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Why can there be no soundly built sandbox MMO's.

All of them lack integral game-play to make them effective or are ridden with enough bugs to make their promise as a game moot.

I would love to see a developer nail down a solid sandbox game from the ground up.

It seems like if they have good crafting they have terrible combat.... If they have good combat the crafting is terrible. If they have decent PvM they have terrible PvP and vice versa..

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Comments

  • SuperXero89SuperXero89 Member UncommonPosts: 2,551

    Too many sandboxes are created these days by indy companies that have an imagination that's too big for their budget.

    What indy companies need to do is nail down a solid, although basic, form of gameplay that can be built upon in future content updates and expansion packs instead of trying to fit in every feature (and usually failing) at launch.

  • SuperXero89SuperXero89 Member UncommonPosts: 2,551

    [Mod Edit] 

    I respect the ambition of those developers, but I'm not going to pay to play an unfinished product.  

    You could argue that Darkfall is now at a point where it can build on a solid foundation, but other titles such as Mortal Online, Earthrise, and Xyson are glorified pay-to-play beta tests at best.

  • DarthMooskaDarthMooska Member UncommonPosts: 146

    It's surprising to think that once upon a time, SOE released SWG as a sandbox. Honestly, I don't see how EA would risk losing that much money getting a capable small team to put together the cliche of all our sandbox dreams. I'd be super down for a Minecraft MMO. I don't even need improved graphics.

    I derive my strength from passion. Do you feel that? That is what seperates you and I, Jedi!

  • SwampRobSwampRob Member UncommonPosts: 1,003

    Originally posted by SuperXero89

    Too many sandboxes are created these days by indy companies that have an imagination that's too big for their budget.

    What indy companies need to do is nail down a solid, although basic, form of gameplay that can be built upon in future content updates and expansion packs instead of trying to fit in every feature (and usually failing) at launch.

    Pretty much this.

    One of the reasons this happens to them, is that there are so many MMOs these days, that things like a mail system, an auction house, etc. etc are considered must-have features in every game.    So the company has to build all those things before it can even start to imagine it`s vision.   

  • RedMonkRedMonk Member Posts: 31

    This has been said before, but the audience is too small for sandbox MMO's. AAA polish out of the gate is only available to large studios, who need a larger audience than a sandbox can provide to cover the costs.

    At one time it was possible for MMO's to soft launch an unfinished game and build up a player base as they polished the experience. I believe EvE Online followed this trajectory.

    It might still be possible for a sandbox MMO to soft launch and build towards stability. However, even self-declared sandbox fans seem to require AAA polish immediately now, as they reception of Xsyon indicates.

    It will be instructive to watch Xsyon's fate. Will it be given a chance to improve? Or will even the sandbox fans jump ship for a stabler experience elsewhere?

    Never criticize a "sandbox" game on mmorpg.com. You will be drowned in a wave of kool-aid drinking fanbois.

  • DarthMooskaDarthMooska Member UncommonPosts: 146

    Is ArcheAge not a sandbox game?

    I derive my strength from passion. Do you feel that? That is what seperates you and I, Jedi!

  • orsonstfuorsonstfu Member Posts: 203

    Originally posted by DarthMooska

    Is ArcheAge not a sandbox game?

    It is but I havent played it yet, so I cannot comment on its merits or shortfalls.

  • DarthMooskaDarthMooska Member UncommonPosts: 146

    Originally posted by orsonstfu

    Originally posted by DarthMooska

    Is ArcheAge not a sandbox game?

    It is but I havent played it yet, so I cannot comment on its merits or shortfalls.

    Some on the videos floating around on Youtube make this look like the "polished sandbox" everyone's been waiting for.

    I derive my strength from passion. Do you feel that? That is what seperates you and I, Jedi!

  • orsonstfuorsonstfu Member Posts: 203

    I hope so, but I don't really put much faith in Videos. Gotta get down and dirty with a game to know if it's any good. :D

  • LordPsychodiLordPsychodi Member Posts: 101

    I feel it is because sandboxes need three things that often are simply misunderstood by the developers of such games, as well as players

    1. - a sandbox needs lots of content, not just possibilities. When I was little, the playground I went to had a jungle gym, slides, swings, tubes to crawl through, and even a MAZE. (5 feet high walls)  large open worlds need mostly bug free quests one can pick up without a quest handler, dungeons caves and ruins to explore, nodes of X for crafting scattered and worth seeking out, and more.

    2. it needs to stay accessible - Large level grinds or skill grinds need to be handled carefully, otherwise it creates an even worse barrier against new players and people who don't devote a huge amount of time to all the various things one can do.

