comment_box_33-1This week's edition of What Do You Think? isn't quite as heavy a topic as some of our previous questions, but it's something I've been wondering about lately nonetheless. The first time I can recall the "sandbox" genre really coming into its own was back when Grand Theft Auto III launched on the PlayStation 2. Much in the same way Super Mario 64 ushered in the "era of 3D" several years earlier, GTA III took things one step further by offering a vast open world with endless possibilities. Sure, there was a storyline to follow, a great one in fact, with accompanying mission to complete in order to "beat" the game, and more optional side missions and activities than you could shake a stick at.

However, as most anyone will tell you who has played a GTA game from that third iteration on, more hours have been spent just running around and causing mayhem in the open world than have been spent on "beating" the game itself. It's a liberating feeling, being able to go practically anywhere and do practically anything your twisted mind can come up with. GTA III really changed what we could expect in terms of scope from an action video game.

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That was more than a decade ago, though, and a more contemporary landmark in the open world genre would have to be Minecraft. In Minecraft there is no storyline or quests to speak of. You're simply thrust into a massive world made of blocks, and for the most part left to your own devices. With the various items and block types in the game, the possibilities literally are endless as to what you can do, but it's really up to you to determine what you want to get out of Minecraft.

Of course Minecraft has been a wild success and has spawned a crazy number of similar kinds of games. As many of you know last week was a veritable craft-a-palooza as both Terraria [$4.99] and Junk Jack X [$4.99] hit the App Store within minutes of each other. Because of the close proximity of their releases, a "Terraria vs. Junk Jack X" battle broke out amongst gamers as people tried to decide which was the superior Minecraft-like sandbox title, and which one was most deserving of their hard-earned gaming dollars.

screen1024x1024Well, there is no true answer, as both games offer up quite a different experience despite being so similar in concept. Terraria is more action-focused and has more set goals to achieve, with crafting and building being more of a supplementary element. Junk Jack X on the other hand is more about exploring and finding the vast array of items in the game in order to deck out your character or build the things that your heart desires.

Neither game is bound to those specific descriptions though, and you can largely still "do what you want" in either of them until the cows come home. We just barely gave the nod to Junk Jack X as our Game of the Week over Terraria simply due to it being a game built from the ground up for touch devices, as well as its excellent multiplayer component which Terraria on iOS can't currently match. Still, the only right answer is to buy them both if you're able to, as they are both phenomenal in their own right.

As I've been following the discussion threads for both Terraria and Junk Jack X in our forums, I've noticed a lot of newbies popping up who have never tried out a Minecraft-like sandbox game before. Some people seem to click right away with the genre, impressed with the open-ended nature of the game and the mind-boggling possibilities. On the other hand, many people seemed to be turned off by the lack of direction in these games. Traditionally, games are a finite experience that you play through and complete, experiencing what the designers intended you to along the way. With a game like Minecraft and its many derivatives, the ball is almost entirely in your court, and you make what you want out of it.

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So that got me thinking. What do you think, TouchArcade Community? Do you prefer a game that has a set storyline, structured missions, and an actual ending? Would you rather play and beat a game, take what you can from the experience, and move on to the next game? Or would you prefer a game that's open-ended and doesn't necessarily have goals, but has literally endless possibilities and is only limited by your own imagination? What about a mixture of the two? Let us know what you think in the comments below.

  • Smartbomb

    Love 'em

    • one.sixty.four

      I was going to post the exact same thing!

    • toxiccheese

      I like em too, only if they allow for creativity. Simpsons tapped out and clash of clans are just repetitive nonsense.

      • stormy8888

        They are still good, but are repetitive, they are the same old freemium rubbish

      • Heboi456

        Dude first of all they're not even in the same game gender ._. How can you even begin too compare them?

      • nini

        Genre.

      • Smartbomb

        Mysogynist :D

      • toxiccheese

        I didn't say they were the same "genre". I said that I'm all for a game that allows for creativity, unlike those other repetitive tap and wait games.

  • Flynn Taggart

    There's plenty of room for both, really. But honestly, as awesome as these types of games are, they're no Saint's Row.

    • wedge598

      I personally can't get into them. My daughters however prefer those types of games. I need some sort of goal to work towards in my games. I do like games where the main goal is collect better cars or equipment with no driving story to push you on. But my favorite games are those like X-com which have a good story and excellent gameplay.

