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Sandboxxy; my quest to define it, and resolving why I like it

Hawkaya399Hawkaya399 Member UncommonPosts: 599
edited August 2019 in The Pub at MMORPG.COM
I think typically when we think of a sandbox game or MMORPG, we might FIRST think of a box with sand in it, and a kid playing with the sand, maybe using a shovel to make sand castles, or playing with a bulldozer and dump truck. Nobody is telling the kid what to do. The sandbox is mostly a blank canvas, although it doesn't necessarily have to be blank. A sandbox could really be anything where we create something, mostly independently

I think to create my own inhouse definition, I'll start here:
1) Making or tinkering with things, mostly independently
2) Generally what's created or made will somehow be visible to other players, just as a child in a sandbox will make something and other people nearby will be able to see it; in fact that can be half the fun--showing off your work!

So I don't think a sandbox is only defined by playermade cities or playermade houses or farms, or player-terraformed terrain. It's not necessarily something we do directly to the world. That is looking at a sandbox too literally; taking the sandbox analogy to extremes. Instead it can apply to character development, or items or even how we go about discovering the world.

Being able to choose the skills, stats or abilities you will train is important for something to be sandboxxy. It's a creative process, something you do mostly independently. You're in the process of manifesting your destiny. Do you like to be a fighter? Do you like to be a magician? Do you like to be both? Do you like instead to be a cunning rogue? Or something else? This is up for you to decide.  The skills, stats and abilities are your sandbox. You take the tools you have and you tinker with them until you have created something you're happy with. The results are visible to other players because they can see your abilities in action.  Granted, the choices you make are not completely independent, but it's hard for things to be truly independent unless we're truly creating them on a blank canvas, absent of any external pressure or stimuli. Even a sandbox itself implies we'll be making something like sand castles or hills of sand, so not even that is a blank canvas.

Evenso, not having strong directing forces when making decisions is a major component of a game being sandboxxy. If there was strong direction, the sandbox analogy could no longer apply, and neither would the process be fundamentally creative. Players need to have strong independence for this to be so. Considering travel for example, if there's really only one logical path, and it's nearly impossible to miss, it cannot be sandboxxy. If other players cannot somehow see the results of your travel decisions, it's likely not sandboxxy either. This can apply to ANY system in a game, not travel alone.

Ok, I don't want to make this post too long, since I want to try SWTOR tonight (for the first time!), so why do I like sandboxxy games or MMO's? This something I've labored over ever since I figured out I like open world games and competition, and don't like to be told what to do in games, neither do I like to be overburdened with quests or storylines--and most of all, I like to attempt to be unique in everything I do. It's a lot like spaghetti trying to unwind it all so I can make sense of it. But I'll try to answer this question below.

I like to tinker and rollover things in my mind. I earnestly mean this. I've always enjoyed to tinker with game systems, be they character development, my inventory, a strategy against my opponents, the items I'm using or something else. And I like to feel like I'm making my own decisions. I guess I'm a bit like a clumsy inventor, who really doesn't like to be told what to make or how to make it. I usually invent garbage, but it's the process itself I enjoy, not necessarily the results. (This is why it's so difficult for me to enjoy guilds. Too oftne joinng a guild just results in them telling me what to do and how to do it. I do not enjoy that. A good guild understands its members need space. Don't answer questions they don't ask. Let them enjoy the process of making mistakes and learning from them.)

A game isn't fun, and generally doesn't feel sandboxxy, if somehow: a game ends up feeling like I am not making my own decisions, it's not open ended, it's not competitive, has a lot of story (in the form of voiceovers, dialogues or text), I'm not unique, I'm not making lots of decisions.

But why? I'm not sure any of the above answers this question. If I had to answer teh quesiton in as few words as possible, and had to answer fast, I think I'd say I like sandboxxy games or MMO's because it's creative and feels like the sky is the limit. That doesn't answer everything about what kind of games I like to play, but in terms of sandboxes, it goes a long ways.

EDIT: And why SWTOR? It's not sandboxxy far as I can tell. It's not particularly challenging or competitive either. I think the reason I'm trying it is because I always hated on WoW and WoW-clones. I've played soooo many ffa PvP open world MMORPGs, I feel like I can't fairly rally against the kinds of MMO's I don't like unless I actually play them. I've tried a few mainstream MMORPGs, like DDO, EQ2, Neverwinter and maybe a couple more. This is an experiment. Maybe I want to figure out why people like these kinds of MMORPGs, or maybe I just want to make better arguments in the future.
Post edited by Hawkaya399 on

Comments

  • MMOExposedMMOExposed Member RarePosts: 7,171
    My thing is this,  (and I didnt read everything)

    Sandbox and Themepark are one of the same .

    Themepark is just Sandbox with rules and content on top from the developers end. 

    The problem is we have become comfortable with labeling certain features as Sandbox or not.

    I want a MMO that has the good aspects of a Sandbox MMO but with Faction PvP only like WoW, but also B2P like GW2 and with GW2's open tagging and events. 
    Hawkaya399

    image

  • klash2defklash2def Member EpicPosts: 1,797
    My thing is this,  (and I didnt read everything)

    Sandbox and Themepark are one of the same .

    Themepark is just Sandbox with rules and content on top from the developers end. 

    The problem is we have become comfortable with labeling certain features as Sandbox or not.

