Thursday, 11 April 2013

Sandbox vs Themepark

So recently I've lost a fair bit of time playing Guild Wars 2. And when I say lost, I mean the 'I have no idea where the previous 5 hours went' kind of lost. As far as MMOs go it's got to be my second favorite behind Eve. I think the biggest reason for this isn't so much the game, it's more to do with the fact that my real life friends are playing it. In truth this is the first so called Themepark MMO that I have ever played to max level (and on two characters no less), and the first one that has captured my interests for more than a week. I played World of Warcraft for a little bit, but found the grind so boring that I had to quit very quickly.

However Eve has been a fixture in my life since 2009, and although I have let my account subscription lapse for a time due to real life things, I don't see it going away in my life any time soon. The reason? Well as far I am concerned, it's choice that keeps me coming back. Games like WoW and to some extent GW2 say go here and do this that way. Games like Eve say you can go here, here or here, you can do this, this or that and you can do any mixture in between. It is a true sandbox.

The point of Sandbox MMOs is the so called emergent gameplay. This is gameplay that is not scripted and completely player driven. Eve is essentially all about emergent gameplay as even a short look at some of the stories coming from the Eve news sites (Eve News 24 and Almost everything that is worth reporting has happened between players, or corporations and alliances of players. There might be one or two articles that are on the page about events (such as the recent Battle for Caldari Prime event) but the overwhelming majority is about some form of player emergent gameplay.

From a personal viewpoint the sandbox works well for me as I enjoy setting my own goal in a game and working toward it. I don't like being told this is the optimum way to do something so you have to do it that way. Guild Wars 2 handles this well by allowing you to level by crafting, exploration, questing or even just straight PVP. Eve basically sets the bar for freedom by throwing you into a cold harsh world and saying good luck, go and survive.

I personally don't want my hand held by a game, I want to create my own path and write my own story in that universe. It makes sense to me that people like The Mittani and James 315 polarize communities like Eve, as that is the backbone of player driven emergent gameplay. They create conflict something every healthy sandbox needs. They are the content creators in these games.

Anyway, thats enough for the time being. Time to go back to getting that GW2 map to 100%.

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