      • http://matt-curtis.me/ Matt Curtis

        Exactly - it's the same with me. It's always made me wonder if I lack some sort of creativity bone (which is funny since I work in a creative field) because I can't get into free-play games. I have to have a story to want to uncover more of, something to keep pulling me back. My favorite games tend to be movie-like or book-like experiences where I was pulled in.

      • Xissoric

        I absolutely love story driven game, but I also enjoy sandbox games occasionally.

      • Xissoric

        games*

      • http://matt-curtis.me/ Matt Curtis

        Any suggestions?

      • curtisrshideler

        I've tried out Minecraft PE, Terraria, and Junk Jack. So far, I like Junk Jack the most I think. It has a lot of holiday/seasonal items that at least encourage me to keep digging and building.

        I still want to like Minecraft PE. But I really want to get a good Autumn/Halloween texture pack. I'm so sick of looking at a bunch of green!

      • Ax23000

        I think, for me, these games are very much about being invested in your own story. It's still about finding out what happens next, what's over the next hill, what's at the bottom of the mineshaft, how will you escape from that creeper ambush. The joy comes from the power you have over that story. It isn't driven by cutscenes or scripted action...it's driven by you and the decisions you make.

      • http://ask.fm/MidianGTX MidianGTX

        Free-to-play? I think you're talking about something entirely different.

      • http://ask.fm/MidianGTX MidianGTX

        You make a fair point, but are you unable to come up with your own goals? Upon starting Minecraft, the first goal is usually to collect some wood and coal in order to create a safe shelter to survive the first night. The next goal is often to expand your base camp, craft chests for storage, work out a plan for getting a steady supply of food and start collecting materials like stone and iron to upgrade your tools and armour. From there it's all about the rare materials (diamond and redstone, etc) and building your dream fortress. After that comes the open-endedness, but you're not without options. There are adventure maps other people have created that you can download and will give you specific goals to work towards, multiplayer servers with all kinds of predefined games and challenges going on, or you could start you own server, get a bunch of friends in and dream up something outrageous and attempt to build it. Some people go crazy and recreate the entire world from Game of Thrones, personally I went for a giant pyramid, complete with interior mazes, traps, tombs and treasure rooms. A big project like that really takes teamwork to a whole new level.

        Long explanation, but I wanted to emphasise how these games are actually rife with goals, theoretically more than any other type of game.

      • http://twitter.com/JaredTA Jared Nelson

        I'm not saying games like Minecraft don't have goals at all, just that the game itself doesn't give you any set goals to go for. You just sort of make up your own. Even the basics of surviving your first night aren't apparent in any way, you have to go online and look at videos or FAQs to even figure out what to do (for the most part). That's sort of the question I was getting at, is would you prefer a game to lay all that crap out for you or are you happier going and creating your own stuff or just plain figuring out stuff for yourself.

  • pauldavidmerritt

    I would not call out for 'lack of goals' in these games. Learning to survive, craft, go on an adventure is just as simple and enjoyable as games like Pong. Sound like there's an element of straight-and-true game goals lost because no one appreciates the 'keep it simple stupid' rule in games these days. Game industry needs to keep its eyes open, and not rely so much on complexities. Seems like games often are not considered good in this industry anymore, unless it jumps through stupid hoops to compete in this stupid 'most advanced super-awesome complicated game' contest. Pong and Minecraft does win kudos.

    • pauldavidmerritt

      Also, whether or not a game has a full fledged story line (or any other complex writing/production) is not a basis to determine how fun, engaging and lasting a game can be. Is it FUN? CHALLENGING? Is it fulfilling to play alone and/or with others? Does it really serve its intended purpose as a game title?

    • rewyan

      You bring up a good point. Minecraft was so simple that it could be understood by almost anybody, everyone could relate to it, and everyone could play it. Simple games and software have a huge market, because anyone can enjoy them. Everyone understood Pong, everyone understood the Wii, and everyone understands Candy Crush. There's a huge market for simple but addicting games.

      So I really don't think Minecraft was successful purely because it was a sandbox game. I think it was definitely original, but there's more to it. It's the simplicity, curiosity, and wide market that made it huge.

  • lepke

    Simple minded. I expect these "articles" from gawker or something. At the very least give me your opinion, your previous articles were better and offered that, even if that is not the intention, however it should.

