or toppling it with their own.

    I... think you should re-read his post.

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

  • RefMinorRefMinor MyTownPosts: 3,452Member
    Originally posted by Quirhid
    Originally posted by RefMinor
    Originally posted by Iselin
    Originally posted by Apraxis
    If you can create, modify, interact and destroy persistent objects in a persistent world. And ideally every object would behave like that. But that is of course not possible, or at least rather hard to do. No only the amount of it.

     

    I tend to agree that this is a core concept and it's what often divides the philosophical approach to MMO design: Do you want to give everyone an opportunity to experience all of your content in an egalitarian fashion or is it a first-come-first-served world?

     

    If you can change the world, those coming after you will never see the world as you saw it, they'll see your leftovers. If you kill Harry the ultimate troll boss who wields The Club of Tremendous Smashing, he'll saty dead, you'll get the club and no one else will be able to meet Harry or take his club.

     

    I sort of think I want to play in that world and take my chances but I'm in a minority I think. The more changeable a world is the more it tends to become an elite club for early adopters...noobs need not apply 3 months after the game is released...

     

    Unless there is a comitment on the part of the devs to continue developing new content just as fast as we consume the old content so that the next guy can meet Harry's other brother Harry who has The Club of Horrible Maiming and this will be every bit as rewarding as what you saw...but in a way, that is just a small distinction from having the original Harry reset for the next player.

     

    Same thing with the concept of building a kingdom and becoming the king. I think we all want avoid seeing the world "reset" for the next guy...it does ruin the credibility of the world. But I also think we all want to be the king who eats the main course and not the serf who gets the leftovers.

    I don't think you have played sandboxes, the content is not quests to kill Harry, the content is interactions between the players, killing a troll is just a task to earn cash or gain resource to fund those interactions.

    Kingdoms rise and fall, the newer players become part of keeping the kingdom intact or toppling it with their own.

    I... think you should re-read his post.

    I have... And my post stands as is.

  • IselinIselin Vancouver, BCPosts: 5,612Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by RefMinor
    Originally posted by Iselin
    Originally posted by Apraxis
    If you can create, modify, interact and destroy persistent objects in a persistent world. And ideally every object would behave like that. But that is of course not possible, or at least rather hard to do. No only the amount of it.

     

    I tend to agree that this is a core concept and it's what often divides the philosophical approach to MMO design: Do you want to give everyone an opportunity to experience all of your content in an egalitarian fashion or is it a first-come-first-served world?

     

    If you can change the world, those coming after you will never see the world as you saw it, they'll see your leftovers. If you kill Harry the ultimate troll boss who wields The Club of Tremendous Smashing, he'll saty dead, you'll get the club and no one else will be able to meet Harry or take his club.

     

    I sort of think I want to play in that world and take my chances but I'm in a minority I think. The more changeable a world is the more it tends to become an elite club for early adopters...noobs need not apply 3 months after the game is released...

     

    Unless there is a comitment on the part of the devs to continue developing new content just as fast as we consume the old content so that the next guy can meet Harry's other brother Harry who has The Club of Horrible Maiming and this will be every bit as rewarding as what you saw...but in a way, that is just a small distinction from having the original Harry reset for the next player.

     

    Same thing with the concept of building a kingdom and becoming the king. I think we all want avoid seeing the world "reset" for the next guy...it does ruin the credibility of the world. But I also think we all want to be the king who eats the main course and not the serf who gets the leftovers.

    I don't think you have played sandboxes, the content is not quests to kill Harry, the content is interactions between the players, killing a troll is just a task to earn cash or gain resource to fund those interactions.

    Kingdoms rise and fall, the newer players become part of keeping the kingdom intact or toppling it with their own.

    You're missing the point. It's not about questing. Harry and his club is just a simple example. Substitute that for building your castle in the best castle-building site or being the first to find "the item of ultimate rareness" or the first to discover the conveniently-located mine with buckets of gold...whatever. If the guy that comes behind you can't do the same thing you just did, you have a huge advantage by getting there first.

     

    Yeah it's all about interactions between the players... and the ones who got there first have the upper hand. It ain't exactly an even playing field when people start at different times. I'm assuming you have ffa PVP with full realistic looting in your ideal sandbox... give me a one week headstart and then come take my stuff. It should be fun.

     

     

  • BeefMach1neBeefMach1ne Florissant, MOPosts: 32Member

    Man if I see one more person say sandbox = FFA PVP + Full loot etc. I'm gonna go insane ( not really but, cmon already!)

    There is a way to make a sandbox for the carebears too! You guys can be safe and cuddle with your items at night and it can still be sandbox!

    I'd like to see a game without NPC's at all..  Or more realistic dynamic NPC's  to fill in until players  take over.   That means.. all shops , banks, trade posts, auction house, quests , etc.  will be handeled by players.  

     

    So the crafter says "Wow I need like 20 dragons teeth so I can craft this sword of dragon's flame, Well let me create a quest for it".   The "Hunter" looks on the town quest board and sees the crafters quest... the reward looks very good.. he takes the contract and now he is the only one( or his guild / group which he can choose to split the rewards with) who can complete it unless the contract is broken. 

     

    Quest's will become meaningful... ( You actually are helping someone else out in the game world. Making a real impact depending on the nature of the quest quest as well).

