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

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56 posts found

Novice Member

Joined: 8/07/12
Posts: 30

OP  1/03/13 7:37:45 PM#1

Im really curious what does sandbox exactly to mean other people. Because I see those so called sandbox mmo's and I dont really understand how exactly they are sandbox. Does unrestricted character progression make a sandbox? Or is it gameplay without any poorly thought through gameplay devices that are designed to keep the player playing and thus keep him paying? Allthough I think the gear threadmills and other forms of power creep are just unnecessary at this point where most mmorpgs are going f2p or b2p and there is no real reason to have a poorly designed gameplay meant to consume time not bring entertainment. Because lets face it, power creep isnt there so you can have fun, its there so you keep paying your subscription. I think its time to move on from those flat out bad gameplay designs and onto truly sandbox gameplay.

What I think about when I hear sandbox is exactly what that word means. A box full of sand, a playground. Player driven content, the ability to affect the enviroment and not with phases or something alike. Think minecraft on massive scale, thats a sandbox mmo. Now add to that better graphics obviously, some forms of character progression obviously but not character progression that is the centre of all the gameplay. Add to that economy which is completely player driven. No developer set currency, just resources. Currency is a bad concept in general and you should know that. Imagine giant cities created by players, imagine faction wars where the faction isnt made up of npcs but players.

You can say thats just not going to happen, but the truth is it can happen and most likely everntually will. Go search up starforge, or hell, even think minecraft. Now imagine those games created with a giant budget. Now you can say that such a game would never be able to get such a budget because investors don't gamble their money, they invest into games that are sure to sell in their opinion. But now we have kickstarters, indie developers are actually starting to gain attention and survivng as an indie developer is not an impossible task anymore.

I think games like that will eventually happen. Not from the hands of developers controlled by investors or corporations, but from indie developers backed by players. We just need to give it a bit of time.

Also at some point I think I went completely off topic or missed the point of the topic ;_; 


Advanced Member

Joined: 5/07/09
Posts: 1194

1/03/13 7:40:55 PM#2
its peoples opinions, ask 10 different people what a themepark/sandbox is and you will get 10 different answers and a thread full of argueing over who is right.

Novice Member

Joined: 5/21/10
Posts: 955

1/03/13 7:50:46 PM#3

A lot of people confuse what a sandbox is with what they would like in their MMORPG. A lot of features such as an open world without instances are simply MMO features and not necessarily sandbox features and a lot of features like a skill system instead of a class system is simply one of the many RPG progression options.

A sandbox is fundamentally a world a player can shape through tools provided by the developer. This world can be MMO or not, it can involve a character walking around in the world or not. God games like The Sims and Black & White are sandbox games as are non-MMO games like Minecraft.


Advanced Member

Joined: 8/29/07
Posts: 693

1/03/13 7:53:36 PM#4
Originally posted by DrunkWolf
its peoples opinions, ask 10 different people what a themepark/sandbox is and you will get 10 different answers and a thread full of argueing over who is right.



Novice Member

Joined: 8/06/11
Posts: 1845

1/03/13 9:12:37 PM#5
Sandbox = whatever you want it to mean

Elite Member

Joined: 11/19/12
Posts: 2068

1/03/13 9:19:51 PM#6

Well, I think the number one thing to define a sandbox is that they don't lead you step by step through things.

If you take a quest driven game where you are told after you complete quests to "go see jim jones" to continue on to your next hub then brother, that isn't a sandbox.

Some people say seamless world. This one I don't understand the reasoning behind.

Whether you change zones by walking over an imaginary line where the trees and ground cover changes or you enter a loading screen and that happens one minute later. No difference to me.

Crafting being meaningful I consider part of a sandbox. Games that focus on building and crafting the world definitely fit sandbox style more than a game where the towns are created by the game devs. Games that want you to play their story and follow their storyline and run their dungeon all in a set pattern don't want crafting to be the king of all items. They want you to follow the storyline in that linear path so they put all the best items behind boss kills and/or dungeon runs. Naturally so.

Because sandboxes are obscure or less documented, you tend to say "I never knew that" pretty often for a longer time than in the themed games. When you learn something about the game you just want to scream it out and tell others, odds are they never knew either.  That's usually how you make friendships, talking about the game or tiny secrets you share with each other. That is the sense of community I got from sandboxes that I never get from other types of games.

