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Reader Comments (136)

Posted: Jan 17th 2012 3:35PM freebase said

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I think you're bitter that developers aren't dumping millions of dollars in the sandpark that you want because the vast majority of people don't want player created content. So it makes you feel like a minority that doesn't matter and you have to constantly fight for attention.

Posted: Jan 17th 2012 3:48PM (Unverified) said

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@freebase Yes, very much this. I get pretty tired of Jef's constant drumbeat against MMOs that aren't sandboxes. Sandbox MMOs are not what most MMO players want, and that is constantly backed up by the numbers. Does that mean that sandbox MMOs are objectively bad? No. Does it mean they're going to be a niche market? Yes.

I get that he's got a personal preference that way, but that only gets you so far, and I'll even use his car analogy. If he was writing for Car & Driver, but couldn't quit talking about how cars from 50 years ago were so great, they'd probably wonder why he wasn't writing for, I don't know, a magazine about classic cars?
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Posted: Jan 17th 2012 5:19PM Lethality said

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@(Unverified) Do you even know the definition of most? Is it 98%? 75%? 51%? All are true.

Don't dismiss the players who want something that actually fulfills the promise of the genre and heralds emergent gameplay. If you want the same on-rails hamster-wheel tripe, have at it... But realize you don't have to settle for lowest-common-denominator mediocrity.

Sandboxes might be the past... but they are also the future, or this genre is dead.
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Posted: Jan 17th 2012 7:39PM Jackleope said

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@freebase
I couldn't agree more. This whole "debate" is just asinine.

People have different tastes. Case closed. Do we really need *another* wall of text explaining why our opinion is wrong?
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Posted: Jan 17th 2012 9:04PM Tizmah said

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@(Unverified) No, there just hasn't been a AAA sandbox in ages. People are obviously tiring on how MMOs are created now.
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Posted: Jan 17th 2012 9:09PM Dunraven said

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@(Unverified) Pretty much agree here .....I keep hearing Jef scream it isn't Rose coloured glasses...but it is.

The Sandbox is dead; MMO's have basically given the Raid or Die crowd the finger and Bioware has expanded the market to the point that the genre will never be the same again...so yes there is a ton of bitterness and hate in his posts.

SWG nutters can complain all they like the fact is their Star Wars MMO was voted coaster of the year three times; this Star Wars MMO has won several GOTY already and has a very bright future despite a very organized and yes I believe a well funded campaign to sink it.

But I only expect more of the same and a continued scouring of the interwebs for any sign of failure.
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Posted: Jan 17th 2012 10:03PM theBeast said

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@Jackleope

1. "Disclaimer: The Soapbox column is entirely the opinion of this week's writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Massively as a whole. If you're afraid of opinions other than your own, you might want to skip this column."

2. It wasn't a wall of text. He has paragraphs and pictures of cats.
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Posted: Jan 18th 2012 11:07AM OutThere said

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@freebase

I've not liked the sand-box games I've played (SWG, a few indie games) for two primary reasons:

1. PvP. Most of these are open world PvP or PvP centric. I'm too goal focused to be interested in a game that sanctions repeated interruptions of my ability to achieve my goals. Bottom line, I hate to be ganked.

2. Team play. Most sand boxes are heavy into team play and guilds. To be clear, I have no objections to group play, I am just not interested in it as the focus or basis for playing. I entered MMOs through the RPG genre. To me, MMOs are just bigger, more interesting, enduring form of RPG. I can trade gear and crafting mats, bank a lot of stuff, and I can keep playing and doing stuff even when I've finished the quest line. I enjoy a good dungeon run, even a lot of them, but when I'm not partying, I want to be able to accomplish my goals without relying on others who may or may not have the same goals as I do. I really enjoy Rift open grouping for this reason. I can rift as long as I like then go about my business. Sand boxes really require a very social environment that very often just doesn't work.

Not that I'm in love with today's "on rails" MMOs. I'd have to say my biggest disappointment with LOTROs Rise of Isengard was the railing aspect of the questing. There was no adventure. There were no new things to discover. There were no fun side quests. You had exactly the amount of quests you needed to get to level and complete your quest deeds. The quest lines were static and you followed them about and you were done.

There has to be a middle ground.
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Posted: Jan 18th 2012 2:05PM Jackleope said

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@theBeast
I think you missed my point and perhaps that is my fault as I'm not the best at conveying my thoughts over text.

