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Do Sandboxes Overwhelm You With Choices?

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  • SabasSabas herzelePosts: 197Member
    Originally posted by lizardbones

    Do Sandboxes Overwhelm You?
    To Summarize:
    Sandboxes offer a lot of choice, and often they have very little direction on what to do. Does the lack of direction and number of possible directions to go overwhelm you?

     

    That is a good question indeed.

    For me its never really the amount of choice that poses the problem.

    It comes to pacing and formatting.

    I've come to think that depth shouldn't be an excuse for inaccessibility or poor U.I. design.

    Nor should choice translate into überhardcore more work then game.

     

     

     

  • VengeSunsoarVengeSunsoar Posts: 5,290Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Axehilt

    Nobody who played Glitch would claim the game "overwhelmed" them with choices.  "Empty" and "nothing to do" would be the words they would use.

    You can't create an empty world with nothing to do and expect players to like it just because you slap a "sandbox!" sticker on the box.

    So sandboxes underwhelm me with lack of choice.  I want a game filled with interesting possibilities, and they simply provide some terrain (or star systems) to move through very slowly and whatever tools they provide for me to manipulate that world are typically dull (if not outright tedious.)

    Which isn't to say sandbox is a bad idea.  Just that you have to approach it more like Terraria or ATITD or Puzzle Pirates, where the world is manipulatable and that's what makes it a sandbox, but the moment-to-moment gameplay is enjoyable: it's a game.

    There is no sandbox where choice overwhelms currently.  If you took Terraria and added 20 features which were all available from the beginning of the game, you would have a sandbox where choice is overwhelming.  But too much choice isn't the typical sandbox problem.  The typical sandbox problem is they're empty.  If there's barely any game, there's barely any choice.

     This.  Sandbox idea is great.  In practice there really are very few meaningfull choices.  It comes down to a few tasks repeated thousands of times.  Very few gameplay options.

     

    Quit worrying about other players in a game and just play.

  • TheLizardbonesTheLizardbones Arkham, VAPosts: 10,910Member


    Originally posted by waynejr2
    Originally posted by VengeSunsoar A sandbox should offer a lot of choice, however IMO most offer significantly less choice than themepark. In most sandbox the choices are what to level/train and what to craft/kill.  There may be a lot of crafting but there is very little variety between crafting so the gameplay ends up being the same.  Same with adventuring, lots of things to train, but very little variety between them so you really end up doing the same thing over and over and over again with several different skills. To me that is not really meaningfull choice.  However yes.  In the beginning the lack of direction, not knowing anything about the game, not knowing how well various skills/classes perform can be a bit daunting especially if there is no way to redo/relearn/re-distribute points.  
     Shouldn't a system with free choices allow for the player to choose a gimped build? 

    What about infomation about the game mechanics?  Could that be part of the players exploration of the game or do players need a complete manual spelling it all out...




    If your goal is to give players freedom with the responsibility that comes with it, yes. If your goal is for players to not become discouraged and eventually quit the game because the good choices look just like the bad choices, then further choices that can fix bad choices might be something to consider.

    I can not remember winning or losing a single debate on the internet.

  • DahkohtDahkoht Pelham, ALPosts: 290Member
    Originally posted by nariusseldon
    Originally posted by veritas723

    One of the greatest strengths of a good sandbox MMO  is the freedom to have fun doing nothing,  that's the one choice I always wish a lot of other mmos had.  

    Doing nothing is not fun for me. Given the prevalence of combat centric games, i doubt many would find it fun to do nothing.

     

     

    Minecraft would like a word with you, it's sold a few copies.

    There are tons of folks who like to craft , decorate houses , virtual farm , and so on , a huge sandbox world mmorpg that allows people to do things besides fight is something many , many people would enjoy.

    It's easy to make shoot this games. That's why there are so many.

    It takes effort to give choices that don't involve combat only.

    Nothing wrong with liking combat only , but you are dead wrong about not many would enjoy "doing nothing" , because that was simply the phrase Verit used to represent doing something besides fighting.

     

     

  • Effin_RabbitEffin_Rabbit Pittsburgh, PAPosts: 772Member Uncommon
    Sandboxes dont overwhelm me but most mmos underwhelm me.
  • Punk999Punk999 Baytown, TXPosts: 873Member Uncommon
    At first it can be but once you learn overtime you are happy with so much choice.

