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Reader Comments (114)

Posted: Jun 7th 2011 9:25PM Darkmoone said

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Jef none of the MMO's you played had a proper end game. That's why most of them failed. Had you played DAOC, Planetside or WoW, your opinion might be changed.

The first 2 games had a perpetual war with 3 sides, sure you fight the same people over and over again but it's incredibly fun. WoW i agree was a loot theme park. But yea any game that can mix sandbox with theme park will surely dominate but no company has struck the right balance yet.

Posted: Jun 8th 2011 12:30AM Creepo said

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I have to echo some of the other comments that point out the absurdity of this article. To say that end-games in themepark MMOs are repetitive is merely a statement of fact. No rational person would deny it. However, nothing interest flows from this "revelation" other than the fact that Jef doesn't like themepark MMOs and most videogames in fact. It's like writing an article describing the game of chess and then the author stating that he doesn't like the game of chess because each piece can only move in prescribed patterns and the board is black and white.

Posted: Jun 8th 2011 2:38AM pulkiepulk said

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Just like to point out to the writer..if it hasn't been already pointed out..

There are more slot machine junkies in the world than there are creative types like you and me.

That's why most of the popular games have scant character creator options. Stuff like that is fluff to them. How does it get them fat loots? They don't know. They don't care either.

I don't think that just retconning the entire industry into sandbox games is the answer though. The theme park model has more to offer than you give it credit for...sure it's not the end all and be all...nothing is.

There is a happy medium between sandbox titles and theme box titles. I waiting for the right developer to find it...

--pulk

Posted: Jun 8th 2011 2:52AM CricketB said

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So what about story-telling? I'm in my mmoRPGs largely for a good story set in a vibrant, social world (and as such have often been disappointed).

Unfortunately the story aspect of sandbox mmo's is even less appealing than that of a traditional mmo like WoW. At least WoW occasionally tries to give me interesting characters and plots, with EVE it was like none of my initial choices mattered one little bit once I joined a corp. Not that I disliked EVE exactly - the ruthless PvP and the inability to stay out of it were an annoyance, but the aesthetics of the game are still some of my favorites. And I love crafting and skill advancement, so EVE certainly has some appeal.

That's actually a reason why I still play Guild Wars - repeating missions isn't drudgery if I care what happens to Saidra, the Shining Blade operative who sacrifices herself for the cause, it's a lot like re-reading a book I love or re-watching a favorite film. In mmo's the boring grind aspect comes in because there is nothing to hold it together - we're not progressing along a story path again and again, re-experiencing something with emotional resonance, instead we're blindly and dully killing things for loot to kill other things with better loot to kill even more things with even more loot, and we don't care why that boss is even there or why we fight it.

The nature of Endgame in most of the mmo's is by definition transient. New expansions and content means that all we achieved before is obsolete, so there's no connection to the piece of gear you finally got to drop - it means nothing, now, to get a Warglaive. Too much in these games is designed with infinite level progression in mind, so really there isn't an Endgame because the spectre of future progression makes current content meaningless. Now, if the story in a raid were actually interesting, that would be something, but the pace of it is so excruciatingly slow, with the last chapter of the book spread out over two years of reading and re-reading a single paragraph, that the eventual payoff is never good enough, even if the writers have anything interesting to say (Wrath of the Lich King was at once the best told story for WoW during leveling/questing and the most disappointing as finalized in raids) it can't deliver on two years worth of expectation.

But, unfortunately, regarding story and plot and characters, sandbox mmo's are handicapped by design. They're supposed to be non-linear and without much of a narrative thread and that's fine if you like it, but it's not and can not be for everyone. I adore the social aspect of mmo's but I'm not willing to give up the RPG aspect for it.

Posted: Jul 7th 2011 10:06AM ledgerhs said

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@CricketB
I don't think it's a question of either/or, but rather coming up with creative ways to do it.

WoW ties story telling and lore progression to raids. This is something they struggle with very much, as the level of challenge has to either drop dramatically for the story to be accessible, or just have few chosen guilds that ever get to experience it. They've found an ugly way patching this of "delaying" the story for weaker players by nerfing the content when new patch is out.

If you look at WoWs player generated stories on RP realms, most of them are actually refreshingly amazing. But it's funny that WoWs RP happens almost exclusively on forums.

I think the trick here is the one of finding diversity once again, and something that this thread actually very much proposes. Diversity in the options of gameplay is what Sandbox really offers at it's heart. A well designed MMO with this sort of core offers enjoyable content for everyone.
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Posted: Jun 8th 2011 7:30AM (Unverified) said

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"Hell, digging a ditch on a prison chain gang is probably entertaining if you've got a crew of buddies cracking jokes while you toil."

hahahahaha. well said. I agree with your assessment that people should just quit.

Posted: Jun 8th 2011 11:27AM (Unverified) said

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People seem to pine for "Sandbox" MMO's and I think it's largely due to nostalgia for the early MMO's. Back then an MMO was a pretty radical concept and just the idea of being able to play in a persistent world with thousands of other people and being able to interact with them was amazing. There was also a lot more mystery to an MMO. There weren't databases on the internet where you can look up anything in the game, wiki's, and youtube guides.

