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The Pub at MMORPG.COM  » Do Sandboxes Overwhelm You With Choices?

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135 posts found
  lizardbones

Elite Member

Joined: 6/11/08
Posts: 10377

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

 
OP  5/05/13 6:33:18 PM#101


Originally posted by Icewhite
I've seen so many conflicting definitions for what constitutes a 'true' sandbox, I don't even bother with the op's implicits.

But setting aside the assumptions buried in the original op, you aren't left with much of a topic.

Obviously, even the Survive or Die games could include tutorial content, game makers aren't obligated to keep their customers in the dark.




I am a little surprised that the topic has gotten this far without devolving into a sandbox vs theme park thread, even if it has gotten derailed a bit by the definition of a sandbox. People have brought up some good points and I think there are a couple things brought up here that wouldn't have been brought up on the Massively site because of the format of their discussions. This thread has made it farther than most of my threads, and has been interesting to me, if it's not been interesting to anyone else, so I'm pretty happy with it. :-)

In regards to choices, a theme park has a more structured set of choices to make throughout the player's time in the game. A sandbox on the other hand will not necessarily present choices to the player, even though that's an option for sandbox game play. At some point, the player is left to decide which choices to make. This is a narrow view of the differences between the two types of games, but it allows for a discussion to happen without having to get into all the ways that theme parks and sandboxes are alike or different.

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

  nariusseldon

Elite Member

Joined: 12/21/07
Posts: 19143

5/05/13 6:35:27 PM#102
Originally posted by Sovrath
Originally posted by nariusseldon
Originally posted by Sovrath
Originally posted by nariusseldon
Originally posted by Wakygreek
I would rather have the choice and not use it then to not have the choice and wish it was there.

Not if i have to sort through the choices everytime and there are lot of irrelevant ones. That is a waste of my time.

Well, how do you "work it in life?"

Games are not life. Games are entertainment. Bad, boring choices are not entertaining.

You are being deliberatley obtuse now you can answer the question.

My god does it have to be that hard? You base your decision on who you are and what you want to be/accomplish. I already said that.

So? Does not mean that making the choice will be entertaining.

Example. Cookie cutter builds in MMOs. Why do people use those? Because they are optimal in some way. So the choices are boring, and not entertaining. It is like saying do you want to increase your dps by 5% or 10%, with no other trade-off. It is a waste of my time to make that choice.

So i make that choice based on what i want to accomplish (say maximize my DPS) .. still .. not fun.

  Quirhid

Advanced Member

Joined: 1/28/05
Posts: 5492

I dare you to pin a label on me.

5/05/13 7:25:47 PM#103
Originally posted by Axehilt
Originally posted by Disdena

It's not my definition.

It's the original definition someone coined years ago.

I heard a different, later article about sandboxes from a developer and picked up the term from there.

  • Sandbox = sand = malleable game elements.
  • Themepark = rides = static (dev-built) elements.

Which is really the only definition that makes any sense, because any other definition doesn't have any right to be called "sandbox".  Literally.  The other definitions share almost no similarities to the term.

  • If you're talking about open world games, why would you liken them to sandboxes, which are closed freeform environments?
  • If you're talking about open world PVP, why would you like them to playful spaces which weren't about territorial dominance?

We should all be disappointed that some game journalists have no clue what the term means and so they toss it around haphazardly, sure.  But one mistaken journalist doesn't get to re-write the term, and certainly can't re-write the underlying logic behind the original true definition.

Fun fact: last time I checked, the search words "sandbox" and "open world" directs to the same article in Wikipedia = People get confused.

I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been -Wayne Gretzky

  Disdena

Novice Member

Joined: 3/05/10
Posts: 1098

5/05/13 9:42:13 PM#104
Originally posted by Axehilt
Originally posted by Disdena

It's not my definition.

It's the original definition someone coined years ago.

I heard a different, later article about sandboxes from a developer and picked up the term from there.

  • Sandbox = sand = malleable game elements.
  • Themepark = rides = static (dev-built) elements.

