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I'm a sandboxer at heart. I lke the emergent gameplay, and the opportunity to go 'off-script.' But ideally with just a *touch* of theme to it, to get you started and showcase the possibilities.
Progression: I like an asymptotic approach. Vertical in the beginning, tapering off to a more horizontal/lateral direction that approaches *but never quite reaches* a certain overall powerlevel. Something that can keep the sense of 'character development' endless or near-endless, but that doesn't scale out of reach of the neophyte (or require long periods of stalling or 'welfare boosting' to let the neophyte catch up.) Eve's approach is the closest I've seen ot the ideal.
i prefer mmos with mixed playstyles, most likely a themepark with great sandbox elements, though nothing like this exists really. i played WoW a lot and it was loads of fun, however the game became more and more linear, all the classes were evened, the skill system was torn down to a simple "click one of this 3 abilites every X levels" and there is no individuality at all now. the raids are still pretty epic, however i never liked the abandonment of 40 Man raids. even if your individual skills didnt matter that much in its time, it was simply the group strength, which made you pass these raids. It meant something if you were in a guild who has beaten Nefarian or even a few bosses in naxxramas. Now its just the overpainted picture of a scripted MMO giving players loads of epic items for these so-called "raidfinder-raids" which are just a boring way of keeping players happy with epics.
also i never liked any kind of dungeonfinders, they made instances very unpersonal, and thats my main point in an mmo: socializing. most of the finders in MMOs are serverwide, so you dont even need to get players from your own servers. no instance search in chat, which i didnt find any harder than pressing a button to queue up.
I play RPGs to roleplay, which to me as a long time pen-and-paper gamer is defined as the player "telling their _own_ story." I lean toward sandbox games as a result, simply because I don't feel as constrained to tell someone else's story instead of my own.
It is not that themepark games cannot empower that as well: CoH is a good example of a game that largely allowed a player character to tell their own story despite being a themepark. It simply seems to be less likely to occur in themeparks... a logical result, given the differences of design philosophy involved.
On the concept of what makes an end-game work: I think, in the final analysis, it boils down to community. In the MMOs that have had my attention for long periods, i.e. years instead of months, the consistent element that kept me coming back was reminiscent of a line from the old sitcom Cheers: "sometimes you want to go; where everybody knows your name; and they're always glad you came..."
Not exceptionally helpful from a game designer standpoint, perhaps, but something to keep in mind. Potential elements that help engender such an environment: allowing for significant distinction in character look, so that individuals can be recognized by sight in game; reasonably short but non-trivial periods of downtime, allowing for at least brief social interactions; challenges requiring coordination of effort but relatively little activity (again, encouraging communication); interface elements that aid in identification/remembrance of player characters interacted with before; and so on.
Blogging semi-regularly at http://damianov.wordpress.com
Shadowbane was an awesome MMO and I enjoyed it greatly and it had a very sandbox end game.
However the game was ruined by unlimited open PvP to the point where every Shard (server) was run by a single super-guild and if you were somehow not allied with them they would spawn camp you until gave up playing. If you had a deed and were building a fort, the super-guild would come along level it if it was not flying their guild banner.
Darkfall has the potential to be the 'best' (end) game because it has a combination of Eve's skilling and popular fantasty.
However, somewhere they lost the plot and are wiping the server.
Therefore, I believe the 'best' endgame is WoW because of the shear diversity of activities offered.
But bear in mind that MMORPGs are basically escapism, so you have to be careful how much time you spend playing them.
TBH, I do not know. Although I have played nearly every AAA MMO since 2003 I have only stayed with WOW for more than a year (7 years and quit with MOP). Probably the reason is that I don't stick around for more than 3 months on any MMO is because am a solo player. The only MMO that I have seen that had a decent endgame for the solo player was RIFT. You could continue to grind and your stats would slowly get better.