     

    Crafters don't just make litttle trinkets. They supply the fighters with all the gear that they need to do  in battle ( no npc shops remember) Gone will be the days of equipment dropping instead materials drop and you have to hand them over to a crafter to get that sword made.  Crafters can specialize in different areas ( think  Architects , metal workers, wood workers etc).

    Become well known in a certain player created town? Have you been helpful to many people? Maybe they get together and craft a statue in your image and erect it in the heart of the town? 

     

    None of this cool sandbox stuff requires PVP, Full loot, or any of the other stuff people cry about when they hear the word sandbox. 

     

  • OnomasOnomas Rock Hill, SCPosts: 1,128Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by BeefMach1ne

    Man if I see one more person say sandbox = FFA PVP + Full loot etc. I'm gonna go insane ( not really but, cmon already!)

    There is a way to make a sandbox for the carebears too! You guys can be safe and cuddle with your items at night and it can still be sandbox!

    I'd like to see a game without NPC's at all..  Or more realistic dynamic NPC's  to fill in until players  take over.   That means.. all shops , banks, trade posts, auction house, quests , etc.  will be handeled by players.  

     

    So the crafter says "Wow I need like 20 dragons teeth so I can craft this sword of dragon's flame, Well let me create a quest for it".   The "Hunter" looks on the town quest board and sees the crafters quest... the reward looks very good.. he takes the contract and now he is the only one( or his guild / group which he can choose to split the rewards with) who can complete it unless the contract is broken. 

     

    Quest's will become meaningful... ( You actually are helping someone else out in the game world. Making a real impact depending on the nature of the quest quest as well).

     

    Crafters don't just make litttle trinkets. They supply the fighters with all the gear that they need to do  in battle ( no npc shops remember) Gone will be the days of equipment dropping instead materials drop and you have to hand them over to a crafter to get that sword made.  Crafters can specialize in different areas ( think  Architects , metal workers, wood workers etc).

    Become well known in a certain player created town? Have you been helpful to many people? Maybe they get together and craft a statue in your image and erect it in the heart of the town? 

     

    None of this cool sandbox stuff requires PVP, Full loot, or any of the other stuff people cry about when they hear the word sandbox. 

     

    THis is what ive been telling the masses of misinformed for years lol. Stupid misconceptions by people that have no clue is what harms sandboxes. Well that and the kiddies want console rpg's as mmo's :/

    Many sandbox games i have played i never needed or was forced into pvp. Only by choice, the true meaning of sandbox - freedom, choice, social, and enjoyment. Dont see why so many are against a true sandbox, unless they have no clue what it is and heard sandboxes are only ffa full loot pvp all the time.

  • IselinIselin Vancouver, BCPosts: 5,612Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Onomas
    Originally posted by BeefMach1ne

    Man if I see one more person say sandbox = FFA PVP + Full loot etc. I'm gonna go insane ( not really but, cmon already!)

    There is a way to make a sandbox for the carebears too! You guys can be safe and cuddle with your items at night and it can still be sandbox!

    I'd like to see a game without NPC's at all..  Or more realistic dynamic NPC's  to fill in until players  take over.   That means.. all shops , banks, trade posts, auction house, quests , etc.  will be handeled by players.  

     

    So the crafter says "Wow I need like 20 dragons teeth so I can craft this sword of dragon's flame, Well let me create a quest for it".   The "Hunter" looks on the town quest board and sees the crafters quest... the reward looks very good.. he takes the contract and now he is the only one( or his guild / group which he can choose to split the rewards with) who can complete it unless the contract is broken. 

     

    Quest's will become meaningful... ( You actually are helping someone else out in the game world. Making a real impact depending on the nature of the quest quest as well).

     

    Crafters don't just make litttle trinkets. They supply the fighters with all the gear that they need to do  in battle ( no npc shops remember) Gone will be the days of equipment dropping instead materials drop and you have to hand them over to a crafter to get that sword made.  Crafters can specialize in different areas ( think  Architects , metal workers, wood workers etc).

    Become well known in a certain player created town? Have you been helpful to many people? Maybe they get together and craft a statue in your image and erect it in the heart of the town? 

     

    None of this cool sandbox stuff requires PVP, Full loot, or any of the other stuff people cry about when they hear the word sandbox. 

     

    ...the true meaning of sandbox - freedom, choice, social, and enjoyment. Dont see why so many are against a true sandbox, unless they have no clue what it is and heard sandboxes are only ffa full loot pvp all the time.

    You forgot happiness, world peace and the end of global warming. The problem is that neither you nor I nor any one else has the same exact definition of "sandbox." Everyone sprinkles the definition with their own favorite features and deletes the ones they don't want.

     

    For example, mine must include ffa PvP because it's my choice to have the freedom to gank you and that is how I and my guild mates socialize... and we enjoy it...I'm only exagerating a little bit but maybe you get my point?

     

    FFA PVP MMOs may not be a requirement for a game to be certified "sandbox" (or is it annointed? I forget) but they certainly have more freedom of action possible. The ones with sheltered no PVP areas or "flagging"... or other artificial prohibited actions or restricted zones, are the ones that are more limiting, i.e. less open, more "on rails" less sandboxy... or do you want to dispute that point too? image

     

    There is no "true defintiion" of sandbox that I buy as the last word on the subject. I just see a lot of would be game designers imposing their ideal ruleset and calling it "sandbox."

