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Sandbox Expectations

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This may not be in the right spot so moderators please move it if needed.


 


OPINION INBOUND - Share yours without berating mine.


 


I have been pondering recently why Wurm Online has not exploded in population in the last few years given all the terrific content that has been added to the game since the official 1.0 release.  The usual response to this question is something like, "because the graphics suck" or "because it is not really 3D in every aspect" or some other similar feature complaint.  But I don't really think features is the problem.  I think the problem with Wurm numbers in general has to do with one thing: Sandbox Expectations.


 


Many players of sandbox MMOs have certain expectations.  They expect to be able to do what they want. They expect to be able to reach full potential when compared to other players in the sandbox.  They expect limitations to be minimal within reason.  They expect to explore a detailed wiki in order to discover every nook and crannie of the sandbox.  They expect others to know about the game and they sometimes even gauge interest based on how much other talk about the game.


 


In my opinion, Wurm fails in these expectations because:


 


1.  Cost.  Wurm is expensive.  Ok, it is not expensive to have a single premium character and live in a village where you are not obligated to help with upkeep.  In that context wurm is cheap!  However, that context is not what many sandbox MMO players expect or want.  In order to be able to enjoy most of the Wurm sandbox, honestly, you have to have at least 2 premium characters so that you can have at least a crafting main and a priest main.  Other games provide you with multiple characters per account for once price.  Even with 2 mains, the player STILL misses out on the experience of playing other priest types, running a village, etc.


 


Other sandbox games are not as limiting as Wurm is with a single paid account.  Most other games give you EVERYTHING with a paid subscription and partial content as free to play.  Wurm gives you almost nothing of value as free to play, LIMITATIONS GALORE as premium, and EVERYTHING NEVER - unless you fall into #2 below.  That makes wurm less appealing to someone who is used to other sandbox MMOs.


 


2.  Pay to Win.  Wurm is pay to win and that is a fact.  Players who spend more money on more premium toons become more self-sufficient and more capable of excelling past others who do not spend as much.  This is even more evident when you consider that players sell coin to other players.  Skills = Silver = Pay to Win.  Sandbox players want to play in the sandbox and feel as though EFFORT not money allows them to excel.  This is not the case with Wurm.


 


3.  Documentation.  Conider any other sandbox MMO and it will be difficult to identify one that does not document any and all features, recipes, formulas, game mechanics and numbers. The whole idea with a sandbox is the developers give INFORMATION and the players enjoy the CONTENT.  No so with Wurm.  Most of the time features are poorly documented and some have ZERO documentation.  This creates a critical learning curve that when coupled with the slow grind of Wurm, people are not going to stick around and put up with.


 


4.  Advertising.  I do my fair share of spreading the word about Wurm Online.  I am sure many players who love this game and spend as much time in it as I do (I spend on average 30 hours a week in this game) tell others every chance they get.  But Wurm does not get advertised properly from the company.  I have yet to see a single banner ad for Wurm on any MMO site on the internet.  They may exist, but I have never seen one.  MMO news sites like MassivelyOverpowered should be showing Wurm ads on their site.  I have seen BRAND NEW sandbox MMO's getting crowdfunded and splashed all over MMO sites.  Wurm has been in development for over a decade.  I just have to ask why!


 


There you have it.  These 4 reasons are why I think Wurm has not exploded in population given all the great development work that has been accomplished since 1.0.  


 


Wurm is not even the same game as a few years ago.  But.....  some things never seem to change....  


 


discuss.


 


 


 


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My opinions:

1. Half agreed, though I believe that it's looking from the POV from someone who has already experienced the game as premium. When I was new, I knew there were limitations, but they never really bothered me that much, mostly because I wasn't aware of all the possibilities and restrictions. As most of us are used to being premium pretty much all the time, the free limitations feel really heavy, because you're used to all that Freedom.

2. I don't understand the argument. It isn't odd that players who have more money are able to receive more benefits. That's pretty much how every game with a similar payment model works. The question is, are the benefits of paying so great that it makes you better in an unbalanced way? Personally I don't think so, unless you spend hundreds of euros in a very short amount of time.