    • http://twitter.com/JaredTA Jared Nelson

      Yikes, just asking a question man. The intention was to find out what you guys think, that's all.

      But since you asked, it took a couple years but Minecraft finally clicked with me and now I really love all the open world sandboxy games. I still think I prefer something like GTA that's more of a hybrid, though. A story and set missions to do when you feel like, and a world of possibilities when you feel like just goofing around.

      • lepke

        Thank you,

        Just wanted to let you know that I read your pieces because of your own opinions and input shared, it is what keeps me reading. Perhaps I am alone in my critique but I hope you keep that in mind when writing these :)

        I love sandbox games myself but not more or less than a well scripted game. Depends in what mood and such, I do tend to find that it is easier to play several more linear games than too many sandbox titles at the same time however, hence I play jjx now but I can't play that, minecraft and terraria at the same time. I also agree with your take on GTA, by the way, not sure if possible using google chrome app etc on an iOS device but there is a very cool game called don't starve, if you heard of it? I really need to check if I can play that on a mobile device...

      • http://ask.fm/MidianGTX MidianGTX

        As long as it isn't GTA IV, 'cause that left you with absolutely nothing to do other than drive around a desolate city after story completion.

      • Karzay

        I like these discussions. Keep it up!

  • dominicthegecko

    THOSE ARE THE BEST GAMES!!! Games without rules make it so much more fun. Everyone likes doing whatever they want, right?!?!

    • pdSlooper

      But sandbox games DO have rules...for modeling physics or movement, rendering objects, etc. It's just that SB games seem to be more focused on enabling the player to do more amd more stuff, whereas rules in other games are focused on enabling the player to access one *specific* experience. So invisible walls in Mario 64 make sense from a game design perspective, but not in Junk Jack.

      IMO, one of the fun elements of sandbox games is finding those rules out with other players. (I think it's part of the reason why some folks like Kairosoft games and others don't. When you come at them from the POV that they are sandboxxy, that you get to shape them creatively, and dig into the tiny details of the mechanics, then you get more out of them. When you come at them from the POV that they are "just" a skill challenge to overcome, they get boring fast.)

  • Living Legend

    I love both. but with no missions or story, there has to be a large amount of creativity and a ton of things to build or do.

  • Naraka

    I enjoy both but goals do help keep me interested in the long run.

  • Jake7905

    Love GTA, hate Minecraft, and haven't bothered with Terraria or JJX because I couldn't get into the first Junk Jack.

    I love the idea of an open world, the sandbox concept, but the "electronic Lego" games (like Minecraft or Junk Jack) just seem aimless. And those 'blocky' graphics never appealed to me, only detracting from the overall experience.

    • Nick

      You might find something more intriguing in Terraria, even if you didn't like Minecraft, as it's more a Zelda meets Minecraft.

      Oh wait, you don't like the graphics... =

      Yeah that's a deal killer, that is.

  • iJayCee

    They're currently my favorite genre of gaming. Gaming is a distraction by-and-large and games that are too linear tend to be my least favorite. Now a distraction FROM my distraction is like an inception-paradigm in gaming. It's distraction within a distraction and it's amazing. There's something incredibly liberating about deciding what you want from the game rather than having the same experience as somebody else. In sandbox games nobody has the exact same experience. Some are hoarders, some are builders and others just like to explore and nothing is wrong with any of those things. In my opinion, this is what gaming is all about and a trend I would love to see more of. I'd really love to see these games expand to the point of a really easy multiplayer system of trading and fighting and building together. I realize some of these games have those elements but they don't feel completely implemented the way I think they could be. They feel almost like an after-thought in some cases and I would love to see them implemented in a more full-spectrum capacity.

    • Protoman

      Totally agree I was hooked on Minecraft the minute I started playing it simply for the experience of exploring cave systems.

    • pdSlooper

      Very interesting post!

  • http://www.tap-start.com/ Mirkwood

    Honestly, games like Minecraft and Terraria restored my faith in gaming. I love them.

  • MrAlbum

    There is plenty of room on iOS for open-world sandbox games AND quest-heavy, story-driven games. Heck, there are games that have neither, technically speaking, and they can still be uber-awesome. Games like Asphalt 8: Airborne is a great example of this third category IMHO.

    Innovation thrives on diversity. By all means, just let 'em all in. After all, this is the same industry that gave us Papers, Please.