I do not like pvp but I remember spending 2 hours a day and 12 hours on weekends playing Alterace Valley in the Burning Crusade over and over and over. Yes it was gear and rep grind but I loved being in a group and being able to heal. The architecture of the battleground meant that you could not really zerg. No other battleground (WOW or any other game) has come close. Now that MMOs are trying to eliminate pvp healers I don't see anything like that happening again.
I'd definitely stick with a Sandbox. I'd like nothing more than the game dumping me off in some huge open world with no goal or story whatsoever.
As for the not-so-on-topic endgame... It's pretty much when you reach max level/final area/complete all quests... something of that sort, right? Well why have it at all? Getting to the next level, or acquiring a new skill should be so difficult, people wouldn't be reaching the so-called endgame. It's a simple matter of adding a zero or two at the end of the xp requirements. (Not really, but almost.)
Originally posted by tornmandate
I'd definitely stick with a Sandbox. I'd like nothing more than the game dumping me off in some huge open world with no goal or story whatsoever. As for the not-so-on-topic endgame... It's pretty much when you reach max level/final area/complete all quests... something of that sort, right? Well why have it at all? Getting to the next level, or acquiring a new skill should be so difficult, people wouldn't be reaching the so-called endgame. It's a simple matter of adding a zero or two at the end of the xp requirements. (Not really, but almost.)
Sadly Devs these days care nothing but making a quick buck, prime example SWTOR. Hopefully more Dev's will look at what EvE has done and make games that can keep the players interested more then 2 weeks. For me I'm looking forward to the game World of Darkness which is based of the RPG "Vampire the Masquerade" which is being made by the people who made EVE and will be a sandbox game too.
for me its sandbox pve. Im not interested in pvp and absolutely will not play a game with any type of open world pvp ever again except for world of darkness if it ever gets made. pvp just brings out some real asshats in the gaming community and quite frankly I dont have time to deal with idiots like that.
I currently play asherons call even though it is 13 years old. I also absolutely hate the word end game. there should be no end game, its a mmo the game should go forever.
there should be no such thing as level cap. your character doesnt stop learning just because he reached a certain point. base character development on things other than just gear. innate abilities that you can purchase with exp or some other form of currency, something other than running raid x every week for 3 months just to get a few pieces of gear. in those types of games you never see your character get more powerful once he reaches level cap, he just gets more gear. take the gear off and he has not gained one bit in power, its just depressing.
This might take me a bit to answer.
“The elusive end game is what many MMO players are looking for in order to keep playing the same game for long months on end.” ~ Okay, this statement makes absolutely no sense to me whatsoever. So, you plan for a game that is supposed to be set in a potentially perpetual universe… to END, from the outset? Alright, when THAT makes sense to someone, let me know, please? ‘The END-game… players are looking for to KEEP PLAYING… for long months on end…’? Wait, WHAT?!
Rather than allowing the words ‘end game’ to creep into the planning at ANY point during the planning, as with a regular video game that is designed to come to an end, why not allow for a different term, such as ‘content in-game release point’, or just simply like any other business designed to be perpetual? Have a tasks benchmark point, such as 1500 tasks in-game prior to release; we all know MMO developers are going to put in expansions and updates, and those apply to the game overall, but they really don’t go to any sort of ‘end game content’.
“I’m too much of an old school RPG Game Master at heart to trust the care of my world to the players, and I think that’s why I never really got into EVE.” ~ Now, this is something I’m very familiar, having been a tabletop role-player since my middle school days -too long ago to be recognizable, anymore, just AFTER the dinosaurs, I’m afraid-, and for the tabletop this sort of mentality is fine. As a compromise between the two viewpoints of allowing players to create the world or keeping a tight control over it, build the stories and assets you want to see placed in your world to begin with and, once you’ve reached your planned saturation point, then begin to develop tools for other players to get in and create, as well. Keep in mind that there are thousands of others in the world who have been GamesMasters and will find your game to be the perfect place to put together adventures they love, have developed, and/or have run for their players. For those who are not tabletop gamers, there are still many out there who will want to take ideas they’ve seen and/or developed, before, and see them in your game. It’s the height of selfishness to not allow them to work magic you didn’t think of.