Which is really the only definition that makes any sense, because any other definition doesn't have any right to be called "sandbox".  Literally.  The other definitions share almost no similarities to the term.

  • If you're talking about open world games, why would you liken them to sandboxes, which are closed freeform environments?
  • If you're talking about open world PVP, why would you like them to playful spaces which weren't about territorial dominance?

We should all be disappointed that some game journalists have no clue what the term means and so they toss it around haphazardly, sure.  But one mistaken journalist doesn't get to re-write the term, and certainly can't re-write the underlying logic behind the original true definition.

That's your definition, it's not the one true definition, and the author of the article is not incorrect.

  nariusseldon

Elite Member

Joined: 12/21/07
Posts: 19143

5/06/13 12:41:02 AM#105
Originally posted by Disdena
Originally posted by Axehilt
Originally posted by Disdena

It's not my definition.

It's the original definition someone coined years ago.

I heard a different, later article about sandboxes from a developer and picked up the term from there.

  • Sandbox = sand = malleable game elements.
  • Themepark = rides = static (dev-built) elements.

Which is really the only definition that makes any sense, because any other definition doesn't have any right to be called "sandbox".  Literally.  The other definitions share almost no similarities to the term.

  • If you're talking about open world games, why would you liken them to sandboxes, which are closed freeform environments?
  • If you're talking about open world PVP, why would you like them to playful spaces which weren't about territorial dominance?

We should all be disappointed that some game journalists have no clue what the term means and so they toss it around haphazardly, sure.  But one mistaken journalist doesn't get to re-write the term, and certainly can't re-write the underlying logic behind the original true definition.

That's your definition, it's not the one true definition, and the author of the article is not incorrect.

LOL .. "one true definition" for a group of games?

You take games too seriously.

  Axehilt

Novice Member

Joined: 5/09/09
Posts: 7213

5/06/13 1:10:17 AM#106
Originally posted by Disdena

That's your definition, it's not the one true definition, and the author of the article is not incorrect.

The article's author is actually incorrect on several accounts:

  • Incorrect use of the term "sandbox" relating to a game which is nonlinear, rather than a game which is about player authorship over the game world.
  • Assuming the problem with sandboxes is choice overload, when the problem is a lack of choices.  
The definition of sandbox I use:
  • Is the historic origin of the term as applied to games.
  • Makes the most sense logically.
What the hell more do we need than that?
  crasset15

Apprentice Member

Joined: 12/12/12
Posts: 152

5/06/13 5:07:19 AM#107

My definition of sandbox is something like this:

 

Sandbox - a game that doesn't force the players to take a predefined path, but instead lets them choose their own goals and create their own stories in an open environment. Sandboxes let players interact with their surroundings in many logically possible ways, including free combat, structure building, gathering and in-depth crafting. As a result of this increased freedom, players often come up with their own content and creative solutions for dealing with challenges in the game world, for example setting up a guild castle, an equipment shop, or offering bodyguard services, even though these specific features weren't added to the game by the developers. Sandbox games generally lack artificial restrictions such as bound items or faction-specific areas. The economy is largely player-driven, with the majority of equipment and items coming from player crafting, as opposed to other sources such as dungeons or NPC shops. A sandbox game offers players lots of choices, most of which are possible only because the developers have added support for such choices. For example, to make the choice 'I want to start an animal farm', this feature needs to be present in the game, because you can't make that choice in a game which doesn't let you interact with the gameworld.

  roreux

Apprentice Member

Joined: 5/04/13
Posts: 15

5/06/13 5:53:00 AM#108

Second Life is the most sandboxy game I can think of at the moment.  Most people log on, maybe play around with the free stuff, put on a new set of clothes, look around a bit and log off, never to return.

 

But Second Life is so much more. 

 

There are communities in SL that exist only to help newcomers get the idea of what SL is.

 

 

  Loke666

Elite Member

Joined: 10/29/07
Posts: 16414

5/06/13 6:00:53 AM#109

Not really, I been playing pen and paper since mid 80s and the choices there are far greater than in any sandbox.