Anyway, these days MMO's are commonplace. They can still be great fun, but they have to stand on their content rather than their mere existence. So unfortunately a "Sandbox MMO" can too easily mean just an MMO that is weak on content. Now, if a sandbox MMO actually gave the tools to players to put their mark on the world and actually build something with that sand, then that could perhaps be very successful. But that's going to be very hard to do and take a LOT of innovation. We may just not be at the point where that game can be made, but I think we're seeing a lot of innovation coming out of single player games such as Fable that could eventually make it's way into a sandbox MMO.

Posted: Jun 8th 2011 2:15PM (Unverified) said

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Themepark MMO's like WoW, EQ, Rift adn soon to be SWToR only exist to have crappy snooze fest endgame. I have been playing WoW for 6 years, then Rift for 2 months, I have quit both of those crappy games and went back to the game that started it all for me.

Asherons Call and all sandbox games are the future and these devs need to understand that the same failed 'raid or die' instanced grinds rather they be battleground PvP or the same 4-5 dungeons ad-naseum are driving the creative minds into the murk of dispair.

Give me a Sandbox game where the endgame starts at charaqcter creation, where the lifespan of the character is not built on what happens at level cap but level cap is meaningless and the game play stays the same though the life of a game.

Kill organized stupid static raid or die games right freaking now and give me a game that is jsut as fun to play at leve 80 as it is level 1. This is why im looking forward to ANet and Guildwars 2 to carry the torch for fun and engaging MMO gameplay.

Posted: Jun 8th 2011 3:49PM (Unverified) said

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@(Unverified)

So crappy that you played for six years. LOL. I mean, Asheron's Call is a fine game with a lot of unique attributes. But to say it's the future and call WOW failed... u serious?

People like to raid. It's not going away.
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Posted: Jun 8th 2011 4:40PM mysecretid said

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Ironically, Jef, I recently did what you suggest.

I finally finished the High Elf PvE storyline in Warhammer Online -- I enjoyed it muchly, and have great memories of my character's adventures through the plot -- and then I quit.

What's left is PvP, and other group-driven endgame stuff, and I just don't care enough for that type of play to pay for it.

Don't get me wrong, WAR's PvP is probably the most /fun/ PvP I've ever experienced, personally -- and the game's background battle chatter makes for an exciting backdrop to your PvE questing as well.

But, simply put, I just don't care enough about PvP (no matter how fun it may be) to play it more than once every six months, if that.

So, I bid a genuine fond farewell to my PvE character, and I quit WAR once there was no more PvE content for me to play.

As you say, Jef, if we keep grinding and/or replaying content we don't really want or enjoy, it sends the message that we're okay with that.

"Silence is consent", as the saying goes.

They also say, "Vote with your money". :-)

Thanks for another good one, Jef.

Cheers.

Posted: Jun 8th 2011 11:14PM Jeromai said

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Any game is repetitive schlock. People seem to put up with (and yes, buy at full price) endless FPS, RTS, sports sequels though. Name any genre, top down alien shooter, tower defence variant, DOTA-like, developers churn out games with the same mechanics, slight variation. As long as gameplay is polished, graphics look better, people buy it and love it. And happily repeat the gameplay. Ditto for MMOs.

If you're burned out on quest-based raid-centred MMOs, then hell, yes, quit. Play or do something else. But you can burn out on sandbox MMOs, PvP MMOs, F2P MMOs, FPSes, RTSes, any genre, just as easily if you play them long enough to destruction.

It's just easier to stop playing most games that don't use addictive factors like a subscription fee, self-esteem and power level predicated on your character's gear (which may be threatened or decay or decrease in power if you stop playing), social obligations (pleeease raid tonight, we need you), or gameplay unlocks which make you do a bunch of A you may not enjoy in order to get access to B.

Bottom line, stuff only becomes grindy and unfun when you no longer enjoy the gameplay but are putting up with it for the hope or promise of future rewards.

Screw the future rewards, it's a game, it shouldn't be work or long term investments requiring delayed gratitication without being enjoyable in the short-term moment as well. There's so many games out there, there has to be one that can offer both, even if it's only for the short time it takes to master it and get boring again.

Posted: Jun 8th 2011 11:15PM Jeromai said

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@Jeromai

gratification. I can spell. And this comments thread really needs an edit function.
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Posted: Jun 11th 2011 10:49PM terroni said

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Most sandbox style games I've played have been far more boring and repetitious than any theme park. Sure you can build your own ships and houses, but you also have to mine and log an infinite amount of boredom.

Posted: Jun 30th 2011 4:24AM (Unverified) said

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DAoC had a nice endgame called RvR when it first came out where you could actually make a difference in your realms standing in the game by taking relics and keeps that gave your realm some damn good bonuses. That fell by the wayside in favor of the PvP grind carrot rather quickly unfortunately.

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