    "Negaholics are people who become addicted to negativity and self-doubt, they find fault in most things and never seem to be satisfied."
    ^MMORPG.com

  • PhryPhry HampshirePosts: 6,288Member Uncommon

    Its not that sandbox games like Eve overwhelm players with choices, as such, its just that so many games now are so linear that players are used to having a few choices about their path, but no matter which one, there is a clear path to follow that leads to a set destination, and with very little in the way of variation in the points between them. Players coming to Eve for instance, from World of Warcraft probably think things are very slow in Eve because they think in Eve, that character progression is related to the skills they have, and that everything in the game is trying to kill them, especially other players... which is sort of true, but not really image

    Sandboxes and Themeparks are like wild horses and merry-go-rounds image

  • nariusseldonnariusseldon santa clara, CAPosts: 22,441Member
    Originally posted by Sovrath

    I think it depends on the person and "their reason" for playing in the first place.

    "for me" too much choice is "A-Ok". I don't get option anxiety nor am I compelled to be a completist.

    The more choice the better.

    However, there are people who are wired differently and/or play these games to be entertained and to get a specific type of entertainment experience.

    So, for example, a coworker of mine who is a "gamer" prefers games such as Dishonored or Bio-Shock (among many others) because they are first and foremost games. He wants to be given challenges and he wants to overcome them and then move on.

    A game such as skyrim didn't hold him at all (regardless of the argument of it being sandbox or open world, let's just accept the game doesn't force you down its game play paths) and he only played about 15 minutes after the starter part.

    His comments were that it was too open, too many options and wandering around was to him boring. Even if that meant opening up opportunities or discovering.

    He wants linear game play with challenges, doesn't have to be strictly linear but he wants set paths where he is clear where the next stop is.

    And it's not an intellgence thing. Sometimes I get the sense from the mmo/gamer crowd that if you aren't on board with open "non-handholding" game play then you are a bit "less than".

    There are people out there who are interested in these games as "games". They don't want to explore a world. They don't want many choices. Just give them one choice that is fun that leads to the next choice that is fun.

     

    It is really about what is fun. Exploration is not always fun to everyone. Some (and I) will look upon it as a lot of boring choices. I have no desire to go see another hill, because it is not interesting to me. And even if there is some interesting stuff, i don't want to waste 30 min search for it.

    Scripted story events, like those in Dishonored, OTOH, is interesting and fun. And number of choices has nothing to do with challenge. Play D3 MP10, play Dishonored, or Bioshock on the highest difficulty. They are all challenging, and there is not even a virtual world.

     

  • nariusseldonnariusseldon santa clara, CAPosts: 22,441Member
    Originally posted by Dahkoht
    Originally posted by nariusseldon
    Originally posted by veritas723

    One of the greatest strengths of a good sandbox MMO  is the freedom to have fun doing nothing,  that's the one choice I always wish a lot of other mmos had.  

    Doing nothing is not fun for me. Given the prevalence of combat centric games, i doubt many would find it fun to do nothing.

     

     

    Minecraft would like a word with you, it's sold a few copies.

     

     

    1) Minecraft is not about doing nothing .. it is about building stuff.

    2) Minecraft is not fun for me. Selling a lot of copies has nothing to do with whether it is fun for me. I didn't buy a copy, did i?

  • RobokappRobokapp Dublin, OHPosts: 5,205Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by lizardbones

    Yet another interesting discussion over at Massively.com, but they don't have a forum format for the interactive experience you can get here.

    Do Sandboxes Overwhelm You?

    To Summarize:
    Sandboxes offer a lot of choice, and often they have very little direction on what to do. Does the lack of direction and number of possible directions to go overwhelm you?

    This is a simple question, but I expect the answers aren't so simple.

    If I can think of a good set of poll choices, I'll add a poll. That is assuming we can avoid getting the thread locked by descending into a sandbox vs theme park argument.

    they don't overwhelm with choices but what they MUST do is quickly and briefly inform you of the choices available.

     

    when i started EVE I didn't know learning skills exist. They were exactly what I was looking for but I didn't know about them.

     

    a lot of times I needed a special module. The exact module i wanted exists, I just didn't know what it is, where to find it etc.

     

    choices need some presentation. If i find an afterburner, I need to also be told 'by the way there's also a microwarpdrive, maybe you want that instead??". A new player wouldn't know. the mwd might be better for him but he's not aware it exists.

