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Reader Comments (68)

Posted: Feb 29th 2012 9:02AM DarkWalker said

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For me, the important bits, the things without which I don't consider a game to be a true sandbox.

- A world that can be changed, and stays changed until other forces (players, or even NPCs) change it back.
- Any developer-given objectives being clearly optional, more a guideline than a rule.
- Tied to the above, either no character advancement path, or multiple advancement paths that can lead to characters with different strengths.
- No arbitrary limits on what a character can do. Every character able to do anything either from the start or after a bit of focused character development. This basically means that either there are no classes, or else all classes are able to do anything with the right character building; and also that characters are never completely locked out of doing something due to past choices.

Without all of those, I might consider a game "sandboxy", but not a true sandbox.

Posted: Feb 29th 2012 9:04AM Angel Rage said

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It may help to place games into either Sandbox or Themepark category and see what similarities they share. Let's take three from each.

Themepark:
World of Warcraft
Star Wars: The Old Republic
Rift

Sandbox:
EVE Online
Ultima Online
ArchAge

I don't think we can draw the line at questing. I think we can, however, point out that the Themepark games have a very clear quest progression - an order in which quests should be done - while the Sandbox games are more liberal with the sequence.

The line also cannot be drawn at player creation. You can craft in all the Themepark games - and really building homes and ships in the Sandbox games are just a more massive form of crafting. Can we say that crafting on a large scale is a trait of Sandbox?

I'd be interested in where games like Everquest and Final Fantasy XI fall - they do not rely on quests to level, but just killing mobs. There are "optimal" places to kill these mobs but those are set by players, not the developers. So there is no funnel outside of not going to areas to high level for you.

I would throw in that my definition has something to do with quest hubs and cities. Sandbox MMO's have large cities which need to be returned to again and again for social/economic activities. Themepark MMO's allow you to stay out in the field by giving you hubs to grab quests and sell goods.

Posted: Feb 29th 2012 9:50AM (Unverified) said

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@Angel Rage

You forgot Star Wars Galaxies. Perfect Sandbox since there wasn't any end game content other than what players created with open world PvP and Base defending.
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Posted: Feb 29th 2012 9:52AM (Unverified) said

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@(Unverified)

Oops, and there were very few quests that advanced you other than mission terminals for credits. Any you had no set class. You could be whatever.
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Posted: Feb 29th 2012 9:59AM Angel Rage said

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@(Unverified)

Good call. I know SWG is a great example of a Sandbox though I never played it. The lack of a set class really feeds into the idea of players making decisions. Decision making seems to be important to our definition.
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Posted: Feb 29th 2012 9:05AM Aganazer said

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Trying to keep it simple.

Its a MMORPG where combat is but one of many viable progression paths.

Posted: Feb 29th 2012 10:24AM smartstep said

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@Aganazer

Great !

Yeah> themepark are usually ONLY focused on combat.

Crafting , exploring ,etc is usually side-game that does not really matter.
Even if it is a bit more then it still is not viable ALTERNATIVE liek it was in f.e. UO / SWG or even EvE
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Posted: Feb 29th 2012 12:59PM (Unverified) said

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@Aganazer

I like that. I don't think it's the overarching definition, but it's a critical component.

~Vaish
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Posted: Feb 29th 2012 9:17AM EzioMajere said

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I think a sandbox MMO is where the dev's give you the tools to build whateve in game and where you can be whatever you feel like and spec whatever you feel like spec'ing. Complete player freedom imo.

@ Gishboy
Love the reference to Whose Line is it Anyway? :)

Posted: Feb 29th 2012 9:19AM (Unverified) said

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Any "skill-based" mmorpg with an expansive gameworld.

I dont say " a non-linear mmo" anymore, because the truth is ALL mmorpgs are non-linear to an extent. If a game has just one tutorial zone, you can skip missions or do them all. Then, some have multiple starting areas, like Fallen Earth - but WOW and EQ2 also have multiple starting areas.

