This rant if the week is sponsored by starburst fruity chews, eat a whole pack, overdose on sugar, and have your tongue feeling like you’ve been drinking acid.
I came across the term casual sandbox *shudder* on a massively article about the upcoming Archeage and that term had me completely perplexed. I know what they both mean separately, that is obvious enough but together it just seems all wrong. How would a casual sandbox *shudder* even work.
In this age a casual focus seems to be in vogue with a lot of companies catering to this expanding demographic. I’ve talked about my hangups with this before, it’s just not a great direction for a game where you want a consistent returning playerbase like an mmo. Even if you don’t have a subscription you still require a critical mass of players so it doesn’t end up an empty shell devoid of socialising and inhibiting group pick ups. I don’t even think a casul focus is good for a regular mmo let alone a sandbox where the players are the content.
There are enough random definitions of what hardcore and casual mean floating around the interwebs although these really don’t matter at all since everyone’s interpretation is quite different. In my mind the difference is based on the level of investment on person has or can give to a game based on personal factors and it is this investment which determine a players expectations. I think that is the main premise of thesearguments anyway.
A casual player prefers items to be easier to gain in less time and wouldn’t want to lose such things wherein hardcore players are willing to devote themselves to a cause. It’s kind of what perfectly separates the design practices of themeparks and sandboxes, themeparks are naturally designed to be segmented, consumed and completed at leisure while sandboxes open ended nature require time and patience to achieve things. Of course there are hardcore themeparks or at least a part of them which usually focus around raiding but for the life of me I can’t think of a casual sandbox *shudder* as it naturally becomes less of a sandbox if there is an easily reached end point.
Some might call farmville and the like it spawned rather casual and open ended but they take a tremendous amount of time if your actually invested in them, constantly checking, planting, maintaining and harvesting. Always have these schedules of play in the back of your mind. They are terribly compelling and not for the person who is inpatient or without long term goals.
So what exactly would a casual sandbox even look like? You know, I think it would look exactly like WoW in its current form. An all encompassing beast with a variety of content styles suited at different levels of experience and skills where you can focus and neglect the various parts at your leisure. Yeh I think that sums it up nicely.