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Theme Park vs Sandbox, What Do The Players Think?


Hendrickson

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I have seen many posts regarding this subject and the pros and cons of each but I would like to get a feel for what the players really want.

MMO developers seem to think that sandbox is now a niche area and theme park is the way to go.

Many sandbox MMOs are still going strong even though they have changed their subscription model in an effort to retain their existing players and entice new players to give their game a go.

Lord of the Rings Online, Age of Conan, World of Warcraft, and, in my opinion, the daddy of them all, Eve Online is still going strong. I have returned to Eve twice over the years and recall the newbie chat channel and the opening channel after that is full of constant chatter which is what gives it its name Massive that it deserves.

And of course, take a look at the fourth coming Guild Wars 2. The devs have decided to change course from the famously heavily instanced original Guild Wars, although extremely popular, to a more open sandbox world, going completely against the grain of what the gaming masses are supposed to enjoy the most.

It is a matter of opinion but for me, when GW2 is released, that is where I will be going because I believe that heavy instancing takes the massively out of the game thus demeaning its goal.

Having said that, I still dont know what the majority of the MMO fraternity think and want.

So maybe we can find out from this post whether or not the devs took the right direction and so will keep their players for many years to come or will they leave en masse to return to the sandbox idea that the MMO genre originally embraced?

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Little from column; little for column B is the way to go I think.

 

What people in general need to get over is WoW, there probably won't ever be an online game with anything like wow's former popularity and companies have got to stop trying. More reasonable budgets and more ambitious developers are the way for the future. And thank god that seems to be what is actually happening, sw:tor is the last of a dying breed.

Edited by areto
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Personally I would like a little of both.

 

Theme parks are great for scripted content and for a challenge. Sandboxes allow an active community to not only enjoy the fun the game provides, but to organise their own.

 

While people will knock SWG for being bad, which it was in many ways, what it did well was encourage players to make their own game and their own events.

 

One of the problems with SWTOR is detachment. I have no real investment in my character or the world. I know when I log off, the world will still be there, doing what it does. The phasing takes the massive out of the game for me, and while people go on about community, I don't actually think there is much of one. Sure guilds get together and play, but not much else.

 

At least with sandbox elements, I know if I log off, my player-run city or base might not be there when I come back and I may have a task ahead of me helping the rebuild. While some players don't like this approach, I do. It adds unpredictability and investment in your game. Something I just don't get with SWTOR.

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Sandbox without a doubt.

Being able to do what you want without having to go down a linear path is a rather obvious choice

 

I think, however, that many players need to have a red line (or multiple ones) through their game. Otherwise they get lost in the vastness of a game and get bored. That always happens with Elder Scrolls games for me. At first I like them, but once I have discovered enough cities and have a log full of quests I suddenly can't decide which one to do and it gets old...

 

So I think a mix of themepark and sandbox would be great. Does anybody know a good one?

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Either way there will be people that like it and hate it. With sandbox it depends on what sandbox elements you want to go with, different sandbox games do different things. SWG had the whole house/town building thing, but you don't get that in Eve.

 

Then you've got to determine how much that particular element contributed to those games' success versus other elements. This applies to to themepark options aswell.

 

And even so, with an awesome game at the beginning, if you rest on your laurels and don't bother getting timely fixes and content updates out the game could fail anyway. To me th best chance of success doesn't lay in any particular game style, but in finding the things your developers can do well, doing them to the best of your abilities, and making sure you keep up a good mix of quality and quantity. You'll still have a lot of people who won't like the decisions you've made, but you can't please everyone and you really shouldn't try.

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I think theme park MMOs is a dead end.

 

True "next-generation" game should be a neat mix of both theme park and sandbox.

 

Which I hope SWTOR will develop to. Its currently not very sandbox-y, but its simply a question of developing content and placing it everywhere instead of along the linear levelling route. I agree with previous posters that a good MMO should have elements of both "themepark" and a "sandbox".

 

Which themepark MMORPGs have "succeeded massively"? (besides WoW - and frankly I wouldn't call WoW purely themepark anyway)

 

The problem with themepark MMOs is that the themepark is enjoyable only as long as theres content the player hasnt yet seen. Once players have went thru it all, player interest drops sharply. And I can guarantee that players play through the content faster than developers can develop. :)

So a good MMO needs to have both themepark and sandbox elements. Themepark to 'introduce' new players to the game and keep them entertained the first couple months, then the sandbox to keep up the interest after that.

 

An example of a MMO that has only the sandbox element is eve online. Due to lack of themepark elements, new players have difficulty understanding the game at first (causing the 'high learning curve'). Once players understand the game, the sandbox where most everything is player-generated content keeps them entertained for much longer than a themepark MMO would. Players will still be eventually get bored at it, but it takes much longer. PVP should propably be intergral part of a sandbox type game.

