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  1. - Top - End - #31
    Halfling in the Playground
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    Default Re: Why 'Sandbox' is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by inexorabletruth View Post
    If I may offer a bit of hope, the playground mods have little tolerance for trolling here. I find it is best to give people the benefit of the doubt that they are genuinely attempting to understand a concept. With patience, open mindedness, and a sincere attempt to communicate respectfully, we all tend to play nice and get along around here, even if we don't always see eye to eye.
    Then what is the 'play nice' version of someone who takes whatever you say and ignores most of it? Its a dilemma. On the one hand the person might actually be trying to understand and be a willing participant in a discussion. If that is the case, they are likely to attempt to understand things, ask questions, look for clarifications. It would really suck to be dismissed as a troll if you were trying to understand something and just not getting it.

    On the other hand, he doesn't really seem to have any indications that it what he is trying to do. Responding in snide snippets and rants rather than showing any sign of comprehension or debate. So any additional effort is simply feeding the desire for attention and enjoyment some people feel at being purposefully obtuse.

    The last piece of the puzzle, at least from the way I see it, is the community and other posters. I am a new member to the community, but I know several of the posters here. The immediate response that I got after posting this was having a long-time member of the community message me on skype with something that was effectively "@Waste: Man, you found the resident soap-box troll instantly" as well as similar comments being shared not only in private but on this thread and in other sections of these forums.

    Yeah its possible that we are misunderstanding one another and I should give him the benefit of the doubt (which I did initially). But the more I look into his posts, replies and talk to other members of this community the more it looks like giving the benefit of the doubt is likely to result in wasted time with no productive outcome.
    Interested in giving 4e D&D a shot? All players, new and old, are welcome to join us over at the Guild Living Campaign on Roll20. Feel free to post on the thread or PM me for more information.

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  2. - Top - End - #32
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    Default Re: Why 'Sandbox' is a meaningless phrase

    Even if mods do get involved it wont necessarily solve anything since Darth Ultron has been banned before as Jedipotter (iirc, it was discovered when he posted his home games houserules and they were word for word identical to Jedipotter's very specific houserules).
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  3. - Top - End - #33
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    Default Re: Why 'Sandbox' is a meaningless phrase

    Almost all my games have sandboxes in them. It's called campaign setting. But it's not good at describing a specific game type that has kinda claimed the word sandbox.
    Optimizing vs Roleplay
    If the worlds greatest optimizer makes a character and hands it to the worlds greatest roleplayer who roleplays the character. What will happen? Will the Universe implode?

    Roleplaying vs Fun
    If roleplaying is no fun then stop doing it. Unless of course you are roleplaying at gunpoint then you should roleplay like your life depended on it.

  4. - Top - End - #34
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    Default Re: Why 'Sandbox' is a meaningless phrase

    Well, Wasteomana, I hope you are wrong. Maybe my voice and tone I've given Ultron when I read his posts are different from the one everyone else is reading it in. Because I don't get the same vibe of hostility from his posts... more confusion and frustration than anything. Hmm... it's probably naive of me to suggest this, but I suppose the only way to know is to ask.

    Hey, Darth Ultron. Is this a grab for attention, or an honest discussion/debate about the nature of sandbox gaming and railroad gaming?

  5. - Top - End - #35
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    WolfInSheepsClothing

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    Default Re: Why 'Sandbox' is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Anonymouswizard View Post
    As somebody who did participate in an hour of roleplaying our characters sitting around drinking beer and talking
    Now see if all of the players would get together and be honest and say something like ''we just want to sit around and pretend we are cool in a bar''. I'd say I don't want to waste time doing that during the game. I'd suggest that if the players really want to do that, that they should all arrange to get together outside of the game time, and ''be cool in a bar'' as much as they want too. Amazingly, few players ever want to do that.

    Quote Originally Posted by Anonymouswizard View Post
    But here's the thing, you're not seeing the backlash because you're part of the backlash. Such as how I don't see a lot of the anti-'GM may I' backlash because I'm an active part of it.
    I don't think I am.

    1.I approve of doing any role playing DURING the game adventure. So as long as it's DURING the adventure, it's fine.

    2.And I offer solo games to players.

    Quote Originally Posted by Anonymouswizard View Post
    Also, that last sentence, that's a great description of railroading. 'When the GM crafts, makes, or forces things to happen for the sake of "the game"'. And railroadinging isn't a bad thing when it's taken in moderation.
    As a honest person, I've never denied I railroad....super hardcore railroad.

    Quote Originally Posted by Segev View Post
    Normally, you hold up "any game that isn't wacky crazy randomness is a railroad." Now you're holding up "all games are sandboxes." Previously, you've dismissed sandboxes as wacky-crazy-randomness.
    Well, the first is still what I believe....but I count ''railroading'' to cover a lot of things the DM does; ''everyone else'' only puts ''railroading as badwrongfun''.

    And it's not that all games are sandboxes...it's that that word is pointless.

    And snadboxes are wacky-crazy-randomness.

