The Daily Grind: How open-ended do you want your MMORPGs to be?

    
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A few months ago, MOP’s Justin was gently teasing me about playing on a Star Wars Galaxies emulator, and he asked me about my goals there. I sheepishly admitted I’d done what I initially set out to do, which was rebuild a replica of my teahouse from SOE’s old servers. What now though? he wondered. What do you do next?

I suspect the vast majority of MMORPG players brought up on themeparks think about MMOs exactly this way. They train us to do this. You do a thing the game offers up, and then you do the next thing, and the next. Eventually, you’ll run out of levels to grind, raids to beat, quests to do, whatever, and then you either start over on an alt, farm, or quit, even temporarily. But either way, you’re playing for chiefly extrinsic goals.

To me, the beauty of a sandbox is that I’m never done and all of my goals are intrinsic. It means you have to rely on yourself to decide what to do, but you also get to rely on yourself to decide what to do. That’s the tradeoff. And so I have a list of crafting and exploring stuff I’d like to do in SWG now that my teahouse – or at least one floor of it – is looking badass.

How do you decide what to do “next” in your MMOs? How open-ended do you want your MMORPGs to be?

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!
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Nephele
Reader
Nephele

I have two answers to this.

From an adventure perspective, I want the game to periodically give me new things to do. That can take the form of new stories and plots to unravel, or new vertical or horizontal progression for my character. In PvE sandboxes I’ll happily spend months traveling to the far corners of the world to get all the different items that I might want or need, as an example. But the game does need to provide that stuff. I’m not going to go out and explore dungeons without some kind of reason to want to do that thing.

However, I’m also a crafter, a community organizer, and somewhat of a roleplayer (although that last bit might be a little subjective). So, I split my time between adventuring stuff, and things like building and maintaining a virtual store with crafted goods, or setting up community events. I’m not all one way or one the other. I do both.

And thus it’s important to me that the games I play really support both. I tire of on-rails experiences and “themeparks”. I prefer sandbox style where you can choose your own path and where horizontal progression is a real thing. But I do need for there to be some directed content as well. Because sometimes, you really do want to be able to slay the dragon and save the princess.

Reader
Anstalt

I want my MMO to be as open-ended as possible.

Massively-multiplayer….we’re supposed to be playing with 1000s of other players at the same time. Multiplayer becomes more enjoyable when you know the people you play with and that only becomes possible with repeated contact and time.

So, if your game is completely open-ended, not only do you always have more to do (if you can come up with stuff) but you consistently bump into other people, form friendships and that improves the entire experience.

That said, sometimes my imagination runs out or the sandbox simply doesn’t give you enough tools to do what you want, so I’m still a fan of having themepark elements in my games. As long as you aren’t tying character progression to the themepark elements I think that’s fine.

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Pandalulz

I’ll be honest, I have neither the patience, motivation, or imagination to make my own fun anymore. Maybe in another ten years, when the kid moves out and off, maybe I’ll find the spare time. But for now, somebody else entertain me, I’m too tired to do it myself.

kjempff
Reader
kjempff

Very. Even more open ended than Everquest. That is the kind of mmo I have been dreaming of for 15 years. I am just utterly burned out on the story driven formula.

What does open ended mean? Well open ended does not mean sandbox and the developer is still creating the content. As opposed to story driven, open ended content give the player freedom to pick and choose not only what content to do, but the content itself is so granulated and intertwined that the player by their choices essentially create their own (unique) story (through the freedom in choice of content). This does not mean that the developer has not made quests or stories, but instead of herding the player through that, it is just made available (obviously with incentives to explore it) – And at the same time split up these quest and stories so that the player can opt in and out at any time.
Also… A story does not have to be bound to a quest or any concrete player participation, it can be anything in the world from visuals (what is that ruin? this looks like old farmland, I wonder if that is connected to the orc invasion that library book mention or the drunkard in the inn), to drops (a strange glowing stone, what is this ? should I ask someone about it), to npc doing their routines or why aren’t this npc doing their routine..should I follow and learn?..and so on. Players choose and pick, the game doesn’t force anything on the player, the game only offers the content, the world.

EqNext promised that – ignore the lion king, voxels, bad combat, Landmark and all the other ways they failed, and think only of the idea was laid out when they announced it – A dynamic living breathing world to adventure in, where players choose and make their own stories.

Anyways.. Yeah make me such a open ended mmo, it can’t be true that a 20 year old game should still the best of that kind.

creationguru
Reader
creationguru

I prefer my games open ended when it comes to MMORPG’s in that I want to be able to immerse myself in the world and live there. Feel most games have gotten away from that in that almost all items mean nothing except a currency sink.

Now just for reference I am from the beginning days of MMORPG’s (day one of UO launch) and feel that sandboxes are the way to make a game open ended. You can have story and some quests to help round out the story and lore of the world but the game should not just be a single player game with other players just doing there single player thing along side in the same environment.

Party Finders, Levels (in general), instances all break all of this immersion and open ended ness. I have never been a find of a gear grind (always lose interest in FFXIV once at end game except to help friends). I need my economy to mean something and I have to have some type of stake in the game loss of loot on death, etc.

Vaeris
Reader
Vaeris

Completely open-ended. I want the devs to make an awesome background of a world with all kinds of plots and drama going on in the background and then let me decide the HOW I want to exist in that world. SWG allows that. You want to be a moisture farmer, you can. You want to sell food and drink outside the starport of your choice, you can. You want to make a living as a party host and have parties on your space ship, you can. All of that with the GCW going on in the background.

The majority of MMO developers approach development stuck in the old single player mentality that player HAVE to be combat heroes. That that is the only fun. They are wrong.

Carlo Lacsina
Staff
Carlo Lacsina

So open I fall through the game itself XD.

I also want a game where just killing mobs in the open world will give me some form of progression somewhere.

Reader
Iridescence

As an oldschool RPG player I hate being railroaded. my ideal game is one which I can set my own goals and play at my own pace.

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
NeoWolf

I like my games somewhere in the middle, in so much as I love the freedom to do what I want when I want, how I want but I also love an overriding story and questlines.
I mean as much as I liked SWG outside of the legacy quest it was essentially too much of a blank canvas for my tastes.

So I like it soemwhere between the two..

Reader
Witches

I’ve only ever played themeparks (and whatever BDO is) but i don’t understand why people act as if themepark and sandbox are incompatible, after i’m done with the story, rather than doing the gear grind, repeating dailies/dungeons/raids or rolling alts, i just go build or craft or do whatever, basically “other players are the content” minus the ganking, even when i’m doing a scripted quest it’s great to cross the path of some people roleplaying or doing some other things, it’s easier to have players make the world seem alive than to program countless mobs to act as if they were individuals.

Also if the story is something i can pick back up at anytime it would be great, obviously the world doesn’t need to be saved right now, ’cause it didn’t end after i went to bed yesterday…

I like stories and characters, but i don’t see how people who just ignore it and do something else, are harming me and the other story minded players, likewise if they can just do whatever, why is it a problem if i’m following the breadcrumbs?

xpsync
Reader
xpsync

That’s kinda how the NGE is working ala SWG:Legends, i did the entire Legacy Quest line, with many other quest lines still to do if you want, but yea i did that and it dropped me into a massive sandbox to play in.

Reader
Barnoc N'Draak

The problem is that many games force you to grind out a lot of quests or story missions before you can go where, and do what, you want.

xpsync
Reader
xpsync

Yea swg total opposite, ok i logged in and… (sink or swim) nge assisted some but still comes down to that.