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The Pub at MMORPG.COM  » What does sandbox mean to you?

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56 posts found
  zymurgeist

Advanced Member

Joined: 12/24/04
Posts: 5185

1/04/13 9:15:50 AM#21
A sandbox game is a game with a nonlinear game play mode. That's the textbook definition.

"Strong and bitter words indicate a weak cause" ~Victor Hugo

  Dibdabs

Hard Core Member

Joined: 5/29/08
Posts: 2444

1/04/13 9:17:10 AM#22

Build, buy, craft (ok I hate crafting, but the facility should be there for others to make me things to buy, lol), set up my own businesses for profit and/or freight commodoties to other towns to trade for profits, research new things to make, gather resources. Tame my own riding mounts and pets, explore anywhere I want in a world not run on rails, have NPCs remember me and my good/bad actions to shape my storyline.  That's just for starters.

Eve Online is the one and only game I've found that approaches that, though not in every regard obviously.  If there was a Fantasy MMO equivalent made by the same company I'd drop all other games and play that.

  Badaboom

Hard Core Member

Joined: 10/04/10
Posts: 2385

1/04/13 9:23:23 AM#23

For me, a Sandbox is akin to playing with lego.  The developers give you the pieces and you build what you want.  The limit is my imagination.

A themepark is going to lego land. 

  Loktofeit

Elite Member

Joined: 1/13/10
Posts: 12112

Currently playing EVE, SMITE, Wildstar, and Combat Arms

1/04/13 9:27:18 AM#24
Originally posted by Orenshii

Show me a feature in a sandbox ill show you it in a themepark.

The only difference is the words themselves.

world pvp? seen in many themeparks

Skills over levels? seen that in a themepark too

rocks that run out of ores? themepark also

Landscape changed by the people of the game? seen that one too..

Live a life without hunting monsters? yep have done that also in a themepark.

I think someone came up with another way to segregate and categorize games

just to start a fight amoungst people.

Those are mechanics and they can be used in any type of game. It's the implementation that determines the difference.

World PVP - Done for leaderboards and rankings, it's a themepark feature. As part of a larger territorial control system that affects the game economy and politics it now has sandbox style gameplay to it.

Skill progression - Done with class restriction, it's a themepark feature. Done as an open-ended system allowing players to fit the character to their playstyle/interests it becomes more sandboxy.

Rocks that run out of ore - Kind of a crazy thing to bring up, but again it's something that is just a mechanic that can be used for systems in either direction.

Terraforming - in most cases, this is the definition of sandbox, as nothing is more sandboxy that building things in the sand. :)

Life without hunting mobs - Yes, there's probably some themepark MMOs where you don't kill things to progress. In most, though, you'd have to actively work against the design of the game to do it, as the game is made to lead you along a path of killing.

 

BTW, can you give examples of the themepark style MMOs with terraforming and skill-based systems? It would go a long way toward showing you how each is implemented and what systems they support.

 

Something to remember is that there are both themepark and sandbox features in every MMO. They are two of the three main components that make up an MMO, social being the third. Each game tends to lean more heavily toward one or two of the three components with the other feature(s) being only a minor part of gameplay.

 

"And wikipedia is as accurate as Britannica. Wikipedia is very reliable. You would be hard pressed to find a more reliable source for these kinds of things." -fovoroth

  lizardbones

Elite Member

Joined: 6/11/08
Posts: 10550

I've become dependent upon spell check. My apologies for stupid grammatical errors.

1/04/13 9:38:33 AM#25

To me, the definitive sandbox game is Minecraft. You can modify the terrain and build anything, anywhere. Sky cities, underwater cities, under mountain cities, or blimps. There are very few limits within the confines of the game and Minecraft is still a game in itself, unlike Garry's Mod or Second Life where the user isn't so much playing a game as using an application to build stuff that may or may not be part of a game.

Games like Darkfall or Eve I would consider an even mix of "sandbox" and "open world". For the purposes of talking to people about the games though, I would call them sandboxes.

