Rants tag

Rants, ruminations, and rambling remarks from my mad, muddled, meandering mind.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

QotD: You Got a Little Sandbox in My Themepark

Here's a great definition of sandboxes and themeparks from Stargrace at MMOQuests.com
A sandbox MMO is a game that drops you into a player driven world. Players are given tools, and sand, and they get to make whatever they want with it. just like when you were a kid in your sandbox with a shovel and pail. You didn’t have much fancy stuff, but you had fun.

a non-sandbox MMO has already made all the fun for you, there is no sand, its a playground or a “themepark”. its not about you creating content, its about having fun with what the devs made. like when you used to climb around on the monkey bars or whatever.
I begin to realize that to some extent, sandbox is about building things, be it ships, houses, or whatever. While I agree that WoW is a Themepark, and more so with each ex-pac, I liked the way you could go wherever you wanted (at the appropriate level) in vanilla, (i.e., Dwarves in Teldrassil) if you were willling to make the effort.

I think that many themeparks have an element of sandbox in them. I like being directed a bit and as to where I should go to find some adventure, but I think being able to have a home base or outfit I can really call my own is great for developing a sense of character in the game.


  1. I have always considered sandbox vs. themepark as a continuum instead of a dichotomy. Many sandboxes have directed content and many themeparks have freeform options for players.

  2. What Anjin said.

    The best sandboxes I've ever played were all offline. GTO, The Elder Scrolls, Fallout (both the old and new ones), ect. One thing they all had in common was that there were really compelling story lines imbedded in them that you could follow if you cared to.

    The whole idea that a sandbox needs to be a contentless set of tools is just silly to me. Yet that's exactly what sandbox MMO enthusiasts often say they want.

  3. I agree themeparks have an element of sandbox in them, and to be honest, any player who makes an effort can find even more. "Player-driven" is key, as anyone can essentially "create" goals and content for themselves, just that sandbox games definitely provides more encouragement and motivation to do so.

    To address your point about WoW, the openness of its game world is absolutely one of the best sandbox elements about it.

  4. Thanks guys. I agree, there is no reason that a sand box can't have some narrative flow, or that a themepark can't have some "mess around on your own." As a matter of fact, even in the real world, themeparks have many elements that would be considered sandbox. And I'd bet a lot of gamers who see themepark games as inherently inferior would rather spend a day at Disneyland or Busch Gardens than in a real sandbox or workshop.