    I want a MMO that has the good aspects of a Sandbox MMO but with Faction PvP only like WoW, but also B2P like GW2 and with GW2's open tagging and events. 
    You want ESO
    "Everything that happens is a political act, and the only people that get to pretend otherwise are those privileged enough to not have politics impact them at all." ~Taliesin

    "What does it mean to be human? In a time when people's humanity is perennially called into question?"
    - Dr. Cornell West

    "Being “colorblind” is not the solution to racism. See people fully. Love people deeply"
    -Bernice King

    "Putting a woman, a person of color, a queer character, a disabled character (in games) isn't some agenda, it's making games that reflect the world we live in." 
     
    Currently: Games Audio Engineer, yes you've heard what I've heard


  • klash2defklash2def Member EpicPosts: 1,797
    edited August 2019
    "A game isn't fun, and generally doesn't feel sandboxxy, if somehow: a game ends up feeling like I am not making my own decisions, it's not open ended, it's not competitive, has a lot of story (in the form of voiceovers, dialogues or text), I'm not unique, I'm not making lots of decisions."

    OP, I'm unsure of what "sandbox" even means today with regards to MMOs. 

    Take Elite Dangerous for example. It gives you a ship, drops you in the universe and says "good luck to ya". Most people would say it's "Sandboxxy" but only because they feel like they get to make their own story and that's partly true. The other part is that it was designed  to feel like that. It lacks a central story as a design choice. So what tends to happen is people are just playing a game where they set a list of "tasks" to do but after doing said tasks for a while they don't really feel meaningful to the player. "WHY am I doing this? "   becomes the question.

    You have no idea if that 20 jump bounty you just finished actually changed anything in the star system. Did a new trade route open because of it? Is it safer here now or was it just a random thing to make me feel as if I'm doing something? 

    Sandbox to me is a game with Lack of objectives, lack of central storyline.. the game world around you is designed to have automatic behaviors. Fun for some, boring for others. 

    Personally I prefer a little bit of sand in my games... I want to impact a bigger story even if in a minor way. So still using Elite as a reference, If I stop a dangerous pirate in System 6y.. outside of paying me credits, I want to see how that 1 death changes the system later.
    Hawkaya399
    "Everything that happens is a political act, and the only people that get to pretend otherwise are those privileged enough to not have politics impact them at all." ~Taliesin

    "What does it mean to be human? In a time when people's humanity is perennially called into question?"
    - Dr. Cornell West

    "Being “colorblind” is not the solution to racism. See people fully. Love people deeply"
    -Bernice King

    "Putting a woman, a person of color, a queer character, a disabled character (in games) isn't some agenda, it's making games that reflect the world we live in." 
     
    Currently: Games Audio Engineer, yes you've heard what I've heard


  • WizardryWizardry Member LegendaryPosts: 18,393
    Sandbox would be a template plus tools.
    Atlas is a perfect example of a sandbox,you can do literally ANYTHING you want with the game.

    The template offers building of structures anywhere,goes further than most every mmo in that you can also utilize the water and build ships to sail the seas.The creatures have built in AI and can become pets/mounts.

    Weather matters/eco system and survival systems,so the template is as god as it gets.
    The next aspect of design is again one up on most dev teams and that is the ability to create mods so again further manipulating the template.

    IMO this is how ALL mmo's should begin,a rock solid template,then go from there.Add in scripted epic events,roving npc factions/tribes etc etc.

    The problem right now is almost every single mmo does not want to start right,they want a very small gimmicky game with a cash shop with more care on how to get more money out of you rather than putting more effort into the game.

    SO then all these crappy devs delivering second rate templates,want to charge you again for some seasons pass or some VERY minute content update.

    There is a lot of developers ripping people off because people seem to be too stupid to figure out what has been going on in the industry the past 10 years.So you can have your DREAM....WISH on a type of sandbox game,you need to actually have devs on board,they have their own separate agenda>>>>ways to make  $$$$.
    Hawkaya399

    Never forget 3 mile Island and never trust a government official or company spokesman.

  • Hawkaya399Hawkaya399 Member UncommonPosts: 599
    edited August 2019
    Hey Wizardry, maybe i'll have to try Atlas sometime.

    Want to offer up something I did lately. So Mafia III was on sale for $10 and I hesitated buying but bought anyway. I don't like violence too much, so I wasn't buying it for the story or the killing. Nope, but why then? To see the traffic and pedestrians, and the "splendor" of the city. Believe it or not, I've spent many hours with my brother just roaming the streets, watching the npcs, and taking in the sight. I'm not even interested in pursuing the story or playing the so called game, I just explore around. And you know what? I felt it was worth $10. I was blown away by the graphics and atmosphere. Sometimes it felt so real all I needed to do was forget a few things and BAM, I was there. Only thing I feel awkward about is how my "brother" feels about it. Never once did he get to take the wheel. He only ever said anything when we were driving because that's how the designers created him. Well anyway I'm led to believe he gets killed in the storyline--I think my whole family does, and that's the reason "I" go on my rampage. In a strange fashion, it's fun to go out there with him, not allowing his predetermined death to ever occur. I'm sure it's a good story and no doubt the gameplay might be good too, but no interest in that.

    Just Cause 2/3 are teh same way. I just roam the world. Limited as it's, I still have to catch my breath sometimes. Beautiful scenery too.

    I love steam.
  • Hawkaya399Hawkaya399 Member UncommonPosts: 599
    edited August 2019
    My thing is this,  (and I didnt read everything)

    Sandbox and Themepark are one of the same .

    Themepark is just Sandbox with rules and content on top from the developers end. 

    The problem is we have become comfortable with labeling certain features as Sandbox or not.

    I want a MMO that has the good aspects of a Sandbox MMO but with Faction PvP only like WoW, but also B2P like GW2 and with GW2's open tagging and events. 
    Thanks for your input. I'll think on it.
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