     

    Ideally a sandbox MMO just gives us a simulation of a (fantasy, scifi, western... wahetver) world that is so complex, complete and well thought out, that it will respond realisticaly to what we choose to do in there. Interesting things would happen there not because they're pre-conceived but through "emergent gameplay" as a consequence of our interaction with the realistic simulator... or so we hope. It's just as likely that a lot of boring stuff would happen instead.

     

    This is the Holy Grail of MMOs but people love to throw the term around as if it had already happened in their favorite MMO...it hasn't. Some MMOs are more open ended than others but none of them has ever been a "true sandbox"... not by my definition anyways. No one is that good at simulating a complex world... yet.

  • jpnzjpnz SydneyPosts: 3,529Member
    Originally posted by Iselin
     

    /snip

    This is the Holy Grail of MMOs but people love to throw the term around as if it had already happened in their favorite MMO...it hasn't. Some MMOs are more open ended than others but none of them has ever been a "true sandbox"... not by my definition anyways. No one is that good at simulating a complex world... yet.

    This post is amusing as it shows how game developers have no issue on the word 'sandbox' while the rest of the gaming culture does.

    From a game-dev point of view, 'sandbox' means a way of thinking. This is why 'sandbox features' does not make sense to them.

    Marketing / PR have used the word 'sandbox' and 'open-world' together and tried to merge them, but from a game design point of view, there is a clear definiton on both words and they are different to each other.

    Gdemami -
    Informing people about your thoughts and impressions is not a review, it's a blog.

  • CalerxesCalerxes LondonPosts: 1,630Member Uncommon

    I agree with the idea that many an MMO fan doesn't really understand the terms Themepark and Sandbox in their purest terms, most MMO fans who are tired of modern MMO's want open world, complex systems (interdependency, control over portions of the world, more freedom etc..) deep gameplay, which is not the preserve of the Sandbox but just game systems that can be applied to any MMORPG. If you move to far towards the extremes the pure end of these two concepts you start to lose the modern disgruntled MMO player. Pure Sandboxes are just games with tools to create what you want ie Wurm, Minecraft, Xsyon how far they succeed in allowing you to do anything and everything is how close they get to being pure sanboxes. Pure Themeparks are obviously the complete opposite of that and have a highly guided, restrictive gameplay experience that is finite as there are no systems to facillitate the freedom & complexity needed to make these games have longevity like Sandboxes, these games are of course the big budget MMO's we see today WOW (WOTLK era onwards), SW:TOR, GW2 etc.. 

     

    What is needed is a mixture of both and the closest I think to this is Vanguard, it has deep complex systems in adventuring, Diplomacy, Crafting, Faction systems, freedom to basically go where you want, a huge world to play in, interesting lore and stories, boat/ship building, Housing, old school rpg stat progression, and they had other things that never made it into the game like Guild warfare and Guild towns so you could own a piece of Telon. This is a massive amount of systems and content, no wonder it was nowhere near complete at launch but it has longevity, freedom and complexity that modern Themeparks lack but doesn't fall into the trap of feeling like a world simulation and having FFA PVP, its still a game at its heart but doesn't remind you of that at every step. You can immerse yourself in the world because you don't know whats around the next corner, its has dangers and feels like an adventure when you log in, the posibilities though not endless are far off in the distance.

     

    So for me its about building a world that allows a good sense of freedom to be who you want and where you go without guiding you at every turn, systems that allow freedom as in graded crafting like SWG & Vanguard & viable alternatives to combat, interderpendency to facilliate good social bonds, original systems like Creature Handling/Taming, Diplomacy, collections, housing, freedom to customise you character in looks, skills and stats, at its heart it is about multiple ways to grow you character rather than a treadmill of combat and gear (cosmetic or stat lead). Some of these things are easy to implement like collections, creature taming & pet systems but add a layer of immersion and longevity to a game. Though the underlying thing for me its has to be set in a believable world with lore and stories, facilitated by quests, tasks and jobs, to be discovered and made by its inhabitants.

     

    None of what I have said is exclusive to Sandbox or Themepark its just a slinding scale as how far you go one way or the other, Sandpark or Themebox as you will. At the end of the day many disgruntled MMO'ers IMO just want a world full of freedom, longevity & possiblity with the sense of not knowing whats a head of them, in modern AAA MMO's this is not happening its all predictable and shortlived.

    This doom and gloom thread was brought to you by Chin Up™ the new ultra high caffeine soft drink for gamers who just need that boost of happiness after a long forum session.

  • IcewhiteIcewhite Elmhurst, ILPosts: 6,403Member
    Originally posted by jpnz

    This post is amusing as it shows how game developers have no issue on the word 'sandbox' while the rest of the gaming culture does.

    From a game-dev point of view, 'sandbox' means a way of thinking. This is why 'sandbox features' does not make sense to them.

    Marketing / PR have used the word 'sandbox' and 'open-world' together and tried to merge them, but from a game design point of view, there is a clear definiton on both words and they are different to each other.

    Well, to be fair, game developers don't have time for the type of sophistry and pedantry we routinely waste our time doing.

