The state of sandbox MMO gaming

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The state of sandbox MMO gaming

Postby kinshi » September 2nd, 2011, 3:23 pm ... dbox-dead/

Not that good I hate to say, it would seem the dreams and visions for these games have far exceeded the developers capability to implement them in successful, stable manner. That is to say I have yet to see a single sandbox MMO that was not badly broken on launch and finding itself to have to sing the tune of 'just wait, we have so much potential'

If potential were dollars, then all these devs should be multi-millionaires by now.

Sandbox is perfectly viable, we all know that, its why we stick to preCU like bees to honey but we also know it was a very rocky road, and it unfortunately led to the biggest debacle in MMO history (the NGE).

My take? Well I have noticed a pattern in old and new sandbox games alike..the seem to spend almost ALL their development time and dollars on creating the game world itself. They all have wonderful to look at worlds, but why is it that they, after like 5 years of development are rushing to complete game mechanics in the last 3 months before launch? (which results in nasty bugs for months after wards or the life of the game even)

This was really telling for me after having been in the Vanguard:Saga of Heroes since its very early beta (Beta 1). I know these guys had a $30 million investment from MS to develop this game and after 5 years of development, and the beta doors finally opened, all we had were a few 'chunks' of game world, most of which was empty (no NPCs, mobs, anything like that). Game-systems wise, the 'diplomacy' implementation had just started (forget about the quests behind it all, that was still yet to come).

I mean 5 years, $30 million, a big staff and all Sigil had was a pretty looking, but limited game world where you really could do nothing,

My point is, I think the BIG failing in sandbox game development is not spending enough time on the things that players will do in the game world. Instead they spend massive amounts of their budget on the game world, and leave the 'what do players do' part until the very end.

In a sandbox what you do is more important than where you do it at..just ask SWG crafters, they spend their lives in one of two their house at the crafting bench or out fiddling with harvesters. Sure the pretty scenery is nice, but that's just dessert, its not the entree.

Plus its not fun to play in a sandbox if your shovel is broken and your pail has a hole in it, and the sand keeps leaking out of the box corners, or if the cat took a dump in it, or it has a nest of fire ants hidden in it.

Doesn't matter how good the sandbox looks or how much fun the blurb on the box of toys said they would be under those conditions.

Imho..better to spend dev dollars on fine tuning the game systems, and start with a somewhat smaller world, than blowing the budget on 3d modelers then force the limited dev staff to work 80 hours a week in the last month prior to launch implementing game systems which should have been done and tested and tweaked months prior.

I honestly think we all would be a LOT happier with our sandbox games if they were smaller but everything actually worked. Then the devs can focus on expanding the world instead of constantly trying to fix problems across the life of the game that stem from a rushed design and rushed implementation.

Which I might add is EXACTLY what they AND team is all about. Why so much time is being taken to make sure we have a rock solid foundation to build on as nobody really wants to start over again, and nobody wants to wind up like SOE, constantly fixing bugs that came as a result of fixing other bugs.
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