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Theme Park vs Sandbox, What Do The Players Think?


Hendrickson

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MMOs should be themepark for leveling and learning the game and sandboxy for endgame.

 

/2 credits

 

Different things for different people I guess. I don't even like linear leveling or classes. I like an open ended system where I pick skills to train that make me better at what I want to do. If I want to swing a sword one day and then the next day I want to learn how to shoot a bow on the same character, then dammit, I want to do that.

 

I don't want to be told, "oh well, you want to use a bow now, so you have to start over from the beginning with a different class because the class you have now isn't allowed to have bows." :rolleyes:

 

I guess that's why I like EVE so much. I can be whatever I want to be with one character instead of starting over at the starting area with a new character bashing low level mobs again just because OMG I want to do something different.

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The key is making the game cater to both crowds. They really need to make multiple ways to do EVERYTHING in an mmo, to cater to as many crowds as possible. This linear path laid out for us by Bioware was kinda doomed from the start. Just as a pure sandbox would of been.
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I was the original OP. Really is an interesting subject but I can see what you guys are correctly pointing out what a real sandbox is.

I guess you have pure sandbox, Darkfall, and the not so pure World of Warcraft is the perfect example.

The problem with this game I find are the barriers the game puts up against you. Even in open world areas, there are places that the game wont let me to go. Most of the time I have to follow the paths marked out on the map, and not take a short cut through it. World of Warcraft at least had large open areas with seamless connection between them, a pure element of sandbox, rather than zones I drop in and out of. The other games, mentioned in my original post. AoC and LOTRO, do have sandbox elements, although now I understand, not pure.

It still is a matter of opinion. If you have been round a while and are used to the older MMOs of days gone by, these players are swaying towards the pure side of sandbox. Whereas if you are new to the genre then you will be more on the side of theme park MMOs or going to be bored easily.

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I think if any game beats WoW it'll be one that merges both well.

 

I'm not convinced any game will ever beat WoW for peak sub numbers though.

 

I don't think a company should set out with a goal for tying to beat WoW's numbers. WoW is an out-rider as far as I am concern. A company can make a damn good game from millions to enjoy and still not have as many players as WoW did.

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I was the original OP. Really is an interesting subject but I can see what you guys are correctly pointing out what a real sandbox is.

I guess you have pure sandbox, Darkfall, and the not so pure World of Warcraft is the perfect example.

The problem with this game I find are the barriers the game puts up against you. Even in open world areas, there are places that the game wont let me to go. Most of the time I have to follow the paths marked out on the map, and not take a short cut through it. World of Warcraft at least had large open areas with seamless connection between them, a pure element of sandbox, rather than zones I drop in and out of. The other games, mentioned in my original post. AoC and LOTRO, do have sandbox elements, although now I understand, not pure.

It still is a matter of opinion. If you have been round a while and are used to the older MMOs of days gone by, these players are swaying towards the pure side of sandbox. Whereas if you are new to the genre then you will be more on the side of theme park MMOs or going to be bored easily.

 

When I hear word sandbox, it is associated with the grind in my mind. But it can also be done well. Sandbox for me = do it your way. While EVE is the best example of that imho, I also really enjoyed Anarchy Online, with its more or less free from skill distribution, and randomly generated missions.

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The key is making the game cater to both crowds. They really need to make multiple ways to do EVERYTHING in an mmo, to cater to as many crowds as possible. This linear path laid out for us by Bioware was kinda doomed from the start. Just as a pure sandbox would of been.

 

So taking it one step (7 years) back, Blizzard designing a linear level path, with pigeon holed roles/classes and limited end game content doomed it from the start?

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I don't think a company should set out with a goal for tying to beat WoW's numbers. WoW is an out-rider as far as I am concern. A company can make a damn good game from millions to enjoy and still not have as many players as WoW did.

 

Probably not, but that's the bar that's been set.

 

 

So taking it one step (7 years) back, Blizzard designing a linear level path, with pigeon holed roles/classes and limited end game content doomed it from the start?

 

It may well have doomed everything else. :(

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For the leveling up experience, i am quite enjoying the story driven theme park experience. I would think max lvl content introduced would need to be more a mix of continuing the story driven stuff to stay true to the original game concept, but more sandbox elements to add more max level longevity to the cycle. I am a big fan non linear progression at end game. Let people find different ways to contribute besides just ops for better gear at max lvl.
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Okay, back to being constructive...