I'm fine with somebody expressing their opinion even if it isn't the same as mine. But I've seen this article before. Many times over actually and at least once before from this exact same editor.

It gets tiring hearing the same argument over and over. We get it, you want to relive the MMO "glory days" again. Recapture that same magic that made you fall in love with the genre to begin with. I absolutely loved Everquest and UO and really don't think any MMO will ever top those experiences. However, I see that nostalgia for what it is. That magic is not coming back and I think you'll be much happier when you accept that.

Just my opinion though.
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Posted: Jan 17th 2012 3:35PM (Unverified) said

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I' starting to feel like the next generation of the old guard. Although I've only been playing MMOs since 2008, Cataclysm has made me yearn for a roll back to the Burning Crusade, or even Wrath...

I think one reason MMOs attract so much vitriol is that sweeping changes not only affect new content (as in a single player game sequel) but affect the entire game - either by changing gameplay or balance, or as in Cata, wiping out the old levelling content altogether. I'd be negative about a sequel to a single player game that made it impossible for me to ever again play the game I originally enjoyed.

But let's talk about SWTOR, the biggest negativity magnet since WoW. The fact is TOR draws that negativity for very good reasons, and first amongst them is EA/Bioware's inability to shut up about why their MMO is so bloody brilliant. When I see an article or a review on the gaming sites I frequent that mindlessly quote Bioware's ridiculous propaganda as if it were established fact I'm far more inclined to comment on it than I am when I see an article about any other MMO, because none of the others are claiming to be "one of the greatest achievements in the history of video games." Because statements like that should not go unchallenged.

Negativity is the flipside of hype (or the darkside perhaps, hur hur) and every time Bioware open their mouths at the moment they are fuelling the flames.

Posted: Jan 17th 2012 3:36PM jimr9999us said

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This:
http://arstechnica.com/gaming/news/2011/09/gaming-everything-is-amazing-and-no-one-is-happy.ars
From arstechnica. Louis C.K. nails it, and the little rap is funny as well.

Posted: Jan 17th 2012 3:37PM Space Cobra said

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You got many valid points, but I still think the rode-colored analogy applies somewhat. Really, "You can never go back home" applies to this. Our outlooks and desires have changed and we've grown up. Add to that, that the industry also has grown up and you get a clash of things happening that is both our views and not.

Many of us loved the things of the past and we have cause to do so. We are not "crazy". The 65 Mustang is a superior car in the materials used and the engine block, but it was a worse car compared to those around it at the time; it used inferior materials and techniques compared to other sports cars of the day, so a GTO would be superior to that car. In fact, it's always has been Ford's "cheap car" that was affordable by the masses of teens. Of course, since steel gauges and engine blocks have dwindeled, it is superior to a current model Mustang. Just try to locate a Mustang more than five years old that is still up and running; most of the cars deteriorate and are junked because of mechanical problems. (I will just put "IMHO" to this assertion.)

However, much like game's, the current Mustang *does* have certain advances in the field of new cars. They are a bit more "idiot proof" in that they are easier to maintain. They have lighter materials. They have plush interiors. They conserve more gas per mile. There are certain "luxuries" that many car owners expect: Air conditioning, crumple zones, etc.

It is hard to turn back the clock, at least on mass-market level, and get a 65 totally made today (although Ford is now offering the welded body for sale at the "bargain" price of around $15,000). Some companies do fill those niches, but it can be expensive. And while the mini-block is a genuine marvel of tech design with it's mini-pistons and all, the older cars still can burn-out and beat the newer cars in in-line drag racers. the older engines are more powerful, because they are monsters (generally speaking, I am not talking about the "Super cars" of today that are out of many people's price ranges who are probably reading this). They are also simpler to work on for the lay-person than the tangled crawlspace we call an 'engine compartment" today. In some ways, they are a victim of technology. Of government standards and an ever-changing world.

How does this apply to video games? Well, there are certain "genies" that can't be capped once they've been opened. Or, if they are, players have to agree to the notion of not having such "amenities" of certain games. Also, technology and game-theory may not be going the direction some of us prefer. Maybe this will change. Maybe not. The only resort is to support games you prefer and keep supporting and bring friends. Support such indie companies. You *can* hurt the mainstream and even it can change, if for a bit. This happens in music and movies and the automotive industry.

