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EverQuest Next: Smedley, the Sandbox, and Online Society 
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Post EverQuest Next: Smedley, the Sandbox, and Online Society
By Victor Barreiro Jr. on February 13, 2014

I was planning on writing an article relating to what I’ve been able to do in the game, but a recent blog post by Sony Online Entertainment (SOE) president John Smedley just made me throw out my plans and focus on it.

In a blogpost, Smedley discussed SOE’s vision of the sandbox, and why the sandbox model of MMORPGs is looking like the way forward for the industry. It’s an insightful peek into his thoughts and, more importantly, it’s a great look at why Everquest Next made a shift in its development cycle to become a sandbox MMORPG (or two).
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The Online World is Gone

Smedley’s blog, titled “The Sandbox MMO,” is what I’d call his personal sentiments regarding the MMORPG industry in the age of social media capital and crowdsourced data aggregation.

In his post, he notes that current online games are what he calls “content driven.” Whether it’s quests, dungeons, or raids, Smedley says “we have made things for the players to explicitly do either by themselves or as a group.” While various innovations have come about, such as public questing, PVP batlegrounds, and whatnot, he observed that “this idea of the MMO company making stuff for the players to do has become the defacto.”

In his next paragraph, he then states a premise many long-time MMORPG players and, perhaps, EVE Online fans, would probably agree with: the content-driven MMO model is unsustainable. The problem, he notes, isn’t the quests themselves, since they are perfectly fine bits of content that everyone can enjoy.

He instead points to two big difference between the online games of 1997 and the online games of 2013: the mystery of an online world is, more or less, gone.

He writes, “The real issue is a simple one – our ability to consume that content as players has gotten to the point that most content is done by the players nearly immediately after it’s released. It’s also laid out for all to see on any number of websites that contain complete spoilers up to and including the loot drop percentages.“

While he does praise other games that have done the content model well, such as SWTOR and its well-crafted storylines, he also says that they fall into the same trap of having nothing to do when the content is exhausted.

Be the Content You Want to See in the World

The above subhead extrapolates an oft-disputed quote attributed to Mahatma Gandhi: “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” I think it fits well enough for Smedley’s solution though, which is to focus “on letting players make and be content for each other.” Citing battlegrounds, LOTRO’s music system, and auction houses, his opinion is that it’s important to have additional systems that create new ways for people to play.

Smedley writes, “Building systems into the games that let the players interact with each other in new and unique ways gives us the ability to watch as the players do stuff we never anticipated.” He imagines a city where the rogue’s guild is made up of actual players, and a “political system that is populated by players who were elected by the playerbase.”

While the player election thing has happened in other games, such as Archlord, TERA, and ESO in the future, having that sort of election system in place makes for an excellent metagame of campaigning. If you count player councils, then you certainly have people invested heavily into their game of choice choosing people they feel will champion their beliefs.

That digression aside, he notes that having a ton of interconnected systems with players that create the stories other players will remember. Heck, search for EVE B-R5RB online and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

Sony’s Pushing Forward

Smedley ended with this paragraph, which I’ll quote in full:

Our belief at SOE is that it’s smarter to head in this direction now rather than waiting. We want to innovate and let players be a part of everything we do including make the game in the first place. We’re going to take the idea of sandbox gaming and we’re putting it at the core of everything we’re doing. We’ll obviously still be making awesome stuff for players to do, but we’re going to aim very high in terms of letting players be a part of the game systems. The more emergent sandbox style content we can make the less predictable the experience will be.

This feels to me like a pretty big tactical shift. SOE has appeared to many as the one trailing behind and revising its systems to make inroads on what’s popular in gaming, but this shift seems to point to SOE focusing on the bigger issues an online society. that people in 2014 are looking to safely enjoy something they don’t normally experience, and that online society values transparency in large corporations.

Nearly two years ago, I wrote about how the sandbox MMO could distance itself from being seen as free-for-all PVP games. In it, I praised Pathfinder Online and Storybricks as trying to push for sandbox play while mixing content-driven elements into it.

Well, Storybricks is now a part of Everquest Next and Everquest Next: Landmark. If we can have what I termed as “a game world that allows for world-building at all levels of play yet has enough of the conveniences that theme park players are accustomed to, like auction house systems, or mail, or the average theme park quest,” then I think the industry will be much better off.

More importantly, if Everquest Next and Landmark can pull off sandbox worlds combined with content-driven aspects, we could be looking at the new front-runners of future online games.