3. Most sandboxes are not like Wurm. There aren't many games that give you the same level of freedom as Wurm does. Nowadays, I think there is a lot of documentation available for any player to get started. It's similar to how you start in Minecraft. To be able to do much, you have to invest some time looking up how to do things. Once you did it a couple of times, you'll remember it.

4. There were some banners on some sites at some points, but I don't really know much more than that. Wurm could definitely use more advertising. The question is more, how should it be advertised? Are banners on sites really succesful?

I think that the reason why Wurm hasn't exploded, is because Wurm is just not really fun for everyone. The way the game works isn't very popular. Waiting long times for results isn't appealing to a lot of people. At the same time, the developers can't just change the entire direction of their game without losing a lot of existing customers.

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I find all four points very valid.  I'd like to add another:


 


5. features take priority over bugs.  Far too often, we see new content being delivered on top of old buggy content.  Wurm development is like a Jenga game.  The keep stacking new code on top of this old wobbly tower that is full of missing pieces and pieces that just don't work.  It will collapse again and again.


 


Being honest, how many of you have played games in the beta stage that had as many bugs as wurm, which is a production code game?


 


I'm not saying I don't like wurm.  I really do. I just wish it didn't take 5 years of 16hr days of grinding to get a main character to the place it needs to be.  So yes, to accomplish things in wurm, I pick up additional helpers to get things done. After topping 20 prem alts, I had to say "enough is enough" and go on a wurm diet.


 


I think there are probably only a few hundred people that play wurm and the rest are alts.  Almost everyone I know has multiple deeds and multiple prem accounts.  It is just too much.  I've easily dropped thousands on this game over the last few years. At my worst, my upkeep and prem time was running $300 a month.  My stretch goal is to bring it down to under $50.  How sad is that?  $50 a month is a goal?


 


I hope the wurm staff read this thread and seriously consider change.  It is never a good idea to have only a handful of clients and then bleed them dry.  Much better to bring in the masses and increase revenue through new players.


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"all other sandboxes" but  you forgot to say which other sandboxes you mean.


 


You are maybe a Wurm veteran, but from your comparisons it actually sounds like you are not used to other sandbox games at all.


EVE, Second Life, are the only games out there that are as sandboxy ("free" to influence) as Wurm is, and they are just as P2W as Wurm. 


 


Sandboxes typically do not have excellent documentation, because they are rarely AAA games. World of Warcraft, as other themepark AAA games, have excellent documentation.


 


"They expect to be able to reach full potential when compared to other players in the sandbox."


No, reaching your "full potential" e.g. max. level is what you do in themepark games like World of Warcraft. After 12 years there are no players that have reached their "full potential" in EVE Online for example.


 


Please list your favorite sandbox games.


Edited by Cista

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It is just to slow pace for most of the people i think. It takes them a day just to cut down trees make planks and build a 1x1 house. Not including trying to find iron in a mine for nails with low level mining that can take another day or more. 


 


Automation: I know it is not popular amongst the long term players but it would dramatically change the game. (put in my logs comeback in a few hours and have planks)


Edited by Kegan

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you can get iron from surface rock so you don't have to mine a tunnel for an iron vein to start at all.  Many probably just do not know that.


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you can get iron from surface rock so you don't have to mine a tunnel for an iron vein to start at all.  Many probably just do not know that.

Well maybe make the wood wall use pegs instead of nails same with the crude fence or make a crude wood wall set for houses. Even with the rummage you need enough to make a sm anvil too that can take a while with rummaging i think

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Reacting to your points:


 


1. Cost / premium vs. F2P: I half agree; Wurm definately starts getting expensive when you move beyond a single (premium) character and a moderate-sized deed.  Unfortunately, I suspect CC has gotten used to the level of subscriptions they get, and allowing folks to maintain several premium characters for a single subs cost would probably (at least) halve the income.  Sheer practicality implies we're not going to see a change here anytime soon.  Regarding playing as a non-premium, I disagree; although there are limits, you can get a really good feel for everything before you cough up.  You'll certainly never get to the point of life being easy without investing some cash somewhere, but I'm ok with that.  I think the premium/free split is pretty well balanced as it is.


