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p55carroll
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Just to promote some discussion for the fun of it, I thought I'd do a series of forum posts based on the 53 genres listed in VGG.* Here's a GeekList of all 53 threads.

This thread's genre: Sandbox

Listed below are the top-ranked games in this genre. How does the list fit with your experience?


Have you played any of these games? Which ones? Do you agree or disagree with the ranking? How would you rank the games listed? Are there other games in the genre that you think should be in the top ranks?

And by the way, what do you think of this genre in general?

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
Grand Theft Auto V
The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind
Minecraft
The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
Horizon Zero Dawn
Sid Meier's Pirates! (1987)
Far Cry 3
Neverwinter Nights (2002)


*In case you don't know how to find the VGG genres and rankings, hover over Browse at the top of the screen, then click Genres. Click a genre, and scroll down to Linked Items. Click the Sort window, and sort by Rank.
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♬ Stephanie ♩♪♩♪♩ ♩♪♩♪♫♪
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Ah yes, the Elder Scrolls games. So much to do there that I've never finished them.
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p55carroll
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Of the games listed, I've only played Sid Meier's Pirates! (1987) and Neverwinter Nights (2002). I'm not sure what would make these "sandbox" games, though. I'm not sure I'd like a Sandbox game; I prefer a game that's reasonably short with a clear objective.
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Patrick Carroll wrote:
Of the games listed, I've only played Sid Meier's Pirates! (1987) and Neverwinter Nights (2002). I'm not sure what would make these "sandbox" games, though.


Pirates! dumped you into the Caribbean and just let you get on with it. You could choose to become a pirate, and attack, plunder and capture ships and cities, you could do roughly the same but in service to a nation to rise up its ranks, you could look for treasures, get captured, married, even try to trade (although Pirates isn't much of a trading simulator, compared to, say, any entry of the Uncharted Waters or Port Royale series). That those options are generally always available to you, or can be worked towards, in a game world you can just generally roam around in, are what make it a sandbox.

And Neverwinter Nights allows you to create your own adventures and play them online, as DM / GM or as a player. Does that make it a sandbox? You've got me wondering now!


Another pretty decent list, although it feels a little weird there isn't a Sim City game on there. No matter.


EDIT: No idea why it took so long to occur to me, but the list has GTAV but no Bully? For shame.
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Jackal2k wrote:
Patrick Carroll wrote:
Of the games listed, I've only played Sid Meier's Pirates! (1987) and Neverwinter Nights (2002). I'm not sure what would make these "sandbox" games, though.
... Neverwinter Nights allows you to create your own adventures and play them online, as DM / GM or as a player. Does that make it a sandbox? You've got me wondering now!
Yeah, NWN was strange to me at first too, but then with all the user created content I guess it makes sense. Someone thought that was Sandbox-worthy, evidently. But then, shouldn't Super Mario Maker and some other games be here too?
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I love Sandbox games!

Morrowind, Oblivion, Skyrim... I have spent probably years of my life in those combined, and when you add in the Morrowind Constructor Set... even more years...

I also spent time playing around with Neverwinter Nights (2002), I only regret not spending more time building my own quests in game.

And Minecraft, oh how I love Minecraft! Building my own worlds... seeking out villages and protecting them! And exploring in Terraria!
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Caroline Berg
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Patrick Carroll wrote:
I'm not sure what would make these "sandbox" games, though.

From an industry point of view sandbox games are defined by the narrative structure of the story that appears in the game. If you can do quests in any order (like with Skyrim), or there are no quests (like Minecraft), it is a Sandbox game.

I imagine the distinction originally mattered most for writers working on games, as writing for Sandbox games is very different than games where the quests have to be linked together or where gameplay is strictly linear.
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Seems like there has been a big shift away from linearity to more sandboxy-ish games in recent years. Some of the games i like very much, but i do think that sometimes its an overused idea that makes for some mismatches in the style of game and how the gameplay feels. Mirror's Edge: Catalyst and Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Painwere both games that didn't benefit from opening up the world. But in games where the openness of the world is met with an openness in how to accomplish tasks, well thats just magic. I still get the warm-fuzzies when I think about playing Mercenaries 2: World in Flames with buddies and finding fun ways to complete missions. I'd put the Just Cause games up there as well.
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Caroline Berg
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middletonner wrote:
Seems like there has been a big shift away from linearity to more sandboxy-ish games in recent years.

Yes, I agree. I think some people saw how well certain sandbox games were doing, and decided that all games would benefit from non-linear story chunks. When really, it isn't better or worse than linear games, it's just a different way to tell stories.
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adularia25 wrote:

From an industry point of view sandbox games are defined by the narrative structure of the story that appears in the game. If you can do quests in any order (like with Skyrim), or there are no quests (like Minecraft), it is a Sandbox game.


That's interesting, never knew that. I mean, Skyrim has a main quest you have to do in order, so does that still count as sandbox. I guess the terms are quite broad and many games will fit in a different category through different people's eyes.
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The first time I ever saw the term "sandbox" used in a video game, it was in Railroad Tycoon II. There's a button you can press to put the game into "sandbox mode." When you do that, you're free from all the economic constraints and competition, so you can just build track and have your trains pick up and deliver goods any way you like. Then again, there's no longer any objective to shoot for; you can't win or lose.

I played around in that "sandbox" for a little while but found it pointless. Then I went back to the regular game and found it too tough, so I gave it up altogether.
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adularia25 wrote:
middletonner wrote:
Seems like there has been a big shift away from linearity to more sandboxy-ish games in recent years.

Yes, I agree. I think some people saw how well certain sandbox games were doing, and decided that all games would benefit from non-linear story chunks. When really, it isn't better or worse than linear games, it's just a different way to tell stories.

I guess the start of the trend coincides with big hardware pushes that allowed for sprawling environments but also the desire for developers to show off what they could do in as a result. The dynamic animations in Assassin's Creed were a big selling point and the open world gave them a place to show it off, just to name one early example. But I'll bet those early successes pushed more titles adopting the format regardless of what kind of game they were actually making.
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