The Daily Grind: How can MMORPGs capitalize on the success of single-player sandboxes?

    
151

Yesterday, Wired published an intriguing editorial that argued “open worlds are changing how we play videogames.” Author Jake Muncy is talking about single-player games, of course: sprawling, open-world exploration sandboxes in the classic Bethsoft style, of which he’s not traditionally even a fan.

“This year, perhaps more than any other, has seen more examples of the genre, which are becoming the norm for big-budget triple-A releases,” he writes. “It isn’t hard to see why. Done properly, it’s a goldmine. It keeps players from trading in games too quickly; you’re more likely to ditch a linear action game that’s done in 10 hours than a sprawling epic that can take 100 hours or more. It’s easier to tack downloadable content onto an open-world experience, too.”

The subgenre’s willingness to let people walk away and entice them to return rather than binge obsessively, he opines, allows devs to “move away from an emphasis on filling open worlds with mounds of meaningless stuff, repetitive experiences, and canned encounters” so that “developers can focus on crafting places that reward thoughtful exploration that yields incidental moments of personality and depth.”

I found myself musing on how his argument relates to MMORPGs. MMO players talk about “open worlds” as the antithesis of instanced gameplay and “freeform sandboxes” as the solution to rigid themeparks, but we don’t really have very many of them, and of those we have (or expect to have soon), very few are triple-A. They’re incredibly popular as single-player games — Skyrim and Fallout 4 are but a tiny fraction of the open-world games that exploded in popularity in the last decade — so where are their MMO equivalents? Shouldn’t MMOs be at the forefront of this revolution? How can MMORPGs capitalize on the success of open-world, single-player sandboxes?

Every morning, the Massively Overpowered writers team up with mascot Mo to ask MMORPG players pointed questions about the massively multiplayer online roleplaying genre. Grab a mug of your preferred beverage and take a stab at answering the question posed in today’s Daily Grind!
newest oldest most liked
Subscribe to:
Adri Cortesia
Guest
Adri Cortesia

Hawkzilla14 Adri Cortesia Adventure is a wonderful expression of something that is completely lost in some games

Hawkzilla14
Guest
Hawkzilla14

Adri Cortesia i miss that too, for example EQOA had one of the best game worlds i ever experienced because it was so wide open and full of things to explorer , no loading screens , no closed off zones it truly felt like  breathing world and i think people who enjoy sandboxs like having worlds where they and their guild mates can roam around looking for gear and looking for adventure 

adventure …..a word i feel like was the basis for mmos but i feel like games like ESO,DnDO  and a few others have pushed the word away i also like some games with no in game  map available and only in the booklet so you would have to learn how to navigate

AGx
Guest
AGx

Kaloth schmidtcapela My only gripe with Archeage was the pop-in. If you notice, there’s very little standing grass in around the character model. Things like that, bushes, rocks, monsters, and some other things pop-in only when you are, say, 3 feet away from them. It’s as if the view distance is turned waaaay down. It makes for an annoying experience and makes an otherwise beautiful game.

ZadiraKindleriver
Guest
ZadiraKindleriver

I am curious how ARK: Survival Evolved falls into this discussion.  Wildcard Studios seems to be trying to please everyone in the way they are developing their game. The players can choose what type of game to play and then how to play that type of game.

JamesCrow
Guest
JamesCrow

borghive ARK look like amazing game and he get the hype it deserve but… the only reason im not playing is the death in the game, when i play game i dont want all my progression gone in single death.
if im wrong about the death plz let me know, thanks.

Kasch
Guest
Kasch

I believe that as MMOs get better with scaling the world to the player’s level, or eliminating “progress” from zone to zone overall then it will be easier to reach an open-world setting. Skill Trees are a great way to accomplish progress without actually forcing leveling from zone to zone. 
Games can still have progress and areas or instance for elite or advanced play but not have it as a condition for exploring the overall game world. Progress can also be accomplished via the Skill Tree for jobs or adventure classes as well. Want to catch bigger better fish, grow better crops, kill more elite mobs? Level up those skills and the higher rewards are yours! It’s the ability to choose that makes a sandbox and it’s the removal of barriers that makes an open-world.

Kaloth
Guest
Kaloth

schmidtcapela Kaloth Thanks. It looks very beautiful. I may have to give it another chance.

schmidtcapela
Guest
schmidtcapela

KingoZZie Sorenthaz 
Not sure. Too many players* seem to think the most interesting thing to do in a game is ruining it for others.
Heck, UO itself already had plenty of interesting systems back in 1999, and still the devs were only able to bring ganking in check by cloning the world and disabling PvP in one of the resulting worlds.

*Not the majority, mind. But enough players to ruin the game for those that don’t find counteracting that kind of player fun.

schmidtcapela
Guest
schmidtcapela

Lethality Robert80 
Which is why you test new designs and concepts either on low budget games or in optional parts (as in, won’t drag the whole down if they suck) of larger games.

Which, in turn, is why players that say they want some kind of game, but that they only accept spending money on it if it has AAA production values, are shooting themselves on the foot. AAA games that are different from what other AAA titles are already doing only get developed if similar, but non-AAA, games become quite successful.

schmidtcapela
Guest
schmidtcapela

darklikedeepwater 
Instancing is often a design choice. Even not taking into account the technical issues it solves, instancing has specific advantages (and disadvantages) compared with a non-instanced system. This is particularly true for MMOs, where the devs might want to provide a piece of content as a sheltered experience, where other players can’t interfere.

Or, in other words: technical issues aside, instancing has its place.