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[Column] EverQuest Next: Smedley, the Sandbox, and Online Society

SBFordSBFord Associate Editor - News ManagerThe Land of AZPosts: 16,659MMORPG.COM Staff Uncommon

I was planning on writing an article relating to what I’ve been able to do in the game, but a recent blog post by Sony Online Entertainment (SOE) president John Smedley just made me throw out my plans and focus on it. Smedley discussed SOE’s vision of the sandbox, and why the sandbox model of MMORPGs is looking like the way forward for the industry. It’s a great look at why Everquest Next made a shift in its development cycle to become a sandbox MMORPG (or two).

Read more of Victor Barreiro Jr.'s EverQuest Next: Smedley, the Sandbox and Online Society.

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Associate Editor: MMORPG.com
Follow me on Twitter: @MMORPGMom

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Comments

  • bcbullybcbully Westland, MIPosts: 8,284Member Uncommon
    EQN & EQN:L puts the mmorpg ball squarely in SOE's court.
     
  • LobotomistLobotomist ZagrebPosts: 5,063Member Uncommon

    Agreed. For all the hate SOE got. I think Smed learned the lesson.

    And honestly, looking back to SWG debacle. Are we forgetting the SWG was only made because of SOE ? No other company even came close to something like that

    image

  • RocknissRockniss Youngstown, OHPosts: 1,034Member
    I think you will be hard pressed to find anyone that doesn't agree with your write up here Victor or Mr. Smedley with respect to the topic. I feel the mystery of the online world vanishes over a 1 to 2 year period for the vast majority of new comers. Once that magic is gone from the world of mmorp g's biting into a new game gets harder and harder each time, because you feel like you've been there and done that already. I think sandbox tools are getting better and I would agree eqnext and eqnext landmark could very well be the new front runners.
  • orbitxoorbitxo fort lauderdale, FLPosts: 1,411Member Uncommon

    my concern is this-

    yes we are taking part in molding and developing what 'the game' is and becomes...but will this exhuast the player to shift to another game- at a later date...if it takes say as long as FireFall has taken to get built for an example?

    mmos are now beign released at a faster pace per year, and will this be the kind of game one revisits 2  months  per year like WoW?- at least ive done so...

    iam kinda mix about this -but excited on how devoted  players will become to EQNL onward to develop EQN.

    we will see how fast content and devs take inpart in paving the path for players to develop 'the game'

     

     

     

     
  • ArielyAriely gentPosts: 68Member
    Originally posted by bcbully
    EQN & EQN:L puts the mmorpg ball squarely in SOE's court.
     

    untill i can test it for myself i can't agree to that.

  • SpawnbladeSpawnblade Sandy, UTPosts: 203Member
    I still don't understand why SOE, when finally deciding to go full sandbox, thought that stepping away from realism was the answer.  "Let's simplify our combat system, not even hint at PvP, and transform all our formerly-realistic character designs into cartoons!"  Immersion is the biggest ingredient for a successful sandbox, yet they seem to be making decisions that destroy that immersion.
  • TimothyTierlessTimothyTierless Columnist M, ORPosts: 2,163Member Uncommon
    Interested in N and L, more interested in SWG's spiritual successor...
  • SupermassiveSupermassive Phoenix, AZPosts: 8Member

    I've had an idea in my head for a long time about the MMORPG I would create and some of the sentiment Smedley is saying ring true in my mind.  The key is to implement a system that can run Sandbox for pretty much everything, with an underlying story/quest progression mechanic that can be accessed as you the player see fit.  My idea for an MMO also would incorporate massive changes in the game as part of the player interaction.  I basically would like to make the world you play in to be mold-able by player choice.  Make an entire planet that is fully explorable and make it a sphere so you can circumnavigate it.  Create continents...not snow zone, desert zone, creepy forest zone, etc.  Get rid of the quest hub model, it detracts for exploration.  Get rid of maps that uncover themselves in huge chunks, so that people can explore the world to fill in the missing areas of their maps and even sell maps of zones as a cartographer.  Allow true player built cities that can be attacked and defended.  Use voxel tech to allow for completely custom buildings and cities, but throw some preformed options in there for the less creative. 

    I could go on and on and on about all the systems i would like to see in an MMO, and honestly if i could ever convince a team to take up my ideas, it would shatter the preconceptions of what an MMO can be...but would also probably shatter current servers under the amount of information that would need to be available.  The tech will eventually catch up to what i would like to see, but at this point I think we will see a bunch of good games until such time that ideas like mine could become a possibility.  