For every large, complex problem, there is a simple, clear solution that also happens to be absolutely wrong.

  cylon8

Apprentice Member

Joined: 6/10/07
Posts: 300

1/04/13 9:39:57 AM#26

a sandbox to my definition contains three very apparent things.

 

1.) a massively open world. Few or no invisible walls. The world includes unique and varied landmarks, climates, flora and or fauna. The world seems alive and vibrant < aka not like tor>. Now i have to be careful here cause some theme parks do a really excellent job of making their cubed worlds feel very immersive and alive so the open world also means little to no instancing.

 

2.) player crafting/enonomy...it doesn't have to be as conveluded and boring as eve..but crafting should play a role in that the game doesn't just shovel gear at players.  Crafting can encompass simple resource gather and recipies to constructing player housing or vehicles.

 

3.) non instanced player housing...now bare with me because in some genres it make sno sense to have a house...aka surivial mmo etc. However when housing IS implemented it should act as its own metagame, providing community access, it's own niche economy etc.  It can be minimalistic or very involved.  This ties into user generated content and crafting providing other avenues of economic success.

4.) open world consensual pvp....where alot of sandboxes fail regardless of whether others want to admit it is open world non consensual pvp, Part of a sandbox is immersion..but punishing players with full loot loss is just a real retardant to player retention.there are a few exceptions where risk should be incurred to offset gankfesting.

 

those to me are the basic pillars of a sanbox. there is the option for a hybring sandbox/themepark mmo, hwever it shoudl not strongarm people into questing or gear grinds. The ones that got the most right in these discussion points in my eyes are vanguard and SWG. To me eve regardless to how much many on here love the game failed.  Yes it has a strong player base but it presents a space mmo as a cold, ravenous world with little inclusion of the dreaded casual player.  I was a casual player in swg for the life of the game...i never felt pressured to loging for hours on end to mine something, or grind skills and the environment never intentionally put me to sleep...it was space in a realisticsetting but fun.  Vanguard truly had player housing done right....the closest theme parks come to me is free realms and eq2...maybe a close thirdrift. Even though free realms is instanced they have the ability to display your housing to the public, and the building toold are very  intuative. 

so say we all

  apocoluster

Apprentice Member

Joined: 4/15/07
Posts: 1295

\m/,

1/04/13 9:46:48 AM#27
Means nothing to me...to be fair Theme park means nothing to me either...I game where I find fun..

No matter how cynical you become, its never enough to keep up - Lily Tomlin

  Myria

Advanced Member

Joined: 5/07/09
Posts: 535

1/04/13 9:56:22 AM#28

I'm increasingly convinced that 'sandbox' just has to mean 'my game is better than your game' in some obscure ancient language, because frankly that's the only meaning it has the bulk of the time it's used around here.

Every single one of the games routinely trotted out as 'sandboxes' are so similar to the much-derided 'themeparks' that the amount of effort and handwaving that goes into trying to draw distinctions quickly surpasses the laughable. And games that might meaningfully be called 'sandbox' -- a category pretty much limited to Second Life, Minecraft, Gary's Mod, et al -- are inevitably barely what you can reasonably call games exactly because of their sandbox nature.

  Rydeson

Elite Member

Joined: 3/05/07
Posts: 3259

1/04/13 10:00:27 AM#29

Sandbox = NO Bloody instances.. 

    10+ years ago when instancing first came about, it seems like the right thing to do, but now.. I think it was a Pandor's box.. I think instancing has caused more harm to MMORPG gaming then anything since..  I also believe that having limited raid sizes and lockouts also damaged the brand..  Everything today just feels like a closed world of lobby games.. :(

  Merilirem

Apprentice Member

Joined: 1/01/13
Posts: 77

Do not fear the unknown, for it does not fear you.

1/04/13 10:28:25 AM#30
Originally posted by Orenshii

Show me a feature in a sandbox ill show you it in a themepark.

 

The only difference is the words themselves.

