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Reader Comments (96)

Posted: Jun 21st 2011 1:10PM (Unverified) said

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Then check out ArcheAge.

End of story.

Posted: Jun 21st 2011 1:15PM Beau Hindman said

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@(Unverified) I'll believe Arch Age when it resides on my hard drive and I've had a week to play it. haha

Still, I get my sandbox groove on with Wurm Online. Primitive graphics? Yeh, but you can't get more sandbox than that.

Great article.

Beau
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Posted: Jun 21st 2011 1:16PM Halldorr said

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@(Unverified) Cautiously hoping that turns out well!
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Posted: Jun 21st 2011 2:34PM (Unverified) said

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@Beau Hindman

I gave Wurm a shot. Very interesting concept, and I could have dealt with the graphics. It was the fact that I couldn't mouse over anything without getting bombarded by giant blue divider lines that put me off. When trying to explore the game world turns into a disco-fest of blue-glowy terrain squares...ngh.
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Posted: Jun 21st 2011 1:15PM (Unverified) said

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The sandbox is alive and well at CCP. If you really want to prove Smedly wrong vote with your pocketbook. It's the only language comapnies understand

Posted: Jun 21st 2011 2:49PM fallwind said

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@(Unverified) I keep wishing I could like EVE. I've tried it, but no matter what I do I can't get past the mind-numbing grind... grind missions to get faction to get more missions... grind mining... I'm not surprised that "the meta-game is the game" as someone put it, because the game itself is dull.

and watches as she gets modded down to the stone age.
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Posted: Jun 21st 2011 3:26PM Borick said

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@(Unverified) I'm playing Eve now, and it feels too polarized in its definition of sandbox, as though it rejects any sort of consolidation with streamlining or mechanical improvement.

Eve feels arbitrarily diffiult to me, rather than intuitively challenging and engaging. I have to learn and do 'stupid' things in Eve that the UI should handle for me, and the only reason I get as to why it is that way is 'This is a sandbox.' It makes no more sense to me than the themepark guys over at the opposite polarity.

Also... point-and click interface. Can't we acknowledge that the control system is not necessarily definitive of game genre? I think an engaging game should have intuitive controls and haptic feedback, regardless of whether it is sandbox, themepark or farmville.
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Posted: Jun 21st 2011 3:27PM Laurs said

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@fallwind

I read your comment and i had to double check to be sure i didn't write it myself. This is exactly what i think about EVE and your experiences with it mirror mine perfectly. It's such a damn shame too; like yourself, i really wish i could get into it; alas... I hope at some point someone will use all the good stuff of the EVE game design, root out all the bad, boring stuff, and make what could only be, in my mind, the best MMO ever.
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Posted: Jun 21st 2011 4:07PM Eric Francis said

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@fallwind

Eve is in fact, a huge grind when you start out. But once you get in a good corp, that replaces your pvp ships, then things are better. I quit twice before getting into a nice alliance that pays for your pvp ships. To me the period between the start of the game and endgame was the hardest, because i needed to grind alot and the games appeal wasnt that new anymore.

Still, im only playing eve because there is nothing else out there. I tried Rift for a month and it was so boring. Talk about nothing to do but grind once you are Endgame... thats Rift.
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Posted: Jun 21st 2011 1:17PM Keen and Graev said

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I totally disagree with many things.

"Straight sandbox" games DO work. This has been proven.

SWG was an amazing game. It was never the possibilities that kept me hooked. It was what was actually there. It was the "possibilities" that caused the problems. Delusions of grandeur and fixing what was not broken caused the problems. This continues to cause problems today.

The golden days CAN come back. Know why it's not? Developers are not designing games similar to the games of those days. This is common sense. If the practice of diverging from the golden age design is continued, DUH, we're not going to see the golden age return.

Forget objectivity. A little common sense would go a long way.



Posted: Jun 21st 2011 1:53PM willflynne said

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@Keen and Graev

Straight sandboxes may work, but they're never a guarantee, and to be fair if the straight sandbox approach had actually worked for SWG there probably wouldn't have been the player retention problems that helped lead to both the CU AND the NGE.

With an IP like Star Wars, only offering a straight sandbox approach just wasn't enough. Fairly or unfairly, people go into a Star Wars-based game expecting some kind of Star Wars experience. The heavy (almost extreme) focus on the sandbox ended up hurting the game overall. There are times that I wonder if TOR's heavy focus on story will hurt that game in a similar manner, but that's beside the point.

By the way, SWG is still an amazing game. The only sandbox element missing is the class/profession system. Everything else that made the game a sandbox is still there, along with new sandbox tools to play with and a nice heaping helping of directed/themepark content to boot.
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Posted: Jun 21st 2011 2:50PM mechanicalturk said

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@Keen and Graev

@willflynne and Brianna both touched on the key variable to your 'common sense' equation. It's all about the IP.