  • SephastusSephastus New Brunswick, NJPosts: 448Member Uncommon

    Supermassive. There is a big wide gorge between ideas and implementation, and while your ideas are great, the problem is technology hasn't advanced to those points. What you mention is an extremely cpu/gpu/ram intensive system that just could not be sustained by current technology.

     

    Hopefully once quantum computing takes off though...

  • bcbullybcbully Westland, MIPosts: 8,284Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Spawnblade
    I still don't understand why SOE, when finally deciding to go full sandbox, thought that stepping away from realism was the answer.  "Let's simplify our combat system, not even hint at PvP, and transform all our formerly-realistic character designs into cartoons!"  Immersion is the biggest ingredient for a successful sandbox, yet they seem to be making decisions that destroy that immersion.

    There's been quite a bit of pvp talk when concerning Landmark (EQN has to be built from Landmark). Well quite a bit from the community along with quotes from Smed like -

    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    A twitter talking about Smedley's blog about sandbox games and he talks about EVE online quit a bit. It looks like pvp will matter in the game, like it does in EvE.


    @j_smedley love the blog. is SOE heading in that direction for PVP too? When will we learn more about that? Fingers crossed.
    https://twitter.com/sir_bidwood/status/433731419118915584

    Smedley:
    @sir_bidwood yes
    https://twitter.com/j_smedley/status/433747908907651072

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Shocktor ‏@shocktor · Feb 7 
    @j_smedley Someone used the Void Storage as a door into their house -- turns out it is a one way door. A brilliant trap. Evac to Safety...


    John Smedley ‏@j_smedley · Feb 7 
    @shocktor PvP in this game is going to be epic.

  • SupermassiveSupermassive Phoenix, AZPosts: 8Member
    Originally posted by Spawnblade
    I still don't understand why SOE, when finally deciding to go full sandbox, thought that stepping away from realism was the answer.  "Let's simplify our combat system, not even hint at PvP, and transform all our formerly-realistic character designs into cartoons!"  Immersion is the biggest ingredient for a successful sandbox, yet they seem to be making decisions that destroy that immersion.

    Immersion does not equal realism.  A cartoon world can be immersive without being at all realistic and vice versa.  Immersion deals with how something draws you in.  EQN:Landmark even in it's alpha state has an immersive building system and I for one have already lost days to this game...something I haven't really experienced since the first time I logged into vanilla WoW.  The goal should be to compel a player to want to be in the game world, make the mechanics simple enough to learn but difficult to master and people will play for that mastery.  Add characters and stories into a game that are truly interesting and you may feel the need to continue a quest line to find out the results.  

    A sandbox can only succeed if they nail the immersion.  Graphics is so low on the totem pole of things that actually immerse a player in an MMO that until a developer has nailed all the mechanics and systems in the game that the player will interact with they should go with a simpler graphics set to ensure that the rest of the system can handle the load that a true sandbox will throw at the servers and client pc's.  EQN:Landmark is already a performance hog with the voxel tech, and due to the way voxels work in building and whatnot, it owuld make no sense to have ultra realistic character models in a setting that is limited by utilizing voxels for the world and crafted buildings.  It's a stylized world that looks good but if you are seeking realism as the determining factor for you enjoying a game, it wont jive with you.

  • WizardryWizardry Ontario, CanadaPosts: 8,467Member Uncommon

    I don't think anyone would disagree with giving players tools and allowing a world to change or grow,but we are talking about SOE.The WAY they do things is every bit about monetary value and NOT about the game.

    They changed direction because they saw the popularity of Voxels and i am sure got a really good deal on a license.Smedley gets NO credit for Voxel popularity,he was actually slow moving on it.He saw that they could probably resell the voxels license and mask it as a SOE game.They knew it wouldn't work in a real MMORPG so they decided to split it up and utilize the popular Everquest title.

    Look no further than Smedley trying to spin some new game as the savior to SWG,he is all about BS marketing and not quality game design.He also changed direction because he saw the popularity of kick starters,so again an easy cash grab less cash input from SOE.

    Game design has always been about investing in a game than trying to sell it,this was a massively cheaper endeavor and best of all SOE did not have to make Voxels nor did they even have to invest time making assets for a world.SUPER easy for them to auto generate a world add Voxels and sell it.

    I have not researched the Voxels license but i bet it is really low,this Landmark with all the crowd funding is probably already in the green and they don't need much of a team, to work on it either so very little overhead.These are the true reasons Smedley changed direction.