    After all, we're mmo players, on a forum...free time is what we're best at burning, as that combination implies.  Finely splitting every hair to molecular thickness :)

    Self-pity imprisons us in the walls of our own self-absorption. The whole world shrinks down to the size of our problem, and the more we dwell on it, the smaller we are and the larger the problem seems to grow.

  • SamraeSamrae Grand Rapids, MIPosts: 5Member

    Have you guys seen Pathfinder Online (PFO) from Goblinworks?   Little surprised it hasn't come up in the forums.

     

  • LoktofeitLoktofeit Stone Mountain, GAPosts: 13,666Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by jpnz

    From a game-dev point of view, 'sandbox' means a way of thinking. This is why 'sandbox features' does not make sense to them.

    Can you link to where you are getting that from? I don't think I've met a single dev that fits that description. Is this an assumption stated as fact, or did you actually read that somewhere? If so, please share it.

    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

  • IselinIselin Vancouver, BCPosts: 5,612Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by jpnz
    Originally posted by Iselin
     

    /snip

    This is the Holy Grail of MMOs but people love to throw the term around as if it had already happened in their favorite MMO...it hasn't. Some MMOs are more open ended than others but none of them has ever been a "true sandbox"... not by my definition anyways. No one is that good at simulating a complex world... yet.

    This post is amusing as it shows how game developers have no issue on the word 'sandbox' while the rest of the gaming culture does.

    From a game-dev point of view, 'sandbox' means a way of thinking. This is why 'sandbox features' does not make sense to them.

    Marketing / PR have used the word 'sandbox' and 'open-world' together and tried to merge them, but from a game design point of view, there is a clear definiton on both words and they are different to each other.

    By "developer" do you mean Smedley and his attempt to grab attention for EQ Next by using the "S" word? Yeah, savvy marketters know that in our community discussions sandbox = good and themepark = bad...so they say... stuff.

  • IselinIselin Vancouver, BCPosts: 5,612Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Calerxes

    None of what I have said is exclusive to Sandbox or Themepark its just a slinding scale as how far you go one way or the other, Sandpark or Themebox as you will. At the end of the day many disgruntled MMO'ers IMO just want a world full of freedom, longevity & possiblity with the sense of not knowing whats a head of them, in modern AAA MMO's this is not happening its all predictable and shortlived.

    I agree with you. If we discard the semantics and just think of enjoyable MMOs worth playing many hours in, we usually think of games with a mixture of the two flavours--with our own personal likes and dislikes thrown in but the games at either extreme tend to be not so fun.

     

    I played Vanguard too and was equally impressed--the diplomacy thing alone was a great innovation--but then I was seduced a few months after that by a very themeparky MMO with lore that I found irresistible: LOTRO. I ain't proud of that image

     

    Vanguard was the more creative of the two by a country mile but I only played it for about 3 months and stayed in LOTRO for 2 years. But then I've also been known to wear socks with sandals on occasion.

     

    Some of the artificial constraints placed on MMOs--e.g. no ffa PVP with full looting are in fact, better than the opposite. Being camped and ganked repeatedly by much better equipped and trained (higher level or whatever) players while you try to mine is just annoying. Only the most extreme, niche MMOs will allow it.

     

    Prohibitting that can be characterized as sliding toward themeparkyness, as I did above to make a point, but it's also a restriction that produces a more enjoyable game.

     

    While I wait for that relalistic, complex, world simulator with cutting edge graphics (where I'll be a dragon riding sorcerer / banker) that will, somehow, also have a great storyline and lore, I enjoy playing MMOs with a good, well-thought out mixture of sandbox and themepark elements that turn my crank.

  • BeefMach1neBeefMach1ne Florissant, MOPosts: 32Member
    Originally posted by Quizzical
    Originally posted by BeefMach1ne

    Not so sure about the "most game programmers just can't do it" mentality.  EVE isn't exactly the most complex game in the world....  Most of the complexity comes from the well thought out mechanics and systems they put in place but after that it's mostly just graphical spaceship spreedsheets.

    But well thought-out complex mechanics and systems are hard.  They're the second type of hard from my original post.

    What actually got me thinking about this was not sandboxes but tessellation.  Just over three years ago, DirectX 11 launched and brought hardware tessellation capabilities to games.  At the time, I thought that tessellation was going to be a huge deal.  Rather than having fixed models of characters, you can have low polygon base models that look fine from far away, and use tessellation to break them up into high polygon models up close that still look smooth.  And you can have a huge number of interpolated models, without having an obvious jump when the game switches from one model to another, as games that try to have two or three models for something commonly do.

     

    It takes awhile for new technologies and systems to be used in current development cycles.  I am a developer but not for video games so I won't pretend to understand the all the math required for this. But it does sound like that no one really understands the true benefit of it. To me it sounds like you are expecting to get performance gain when many models are on screen or at different distances by switching the models  to ones with lower or higher  polygon counts(depending on distance).

    I have to wonder if it is really necessary though.. sounds like a cool edgecase feature if you want a game that is really pushing the boundaries of a system and you want to squeeze as many models in as possible.  But computer systems get more powerful everyday... so that takes care of that issue for the most part ( except for consoles where this might be necessary)  So diffculty in implementing this will slow down production  and all for a performance boost that isn't really necessary anyway... 