The interest in helping others also makes sandbox players seem more interested in seeing what you have crafted. Often in Wurm people would come by and comment on my village, say they think I should get put on the map etc. Never in LOTRO did anyone come by to see my house that wasn't  otherwise connected with me like we grouped a lot together. Good reason for that, my house wasn't any different than anyone elses. In a sandbox, houses are usually more freeform and you may even have land where you build lots of things other than a default square box house. For that reason your style can be different from person to person. Also, in Wurm I had a freebie box for new players outside my house with food and various items I had grown out of. They loved it and would sometimes come in to say thanks for the food while they were traveling.

Several times I ran off to see other things that other people had built, sometimes we had talks together walking until we got to their place. One person even took me on a cart ride ha. I'm not a super outgoing person in real life but I was never hesitant about saying hi to my new neighbors. It was like "Leave it to Beaver" is the best explanation lol The community is just better in sandboxes. That's the only way to explain it. It's smaller and you get to know people better.



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Joined: 3/30/10
Posts: 4747

I don't Forum PVP. If you feel I've attacked you, it was probably by accident.

1/03/13 9:27:05 PM#7

For me, a sandbox world is a simulation, a themepark world is a game.


Simulation = Turn me loose in a world to do what I want with whatever tools the developer has provided.

Game = Developer provides a one-path or multi-path route to completion with developer provided content (tasks, stories) along the way.




Advanced Member

Joined: 2/14/10
Posts: 2174

1/03/13 9:28:17 PM#8

a game that has few, simple rules, but many possibilities. few helpful hints, but a ton of combinations. little dev created content, but lots of tools for players to create their own content. freedom to alter the world and create structures and alterations wherever players see fit. as little instancing as possible with huge enphasis on open world. ability to attack anyone, anywere at any time even though in some places that might incurr swift and painful consequences. enphasis on community instead of soloability.


Apprentice Member

Joined: 7/10/05
Posts: 1017

1/03/13 9:28:28 PM#9
to me, sandbox mmo's are about "working" a game, usually involving convoluted, time consuming, long term goal oriented play with little or no "instant gratification. to me sandbox mmo's feel more like 2nd jobs rather than limited time fun activities

Apprentice Member

Joined: 10/02/12
Posts: 511

1/03/13 9:48:24 PM#10
Originally posted by XAPGames

For me, a sandbox world is a simulation, a themepark world is a game.


Simulation = Turn me loose in a world to do what I want with whatever tools the developer has provided.

Game = Developer provides a one-path or multi-path route to completion with developer provided content (tasks, stories) along the way.



I agree.


For me, sandbox = Ultima Online. The more a mmo is near the UO setting, more "sandboxy" is it.



"What we are aiming in ArcheAge is to let the players feel the true fun of MMORPG by forming a community like real life by interacting with other players, whether it be conflict or cooperation." (Jake Song)


Novice Member

Joined: 9/30/10
Posts: 909

1/03/13 9:59:12 PM#11
I play EVE. I consider it a sandbox, my opinion, because it lets me do whatever i want. Now there are some restrictions, but mostly they are caused by the actions of other players. Pirates abound, scams abound because of people doing what they want.  People build stuff and sell it, people sell services. Wars are declared, there mercenaries who will help you when some one war-decs you. There are corps and alliances that mine, or produce stuff, and there are corps and alliances that specialize in criminal activities.  There are zones but since they are solar systems that you jump to the game seems more seemleass than if you had to load between zones in EQ2.   There are quests(missions) in EVE and people do them. But you can do as many or as few as you want, and the type you want. There are mining, hauling, and fighting missions.  Most importantly there is no end-game that I ever found. There are things that require a "higher" level of participation - like Wormholes or controlling lo-sec or null-sec space.  But there is no boss to kill to "win" the game. Skills are trained even if you are not playing the game.  Most of what I described is what a sandbox means to me.  I have played Shadowbane where the players built their own cities, and that was sandbox, for the most part.  I guess to me sandbox is where your imagination is part of the game. Themepark mostly does not require your imagination cause what you see is what you get.  As far as a sandbox ebing a second job, I disagree, if done properly it can almost be like a second life.  I do agree that in gaming terms like sandbox mean almost nothing because different people have different opinions. I just wanted to give my opinion on the matter. Also EVE, like most well done sandbox games is not for everyone, with EVE if you do not have a certain sense of ruthlessness you might not like it. Thqnks for allowing me to share.

Currently bored with MMO's.