    3. if it contains open world FFA full loot pvp, the differences of geared from ungeared needs to be kept in check, otherwise it can be very hard to compete on a consistent basis. Likewise, there needs to be no uberloot in terms of vertical advancement. (bigger numbers) There can be much better rewards, imagine in a world with no fast travel getting a sword that allows you to slice a hole between dimensions to leap across the world?

  • drake_hounddrake_hound Member Posts: 773

    The problem is most sandbox , tries too many linear development ways .

    Too little flexibility on the view point .

    Example Full PvP , Mass looting etc etc , then suddenly they find themself with a too small subscription base to maintain the project  , or cover the cost .

    Desperate bid to get more subscribers who are not interested in that vision .

    Original Developers usually got there money in the bag , and leaves ..

     

    The whole problem with sandbox , is that you cannot satisfy everybody .

    Thus the smaller target market already , also design point of a sandbox is too free , since the world is unlimited and designers usually think about next expansion , instead of fixing or debugging whats broken in current live servers.

    What does usually bring in sandbox is that players used to be creative enough to fill up the gaps or flaws of a game.

    Example is SWG , it has huge gaps and flaws in the game , too liberal system ...

    But players abhore change , best is said when WoW changed the talent trees , somebody screamed in trade .

    If i wanted to play a different MMO or system , I would have bought a different game .

    This is usually the problem, aside from EVE ,that haunts  sandbox really extremely , change is hardly possible .

    Without killing the product .

  • Demi1istDemi1ist Member Posts: 19

     I will reply here but try not to get to hyped up. :).

    Back 11 years ago I started a design of a sandbox hybrid that was to me the ideal game. Over six years passed before It really started to develop in the design phase. It has been over a year since I finished the design and started the production but I seem to screwed it up by switching engines. Tried to sell it off to some major developers and got slam dunked in the file 13 box. Rebuilding team now and starting over with a AAA engine behind it.

    Goal one was to have no levels or skill ups. This design allowed to remove all mechanical use of the game as leverage in player interactions. The skill line system was designed for 5 tiers which a player could complete quickly through quest chain. All skill lines are possible with a limited number reaching the tier 4 and 5 level. Get player into the world fast and set in their direction so they can become immersed in the story.

    Goal two was to define a multi-threaded story that made a non-linear world possible. The quest system would eventually lead the player into their role as part of a community. Actions have consequences and every interaction sent you on a path you chose. Make a bad choice, live with it and read and watch what you do.

    Goal three was to make PvP mean something so a rule system was placed to allow for inter conflicts between factions, cross alliances and even PvE to get involved. If you intended to stay neutral (PvE) then stay out of the open war zones. If you wanted to partake of the wars and take sides the consequences are you will eventually loose your neutral faction. If you kill your own faction you had consequences in loosing your faction and switching sides. It was fast faction switching with some leeway for some serious role-playing. Grow alliance with Neutrals and have them take out your own people. Your guild has a consequence on everyone in the guild by their actions and can switch everyone's faction so it was important to make your guilds mean something.

    Goal four was to make the meaning of war meaningful. Relic and land control with NPC faction adjustments, players wager their gold and status on declaring and defending themselves. World rank system on the web was a though and of course arena combat with one on one.

    These 4 goal are accomplished but much works remains in getting into a engine. With the new AAA engines coming out with a low cost and free you’re going to start seeing some games like this but it is going to take some time to get them out the door working as designed and intended. My goals are not to get everything but the kitchen sink in but get the mechanics of what the core game should be.

    In the end I guess we will see if it works out.

  • orsonstfuorsonstfu Member Posts: 203

    Noble goals for an indie developer - did you consider player owned building through crafting / expanding territory? In depth crafting is important as any sandbox should very well know to make it player driven.

  • Marcus-Marcus- Member UncommonPosts: 1,002

    Originally posted by RedMonk

    This has been said before, but the audience is too small for sandbox MMO's. AAA polish out of the gate is only available to large studios, who need a larger audience than a sandbox can provide to cover the costs.

    At one time it was possible for MMO's to soft launch an unfinished game and build up a player base as they polished the experience. I believe EvE Online followed this trajectory.

    It might still be possible for a sandbox MMO to soft launch and build towards stability. However, even self-declared sandbox fans seem to require AAA polish immediately now, as they reception of Xsyon indicates.

    It will be instructive to watch Xsyon's fate. Will it be given a chance to improve? Or will even the sandbox fans jump ship for a stabler experience elsewhere?

     If a game is good, it will get a following, be it a sandbox, a themepark, or a FPS.

