While WildStar has been offering a lot of previews to eager fans, that hasn’t stymied player questions. It’s been known for some time that the game aims at being a sandpark-style game, midway between themepark and sandbox principles, but what does that mean in execution? Executive producer Jeremy Gaffney penned a piece today responding to player discussion on the topic and explaining how the team at Carbine Studios is trying to offer something for everyone.
Gaffney explains that the team wants to ensure that players aren’t lost or unsure of what to do next while at the same time not keeping the entire game on rails. The main method of doing this is by having coherent quests and missions coupled with more spontaneous content dependent on the state of the zone — so while there might always be a quest hub to the north, more dynamic events are roaming to the south that you won’t always encounter. Read the full article for more on the game’s content layout and the importance of zone-by-zone player feedback.
There’s not really a huge difference in sandbox or themepark MMOs. A sandbox is open ended in it’s execution, but there is a “path” that can be seen in the way the developer intended the progression. Especially if the world is sectioned off by levels and/or monster strength.
Themeparks are more blatant in prodding a player along a set path. The real difference should be in their reuse potential, but that rarely seems to be the case because of things such as levels. Beginning areas are forgotten because the mobs that were there will be there until the trump of doom.
In terms of development, one would think that some company would finally get serious about this problem. It’s a true waste of development time and money if the players end up shunted on one corner of the world in a sandbox or themepark game. You spent time/money on content that players won’t even return to unless they’re re-rolling characters or slumming with lowbies.
While games like Guild Wars 2 have started to address this, it seems a far cry from earlier MMOs in this genre. Players may revisit old areas, but it will be like a quaint stop off without the player actually spending real time in the area, because everything in the area is antithetical to where their maximum level character is at the moment.