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Mon Feb 17, 2014 7:37 pm
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Post Re: EverQuest Next: Smedley, the Sandbox, and Online Society
Her er bloggen det refereres til:
http://smedsblog.com/2014/02/11/the-sandbox-mmo/

Akkurat det jeg vil høre fra presidenten i et av verden største MMO skapere.

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Mon Feb 17, 2014 8:11 pm
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Post Re: EverQuest Next: Smedley, the Sandbox, and Online Society
søt musikk i mine ører :)

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Mon Feb 17, 2014 10:29 pm
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Post Re: EverQuest Next: Smedley, the Sandbox, and Online Society
Høyt fokus på PvP med andre ord?
Noen som vet hvordan kamp system EQN er tiltenkt?
EQ var mitt første ordentlige mmo og jeg ser frem til hva de får til med EQN!

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Wed Feb 19, 2014 6:00 pm
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Post Re: EverQuest Next: Smedley, the Sandbox, and Online Society
Hva får deg til å mene at det er høyt fokus på PvP? Det var trukket frem som et eksempel på player content, men selv spiller jeg ikke PvP annet enn for å grinde noen lett tjente items eller lignende.

Det er mange måter å lage player generated content på uten å denge hverandre i filler. Korrekt implementering av crafting, kjøp og salg, community etc.

Leste et sted at de skal også ha en form for playergenererte quest, i tillegg til at ting som mobs vil stikke om du denger det for mye og finne seg en annen plass og være. Er det forutsigbart kan det f.eks. være interesant å samles innimellom for å drive vekk fra steder du ikke ønsker dem å være.

Om kampsystemet: Aner ikke, men skal jeg tippe blir det en blanding mellom noe alla Wildstar og klassisk EQ system.

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Wed Feb 19, 2014 6:37 pm
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Post Re: EverQuest Next: Smedley, the Sandbox, and Online Society
Det er jaggu på tide at disse utviklerne forstår at folk flest ikke vil ha wow2.0. Det tar jaggu tid.

Nisje games er tingen. Ikke prøv å tilpasse spillet til alle slags spillere.

Dersom age of conan ikke hadde prøvd å gå mer main stream ved å lage wow2.0, og det etter at de faktisk fant opp hjulet som mange ønsker, da ville veldig mange fortsatt spilt det idag. Det var, som EQ fyren sier - "content you want to see".


Wed Feb 19, 2014 8:11 pm
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Post Re: EverQuest Next: Smedley, the Sandbox, and Online Society
Kunne ønske meg litt mer PvP relaterte quester i et mmo jeg.
Som f.eks en quest hvor du skal drepe en navngitt random spiller fra en annen faction som du da vil få opp i ditt map.
Hadde vært utrulig kult å måtte jakte opp denne spilleren og time når du skal gå til angrep uten at du selv blir tatt.
Eller f.eks en quest hvor du skal drepe 5 mann fra et navngitt guild etc.
Mange muligheter innenfor PvP quests som ville gitt spillet en helt annen dimensjon!

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Wed Feb 19, 2014 10:29 pm
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Post Re: EverQuest Next: Smedley, the Sandbox, and Online Society
Pagan wrote:
Kunne ønske meg litt mer PvP relaterte quester i et mmo jeg.
Som f.eks en quest hvor du skal drepe en navngitt random spiller fra en annen faction som du da vil få opp i ditt map.
Hadde vært utrulig kult å måtte jakte opp denne spilleren og time når du skal gå til angrep uten at du selv blir tatt.
Eller f.eks en quest hvor du skal drepe 5 mann fra et navngitt guild etc.
Mange muligheter innenfor PvP quests som ville gitt spillet en helt annen dimensjon!


Vanskelig å hindre abuse når man snakker om navngitte players/guild...
Men jeg har spillt et mmo hvor de hadde et pvp game som gikk over flere uker, hvor man skulle snikmyrde navngitte spillere som man fikk på mail. Og man hadde noen dager på seg, før at man failed mission og fikk et nytt navn å drepe. Samtidig jaktet noen på deg selv også, slik at det var ikke alltid like gøy å møte folk ;) Tilslutt sto det bare 1 vinner igjen som fikk en premie ;)

F.eks om pvp quests bare gir deg navn på motspillere som deltar i samme pvp questlinje så kan det bli morro forutsatt at det å tape gjør at du ikke bare kan gå tilbake og plukke opp questen på nytt. Her må det et reelt tap til skal det fungere.

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Thu Feb 20, 2014 10:00 pm
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