    The hottest MMO out there right now seems to be taking off because of its polish, and folks seem to be gobbling it up.

    In 2003 SW:G was released and had quite a following, the only definitive number i can find is 400k users in its online community, thats quite a handful. ld think some would call that a sandbox, definitions vary of course. As an early beta tester, it flubbed for multiple reasons, and that was way before the NGE.

    I can't imagine in just 8 years or so, everyone hates sandboxes. Granted it was out before the great take off of the themepark, and it was the Star Wars IP

    But in my opinion, you make a good game, people will play it.

    Even if its biggest claim is polish.

  • Demi1istDemi1ist Member Posts: 19

    Originally posted by orsonstfu

    Noble goals for an indie developer - did you consider player owned building through crafting / expanding territory? In depth crafting is important as any sandbox should very well know to make it player driven.

     Future plans are to yes but the current plan is to make the functional system and then see what it brings in for players and how much it is in demand.

  • SwampRobSwampRob Member UncommonPosts: 1,003

    Originally posted by Demi1ist

     The skill line system was designed for 5 tiers which a player could complete quickly through quest chain. All skill lines are possible with a limited number reaching the tier 4 and 5 level. Get player into the world fast and set in their direction so they can become immersed in the story.

    As a fellow programmer, I applaud your ambition.   I wanted to ask you a question on this part.   For me, once my character has maxed ihis skills, (no levels in this game), and acquired some decent gear, my interest in continuing to play him wanes greatly.

    If my character cannot continue to progress in power (stats, skills, meaningful gear upgrades), I lose interest in going any further.

  • VaeniVaeni Member Posts: 17

    I was just going to ask the same question as SwampRob. I think in indie games it's important to recycle content in one way or other, and great way is having skills to train. Although that's not the main reason; the feel of progress drives a lot of people into these games. It's quite bold thing to go for the type of system your are describing, if I understood you right.

  • LordPsychodiLordPsychodi Member Posts: 101

    One more thing for my post above and to the person talking about their MMO in the works on the thread - Games like darkfall have a huge flaw in mechanical skill, Honestly this actually does need to go away. The big attractant to most RPGs is the lower required mechanical proficiency, It's why oblivion and morrowind, for all their own "awesomes" got nothing on say baldur's gate II in terms of player to character interaction - it keeps things much more accessible both by its traditional levelling, and using bows and arrows and spells  using direct targetting. Low to no skill progression is no excuse to bring FPS shooter style levelso of competence required intp RPGs, and it can stay the hell out IMO.

      I'm not trying to say death to manual dexterity, but this certainly is a genre in which it's very rarely expected, and every game that does things like darkfall  in that respect, regardless of polish can expect to be just another "darkfall", taking from an ever shrinking customer base as more and more games come into existence to fufill that niche.

  • miagisanmiagisan Member Posts: 5,156

    eve is an awesome sandbox....i make sandcastles daily :)

    image

  • Demi1istDemi1ist Member Posts: 19

    Originally posted by SwampRob

    Originally posted by Demi1ist

     The skill line system was designed for 5 tiers which a player could complete quickly through quest chain. All skill lines are possible with a limited number reaching the tier 4 and 5 level. Get player into the world fast and set in their direction so they can become immersed in the story.

    As a fellow programmer, I applaud your ambition.   I wanted to ask you a question on this part.   For me, once my character has maxed ihis skills, (no levels in this game), and acquired some decent gear, my interest in continuing to play him wanes greatly.

    If my character cannot continue to progress in power (stats, skills, meaningful gear upgrades), I lose interest in going any further.

     

    The purpose behind no levels is to allow the player to venture out into the world, which is huge by the way and build his status in the world through his/her actions, quests and PvP.

    In all honesty if you get bored fast not killing monsters this game may not be in your interest since it is not a level grinding game. However you can take on the undead that plague the underworld and earn a very high standing in the kingdom as a hunter of the undead and gain special skills that you will find useful in dealing with these kinds of creatures. Your skill may be in need for the dungeon crawl by someone else. You can clear the forests of the pesky forest spiders and earn a title as Master of Poison Control which gives you a benifit of +20% to poison resistances.

    Because of sub factions, you can decide to settle somewhere and defend the creatures others hunt. You become a defender of them and have abilities that no one else would get. The consequence is you will find many sides are not in your favor and many enemies. Thus your trade is through these creatures. You are now a loner and your friends are those that will support you in the effort.

    Status will advance youinto parts of the world only accessible through high status and faction alignment. There is a challenge to just get to the main gate of a city and be welcomed.

