Saturday, 15 February 2014

Post of the day: MMO, community and sandbox

After playing different MMOs off and on for a while I decided to log back in on Guild Wars 2 today. What I found really surprised me. Instead of finding people in the open world I found them... Here. 

On a beach. In an area with no useful non player controllable characters (NPCs), with no dungeons, with no enemies to kill. Just a beach. People were saying goodbye to this old beach, because this zone will be getting destroyed in a few days. It is so exciting and quite nostalgic to see old places go, therefore people decided to host a beach party. A beach party that already lasted for 5 hours when I discovered it.

That got me thinking. A lot of MMO developers forgot that the best way to keep the player coming back is not new tiers of gear, not putting a piece of loot behind a cruel time gate (time gate is when a developer forces the player to take a certain amount of time to get an item. For example there's a requirement to repeat a daily quest 20 times), but the community. People like to play with people. The log into massively multiplier games because they want to share their experience with hundreds of other people.

Making raid bosses that require a hundred people is the right approach then!

That's not entirely what I'm trying to say. Sure massive bosses in MMO can be fun. However bare in mind that the more people it will require, the less times it will be killed and the more people will be excluded.

For example this is a picture of my server being overly happy after beating a really hard world boss. We were ecstatic. It took us days and days of tries, but we finally did it!
However what happened after our server did it once? Nobody wanted to do it again. Too much effort, too much organization required. We left our mark, we did it once, why do it again?

Let's talk sandbox 

There are two types of sandbox and both are equally good for an MMO:

                                                            Combat Based Sandbox

Leave your players a reason to fight each other. Either add a political system or some uncontrolled areas that players can take over. Add competition.

Look at EVE online for example. Recently the biggest battle in the game has happened. It lasted for over 3 days with players getting more ships and coming back. It must have been an unforgettable experience and a good memory for all those that participated. What did developers have to do for all of this? Nothing. All they needed to do was to set some empty space as something that can be controlled by a guild.

Role-playing based Sandbox

This type of sandbox requires offering the player a lot of different types of interactions that they could use. For example allowing players to play musical instruments, to have different dances, to allow them to hold their own property and similar elements to that.

By adding such elements you encourage creativity in your players, get free advertisement from them on video sites and you're allowed to take more time with making new content because the players are busy doing things like this remix:

What was the point of this article?

I just wanted to say that sandbox is good. I feel the need to say it, because developers seem to keep on forgetting that. Ever since the theme park (theme park means that all of the content is controlled by the developer. They add raids, attractions and players can do nothing else but only participate in this content. Players are not allowed to create) MMOs became unbelievably popular, the ability to add some sandbox elements seems to have been forgotten. So please, provide players with the ability to create their own memories, it will take some of the pressure to get content out as fast as possible from your developers shoulders and it will make your MMO much more lively. 

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