    Quote Originally Posted by Segev View Post
    That's grossly overly broadly defining "second life." Minecraft is legos, not second life. It's almost the very DEFINITION of a sandbox. Here are a bunch of toys and random building materials. Go play with them by building stuff. Or destroying stuff. Or whatever floats your boat (which, incidentally, you make by playing with those resources over there in particular ways).
    Well, I know nothing about minecraft other then lots of little kids love it, and guess it has really bad blocky like 8-bit Nentinedo animation.

  6. - Top - End - #36
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    Default Re: Why 'Sandbox' is a meaningless phrase

    A typical TRPG, is not a functioning sandbox for any committed theory. It is an “open world game” where the laws of physics can change if the GM so desires. This game experience is usually inconsistent because the GM has never articulated what the theories governing the game world might be.

    Gygax set the standards for many aspects of TRPGs. Gygax believed that DMs should fake dice rolls behind the screen, and that DMs should trick the players, but Gygax also believed that DMs should prepare actual clues. Gygax encouraged giving the players 99 opportunities to screw up and 1 obscure possibility to get it right. Gygax wanted the players to fumble around with guesswork until they happened to guess the possibility that Gygax had committed to as true in the game world. Gygax planned out a secret map of the landmines in his dungeons and waited to see if the player characters would step on them. If the player tested a location with a land mine without stepping on it, Gygax would give him a fair chance to disarm the land mine.

    Unfortunately, most GMs who came after Gygax took a much easier route; they didn’t prepare any real clues – they just allowed the players to fumble around with guesswork until one of the player’s guesses sounded like a good idea. This system is very easy for the GM, because nothing is committed when play starts. Anything might turn out to be true in the game world, if the GM wants it to be true at any given moment.

    The problem, of course, is that this kind of lazy GM work leads to highly inconsistent game worlds, and rather than remembering a set of land mines and giving the players chances to disarm them, the GM merely decides that the players will disarm mines if he feel like it, or step on undetected mines if he feels like it. It is no longer a game of preparation and random dice rolls; it becomes a game of whim.

    The very first dungeon crawls – run by Arneson – seem to have been heavily governed by whim and malice. The first dungeons were much like the “Temple of the Frog” – i.e. lots of inconsistent magic items such as bags of holding, lots of incompatible monsters like a ravenous dragon in a 20-by-20 room with no food supply, surrounded by animated statues and green slimes. The whimsical style doesn’t stand up to examination, but that was initially okay because no one who had access to the games was in any mood to think logically. Gygax initially introduced minimal rules with a lot of room for improvisation, and then refined the game into AD&D, which attempted to return to the simulationist perspective that wargames had used for centuries. With increased simulationism, the dungeons began to show some attempts at internal consistency.

    Sandbox rpgs have no story or plot at all, they are all action and nothing more, linear rpgs have story and characters to back it up and that is what matters for rpgs.

  7. - Top - End - #37
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    WolfInSheepsClothing

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    Default Re: Why 'Sandbox' is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by inexorabletruth View Post
    Sandboxes are rife with adventures. I'm confused about what we're defining here. I'm currently running a sandbox in PbP... Isn't that what a sandbox is? How do you ever finish "sandboxing around"? How do you run out of adventures in a sandbox game?
    But your using the ''cool'' definition of sandbox. Your game is cool and fun, so it's a sandbox.

    I'd note that as your game is full of plots and adventures and makes sense it's not a sandbox game. Sure, you let the players pick what to do...but then it's just a normal game.

    And what you do in the game is just a matter of style....if you and your players like to 'blacksmith' for hours or days or weeks....that is just your way of having fun.

    Quote Originally Posted by inexorabletruth View Post
    Also, how is that not really a game? This sounds dangerously like gatekeeping. As far as I know a game is a form of play. Simply put, it's a fun thing to do. I have fun playing a blacksmith in Skyrim. But I've also had fun playing as a sword-and-board female orc in Skyrim, and as a craven High Elf conjuror, and as a Breton merchant. Far as I can tell, I play the game almost too much.
    If your just logging in to do something like craft, are you really playing the game? If a bunch of your friends get together and play softball....and you stay home and knit a sweater, would you say you played softball with your friends?


    Quote Originally Posted by inexorabletruth View Post
    Assuming you meant to type "runs" instead of "ruins", your first post contradicts this entire statement. You said, "Really, the only way a TRPG can't be a Sandbox is if the game has a DM that is a Jerk, or is just a Bad DM." Before that, you also say, "Any well written TRPG adventure is a 'sandbox', and you don't even really need to say it." Are you changing your mind? Because, if you're a good DM, and you run a hardcore railroad, then that means you run good TRPGs that stay on the tracks, which means that these games you run aren't sandboxes.
    Well, no. But this gets into the Can of Worms of the false things like player agency, meaningful decisions and player control. And lots of illusions.