     

    5 years later when i open the "ship equipment" market tab i dont know what 70% of that stuff is. :)

    image

  • apocolusterapocoluster newport news, VAPosts: 1,321Member Uncommon
       Never had a problem with choices in the sand.  6 years between Eve and Swg. Truth be told though the only choice I make is killin everything in sight. :)

    No matter how cynical you become, its never enough to keep up - Lily Tomlin

  • PhryPhry HampshirePosts: 6,288Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by nariusseldon
    Originally posted by Dahkoht
    Originally posted by nariusseldon
    Originally posted by veritas723

    One of the greatest strengths of a good sandbox MMO  is the freedom to have fun doing nothing,  that's the one choice I always wish a lot of other mmos had.  

    Doing nothing is not fun for me. Given the prevalence of combat centric games, i doubt many would find it fun to do nothing.

     

     

    Minecraft would like a word with you, it's sold a few copies.

     

     

    1) Minecraft is not about doing nothing .. it is about building stuff.

    2) Minecraft is not fun for me. Selling a lot of copies has nothing to do with whether it is fun for me. I didn't buy a copy, did i?

    over 20 million copies aparently, thats kind of impressive for an indie developer working from a garage image

    it is a great sandbox game, and yes, i do have a copy image

  • nariusseldonnariusseldon santa clara, CAPosts: 22,441Member
    Originally posted by Phry
    Originally posted by nariusseldon
    Originally posted by Dahkoht
    Originally posted by nariusseldon
    Originally posted by veritas723

    One of the greatest strengths of a good sandbox MMO  is the freedom to have fun doing nothing,  that's the one choice I always wish a lot of other mmos had.  

    Doing nothing is not fun for me. Given the prevalence of combat centric games, i doubt many would find it fun to do nothing.

     

     

    Minecraft would like a word with you, it's sold a few copies.

     

     

    1) Minecraft is not about doing nothing .. it is about building stuff.

    2) Minecraft is not fun for me. Selling a lot of copies has nothing to do with whether it is fun for me. I didn't buy a copy, did i?

    over 20 million copies aparently, thats kind of impressive for an indie developer working from a garage image

    it is a great sandbox game, and yes, i do have a copy image

    Sure. You like it, i don't. Still didn't change the fact "doing nothing is not fun for me". Minecraft is totally irrelevant to that statement.

  • MindTriggerMindTrigger La Quinta, CAPosts: 2,596Member

    The answer, for me, is NO.  I never felt overwhelemed by choices.  In fact, this is one of the best things about a good sandbox game.  You may not know what you are going to do until after you login and and get swept up in something.  You may log in with an elaborate plan on how you intend to spend your gaming session, but then end up on some totally different random adventure with people you don't even know having one of the best gaming times of your life.  All the while making new friends, and planning to hang out again with them in the future.

    For those of you who haven't played a good sandbox, it's a bit like Skyrim in the sense that you may head off on some side-quest, and not even remotely accomplish what you thought you were going to.  Only the sidequest in a sandbox is a friend calling you for help, or you running into someone you've never met before who wants to join you, or meeting a brand new player and deciding to help them begin their journey, or deciding to go exploring just because, etc.  After a while with SWG, I would just log in and go where the wind blew me.  I rarely had a plan to accomplish, and if I did I always remained open to doing something completely different. 

    One of the best things about Star Wars Galaxies for me was that I had two accounts most of the time. One was my combat toon, and the other was my "whatever I felt like being that month" toon.  Sometimes my alt was a Master Weaponsmith running an elite weapon store, and other times he was chef, a doctor, scientists, explorer, pilot or whatever.

    Sometimes I would play combat only for weeks, and other times I would log in to my alt and experience the world from a completely different perspective for weeks at a time, avoiding combat and enjoying things like crafting and social events.

    It's hard to explain the whole experience in a few paragraphs to someone who has never played a sandbox . The best way to explain it is that you are making your own story, not following a pre-set story that everyone else is following.

    My fondest memories where when I would grab a bunch of food and gear, and go on long walkabouts around the planets.  I had no plan at all, but I knew I would run into people along the way and end up doing all kinds of fun stuff and being pulled into adventures with random strangers.  Sometimes I would just sit by my campfire talking to random strangers who saw the smoke from my fire, and decided to drop in.  I'm sorry, but I have never experienced anything like this in a themepark game over the past eight years, and I miss it dearly.

    A sure sign that you are in an old, dying paradigm/mindset, is when you are scared of new ideas and new technology. Don't feel bad. The world is moving on without you, and you are welcome to yell "Get Off My Lawn!" all you want while it happens. You cannot, however, stop an idea whose time has come.

