Theme Park Meets Sandbox. Themebox?
Or how about Sandpark?
My question about raiding as an endgame yesterday received lots of interesting comments and replies which I loved reading and responding to. It got me thinking about whether or not it would be possible to combine the open, player driven perpetual worlds of sandbox MMORPGs with the gated, level driven worlds of theme park MMOs.
Sandbox MMOs like EVE Online tend to offer a vast amount of choice and freedom. They don’t necessarily focus on raiding as an endgame, or at all, but instead provide the players with their own means of determining the nature of the world they live in. Usually this is through PvP and battles over territory and guild wars but it may also extend into crafting monopolies and political alliances. Suffice to say, there is plenty of room to grow and the appeal of this type of game is great as it truly is about the players deciding on how their world is shaped. The Butterfly Effect as CCP called it.
The downside of sandbox MMORPGs though is that they tend to be very difficult to penetrate and learn and can often be very scary and unappealing to new players. They also tend to lack contained stories and, as we’re seeing with Star Wars: The Old Republic, story driven MMOs are the latest and hottest trend.
Theme park MMORPGs on the other hand offer very controlled, gated and obvious progression. It’s easy for a new player to jump into a game like this, pick a race and class and get stuck into the game. Their levels and abilities are clear and obvious and the game can be very accessible and friendly. Not that it’s always utilised well, but gated content can also offer some great story driven elements and clear forms of progression to the user. I’m going to use that old chestnut Tortage (from Age of Content) as an example of self-contained, story driven, gated content that rocked our socks off.
The downside of theme park MMOs though is that they tend to be quite bland in comparison to their sandbox brothers. The appeal of a game like EVE Online is that you can effect everyone with your actions but in World of Warcraft, your individual actions are almost meaningless outside of your own guild. Nothing you do in a theme park game is going to influence anyone else.
So, my mad scientist mind has started wondering if there’s a way to combine to the two into some sort of super MMORPG, a themebox sandpark if you will. And why not? There’s no rule which states that you can’t have classes or level progression in a sandbox world or a free form, sandbox world as the endgame of a theme park MMO to replace raiding.
Can these two entities ever exist as one? Or should I just lay off the crazy pills?