    Quote Originally Posted by inexorabletruth View Post
    Choose Your Adventure series. If you never had those when you were a kid, I feel bad for you. Cause they were awesome. But I digress.
    I had them all. Even the D&D ones. And one day after going through the Dungeon of Dread I say the add in the back of the book of ''if you liked this book, try this game(D&D)''....and the rest is history

    Quote Originally Posted by inexorabletruth View Post
    I'm still unclear why you feel this way. Can you provide some examples? You have previously claimed that you keep your games on the rails. If it's on the rails, it's not a sandbox, and having a plot doesn't mean it can't still be a sandbox. The two are different, but they're not inherently mutually exclusive. Not all TRPGs are sandboxes, and not all RPG video games are railroaded. And a sandbox doesn't lose its status if there is a plot that the players chose to zero in on, as long as the option to choose a different course remains open.
    Right I run normal games with railroads, no sandboxes, and that illusion of player choice...but that is just my style.

    As a sandbox is just free form, once you have a plot, you have to ''dig out'' of the sand. A sandbox is just meaningless things of little or no consequence, you need a plot for anything to happen.

    Like ok, the game starts and the DM just sits back. The players have fun having their characters go shopping, get their hair done, have drinks at a tavern and even knit some sweaters. As the players do that, the DM drops hints and hooks for the plot based action adventures. Assuming the players want to do anything meaningful, of notice and consequence, they will either pick a DM hook, or make up one on their own. Either way, the DM makes an adventure at that point, and at that point is not the ''so called sandbox'', it's a normal game. But even in the normal game, assuming an average or good DM, the players can still ''try to do'' just about anything to move along and advance the plot.


    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    The Dragon has kidnapped the Princess, and plans to eat her in a week's time if its demands aren't met. The GM has planned for the possibility of the party gathering the Seven Shards of the Sword McGuffin, scattered across the land. Or for the party to attempt to actually fulfill the dragon's demands. But the party might instead choose to try to abduct the princess back. Or to sell the Dragon one of the shards of the Sword McGuffin. Or to sell the Dragon herbs and spices to make the Princess more palatable.
    This would be what I call a normal game. The plot is ''save the princess'' or maybe more accurately ''deal with the princess and the dragon'' . The players are free to at least try anything.

    I'd break it down more:

    Good DM-has planed for all the ways mentioned, and four or five more. By simply having details like all the ''whys'' the DM knows how things will likely turn out no matter what the players think of and even if the DM has no plan.

    Average DM-has planned for maybe one to three things on the list. But they let the players try anything, even if they have not thought or planned for it.

    Bad DM/Jerk DM-has planned for just one thing on the list, and they only want the player to do the one they have the plan for. A lot of Bad DMs just have little experience or are simply not good at role playing at all. This is the type that might just say ''um, the river is too deep you guys can't swim across it''.

    Quote Originally Posted by inexorabletruth View Post

    Hey, Darth Ultron. Is this a grab for attention, or an honest discussion/debate about the nature of sandbox gaming and railroad gaming?
    I'm always about honest discussion/debate.

  8. - Top - End - #38
    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: Why 'Sandbox' is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by inexorabletruth View Post
    Well, Wasteomana, I hope you are wrong. Maybe my voice and tone I've given Ultron when I read his posts are different from the one everyone else is reading it in. Because I don't get the same vibe of hostility from his posts... more confusion and frustration than anything. Hmm... it's probably naive of me to suggest this, but I suppose the only way to know is to ask.

    Hey, Darth Ultron. Is this a grab for attention, or an honest discussion/debate about the nature of sandbox gaming and railroad gaming?
    He's literally calling anyone who DM's differently from him a bad DM. That's not even low-key trolling, it's straight up flame-baiting.

  9. - Top - End - #39
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    RedWizardGuy

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    Default Re: Why 'Sandbox' is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Darth Ultron View Post
    Now see if all of the players would get together and be honest and say something like ''we just want to sit around and pretend we are cool in a bar''. I'd say I don't want to waste time doing that during the game. I'd suggest that if the players really want to do that, that they should all arrange to get together outside of the game time, and ''be cool in a bar'' as much as they want too. Amazingly, few players ever want to do that.
    You'd be politely shown the door in my group, because sometimes having or characters sit around talking to each other for an hour is a required change of pace.

    You might see it as a waste, many people don't. Are you really trying to say that there's a wrong way to play make believe?

    Sure, we can also hang out in a pub in real life, but that's different to exploring or characters. I hang out in pubs plenty, generally one of the two not getting plastered.
    I prefer science fiction to fantasy, and generally play in the former genre. Due to this, I generally expect the laws of physics to apply to games, and work from that perspective.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Zelphas View Post
    So here I am, trapped in my laboratory, trying to create a Mechabeast that's powerful enough to take down the howling horde outside my door, but also won't join them once it realizes what I've done...twentieth time's the charm, right?
    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Raziere View Post
    How about a Jovian Uplift stuck in a Case morph? it makes so little sense.

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    MonkGuy

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    Default Re: Why 'Sandbox' is a meaningless phrase

    I think the first problem here, is syntax. We're talking about the same words, but not the same meaning. Darth Ultron, it looks as though you have your own connotation of "sandbox" which doesn't coincide with the commonly accepted definition of a sandbox.

