Ocean-based Sandbox MMO

wind waker HD oceanWatching Graev play Wind Waker HD on the Wii U reminded me of my long-held dream of one day playing a sandbox MMO set on a vast ocean.  Players would begin with a dinghy and essentially be set loose into the world to sail into the horizon with nothing but a map, a compass, and a dream.

I imagine players finding islands and setting up their own little bases to use as a waystations or respites from storms, pirates, or simply hang out.  The goal would be to create a world so huge that land would be scarce, much like it is in Wind Waker, and players could actually sail for hours and hours and never see an inch of dry land.

Your boat would be your home.  Your character wouldn’t be your boat at all.  I imagine having a real character that would take the helm and control it much like characters do in Disney Infinity.   The player would have to raise the sails, trim the rigging, and other boat stuff.  Smaller boats could be handled by just one player, but ultimately you would want to upgrade to a ship that can be crewed by many players or even a guild.  I imagine it being like Allods Online Astral Ships or Guns of Icarus.

Players could fish off their boat, dive into the water for treasure, sail to islands and harvest crops, have a forge and anvil below deck, and do all sorts of really neat things.

I just love the idea of there being this big open world with sea monsters, storms, a life to be made on a boat, islands to find, treasures to hunt, communities to be built around locales, and a unique setting and mechanic we’ve never seen done before.  Heck, it could even be done in stylized graphics like Wind Waker rather than something too textured or realistic looking.  Right now, this is probably at the top of my ‘MMO ideas I want made’ list.

  • That sounds cool. I can even see the highest level of boat crafters coming together to build something closer to a floating city like the one in the movie Waterworld. These massive guildships could be a welcome trading post in the endless sea, a mobile base of operations, and of course, a juicy target for the sinking!

  • I think there is enough there for a pretty cool game, but at the same time it also sort of treads dangerous waters of why bother. Sailing for hours and seeing nothing is greasing up and pole dancing on the good idea/bad idea line. The feeling of vastness is pretty cool but there is only so much emptiness you can have and still have an enjoyable game. People didn’t sail the seas because it was fun, they did it because they had to. And there is a reason that ATitD hovers close to 1500 people and no more.

    It would definitely be an interesting balance to explore though.

  • I agree with what Sine Nomine said. It would be a good idea for an MMO to also have vast oceans to sail, but it would be a regular MMO with a huge world that would include sailing and exploring 🙂 This is my dream…a MMO with Huge seamless world that will include both land and oceans playable

  • I think I do get what Keen is saying in the post. A vast majority of the content would be waterbased. There would be sunken treasure you could find via sonar or just diving in. You’d see monsters cresting the surface at various points in the horizon. Wrecks from other players could become large resource deposits scattered about the general area.

    The best way I’d think it could probably be explained is to think of a game similar to EVE, except instead of vast space with planets you have vast ocean with islands. It may be that you’d need a limited version of warp for the boats, maybe a “Full Sail” mode along with various blockade options to pull ships out of full sail. There would be some big differences of course but I think the main mechanics could follow EVE as a rough guideline.

  • Hey Keen

    We happen to be working on the game like this
    Check out Naval Action

    But as some commenters have mentioned – vast oceans for travel could a big good/bad design decision. Initially exciting, this could turn into a hassle don’t you think?

  • Sounds like what would happen if you took the movie Waterworld and EVE and they had a baby lol. It would definitely be niche but not too crazy that a indie couldn’t pull it off. If done right it could be really cool but I think to achieve that might have to go down the realism route to the point that it would make it almost too niche. Let’s face it there’s reasons people haven’t done this before, oceans just arn’t all that interesting. You would either have to scale it down to the point that people might actually stumble upon eachother or rely heavily on underwater content. The balance of those would be the hard thing to hit just right. Definitely has potential if done correctly though.

  • Cool idea, but. . . vast as the Pacific Ocean? Hell no, that would get boring fast. The parallels to EVE are obvious, but there you have tech to speed up travel. Any vaguely realistic ocean travel, even at its fastest, is going to be long and dull.

    It needs to be an archipelago, many islands in reasonably close proximity, e.g. Aland Islands or Fiji or even Earthsea. In other words, a good balance between sea and land, where land is frequently visible.

    • I think certain areas would certainly be archipelagos but I’d love to see certain areas be vast oceans with the ability to sail and find hidden areas.

  • Make it based on the manga One Piece and a sandbox MMO and you have the greatest MMO ever made.