  • ineptidude

    I like games that revolve around a central plot and provide a cinematic experience. It's probably because these games tend to be more puzzlish in nature than anything else. To name a few: Uncharted, Tomb Raider, AssCreed, Final Fantasy, the Mario RPGs, Zelda, Metroid, Layton, Ace Attorney, Castlevania, Banjo-Kazooie, Prince of Persia, I could go on forever.

    • http://matt-curtis.me/ Matt Curtis

      Ass Creed? Are we still talking about video games?

  • somedumbgamer

    Don't forget Survival Craft! Feel like it needs mentioned since its not as well known...but perhaps one of the better crafting games out there. I get totally wrapped up in it and next thing I know, three hours have passed. I'm lovin JJX too and will play Terraria soon as well. Love gaming on my iPad...so much that I sold my dusty PS3

    • StarViruZ

      Just wait minecarts on 0.8.0 and redstone on 0.9.0 (like 6-12 months lol)

  • eventide

    In the minority but not for me. I like objectives and a story when I want to advance it.

  • Eidaven

    I've never been a fan of Minecraft but I LOVE Terraria.

    • Nick

      To quote the brilliant, beautiful man-handed Lana Kane:

      "Yup!"

  • TheBeastlyNinja

    I always have very much enjoyed the type of games that you had to come up with things to do and how to do them. I feel like "go here, kill x/collect x, and return" were never truly fun to me (aside from the saints rows 3-4 because of the hilarity and over the top-ness that occurred ). I've enjoyed minecraft and the like because of the fact that I HAVE TO COME UP WITH IT. I have to decide the scale and shape of my house. I have to decide on and gather the materials to make it. I have to budget time for exploring and finding food and materials. I have to find was to make myself self sustaining survive and that was the beauty of the game. Now that they keep adding more and more stuff to find and use as a resource, the game has only improved in its open ended glory.
    It can actually help you in the real world too where instead of constructing a castle, you're working on a project for you're job. There are often no set guidelines in the real world. More often than not you can go about your business the way you see fit and as long as its done, who cares how you finished that presentation?

  • FlipBeef97

    ENDLESS LIKE MINECRAFT! AND ESPECIALLY ONES WITH MULTIPLAYER! :D

  • Tomate Diseño

    I'd say the open-ended open world game goes much further back than GTA… say Elite?

    A game I persistently refer to as a favorite is the C64s "Frankie goes to Hollywood" - while it could be "finished", the way you could perpetually wander through the environment activating mini-games puts many similar efforts on todays devices to shame. So yeah, always loved games that gave you room to breath, chew over your next move and not just have you running from waypoint to waypoint with a variety of coloured keys.

  • josiath21

    I have given Junk Jack and Minecraft a try (on 360 and PE) and I feel I may lack the creativity bone. Conceptually, I LOVE how these games set up players to be creative and have individualized and different experiences. I wish the freedom clicked with me because i know people have a blast with it. However, no matter how I try I lose interest if there is no structure whatsoever. This is probably because I forget whatever goals i set for myself!

  • rabidnz

    Junk jack x has the most horrid combat system ive encountered, tap and pray. Completely renders the game unplayable for me as the only option is friendly mode, which basically makes it playing with dolls houses and dressing up your character. Really wish I hadnt wasted my money on a little girls building block game. Terraria on pc is where its at for me, square sandbox wise. Junk jack x pc could be great if they made it more of a game and less of a build a pretty house simulator, but on ios the controls are just terrible, depsite being designed from the ground up for it.

    • Nick

      I guess we will have to disagree.

      Combat isn't fantastic, but then Minecraft sucks with combat just as much. Trying to aim, target and shoot arrows is more akin to "keep shooting!! KEEP SHOOTING!" And then a mad dash to pick up those that were dropped.

      But none of this stuff was a shocker. It's the same as the original, and there are countless videos that show, in detail, the fighting, digging, etc.

      It's like being upset that it's a 2D game.

      • Ax23000

        I don't know about minecraft PE, but in the PC version the arrow aiming is very precise. I've sniped baddies from quite a distance away.

    • pdSlooper

      Oh noes girl cooties!

  • Jerutix

    I really prefer a goal. I've never gotten into Minecraft, but I did enjoy The Blockheads for a little bit. I burned out after about a week, though. I think the expansiveness of the world compounded with my desire for an actual purpose made me lose interest.