     

  • BeefMach1neBeefMach1ne Florissant, MOPosts: 32Member
    Originally posted by Iselin
    Originally posted by Onomas
    Originally posted by BeefMach1ne

    Man if I see one more person say sandbox = FFA PVP + Full loot etc. I'm gonna go insane ( not really but, cmon already!)

    There is a way to make a sandbox for the carebears too! You guys can be safe and cuddle with your items at night and it can still be sandbox!

    I'd like to see a game without NPC's at all..  Or more realistic dynamic NPC's  to fill in until players  take over.   That means.. all shops , banks, trade posts, auction house, quests , etc.  will be handeled by players.  

     

    So the crafter says "Wow I need like 20 dragons teeth so I can craft this sword of dragon's flame, Well let me create a quest for it".   The "Hunter" looks on the town quest board and sees the crafters quest... the reward looks very good.. he takes the contract and now he is the only one( or his guild / group which he can choose to split the rewards with) who can complete it unless the contract is broken. 

     

    Quest's will become meaningful... ( You actually are helping someone else out in the game world. Making a real impact depending on the nature of the quest quest as well).

     

    Crafters don't just make litttle trinkets. They supply the fighters with all the gear that they need to do  in battle ( no npc shops remember) Gone will be the days of equipment dropping instead materials drop and you have to hand them over to a crafter to get that sword made.  Crafters can specialize in different areas ( think  Architects , metal workers, wood workers etc).

    Become well known in a certain player created town? Have you been helpful to many people? Maybe they get together and craft a statue in your image and erect it in the heart of the town? 

     

    None of this cool sandbox stuff requires PVP, Full loot, or any of the other stuff people cry about when they hear the word sandbox. 

     

    ...the true meaning of sandbox - freedom, choice, social, and enjoyment. Dont see why so many are against a true sandbox, unless they have no clue what it is and heard sandboxes are only ffa full loot pvp all the time.

    You forgot happiness, world peace and the end of global warming. The problem is that neither you nor I nor any one else has the same exact definition of "sandbox." Everyone sprinkles the definition with their own favorite features and deletes the ones they don't want.

     

     

    Actually I'm from the school of thought that thinks like you do I prefer PVP , Full loot the whole nine. But I was just saying that sandbox doesn't have to be a scary word for the carebears ( the majority ) and if a game is going to be successful it does have to somewhat cater to them otherwise it just won't have the numbers and will be a very small niche game ( nothing wrong with that but most studios don't shoot for that these days).

     Even a game considered niche like EVE online still has non sandbox features in about 10% of the game so that  carebears can live happily in the high sec space while the more adventurous  types can go out and experience 90% of the game but at a risk of course. 

     

    Also you are correct and sandbox is what you make of it.  I remember on some FFA pvp servers I've played in the past you had guilds that protected the noobs from greifers and acted as guards in places where there were none.  Effectively a "safe-zone" in a sandbox. 

  • YamotaYamota LondonPosts: 6,620Member

    I get the sense that the OP does not know what is behind making an MMORPG. It is a very complex piece of software which requires many experienced developers, from UI developers to physics engine developers. Then you need testers, 3D graphic artists and so on.

    All of this costs money, alot of money, so a small budget wont be able to afford that and then you get expected end results such as Darkfall and Mortal Online. MMORPG development is not an art project where you can just have a good idea and talent, you need money to hire people to implement that as well.

    That being said, I do agree that a ThemePark requires more money because the difference between a ThemePark and sandbox is that the developer has to develop tons of content for a ThemePark where as in a sandbox a developer creates a world for the players to create the content. However to create that world, which works well, is so much tougher than a developer created content so I dont see a sandbox costing much less than a ThemePark to developer, unless you hire a bunch of voice actors and such.

  • IselinIselin Vancouver, BCPosts: 5,612Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by BeefMach1ne
    Also you are correct and sandbox is what you make of it.  I remember on some FFA pvp servers I've played in the past you had guilds that protected the noobs from greifers and acted as guards in places where there were none.  Effectively a "safe-zone" in a sandbox. 

    Yeah that's very cool when that happens.

     

    Of all bloody places, I saw that also in WOW.

     

    I played on an RP PVP server (Emerald Dream) on the Alliance side. There was this one fairly large guild that used to protect the area around Menethil Harbour. They added some authenticity and extra fun to that area since both the Alliance and Horde knew Menethil was a good place to go find some PVP. My own guild had a "quick response" team to do something similar but we went wherever we were needed.

  • QuizzicalQuizzical Posts: 14,783Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Apraxis
    Originally posted by Quizzical
    Originally posted by Apraxis

    But because a good procedural world generation is a project on its own, a lot of sandboxes handcraft their world, and that is also a lot of first type hard work, and not just the world, the inhabitants, the cities, the landscape in general and almost everything, what is in your world, and with what you can toy around. With other words, all the animation, graphic, art, sound everything not programmed is the first type of  work.. and there is a lot of it. Ok, if you cut a lot of it out, you get what i said before a empty world.

    A sandbox isn't just a theme park without quests.

    Well.. that is true. But a mmorpg with quests is not a sandbox, just because it have quests. Quests could be in a sandbox, they could even made sandboxlike. The same is more or less true for anything else.

    My point is, that you have to deliver a full fleshed out world for a AAA mmorpg. With nations, history and story, sandbox or themepark.. and it doesnt have to do with it.

