Guiding my Gaming

I’ve come to realise that completely open sandbox type games just aren’t for me. I used to think that’s what I wanted in a game but it has slowly come out from experience and a little soul searching that games without guidance fit with my ideals but with my interests. It’s a funny mix of indecision involved in it but honestly not as much as you would think.

I’ve tried minecraft like most and to be honest, I thought it was only ok. It offered a wonderful range of systems and overarching freedom that I thought I would like but after a while I just found myself trying to create the same old things. I never really suffered from indecision and while it might take some time and thought I can usually put myself on a certain path and work towards that.

This is the same thing happens whoever I play a more open sandbox type games or MMO’s like Wurm or Xyson, I end up trying a few things and ending up bored. I’m wondering at the moment if this same feeling will happen when I try out the Repopulation. It’s a sad thing as I wish I could like them more than I do as they really deserve it.

Comparing Minecraft to say a game like Terraria which I loved offers an interesting comparison. Terraria is more of a game and while it does offer good dose of freedom it is more about guiding the player within the world and that is the key difference. Guidance can be a great thing when done right as many people (myself included) don’t have the boundless creativity to fully utilise a lack of restraints and lack the fortitude to make our own game out of the myriad of systems the provide.

I crave new experiences at times but I’m not a game designer, far from it so I rely on others to create experiences for me that I haven’t had before. The rote experiences I find in a more open sandbox devolve into me doing the same things. If I picked up minecraft again tomorrow I would likely start digging and creating structures much the same as I did last time.

The guidance that many offer though on top of a sandbox experience is really what I’m after. I like looking forward to my play in Terraria as I’m constantly focused on that end point of defeating the hell boss. I have a lot of fun along the way, and that experience is variable but I need that one, or multiple focal points to focus my attention. I need there to be rules, I want to have goals, and I want an already wondrous world that I can put my mark on.

I still like that feeling of freedom though and it’s a hard thing to get right. Have enough mechanics to guide play but not to many that it becomes a linear path of ticking the next check box. Being able to discover and explore along a path rather than just be stuck following it.

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8 thoughts on “Guiding my Gaming

  1. When RIFT first introduced Dimensions, which is the amazing sandbox-y player housing, one of my first thoughts was, “Man, I wish I could just buy a house to put in my Dimension rather than building one from scratch out of materials.”

    In short, I feel ya on this one! I think it might have a bit to do with the fact that I’m an Achiever type of player and like to feel as though I’m “getting things done” even if it’s just virtual things. Given infinite tools and infinite options, I usually just run around in circles wondering what I should do.

    • I really want to get into rift dimension except I know that this exact thing would happen to me… I would much rather have a near completed house that i can decorate and maybe modify or purchase modular pieces

  2. You can always try make to do lists / achievements for yourself too. I was doing this all the way back in Ultima Online before achievements were even a thing! :)

    Some examples:
    -Max skill “x”.
    -Get item “x”.
    -Travel to all the cities by foot.
    -Clear all the dungeons.
    -Build guild village.
    -Timed run between x and y. (often race with others)
    -Free city “x” (some shards if the monsters were left alone long enough they marched out of the dungeon and took over the neighbouring city)
    -Set defences for “x”
    -Gather “x” number supplies

    • That is a good point and I do make lists as well but never actually follow them at all. I made a gw2 one yet I don’t even think I’ve finished half of that

  3. I loved Minecraft, but I do see your point. Terraria always felt more fun because I knew there were stakes and goals. Minecraft only ever flourishes with other people and rarely by itself.

    I love sandboxes and freedom, but you’ve got to have some hand holding and finger pointing. Otherwise, just get legos and sit in the corner of your room.

    • I love legos too, and still get to play with them at work but I always seem to make the same sort of things yet with those little instruction booklets I can make wondrous things. I think that is a point of the sandbox too, it’s easier to make and follow along with group goals than it is to do it solo

      • I do appreciate having the option to go completely off rails. That’s one of my major complaints about modern MMOs and other RPGs: even when it is more of a sandbox affair, it can take hours to get to the game truly being open.

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