As for being critics. I think I can't argue too much there. I've seen certain "food critics" that expect the red carpet treatment and I think this has expanded. I also think someone posted a link to a blog here that dealt with why people hate Star Wars but love it. It has to do with passions. It has to do with "love and hate" on the same hand. Many of us love the old stuff (and it is better) but some wonder why we hate the prequels. We argue about George Lucas, but we keep buying his merchandise. We "love the general idea" but "hate the details". Heck, some people don't like the older stuff. Quite the heresy, but I felt "whiny Luke" was infinitely preferable to "moody-robotic Anakin".

You see a certain age group that likes both the old and the new and they tend to be younger. Sometimes, they extend such views as they grow. Some people like BOTH the new Galactica series AND the older one. It is the same with Doctor Who: They appreciate certain things in there. I think we saw this among some fans when the new Star Trek hit the screens. Many embraced it and liked both versions, but some fans just won't budge.

On the internet, it is easy to be a ctrtic and stomp one's feet: Easier than it has been before in Human history. And really, we are not hearing from the vast majority that just sign on, play, and sign off without ever visiting a forum or a website devoted to a particular subject, especially gaming.

Posted: Jan 17th 2012 4:18PM Jef Reahard said

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@Space Cobra

I didn't know if my car analogy would work, but you actually fleshed it out better than I did, and now I'm glad I included it, lol.

The older cars are enthusiast-friendly machines in a way that is impossible for the newer ones to ever be. And it's perfectly normal/natural that most people prefer the convenience of the newer ones to getting their hands dirty with the older ones.

That said, the rose-colored glasses phrase is tiresome because most people who use it don't know what it means (see the guy who tries to prove me wrong about car performance further down in this comment thread for a perfect example).

Preferring A to B is not a case of rose-colored glasses. It's pure personal taste, and the "when" doesn't even enter into it.
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Posted: Jan 17th 2012 6:07PM (Unverified) said

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@Jef Reahard
What I find weird is that you guys bemoan that developers don't care about innovative mechanics, sandbox settings, player choice...
Wouldn't it be way more effective to start a campaign to get *other players* to realize how fun sandboxes can be? There's the gist of this in the mere act of advocating for them, but little effort to actually use diplomacy and information designed to appeal to people who literally have little understanding of how a game without lots of defined rules for how to have fun, can be fun.
It seems like members of the sandbox-loving community just talk to each other, or whine.
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Posted: Jan 17th 2012 3:41PM Jef Reahard said

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@Joshua Przygocki

I disagree about never being able to relive earlier experiences. It's getting harder to do with certain types of games and feature sets, but it's not impossible.

Posted: Jan 17th 2012 4:24PM Joshua Przygocki said

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@Jef Reahard Sorry, I was thinking this but didn't really write it: I meant this in a sense that, that epic boss fight in that took your guild several days of camping the spawn and several hours to complete along with hundreds of deaths will never have quite the same feeling ever again. Sure we can play games dedicated to that same hardcore audience, we can go back on private shards built to resurrect the "good ole days," and we still might keep in contact with/know some of those old friends... But in reality, it's just not the same. The intensity is gone, and personally I believe that it's pointless to live on old memories, but is best to make new ones.

I suppose it isn't completely impossible, but getting back into that moment is damn near.

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Posted: Jan 18th 2012 7:02PM corpusc said

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@Jef Reahard

you're right that the "rose colored glasses" arguments are bullshit.
not to say that there's not some element that is correctly identified, but its far from the only factor at work.

in 2010 i had another great fling with EQ1. some 10 years after being burned out on MMOs in general.

it was populated and full of life on the progression servers, and that was one of the key things that disappeared from the game as it expanded too much and grew old. once those elements were back, so was my interest.

and i hate RPGs and even mmoRPGs for the record. 8)
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Posted: Jan 17th 2012 3:43PM EdmundDante said

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I'm still looking for a good game of Rogue for Windows 7. They just don't design UNIX games like that anymore

Posted: Jan 17th 2012 5:08PM SgtBaker1234556 said

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@EdmundDante

You do know Angband runs just fine on Windows?
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Posted: Jan 17th 2012 3:50PM Bhagpuss said

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The old MMOs were wonderful. The new MMOs are wonderful. I had incredible fun then. I'm having incredible fun now.

It's no different from anything else. Books, movies, tv shows, bands... you name the medium or genre and it used to be great and guess what, it still is.

The big difference that I see is the one that Jef alludes to at the beginning of his piece. There's just so much more of everything nowadays, MMOs included, that finding the stuff that really works for you is harder than it used to be.

Great cat pictures, by the way!

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