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Theme Park vs Sandbox, What Do The Players Think?


Hendrickson

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SWG was a bug-riddled, unfinished mess at launch, yes. But, at it's core it was a rare gem. However, it could not get the number of players LA wanted from the license. That, combined with whining players who wanted balanced "classes" and easier jedi, ruined the game.

 

This sums up my thoughts. Well done!

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Sandbox gameplay is the natural shape of an MMO. But it can be difficult to find a way to insert yourself into that gameplay.

 

Story or theme-park based gameplay can serve to immerse you in that world, but it's no substitute for sandbox gameplay in the long term.

 

except the longest running MMOs have all been Themepark MMOs and not Sandbox.

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wow really? Sandbox allows the players to create content.

 

EQ1 very much had rails it just they where very wide rails. They most defently forced you in a direction and you grinded the way up to the top

 

Cities especialy instanced cities like AoC aren't Sandbox per say. AoC has become a success ONLY after it became F2P.

 

SWG however was a complete and utter failure even BEFORE NGE and CU

 

 

 

Except by that definition all the sand box games you mention also had rails, just very wide ones too.

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is that why every sandbox MMO fails miserably?

 

No usually the sandbox genre is the only thing good about thos MMO´s and the gameplay like pvp, pve, minigames, if it is linear, still on rails although its a sandbox or whatever that sucks a lot.

 

And indeed name a sandbox mmo released since 2004.

 

So simplified thinking of just saying oh its a sandbox mmo it must fail.

Edited by Rigota
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Pure sandbox doesn't work.

 

Pure theme park works, but begrudgingly.

 

I feel like SWTOR splashed with some sandbox features would be perfect. First I would say would be guild capital ships, where you could arrange the layout, hang decorations/boss kill trophies, add room expansions (player quarters, combat simulation room), etc.

 

After that they could implement sort of a Voidstar-like guild vs. guild system with the capital ships.

 

Finally, they could add three worlds where players could build cities: one republic-only and one empire-only, where everything would be safe from destruction, and one planet where both factions could build cities, but they would be siegeable by other players. There could also be a fourth FFA planet, where same-faction guilds could siege one another.

 

It seems like a lot, but if taken in steps it wouldn't be impossible to have in a few year's time.

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There was very little structure in early EQ1, and no real "rides".

 

  • p1 /ooc camp check
  • p2 /ooc Frenzy (List holder)
  • p3 /should ***RASTER IS CAMPED!*** (same monk you saw all of last week)
  • p4 /ooc ***/sup, no list.
  • p1 /tell p2 add me to the list please

 

You got in line and waited; you got onto the ride (into the group) and rode for a while.

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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?

 

You seem to have a misconception of the difference between themepark and sandbox.

 

Themepark is a game where all of the content is created by the developers and handed to the players.

 

World of Warcraft, RIFT, and TOR are all classic examples of a themepark game. There are quests, instances, raids, as well as PVP battlegrounds/warzones, and arenas provided for the players to do. Even the skill trees and character customization leave very little room for uniqueness as players are are relegated to using cookie cutter models to get the most out of their class.

 

Sandbox is where the devlopers give the players an open world and the tools to build in it.

 

Minecraft is the purest form of a sandbox. I have never played it but from what I understand, players can build whatever their imagination desires.

 

EVE has plenty of content that were delivered by the EVE development team but pretty much anything that a player can purchase in that game is player made. Also there are massive areas of the game where players can claim territory by building space stations and then have to defend that territory. The type of ship and components players can use depends on which skills the player chooses to train. There are still cookie-cutter models but there are many more options.

 

SWG was another classic example of a sandbox game. Groups of players could come together and build massive cities.

 

To answer your question though, EVE has been going strong for years. It isn't as main stream as WoW or ToR but I dont think it is because of its sandbox nature. I think it is because of its limited skill system. By being limited I mean that players level their skills with time. There may be ways to increase the speed of how much you learn skills but not by all that much.

 

For the past 7 years, WoW has dominated the MMO market. It brought the MMO genre to the main stream using its pure themepark model. Minecraft however has proven that a sandbox game can be very popular. I think the MMO playe rbase is ready for more sandbox options.

 

I actually made a post yesterday about how I believe TOR could be great and set itself apart from all other MMOs by adding a sandbox-style space element which can be seamlessly integrated into its current themepark model. By doing this TOR not only has the attention of the players who prefer themepark but can grab the growing player base looking for sandbox content. TOR could also then be a vehicle to introduce a fun sandbox style game to those themepark players who may not know what true sandbox is.

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sandbox hands down. I know not everyone was a fan of SWG but i was and i use it as an example because well its the only mmo i have played prior to this one.

 

First, player cities rocked. They were great to have, with having your own house was great for storing whatever you wanted and it had some realism to it rather than just a bank. Player towns that were pvp oriented provided tons of entertainment. It could stem from raiding enemy bases or just taking a town over.

 

Second, the market was so much better. Crafting as a whole was an art form. With all the possibilities of crafting professions, the economy was 100% player driven and i dont feel like that in this case. I would spend alot of time harvesting for our guilds crafters. Having to travel to a specific town to get what you wanted and placing custom orders to players was great, way more involving than placing an item on the market that there might be 50 of already.

 

I could probably keep going on, like with the pvp. Having to get buffs could be annoying but it helped strengthen the player community. Everyone knew if you were a hardcore pvper. The fact that there was 32 professions was great. Being able to stack up defences, go full on healer, crafting whatever gave it a uniqueness that this game fails in so many ways imho.

 

These are just a few examples of why i feel a sandbox is great and why i would not hesitate to play another if they dont mess with it to much which was the downfall of swg. They kept on changing things with the combat upgrade to its suicide with the nge.