    See it as that. Think about a full world. Where everything would work and evolve even without player(simulation). Nations would wage war. Merchants would trade. Craftsmen would produce stuff and so on. Now make it sandbox. With other words that all elements, or almost all elements are creatable, modifyable, interactable and destroyable. And then let the players in. And the player can now change the world, take the position of any npc, can create a new nation, destroy the old one or what ever they want to do.

    Is that a sandbox or not? Of course, it is.

    But, for being a game, and not just a sandbox it is better to have a very detailed world. This will the sandbox not stop to be a sandbox, as long as you can change everything in it. But it will become a better game.

    And after all, we are talking about sandbox mmorpgs.. with other words sandbox games, and not about Second Life.

    The idea about features solely useable for themeparks and sandboxes is ridiculous. Because it is not so much the features which defines something, it is much more how you implement said feature in the world. If this feature can exist in a sandbox world(with other words with changable content) it will fit in very well.

    As i said somewhere else, what for me defines a sandbox is

    If you can create, modify, interact and destroy persistent objects in a persistent world. And ideally every object would behave like that. But that is of course not possible, or at least rather hard to do. No only the amount of it.

    Back to Quests. As example. In some country/city a lot of trees got over the last weeks/month harvested and the landscape becomes to get barren. The npc major(could be a player too) then handles out the Quest, to plant trees and recultivate the landscape. If there are enough trees again around, the quest will disappear.

    Or

    A wandering ork tribe gets bigger and bigger and attacks different nearby towns. Would it not be rather logically that the lord of the land would hand out a Quest to hund down those orks and protect the nearby towns? After the ork tribe is vanished or banished the quest will disappear.

    And so on... there is a lot of things possible in a sandbox mmorpg. And its not about a feature called Quest, it is about how you will implement it. At the same time could be those Quests be created by players for some requests they have to handle. The Quests in itself could be able to be created, modified, interacted and destroyed, to come back to my sandbox definition.

    It is rather simple to deliver a empty world, deliver a few sandbox tools, and say the player.. come on, play with it. But that does not make necessarily a good game.

    The term for that isn't "sandbox", "themepark", "AAA", "indie", or any other term commonly used to describe games that actually exist.  Perhaps a better term would be "impractical".  Guild Wars 2 is probably about as close as is practical to get to what you're after, and I wouldn't think of that as a sandbox.

    The basic question is how to keep players interested for an extended period of time.  The typical theme park answer is that they'll throw so much content at you that, even if no particular piece of content keeps you busy for very long, there's so much of it that it will take weeks or months to get through it all.  Well, not all theme parks do that; some try to say "you'll need to do massive amounts of grinding for every little bit of content", but those are bad games.

    The typical sandbox answer is that they won't have massive amounts of content, but the content that they do have will be complex and have a lot of depth to it.  If a little bit of content goes a long way, then modest amounts of content can keep a player interested for a long time.

    What you're asking for is theme park brute force quantities of sandbox complexity.  Rather than needing either a large number of decent programmers or a small number of really good ones, you'd need a very large number of exceptionally good ones.  The reasons why that's not likely to happen in the real world should be obvious.

  • YakkinYakkin irvine, CAPosts: 919Member
    Originally posted by Quizzical

    The term for that isn't "sandbox", "themepark", "AAA", "indie", or any other term commonly used to describe games that actually exist.  Perhaps a better term would be "impractical".  Guild Wars 2 is probably about as close as is practical to get to what you're after, and I wouldn't think of that as a sandbox.

    The basic question is how to keep players interested for an extended period of time.  The typical theme park answer is that they'll throw so much content at you that, even if no particular piece of content keeps you busy for very long, there's so much of it that it will take weeks or months to get through it all.  Well, not all theme parks do that; some try to say "you'll need to do massive amounts of grinding for every little bit of content", but those are bad games.

    The typical sandbox answer is that they won't have massive amounts of content, but the content that they do have will be complex and have a lot of depth to it.  If a little bit of content goes a long way, then modest amounts of content can keep a player interested for a long time.

    What you're asking for is theme park brute force quantities of sandbox complexity.  Rather than needing either a large number of decent programmers or a small number of really good ones, you'd need a very large number of exceptionally good ones.  The reasons why that's not likely to happen in the real world should be obvious.

    Methinks the answer is to encourage devs to create well designed, but SMALL, MMOs that focus on several important features, and then expand outwards once they have an established base, rather than start out with a huge Triple A MMO that aims at catching everyone at once, and floundering as people find out that the game doesn't do any particular group of features very well, and start leaving.

    Unfortunately, considering the massive number of people I've seen on this forum clamoring for a Triple A Sandbox and expecting the game to be an instant hit, I think patience is the one thing no MMO player, regardless of their tastes, has anymore.

  • QuizzicalQuizzical Posts: 14,783Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by BeefMach1ne
    Originally posted by Quizzical
    Originally posted by BeefMach1ne

    Not so sure about the "most game programmers just can't do it" mentality.  EVE isn't exactly the most complex game in the world....  Most of the complexity comes from the well thought out mechanics and systems they put in place but after that it's mostly just graphical spaceship spreedsheets.

    But well thought-out complex mechanics and systems are hard.  They're the second type of hard from my original post.