People just needs to get used to not being told exactly what to do all the time and think for themselves, it might take a little time to get used to but it is not that hard.

The main problem with most sandboxes have always been low budgets and not so good programming, not really too many choices.

  Quirhid

Advanced Member

Joined: 1/28/05
Posts: 5492

I dare you to pin a label on me.

5/06/13 10:08:14 AM#110

I think the author's hypothesis has been pretty much debunked by now. She needs to go and look for other excuses why people don't enjoy sandboxes.

Here's my thoughts: There's really nothing to "get" in sandboxes. Its a relatively small niche. And it doesn't help that overwhelming majority of sandbox MMOs are crap.

I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been -Wayne Gretzky

  lizardbones

Elite Member

Joined: 6/11/08
Posts: 10377

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

 
OP  5/06/13 10:28:39 AM#111


Originally posted by Loke666
Not really, I been playing pen and paper since mid 80s and the choices there are far greater than in any sandbox.

People just needs to get used to not being told exactly what to do all the time and think for themselves, it might take a little time to get used to but it is not that hard.

The main problem with most sandboxes have always been low budgets and not so good programming, not really too many choices.




If players don't like the choices or the types of choices available, then why should they bother spending the time to get used to a game when they could be playing another game and having fun?

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

  Axehilt

Novice Member

Joined: 5/09/09
Posts: 7213

5/06/13 10:58:35 AM#112
Originally posted by lizardbones

What about the types of choices available in the games themselves? There are choices that are provided by the developer, through the game and choices that originate with the player.

For instance, in WoW the choice of progression path, type of character and type of combat the player wants to engage in are all options provided by the game itself. The player is choosing amongst the choices laid out by the game.

In Eve, the progression path is also provided by the game itself. The player can choose what direction to take with their progression, combat style and type of character, but the available choices are provided by the game.

The difference is in the choice of activities. While nearly all the available activities in Eve are provided by the developer, the choice of 'what to do' is up to the player and the option to engage in game play outside of the choices provided by the developer exists. If I'm not mistaken, some of the choices added by the developer came directly from what players were doing.

Compare this to WoW where the choices of what to do outside of developer provided activities are limited to role playing. Any other activity in the game is something provided by Blizzard. They have built a company on being able to provide enough activity and choices of millions of people in one game.

So, comparing the sandbox example to the theme park example, when the choices must come from the player, even if they are not overwhelming, could it just be that many players are not provided enough game play choices? They aren't overwhelmed so much as not entertained, so to speak.

Right, and since it's a dev-created thing it's a themepark element.  But since the game involves a lot of sandbox elements, then the overall feel is closer to that side of the spectrum and we call it a sandbox (even though in the grand scheme of sandboxes, it's actually not particularly sandboxy.)

Choice of activity isn't really a factor, except in terms of the specific choices.

For example at a high level both games offer the activity of engaging with the economy.

But EVE specifically allows a much greater degree of granularity and involves several factors like product location which cause players to have a much greater degree of control over what the economy looks like.  So while I can indeed corner the market on Netherweave in WOW (sandbox element), in EVE that product may not even exist at a location without someone (like me) selling it, so I have a greater impact on the look of the "economic fabric" (if you will) of the game.  So it'll be the specific decision not only to corner the market on product X but to do it at location Y, and those extra factors make it even more of a sandbox.

But at a high level, the number of non-dev-authored activities isn't really that much different and so there's really not a huge difference in the choice between them or how "guilded" you are.  Simplying WOW's non-dev activities to "only RP" is pretty inaccurate as there is the nearly same wealth of non-dev activities (guild socialization, public socialization, running a 'university' guild, role-playing, costume contests, etc)

But as we've covered, the number of non-dev-authored activities isn't what matters.  What matters is the amount of and the depth to which players can author the experience.  You could have a themepark with a hundred different activities the player barely controls, or a sandbox with one core activity (Minecraft is close to this, actually.