     The player can fall from grace quickly and needs a large amount of status and gold  to wage a war, thus a guild would be the best choice. Making friends and player interaction a must to apply for the supreme council and rule the nation.  Player will have to deal with elections of other players and NPCs, deal with wars and guilds wanting them out of office. He/she who follows this path will have a great challenge.  Those that want to follow other paths will still have to watch the outcome as this is a community driven game. Guild leaders are the best choice for this as they are the ruling part of the game world. Individuals will find it to difficult if not down right impossible.

    There are several issues that still need attention and I will not be updating it for awhile as we want to get this working first. By release the entire package should have all the good stuff you would expect including crafting,  player housing, guild housing. But for the first closed alpha it is functionality and feedback.

    It is possible to do this with a few simple formulas.

    It is a cause and effect world.

  • WorstluckWorstluck Member Posts: 1,269

    Probably already been said, but really it comes down to money.  The almighty Dollar or Euro.

     

    Let's leave Eve out of the equation, because really, I think Eve Online and specifically CCP are anomolies (whole another post!).  Basically, the invenstors with money, want more money of course, else why would they invenst in something.  Unfortunately for us, they see games like World of Warcraft and want a piece of pie.  This is why you have seen so many games over the past 5-6 years come out they are so similar to World of Warcraft (and EQ1) because investors, thinking they are being smart, invest in ideas/games that resemble WoW, because apparently this is what we all want.  Yes I know that 12 million people supposedly play WoW right now, but this game is also an anomoly like Eve. 

     

    What investors don't realize is that many, many people want games like Darkfall, Xsyon, Mortal Online and so forth, but unfortunately these games, due to development problems/lack of funds, do not have high subscriber rates.  Investors look at these small number of subscribers and decide not to pump money into companies making these types of games because they think people just don't like games like this.  Similarly, many developers are afraid to try to break the mould I think because, well, it's scary.  They might not get enough money to follow through because of the previously stated problem with invenstors.  

     

    What the people with money don't realize, is that if a sandbox game was created, based on some great ideas and with amazing features that were implemented correctly (also needs to be technologically sound) it could be huge.  If said game got the funds to be developed, distrubuted, and maintained there's a chance it could make a ton of money.  Unfortunately, this will not happen until the people with money get their heads out their asses, or WoW finally dies.

    image

  • Demi1istDemi1ist Member Posts: 19

    Originally posted by LordPsychodi

    One more thing for my post above and to the person talking about their MMO in the works on the thread - Games like darkfall have a huge flaw in mechanical skill, Honestly this actually does need to go away. The big attractant to most RPGs is the lower required mechanical proficiency, It's why oblivion and morrowind, for all their own "awesomes" got nothing on say baldur's gate II in terms of player to character interaction - it keeps things much more accessible both by its traditional levelling, and using bows and arrows and spells  using direct targetting. Low to no skill progression is no excuse to bring FPS shooter style levelso of competence required intp RPGs, and it can stay the hell out IMO.

      I'm not trying to say death to manual dexterity, but this certainly is a genre in which it's very rarely expected, and every game that does things like darkfall  in that respect, regardless of polish can expect to be just another "darkfall", taking from an ever shrinking customer base as more and more games come into existence to fufill that niche.

     I fully understand that and that is why in a pervious thread I talked about the tier from novice to grand master. I have eliminated all but the base stats you get when you start the world and they never advance beyond that through skill level except through some title, buff or equipment.  The path is set to learn a basic skill, take a test and advance the skill by using the skill, advance a tier and gain a move, ability or buff.  By the time you hit the grand master you have several moves and combinations to those moves which makes player skill more important since you have to use the skills at the right window of time to make them work.

    Your final class is determined by the combination of all your grandmaster skill lines. You will NOT be able to do everything in this game. You will NEVER be able to get all the titles. It is about you becoming a part of the living virtually.

  • LoktofeitLoktofeit Member RarePosts: 14,247

    Originally posted by SuperXero89

    Too many sandboxes are created these days by indy companies that have an imagination that's too big for their budget.

    What indy companies need to do is nail down a solid, although basic, form of gameplay that can be built upon in future content updates and expansion packs instead of trying to fit in every feature (and usually failing) at launch.

     

    I think the problem isn't the budget but rather the knowledge and ability of the team. Indie teams consistently repeat mistakes of the past. Others suffer from a horrible sense of false authority syndrome, which is in some cases as bad as it being a one-man team who thinks that since he has knowledge of one aspect of game design he is an authority of any kind on creating games as a whole. 

