Funcom’s Joel Bylos on the difference between MMOs and survival sandboxes
Funcom’s Joel Bylos features in a Twitch interview on Gamasutra this week talking up Conan Exiles and explaining the core difference between server-based survival games versus Funcom’s “old MMOs,” as the interviewer put it. Bylos’ answer actually makes a lot of sense.
“[In] The Secret World, we focused very strongly on making really cool and interesting content and story, and the idea was to make it interesting to play. The thing is, with an MMO, a lot of focus goes into repeatable content. A lot of focus goes into things like ‘I’m gonna run this dungeon six times’ or 20 times or 200 times, right? So we need reward systems that give you tokens, that let you build or buy better items. There’s a lot of itemization discussion in MMOs. In a game like Conan Exiles, people are going to lose stuff, and we know that. We need to make it so that they can keep rebuilding stuff, keep creating stuff, keep progressing in the game, but not necessarily wanting them to go, ‘Oh, I want you to go grind this dungeon 50 times so that you can do the next dungeon – slightly harder.’ So [Conan Exiles] is not so much about this very small percentage of power increase to increase your character’s progression. That’s what I would say is a big difference in these type of games.”
A survival sandbox like Conan Exiles, he says, is designed to be about a living breathing world over which players feel ownership, and the social dynamic is more about PvP and defending territory than about PvE cooperation, which he says defines MMOs.
Of course, anyone who’s been around long enough knows that this is how the original MMORPGs, like Ultima Online and Asheron’s Call, already worked until second-wave devs turned the genre into a dungeon gear grind, but hey, who’s counting?
Oh right. MMO players.