sandbox

Sandboxes are a type of MMO that emphasize player freedom and expression. They frequently include mechanics for building, crafting, trading, character customization and development, roleplaying, destruction, and significant interaction with the world and other players. A sandbox that is dominated by an open-PvP or free-for-all ruleset is sometimes pejoratively called a gankbox. Contrast with the themepark.

The Survivalist: Using Conan Exiles for a virtual tabletop campaign

So I’ve been thinking. (A dangerous pastime, I know!) And I have actually been formulating an idea. And that is using a survival game like Conan Exiles to run a guided player campaign. You see, way back when as I was first playing D&D and other tabletop campaigns, I dreamed of the ability to play them in virtual reality. Can you imagine it? Instead of saying, “I cast a fireball,” you actually just do it! It is still a dream; a VR experience is not quite possible yet, but when I found MMORPGs I felt it was one step closer. I could see my actions play out in an adventure. However, for the most part it was an already scripted adventure according to the game devs. In some cases there were tools for players to make their own adventures (and boy, have I celebrated those!), but there were still more like story vignettes in a larger world out of the game master’s control. To  really have a fully-crafted experience, you need greater control than what the MMORPGs afforded.

And then came survival games. Now there is a whole world you can take control of and run a story campaign. Granted, they aren’t perfect, but survival games offer more tools for creating a robust visual player campaign a la tabletops. And that’s exactly what I am planning in Conan Exiles.

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No Man’s Sky’s Next update drops next week with absurd amounts of space and land content

Don’t call it an MMO yet, but Even More Multiplayer is making its way to No Man’s Sky with its “Next” update. Hello Games today dropped a new trailer showing off how the “limitless procedural universe” is coming along. In fact, you haven’t got long to wait to play it yourself, as it’s rolling out next week on July 24th (Europeans have to wait an extra three days to the 27th for some reason).

“The new mode will be added to the limitless procedural universe across all platforms next week via the No Man’s Sky NEXT update, coinciding with the game’s launch on Xbox One, in a publishing partnership with 505 Games for physical retail. With this launch, players across Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and Steam for PC will be able to explore, fight and survive with friends as they voyage across the vast celestial sandbox.”

Hello Games is touting a whole slew of features, including small-group exploration, the chance to “prey on others to survive,” building shelters and colonies, exocraft racing, custom race track creation and sharing, “epic space battles,” unlimited base building, fleet control, capital ships, “challenging multiplayer missions,” and a massive visual upgrade. Holy crap. Maybe that’s why the game’s recent reviews on Steam are pretty positive, eh?

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The Daily Grind: How can we solve Reddit’s gaming ‘tragedy of the commons’ problem?

In dealing with the ArenaNet fallout over the last couple of weeks, I started giving serious thought to the Reddit problem in gaming, and I’m not just talking about the overt hate groups allowed to fester there. You know how one of the rules of thumb for MMORPG communities for the longest time was never go to the official forums because you’d come away feeling depressed and dejected, believing the game community was a hot mess and your class was most assuredly the most broken? Reddit is like that, only nobody there cares enough about fixing it to see it through, and so we’ve got a tragedy of the commons problem playing out in cyberspace.

When game companies owned their own discussion spaces, most of them at least made some modicum of effort to keep them respectable. Oh, sure, some took that way too far and deleted criticism, but most, barring the very biggest, tamped down on toxicity because that space reflected on them. They cared. This is how I feel about our own comment section, incidentally, because our team owns this site and cares about the conversations we have here, unlike many other sites owned by corporate groups that don’t even care if comments exist at all.

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Shroud of the Avatar’s newsletter covers the mysterious comet and player-created dungeon tools

Strange sights abound in Shroud of the Avatar right now. “Astronomers across New Britannia have noted that the approaching comet has agitated the creatures of Novia and Hidden Vale, making many bolder and more ferocious,” the game’s latest newsletter teases. “Rumors suggest that the aether surrounding the comet has been mutating some of the most powerful creatures into new monstrous variations.” That’s all in the lead-up to next week’s Release 56, so best get in there and try not to die. Portalarium further notes that it’s planning another stream with more info about what’s inbound to the game, including more tools for player-generated content.