“Costumes and Emotes are usually the worst selling microtransactions in any given game’s cash shop, when they sit side-by-side with power items that have an actual improvement on your character’s combat effectiveness.” ~ I hate to say this, HATE IT, but unfortunately MMORPGs are designed to power players up. Had MMOs been designed with the traditional role-playing ideals in-mind, two things would have happened:
1) Traditional RP players would not expect all of the power-ups available since EverQuest and Asheron’s Call, and
2) MMORPGs would have died on the vine, because video gamers would not have taken to playing something where they couldn’t build their characters up and gain super-powers to keep them playing to the end of the game.
In this way, I agree with you, Matt, that face-to-face contact is very important to keep players interested in the game, or you have to go with incentives. It’s pretty sad that we have a now-me society, because there are a lot of great stories to be told, but no one to enjoy them.
“Which appeals to you more as a player, Sandbox or Theme Park and why? Is there an element of the other that you don’t mind? Is there an element of the other that drives you away?” ~ I believe that both have their place. To be honest with you, from what I’ve read about how tasks will be gathered, and with the removal of “quest hubs” from the game, it sounds to me as though The Elder Scrolls Online will have the perfect mixture, or at least the next-best step to doing so. However, my thought is that a game needs to have a perfect mixture of both; after all, what’s the problem with having a relatively open world while finding the periodic beginning campaign task that will take your character, and your friend’s characters into a long chain of events that ENDs in some manner of catastrophic and perfectly heroic event?
The ONE thing I feel MMORPG developers (keep in mind the RPG stands for Role-Playing Game) have missed, wholesale, is how role-playing adventures, campaigns, and actual quests are developed, and that’s because most of the industry is full of console gamers who have played games mistakenly labeled as RPGs, but do not actually have any decent story-telling abilities themselves. TESO might be the first MMORPG that tells several decent stories, and I am only saying that based off prior experience with Bethesda games, particularly Oblivion and Fallout 3. I hope they will set the benchmark for telling stories in games; however, even Bethesda does not have the whole of it, and I’m afraid I will wait forever before I see actual tasks related to actual adventures, unless somehow I win the lottery or I gain a huge inheritance and take to making the game myself.
Champions Online, Star Trek Online, pretty much any Cryptic game I have played, especially now that they are so closely in bed with PWE, who has forced players to get a second account WITH THEM to be able to play any of those games -IGNORANCE-, turned me entirely off within the first 30 levels. Why? Because their stories are about getting into fights, and little else. Star Trek was SOMEWHAT different because you could drive a starship around in their universe, but their map -as cool as it is- only allows you to go from planet to planet in a very close frame… there is no real travel, and I never saw an actual shipboard adventure. Basically, without going much further, Cryptic’s games are a bunch of pretty graphics and character design and background elements, with zero substance.
“I’ll be at C2E2 in Chicago at the end of April. My panel is on Friday, April 26th at 3:15 entitled “Playing a Hero in MMOs”, stop by if you have a chance!” ~ Oh, man, I wish I could make it to Chicago for that. I can’t make it out of my driveway, right now, hehe, but I hope that your panel will show up on YouTube somewhere, so I can see it.
Not to sound like a sycophant, but one of the greatest strengths to City of Heroes was its diversity of options. It wasn't all things to all people, but there was enough for everyone at all levels. That's really what's lacking in anything that's out there on a free-to-play model. World of Warcraft is doing it, but the implimentation, not to mention the actual content, is so vanilla that I just can't stick with it for more than a $30 timecard, and forget the cash shop.