    I did pick up Junk Jack X this week. My younger brother likes Minecraft, so I though he might enjoy playing with me over the Internet since we're a state away. It was pretty cool, so I definitely like the multiplayer aspect. But I would love some missions (even if they were just designed to teach me the next item I could craft, like in "The Sandbox"

    • Nick

      I want to love Minecraft, but my overwhelming lack of ability to design in a 3D space has destroyed any ability to truly enjoy the game. Sure, I can dig and find diamonds, gold, etc... But then I can't really figure out the best way to put it all together. My best friend is amazing, but I am garbage and he ends up having to do ALL the work for the design and such.

      Terraria and Junk Jack are totally different. I've spent a ton of time on JJ1, and seeing that X not only expands on that, but adds multiplayer... Well, it's a total given.

      That said, I bought both and have barely plaued either... Yet I continue to KEEP buying stuff.

      15 years for, now and there will be a VGA (video game anonymous) and I'll be the founding member =

      • pdSlooper

        I'm great with spatial stuff...in real space. But stick me in FP mode in a game and my mind goes nuts. It's not quite as bad in a camera-locked 3P view-point, but I tend to avoid 3D games because of it.

    • Karzay

      You can always make your own goals...

  • AlpacaLips

    If I were a child with no other hobbies I'd probably love these open ended things. But since I'm a grownup with real world responsibilities and limited gaming time, I prefer pick-up-and-play game experiences that last 5 minutes or less.

    • Nick

      That's a pretty arrogant assumption that you need to "be a child" to enjoy these games.

      I'm an adult with responsibilities AND kids, and because I enjoy the games, I budget my time to play them. Many times I'm only able to play in short bursts, but that doesn't stop me from being able to play them

      Maybe it means it'll take a week to finish exploring a cave or building up my halfahouse, but that's how she goes.

      To say you can't play and enjoy doesn't extend to everyone who is an "adult". Makes me wonder if you just recently fell into that category and are trying to be all Mother Superior upon the people who post here.

      We, sir or ma'am (I'm not getting myself caught in THAT door again, although with your username and attitude, I'm about 98% sure you're a guy. If not, then sigh), are not your flock.

    • wolfgirl

      you sound like my mom, AlpaccaLips. my mom who isn't a gamer at all and only indulges in short ios games to kill time.

      if 5 minutes are all you're looking for, then you don't belong in a gamer forum at all? please don't think that "open-ended" games are only for children who have lots of time to waste, because sandboxes are tied to your level of creativity and you have to be older to experience the complex learning progress fully.

  • Nick

    I made a comment below, but I'd like to thank you for the article Jared, regardless of the meat headed comment below.

    I don't thank you guys enough for all you do, but I sure bitch a lot.

    Brad, Eli, Jared... Sorry for being a douche.

  • Shadowking2214

    I love games with an actual story and end. I also love sandbox games like Minecraft. And then there's games like GTA and Fallout. You can finish the games and do whatever you want too. I love both of them and have a ton of fun exploring my world in Minecraft,the cities of GTA,and the Wastelands of Fallout. They're all awesome

  • Taclys

    This answer isn't yes or no. It's a bit more complex, something that Minecraft managed to sneak away with, but more modern sandbox games need to address.

    Sandbox games should be extremely open world. Go wherever, do whatever, build whatever. But in the nature of most sandbox games, you have to earn and discover things in a somewhat linear order. To use Minecraft, you need wood tools first to get stone. Use stone to make stone tools to get iron. Use the stronger iron tools to mine longer and deeper, and crack open the more important ores like Redstone and Diamond. Use a diamond pick to mine obsidian, and build your way into the Nether. In the nether, you kill Blazes for blaze rods. Craft blaze rods into Eyes of Ender, find a stronghold, and defeat the dragon.

    That path isn't linear at all, there are a number of slick ways to bypass certain steps. However, that is the path most everyone takes to conquer the game. Minecraft does a decent job of showing you the next step you need to take, so you stay interested on walking down the semi-linear path to success. Depending how well the sandbox game does this, depends if I will keep playing.

    Unfortunately, that's where Terraria lost me. I found gold and silver, and knew there was more...but what? I didn't know how to get farther. I knew there was a ton of substances I couldn't break with my pickaxe, regardless that it was gold. I didn't know what the next step was. Turns out, next step is killing bosses (according to a friend) which I found frustratingly hard with the decent-to-mediocre equipment and controls.