     


    Samoan Diamond

  • SpottyGekkoSpottyGekko RotterdamPosts: 3,845Member Uncommon

    Until very recently, anyone that expressed support or enthusiasm for "sandbox MMO's" on this site was ridiculed on the forums.

    The general opinion was that sandbox MMO's were relics from the past and had only ever failed. The detractors claimed that the audience for sandbox games was either tiny or imaginary. There was no "proof" that sandbox games had any support beyond a small crowd of sociopaths that played FFA-PVP games.

     

    How times have changed...

  • handlewithcarehandlewithcare hartenbosPosts: 322Member
    yes sanbox I want to explore not just level up like an idiot.
  • tyfontyfon OSLOPosts: 238Member
    Originally posted by Wizardry

    I don't think anyone would disagree with giving players tools and allowing a world to change or grow,but we are talking about SOE.The WAY they do things is every bit about monetary value and NOT about the game.

    They changed direction because they saw the popularity of Voxels and i am sure got a really good deal on a license.Smedley gets NO credit for Voxel popularity,he was actually slow moving on it.He saw that they could probably resell the voxels license and mask it as a SOE game.They knew it wouldn't work in a real MMORPG so they decided to split it up and utilize the popular Everquest title.

    Look no further than Smedley trying to spin some new game as the savior to SWG,he is all about BS marketing and not quality game design.He also changed direction because he saw the popularity of kick starters,so again an easy cash grab less cash input from SOE.

    Game design has always been about investing in a game than trying to sell it,this was a massively cheaper endeavor and best of all SOE did not have to make Voxels nor did they even have to invest time making assets for a world.SUPER easy for them to auto generate a world add Voxels and sell it.

    I have not researched the Voxels license but i bet it is really low,this Landmark with all the crowd funding is probably already in the green and they don't need much of a team, to work on it either so very little overhead.These are the true reasons Smedley changed direction.

     

    Do you know what a voxel is? :-)

  • JJ82JJ82 Chicago, ILPosts: 1,177Member Uncommon

    I agree with Smed on most points and Themepark players need to ask themselves some simple questions.

    Lets look at Rift as an example. If you really look at each aspect of Rift, it is a much better game than WoW. It provides everything WoW does and more with the Rift PEs, yet why did so many people get tired of it and leave? This question can be applied to many games. So, what about games that were not as good as WoW.

    SWTOR, while it has a very limited depth, has a great storyline and the PvP is actually decent.

    Tera provided great action combat and PvP yet had a really really bad story.

    AoC had a great story with some really amazing raid content.

    EQ2 had massive depth and content up the wazoo.

    LoTRo had amazging RPing in a large world with a great story and there was a lot to do.

    Yet, most players did not stick around long, yes there were long time players, but again, these games did not retain most of their players.

    Why? Because they all shared the same thing in common. Guided content, content that is EXACTLY the same as those before it. Yes. the quest text told a different story but they had you DO the same things. The grind was the same, having to do the raids continually was the same, making PvP a grind was the same.

    And that's why so many got bored, and why so many MMORPG players are jaded and want something new. The only way to get that is with an MMO that is mostly sandbox.

    I mean, how many times can someone ask you to put the peg in the right hole before you become bored doing it? That is what the genre has been doing for the most part for over 14 years.

    Its time for a new playing board with new pieces, look at Grand Theft Auto 1 and compare it to GTA 5, every other genre has evolved like this, so why not the MMO genre? Its become stagnant.

    "People who tell you you’re awesome are useless. No, dangerous.

    They are worse than useless because you want to believe them. They will defend you against critiques that are valid. They will seduce you into believing you are done learning, or into thinking that your work is better than it actually is." ~Raph Koster
    http://www.raphkoster.com/2013/10/14/on-getting-criticism/

  • GeezerGamerGeezerGamer ChairPosts: 5,602Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Lobotomist

    Agreed. For all the hate SOE got. I think Smed learned the lesson.

    And honestly, looking back to SWG debacle. Are we forgetting the SWG was only made because of SOE ? No other company even came close to something like that

    Yes, SoE once had some real creativity. Do they still? 

    And while they did in fact create these classic MMOs that we all remember fondly, SoE also wrecked them. And that, is an "ability" SoE continues to demonstrate.

     

    @ Spawnblade:

    I have a feeling SoE's choice to use the style and direction they did is based on the limits of the technology they are using to make the world they want possible. I don't think the majority of users have machines powerful enough to handle a game created to look as real as possible using Voxels.