Edited by Karkais
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Which I hope SWTOR will develop to. Its currently not very sandbox-y, but its simply a question of developing content and placing it everywhere instead of along the linear levelling route. I agree with previous posters that a good MMO should have elements of both "themepark" and a "sandbox".

 

I highly doubt that Bioware will add anything remotely sandboxy to SWTOR.

I think that its quite plain to see that what we get when the game launched, is what it will be like for many years.

I think to add anything sandboxy would require too much work, and i think we would have seen that already if they were planning on having any of that imo

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I highly doubt that Bioware will add anything remotely sandboxy to SWTOR.

I think that its quite plain to see that what we get when the game launched, is what it will be like for many years.

I think to add anything sandboxy would require too much work, and i think we would have seen that already if they were planning on having any of that imo

 

What I meant was adding something for lvl 50s to do to other planets besides belsavis and Ilum. Giving players a reason to go to other planets already widens the horizon. Grinding the same endgame stuff over and over gets boring faster.

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I highly doubt that Bioware will add anything remotely sandboxy to SWTOR.

I think that its quite plain to see that what we get when the game launched, is what it will be like for many years.

I think to add anything sandboxy would require too much work, and i think we would have seen that already if they were planning on having any of that imo

 

The thing that amazes me is how badly they've failed with RvR.

 

They have Mythic Devs, they have had completely control of WAR for 20+ months now, yet the RvR (and PvP) of SWTOR seems to have taken none of that onboard. :(

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is that why every sandbox MMO fails miserably?

 

Name one Sandbox mmorpg that has been released since 2005?

Actually i can only think of one that got released 2003 (Lineage 2)

 

And lineage 2 had over 3 million subs in it's prime.

 

But if a sandbox mmorpg hasn't been released since 2003 how can you say they all fail miserably?

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The thing that amazes me is how badly they've failed with RvR.

 

They have Mythic Devs, they have had completely control of WAR for 20+ months now, yet the RvR (and PvP) of SWTOR seems to have taken none of that onboard. :(

 

This.

 

I hoped SWTOR would offer atleast some of the elements from WAR, but it didn't, therefore PvP in SWTOR sucks. Without collision detection i just can't see PvP.

 

The "PvP" in swtor is the same as in WoW, people shouldn't call it PvP they should call it:

Hat = Hug a tree

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~~

Sandpark is the way to go like what Archeage is trying to do. That game has no American publisher yet and is still in closed Beta in Korea, but their goal is to mix the genre's into one game and a lot of what I've seen so far looks like they're mixing it quite well.

~~

EDIT: Removed this part. I was all kinds of out of date! :p

Edited by Tristik
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What I meant was adding something for lvl 50s to do to other planets besides belsavis and Ilum. Giving players a reason to go to other planets already widens the horizon. Grinding the same endgame stuff over and over gets boring faster.

 

Couldnt agree more.

Anything that adds something extra and even optional to endgame is a rather an obvious thing to add.

 

Not only would it perhaps make the game more unique, but also give players something to sink their teeth into that didnt involve the over-done gear grind.

 

 

The thing that amazes me is how badly they've failed with RvR.

 

They have Mythic Devs, they have had completely control of WAR for 20+ months now, yet the RvR (and PvP) of SWTOR seems to have taken none of that onboard. :(

 

Im surprised by this too.

Although a lot of war wasnt too great.

What was great was the RvR, why they didnt implement any of this whatsoever is beyond me

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I have seen many posts regarding this subject and the pros and cons of each but I would like to get a feel for what the players really want.

MMO developers seem to think that sandbox is now a niche area and theme park is the way to go.

Many sandbox MMOs are still going strong even though they have changed their subscription model in an effort to retain their existing players and entice new players to give their game a go.

Lord of the Rings Online, Age of Conan, World of Warcraft, and, in my opinion, the daddy of them all, Eve Online is still going strong. I have returned to Eve twice over the years and recall the newbie chat channel and the opening channel after that is full of constant chatter which is what gives it its name Massive that it deserves.

 

LOL, this is why I say most players today use sandbox as a talking point and dont know what Sandbox is

 

I havent playe dLotR but I have friends that do and nothing they tell me and screen shots Ive seen suggests its sandbox

Age of Conan is not sandbox

WOW is NOT Sandbox (lol, WOW is designed off of EQ and then dumbed down, there is nothing sandbox about WOW or EQ, both are founded solidly in the themepark design model)

 

Eve is sandbox

 

But while we at it

 

Lord of the Rings is NOT going strong and is the very definition of niche market!