    To have a serious discussion, we all have to be on the same page, here. Which most logically means you need to provide a consensus definition of the word. In my first post here, I provided Techopedia's definition:

    A sandbox is a style of game in which minimal character limitations are placed on the gamer, allowing the gamer to roam and change a virtual world at will. In contrast to a progression-style game, a sandbox game emphasizes roaming and allows a gamer to select tasks.
    But I'm willing to provide another link which goes further into the definition of the concept. Here is what Wikipedia has to say about the phrase "sandbox game".

    Once we're all defining the concept the same way, you will see that sandbox gaming (while it doesn't require a plot to be one) can have as many plots as it can contain and still be a sandbox. It doesn't revert back to a linear game when the players dedicate their interests to one plot or subplot as long as the option to pursue other plots or subplots remains. I'm not using the "cool" definition of sandbox gaming... I'm using the official definition of it. Please see the reference material I've presented. If you have a differing reference, feel free to present it. However, if you stand behind the argument that your specialized connotation of a sandbox game is the ultimate definition the concept, and trumps all common definitions of the term, then we are at an impasse.

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    WolfInSheepsClothing

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    Default Re: Why 'Sandbox' is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Mordaedil View Post
    He's literally calling anyone who DM's differently from him a bad DM. That's not even low-key trolling, it's straight up flame-baiting.
    You might note my list goes from good to average to bad to jerk.

    Quote Originally Posted by Anonymouswizard View Post
    You'd be politely shown the door in my group, because sometimes having or characters sit around talking to each other for an hour is a required change of pace.

    You might see it as a waste, many people don't. Are you really trying to say that there's a wrong way to play make believe?

    Sure, we can also hang out in a pub in real life, but that's different to exploring or characters. I hang out in pubs plenty, generally one of the two not getting plastered.

    Well it is just different styles. I like fast paced wild ''edge of your seat'' adventures.

    I'm not sure where the 'wrong' idea comes from. Guess I could type, yet again, anyone can have fun anyway they want too....but guess no one will read that. Again.

  12. - Top - End - #42
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    MonkGuy

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    Default Re: Why 'Sandbox' is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Mordaedil View Post
    He's literally calling anyone who DM's differently from him a bad DM. That's not even low-key trolling, it's straight up flame-baiting.
    To be honest, I'm not certain that he is. I'm not 100% clear what he's trying to say. I think his subcurrent agenda is to suggest that he likes games that have lots of action and lots of options. I think we can all agree that there are... I don't want to say bad DMs, but DMs who have bad synergy with their players, or perhaps inexperienced DMs who aren't ready for the chaos of an open-world concept and wedge a railroad into the matrix of a sandbox to give it the easily shattered illusion of an open world game, and he's probably had a recent run-in with such a DM and needs to work through it. Or perhaps, he was the DM who struggled with his players, got frustrated that the game didn't go as planned (perhaps they spent longer than he would've liked "roleplaying" with the tavern servers) and needed to work through the problems on the forum.

    Due to the fact that his argument self contradicts, changes agendas, and relies on opinions and connotations rather than stated fact, I would say this is more about him being frustrated than him wanting to frustrate others.

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    RedWizardGuy

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    Default Re: Why 'Sandbox' is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Darth Ultron View Post
    Well it is just different styles. I like fast paced wild ''edge of your seat'' adventures.

    I'm not sure where the 'wrong' idea comes from. Guess I could type, yet again, anyone can have fun anyway they want too....but guess no one will read that. Again.
    Sorry, had to make lunch then spend time digging this out.

    Quote Originally Posted by Darth Ultron View Post
    If the activity done in a RPG is linear, then it's game and even normal. It's only when it's the Random Sandbox Mess of non-linear not much of anything that it's Barley a Game.
    You've also used 'not really a game' and really anything else you can think of to imply sandboxes are Not As Worthy.

    Here's the thing, I like plotted adventures. I've request that the GM for my 'starting soon, honest' game include my character running away from his family due to being transgender as a plot point. I tend to run more loosely, combining prepared encounters based on how I feel at the table, but I don't care if the GM has a preset plot as long as it's set out first. I actually enjoy sandboxes less.

    (also, 'all edge of the seat' is boring to me, there's no variety. Give me highs and lows let the pace move, have moments where the characters get to relax. Nothing wrong with going full pelt all the time though.)
    I prefer science fiction to fantasy, and generally play in the former genre. Due to this, I generally expect the laws of physics to apply to games, and work from that perspective.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Zelphas View Post
    So here I am, trapped in my laboratory, trying to create a Mechabeast that's powerful enough to take down the howling horde outside my door, but also won't join them once it realizes what I've done...twentieth time's the charm, right?
    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Raziere View Post
    How about a Jovian Uplift stuck in a Case morph? it makes so little sense.