“One of the new features we plan to discuss is a set of new building tools including dungeon creation (player property) and defense building (player property, castle defenses and control points). These are part of a larger effort to increase the community’s ability to craft their own adventures that includes existing tools like notes and signs but is also expanding with other new features like advanced container settings (locks, place/take settings, etc.) along with craftable/purhasable/placeable traps and spawners (spider eggs, skeleton crypts, etc.). When you put all of these things together your ability to craft adventures will be limited only by your imagination! Last livestream we also did not get a chance to talk another cool thing coming for Episode 2 which is the ability to ‘un-nest’ and/or transfer your Player Owned Town into the new lands!”

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Star Citizen backer took CIG to small claims court over his refund request – and lost

The Star Citizen refunds subreddit is often the home of big words and tall tales, but Redditor firefly212 did more than just talk: He actually tried to take Cloud Imperium to court over his refund request. Unfortunately for him, he lost in small claims court and the case has been sent to arbitration, as the judge apparently agreed with CIG that its retroactive policy regarding refund arbitration should apply even to donors and package-buyers who began contributing to the game before that policy existed.

“In mediation, CIG/RSI would not agree to refund the portion of my account not covered by the arbitration agreement. Though lawyers aren’t permitted, CIG/RSI lawyers drafted and submitted statements that were permitted. The judge declined to hear anything about the conscionability or lack of consideration in the TOS. Despite the top sentence on the TOS, CIG/RSI successfully argued that the arbitration clause should be applied to transactions even before the clause existed. CIG/RSI repeatedly argued that there is a playable game and that funds have been earned, but the judge did not rule that either. Following application of arbitration clause to transactions outside covered dates, court orders matter to arbitration, case is dismissed without prejudice.”

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First Life is Feudal content update unites the worlds, introduces PvP arenas, and adds clergy and slavery

Bitbox recently released the first major content update for its medieval sandbox survival game Life is Feudal, and it brings with it a slew of new features, including the uniting of the game’s numerous worlds, a PvP arena, the slavery system (really), and the clergy system. And to celebrate the new update’s release, Bitbox is granting all players a set of “God’s Favor” currency, the total amount of which is valued at over $2 million US.

With the new united map, players can now travel “freely” (i.e., with subscription-based restrictions) between the game’s worlds as well as trade between worlds via trade posts. For those who want to test their combat prowess against other players, the update introduces new PvP arenas, which pit up to 20 players against one another in free-for-all battles, with the top three players in each match taking home prizes of coins and PvP ranking points.

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The MOP Up: Star Trek Online’s DS9 expansion gets a console release date (July 14, 2018)

The MMO industry moves along at the speed of information, and sometimes we’re deluged with so much news here at Massively Overpowered that some of it gets backlogged. That’s why there’s The MOP Up: a weekly compilation of smaller MMO stories and videos that you won’t want to miss. Seen any good MMO news? Hit us up through our tips line!

Maybe you’ll discover a new game in this space — or be reminded of an old favorite! This week we have stories and videos from ElswordEVE OnlineSoulworker OnlineLeague of LegendsRealm RoyaleSurvived ByEverQuest IIProsperous UniverseBlack Desert Mobile, and Star Trek Online, all waiting for you after the break!

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Multiplayer survival sandbox Outpost Zero hits Steam early access

The super pretty survivalbox Outpost Zero has planted roots in Steam’s early access program. It’s currently $15.99; tinyBuild and Symmetric Games say it’s a fully featured version of the game, though the devs are still working on more mechanics and balancing, particularly in regard to PvP and base raiding. The full launch is expected early next year.

“This Early Access version is a fully featured version of the game. Animals, Pirate Raids, PvP combat, Base Building, Corporations, and Bot AI are all implemented to create a full cohesive survival experience. We will continue to polish and improve these systems over the course of Early Access release. […] In the final version of the game we will be introducing many more powerful and fun Bot AI classes to craft, many additional Pirate Raid mechanics, Flying Vehicles, Massive Battle Mechs, several additional game modes (like horde mode and team vs team base defense), and of course a ton more content, from Equipment and Weapons, Structure types, Animal classes, and more.”