  • waynejr2waynejr2 West Toluca Lake, CAPosts: 4,469Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Phry
    Originally posted by nariusseldon
    Originally posted by Dahkoht
    Originally posted by nariusseldon
    Originally posted by veritas723

    One of the greatest strengths of a good sandbox MMO  is the freedom to have fun doing nothing,  that's the one choice I always wish a lot of other mmos had.  

    Doing nothing is not fun for me. Given the prevalence of combat centric games, i doubt many would find it fun to do nothing.

     

     

    Minecraft would like a word with you, it's sold a few copies.

     

     

    1) Minecraft is not about doing nothing .. it is about building stuff.

    2) Minecraft is not fun for me. Selling a lot of copies has nothing to do with whether it is fun for me. I didn't buy a copy, did i?

    over 20 million copies aparently, thats kind of impressive for an indie developer working from a garage image

    it is a great sandbox game, and yes, i do have a copy image

     WOW sold a ton of copies.  How would you say that game is based on sales numbers?  Do you apply the same rules?

  • OnomasOnomas Rock Hill, SCPosts: 1,128Member Uncommon

    No thats a silly question. More choices = more options and casual game play. Not being forced to do one thing here or there but take your time and do multiple things. To go off on a mission and decide to take a detore to go explore a mountain pass or a cave, to just stop and start gathering materials and craft on the spot for a passer-by player, to skip your story all together and venture off on your own path and make your own future......................

     

    No, simply no.................. one of the things that bug me about the newer games the most, they take your choice out of the equation just so you can have a 3 week long cool story that dries up and the game dies.

    Who doesnt want more options and choices? Not any real mmorpg gamer, perhaps the fps and console rpg gamers would like less.

  • TsaboHavocTsaboHavoc PinheiralPosts: 351Member
    Originally posted by VengeSunsoar
    Originally posted by Axehilt

    Nobody who played Glitch would claim the game "overwhelmed" them with choices.  "Empty" and "nothing to do" would be the words they would use.

    You can't create an empty world with nothing to do and expect players to like it just because you slap a "sandbox!" sticker on the box.

    So sandboxes underwhelm me with lack of choice.  I want a game filled with interesting possibilities, and they simply provide some terrain (or star systems) to move through very slowly and whatever tools they provide for me to manipulate that world are typically dull (if not outright tedious.)

    Which isn't to say sandbox is a bad idea.  Just that you have to approach it more like Terraria or ATITD or Puzzle Pirates, where the world is manipulatable and that's what makes it a sandbox, but the moment-to-moment gameplay is enjoyable: it's a game.

    There is no sandbox where choice overwhelms currently.  If you took Terraria and added 20 features which were all available from the beginning of the game, you would have a sandbox where choice is overwhelming.  But too much choice isn't the typical sandbox problem.  The typical sandbox problem is they're empty.  If there's barely any game, there's barely any choice.

     This.  Sandbox idea is great.  In practice there really are very few meaningfull choices.  It comes down to a few tasks repeated thousands of times.  Very few gameplay options.

     

    am i the only one seeing the irony here....

     

    u just described a ... them..p..a.. urg..

  • MMOman101MMOman101 Posts: 1,274Member Uncommon

    I have not seen anyone come right out and say it, although many have hinted at it.

    Choice is not the problem.  The problem is context.  Many games have a hard time setting a context.  Choice without context is not fun, for many I would guess.

    SWG had built in context.  It was a well known IP with a lot of lore.  It also had many "theme park" elements. 

    The next big MMO will be a hybrid.  Something that gives multiple layers and options for player progression and packs it all in an enviornment with context.  The game has to be fun too. 

    I have always felt SWG was a hybrid. 

    What would be nice though is if someone would come to conclusion that sandbox does not have to equal PVP and certianly does not have to equal full loot PVP.  So many of the sandbox games out there try yo use PVP as copntext.  The problem is that is not enough, for many gamers.

    Games will need to have mulitple layers of progression in as many different spheres as possible if they want to hold large sub numbers for a very long time.  Giving players many things to do does not have to mean that there is no context.  

  • JaedorJaedor Denver, COPosts: 1,140Member Uncommon


    Originally posted by AlBQuirky
    Kind of...It can be daunting not knowing what a game "allows", what to expect, and not have any real direction. Sometimes, it is nice to have a nice gentle push in a direction to get started.Once the feel of the game is figured out, then the many choices are welcome.Does that makes sense?

    Exactly this.

  • danwest58danwest58 Cincinnati, OHPosts: 974Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by MMOman101

    I have not seen anyone come right out and say it, although many have hinted at it.