  • jpaprockijpaprocki Davisville, WVPosts: 273Member Uncommon

    Let me see if I understand this correctly; Sony wants players to build content, stories, whatever for other players and pay sony to do it?  So basically they will provide the engine and tools to do it and it's up to the players to provide the content.    Just how much does Sony expect one to pay to do the work for them?

     

    I'm not an IT Specialist, Game Developer, or Clairvoyant in real life, but like others on here, I play one on the internet.

  • KnyttaKnytta Corning, NYPosts: 349Member Uncommon
    Well those of us who remember pen & paper RPGs also remember that TSR never pid the DMs that wrote their own adventures. And Smedley is right there needs to be a change to more of a virtual world. It might be very hard to pull off but I am exited that they are trying.

    Chi puo dir com'egli arde é in picciol fuoco.

    He who can describe the flame does not burn.

    Petrarch


  • bcbullybcbully Westland, MIPosts: 8,284Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Knytta
    Well those of us who remember pen & paper RPGs also remember that TSR never pid the DMs that wrote their own adventures. And Smedley is right there needs to be a change to more of a virtual world. It might be very hard to pull off but I am exited that they are trying.

    The thing that is exciting to me is that they have a vehicle that just might be able  to deliver. 

  • victorbjrvictorbjr Quezon CityPosts: 186Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by jpaprocki

    Let me see if I understand this correctly; Sony wants players to build content, stories, whatever for other players and pay sony to do it?  So basically they will provide the engine and tools to do it and it's up to the players to provide the content.    Just how much does Sony expect one to pay to do the work for them?

     

    You're using the wrong terminology and mindset, I'd think.

     

    They're giving us tools to create our own virtual experiences in a world we can shape and influence with enough dedication and perseverance. It's a sandbox. You have a world (the box with sand), the tools to build stuff (equivalent to a pail and shovel in real-world thoughts), and you're tasked with just being free to have fun. 

     

    Right now, early access is there to help shape the game and iron out the kinks. I'm not completely sold on some games having early access, but it seems they have the long term goal of building EQnext on the foundation and tech of Landmark.

     

    The game is functional enough to enjoy, but only if you have the mindset that you create the fun experiences you have in the game with the tools available. Eventually, there will be other systems in place such as content-driven stuff like questing and PVP, but the focus is enhancing the tools so that they can better understand the limits and possibilities of it, I'd think.

     

    -Victor

    A writer and gamer from the Philippines. Loves his mom dearly. :)

    Can also be found on http://www.gamesandgeekery.com

  • BadSpockBadSpock Somewhere, MIPosts: 7,974Member

    I'll believe it when I see it, John.

    Right now it is all talk, and people making penis monuments in Landmark.

     

  • SetzerSetzer The Great Northwest, WAPosts: 143Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by GeezerGamer
    Originally posted by Lobotomist

    Agreed. For all the hate SOE got. I think Smed learned the lesson.

    And honestly, looking back to SWG debacle. Are we forgetting the SWG was only made because of SOE ? No other company even came close to something like that

    Yes, SoE once had some real creativity. Do they still? 

    And while they did in fact create these classic MMOs that we all remember fondly, SoE also wrecked them. And that, is an "ability" SoE continues to demonstrate.


    SOE didn't wreck SWG, LucasArts did. Let's not forget that.

  • bcbullybcbully Westland, MIPosts: 8,284Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by BadSpock

    I'll believe it when I see it, John.

    Right now it is all talk, and people making penis monuments in Landmark.

     

    Haven't seen one of those yet... "Low blow" Give it a shot. It sure surprised me. I'm kinda like a carebear now... idk.

     

    https://www.eqnlandmark.com/media/playercreations

  • JupstoJupsto englandPosts: 2,087Member
    Originally posted by SpottyGekko

    Until very recently, anyone that expressed support or enthusiasm for "sandbox MMO's" on this site was ridiculed on the forums.

    The general opinion was that sandbox MMO's were relics from the past and had only ever failed. The detractors claimed that the audience for sandbox games was either tiny or imaginary. There was no "proof" that sandbox games had any support beyond a small crowd of sociopaths that played FFA-PVP games.

     

    How times have changed...

    Indeed we can thank the popularity of games very simular to sandbox mmo, such as minecraft/dayz/rust. psuedo-mmo's with concepts unpopular in the mmo space such as full loot pvp, no NPCs, etc.

    What smedly is saying is nothing new to use sandbox fans, its very simular to what people have been posting for a long time.

    The reason sandbox mmos have not been succeeding is largely because they are all small budget indie hopeful projects.

    So someone saying what we are all thinking who is at the head of a big company like SOE is kind of a big deal.

     

    My blog: image

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