Tuesday, April 3, 2012

My MMmanifesto - About Sandboxes

My ranting about a persistent virtual world matches to a great extent what some others might call a 'sandbox MMO'. This is opposed to a 'theme-park MMO'.
In this rather obscure terminology, a theme-park is a game in which you go on whatever rides are available, keeping your limbs inside at all times, stand in line with everyone else, etc. It describes part of the marketing scheme of WoW-clones, where at level 10 you do instance XYZ, then at level 20 you do instance ZYX. Every so often the developers release a new instance, and everyone stands in line to ride the new attraction. It's a game in which you do what you're ordered to.
A sandbox would be a game in which you can do whatever you want: build a castle, tear one down, steal the other kid's shovel. It does not altogether match what i mean by a virtual world because i think players have a tendency to take it to extremes. A persistent world game should be for the most part rid of goals but it does need rules. It may be an open-ended game but it still has to be a game. There have to be ways to get richer or poorer, activities other than social which can be failed or succeeded.
A good example of the disparity in these ideas would be Second Life, which i have never felt inclined to even try based on everything i've heard about it, because, while it truly is a sandbox allowing players the greatest freedom, it is not a game, and it lacks the conceptual coherence of a world.

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