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Reader Comments (70)

Posted: Sep 2nd 2011 2:03PM Phenomen said

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Well. Most of those games are low budget indie projects.
There is no single AAA high quality sandbox game.

Posted: Sep 2nd 2011 2:22PM pixledriven said

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@Phenomen

Asheron's Call and Ultima Online might be old, but I'd hardly call EA or Microsoft "indie studios," or deny them AAA status.

There's also something to be said for a game that has had an active subscribing player-base for over a decade.
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Posted: Sep 2nd 2011 2:31PM Burgersnob said

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@Phenomen

EVE online, despite the negative press that you read, is very much alive a strongly kicking!

Until EVE dies, and it isn't, then there will always be a high quality AAA sandbox option.
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Posted: Sep 2nd 2011 3:12PM halfcaptain said

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@Burgersnob

amen, brother
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Posted: Sep 2nd 2011 3:25PM (Unverified) said

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@pixledriven

Turbine, not Microsoft.
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Posted: Sep 2nd 2011 3:34PM SnarlingWolf said

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@pixledriven

Yes, those two games are still to this day my favorites of all time. The difference is back then big companies made sandbox games.

Now in modern times only small indie companies release sandbox games and those releases are usually bad. It isn't that the sandbox is a dead style, it is that crappy ones are being made.

I tried Earthrise, I stopped playing after 15 minutes. 1) The game was so unoptomized that it ran like utter crap on a brand new machine. That is unacceptable. 2) They made a control scheme (which you couldn't change) that was irritating to use. That is also unacceptable.

That basically sums up the indie sandbox games, there are always huge flaws and tons of bugs. If a good solid sandbox came out, it would be popular.
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Posted: Sep 2nd 2011 4:15PM fallwind said

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@Burgersnob I think my greatest problem with Eve is that 90% of the game isn't actually IN the game. It's all spreadsheets, kill boards, forum posts and vent/teamspeak.

I think that's my biggest issue with most sandboxes. Few have the ability to stand on their own, to present information to the players, they rely on obfuscation and third party apps/sites to actually work.

That is bad game design.

Find me a sandbox that can be enjoyed by the vast majority of players without requiring the use of outside help, and I may be interested. It can be done, and goodness knows I would love to see one.
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Posted: Sep 2nd 2011 5:24PM pixledriven said

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@(Unverified)

Do your research before correcting me please.

Turbine developed AC 1 and 2 in partnership with MS Games. Both Turbine and MS developers, and MS published them.
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Posted: Sep 2nd 2011 7:55PM Jeromai said

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@fallwind

And non-sandbox MMOs don't? *looks askance at wikis, armories, forums, add-ons, etc*
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Posted: Sep 3rd 2011 5:09PM bate said

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@Phenomen

Agreed! This is indeed the problem. EQ1, AC1, UO, SWG and arguably DAoC were quality AAA sandboxy titles in their time. Other then these, well funded sandboxes have been virtually non-existent. Vanguard was a nice try, but failed primarily due to lack of said funding. EVE is clearly a success.

Every other sandbox title (I can think of) since then have been low budget shit with no chance of mainstream success whatsoever.

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Posted: Sep 6th 2011 1:40PM Calfis said

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@fallwind

Whether or not forums or killbaords etc are built in game is irrelevant since they are there, even if the role has been filled by 3rd parties. People still enjoy it because whether or not its all in game they still have the whole package.
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Posted: Sep 2nd 2011 2:10PM Apakal said

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The Sandbox will always have its niche, but by and large, the majority of gamers/consumers aren't interested in the tedium that sandboxes are largely dependent on. I know I'm not.

There's also a distinct lack of comparable quality in the Sandbox genre. Games like WURM and Ryzom, even Earthrise, don't hold up the same standards as AAA titles, which gamers tend to apply universally. Maybe ArcheAge will change that, but I still think the primary problem lies in the core mechanics of Sandbox gameplay.