    What actually got me thinking about this was not sandboxes but tessellation.  Just over three years ago, DirectX 11 launched and brought hardware tessellation capabilities to games.  At the time, I thought that tessellation was going to be a huge deal.  Rather than having fixed models of characters, you can have low polygon base models that look fine from far away, and use tessellation to break them up into high polygon models up close that still look smooth.  And you can have a huge number of interpolated models, without having an obvious jump when the game switches from one model to another, as games that try to have two or three models for something commonly do.

     

    It takes awhile for new technologies and systems to be used in current development cycles.  I am a developer but not for video games so I won't pretend to understand the all the math required for this. But it does sound like that no one really understands the true benefit of it. To me it sounds like you are expecting to get performance gain when many models are on screen or at different distances by switching the models  to ones with lower or higher  polygon counts(depending on distance).

    I have to wonder if it is really necessary though.. sounds like a cool edgecase feature if you want a game that is really pushing the boundaries of a system and you want to squeeze as many models in as possible.  But computer systems get more powerful everyday... so that takes care of that issue for the most part ( except for consoles where this might be necessary)  So diffculty in implementing this will slow down production  and all for a performance boost that isn't really necessary anyway... 

    Tessellation is the big headline feature of DirectX 11.  Everything else that DirectX 11 offers and DirectX 10 didn't is just minor tinkering around the edges.  If you're not going to make extensive use of tessellation, then there's not that much of a point in using DirectX 11 at all.

    And it's a huge deal.  Tessellation is arguably the biggest shift in computer graphics since the shift from 2D to 3D.  You could argue for programmable shaders being more important, but I'd argue that the most important thing you can do with programmable shaders is tessellation.

    It's not just another new feature.  It's a major paradigm shift.  Traditionally, you had to tell the computer where every single vertex of every single model goes.  If you want to animate it, you have to tell it what to do for every single vertex of every single frame of animation.

    Tessellation says you don't have to do that.  If you want to draw a sphere, you don't have to manually break it into a bunch of vertices and tell the computer where each vertex goes.  You write some shaders that tell the computer how to draw a sphere, and then after that, you can just tell it to draw a sphere and it will do it.  You still have to tell it where the sphere goes and how it's oriented, but it's much easier to do that once than to have to do it separately for every single vertex of the sphere.

    And furthermore, the video card can draw a sphere and make it look like a sphere.  The video card needs explicit vertex locations because that's how rasterization works, but tessellation lets the video card figure out where the vertices should go on its own.  The video card can have not just one low polygon model and one high polygon model, but hundreds of different models that it comes up with on its own.  A surface that "should" appear smooth will appear smooth, no matter how far you zoom in.  And the transition from one model to another happens invisibly, so the surface looks solid and smooth as you zoom in and out and the video card is constantly switching from one model to another.

    I haven't done this yet, but I'm pretty sure that tessellation will make animation vastly easier, too.  Rather than having to figure out what to do with every single vertex of every single model, you can break a model into a smaller number of rigid surfaces and only have to keep track of what happens to each surface.  That could easily reduce the amount of stuff that you have to track by an order of magnitude.

    Here, let me give you two pictures.  First, a high tessellation one:

    image

    And then a low tessellation one:

    image

    You can click on the picture to see it much larger.

    The latter is low enough tessellation that that the jump from one model to the next is obvious and looks bad.  But the only reason to set the tessellation degree that low is for testing purposes.  Even on my AMD E-350-based laptop/netbook with Radeon HD 6310 integrated graphics, the sensible thing to do is to turn the tessellation degree a lot higher, as even low end integrated graphics has plenty of power to handle it.

    They're basically the same scene.  The door frames were a pain, because I had to specify exactly where everything went.  The walls and ceiling were pretty easy, though.  The walls are cylinders and the ceilings are cones.  There's actually two separate cylinders for the walls, so that it can be a different color on the inside from the outside.  The ceilings do the same thing, though you can't see the indoor ceiling.  But to draw a cylinder, I just have to tell it where to place it (x, y, z coordinates of the center), how to orient it (a single 3 x 3 orthogonal matrix), how big to make the cylinder (x, y, z axes), which side the door goes on, how wide the door is, and some texture and lighting information.  A cone is simpler, as it's basically the same thing except that I skip the door.

    And from that little bit of information, the video card can generate hundreds of vertex models to make it look perfectly smooth up close without bringing much of a performance hit when it's far away.

  • QuizzicalQuizzical Posts: 14,783Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Yamota

    I get the sense that the OP does not know what is behind making an MMORPG. It is a very complex piece of software which requires many experienced developers, from UI developers to physics engine developers. Then you need testers, 3D graphic artists and so on.

    All of this costs money, alot of money, so a small budget wont be able to afford that and then you get expected end results such as Darkfall and Mortal Online. MMORPG development is not an art project where you can just have a good idea and talent, you need money to hire people to implement that as well.

    That being said, I do agree that a ThemePark requires more money because the difference between a ThemePark and sandbox is that the developer has to develop tons of content for a ThemePark where as in a sandbox a developer creates a world for the players to create the content. However to create that world, which works well, is so much tougher than a developer created content so I dont see a sandbox costing much less than a ThemePark to developer, unless you hire a bunch of voice actors and such.

    UI developers plural?  Physics developers plural?  I think you're the one who doesn't understand what goes into making an MMORPG.  You might have multiple people each spend a little bit of time making various portions of the UI, but if you've got multiple employees who do nothing but work in the UI, you're doing it wrong.