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  • p1 /ooc camp check
  • p2 /ooc Frenzy (List holder)
  • p3 /should ***RASTER IS CAMPED!*** (same monk you saw all of last week)
  • p4 /ooc ***/sup, no list.
  • p1 /tell p2 add me to the list please

 

You got in line and waited; you got onto the ride (into the group) and rode for a while.

 

 

 

All player made content. :)

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Except by that definition all the sand box games you mention also had rails, just very wide ones too.

 

ummm no.

 

SWG Shadowbane, and Darkfall had no rails.

 

In SWG you didn't have to go and do combat you could be 100% crafter and never fight anything. No need at all to do any of the quests.

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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.

 

Here's what I don't get and I'm not picking on this poster specifically. Sandboxes are just empty spaces with a lot of sand. It's up to the imagination of the child to entertain themselves.

 

So...what exactly is stopping folks from creating their own fun in SWTOR?

 

If you want to play the economic game, there is money to be made in crew skills.

 

If you want to just fight evil where ever you find it, there are plenty of Heroic quests. Sure they might not give 'teh phat lewtz' but it can be fun to stomp lowbie mobs.

 

If you want to socialize with your fellow players, what stops you from announcing a party at a Cantina on a neutral world and have S**T talking contests with the other faction?

 

If you want to PvP, then head to the open areas and don't worry about medals, just have fun.

 

What I find most mystifying about these threads is that sandboxes are all about using your imagination to have fun, but there seems to be an extreme deficit of imagination among the playerbase.

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ummm no.

 

SWG Shadowbane, and Darkfall had no rails.

 

In SWG you didn't have to go and do combat you could be 100% crafter and never fight anything. No need at all to do any of the quests.

 

Of course they did.

 

Could you go anywhere and do anything? No.

 

They were just very wide rails.

 

 

 

 

 

Plus there were plenty of people that "played" EQ1 but never fought a mob, they just spent their time trading. :eek:

Edited by Goretzu
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Of course they did.

 

Could you go anywhere and do anything? No.

 

They were just very wide rails.

 

That's kind of a specious argument. Of course computer games have limitations. They are closed systems. As far as being open relative to other games of the time, SWG was pretty near the top.

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SWG ran for 9 years.

 

UO is currently still running after nearly 15 years.

 

 

Both those games however had limits, rails if you will, as does EvE.

 

15 years today :D

 

http://www.mmorpg.com/gamelist.cfm/game/12/feature/6100/Ultima-Online-The-Making-of-a-Classic-Part-1.html

 

Was it sandbox though? I don't think the distinction had been made at that point yet. Player looting and such are not necessarily sandbox, but rather "hardcore" I guess.

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Theme Park and Sandbox are kind of two sub genre's in the MMO genre space. I think the main appeal from a Theme Park MMO is guidance. It shows the player where to go, how to gain levels, where you can get loot and then lets them get too. Almost like instant gratification. Now thats not a bad thing. People knowing where to go, what to do and getting rewards for doing it is whats fun about games.

 

Now Sandbox can be so much fun. It can be unbelievably fun and the rewards more tangible than a Theme Park BUT its a hell of a lot harder to get there.

 

Many Sandboxes dump the player in a vast new world and tell them to get on with it. Very little direction. Its a up hill struggle from the get go. However, once you do a reward, say a house or say a business you feel accomplished. Probably even more so than getting that epic drop from a theme park mmo.

 

There just two very different views on how a MMO should work. Theme Park's will never be as open as Sandboxes and Sandboxes never as accessible as theme parks.

 

As mentioned in this thread earlier the next generation of MMO's will be a hybrid of the two. Letting people play the way they want and still get a satisfaction of a reward.

 

However, such an mmo would require a large amount of money and development time. With publishers not wanting to take risks, doing a solid theme park mmo is just good business sense.

 

I can't see this type of mmo coming out for a very, very long time.

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That's kind of a specious argument. Of course computer games have limitations. They are closed systems. As far as being open relative to other games of the time, SWG was pretty near the top.

 

 

 

That's exactly the point though, to suggest SWTOR and EQ1 (at release) were exactly the same sort of game is complete and utter nonsense.

 

SWTOR is about the most linear MMORPG anyone has ever created, where as EQ1 was anything but linear.

 

To try and pretend they were some how the same, just to fit them into a name-tag, is completely bizarre. :eek:

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That's exactly the point though, to suggest SWTOR and EQ1 (at release) were exactly the same sort of game is complete and utter nonsense.

 

SWTOR is about the most linear MMORPG anyone has ever created, where as EQ1 was anything but linear.

 

To try and pretend they were some how the same, just to fit them into a name-tag, is completely bizarre. :eek:

 

wait what? Now you are trying to say EQ wasn't linear?

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Okay sandbox fans (I like both styles of games actually), here's what you need to keep an eye on: ArcheAge. This video is one of hundreds from the game (the Korean developers are allowing beta players to post vids). The video shows a player made ship cruising the sea and comes under attack by a Kraken:

 

 

ArcheAge. As close as we'll come to a AAA sandbox game. It's from Korea, and won't be sold in the West for at least a year. It's in Closed Beta now.

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no it didn't it had less then 1,000 people.

 

http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2008/06/15/ex-star-wars-galaxy-designer-talks-nge/

 

the failure of SWG is well documented.

 

Nothing in what you have linked says SWG had less than 1000 subs, it says they still had 200,000 whilst losing 10,000 per month (at it's peak).

 

Yet it still did better subs over time-wise than AoC and DDO (and many others) until they went F2P which is a completely different model.

 

So I don't really see your point.

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