Really, what I want from a game depends entirely on the game and my mood. I have to have four (or more) different games installed on my computer, now, to be able to scratch a given itch. Sometimes, I just want to go off and run missions/quests solo. Sometimes I want to run with a team/group. Sometimes, I want to go fishing, but it's snowing outside. (OK, that last one wasn't in CoH, but you get the idea.)
If you're listening and willing to comment, what are your thoughts on Jack's statement to Jeremy during the MMORPG.com panel at PAXEast on the future of MMOs? Barring that, regarding the general comments of the panel regarding the cancellation of CoH?
Originally posted by jtcgs
Asherons Call told a story and a good one at that. Asherons Call was a sandbox because the game didnt lock you into it. Asherons Call had levels, but it also had open skill choices so no classes where XP was placed into those skills for an almost infinitely increasing character power. Asherons Call had an open world where you can go anywhere you wanted. Its been done already, it can be mainstream easily if a company would just put money into it and BTW, the game is still going today, after some 15 years with people paying a sub.
Asherons Call told a story and a good one at that.
Asherons Call was a sandbox because the game didnt lock you into it.
Asherons Call had levels, but it also had open skill choices so no classes where XP was placed into those skills for an almost infinitely increasing character power.
Asherons Call had an open world where you can go anywhere you wanted.
Its been done already, it can be mainstream easily if a company would just put money into it and BTW, the game is still going today, after some 15 years with people paying a sub.
First, I am glad you recognize that different games appeal to different people and that's OK. I don't think I could get into EVE for several reasons but I'm not going to knock people who do. It would be like insulting someone because they prefer Rocky Road when you think putting nuts in ice cream is just wrong.
Second, I'm surprised about how costumes were poor sellers. With my Paragon Points about all I bought were extra costume slots and costume sets. But I think CoH is the exception due to the already wide range of costumes. In a superhero game, different costumes are nearly mandatory. I had one character who had different costumes at different levels to reflect her growing power (an mental unstability).
I haven't played enough MMOs to say themepark vs sandbox, just that the end content has to be fun. CoH did it with trials. STO is doing it with dull Reputation options where you basically buy stuff and over the course of weeks get to option to buy special equipment. I spent the last week there doing basic things and not having much fun doing it. It's a skinner box that has me in its grip.
With a sandbox, you need a goal. I've tried some sandbox games and I felt adrift like "what do I do now". Bragging rights don't concern me much since IMHO it shows that you spend too much time playing games. Ohhh you got the purple swirl gear that lets you do 0.1% more damage. How many all-nighters did that take? Have you bathed yet?
Bottom line, games are meant to be fun. If the content you have after reaching max level is fun then you have a winner.
hmm if you're asking other people about their motivation for leveling, i think we got ourselves a problem xD
that's the developers job
While I absolutely LOVE a good RPG, I have to say that I am absolutely sick and tired of being The Hero(ine) from day one level one in an MMO. So very, very sick and tired of it. Do I like becoming The Heroine? Hell yes. But I like to develop INTO that, because I deserve it, I've done all the myriad things that becoming The Heroine requires, amongst NPCs and other PCs, and not be crowned that simply because I logged in after I completed character creation."
Zharre hit th nail on the head for me with her post. Why do all MMO's force you into the "you're the best darn Hero!" or "You're the most evil Villain!" immediately after logging in? I want an MMO that my character grows into. When I do PnP gaming I don't make my players Gods immediately. I am betting that you don't either Matt.
Personally I like a game that has a few bad guys that I can't kick their tails in when I go in the mission. What I want at that point is a way to bypass the mission and get better so that I can go in and kick their tail at some point in the future. That doesn't mean that I want ti die trying however. Back when I was playing CoH a good example was the original first Antimatter mission. You went in to beat him and he teleported away. A few missions later after you had usually leveled, you met up with him again and gave him what for. Not to say that this mechanic is the correct one to use, but maybe the antagonist beats you senseless and you wake up later. or maybe he just walks past you out the door. Anyway that it happens it makes your character feel that they are not up to the job just yet.