Age of Conan is NOT going strong and is the very definition of niche market

WOW is going very strong still but as stated before, its not sandbox no matter how hard you try to say otherwise

 

EVE has always been, and remains today a niche market game.

 

So not sure what your trying to say here with such huge errors in opinion stated from the get go.

 

Fact is Sandbox has not faired well in the MMORPG genre.

 

UO opened strong and was #1 as long as it had no modern competition.

Soon as EQ opened up, its player base bailed on UO over night at a astonding rate forcing UO to make game design changes after the fact. It never regained its prominence again. Oh it lasted for many years as a low income game because its opening box sales covered its budget costs. But its revenues have been in the basement ever since EQ opened up to compete.

 

SWG lost 70% of its paid subscribers in their first month of playing, that number rose to 80% by the 3rd month of people playing. The 20% that remained to be slowly dwindled away at with the CU, Village, NGE and other updates like to think they were this strong force of hundreads and hundreads of thousands of players, but the released numbers back then dont support those claims. SWG was not a STRONG presence for long at all.

 

there was anouther PVP centric game that was Sandbox (name escapes me right now) that was a complete failure from the get go. Shadowbane, thats it. Interesting concept that no one even cared about.

 

Some Sandbox game Id never heard of just shut down according to MMORPG.com newsletter because of no interest. It was only a year old.

 

Really only Sandbox game enjoying long term success is Eve Online and thats cause Eve targetted small audience and built a very inexpensive game so its been easy for them to slow expand. By AAA MMORPG rating, EVE right now would be classified a failure (and EVE Online at its highest ever subscription levels). The number is fantastic and amazing for Eve but Eve is a low budget small picture game. Most Theme Park MMORPGs release and develop as LARGE Budget Large expectation games. There is a vast difference.

 

Now Im not saying all Sandbox concepts and designs are failures, some are interesting and should be expanded on (though I dont expect you understand what Sandbox designs Im thinking/speaking of).

 

Fact is Sandbox has not been embraced by the mass genre subscription base and probably never will be until the technology advances to a point where Sandbox the logical extention to go to. Right now Sandbox is still limited by someone elses imagination, not by your own. Which makes it a mighty small and limited sandbox still. When Technology gets to the point of the virtual societies in Caprica or the tech level of say Star Treks Holodeck, then Sandbox will explode on the scene and no one willbe interested in Themepark anymore.

 

But until then, its better to be limited by theme park thats fully developed and formed then just empty open space.

 

and again, WOW, AoC, NOT Sandbox. Not even remotely.

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What I think is....

 

Yawns.... sorry nodded off there, I tend to tire of reading so many similar things on forums these days....

 

Anyhow where was I .. oh yes, what do I think.......

 

I think if you dont like what you see/have go do summing else you do like - after all whether its a Theme Park or Sandbox no one is twisting your arm to buy it, let alone resub after your first 30days..

 

Every game has its followers and whinners... all people need to actually ask themselves is.. LIKE or DONT LIKE... if you choose the latter and still wanna pay then you only have yourselves to blame so why come here and moan about your inability to make up your own minds...

 

I have played DDO since early BETA (over 6 yrs) and I have seen every comment you can thow at a game, its developers, the licence owners... and it beggers belief why all those same playerse who want to compare, want to moan, want to belitte it... still pay the montly sub 6months, a year, 5 years down the line.. and still want to moan and ******... who is the bigger fool me thinks.

 

I tried WoW and logged off after 20mins, I tried Lord of the Bannanas and it drove me to the edge of boredom after an hour, AoC only kept me interested as far as creating my first female toon then I fell asleep... but rather than go onto the forums and write how bad they were, how such and such games are better cos, and if that game has that, then this game should too... meeh I just quietly logged and went and did summing else......

 

REMEMBER this is just a game, a hobby, a pastime.. if you wanna make it your life prepare your self for some ups and down... but if your starting to comapre and call foul on a game that hasn't even reach adolescence then me thinks its time to leave your darkroom and go outside and smell the fresh air again....

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EDIT: And, just for the record, Mythic and Bioware are two completely separate development stuidos. They are under the same corporate umbrella for the sake of financial implications, but they are ran separately.

 

They merged to "Bioware Mythic EA" years ago now, then Mythic just disappeared from the title to Bioware EA.

 

There hasn't been a separate Mythic for nearly 3 years now, and there hasn't been any Mythic at all for over 18 months.

 

Bioware EA does have a lot of ex-Mythic Devs in it though, and Bioware EA has had complete control of WAR for ~ 20 months now.

 

 

Which is why it's amazing the RvR and PvP is so bad in SWTOR. :(

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