 


2. Pay to win: Pretty much all games that are run for profit end up pay-to-win in some form.  Aside from being able to maintain a whole stable of characters, Wurm doesn't feel too bad in this respect, although I suspect the PvP folks might disagree.  I do think some of the artificial scarcity could be fixed (e.g. Valrei spell items), but in general, this isn't a big area of concern for me - as a PvE player, so long as I'm not being griefed by someone with bottomless pockets, how other people play doesn't hugely affect me.


 


3. Documentation: I agree with you here (no surprise).  The more complex a game is, the more it needs good documentation!  This idea of vague release notes and features that nobody quite knows the basic functioning of, is awful.  There are people who prefer to discover everything by themselves, and there's nothing stopping those people from ignoring the wiki completely.  Possibly we could take the same approach as the Dragon Age wiki ( http://dragonage.wikia.com/wiki/Dragon_Age_Wiki ), and add spoiler hiding to parts of the information (i.e. you have to click somewhere to actually see it, as opposed to just viewing a page).  Ultimately, all the game mechanisms should be documented by the people with access to the code, or at least explained so that someone else can document them.


 


4. Advertising: Sadly, I don't think Wurm as it is can support a huge rush of new players.  I hear pretty constant complaining from folks on Xanadu about the lag, and even on other servers, having 40-50 folks in local (e.g. at a unique hunt) can cause problems.  Plus there are a lot of unfixed bugs.  At this stage, I suspect getting a lot of new players in (or going on Steam or similar) would simply result in a huge churn of people trying and leaving, ultimately leaving the game in pretty much the same position it's in now, but with a really bad reputation.  Sort out the issues, then advertise.


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I agree with most points.


1. Wurm is expensive and I know many who have quit when their premium ran out who probably wouldve stayed on atleast on a casual level if they didnt lose all their skills when they lost premium. It could be solved in other ways without getting rid of premium for people who play a lot.


 


2. Not sure if I agree that its pay to win. Even if you pay for a high level character you still have to spend a lot of time in Wurm to make that money back.


 


3. Documentation I agree was awful when I started playing, it is better now with the crafting window but its difficult to say how good it is now since I know where to look to find information.


 


4. Advertising I think is hurt by the fact that Wurm doesnt get big expansions with nice new areas, classes, boss mobs, items and stuff that are easy to advertise as a big and refreshing change. Development in Wurm is a slow process that is hard to miss and thats how it should be. Perhaps if Wurm is released on Steam it should be done together with a new freedom continent with unique building style and some new resources, perhaps a place where dark gods are dominant.


 


Advertisment is a big thing. I have tried to introduce the game to my friends but they still insist that wurm is a game where it takes a week to build a house. When I showed it recently to one of my friends he thought it looked cool and he even said environment didnt look that much different from Witcher 3 that is a completely different hand crafted world. He still wouldnt play wurm because it is too slow and all you do is build and grind. Its not true but that is all new players know. To solve this there should also be a PVE place reachable by portal similar to how you go to Epic. You should be able to go there and explore dungeons, kill monsters, destroy monster settlements that could spawn randomly. Game masters can hold events there more easily and reach all players. Main reward for going there could be missions for sleep bonus, titles, decoration items, trophies and other PVE fluff that doesnt intrude on the crafting economy.


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"all other sandboxes" but  you forgot to say which other sandboxes you mean.

 

You are maybe a Wurm veteran, but from your comparisons it actually sounds like you are not used to other sandbox games at all.

EVE, Second Life, are the only games out there that are as sandboxy ("free" to influence) as Wurm is, and they are just as P2W as Wurm. 

 

Sandboxes typically do not have excellent documentation, because they are rarely AAA games. World of Warcraft, as other themepark AAA games, have excellent documentation.

 

"They expect to be able to reach full potential when compared to other players in the sandbox."

No, reaching your "full potential" e.g. max. level is what you do in themepark games like World of Warcraft. After 12 years there are no players that have reached their "full potential" in EVE Online for example.

 

Please list your favorite sandbox games.

 

Eve Online, Life is Feudal, Xsyon, Perpetuum (hybrid), Fallen Earth (hybrid) to name a few.  Full potential in a sandbox MMO means full access.

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you can get iron from surface rock so you don't have to mine a tunnel for an iron vein to start at all.  Many probably just do not know that.