Elite Member

Joined: 1/13/10
Posts: 13667

Currently playing EVE, SMITE, ArcheAge, and Combat Arms

1/03/13 9:59:32 PM#12
Originally posted by TribeofOne
to me, sandbox mmo's are about "working" a game, usually involving convoluted, time consuming, long term goal oriented play with little or no "instant gratification. to me sandbox mmo's feel more like 2nd jobs rather than limited time fun activities

Can I ask which sandbox games you played that gave you that impression? The reason I ask is because that is exactly my experience with the themepark focused MMOs I played (WOW, Aion, L2, EQ). Grinding level, grinding crafting, raiding, gear chasing - it all seemed like a second job to me. Conversely, Second Life. Kaneva, UO and EVE all seemed to throw open the door to a wide range of stuff I could pick and choose from based on my available time and who was around.

There isn't a "right" or "wrong" way to play, if you want to use a screwdriver to put nails into wood, have at it, simply don't complain when the guy next to you with the hammer is doing it much better and easier. - Allein


Advanced Member

Joined: 11/23/05
Posts: 2280

"Playing things I shouldn''t be playing since 1977."

1/04/13 12:55:41 AM#13

Simply put:

Non-combat play.  A game where you can spend 100% or near 100% of your time logged on, and never having to kill a single NPC mob.

"Its sad when people use religion to feel superior, its even worse to see people using a video game to do it."

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Apprentice Member

Joined: 11/22/05
Posts: 4909

1/04/13 1:00:54 AM#14
Originally posted by XAPGames

For me, a sandbox world is a simulation, a themepark world is a game.


Simulation = Turn me loose in a world to do what I want with whatever tools the developer has provided.

Game = Developer provides a one-path or multi-path route to completion with developer provided content (tasks, stories) along the way.



This is a nice simple answer to a very complex question :) I agree.


Advanced Member

Joined: 9/14/12
Posts: 64

1/04/13 3:24:14 AM#15

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.



Destiny has cheated me
By forcing me to decide upon
The woman that I idolise
Or the hands of an automaton

Without these hands I can't complete
The opera that was captivating her
But if I keep them, and she marries him
Then he probably won't want me dating her


Novice Member

Joined: 7/07/05
Posts: 3167

1/04/13 3:31:44 AM#16
Originally posted by Beatnik59

Simply put:

Non-combat play.  A game where you can spend 100% or near 100% of your time logged on, and never having to kill a single NPC mob.


This is the main part of it to me, too.  It's about having solid gameplay that isn't all about combat.  Crafting that's fully fleshed out enough to be a whole game in itself.  Not like themepark crafting, where it's just this little thing combat classes do on the side.

When I want a single-player story, I'll play a single-player game. When I play an MMO, I want a massively multiplayer world.


Novice Member

Joined: 5/07/11
Posts: 1009

1/04/13 3:49:55 AM#17
Originally posted by bossalinie
Originally posted by DrunkWolf
its peoples opinions, ask 10 different people what a themepark/sandbox is and you will get 10 different answers and a thread full of argueing over who is right.


My opinion - sandbox means you are given fery few rules (compared to a themepark game) to play around with, and most of the time given ways to influence the environment or at least explore it with a more open ended approach than a themepark game. Usually involves a player economy and crafting that has actual use rather than a moneysink to go along with, though it's optional for me.

There's a sensible expectation for the rules though. Second Life has too few rules to be considered a game to me. Games like Minecraft, Wakfu, etc. have rules that are gamelike but give you much freedom.


Novice Member

Joined: 8/07/12
Posts: 30

OP  1/04/13 9:00:17 AM#18
Originally posted by DrunkWolf
its peoples opinions, ask 10 different people what a themepark/sandbox is and you will get 10 different answers and a thread full of argueing over who is right.


Why aren't people getting banned for posting crap like that or quoting someone and saying "/thread"?


Also I think that developers might be very much confused by the different demands users make, especially when everyone wants a sandbox mmorpg but almost every single person means something else by sandbox :0 I also agree with the non combat gameplay, I think games focus too much on it, while combat should always be something you can do and always and option, gameplay should absolutely not be centered around it.



Joined: 12/12/04
Posts: 1410

We live for The One, we die for The One.

1/04/13 9:08:02 AM#19

well i have some features i look for in the game to call it sandbox, but i can disregard those and say it in 1 sentence:

ability to permanently affect the world not only for yourself but also for everyone else.

(edit: sure there is always chance that some other player undo my "changes", or things like server reset does, but unless they do, it is permanent)


Novice Member

Joined: 6/11/12
Posts: 36

Do or get Done

1/04/13 9:10:59 AM#20
Originally posted by Benedikt

well i have some features i look for in the game to call it sandbox, but i can disregard those and say it in 1 sentence:

ability to pernamently affect the world not only for yourself but also for everyone else.

(edit: sure there is always change that some other player undo my "changes", or things like server reset does, but unless they do, it is pernament)

Well Said ^^

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