 

I wanted to add this recent review (2/7) of ArcheAge. Warning: It's a long read with clips, but well worth the effort.

 

http://archeagesource.com/topic/636-archeage-cbt4-review-and-extensive-game-info/

 

Enjoy.

 

Everytime I hear, see or read something about ArcheAge I get more interested.

 

Some of the planned features mentioned are really something.

 

"Some of the features to still be implemented/worked on/added or said to be thought about being added are:

- 4 other races: dwarves, faeries, warborn, returned

- about 70% of the land! (that's right, only about 30% of the land is currently playable and still this game is HUGE. Note: a lot of the areas have been made already but are not yet playable)

- player created faction system

- additional siege engines (ram/catapult, more?)

- larger sieges (rumored to go to at least 100 vs 100)

- fishing boats/industry (thought about being added)

- lots of crafting recipes/items

- hireable NPC's (thought about being added, for doing labour work and maybe even as a vendor)

 

"

Edited by Chromiie
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Sandbox, as it currently stands, is a niche area.

 

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.

 

There is only one sandbox MMO in the ones you listed and that Eve. LOTRO, AoC and WoW are all themepark.

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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.

 

I don't agree that theme parks are a dead end. I do agree the future should be a hybrid.

 

I believe a True Sandbox game is completely boring. I dont like being plopped down then spending the X amount of days trying to figure out what I should do, could , willd o, whats viable.

 

Sandboxes are Boring and seriously older tech than themepark. Theme Parks I dont mind though after playing this one & DDO any MMO that can't provide some story to the shuffle .. are ultimately boring.

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Everytime I hear, see or read something about ArcheAge I get more interested.

 

Some of the planned features mentioned are really something.

 

"Some of the features to still be implemented/worked on/added or said to be thought about being added are:

- 4 other races: dwarves, faeries, warborn, returned

- about 70% of the land! (that's right, only about 30% of the land is currently playable and still this game is HUGE. Note: a lot of the areas have been made already but are not yet playable)

- player created faction system

- additional siege engines (ram/catapult, more?)

- larger sieges (rumored to go to at least 100 vs 100)

- fishing boats/industry (thought about being added)

- lots of crafting recipes/items

- hireable NPC's (thought about being added, for doing labour work and maybe even as a vendor)

 

"

It is an interesting title, but it's easy to plan. Harder to deliver.
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Anyone that designs a game to be either is being daft IMO.

 

And decent game should be both.

 

It's not feasible to have both as essentially you'd need to create two games in one, which no company is willing to do. Themepark and Freeform are like polar opposites, you either do one or the other, you can't have both. You either hold the players hand along a path of progression, or you let them loose in the world and they make their own way.

 

If I had a choice, I'd pick the sandbox/freeform setting. I liked swg because you could choose your role in the grand scheme of things. As an old school rper, I kinda liked playing the guy who may not be doing barrel rolls in the heat of combat, but he made weapons to support his faction to keep the fight going, running his humble shop on Corellia. I understand though that these days, such gameplay isn't very popular, and the themepark/raid/loot dynamic is king, still, I hold a special preference for the sandbox.

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I don't think a company should set out with a goal for tying to beat WoW's numbers. WoW is an out-rider as far as I am concern. A company can make a damn good game from millions to enjoy and still not have as many players as WoW did.

 

 

I agree. A game can be successful without having as many subscriptions, Cosmic forces aligned at the right moments to make wow what it is, it's been deeply rooted in popular culture, it's one of the reasons it grew to it's size. Besides, if TOR reached wow's numbers, all you would have are people grumbling and moaning as they bounce from game to game, hating TOR because it grew popular, like a bunch of wannabe hipsters. Be successful at what you do, when you raise the bar too high, you just end up tripping over it.

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I agree. A game can be successful without having as many subscriptions, Cosmic forces aligned at the right moments to make wow what it is, it's been deeply rooted in popular culture, it's one of the reasons it grew to it's size. Besides, if TOR reached wow's numbers, all you would have are people grumbling and moaning as they bounce from game to game, hating TOR because it grew popular, like a bunch of wannabe hipsters. Be successful at what you do, when you raise the bar too high, you just end up tripping over it.

 

I think wannabe hipster is a tautology.

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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.

 

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?

 

GW2 is definitely not a sandbox style game - there has been no evidence written on any posts by a Dev from Arenanet.

 

If you want to play a sandbox. Fallen Earth is the best idea out there currently.

 

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.