 

Correct, and isn't that #3 in my list?  :P

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The slow pace at the start makes you appreciate the reward of faster actions from skill gain and better tools. I like it that way. :-)

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2.  Pay to Win.  Wurm is pay to win and that is a fact.  Players who spend more money on more premium toons become more self-sufficient and more capable of excelling past others who do not spend as much.  This is even more evident when you consider that players sell coin to other players.  Skills = Silver = Pay to Win.  Sandbox players want to play in the sandbox and feel as though EFFORT not money allows them to excel.  This is not the case with Wurm.

 

What on earth are you talking about?   You just said skills=pay to win, but to get skills you need to play. So to continue on your equation...

 

If playing=skills

 

And skills=pay to win

 

Then playing=pay to win O_o? 

 

That's directly the opposite.  It isn't pay to win.  It's play to win (and exactly how it should be).  This is barring buying accounts, of course, but I don't think people consider account purchases as part of pay to win.

 

Even sleep powders wouldn't be considered pay to win since leveling speed doesn't actually give you a direct advantage.

 

The closest thing would be the blood pots but since they can 1. Be picked up by being part of the unique fight and 2. Purchased with a currency you can earn by playing the game (foraging, hunting, selling to other players), even they can't be considered pay to win.

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What on earth are you talking about?   You just said skills=pay to win, but to get skills you need to play. So to continue on your equation...

 

If playing=skills

 

And skills=pay to win

 

Then playing=pay to win O_o? 

 

That's directly the opposite.  It isn't pay to win.  It's play to win (and exactly how it should be).  This is barring buying accounts, of course, but I don't think people consider account purchases as part of pay to win.

 

Even sleep powders wouldn't be considered pay to win since leveling speed doesn't actually give you a direct advantage.

 

The closest thing would be the blood pots but since they can 1. Be picked up by being part of the unique fight and 2. Purchased with a currency you can earn by playing the game (foraging, hunting, selling to other players), even they can't be considered pay to win.

 

That is actually not what I said.  Maybe you haven't played long enough to know what I am talking about.  Stick around and you probably will. 

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Eve Online, Life is Feudal, Xsyon, Perpetuum (hybrid), Fallen Earth (hybrid) to name a few.  Full potential in a sandbox MMO means full access.

 

EVE Online compels players to multibox with several accounts to a higher degree than Wurm does. The amount of forum rage in EVE over the increasing costs of running multiple accounts is staggering...

 

Life is Feudal is not an MMO, it is a game in development that may become an MMO. Xsyon is a much less succesful game than Wurm. The two others are not even sandboxes... they have no freedom in gameplay in comparison to Wurm.

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Building take longer than most people are willing or able to put in.  I personally enjoy it but I dont look at Wurm as a game more of a hobby.


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Eve Online, Life is Feudal, Xsyon, Perpetuum (hybrid), Fallen Earth (hybrid) to name a few.  Full potential in a sandbox MMO means full access.

 

Lets talk EVE Online here.  I have a 160 million skill point character on EVE and my skills suck big time in sooo many critical areas.  That represents about 8 years of almost constant 8,760 hours a year skilling and by your definition I still don't have "full access".  Now, pay to win.  Hmmm, you ever heard of plex in EVE?  Pays your money and buy 10's of billions of isk, as much as you want.

 

Wurm as a game is fine on these points. 

 

Solve the lag issues for a larger player base, and guess what, the player base will grow I'm pretty sure.  Lag is a potent feedback mechanism that acts to regulate the player numbers very effectively such that the game remains playable, or so it seems to me anyway.

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I've spread the word to my normal group of guildies, and the feedback has been:


 


1)  Graphics, from a self proclaimed graphics snob.   I don't understand this myself, but ok.


2)  Combat.  From the videos I've watched on PvP, and from my own experience watching others fight mobs, the thrusting motion over and over again, yeah, I kinda get this argument.  From other sadbox fantasy games out there that utilize weapon range, sprint boosts, jumping, etc, I can see where this game would not appeal to them.  If you were a top-notch PvPer in something like MO, or Darkfail, trying the same in Wurm would be aggravating.  For myself, knowing how much of a hinderance lag can be for slow access players, combat that requires that type of timing are unplayable.