    Choice is not the problem.  The problem is context.  Many games have a hard time setting a context.  Choice without context is not fun, for many I would guess.

    SWG had built in context.  It was a well known IP with a lot of lore.  It also had many "theme park" elements. 

    The next big MMO will be a hybrid.  Something that gives multiple layers and options for player progression and packs it all in an enviornment with context.  The game has to be fun too. 

    I have always felt SWG was a hybrid. 

    What would be nice though is if someone would come to conclusion that sandbox does not have to equal PVP and certianly does not have to equal full loot PVP.  So many of the sandbox games out there try yo use PVP as copntext.  The problem is that is not enough, for many gamers.

    Games will need to have mulitple layers of progression in as many different spheres as possible if they want to hold large sub numbers for a very long time.  Giving players many things to do does not have to mean that there is no context.  

    I agree with much of your post.  I also think the key of a sandbox MMO is to show new players what they can do.  Right now a large part of the MMO community has never played a Sandbox MMO.  Many players will be lost when it comes to these games, so it will be on the shoulders of the old school MMO players like myself (I have played UO for 4 years, SWG for 2) that have Sandbox MMO experiance to teach the new players about these games.  

    image

  • DAS1337DAS1337 Parma, OHPosts: 2,404Member
    Originally posted by lizardbones

    Yet another interesting discussion over at Massively.com, but they don't have a forum format for the interactive experience you can get here.

    Do Sandboxes Overwhelm You?

    To Summarize:
    Sandboxes offer a lot of choice, and often they have very little direction on what to do. Does the lack of direction and number of possible directions to go overwhelm you?

    This is a simple question, but I expect the answers aren't so simple.

    If I can think of a good set of poll choices, I'll add a poll. That is assuming we can avoid getting the thread locked by descending into a sandbox vs theme park argument.

    I know overwhelming is different than just not being whelmed at all.  The last time I felt remotely overwhelmed by a sandbox game was Ultima Online.

  • danwest58danwest58 Cincinnati, OHPosts: 974Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by DAS1337
    Originally posted by lizardbones

    Yet another interesting discussion over at Massively.com, but they don't have a forum format for the interactive experience you can get here.

    Do Sandboxes Overwhelm You?

    To Summarize:
    Sandboxes offer a lot of choice, and often they have very little direction on what to do. Does the lack of direction and number of possible directions to go overwhelm you?

    This is a simple question, but I expect the answers aren't so simple.

    If I can think of a good set of poll choices, I'll add a poll. That is assuming we can avoid getting the thread locked by descending into a sandbox vs theme park argument.

    I know overwhelming is different than just not being whelmed at all.  The last time I felt remotely overwhelmed by a sandbox game was Ultima Online.

    I hope in EQNEXT or TITAN they will have sandbox elements like UO did.  I loved Teasure Hunting.  That was something I use to enjoy doing for hours.  Not the type of THunting you go to a rune lib and port to the Tspot but to get on a ship and locate it with a sextant.  lol

    image

  • WakygreekWakygreek UnknownPosts: 1,217Member Uncommon
    I would rather have the choice and not use it then to not have the choice and wish it was there.
  • AlBQuirkyAlBQuirky Sioux City, IAPosts: 3,828Member


    Originally posted by Wakygreek
    I would rather have the choice and not use it then to not have the choice and wish it was there.
    Exactly my thoughts on that! Let *me* decide instead of deciding for me :)

    - Al

    Personally the only modern MMORPG trend that annoys me is the idea that MMOs need to be designed in a way to attract people who don't actually like MMOs. Which to me makes about as much sense as someone trying to figure out a way to get vegetarians to eat at their steakhouse.
    - FARGIN_WAR

  • mmoguy43mmoguy43 , CAPosts: 2,439Member Uncommon

    Often, no, because the choices presented are clear enough that I can understand what they mean and if it is something I would enjoy. However, sometimes such choices have no clear presentation nor a tutorial or willing player to guide me. If I have to go too far out of my way to learn what they mean then the game isn't doing a very good job with those choices.

    There isn't such a thing as too many choices for me but too many bad choices can be viewed as very few good choices. Still though, deciding on a choice that I both like and that works more effectively in a playstyle or is less ideal to present a greater challenge, is it own meta game. Such an example would be the opportunity to create your own character build when choosing from a large list of skills. If 20% of the skills are broken and 60% are clearly not as good as the rest would be a bad use of adding more choices. But that is getting a bit off topic...

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