People often ask me why I only play MMOs. I tell them I'm drawn to the pursuit of the unknown and the thrill of the unpredictable that regular games just don’t give me. For a long time this concept has been foreign to the genre. We have a whole generation of MMOers that never got to experience the power of the sandbox. Now I look to the horizon and I see a phalanx of upcoming sandboxy MMOs. Camelot Unchained, the EQ Sisters, the SWG spiritual successor, Gloria Victus, The Repopulation, KEIPR Online, TUG and many more! (wipes a tear from his eye)
I was fortunate to start playing MMOs during a time when they were designed to be worlds to live in. You never knew what logging in might bring. We had dull days but when a sandbox is good it’s not good, it’s great, and the adventures that you experience aren’t just “entertainment” they can create genuine memories.
Other players are real, the jokes are real, the feeling of achievement, and more importantly the feeling of victory is all real but what I’m always pursuing is those rare occasions when the stars align, everything comes together, and you become so engrossed in the game hours seem like minutes. You get transported to another place and when you are done you’ve achieved a moment you won’t forget.
I know those moments are rare and I don’t expect them to happen often. If they did they wouldn’t be that memorable would they? The doorway to a game becoming a memory lies in the developer creating an environment that allows for it. My humble opinion is YOU CAN NOT do this in a themepark. Might you have some memories? Sure, I guess.
The first time you downed Ragnaros in MC? The first time you dinged max level in EQ? The first time you completed the story in SWTOR? Those might have created some memories but don’t kid yourself. Those aren’t really YOURS. They are the exact same memory that thousands of other people share. Some people might think that sharing an experience like that makes it more relatable...maybe I’m selfish but that doesn’t do it for me. I enjoy it, but I don’t retain it. They are more like scenes from a popular movie to reference than an experience worth remembering.
The first time you rode a bike by yourself, the first time you went hiking off the trail, the first time you hunted, those are the kinds of memories that a sandbox can provide. Unscripted, unpredictable, and unique to you. Rag died the same for everyone, only his drops were unpredictable, and they were the exciting part weren't’ they? My guildhall art gallery, the profession I created, the time my guild lured some bad members to a meeting and turned on them leaving them in a heap then kicking them, those are the kinds of memories I have of the sandboxes of old. Those experiences are unique to me.
I’m not telling YOU which one is better, to each their own, I’m telling you which one I prefer. Some people like to be an actor in a play, some people like to be the creator of the story the play is based on. Some people want to be Anakin, some want to be Lars, I’ve always wanted to be Jabba. He got all the hot chicks after all.
Time for a bit O’ Tierless Tropes. Another one of my adoring fans wrote in! I appreciate constructive feedback like this so so much. “Your writing is amatuer at best, I make it a point to downvote your blogs.” I guess that is because I’m (wait for it) an amateur!... I’m a guy with a computer that kept seeing “TLDR” on his forum posts so I decided this format might work better for me. If you enjoy downvoting me, then by all means carry on, I’m glad you found something you love. Me, I’ll be writing blogs. Turns out it’s fun to blog so I keep doing it. The day it isn’t, I’m done. Thank you for downvoting me, it motivates me to to keep trying to overcome the negativity and keep trying to improve.