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    Default Re: Why 'Sandbox' is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Tanarii View Post
    You missed a great link. It's not a definition, but a good explanation.
    http://theangrygm.com/ask-angry-playing-in-the-sandbox/
    Angry defines the difference between a sandbox and a "normal" game as who chooses the goal - the players or the GM. Although he's not entirely wrong, he's still missing the point, and wrong.

    When you hand a child a sandbox IRL, and ask them to make their family (or they just make their family without being asked, because that's what kids often do), you've set the general expectations (implicitly or explicitly, to make your family), but the child chooses which figure best represents each family member.

    So, in a political sandbox, the GM has chosen the general theme, and populated the sandbox with political elements. But the players choose what political thing to do with which of the elements, and which ones to ignore.

    However, when the players change their mind / change their focus, that's fine. But when the GM presents one adventure, then suddenly pulls the rug out from under the players and forces them down a different path, it's a bait & switch (which I personally am not as opposed to as most Playgrounders are IME).

    And there's many other differences that Angry missed, but I think that that's enough to make my point.

    Quote Originally Posted by Segev View Post
    A great example of a game that incorporates a lot of sandbox elements, many plots from which to pick and choose, and a grand existential plot you use the other plots and their interactions to help you build up to deal with - not to mention to investigate - is Star Control II. There's a free, fan-redone version (since the game became abandonware some years ago) called Star Control: The Ur-Quan Masters. I highly recommend it if people want an example of how a video game can manage to incorporate such elements. Though I will warn that it can be...hard...to play. The computer isn't necessarily a cheating bastard, but it's got nasty-good reflexes.
    Forget the reflexes, in my time playing it, half the universe was gone before I even got the resources together to go exploring.

    Quote Originally Posted by Anonymouswizard View Post
    Okay, I quoted this thinking you were disagreeing with me, when you were agreeing with me.
    Hahaha, I know, I actually posted to agree with someone? My account must clearly have been hacked.

    Yeah, these "wastes of time" are often some of the best moments in the game, and what we remember 20 years later.

    Quote Originally Posted by Darth Ultron View Post
    ''we just want to sit around and pretend we are cool in a bar''.
    But that's only role-playing if the character actually is supposed to be cool.

    Quote Originally Posted by Darth Ultron View Post
    I don't think I am.

    1.I approve of doing any role playing DURING the game adventure. So as long as it's DURING the adventure, it's fine.

    2.And I offer solo games to players.
    How is in the bar / around the campfire not sporting the adventure, if that's where the adventure takes them? I mean, I get that, if the characters remain in a single not plot relevant scene, they aren't advancing the plot... but so what? If the players are having fun role-playing in a role-playing game, isn't that a win?

    Quote Originally Posted by Darth Ultron View Post
    ; ''everyone else'' only puts ''railroading as badwrongfun''.
    At least you're putting "everyone else" in quotes now. You might get more mileage out of "most people" than "everyone else".

    As someone who used to believe that railroading = bad, and metagaming = evil, let me just say, you're in for a very tough fight.

    Quote Originally Posted by Inchhighguy View Post
    A typical TRPG, is not a functioning sandbox for any committed theory. It is an “open world game” where the laws of physics can change if the GM so desires. This game experience is usually inconsistent because the GM has never articulated what the theories governing the game world might be.

    Sandbox rpgs have no story or plot at all, they are all action and nothing more, linear rpgs have story and characters to back it up and that is what matters for rpgs.
    The bolded part, plus GMs going with the first idea that the players put forth that sounds cool, sounds like a gaming style that I'm actively opposed to, and I certainly hope that it hasn't become the standard.

    Saying that sandboxes are all action seems almost antithetical to Truth, seeing as how one of the biggest complaints about sandboxes is that there is no action. In Reality, a sandbox has as much or as little action as the GM populated it with, just like a railroad. The difference is, a railroad has a conductor, forcing the players from one scene to the next, whereas, in a sandbox, the players have to forge their own path between elements. And, by forging that path, the players largely determine the story (either as fact, or as illusion, in the case of the child choosing to create their family).

    Quote Originally Posted by Darth Ultron View Post
    Well, no. But this gets into the Can of Worms of the false things like player agency, meaningful decisions and player control. And lots of illusions.

    I had them all. Even the D&D ones. And one day after going through the Dungeon of Dread I say the add in the back of the book of ''if you liked this book, try this game(D&D)''....and the rest is history

    Right I run normal games with railroads, no sandboxes, and that illusion of player choice...but that is just my style.
    You know, I'm going to test a crazy theory here.

    See, I always had a love/hate relationship with choose your own adventure books. Because, while you were, in theory, free to pick whichever path you wanted, in practice, you usually could only "win" if you read the author's mind, and picked the One True Path.

    In these books, Player Agency was an illusion. It was really a game of "keep guessing until you pick what I've chosen as the correct answer".

    Now, I could write a whole lot more about this, and might just do so if this thread continues, but, DU, is this part of why you view Player Agency as an illusion?