On to your question about Sandbox or Theme Park. I don't see why it has to be ether/or. I thought that AE was a great idea, that could have been eve better if some of the missions been moved out of that setting into the "real" world. There were some fantastic writers who didn't get the exposure that their work should have. While there would have been howling about "my story wasn't picked", I feel that for the game overall letting some of the players write content and giving them access to a story arc system would have been a fantastic step forward for MMO's.
So do I like sandboxing? In some cases yes, but don't box me in so much that I cannot make bad choices for my character or have options for content that I dislike.
Do I want a total Theme Park? Not really, but the Theme Park concept is a great diversion from normal content development and the strictures thereof.
Both have postives and negatives. There isn't really any reason that we can't have both.
I wish i could get to C2E2 to talk to you Matt but it's not in the cards right now.
Anyway to your question.
I thought CoH/CoV kind of brought the two styles together to some extent. There was plenty of story content there to be followed if you chose to use your contacts, or you could just hit the streets and defend the citizens, thus making your own stories as you went along. Then the Polics Scanner came along and while that could be considered a contact I used it as a basis for a character that was more or a less a police robot.
Since CoH shutdown I have been searching for another game to play and can't say I have found one that suits me. I play Wizard 101 simply because it has more options than other games and is more fun. It is not anywhere close to being a sandbox type game, but i believe you could advance your character just street fighting [so to speak].
I guess I'm looking for something that brings the two together in some fashion like I think CoH did by the time it shutdown.
....Being Banned from MMORPG's forums since 2010, for Trolling the Trolls!!!
Heya Posi (if I can still call you that),
As usual with things you do, you got me thinking. So let me start with this:
There’s always a new skill to learn, so you are forever improving your character. I would be really interested to see if that system could attract a more mainstream audience attracted to a fantasy MMO. I know a lot of EVE’s engagement comes through the fact that it’s the ultimate sandbox. Developers set up the rules of the world and the players make the stories. I see this idea having some potential, and would watch the development of such a game closely.
In a lot of ways this also described the first iteration of Star Wars Galaxies, and it was a big part of the appeal and passion for me (and most of the friends I know who played). While the skill system ended up being about earning and spending the max possible points, the ways to combine those points was widely varied. Sure there were cookie cutter builds for the people that wanted to be the most combat effective, but for everyone else, you could mix and match effectiveness with flavor and utility and get really interesting characters. But to address this:
I mean I tried it when all my friends were playing, but I was so unguided that I felt like just another cog in a great machine. I didn’t feel like the hero
Sure if you wanted to swg could feel like jobs in space, but there were a lot of routes to being the hero as well. At least, if you were your own personal GM, you could easily feel like hopping in your starship and fighting for the Rebellion was a big hero moment. You're right though that EVE (from my limited experience) didn't tend to give players that option.
Your game was great in the number of different ways players could advance and feel like they were doing things, even if for the bulk of the lifespan of your game the tech wasn't there to let players feel like they were changing the world around them. I saw where you were headed with it, and I was looking forward to more.
SWG letting players change the world was indeed too open ended though. Player housing and towns were great, but player churn meant too many abandoned buildings spread across what had once been pristine adventuring and exploring areas.
CoH was an interesting midpoint between sandboxy and playing on rails. I guess as a sandbox fan, I'd say it only broke down in terms of having a smooth and painless way to "feel domestic" The concept of your crafting system was great, but the UI variations between personal storage, Auction house, banks, and base storage, as well as windows that only rarely remembered your preferences made it a chore. Costume design was a joy, but having no easy way to design costumes and still socialize frustrated a lot of people. Base design too was fun, but you had to jump through hoops to be able to socialize, and getting things done took a LOT of time.
