| Mail |
You might also like: WoW Insider, Joystiq, and more

Reader Comments (59)

Posted: Jun 28th 2011 2:35PM Space Cobra said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
Wait, I'm confused...

...that's gotta be the biggest SAND-SLIDE that I've ever seen in that pic!

Posted: Jun 28th 2011 2:43PM russ1984 said

  • Half a heart
  • Report

Posted: Jun 28th 2011 2:58PM The Minn said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
@russ1984 swgemu? it will be around after. a petition will not save this game. you that ignorant?
Reply

Posted: Jun 28th 2011 6:01PM HereticalPenguin said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
@russ1984 Player petitions are as effective as going to the developer studio and yelling at them through their automatic doors at the entrance.
Reply

Posted: Jun 28th 2011 2:49PM Knuxson said

  • 3 hearts
  • Report
I totally agree. More MMOs should have fully fleshed themepark and sandbox elements. I love doing both. Games that strongly favor one over the other leave me bored. I like combat, but it gets boring just doing that all the time. I like crafting and player created content, but if these sandbox elements lack depth they just aren't fun.

Posted: Jun 28th 2011 3:10PM (Unverified) said

  • 2.5 hearts
  • Report
@Knuxson

^^

unless i'm scheduled for a raid or am leveling an alt, i rarely know what i want to do in game until i start doing it. running amock, crafting, exploring may be fun sometimes and at other, plowing through planned content, or hitting a few battlegrounds (warfronts, whatever) might seem suitable.

what sucked me into EQ all those years ago was the feeling that, even though there were stories and objectives to play out, the game was so massive that i might just get lost in it if i wanted to. today, it would be nice to see that emotion captured again, with worlds large enough to appeal to both player bases.

ah, maybe, someday...
Reply

Posted: Jun 28th 2011 3:54PM Borick said

  • 2.5 hearts
  • Report
@Knuxson I'd hazard to say that the term 'sandbox' is misapplied. What I desire in a 'sandbox' is not undirected play options but rather a feeling of personal ownership and impact within the gameworld and more degrees of freedom than is found in linear directed gameplay.

I think that player ownership is the key to sandbox appeal, not the idea of being in an unlimited sandbox.
Reply

Posted: Jun 29th 2011 8:44AM (Unverified) said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
@Borick Totally. For me, a sandbox game is a game where I can feel like I'm affecting the world. Like setting up a droid shop in pre-NGE SWG, or taking part in a player city. Or, in EVE, taking part in an entirely player-run economy. (Setting up planetary bases and my own starbases would be the same, but haven't gotten that far into EVE yet to experience it.) Pirates of the Burning Sea had some good sandbox elements as well as themepark elements, but it failed in other ways. I honestly can't think of any other examples.
Reply

Posted: Jun 28th 2011 2:55PM Space Cobra said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
On a more serious, on-topic note:

Yes, this is what I think as well. Actually, I wondered when this label of "sandbox" and "themepark" started (although I remember the Jabba location in pre-NGE SWG and people rightfully called that segment a "themepark" and there are others).

Early on, with UO and immediately afterwards, people tried to create "worlds", which can be considered a "sandbox". Then, EQ and then WoW especially showed the way to make things more simpler; more MUD-like in it's world and game mechanics. Since people want to emulate success, WoW has colored a few too many developing games in following this model, IMO.

There is no reason one can't incorporate both, but why don't they? Is it they want to stick strictly with a "successful WoW model? Is it the time element: they can do one thing or the other but not both? Maybe doing both takes too long and publishers want a game out chop-chop (fast)? It may be like most things : You have to focus on certain things to meet timetables and leave other things behind if you want to do it efficiently.

I think we all need guidance in games at times, but you can put in fairly unstructured large elements into a game world and have it work. I feel there is always a fine line between "led by the hand" and even the illusion of "I can do *anything* in this game-world". The illusion is not a bad thing, but if you can break it, certain players will recognize and adore you for it.

Really, it is not easy to make a simplistic game in a big world or have a complex game be a hit among the majority of players. There is the old saying, "Easy to play, Hard to master" that keeps most gamers playing. I mean, I can sink my teeth into a complex UI and trait system, but if you draw this out and start out simply, you can lure more players in as they get used to it and see it grow slowly in subtle, complex ways over their game-playing time. People love tinkering (be it Min/Maxing or decorating an avatar) and this just adds to the draw/allure of a particular game or MMO.

Posted: Jun 28th 2011 2:56PM Matix said

  • 3 hearts
  • Report
This is why I prefer to look at MMOs in terms of OPTIONS = GOOD.

Rather than picking either a sandbox or themepark from a dichotomy, I've argued for the playground model:

* You want a solo experience? Do directed questing (swings).
* You want epic solo content? Include a long quest line with an epic end payoff (slide).
* Want cooperative PVE? Try dungeouns (teeter-tauter)
Want cooperative epic PVE? Try raids (jungle gym)
* Want PVP? Try arenas (one-on-one basketball court)
* Want lore-rich, direct PVP with a purpose? Do BGs (baseball diamond)
* You just want to let your imagination take you as you make your own little world with preset materials? Try a living world (the sandbox).