    Quote Originally Posted by Darth Ultron View Post
    As a sandbox is just free form, once you have a plot, you have to ''dig out'' of the sand. A sandbox is just meaningless things of little or no consequence, you need a plot for anything to happen.
    So, many people, including myself as of when I joined the Playground, either view railroading as, or focus on the parts of railroading where, the GM will change the rules / established facts to force the players down the one specific path that they have planned for the adventure - that stuff that you call bad jerk GM.

    Do you need a plot for anything to happen? Well, no. It's a pity that you aren't familiar with Minecraft... But we can use your experience with random games to get the point across, I think.

    Suppose our characters are out in the wilderness. We roll up a random pack of orcs, we fight them and get loot and XP. We roll up a cliff, which we decide to go around. We roll up a small dragon, which we fight for loot and XP. Then we roll up a bear, which we kill for XP, then decide to turn into food and fur, and track back to its cave for shelter for the night.

    Now, we could have had a plan like, "we're out hunting for food", or "we need to find shelter for the night", but we didn't. Instead, we just took what we were given, and made what we could out of it.

    I'm not sure how you're defining "plot", but, while, yes, many sandboxes are simply a series of choose your own railroads, I'll argue that a sandbox need no more turn into a railroad than it needs to be populated by lol random.

    Quote Originally Posted by Darth Ultron View Post
    But even in the normal game, assuming an average or good DM, the players can still ''try to do'' just about anything to move along and advance the plot.

    This would be what I call a normal game. The plot is ''save the princess'' or maybe more accurately ''deal with the princess and the dragon'' . The players are free to at least try anything.

    I'd break it down more:

    Good DM-has planed for all the ways mentioned, and four or five more. By simply having details like all the ''whys'' the DM knows how things will likely turn out no matter what the players think of and even if the DM has no plan.

    Average DM-has planned for maybe one to three things on the list. But they let the players try anything, even if they have not thought or planned for it.

    Bad DM/Jerk DM-has planned for just one thing on the list, and they only want the player to do the one they have the plan for. A lot of Bad DMs just have little experience or are simply not good at role playing at all. This is the type that might just say ''um, the river is too deep you guys can't swim across it''.
    Two things: one, if the players choose "not my problem", and go deal with something else, do you consider that normal game, sandbox, or something else?

    Two, you have this strange belief in the GM planning for things. IME, I've found that better GMs plan for various outcomes only as a way to flesh out the world sufficiently to understand the world well enough to run it when the players do the unexpected. Plan-focused GMs are the ones who are forced to be bad jerk GMs and railroad to force the game onto one of the paths that they've planned and understand, whereas GMs who focus on understanding their world and the encounter can better adapt to whatever creative plan the party devises.
    Last edited by Quertus; 2018-02-07 at 08:57 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post

    See, I always had a love/hate relationship with choose your own adventure books. Because, while you were, in theory, free to pick whichever path you wanted, in practice, you usually could only "win" if you read the author's mind, and picked the One True Path.

    In these books, Player Agency was an illusion. It was really a game of "keep guessing until you pick what I've chosen as the correct answer".
    Some authors were better than others about creating "multiple viable paths to the same ending".

    Others created "multiple good endings" each with their own path.

    Still, it's true that some had only one path, where slightly "straying off it" could make the good ending impossible to achieve - with no clue that it was impossible to achieve until you actually got to the final battles.

    I'm focusing mostly on the Fighting Fantasy franchise.
    Last edited by hamishspence; 2018-02-07 at 09:07 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by hamishspence View Post
    Some authors were better than others about creating "multiple viable paths to the same ending".

    Others created "multiple good endings" each with their own path.

    Still, it's true that some had only one path, where slightly "straying off it" could make the good ending impossible to achieve - with no clue that it was impossible to achieve until you actually got to the final battles.

    I'm focusing mostly on the Fighting Fantasy franchise.
    Certain C"RPG" games have that same frustrating illusionism, requiring ALL the right choices to be made EXACTLY as the creators of the game intended, starting with each character build option and going on to decision points in the unfolding story. It's akin to figuring out a maze, only you have to remember to spam the save function and keep lots of saves.
    It is one thing to suspend your disbelief. It is another thing entirely to hang it by the neck until dead.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Darth Ultron View Post
    I'm not sure where the 'wrong' idea comes from. Guess I could type, yet again, anyone can have fun anyway they want too....but guess no one will read that. Again.
    To my understanding people do read it, but don't believe you because of the wording. That is you say you can have fun different types of fun, but then go on to describe all but the one your are arguing for with negative language that shows you don't think it is as good as the others.

    As an example (this is not an actual quote but it should give the idea): "Yes it is perfectly reasonable to play a random and meaningless sandbox game. Or you can play a deep and fulfilling railroad." Technically it calls out both as valid, but just looking at the word choice, it does clearly state that one is viewed as better than the other. The opposite would be something like "The main difference between the two is railroading is about merely watching the GM advance the plot like watching a movie, while sandboxes is about being an important part of the plot and world and shaping its outcome."

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cluedrew View Post
    To my understanding people do read it, but don't believe you because of the wording. That is you say you can have fun different types of fun, but then go on to describe all but the one your are arguing for with negative language that shows you don't think it is as good as the others.