Saying sandbox players aren't overwhelmed is definitely accurate, and I suppose the root of the "underwhelmed" experience comes from the infrequency of choices (due to EVE's excessive timesinks spreading out decisions so far that it feels like you barely ever make any.)

  Axehilt

Novice Member

Joined: 5/09/09
Posts: 7213

5/06/13 11:14:34 AM#113
Originally posted by nariusseldon

LOL .. "one true definition" for a group of games?

You take games too seriously.

Some of us believe that if you're going to make 6000+ posts about something on a forum, you should do so with intelligence.

Knowing the original, logic-backed definition of a gaming term so that we can reduce its misuse and discuss things in a more rational, intelligent manner, is part of that.

"One true" anything typically is a joke, but in this case we're not arguing about Scotsmen, but rather a simple, more logical definition with precedence.

  nariusseldon

Elite Member

Joined: 12/21/07
Posts: 19143

5/06/13 11:28:29 AM#114
Originally posted by Axehilt
Originally posted by nariusseldon

LOL .. "one true definition" for a group of games?

You take games too seriously.

Some of us believe that if you're going to make 6000+ posts about something on a forum, you should do so with intelligence.

Knowing the original, logic-backed definition of a gaming term so that we can reduce its misuse and discuss things in a more rational, intelligent manner, is part of that.

"One true" anything typically is a joke, but in this case we're not arguing about Scotsmen, but rather a simple, more logical definition with precedence.

There is no logic to definitions. They are just definitions .. which are meanings agreed upon.

And you believe forums are about rational, intelligent discussions?

  Shadowguy64

Novice Member

Joined: 4/11/13
Posts: 880

5/06/13 11:42:48 AM#115
Choices? Don't most people just follow the guide someone posted on the game's forum or fansite? It's probably even a sticky so it's easy for everyone to find...
  Axehilt

Novice Member

Joined: 5/09/09
Posts: 7213

5/06/13 11:44:36 AM#116
Originally posted by nariusseldon

There is no logic to definitions. They are just definitions .. which are meanings agreed upon.

And you believe forums are about rational, intelligent discussions?

They are when I'm around.  I guess some posters are just here to troll.

And the logical definition in this case is the right one.  The word wouldn't have been "sandbox" unless it was related to the sand in the box -- and it certainly was never intended to mean open world (what part of an enclosed sandbox makes you think open world?)

  nariusseldon

Elite Member

Joined: 12/21/07
Posts: 19143

5/06/13 11:52:25 AM#117
Originally posted by Shadowguy64
Choices? Don't most people just follow the guide someone posted on the game's forum or fansite? It's probably even a sticky so it's easy for everyone to find...

Someone has to make those guides.

  mmoski

Advanced Member

Joined: 6/27/08
Posts: 263

5/06/13 12:14:14 PM#118

More choice is always better, there's no situation I can think of where less choice is better for me, unless you suffer from an indecisive disorder of course, hehe.

  Torik

Hard Core Member

Joined: 1/02/09
Posts: 2304

5/06/13 12:44:16 PM#119
Originally posted by mmoski

More choice is always better, there's no situation I can think of where less choice is better for me, unless you suffer from an indecisive disorder of course, hehe.

That depends on what you consider to be a 'choice'

eg.

game A let's you choose between red and blue as a color for your characters hat

game B let's you choose between a hundred shades of red as a color for your hat

 

Which game is offering more choices if you cannot stand the color red? 

  waynejr2

Advanced Member

Joined: 4/12/11
Posts: 3707

RIP City of Heroes!

5/06/13 1:13:38 PM#120
Originally posted by nariusseldon
Originally posted by waynejr2
 

 How would you feel if you went into that bar to buy a drink from the bartender and for a tip, he will tell you rumors then you get a chance to choose one or more items from that list?

I would feel annoyed .. more text to read? I would much rather there are more dungeons to choose from on my LFD.

 So would you prefer a lobby based LFD game?  Why would you need a world other to feel you aren't playing a lobby game?

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