Re: “The Great Sandbox Illusion”

First let me clarify two things: The Triglavian Invasion was an opt-in event one could take part in, or not. This is only one of the aspects that the following video essay from Kio-tv likes to leave out. And the second one: This is my opinion. Feel free to agree or disagree however you like. I’d just ask to keep it civil if you decide to leave a comment.

Now, before reading further, I recommend watching/listening to the video yourself. It’s under 10 minutes and you can probably shorten that by letting it play at 1.5 speed and still get pretty much all of its contents.

Okay. Now let’s have a look at some points stated in it. Let’s begin with this question first:

How can it be a sandbox if the outcome of scripted events is pre-determined?

Kio-tv

Personally, I see the sandbox and events as two different things. While scripted events like the Triglavian Invasion may exist in the sandbox and maybe alter it to a degree (the creation of Pochven) it does not change the box as a whole. It has changed the sand in some places, but that’s it. The box remained the same.

How can it be a sandbox when you, as an industrial player, […] need to get materials from different parts of space to manufacture what you want.

Kio-tv

I don’t follow… ? 🤨

In a sandbox game, you should be able to complete these tasks, anywhere you want.

Kio-tv

Hm. Forgive me, but that sounds a bit… I guess ‘entitled’ is the right word here. Being able to source everything locally is not a criterion for a sandbox. And it was never true either: Gas from wormholes for example was never available to someone only sitting in one single system forever. One had to at least wait for a wormhole to spawn and move in there to get the materials for T3 production. Or adapt a tiny bit and become someone willing to ship, or let stuff be shipped in.

The entire economy is player run.

Kio-tv

And it is still. At least as long as CCP is not starting to sell ships for hard cash again like fools. If you argue, that with “scarcity” this has changed, then you also have to argue that the initial Rorqual-changes, making it the most effective on-grid mining ship, did the same. Every new ship ever added to the game had an influence on the in-game economy. Or the fact they sell SKINs via PLEX. Packs of PLEX and other items also have their influence on the in-game economy. If one wants to go so far, then you also must say that NPC buy orders for blue- and red-loot are coming from CCP. There even exist trade goods that some NPCs sell low in one station and buy for more in another station. Age-old market orders, relics from the first days of Eve. Only worth a few thousand ISK per hauling run, once intended to kickstart the economy.

For good measure, Kio-tv throws in a quote from Phantomite:

When will CCP start to shift focus from event-driven content, back to player-driven content.

Phantomite

I agree with Phantomites point. CCP also needs to put in the effort to get that end of the content creation going. Ideally, they need to make systems that create incentives and enable players to do stuff. From my point of view, the currently overly stable null blocs play a large role in this, but that is another discussion.

A bit further in the video, the keynote of Fanfest 2022 is quoted. Well, yes. The keynote was seemingly not made for the players. They must have come up with it for some different audience in mind. Very weird. Very off-putting.
Though some people also hyped themself up, maybe hoping for some unlikely Jesus feature? I can’t tell what CCP or some players were thinking. BUT: There were still changes FOR player-driven content promised. Most of them could be found in the “A Living Universe” presentation after the actual keynote.

A Living Universe

  • Updates to citadels – mostly resulting in fewer timers – although one could argue those don’t go far enough yet.
  • A whole Faction Warfare revamp: This is not an “event” this is introducing a whole system (hopefully) enabling player-driven content. Just ignoring that doesn’t help the argument of “CCP is doing nothing”. However, they indeed could not present something finished yet.
  • Hints to changes of SOV-mechanics – given, that were just hints but they are aware of the current SOV-system being subpar.
  • Technical Debt, NODDI, and new hires. For a business, it would not make sense to spend time on the daunting task that it is to reduce technical debt if your sole goal was to milk your player base. You would also not invest in new systems (NODDI) to help you build more systems for your game. And you certainly would not keep hiring more than needed.
    Yes, none of the things mentioned above impacts the day-to-day gameplay directly and right now. But it has the potential to do so in the future.

But only the citadel-changes made it to Tranquility yet. It remains to be seen if CCP can deliver on the promises over the coming months. One can only hope so.