    As an example (this is not an actual quote but it should give the idea): "Yes it is perfectly reasonable to play a random and meaningless sandbox game. Or you can play a deep and fulfilling railroad." Technically it calls out both as valid, but just looking at the word choice, it does clearly state that one is viewed as better than the other. The opposite would be something like "The main difference between the two is railroading is about merely watching the GM advance the plot like watching a movie, while sandboxes is about being an important part of the plot and world and shaping its outcome."
    Indeed, it inevitably comes across as "Well, I guess if you enjoy that sort of thing, why not" or "Hey, some people like wasting their time doing nothing and wandering around randomly, who am I to judge?"
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    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    Hahaha, I know, I actually posted to agree with someone? My account must clearly have been hacked.

    Yeah, these "wastes of time" are often some of the best moments in the game, and what we remember 20 years later.
    Sure, it's rarely the battles that my university group still talks about. It's generally the moments we spent just talking in character, like when I failed a roll to notice that the woman we were meeting was actually the party warrior. Or when we discovered we had all individually given our characters black trenchcoats (to be a bit inconspicuous in London, but four people in the same outfit stand out).

    But that's only role-playing if the character actually is supposed to be cool.
    True, I've made so many characters meant to be uncool. Tended to sit around cramping the atmosphere at bars.

    How is in the bar / around the campfire not sporting the adventure, if that's where the adventure takes them? I mean, I get that, if the characters remain in a single not plot relevant scene, they aren't advancing the plot... but so what? If the players are having fun role-playing in a role-playing game, isn't that a win?
    You don't understand, the plot must always be moving forward or else it will die!
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    So here I am, trapped in my laboratory, trying to create a Mechabeast that's powerful enough to take down the howling horde outside my door, but also won't join them once it realizes what I've done...twentieth time's the charm, right?
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    How about a Jovian Uplift stuck in a Case morph? it makes so little sense.

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    Default Re: Why 'Sandbox' is a meaningless phrase

    The main trouble with discussing things with Darth Ultron tends to be his insistence that people are lying when they discuss whatever topic is being discussed in any way that doesn't comport with his personal GMing style being "right," and all others being "random wacky nonsense." "Sandbox" is "meaningless" because it means "wacky random nonsense" in which "nothing happens," and if anything happens that isn't the GM "being a slave" to the players by "doing anything they want," it is immediately "good railroading" and a "normal game."

    It is possible that he just insistently uses the terms in a way that hinders communication, and his "normal games" are much like everybody else's "normal games," but he's insistent that they're also "good railroading" because anything the GM does is "railroading" if it isn't "wacky random nonsense that does whatever the players whine for and demand." It is equally possible, because he makes it impossible to discern by his insistent terminology, that he runs games that are hardcore one-true-path railroading that actively punish, deride, and abuse players who don't read his mind and play strictly to the script he's got for their characters.

    When he discusses "normal games," it sounds like it's the former. When he discusses "bad players" and how he drives them "crying" from his games, it sounds like it's the latter. And, because he dances around with overly-broad terminology that obfuscates communication in order to take a holier-than-thou stance that he's a great GM and anybody who disagrees is a whiny spoiled player or a bad GM, it comes off as insulting and makes it very hard to actually have a discussion with him.

    At best, I've managed to get a few posts into one, and then he tries to shift all the definitions from his broad terms he insisted must apply to narrow ones and became insulting in the process. Not ad hominem level, "Segev, you specifically are awful," but the passive-aggressive sort where anybody who happens to disagree with him is a bad person.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Segev View Post
    The main trouble with discussing things with Darth Ultron tends to be his insistence that people are lying when they discuss whatever topic is being discussed in any way that doesn't comport with his personal GMing style being "right," and all others being "random wacky nonsense." "Sandbox" is "meaningless" because it means "wacky random nonsense" in which "nothing happens," and if anything happens that isn't the GM "being a slave" to the players by "doing anything they want," it is immediately "good railroading" and a "normal game."

    It is possible that he just insistently uses the terms in a way that hinders communication, and his "normal games" are much like everybody else's "normal games," but he's insistent that they're also "good railroading" because anything the GM does is "railroading" if it isn't "wacky random nonsense that does whatever the players whine for and demand." It is equally possible, because he makes it impossible to discern by his insistent terminology, that he runs games that are hardcore one-true-path railroading that actively punish, deride, and abuse players who don't read his mind and play strictly to the script he's got for their characters.

    When he discusses "normal games," it sounds like it's the former. When he discusses "bad players" and how he drives them "crying" from his games, it sounds like it's the latter. And, because he dances around with overly-broad terminology that obfuscates communication in order to take a holier-than-thou stance that he's a great GM and anybody who disagrees is a whiny spoiled player or a bad GM, it comes off as insulting and makes it very hard to actually have a discussion with him.

