Sandbox vs. Themepark

  • Although I've addressed whether Pantheon is more sandbox or themepark (or vice versa) before, I recently had the opportunity to make this post and it's actually not terribly verbose (which is progress for me) so why not put it up here as well:

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    I totally agree there's a serious dearth of games like Pantheon right now, which is great for us (not competing in a crowded market).

    As for sandbox vs themepark I hear you but let me give you my quick thoughts (I'm pretty sure I've posted in the past in more detail on this too):

    I'm all for the 'ideal' of having a total sandbox.  But I don't think we're there yet, being able to offer to the players the ability to create content, mechanics, etc.  And without that, e.g. a sandbox game without players being able to make real change and contribute real content I think a purely sandbox MMO will face some serious challenges.

    That said, you guys all know we are against total themepark games too, even feeling we went too far with VG (quest hubs, etc.).

    So this may be interpreted in different ways by different people (which is fine -- just post a reply/question and I'll try to clarify) but here goes:

    You create a sandbox and then you put a 'themepark' in that sandbox.  That way your foundation is there both for 1. more sandboxy play to evolve before and after launch and 2. you can put other themeparks into your sandbox without bringing down a house of cards.

    What I'm getting at there and have posted about in the past is our desire to, especially post-launch, offer additional advancement paths.  We're of course starting with the basics (would be foolish not to):  awesome combat/hack-n-slash combined with some pretty cool questing ideas (perception, etc.).   Bottom line:  Pantheon at launch is an awesome PvE adventuring MMO.

    Some of the alternate horizontal paths will be present (I would consider harvesting/crafting to be one).  But what I'm tallking about for the future would be somewhat akin to what we tried in VG (no need to go into what happened there).   In other words, in VG you could be a level 5 adventurer, level 10 crafter, and level 8 diplomat.  

    You may ask perhaps, "why aren't you launching with more than one path?" and the answer is simply that we've learned not to bite off more than we can chew.  We know if we make an awesome adventure PvE MMO we will be successful ehough to then grow the team perhaps even further and put some of our efforts (in addition to the live and expansion teams) into additional paths.  Conversely if we offer 2 or 3 paths but the core game isn't solid, doesn't perform well, doesn't have enough content, then we are in big trouble.

    So I see the future (post-launch) involve additional advancement paths which would make the game more sandboxy.  And then, although this will take a bit longer, the ability for players (or a subset of players) to create content themselves.   I'm going to leave it at that though as I don't want to over-hype post-launch stuff, plus I'm pretty sure I've already posted in the past about User Generated Content.

    Bottom line though:  A pure sandbox isn't really a game.  Pantheon is definitely influenced by our desire to head in the sandbox direction, but a pure sandbox is not what we're looking for.  Rather, while you shouldn't feel you're on rails, going through quest hubs, forced to follow 1-2 paths, etc, there's still Pantheon the game that sits within the sandbox foundation.  Then, by making sure we have such a foundation, we can not just vertically add content (expansions, new regions to explore, new classes and races, etc.) but also horizontally begin to offer advancement paths beyond your typical adventure focus.

4 comments
  • CanadinaXegony
    CanadinaXegony Glad to see you mention the three spheres..ala Vanguard, from what I've read over time, people really loved diplomacy...so I'm kinda hoping we see that some day after release, maybe an expac? Diplomacy in VG was yet another way to learn about the game'...  more
    September 16
  • Saicred
    Saicred Love this direction and may seem strange but... the most exciting piece about this to me was "You may ask perhaps, "why aren't you launching with more than one path?" and the answer is simply that we've learned not to bite off more than we can chew. We k...  more
    September 19
  • fancy
    fancy I really love your blog posts and hope you try to continue to add more of your own thoughts (as often as possible) as the game progresses and more questions/concerns from people arise. Being able to read what you intend for the future of Pantheon just sho...  more
    September 20
  • Gamerchick
    Gamerchick You are absolutely right about a sandbox not being a game. ( although I do love the creative aspects of it. )

    I love that you guys are incorporating elements of it though as I do enjoy being able to decide how and where I spend my time on occasion.
    ...  more
    October 13