 

world pvp? seen in many themeparks

Skills over levels? seen that in a themepark too

rocks that run out of ores? themepark also

Landscape changed by the people of the game? seen that one too..

Live a life without hunting monsters? yep have done that also in a themepark.

 

 

I think someone came up with another way to segregate and categorize games

just to start a fight amoungst people.

 

O

 

That's simply because a true sandbox game does not exist. We are so entrenched in our old ways that's progress is slower then it needs to be. The idea of a game in which you simply play your part is what a sandbox is. You don't do what your told, you do what you want within a world with laws made by the hands of men. The only difference between a sandbox and life is how comprehensive the system is. It's calls a sandbox because of that. They called WoW a world all the time, didn't make it one.

If a butterfly learnt to speak, to live in human society, paid its bills, had a job, lived in a fancy house and married a human, is it human?

Now what if that same butterfly knew how to write code better than any human and had years of experience in the game industry, would that make it a game designer?

If u wouldn't let a construction worker design your house, then why let a programmer design your world?

  Loktofeit

Elite Member

Joined: 1/13/10
Posts: 12112

Currently playing EVE, SMITE, Wildstar, and Combat Arms

1/04/13 10:31:34 AM#31
Originally posted by Rydeson

Sandbox = NO Bloody instances.. 

 

 

I don't view the fact that they are instances to negate the mechanics and content within. I agree, that often instances are used to insulate scripted content for themepark gameplay, but not all instanced areas are designed for that purpose.

What are your thoughts on the housing instances in Free Realms? They're basically big rooms for building and constructing content to play on and around with other people.  Another example would be the housing instances in Puzzle Pirates, which are another customizable environment for player events and gatherings.

Both are instances designed to accommodate creative gameplay and foster interactive gameplay, two goals that are common to sandboxed focused content.

 

 

 

"And wikipedia is as accurate as Britannica. Wikipedia is very reliable. You would be hard pressed to find a more reliable source for these kinds of things." -fovoroth

  PsiKahn

Apprentice Member

Joined: 12/26/12
Posts: 124

1/04/13 10:44:25 AM#32

I first heard the word "sandbox" used to describe games like GTA.  The thought was that instead of giving you a set path to follow, the developers were giving you a virtual "sandbox" to play around in and see what happens.  Interestingly, I think this could apply to just about any MMO by that loose, older definition.  These days, in the context of MMOs, it seems to specifically refer to games that stray from the kind of tacit (or occasionally overt) pathing that many MMOs provide.  These MMOs are often described as "themepark" games.  Yes, you can do whatever you wish in them, but there are specific benchmarks you need to hit to progress, scripted quests that appear exactly the same for every single player in the game ("attractions," if you will), and an "endgame," which is reached when one has traveled the full path of their characters evolution from start to an arbitrarily set finish point (max level, max stats, max gear etc).

So when people are clamoring for a "sandbox" MMO, I think they're often asking for less game, more virtual world.

  Rydeson

Elite Member

Joined: 3/05/07
Posts: 3259

1/04/13 10:53:38 AM#33
     Lok..  I'm all for housing instancing in games..  In fact I love how EQ2 did it, and wish they went either further then they did..  I think there sould be 10+ different options of houses, and guild halls..  SWG had a great concept, but due to minimal restrictions and guidelines it was abused..   When i was refering to instance I was only thinking of that overused overplayed dungeons and raids..  Crafting should be open world as well and restrictive like it was in EQ (with a few tweaks)
  Loktofeit

Elite Member

Joined: 1/13/10
Posts: 12112

Currently playing EVE, SMITE, Wildstar, and Combat Arms

1/04/13 11:09:12 AM#34
Originally posted by Rydeson
     Lok..  I'm all for housing instancing in games..  In fact I love how EQ2 did it, and wish they went either further then they did..  I think there sould be 10+ different options of houses, and guild halls..  SWG had a great concept, but due to minimal restrictions and guidelines it was abused..   When i was refering to instance I was only thinking of that overused overplayed dungeons and raids..  Crafting should be open world as well and restrictive like it was in EQ (with a few tweaks)