CoH made up for a lot of that with the simple genius of the Sidekick Exemplar system. I'm still waiting for some other game to shamelessly rip that idea off whole cloth, because it solved so many problems, when it was done right. It felt genuinely good to level down and help someone, or level up with higher friends even when your lowbie couldnt contribute as much. If the ability to go back and do older missions had been a little more seamless (Ouroboros time travel was thematically fun and appropriate, but again, a tedious UI). Mission Architech was also overall another win for player control. It would have been more of a paragon (heh sorry) to the entire gaming world if not for social elements that were somewhat beyond a developer's control. Maybe if the cheating potential hadn't be quite as high in the early days, and maybe if the ability to sift grain from chaff had been a little more reliable, a larger social network would have built up around the system and our player community would have grown it a little more wisely. You guys broke ground on it though.
I guess what I'm saying is, there are ways to balance between the EVE experience and the riding on rails living someone else's cutscene gaming experience. Your game balanced on some, missed on others. Others missed on things you hit out of the park.
I still miss City of Heroes every day. I'm eagerly awaiting new games that take the lessons you guys taught us and deliver something even close to as much sustainable fun.
Welcome to MMORPG, I saw they hired you but I got busy and missed your posts. I'm hoping to read through all of them today because I'm having a slow day.
About the Endgame Topic, It was interesting to hear your comments. Here's my reply:
"For me the attraction to any endgame has always been friends...Because of this, I implemented an extremely social endgame for City of Heroes, the Incarnate system."
The minds of the developers and the minds of players are very different.
When I was playing COH during the incarnate trials, I found the trials brought out the worst in people. The trials were reasonable short (good move!) and so I hoped this would allow people to be flexible. Instead, I would see people trying to get that "perfect" team or become obssessed with their authority and boot people during trials for various reasons. Few people did open trials which I felt should have been used more in the spirit of the game.
As a player, my social needs was to play with other reasonable people (well-mannered, tolerant, supportive, etc.) for a good experience. I didn't feel the need to play with "My Friends." To me, this was a place I could go to and just be accepted. I'd played all the maps, had lots of badges, plenty of XP...the game was a release for me. The level 1-30 content was the underestimated gem of the game!
With that said, I had hardcore weekends where I played the game whole weekends. I could do this because I was single. I never had people with me the whole time so I had rolling teams. Some could only play an hour or so, some could play a half-day, etc. I worked with whatever came my way to enjoy myself. I played with young, old, females, male, even some who spoke different languages. I even allowed people who were in the hard levels(35-48) stay on to just collect XP even though they had other things to do.
With that said, I have not yet found an MMO that has replicated the arrangement of COH. Examples, SWTOR, the players are mostly hardcore/nasty and the game requires lots of bandwidth(100kbps) and a high level of dexterity because so much of the game is manual (drops, equipment repairs, etc.) for a reasonable experience but more bandwidth gives an advantage in this game. STO, is a soloist game...I don't care what anyone says. Space combat kills me!! ZZZZZZZZZZ! The ground missions in STO are so bad that one time I used a fire extinquisher to do combat! I heard that Eve is good but I won't return to the button mashing to move your ship in constant circular patterns. COH mopped up all of these games by keeping the core gaming principles in mind ( Easy to learn/play, automate as much as you can, and "better together" play). COH was the only MMO where I preferred team to solo...
"Exploration, on the other hand, is trickier. It’s the hardest to incentivize and reward, because of the internet....Yes, it was incredibly satisfying to figure out how to get to a holocron in Star Wars: The Old Republic without using a guide, but eventually players who wanted their character to have maxed out stats would resort to one of a dozen online walkthroughs or videos on how to get every holocron in the game, and the magic was gone. Although there are some holocrons that I swear I have no idea how anyone would have ever figured out how to get them, but kudos go to the brave explorers who first uncovered them and their secrets."
This comment surprised me. Players have only so much time online. I think you got this right with Leader/Player slider difficulty in COH. I was interested in exploring but I knew I might be coming back to the zone later so I wasn't trying to waste an afternoon by myself...