    JJx and even old Blockheads both did a good job showing and hinting future steps. I knew that there were more things coming soon, because not only did I hit objects that I couldn't break with current tools, but later I could break them with better tools. Sorta complex, but that shows progress is useful and important. Plus the absurd number of crafting recipes available showed what was next.

    To recap: no storyline is fine by me, and full, no-holds sandbox is sweet too. But you have to reveal the next steps in progress, or I'll lose interest.

  • http://modmyi.com/forums/iphone-4-new-skins-themes-launches/740147-neurotech-hd.html#post5637502 Jay

    Minecraft is a colossal waste of time. If you're going to spend days on end building something, learn to use a drafting or 3D program and then you can literally build anything in the computer, rather than being limited to making a circle out of a bunch of cubes.

    That being said, I've spent waaaaay too many hours playing Minecraft. It's quite brilliant.

    • curtisrshideler

      Yeah I should totally learn to build in other programs like Maya. Or learn to code for iOS. Way to make me feel unproductive.

  • http://nachtfischer.wordpress.com/ Nachtfischer

    I don't like games you can "beat" (aka puzzles). I don't like sandbox games (aka toys). I like actual GAMES, i.e. contests of decision-making that force you to come up with creative solutions to ever-changing problems. Sadly that means, I mainly have to play board games, but there are some rare exceptions in the videogame sector that also provide these types of systems.

    • Ax23000

      "contests of decision making that force you to come up with creative solutions to ever-changing problems"

      Um, you do realize that you just described any of the games being discussed, right? These games are all about decision making, creative solutions, and ever-changing problems.

      • http://nachtfischer.wordpress.com/ Nachtfischer

        1. They don't include decisions as I define them. Decisions have to
        be meaningful in the context of the whole system (i.e. you cannot take
        them back) and they have to be ambiguous (else it's a false decisions, so not a decision at
        all).

        2. They are not CONTESTS. Sandboxes don't include a goal, therefore there is no competition of decision-making. Therefore your decisions ARE NOT ambiguous, because any decision is as good as any other (because you have no goal).

        See the (fundamental) difference?

      • Scott Stratton

        The difference, out if context, is clear. Your basic premise about sandbox games, however, is wrong. Its a shame the phrases "sandbox" and "without goals" got associated with games like Minecraft because it doesn't do them justice anymore than saying Halo, Doom, and Half-life are all just "shooting games". there are goals, there are challenges, there are contests, and there are ways to avoid them all if that's what you want. Just like you can play Avalon Hill's classic Hex-based wargame "War and Peace" by executing each scenario in turn with the right number of players and following every rule exactly - i have done it and its a blast. But i have also turned the game into an alternate history universe and played a five-person free-for all that was ultimately won by Westphalia!

        I am a grognard from way back and wargames/simulations are my favorite, the more comicated the better. BUT, i also play plenty of other board games (Settlers, Shadows over Camelot, dominion, puerto Rico, fluxx - okay that's a card game, but tou get the idea). i have also played Minecraft since just after alpha with my own little evil world all to myself; in a shared world with my kids; a shared world with friends - both cooperative and oriented towards community building and story-telling (if you think getting 3 8-12 year old kids to constructively build a world and story TOGETHER isn't a challenge then you've no idea what a challenge really is, lol). I have also played some epic quest maps on minecraft (quite linear); and, finally, i have played with some other adult friends in a minecraft world that was essentially a giant board game where we each had castles and territory and troops and strict rules, etc. It was a blast.

        Most of the quick, summary descriptions of "sandbox" games are about as useful as you'd expect, which is to say: not. I generally don't enjoy MMORPG's, but i know its inaccurate and disrespectful to say, "i only like games that are about real problems and not who can build the largest snobby clique, or buy their way to the top." you probably have something very specific in mind that you like in your games, and that's fine. But you may want to tone down the superiority complex there. Which of all the things called games REALLY involve "decisions" and strategy and competition and such things - if it is a reasonable question at all (and i suspect not) - is a highly complex one; not one that can be disposed of with a simple definition or in a few forum posts.

