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Old 16th Sep 2008, 13:54   #1
Tim S
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Give Me Back My Sandbox

http://www.bit-tech.net/columns/2008...k-my-sandbox/1

Guest columnist Cliff Harris is upset this week, lamenting the decline of truly free-form, sandbox gaming on the PC. When did real sandbox games like Sim City become unfashionable and get replaced with linear FPS games? Why won't someone give us back our sand?

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Old 16th Sep 2008, 14:13   #2
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I fully agree, I'm surprised Spore wasnt mentioned though as it basically promised to be one huge sandox with lots of freedom of choice but didnt really end up that way.
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Old 16th Sep 2008, 14:17   #3
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I am even more suprised Second Life wasn't mentioned. 99.9% of the content is player created content. When you play second life you can do almost anything, build stuff, open a shop, sit at home watching movies (thats a little sad though), get a job, roam around, meet people, attend concerts, etc... I don't think there are any experiences closer to a sandbox than this, Real Life excluded of course.
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Old 16th Sep 2008, 14:37   #4
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What you need is Ultima Online... the great grand daddy of MMO!! It's still rolling you know! Just play Pangaea-world!True roleplay (not that pseudo stuff on WoW). You shall feel fulfilled!
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Old 16th Sep 2008, 14:40   #5
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The problem I see with 2nd life is that it is too much like real life. When everything you do is on the same scale as IRL, what's the point? At least with sim city it takes it to a more macro scale. TBH I quite like my story driven linear games, though I do wish there were more variety, especially in the MMO sector, please reward exploration. I love exploring MMO worlds, but they don't make it easy at lower levels =/
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Old 16th Sep 2008, 14:49   #6
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There are loads of sandbox games.. have people gone mad?
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Old 16th Sep 2008, 14:58   #7
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Takes me back to The Incredible Machine (affectionately called TIM) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Incredible_Machine
Hours of gameplay just building machines, letting them run, changing them and move on when you had enough of that machine.
I do remember some missions/scoring system but basically you could build everything you want and experiment all you wanted
Played hours and hours of SimCity as well, and loved it. Been playing a lot of classics lately because the newer games could not fulfill my gaming needs (they do look pretty).
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Old 16th Sep 2008, 15:02   #8
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I personally like the GTA style of gameplay. Feel free to roam and explore, missions if you like (although they fit a storyline it's not entirely linear). Then you've got all the additional things to do / collect etc - if you like.
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Old 16th Sep 2008, 15:14   #9
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The best column in a long time. Was a pleasure to read and pretty much opened my eyes (even more). Maybe I'll uninstall wow after this.

More like these, fight the powah!
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Old 16th Sep 2008, 15:24   #10
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good column I agree

Good mention of EvE Online, I think thats getting towards the dream of the sandbox game that I had imagined playing Frontier Elite II on my Amiga.
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Old 16th Sep 2008, 15:30   #11
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EVE Online is pretty damn freeform IMO. The missions in EVE are only a very tiny optional part of the game, if you want to run missions, then that's great, you can run them, but unlike a lot of MMOs they aren't the main event at all.

PotBS is similar, but it does have a bigger focus on quests, they are a significant part of the game, but you can play through it as there is plenty of other stuff to do besides running quests.

Puzzle Pirates is pretty sandboxy, was one of the best MMOs IMO until the economy was screwed up.

TBH I get bored without any direction a lot of the time, most sandbox games just aren't well designed enough to keep me occupied in them for long enough. Although something like X3 or Morrowind I can get completely entralled in. I still haven't completed the main quest for Morrowind or Oblivion yet, I keep getting distracted with something, and even though it's very quest based I think they're usually quite clever quests and it's a pretty sandboxy game.
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Old 16th Sep 2008, 15:34   #12
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...For me, (and I do realise I'm alone here) the worst outcome of all this is quests in MMO games. It's pretty much why I don't play them any more. The promise and premise of an MMO is awesome, but often the reality is nothing more than a tedious level grind with neatly packaged quests....
Pretty much sums up how I've felt about MMO's for some time.

Stats grinding creates an impossible (moving) goal which only serves to keep players paying to go up one more level. "Just one more level, then I'll go to bed."

I'd like to see sandbox to make it's way into other genres though. Abandoning the corridor shooter and end of level boss staples that have been around since forever.
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Old 16th Sep 2008, 15:36   #13
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I agree to some extent, but i must say that without incentives of some kind (highscores, titles, ingame rewards, or simply fame) i am quickly overcome with a feeling of pointlessness.

And not to be a grand total PITA, but on your website:
[quote=aveyon page]
30+ Hours of gameplay, 60+ quests!
[/quit]It's the first thing on the page too, kinda contradictory to the point you are getting across. I will be sure to check it out though, i'm a geek for these games
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Old 16th Sep 2008, 15:57   #14
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Garry's Mod cheesecake!
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Old 16th Sep 2008, 16:32   #15
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Oblivion? GTA? Hello? There are Sandbox games around if you bother to look. Maybe what he wants is another SimCity.
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Old 16th Sep 2008, 17:12   #16
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Old 16th Sep 2008, 17:13   #17
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Author has touched upon a deeper problem in society in general, where people are too afraid to break out of the molds society has created to control them.

As far as gaming, games like X-Com and EVE are the best of the art. X-Com told a story but let you decide how to win a great war against aliens. EVE is a graduate level Way of Life (hesitate to call it a game, since it requires a great deal of intelligence and perseverance to succeed in) that rewards people who cooperate.
The great games of the past were the ones that allowed you to express yourself rather than force you to express yourself the way the devs think is best.

Enjoy

Yours in Breaking out Plasma,
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Old 16th Sep 2008, 17:14   #18
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Actually I should have mentioned this company:
http://www.pocketwatchgames.com/
He does very decent sandbox games, worth a look.
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Old 16th Sep 2008, 17:20   #19
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You're right, Space Invaders didn't have X hours of gameplay, it had X minutes of gameplay repeated an infinite number of times with different colors.

Not sure why you chose that one, but snarkiness aside, I agreed fully with the general point of the article.
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Old 16th Sep 2008, 18:06   #20
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