    This is all compounded by the audience never really doing any reesearch or not looking at the countless red flags that show up along the way and getting hypes over reading what they want to read rather than actually thinking about whether it makes sense when reality is applied to it. This invariable triggers further cockiness on the part of the 'indie developer' and usually results in a series of posts, announcements or devblogs that never would have gone out if anyone remotely savvy about PR or marketing was given a looksee at it first. In the end, wish lists are pitched as feature lists, false expectations are created and you get the half-assed crap that we currently see delivered. As the consumers, it's partically our fault for letting half these piece of crap get out of beta at all, let alone go to release.

     

    But then there's the ones that actually pull it off well that revive our false sense of hope in the sub-genre of MMOs. I'd say Darkfall, despite those that rabidly rally against it, pulled off a heck of a lot and released a lot more stable and working content than people give it credit for. Both ship warfare and flying multi-man tanks with flamethrowers come to mind as the serious ooh-aah content of sandbox PVP games that Darkfall actually delivered while otehr games are trying to figure out how to get a two mobs to appear on the screen simultaneously.

     

    Some warning signs: If the feature list reads like a wishlist, it's a wishlist. If the devs use the experience of their team as a selling point or reason why you should give them credence but have excuses for why they won't name the members on the team, there either is none or their touted credentials are BS. If the dev has never worked on a game before, that could very well be a sign that we're using the term 'dev' rather loosely here.

     

    It seems like there's a high ratio of devs failing, but that could very well be that we are attributing the title of 'dev' to a lot more people than it actually applies to.

     

    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

  • CantorageCantorage Member Posts: 186

    I find this panic greatly unjustified with three large budget sandbox titles coming up; The Secret World, SW:ToR (to a lesser extent though) and ArcheAge.

  • Asm0deusAsm0deus Member EpicPosts: 2,915

    Originally posted by Demi1ist

    Originally posted by SwampRob


    Originally posted by Demi1ist

     The skill line system was designed for 5 tiers which a player could complete quickly through quest chain. All skill lines are possible with a limited number reaching the tier 4 and 5 level. Get player into the world fast and set in their direction so they can become immersed in the story.

    As a fellow programmer, I applaud your ambition.   I wanted to ask you a question on this part.   For me, once my character has maxed ihis skills, (no levels in this game), and acquired some decent gear, my interest in continuing to play him wanes greatly.

    If my character cannot continue to progress in power (stats, skills, meaningful gear upgrades), I lose interest in going any further.

     

    The purpose behind no levels is to allow the player to venture out into the world, which is huge by the way and build his status in the world through his/her actions, quests and PvP.

    In all honesty if you get bored fast not killing monsters this game may not be in your interest since it is not a level grinding game. However you can take on the undead that plague the underworld and earn a very high standing in the kingdom as a hunter of the undead and gain special skills that you will find useful in dealing with these kinds of creatures. Your skill may be in need for the dungeon crawl by someone else. You can clear the forests of the pesky forest spiders and earn a title as Master of Poison Control which gives you a benifit of +20% to poison resistances.

    Because of sub factions, you can decide to settle somewhere and defend the creatures others hunt. You become a defender of them and have abilities that no one else would get. The consequence is you will find many sides are not in your favor and many enemies. Thus your trade is through these creatures. You are now a loner and your friends are those that will support you in the effort.

    Status will advance youinto parts of the world only accessible through high status and faction alignment. There is a challenge to just get to the main gate of a city and be welcomed.

     The player can fall from grace quickly and needs a large amount of status and gold  to wage a war, thus a guild would be the best choice. Making friends and player interaction a must to apply for the supreme council and rule the nation.  Player will have to deal with elections of other players and NPCs, deal with wars and guilds wanting them out of office. He/she who follows this path will have a great challenge.  Those that want to follow other paths will still have to watch the outcome as this is a community driven game. Guild leaders are the best choice for this as they are the ruling part of the game world. Individuals will find it to difficult if not down right impossible.

    There are several issues that still need attention and I will not be updating it for awhile as we want to get this working first. By release the entire package should have all the good stuff you would expect including crafting,  player housing, guild housing. But for the first closed alpha it is functionality and feedback.

    It is possible to do this with a few simple formulas.

    It is a cause and effect world.

    sounds really good and the kind of thing that wouldnt need an "endgame"  so to speak . Sounds like a game where a "toon" can make a "name" for himself rather than sayin hi im lvl 165 fear me cuase i got all uber gear n can gank whole guilds, now if u want to touch me you have to grind for 2 years first.

     

    i would be interested in the "name" of the game or somesuch so i can keep an eye out for it.

    Brenics ~ Just to point out I do believe Chris Roberts is going down as the man who cheated backers and took down crowdfunding for gaming.

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