If the MMO in question has a significantly large licensed IP, there is a good chance that the owner of the IP is going to expect significant recurring revenue. Sandbox games do not generally appeal to very large numbers of people. Most people, not necessarily the Massively crowd, want clearly defined progressions to acquire new shiny things. That is exactly the reason SWTOR is taking the theme park direction. Star Wars license == you better have millions of players.

I think sandbox MMOs can and will thrive (I hope they do), but not with large IPs chosen to draw in the masses. That has nothing to do with the actual delivery of the sandbox experience.
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Posted: Jun 21st 2011 6:44PM hansh0tfirst said

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@Keen and Graev

According to former SWG developer Dan Rubenfield, the game lost over half its subscription base immediately after launch and continued to bleed upwards of ten thousand subs per month following that.

In his own words: "It was not idyllic. You can remember it as an amazing game, but it wasn’t."
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Posted: Jun 21st 2011 7:14PM Faith said

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@hansh0tfirst

Know why it lost so many after launch? Because they released it way to early and it was buggy as all hell. Beta testers pleaded with them that it would end badly if they launched as is, and they were right. Bugs were rampant, servers were constantly going down 2-3 times an hour, and when you could actually play you were constantly rubber banding every 10 steps you would take. In other words the game was barely playable at launch and people left because it wasn't worth paying $14.99 a month for a game that wasn't finished. It wasn't till around the time they added JTL that the game finally was what it was supposed to be and that was when the game started gaining in subs again and servers were back at medium and heavy loads. It slowly built itself back up till they released the first combat "upgrade".

It was an amazing game, it just wasn't amazing at launch because they foolishly rushed it out the door when it clearly wasn't playable and assumed people would stick around for the year it took to finish developing.
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Posted: Jun 21st 2011 1:18PM (Unverified) said

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What is interesting is I reinstalled this over the weekend, prior to your article and found the game to be absoloutly woeful. Horrible, terrible, completely outclassed by F2P games created by small studios.

I dont think it's improved at all since NGE. YesI was a pre NGE player and yes I think that the sandbox element of the game was the most amazing aspect of it. Running a "quest hub" out of Mos eisley for newbies was fun. I;d set them quests to go get me things, useless things, vendor trash... and then pay them for it. I'd putout work orders for resources and people would go and fill them.

My favorite memories though are of running Dr Eyedun Geddits VIP buffing service in the corusant starport. While other Dr's were charging 15K for 2400-2500 buffs, and had a large line, I'd announce charging 30-50K for 2500 buffs with no wait time.

and people paid it. Why wait 20 mins to get buffed? Pay me 30k and I will buff you now, no wait, no hassle, be on your way to your solo group missions (lol).

ahh the uproar, the nasty tells, the stink eye from the other Dr's.. those were the days.

Hands down the best crafting and resource system EVER in a MMO. when your resource system spawns a virtual stock market, you know you've done something right.

I tried to play it over the weekend but you are right, the ability to play what I enjoyed is gone.

Posted: Jun 21st 2011 1:33PM Nautius said

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@(Unverified)

100% agreed.

I missed the player driven economy.

When NGE came out, I was doing the same thing (but not with exaggerated prices.)

My favorite moment of the game was when some trash talking teras kasi challenged me to a duel and said I didn't stand a chance with my rifle. The idiot wasn't paying attention to the fact I was carrying a flame thrower. Ahhhhh... good times.
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Posted: Jun 21st 2011 1:24PM Nautius said

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"But every time we turn up on a forum or blog to grouse about how the NGE ruined everything and how nothing done since can ever make up for that one bad decision, we are reinforcing Smedley's assertion that "straight sandbox games don't work.""

That is some seriously flawed logic.

How does the max exodus of the core players equate to Smedley's assertions being correct. You even stated yourself, while the game had it's flaws (at the very beginning), it still have a majority of happy players. Even those flaws were corrected by the time the NGE came out. So, really, there was no need for it other than a high stakes money grab to make it something it wasn't supposed to be.

I am not sure what you angle is on this article, but it almost sounds like you are telling the former players to "shut up, it is what it is and we should accept that and come back". At least, that's the tone I got.

Still, very poor assertions and the leaps of logic are just too far for me to accept.

Posted: Jun 21st 2011 1:25PM Karth said

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What allways I have thought its WHY they didnt rolled back the NGE. Seriusly, if they see its going to hell why not roll back!

Posted: Jun 21st 2011 7:56PM Fakeassname said

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@Karth

because NGE was mandated by Lucas Arts in an attempt to convert the game, from a design that held true to the world of the original movies,into something that resembled Curious George's "new" films.

Sony's been taking this on the chin for years, but all they were doing at the time was what they were told to do by the owner of the IP.
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Posted: Jun 21st 2011 1:26PM Palebane said

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Happy Birthday, SWG!

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