Posted: Sep 2nd 2011 2:19PM Vunak said

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@Apakal

You kinda contradicted yourself. Yes games like WURM and Ryzom dont hold the same quality as other games. But your confusing AAA titles with themepark titles. A sandbox has just as much potential to be a AAA title if its produced by a AAA studio. Just like Themeparks have the potential to be just as buggy as any of the Sandboxes that have come out in the past few years if it was in the hands of an Indie developer.

All sandboxers need is one sandbox that is done by a AAA company and it will open many peoples eyes to what a sandbox actually is. So many gamers don't know what a sandbox is and just writes it off because they are close minded and never experienced anything outside of the normal themeparks that pollute the MMO waters today.

Archeage is about the only MMO that might open peoples eyes up to more things then there typical linear gameplay. Lets just hope it can open the doors to more actual sandboxes then the sandpark its going to be. Jake Song is a brilliant man when it comes to innovation and ideas in the MMO world, I have much faith in his newest installment.
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Posted: Sep 2nd 2011 2:24PM pixledriven said

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@Vunak

Also, people hear "Sandbox" and they think "FFA PvP"
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Posted: Sep 2nd 2011 3:20PM Eamil said

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@pixledriven

Something that Archeage sadly is doing nothing to change.
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Posted: Sep 2nd 2011 9:38PM xBludx said

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@Apakal

There will be a AAA quality sandbox in the next 2-5 years and it will be big and people will care about it.

What we are seeing now is developers struggling to find out what works and how to make it work (technically). Some developer who wants to make something different, who has vision, AND WHO HAS BUSINESS SENSE will arise. This is my prophesy.

And when I say "business sense" I don't mean she/he is a greedy d-bag out to make a quick buck. I mean someone who understands how to get financing, how to market and sell a QUALITY product that people want even if they don't know they want it yet. This person will know how to produce and deliver the product using SMART goals (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely). The basics of business sense.

There are people who want depth and meaning and they will pay to have and support their virtual world. And yes, Ultima Online seems to be the archetype from which this game will be born, though it may be any genre: fantasy, sci-fi, or something new we haven't even thought of yet.

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Posted: Sep 3rd 2011 8:07AM Borick said

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@xBludx Sounds like Minecraft, to me.
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Posted: Sep 3rd 2011 8:22AM heerobya said

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@pixledriven

This is exactly the problem.

Sandbox does NOT mean the following-

1. Gear/level/skill grinds - something EvE, FFXI, SWG, Darkfall, Earthrise, etc. etc. etc. have never ever ever gotten right. There is no progression grind in a true sandbox.
2. FFA PvP - fastest way to ruin a game ever. Make it on one server, on one part of the server, etc. but the audience is just so small... especially when you combine FFA PvP with full loot and gear/level/skill grinds it's just a horrible design philosphy and recipe for disaster. UO learned that over a decade ago people. Thank you Trammel.
3. Lack of content - just because you are a sandbox doesn't mean you should have NOTHING to do in the game besides grind, grind, grind.

It's all about creative, system-led game play, community, exploration, discovery, adventure... the achievement/combat-focused ADD gimme gimme gimme no patience crowd has completely ruined the MMO genre.
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Posted: Sep 2nd 2011 2:12PM dndhatcher said

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Thats because almost nobody cares about sandboxes. Its the harsh truth. Most people play games to be entertained, not have to work to entertain themselves or others.

Posted: Sep 2nd 2011 5:02PM DeadlyAccurate said

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@dndhatcher I like both. Sometimes I'm tired, and I just want to open up a theme park game and let it direct me. Other times I'm motivated to find my own fun, and so love sandbox games for that.

One of these days someone will come up with a truly superior sandbox title. Maybe it'll be ArcheAge. Maybe the Darkfall relaunch will be the one. Maybe something else will sneak in when no one is looking. Whatever it is, I can't wait.
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