The reason I stress this is because I realized the other day that UNLIKE EVERY OTHER GENRE MMORPGs are criticized for gameplay. You never hear puzzle-game players say "Why can't we have less puzzles?!" or FPS fans going "I'm tired of shooting, you should do something else!"

I came to the (self?) realization that the reason why MMORPGs get criticized and other genres don't is because the other genres deliver while in an MMORPG we're STILL looking for a game world we can enter and don't want to (have to?) leave.

IMHO MMORPGs will only come into their true glory when the playground style is implemented, and PVP, PVE, group, solo, crafter, combat, non-combat, RP, rails, sandbox, etc. all exist to offer a total package playground for us to stay in.

And I believe one day devs will accept OPTIONS=GOOD and give us this playground.

My only question is will someone be there to call us home for dinner like when we were kids or will we be left to come out on our own?


Posted: Jun 28th 2011 2:56PM DarthDan said

  • 3 hearts
  • Report
How is there a battle being fought between the sandbox and themepark mentality? Themeparks have dominated the MMO market for the last 6 years. Sandbox MMOs have been on the endangered species list for a long time now with no signs of preservation or conservation. There's no one out there of any significant voice or clout that's doing anything to make sandbox MMOs survive. Calling it a battle between ideologies is to say that themeparks have a significant presence in the MMOisphere, and they certainly don't. Not any more.

Posted: Jun 28th 2011 3:05PM Gaugamela said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
@DarthDan

EVE Online is a sandbox and the second most successful MMO in the subscription based model in the western market.
Reply

Posted: Jun 28th 2011 3:15PM DarthDan said

  • 3 hearts
  • Report
@Gaugamela

EVE is one game. One sandbox. And despite its success, there are no multitudes of sandboxes in development, while almost every MMO both on the market and in development are themeparks.

My point is, there is no "war of ideology." Themeparks won "the battle" years ago. And as much as I wish it weren't true, Sandbox MMOs are a minority, if not a dying breed.

Trust me, I wish there was a "war of ideology". That would mean that I would have a whole array of sandboxes to play and even more in triple A development to look forward to, and that's just no true.
Reply

Posted: Jun 28th 2011 2:57PM (Unverified) said

  • 3 hearts
  • Report
Anyone else sick and tired of games being pigeon-holed into "sandbox" "theme-park" and other shitty analogies?

Posted: Jun 28th 2011 5:21PM scrubmonkey said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
@(Unverified)

Yep. When I see players talk about how they miss "sandbox games", I roll my eyes now. Labeling everything "not themepark" as sandbox makes the term vague to the point of meaninglessness.

I mean are they talking about RP options like cosmetics and interactive props? Most MMOs have that to some degree.

Are they talking about skill-based advancement? I hate that kind of advancement because it breeds generic skills and tends to be more grindy.

Are they talking about player created content? I can completely get behind that... but it requires a special toolset beyond what the average sandbox has now.

Player controlled hubs? Several "themepark" games do that now.

The themepark vs sandbox mentality is stupid. Far too many elements are intermingled to make a clear distinction, and any truly successful mmo is going to take the best elements of what came before, and work from there.

Thank you for the article.
Reply

Posted: Jun 28th 2011 3:01PM DarthDan said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
Er, I meant to say 'Calling it a battle between ideologies is to say that **sandboxes** have a significant presence in the MMOisphere, and they certainly don't.'

Posted: Jun 28th 2011 3:37PM Space Cobra said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
@DarthDan

Well, to be fair, it's an "idea" and not something concrete laying around that you can point at. So, it's a "war of ideas" more than a "war of current MMO systems".

You are right about Themeparks being head and shoulders the winner, but as more players get into MMO gaming and more time goes by, they start to look for something new/different. In the end, like many things, the tide/popularity of themeparks could subside and sandboxes become more numerous and current...and then again, the trend reverses.

But I do agree with the article's sentiment (from what I read into it) of there's no reason why we can't have both in one game. Make a bigger world = Making a bigger net = Catching more fish (Subscribing players). Basically, open up an MMO to cater to all these types of gamers, and your numbers of players should stay high because, there is more variety to do things in a game; not just PvP all the time or socialize all the time.
Reply

Posted: Jun 28th 2011 6:03PM HiroProtagonist7 said

  • 2 hearts
  • Report
@DarthDan

The metaverse won't be a themepark.
Reply

Posted: Jun 28th 2011 3:06PM Gaugamela said

  • 2.5 hearts
  • Report
One game to rule them all: Archeage.

Posted: Jun 28th 2011 3:50PM Popplewell said

  • 3 hearts
  • Report
@Gaugamela

It always seems like the best MMOs are the ones that haven't released yet.
Reply

Featured Stories

MMO Week in Review: ArcheAge has arrived

Posted on Sep 14th 2014 8:00PM

EVE Evolved: Has the industry revamp worked?

Posted on Sep 14th 2014 6:00PM

Engadget

Engadget

Joystiq

Joystiq

WoW Insider

WoW

TUAW

TUAW