 

Wait you think WoW and LotRO are sandbox games? Seriously?

Edited by Dranzen
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I think wannabe hipster is a tautology.

 

Touche', I should have chosen my words better, suppose that is sort of saying the same thing twice.

 

 

 

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.

 

Don't think you quite understand what a sandbox game is, only eve fits that bill out of that list, the others are themeparked. SWG would have been an example of a sandbox, or simulators like Second Life. Unless you meant in the respect that in those games you could wander away form your starting area and go elsewhere and still be able to level up. I kinda wish TOR would add those elements, alternate areas to start from, and branching paths so it's just not starter planet>coruscant>Taris etc etc

Edited by Coiffio
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Fallen Earth might be the last somewhat modern sand box games out there. The players drive the economy and set the tone of the game through alliances with other players. And sadly it too is almost dead.

 

I believe part of the issue with the MMO industry is the way developers create games for a larger and more diverse demographic. And with the money invested into these games, the industry needs to think within and outside the sandbox ;). Usually, they tend to think outside of it and create the themepark so players don't need to think and can just play. Which is fundamentally, who older MMO players are frustrated with the current iteration of MMOs.

 

Sandboxes by themselves usually can maintain a nice population, but a niche demographic. Themeparks can struggle if players lose interest in the park rides. So maybe what needs to happen is to create a game that melds all those elements well.

 

I saw an article about something like this a year ago on Massively.com, regarding what the writer coined as a Sandpark. I think a sandpark is something that many players would like to see. The molding of the best elements of a themepark into a more player driven world where crafting matters as much as end game raiding.

 

Maybe in the long run, the Dev's will have a desire for SWtoR to be a sandpark - I mean this game is so very young. I only say that due to the Dev posts recently: Guild ships, player housing, extended space environment, and changes to the crafting.

 

Currently it's a themepark, but if the Devs can modify the meta game, add even more complexity and interest to the crafting, reinvent the space world, introduce more player driven elements, this game can redefine what is currently out there.

 

But that's asking a lot.

 

Crafting needs to be readdressed and it's use in the Star Wars universe needs to be far more pervasive. The introduction of guild ships and player housing may go a long way to rectifying the crafting issues.

 

The space system needs a more free roaming system with both PVP and crafting incentives for players to explore space.

 

The game is very young and there's still a lot of interesting and fun elements with many more coming.

Edited by Dranzen
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I've played both Theme Park and Sandbox MMO's, and I have to say, Sandbox MMO's keep me coming back for more.

 

The two games I've played that are theme park MMO's are SWTOR and WoW. Regardless of what anyone says, WoW is a theme park MMO, it just does a decent job of hiding it.

 

With WoW, I got to 50, and become profoundly bored, and quit a few months later. I hate saying it, but with SWTOR, the same thing might happen. The real problem is the lack of things to do once you finish with your level grind. I feel like the grind to level 50 should be a quarter or half the journey. Once you hit 50, a whole world should open up for you full of seemingly limitless possibilities. With WoW, it was either PvP or Raid. With SWTOR, it's looking like the same thing; once you hit 50, it's either PvP or Raid.

Games that I've played that are sandbox MMO's would be SWG and EVE Online.

 

These are two games that I always find myself telling grand stories of my exploits. I believe that the best thing about SWG and EVE Online is that you could REALLY make your mark on those worlds. During my run in SWG on the Starsider server, I co-started a city (The first Mos Vegas in SWG), assisted in crafting some of the best armor the server had to offer, helped co-start two pretty successful player associations, and became a true bounty hunter (hired by other PA's to assassinate (possibly greif) opposing Jedi).

 

I have very similar exploits in EVE Online, where a lot of my friends who aren't even into MMO's will listen and think "Wow, that sounds ridiculous and awesome".

 

With Sandbox MMO's, especially EVE Online, there really aren't levels. The whole skill grind is not a major part of the actual gameplay, just a means to do your job more effectively. The game doesn't hold your hand and lead you along your journey as the difficulty slowly ramps up. You go out and you make your own fun, whether it's crafting armor, checking hoppers, hunting down Imps/Rebs, Killing Jedi, whatever, the world is 100% open to you.

 

That's why I, as much as I am loving the game, I have my doubts about SWTOR. Getting from 1-50 is a blast and I've enjoyed it quite a bit, but there doesn't seem to really be a journey past 50 (barring expansions, of course). This is why I'll take a Sandbox MMO over a Theme Park MMO any day of the week.

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