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It's not coincidence I come here and make a thread after visiting that link. This has long been a theme in my endeavours. So lets get that out of the way, and I won't pretend to suddenly come upon this.
Unlike Wolfshead, I think I actually DID something about it. In 2012, I stopped playing Project 1999 and took the plunge in Wurm Online. I LOVED it. Admittedly, I play(ed) on the FFA PvP servers, eventually settling on Chaos. Still, the base game is very sandbox-oriented. Long story short, it's the opposite of tightly controlled and scripted. In fact, I was deposited into the world with only my backpack and a couple tools. I wasn't told where to go! And that was true on the PvE-servers too. Most of what I saw around me were player-made things, and sparse playermade signs informing me where things were! There was no ingame map! The list goes on. I had to rely on other players, and my own intuition.
I think there's always been a divide between story-driven players and action-driven players. Action-driven players tend to create the story as they go along, dependent on what they do. The story isn't particularly breathtaking, since it's composed of mostly menial labor and random circumstances, but these players tend to give it more meaning than it deserves. Story-driven players want a story delivered to them with all the bells and whistles of great storytelling. They revel in exploring the characters and playing through the different--re: branching--points of view. One seems oriented to making stories, and the other in living from moment to moment.
It's hard to please both in the same game, or MMO. I think story-driven players are by far the most common, resulting in the surge of themepark MMORPGs over the years. So it seems then most players drawn to RPGs are story-driven in their nature, or this is at least true for MMORPGs. If you examine a story, what you'll see is it's not particular interactive in nature. When you read a book, you read it from the first page to the last, it runs like a movie, and then ti's over. You don't interact, you don't act on it. THIS is why themepark MMO's dominate. They're precisely constructed. Every moment is controlled to deliver the powerful narrative and iconic symbolism. Sandboxes, contrastingly, are chaotic s***storms, more ackin to a roller coaster running off the tracks and collapsing into ruins. Thus, the two aren't very compatible with each other, and so tend to be separated into different games, or MMO's.
So I don't think they're overdesigned. They're just being made for the largest pool of players, to maximize profits. Early on in the MMORPG industry, it wasn't well understood yet this was what MMORPGs should be. They didn't know yet this is what players would most desire. I do think they try to appeal to the action-driven players in the SAME MMORPGs, or games, but that has met limited success.