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Ask Massively: Sandbox edition

Shawn Schuster

Ask Massively is back again this week with answers to your pressing questions. Well, we hope they're not too pressing, since it's been two weeks since you asked them. This time around, we cover Richard Garriott's plans with Portalarium, the state of sandbox games and more.

Click right past the jump below for this week's answers. If you'd like to see your MMO- or site-related questions answered next week, add them to the comments below or send them to ask AT massively DOT com. We'd love to hear from you!

heynow asks: After listening to your excellent interview with Lord British on your 100th podcast I was very interested in hearing more about what his next project will be. Is there any information you can share with us about this? I'm sure he dropped a few hints to you guys in private...

Oh, if only you heard all of those secrets he told me. It was incredible! The most amazing revelations known to man, sure to cure cancer and eliminate Lady Gaga music from society! He said...

OK, so he didn't tell me anything new behind the scenes. That actually rarely happens because I don't think people with secrets really trust other people who make their living reporting on exciting new information to the public. Just a hunch. But we do know that his new company, Portalarium, will be creating social networking games.

Their first product is actually the Portalarium player, currently on Facebook. It is used to play their first real title, a gambling game called Sweet @$! Poker. No, seriously.

IammeBlue asks: If this questions already been answered, I apologize in advance, but has anyone heard more definitive release dates for either WoW's Cataclysm or Final Fantasy XIV?

Negative on both. I have a hunch that Cataclysm's release date will be announced before Blizzcon (in October) and Square Enix is still insisting that FFXIV will be released in 2010, contrary to popular rumors stating otherwise. My predictions? November for Cataclysm and February 2011 for FFXIV. I base that information on absolutely nothing concrete.

Descender|LE asks: Why is there such a lack of the sandbox-type of MMO, and is there hope of that type of theme returning?

As with any trend, it's driven by demand. Or at least hype. Sandbox games will never go away completely, but it's nice to see that their popularity does seem to be holding steady. Xsyon is a good example of an upcoming sandbox game with promise. The only trouble is, it seems most sandboxes are developed by indie studios with very limited budgets and resources. The large studios and publishers realize that themeparks bring in the cash because they're more accessible to a wider gamut of players. But as long as we still have indie dev studios fueling their newest games with pure passion (in place of money), we can count on seeing some version of these less popular types of games continuing.

kasapina asks: Any suggestions on finding a goal in EVE? I've tried this game three times now, and every time I quit because I have no reason to go on, which is a shame, since the game is great.
Again, I'm chalking this up to personal preference. I'm actually in the same boat as you. I just can't get into the game. Luckily, we have someone on staff who loves it! Let's let Brendan Drain answer this question:

As a sandbox game, a lot of new players have trouble finding a goal despite really wanting to get into EVE. The most common goal solo players have is to make enough ISK to buy a better ship or upgrade their current one. Some players run missions, with the goal of reaching high enough standing with a corporation or faction to use level 4 agents. Others might trade and manufacture, with the goal of owning every battleship blueprint original or something similar. Another common goal players set is simply to set themselves up with enough ISK to pay for a lot of replacement ships for PvP. Goals that involve other players and teamwork are very strong motivators. Getting into an active corporation that sets collective goals and organises group activities turns EVE into a completely different game, especially if it's a PvP-oriented organisation.

Two links that may be helpful to you:

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