3)  Bad Reputation.  I tried Wurm back when you had to build a fire in the tutorial, and after failing several times I wrote the game off (someone has since told me that old tutorial is a running joke now).  Bottom line though is that my bad experience kept me out of this game for a very long time.  Now that I am playing it I'm kicking myself for not giving it another go sooner.  I am sure that with some targeted promotion Wurm would draw in a bunch of players.


 


Let me give you an example.  For the game Life Is Feudal, something like 150,000 players purchased the right to play an alpha through steam, paying around $20-$30 dollars (or euros, don't remember).  I did.  Hell, go search my posts and you'll see my name in gold as an early adopter before the alpha was launched.  That's how deserate players are for a sandbox fantasy MMO.  Even when that game launches its MMO (if they do, all they keep talking about is the 'Your Own' version), it will be years before it has as much depth as Wurm does, if ever.  There are other 'in development' fantasy MMOs on steam that players are throwing money at as well.


 


These are players that Wurm should be going after. 


Edited by Azzerhoden

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"Wurm has been in development for over a decade. I just have to ask why!"

Because people are spending the money and the company is able to continue developing year after year. Many games never last this long without being diluted with mainstream gameplay. I will take Wurm the way it exists today, rather than any game I have known otherwise.

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If the game did explode like the OP would want then what do you think would change and why is it so important to everyone that the game be big anyway? As long as Rolf has enough money to support himself and his family while keeping the players content then i think the game is a huge success.


 


I bet the people over at Xsyon for example would kill to have this large of a loyal player base... and that game is not bad this one is just better. 


Edited by Kegan

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Okay. My replies to this topic...


 


1. Cost: Many games out there still require a subscription. 8 Euros a month is actually on par with other games. A basic deed only requires 5s to place and you get 3 months of upkeep and continue to then pay only 1s a month. 21x21 is quite decent with what you get. Obviously, if you want more, you have to pay more.


 


2. Pay to Win: Is this really a negative? You can do this is many games. It's not just Wurm. However, in Wurm it's not crucial to have to pay extra money at all for what you want. I know someone who's never put a cent in this game and has skills in the 90's. It's doable. I bet that person has a lot more satisfaction in the end, knowing they put in the effort and the skill they have are entirely done by them.


 


Even if you do "pay to win", it's not the end all. It never is with a sandbox. You can help others out with your skills. Make the deeds you want. Sell the wares you want. Either way, it's about having fun and complaining about pay to wiin in this game is just jealousy to me more than anything. Remember though: they paid for their accounts. Doesn't mean they'll have the satisfaction you have when you get that skill you wanted to 90 all on your own.


 


3. I agree here that we do need better documentation. Hopefully with an actual staff member now appointed to run the wiki, this will be fixed somewhat. :)


 


4. Advertising: This one may or may not work. It's not about how much advertising you do. It's about where you do the advertising. You want to reach the right market. It's about letting those people who would be interested know about your product. Those are the people you want to reach out to and not just the gaming community. While more advertising may help, I would like to see the advertising being set up in places that would attract the right people and not just a generalized population. What other games require a grind? What other games endorse creative thinking? Where to those games find their people. Target those sources more than targeting the gaming community in general.


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That is actually not what I said.  Maybe you haven't played long enough to know what I am talking about.  Stick around and you probably will. 

 

I have no idea what you are talking about.  You have to spend "more and more" on premium toons to get anywhere?

 

I buy premium with cash and pay for my own deed from proceeds from my own crafted item sales.  I've never bought sleep powders, yet with my relatively young account (just a hair under 2 years) I'm fairly confident my character is probably among the top ten overall crafting accounts on Freedom.  Time and effort are the key to success. 

 

If you're still referring to account buying as a "p2w" feature of Wurm, then that's a different case.  In the general definition of P2W, account buying isn't considered pay to win.  If that's your definition, then so be it.  Just be aware that your definition is probably not conforming to the general perception of pay to win.

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I also want to point out how the lack of documentation is just another aspect of everything Wurm has for you to do. The depth of the unkown in this game is a major attraction for me; it challenges my mind and provides yet another outlet for exploration.

If game info were provided by the developers, the world would seem very artificial.

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