Thursday, April 1, 2010

Resources for "Sandbox" Creation

While I wasn't looking, a "relatively" new term sprung up in the gaming lingua franca: the 'sandbox'.

I'm not entirely certain about the origins, though I believe that it may have originated from the IT term for an isolated server or workspace within a server that is effectively segregated from everything else in the network -- you can do whatever you want in it and it won't affect anything outside it.

In modern gaming parlance, the sandbox apparently refers to -- and I'm doing this purely from context clues -- a style of play where players are dumped into a campaign setting that can be as small as a dungeon or as large as a  world map and are free to pursue whatever agendas they wish.

Furthermore, it seems to be used as the opposite of 'story-driven' play -- which, in many OSR blog posts, seems to be used synonymously with GM 'railroading' (a more commonly used term that has seen longer and more widespread usage in gaming circles).

In any case, I've decided to find out more about this old/new style of play and am hunting down posts concerning sandbox creation.  Here are a couple of excellent meta-posts from A Bat in the Attic.

Fantasy Sandbox Creation
Traveller Sandbox Creation

2 comments:

  1. It comes from a sandbox computer game where it designed to allow the player to roam the landscape freely. Grand Theft Auto series is the classic example of this.

    It was used by the Necromancer team, myself included, after the Boxed Set of the Wilderlands of High Fantasy are part of explaining what is and what you do with it.

    I don't know who came up with it exactly just sort of happened.

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  2. Hi Mr. Conley -- that's interesting! My suspicion is that the sandbox term came from the developers or dev teams, because it has a reasonable pedigree of similar usage in programming.

    In any case, it's a cooler, more accessible counter-term to the narrativist/railroading -- without the negative context.

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That's my side of things. Let me know what you think, my friend.

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