Massively OP’s MJ has been touring the game this summer as part of her deep-dive into multiple survival games for her ongoing column; you can check those streams out below, along with the official quickstart tutorial and trailer.

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Global Chat: Looking back at World of Warcraft’s Legion

Now that the next World of Warcraft expansion is almost upon us, it’s time to say farewell to Legion and all that that entails. MMO blog Leo’s Life took some time for a retrospective that examines the highs, lows, and patch rollout over the past two years.

“Aside from the penalties to alts, I think Legion delivered an amazing package,” he said. “The timing of content release was good, the content was relatively bug-free, the lore was solid, the flows inside each zone worked… it was all rather seamless.”

We’ve got plenty of additional MMO essays for you after the break, covering topics such as player housing, grouping, events, ageless MMO thrills, and more!

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The Game Archaeologist: A history of EverQuest’s expansions

I don’t know if EverQuest holds the crown title for the MMO with the most expansions, but I’m sure it’s among the top three if not at the number one spot on that list. It’s astounding to count them up and realize that two dozen expansions have come out for that game between 2000 and 2017. That averages to a little more than one per year!

Today I want to pay tribute to the 24 expansions of EverQuest by going through them, one by one, and seeing how they grew and enriched the game over the past decade-and-a-half. I would also love to hear testimonies in the comments as to which EverQuest expansion you enjoyed the most!

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Blossom and Decay offers emergent narrative in an anything-goes sandbox

In the market for a full-loot, retro-themed MMO sandbox? Your specific tastes may be satiated by Blossom and Decay, an up-and-coming MMOARPG that will offer crossplay between PC and mobile platforms.

The team is designing the game so that players, not developers, provide the core content: “Instead of scripted quest-lines in the game, players fashion their own narratives through a wide set of social mechanics and external PvE pressure. The world’s story is constantly molded by its citizens. […] Everything is created and arranged by the players wherever they choose, from buildings and roads to respawn-points, quests, goods, trade and the laws of the land. Players will toil to imprint their history in this virgin world.”

In one interesting twist, the game allows for automated offline play in which a person’s character will continue to execute activities by itself.

Currently, Blossom and Decay is enjoying some additional promotion from Square-Enix Collective. The team is lobbying fans to vote for the title to gain support going forward.

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Black Desert takes nodes and conquest offline for a new ruleset

When Black Desert updates on July 18th, new rules for Node and Conquest Wars will be getting rolled out along with the other changes. In order to facilitate this, the developers are ending the current battles for conquest on July 14th, which is this Sunday. The conflict will remain unavailable until July 22nd, when players can once again resume the fine art of smashing one another in the face to gain control of the landscape.

The official announcement does not mention what these changes will be, but as an international game players already suspect that it’s going to be the ruleset Korean players have been dealing with for some time. The down side is that these rules are almost universally reviled on the Korean servers, so the thread is full of people begging the developers to not make this change. So this may not be a case of players eagerly anticipating the wars resuming on July 22nd, in other words.

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The Daily Grind: What exactly defines an ‘indie’ MMORPG studio?

Earlier this week, I happened to see a mainstream website refer to ArtCraft as an indie studio, and it jolted me. ArtCraft, as anybody reading MOP knows, is working on Crowfall, which at least in my estimation is a high-quality, graphics-intensive MMORPG from hardcore MMORPG veterans who’ve been in the business as long as anyone alive. The game has raised at least $12M or maybe $15M, at least counting up what we know about.

When I think of indie studios, I think of the tiny outfits working on games like Project Gorgon, Ever, Jane, and Ascent the Space Game. But of course Crowfall is also an indie, right? It’s not running a $500M budget; it’s not ensconced under a cozy AAA publisher umbrella. It crowdfunds.

Then again, aside from the budget/wealth, its profile looks like a bit like Epic Games’ – it even has an engine to vend now. So is it really just about money? Is Star Citizen, with its multiple studios and AAA budget, an indie because of crowdfunding? Camelot Unchained studio CSE has multiple studios – does that factor in?

I’m curious what you folks think. What exactly defines an indie MMO studio? What characteristics must an indie studio have or not have?

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