Yeah, the dungeon and raid instances solved several 'social' problems while introducing a whole new set of problems of their own. :)

"And wikipedia is as accurate as Britannica. Wikipedia is very reliable. You would be hard pressed to find a more reliable source for these kinds of things." -fovoroth

  Tigasnake

Apprentice Member

Joined: 6/12/12
Posts: 33

1/04/13 11:31:48 AM#35
It's tough to describe what a sandbox should be without dropping game titles.  Like if I were to explain what's necessary for a sandbox to be successful, I'd say SWG or Ultima Online.  These games had their flaws, of course.  But you cannot take away the fact that these games taught us the meaning of "Sandbox".  It is creating a game that gives the players the tools to create their own content.  (A bunch of RP tools, Housing, Economy, Unrestricted skills/classes, and most importantly to develop mechanics for players to always be able to mold their own fun.  Hence the term "sandbox".
  Arclan

Spotlight Poster

Joined: 1/29/07
Posts: 1358

"Ideas are worthless. The only currency that holds any weight is the ability and drive to execute."

1/04/13 12:51:24 PM#36

I prefer the k.i.s.s. philosophy.

Sandbox is a game with no quest hubs (although there may still be thousands of quests).

People try to over-define sandbox by adding things like pvp and player housing. Just clouds the issue.

Luckily, i don't need you to like me to enjoy video games. -nariusseldon.
In F2P I think it's more a case of the game's trying to play the player's. -laserit
video game company layoffs are twice the national average.

  sk8chalif

Apprentice Member

Joined: 9/18/10
Posts: 591

1/04/13 12:57:47 PM#37

A Sandbox MMO has NO defined goals. It is a world where players are given the tools to make thier own fun (you know, like a sandbox). Ultima Online at launch was a sandbox. There were no levels, there were no quests. There were just players and creatures in a world and players invented their own fun and their own goals within the world.

 

 

 

"The MMO where everything's player-made and the points don't matter."


~The only opinion that matters is your own.Everything else is just advice,~

  Vidir

Apprentice Member

Joined: 1/14/04
Posts: 966

1/04/13 1:00:44 PM#38

Sandbox game for me is a game where you do what you want to do and not what other people wants you to do.

 

  Yamota

Advanced Member

Joined: 10/05/03
Posts: 6506

"I fight so you don't have to."

1/04/13 1:03:53 PM#39

For me sandbox means go anywhere and do whatever you want (within reason) and still feel like you are progressing. 

In other words quest hub, level bracketted zones are not sandbox.

Now to have that you usually need no levels, or less emphasis on levels, and more on skills and attributes.

  Iselin

The Listener

Joined: 3/04/08
Posts: 3778

1/04/13 1:04:07 PM#40

"Sandbox" is an inprecise term that is virtually meaningless. It is about as descriptive a term as "nice."

It is often used here to describe games that emphasize elements that are generally time-consuming, unrewarding and appeal to a small sub-set of gamer for whom micromanaging detail is fun. The more painfully detailed the crafting is and the more interior-decorating options available, the better and the more likely the game is to be annointed with the S word. A certain amount of harsh treatment of the player--especially with severe death penalties--also seems to be a required component...perhaps S&M has more mass appeal than I had ever imagined.

It is also a catch-all term used to describe games that don't feature whatever the communiity currently thinks are bad things in evil themeparks: classes, levels, quests, instances, heroism, quick-travel and, god forbid, LFG tools. In other words, there is a large amount of retro nostalgia thrown into the use of the word. A desire to return to the early days of MMOs when none of those things existed and MMOs were alledgedly more fun because of it. There were damn good reasons why all of those themeparky things were created but never you mind...they're evil.

The term has also become shorthand for some unscrupulous savy marketers as a new way to say "new and improved!" Never mind, the cheesy dated graphics and incomplete pre-alpha releases... graphics are for scrubs and "features" are for carebears!

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