What would you actually do with all that sand?
Posted by Tobold's Blog [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 24 October 2012, 2:55 am
So Smedley announced that he wants to turn EQ Next not into just another Everquest, but into "the largest sandbox style MMO ever designed". I found it somewhat surprising, while simultaneously being disappointing for lack of imagination, that most commenters interpreted that as "there will be free-for-all PvP in the next Everquest". I don't think that this is what Smedley means. If anything, Everquest if famous for having *less* PvP than other MMORPGs.

What kind of sicko reacts to a promise of endless freedom and infinite possibilities with the response "oh great, finally I can gank other people!"? If ganking and griefing is the whole difference between a sandbox game and a themepark game then sorry, sandbox just lost forever. There is only a single game that is always presented as "proof" that free-for-all PvP can work commercially, EVE Online; and if you look a bit closer, the numbers don't hold up: First of all EVE has a lot less players than the numbers that are usually thrown around, because everybody just lists the number of accounts, not the number of players. EVE Online probably has less than 100,000 players, but many of them have multiple accounts because of the original pay-to-win scheme of only one character per account "leveling", and that even if offline. And second even CCP admits that over 80% of their players in any given month never leave safe empire space, so the number of actual EVE PvP players is below 20,000. I doubt Smedley plans to make an expensive new game for those 20,000 people.

So it will be interesting to see how SOE is planning to create a "sandbox" MMORPG that is *not* based on people ganking each other. I've played PvE sandbox games, for example A Tale in the Desert, but that one isn't exactly a huge commercial success either. Will players actually know what to do with all that sand? If you put a virtual hero in the middle of a fantastic virtual world and just tell him to go out and play, without holding his hand and telling him what to do all the time, will the players appreciate that sort of freedom? Or will they just log off, feeling lost?

What would you want to do in a fantasy MMORPG in which you had freedom to anything, except killing other players?
Tobold's Blog



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