    At best, I've managed to get a few posts into one, and then he tries to shift all the definitions from his broad terms he insisted must apply to narrow ones and became insulting in the process. Not ad hominem level, "Segev, you specifically are awful," but the passive-aggressive sort where anybody who happens to disagree with him is a bad person.
    A good summary of my interaction with / reading of his stance, posts and thread so far. Good to see that this is relatively normal and I wasn't being singled out for trolling.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wasteomana View Post
    A good summary of my interaction with / reading of his stance, posts and thread so far. Good to see that this is relatively normal and I wasn't being singled out for trolling.
    You're definitely not being singled out. Darth Ultron doesn't tend to be overtly rude, but it can feel like it after a while. I am, myself, unsure if he's deliberately confusing for trollish purposes of his own amusement, or if he really is just incapable of clear communication. There's a third possibility, but I think I'd be guilty of ad hominem if I went into it, so I choose to assume it must be one of the first two, and give benefit of a doubt towards the second one, specifically.

    Doesn't make him less frustrating, but it works for keeping in perspective how much effort to put into conversations.


    As to "sandbox," I still don't think it's been shown to be a meaningless phrase by this thread. It has a pretty sound definition, in fact. A "sandbox" is a game where the players can choose which aspects of the setting with which to interact, and from that interaction build something of their own into it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Segev View Post
    As to "sandbox," I still don't think it's been shown to be a meaningless phrase by this thread. It has a pretty sound definition, in fact. A "sandbox" is a game where the players can choose which aspects of the setting with which to interact, and from that interaction build something of their own into it.
    I'd say that it's not a binary choice, either, between "sandbox" or "not-sandbox". Different campaigns or even different parts of the same campaign can be more or less sandboxy.
    It is one thing to suspend your disbelief. It is another thing entirely to hang it by the neck until dead.

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    Default Re: Why 'Sandbox' is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    I'd say that it's not a binary choice, either, between "sandbox" or "not-sandbox". Different campaigns or even different parts of the same campaign can be more or less sandboxy.
    Absolutely. Sorry, I was being simplistic with that because I wanted to be pithy, rather than ramble off on one of my epic essay posts. ^^;

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    Default Re: Why 'Sandbox' is a meaningless phrase

    I agree Segev. I think a better question would be:

    Is it time to redefine the term Sandbox Game?

    I think that's closer to the spirit of the question, because I could make fine points and counterpoints to the question. The problem here is that once you establish that Sandbox Game is a phrase which has meaning and definition, the conversation is effectively over. Any attempts to keep the conversation going will seem beligerent because there is a wealth of data and corroboration to support the fact that Sandbox Gaming is a phrase with meaning and definition.

    A less interesting, but more context appropriate topic would also be:

    Now that Sandbox Games are so popular, is it really necessary to declare that your are running one? It would make more sense to declare that you are running a linear game.


    Either way... the problem in this topic has been resolved as conclusively as it can be.

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    Default Re: Why 'Sandbox' is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Segev View Post
    Absolutely. Sorry, I was being simplistic with that because I wanted to be pithy, rather than ramble off on one of my epic essay posts. ^^;
    No need to apologize.

    In general I think that these discussions would be better off if more of the terms were treated as verbs or adjectives, instead of nouns.

    IMO, it's better to say that a game is more or less "sandboxy" than it is to say "this is a sandbox" and "that is not a sandbox". "Railroad" is far more useful as a verb than as a noun... to describe something the GM does as railroading is more useful than to say "this game is a railroad".
    It is one thing to suspend your disbelief. It is another thing entirely to hang it by the neck until dead.

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    Default Re: Why 'Sandbox' is a meaningless phrase

    I will definitely say that people should see it as a spectrum (as our OP appears not to) rather than an either-or option.

    Whenever I sit down with a group of new players for a campaign that is one of the primary things we talk about. How much they want to be involved in creating the plot and how much they want to experience me creating the plot. What sort of expectations the players have for this and many other things (many of which determine where on the scale of 'complete sandbox' to 'complete railroad' the campaign sits) are good to hash out as early as possible.
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    Default Re: Why 'Sandbox' is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Wasteomana View Post
    A good summary of my interaction with / reading of his stance, posts and thread so far. Good to see that this is relatively normal and I wasn't being singled out for trolling.
    DU is a bit special in consistent misuse of certain established terms, but also very consistent and reliable when it comes to POV. Understand that POV besides the misuse, it actually makes sense.
    You'll notice, it´s all about "agency" and also about player looking for mechanical solutions first.

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    Default Re: Why 'Sandbox' is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Florian View Post
    Understand that POV besides the misuse, it actually makes sense.
    You'll notice, it´s all about "agency" and also about player looking for mechanical solutions first.
    I'm inclined to agree. DU has in the past brought up many issues that I've found myself agreeing with, the presentation could use a bit of work.
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    Default Re: Why 'Sandbox' is a meaningless phrase

    I just want to say I am very thankful that Sandbox games are a real and viable style of running various RPGs because I am a lot better at doing prep for them than when I was going Linear campaigns. It is so much easier for me to build a world and fill it with potential plot hooks and stat everyone on a particular island, than it is for my brain to write a linear campaign.
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