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Vicarious Existence

To blog about what is going on in the MMO genre from a casual MMO player's viewpoint.

Author: UnSub

Sandbox vs Disneyland: Fight! Fight! Fight!

Posted by UnSub Wednesday June 18 2008 at 3:31AM
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I came across this post in another thread and it deserves special attention:

Sandbox, as defined by this thread:

  1. All the kids have to play in the same sandbox
  2. Kids go anywhere they like within the sandbox
  3. Kids can move or shape the sand (or throw it, make it into mud, etc.)
  4. There are a large set of toys that the parents have put in the sandbox
  5. Each kid gets the same set of toys (shovels, buckets, etc.) in the sandbox - they do not have to make an initial choice of what toys they will use, and they can change at any time
  6. Each kid can use the toys in any way they choose - they do not have to use one toy in order to earn the right to use another toy
  7. The toys work in the same way for every kid - Billy doesn't really have an epic toy of shoveling + 2
  8. Kids can make deals with other kids - through trades (I'll sell you this sandcastle I built!) or by social interactions (let's agree to work together to build this sandcastle that we can both enjoy!)
  9. Kids can beat up other kids and take any candy they might have (their parents do not care)
  10. The sandbox does not clean itself

Why there are no more sandboxes, as defined by this thread:

  1. Kids nowadays are going to Disneyworld
  2. Kids nowadays can't tell the difference between a sandbox and Disneyworld so they are lured away by the costumed characters and the sounds of other kids having fun
  3. The sandboxes weren't making enough money to compete with Disneyworld
  4. After kids "cut their teeth" at Disneyworld, maybe they will start to appreciate / look for a nice old sandbox
  5. It takes a special person to make a sandbox, parents nowadays aren't smart / creative enough
  6. It takes a special kid to play in a sandbox, kids nowadays aren't smart / creative enough
  7. They just don't make sandboxes like they used to (ah, the good old days!)
  8. The kids started crying about being beat up in the sandboxes, or the bullies ruin it for everyone
  9. The kids started whining about making the toys easier to use and ruined it for everyone
  10. The kids grew up and became more interested in the real world (opposite sex, job, money) so they don't have time for sandboxes
  11. There is a secret sandbox but its only for the smart and / or cool kids

I really haven't seen a better description of what a sandbox MMO should have, nor why more sandbox MMOs haven't been released, anywhere else.


chilliking writes:

I could not agree more!

Wed Jun 18 2008 7:26AM Report
AngelBlade writes:

The only MMOG that i've come across that fits that definition entirely is Second Life. But like was posted on the negatives, it takes work, and learning and creativity and iniative to be part of it. And there's also a lot of freaks who inhabit that world because it's the only place they can express themselves. Not that being a freak is bad, but it puts "normal" people off. I highly recommend it if you're looking for the "Sandbox" experience.

Wed Jun 18 2008 12:43PM Report
Hexxeity writes:

One reason you have trouble luring people into the sandbox is the condescending attitude of everyone who plays in the sandbox.

Hope you enjoy that obscurity -- it's going to last a long time.

Wed Jun 18 2008 2:55PM Report
SundersGhost writes:

As I have mentioned before, too many stray mutts come along and turn the sandbox into a litterbox.  Now when a kid comes along who may consider playing in a sandbox, they remembe the last time when they tried to meld some sand into a sandcastle and ended up with a hanfull of... mud?

Wed Jun 18 2008 4:59PM Report
Mahni writes:

I'm glad you liked the post, UnSub! :)

Wed Jun 18 2008 5:37PM Report
Adrianor writes:

The sandbox needs to be very big. Or if its becoming too crowded and littered, u just need to add new sections of sandbox. And once in a while new sand must be added, as lots of sand gets lost in the proccess of throwing at each other :D

Thu Jun 19 2008 2:08AM Report
Curate writes:

As a standalone list outside of the context of the original thread, I'm  put off by item 6 in the second list. I really don't think it's a matter of being "smart / creative enough." (I also get twitchy when 'cry' and 'whine' get dropped into things; it's possible that people actually have valid complaints about, say, constant ganking.)

I think a lot of people simply find Disneyland more fun than the sandboxes they've been offered. That isn't (necessarily) a deficit in the kid.

As a summary of a particularly thread it may be fine. As an examination of why we don't see a lot of sandbox games I think it glosses over the failings of the sandbox offerings we've seen.

(And hey there, Unsub! SokMunki here -- good to see you outside of the CoH forums.)

Tue Jul 22 2008 4:33PM Report
UnSub writes:

Hey SokMunki / Curate - I don't know, all these people using different names... :-)

It was a summary of a thread, but there is a general dismissiveness among dedicated sandboxers of the great unwashed who actually want to play a game. I certain find games more fun than sandboxers in the most part - games give you an objective to complete (so: a purpose) while sandboxes require you to set your own objectives. I believe that Second Life is a good case study for how people behave in sandboxes - very few create or actively use the sandbox in-depth; the majority rely on the work of others to give themselves something to do.

Thu Jul 24 2008 1:56AM Report writes:
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