I think all current mmorpgs are great, they just need to go back to their roots and embrace the "GAMEWORLD" aspects of each game. Content like raids and dungeons and such are great at end game, but its the JOURNEY as well as the experiences. Devs need to focus more on catering to RPG and Roleplayers, the original mmorpg players - instead of concentrating on making the ex-console gamers and level rushers happy. By doing the latter, it destroys the games and they get far far away from their original intention for that particular game.

I love open-world mmorpgs that are skil based, like FE - i wish more were like that. But that doesnt mean that games with
talents" and experience points cant be massive gameworlds that are also open-ended.

Enjoy all mmos people! NEVER believe opinions as many are BIAS to a fault! Dont even believe what you see in gameplay videos. Playing an mmo over 3 days, at least 2-4 hours each time is a good way to judge how much you like the game - during your gameplay, and whne you are offline thinking about playing again (or not, if the game isnt for you lol)

GL all! S!

-X

Posted: Feb 29th 2012 9:19AM Malagarr said

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imho, the difference between a sandbox and a themepark is that in a sandbox the players generate the majority of the content. The economy is centered on player crafted items, not drops. Cities, keeps, housing, etc... are crafted by players. The world is vast, open and full of random encounters, but everything else is left to the player base.

This, of course, means that if you don't have a firm foundation for a sandbox MMO it will fail. The mechanics must be well thought out. Because if you can't get people to hang around for long you don't end up with much of a world for new players to explore.

Sandboxes may include some themepark content, like SWG did back in the day. But the vast majority of the content must come from the player base.

Posted: Feb 29th 2012 9:19AM lionspaced said

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10% company content and 90% player generated content.

All quests, if any, are player generated, using a tool like Foundry. What the company does is draw up internal loot tables for mobs and lets it go from there.

The arbitrary level based system goes away for a skill point system, but you have a limited array of skills to use (think Guild Wars).

There would also be RvR which would function as a money sink by giving players the option to throw gigantic siege weapons at each other.

Posted: Feb 29th 2012 9:24AM SWHITE said

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A sandbox is where you create your content and decide your actions with the material and abilities provided.

- Create Your Content; free to build/re-organze ingame structures
- Decide Your Actions; free to roam and interact

So what games are sandboxes?
- Minecraft
- Second Life

Any others??

Posted: Feb 29th 2012 9:34AM (Unverified) said

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@SWHITE

Uh, EVE? That is the standard.
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Posted: Feb 29th 2012 9:33AM (Unverified) said

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A defined area where players are provided with tools they can use to shape the environment. TM

Posted: Feb 29th 2012 9:43AM AltarofScience said

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A game with a vague overarching goal and freedom to interpret and achieve that goal in any way you desire.

Posted: Feb 29th 2012 9:47AM Caskio said

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I feel a sandbox is defined as...

A world with no clear-cut endgame. A world where the players set goals for themselves that may or may not be reached that affect maybe not the world, but definitely the community and perceptions within that world.

Posted: Feb 29th 2012 9:49AM Dumac said

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Just ... non-linearity. Options, the more the merrier. For instance questing could be non linear. Many games don't let you take certain quests until you completed a set of previous quests, or they don't allow you to accept a quest that is outside your level range. That's linear. A quest system where you can take any quest at any time, even if they are way above your level and you had to take a high level buddy with you to help you, would be sandbox-ish. I think.

That sort of stuff. I don't think there is a specific feature a sandbox must have to be sandbox, just options and non-linearity in what it does have.

Posted: Feb 29th 2012 9:59AM Hipster said

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My definition of sandbox:
1)No quests
2) No levels, no classes, skill-based
3)Open world, no instances
4)Crafting/Building/Construction heavy
5)Tools

Posted: Feb 29th 2012 10:50AM cursedlegend said

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is runescape considered as a sandbox?

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