Eve has evolved, it is no longer a true sandbox game where players decide their own fate and play for a goal that they choose.

Kio-tv

I’d like to strongly disagree with this statement. Let me explain why: I, as many, many others, only watched the often mentioned Triglavian Invasion from the sidelines. I was happy that I got to fly around with some new cool ships and that was it. When the event was going on, I actively decided not to engage with it. Why? Because I was following my very own goals at the time in nullsec. I had chosen to play in another part of the box.

And I expect all the coming events CCP is introducing to be just as optional as the Invasion. For practical reasons alone. You still have to choose how you play in Eve. The sand in the box may change, yes, that’s true. It would be stale if it wasn’t. But the box around it stays the same and it is still up to everyone in what part of the box they decide to play. If the part with the sand you liked to play with before changed, then maybe it’s time to look for a patch of sand you like better, or you just adapt and learn to build with the new sand, work around that new stone, or how to get more sand from elsewhere.

I get that this not always works. I had to abandon play styles I liked a lot before. Namely living in a C2 Wormhole with nullsec static. Rolling and running into either deserted nullsec, with nobody to play with, or getting turbo-blobbed by hyper-aggressive standing fleets camping you in via their Ansiblex network was too much effort timewise, for too little at some point.

Still, there always were ways to have fun in Eve, if one was willing to look for it.

I want to end with a quote from Josh Strife Hayes, who once said in one of his many videos, that some MMOs like to take the term sandbox as an excuse to just deliver no content in their worlds. They offer nothing to do for their players and just use the term “sandbox” as an excuse for it. Would that be the alternative to Eve’s story arcs? What would CCP need to add to New Eden to avoid just “being empty”? Or should they even remove something? Kio-tv’s video makes it almost sound like that. But then what exactly is that “new content” so many people keep asking for?

The whole video sounds to me like someone talking that is not willing to adapt anymore. I get it. Adapting can be hard. And the more stuff you have, the less fun to move and sell it all. Waiting for CCP to make changes may be appealing, but eventually burns one out too. Just differently.
Why not dare to go out of your comfort zone and try something else in the meantime? Why dwell in misery?

I’m not trying to white-knight CCP. But I also think saying that adding more “story” or events is breaking the sandbox is neither right, nor the way to bring player-driven content back.
If you want player-driven content, go shoot someone.


TL;DR:

The sandbox is still there. Player-driven content is still there. CCP can not make that content for us. They might be able to incentive it to a degree, but ultimately it’s on every player to make the effort of getting involved – or not.
No story content coming from CCP will change that by itself. It will require players to undock and engage with it to breathe life into it.


What do you think? Let me know in the comments.

Inspired by a thread on r/Eve.

1 thought on “Re: “The Great Sandbox Illusion””

  1. I am not going to buy in on the sort of binary status of sandbox, that it either is one or it isn’t, as if there is no continuum between pure sandbox and pure theme park.

    While I think he has a point about the Triglavian event, in the end it was driven by CCP’s desire to add a new type of space to the game in order to expand the sandbox options of what to do. CCP could have just done a change at downtime and called it a day. They chose to run an event and, while it was predetermined that 27 systems would be plucked from their current affiliation and joined into Pochven, the exact systems did at least to appear to be determined by player interaction. The idea that one cannot run player events and still be counted a sandbox seems to fit into the binary viewpoint I noted above. That slips very close to saying you cannot have PvE content.

    On the resource distribution though I think he is completely wrong. Despite the nature of sand, I do not think that a sandbox game must include a flat and completely even distribution of resources in order to qualify. Being able to mine where ever you want is not a sandbox feature… AND that wasn’t even a feature before the economic changes. Ore and mineral distribution was by sec status since the early days of the game. (Though on day one all asteroid types were everywhere, something CCP quickly fixed, though that slip secured the fortunes of a lot of early players who knew which minerals were going to have value.) In the end, CCP changed some parameters of the sandbox that is New Eden, but they didn’t make it any more or less sandbox-like by those changed.

    Like

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