    There are some things that, if you want to make an AAA MMORPG, you hire several employees to work on full time for years.  But there are also some things that you have one person work on for a few hours and then it's done.

    Have you ever tried to program a game?  I have; see my screenshots above.

  • FrodoFraginsFrodoFragins Manchester, NHPosts: 2,928Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Quizzical

    Sandbox games are different.  To make a good sandbox game, you have to have a number of complicated game mechanics that work together in complex ways.  And they need to work together very, very well.  You need for interesting gameplay decisions to arise in very complicated ways--and for players to not have a single way to short-circuit the intended complexity.

    That is the second type of hard discussed above.  Most game programmers can't do it.  They could try, but the game would probably be a train wreck.

    You had me until this load of crap.  I hate to break it to you but architecting and programming sandbox games is not harder for programmers.

  • ozmonoozmono Not tellingPosts: 1,211Member

    It was a well thought out and well presented argument and it seems true. That said I am only going by my gut and I cannot imagine that the general themepark formula will retain it's popularity if faced with competition from better, deeper sandbox games than are currently available. Infact I think themepark games are already becoming more sandboxy. Wow adding the plots of land and farming in MoP is a good indication of this but there are more promising signs.

     

    Now if and when (and my gut tells me that it's only a matter of time) a very popular sandbox game comes along the whole game will change. If someone was faced with the hypothetical question posed in the original post which was a choice between spending big money on a themepark project or a sandbox project and they looked at eve onlines continued success and the trend of failing themepark games the question isn't as easily solved as the op makes out. Now if and when more popular sandbox games come along, sandboxs as answers to the question will be made even easier. In addition to having successful models to make an initial funding bet, having higher quality competition raises the standards required for new projects aswell which means more manhours which can mean bigger budgets. That's what I mean by the whole game will change if and when more popular sandbox games come along and again, I think it's just a matter of time.

  • ozmonoozmono Not tellingPosts: 1,211Member
    Originally posted by FrodoFragins
    Originally posted by Quizzical

    Sandbox games are different.  To make a good sandbox game, you have to have a number of complicated game mechanics that work together in complex ways.  And they need to work together very, very well.  You need for interesting gameplay decisions to arise in very complicated ways--and for players to not have a single way to short-circuit the intended complexity.

    That is the second type of hard discussed above.  Most game programmers can't do it.  They could try, but the game would probably be a train wreck.

    You had me until this load of crap.  I hate to break it to you but architecting and programming sandbox games is not harder for programmers.

    That is a good point although when I look at it I think of singleplayer games. Common sense tells me a themepark game like neverwinter nights would be a hell of alot easier than something like the elder scrolls. Now I'm aware it's not exactly the same thing and I don't know what most programmers can do but based on that reasoning I wouldn't rule it out and certainly wouldn't call it a load of crap.

  • MalcanisMalcanis LondonPosts: 3,191Member
    Originally posted by Iselin
    Originally posted by Apraxis
    If you can create, modify, interact and destroy persistent objects in a persistent world. And ideally every object would behave like that. But that is of course not possible, or at least rather hard to do. No only the amount of it.

     

    I tend to agree that this is a core concept and it's what often divides the philosophical approach to MMO design: Do you want to give everyone an opportunity to experience all of your content in an egalitarian fashion or is it a first-come-first-served world?

     

    If you can change the world, those coming after you will never see the world as you saw it, they'll see your leftovers. If you kill Harry the ultimate troll boss who wields The Club of Tremendous Smashing, he'll saty dead, you'll get the club and no one else will be able to meet Harry or take his club.

     

    I sort of think I want to play in that world and take my chances but I'm in a minority I think. The more changeable a world is the more it tends to become an elite club for early adopters...noobs need not apply 3 months after the game is released...

     

    Unless there is a comitment on the part of the devs to continue developing new content just as fast as we consume the old content so that the next guy can meet Harry's other brother Harry who has The Club of Horrible Maiming and this will be every bit as rewarding as what you saw...but in a way, that is just a small distinction from having the original Harry reset for the next player.

     

    Same thing with the concept of building a kingdom and becoming the king. I think we all want avoid seeing the world "reset" for the next guy...it does ruin the credibility of the world. But I also think we all want to be the king who eats the main course and not the serf who gets the leftovers.

     

    The dishonest idea that "everybody can be the King" is one of the most pernicious effects of the massively instanced themepark games. I constantly run into people in the EVE forum who are futilely raging against the very idea that to be called Ultimate Badass Warrior, they'll actually have to put the time and effort, endure the inevitable losses while learning and actually have the talent to be the Ultimate Badass Warrior.

     

    They're so used to having NPCs suck up to them for killing 10 rats -> boars -> wolves -> bears -> trolls -> demons -> dragons -> lich-kings -> superdoubledragons -> hyperdemons -> fuck knows what, that the idea that they can't achieve Ultimate Badass Warriorhood by smooshing enough sprites leaves them confused, enraged and discouraged. They think it's a problem with EVE that there's no way that they can get an offical "Ultimate Badass Warrior" title, rather than their expectation that they should be told that they're special for killing exactly the same 10 hyperdemons as everyone else.

    Give me liberty or give me lasers

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