      • http://nachtfischer.wordpress.com/ Nachtfischer

        Do you even disagree with anything I said? It's exactly the point, that you MAKE your goals in sandbox systems. In contests (games) however
        the goal is DEFINED in the system. And I don't judge such a system by
        any house rule any player could ever invent. I mean, you got to have a
        common basis on which to discuss a game system and that should
        reasonably be the game's inherent rules.

  • http://www.silentrocco.com/ Silent Rocco

    They are hobbies but no games to me. Without any goal or direction, they are simply time wasters that you either love or don't care about. Yes, I could spend days building a massive Enterprise replica for no other reason than that, or I could get a game where I follow a great and entertaining storyline within the Star Trek universe. While I understand the success of these "games", they absolutely don't reach me at all.

  • Rhobus

    I'm a creative guy. The opening moments in Minecraft where it's about survival are challenging and fun, and I appreciate the ability to solve problems in various ways. But after I've gotten a decent home and a steady food source I get bored very quickly. It starts to feel like the Sims, and I don't need a second life to mess up, I'm doing that perfectly well in the analog world!

    On the other hand, sandbox games with goals that only allow for one solution to achieve them can be extremely frustrating. You know the sort... you're challenged to kill Dr X, so you totally ninja your way through all the guards and dispatch them all without raising alarms figuring you can face the boss one on one. But suddenly a cutscene pops up suggesting that you have just spent all your ammo in massive gun battle so now you have to beat Dr X and several unexplained henchmen with a rusty tin can -- if you picked it up 5 missions ago! I'm looking at the Saints Row and GTA games as the worst offenders for this sort of thing, but the list of similar culprits are like my, uh, inseam... long and distinguished.

    The best balance I've played recently was Dishonored, and you could probably say the same of the other major Bethesda titles from the last 6 - 7 years (Elder Scrolls & Fallout). Yes, there are always a couple of cutscenes that have to be endured, but for the most part there are many ways to get through each goal or mission, and plenty of map exploration or crafting available if that's your thing. Unfortunately, those games will not likely make the port to iOS any time soon.

  • curtisrshideler

    I think this is the new generation's Legos. Think about it. I used to play with Legos endlessly creating giant 'robots' and huge castles. But until I have kids, I probably won't buy a bunch of Legos.

    But now, with video games, we are able to create and enjoy just like I used to when I was a kid with all those Legos.

    Now, I'm in a career of Film/Video Producing/Editing, so I do both create and then build for a living. However, it's always to tell a story. So, for me, that's why sandbox games are difficult to get into. I like being led through stories because I love stories.

    But Animal Crossing on GameCube taught me I could really enjoy working towards goals without a real story. And finally, I dug into Junk Jack the original because I noticed all of its holiday/seasonal items. And sure enough, it has a ton of items/plants for me to get to celebrate Autumn/Winter. So, it has my attention right now.

    Terraria looks good, and it grabs at my platforming love, but its lack of story or seasonal stuff makes it harder for me to get into. Minecraft is also difficult for me because building huge thinks one block at a time with no story just seems daunting and overwhelming. But I do load it up every now and then to try and get into it.

    So, the same reason that took me away from building with my childhood Legos (love of stories and story-telling) is the same reason that holds me back from fully enjoying these sandbox games. However, offering tempting items and goals to work towards are slowly bringing me around. Looks like there is hope for me yet.

  • evilelvis

    Hate them. A truly mindless way to waste your time.

  • nonstickron

    I love them, conditionally. If theres enough stuff to discover and enough stuff to collect, and uses for it, and the ability to be creative with how you sandbox....in other words, enough depth...then I love them. Variety is the spice of life in these kinds of games. They can be pretty lame too though.

    I agree that having a goal or 10 in there can really spice things up. I think the portal stones has really kept me playing JJX, whereas I would only play the first game in spurts. The goals don't really need to be narrative based, but some of that definitely adds flavor.

  • Zdgames

    Openworld is a beautiful thing but it can get boring quick without goals and quests look at mount and blade there's random side quests and it adds to the game so much

  • Benjamin Rodriguez

    Like the new set up btw. OT: I think sandbox games are great for right minded thinkers, but for a leftie like me, it feels...absent of anything other that my own imagination, which I'd rather play through something already set up, like a pre-made minecraft place, then just start from scratch and do something myself.

  • Rejera

    For me, it depends on what is being offered in the sandbox game. I've put maybe 5-10 hours in minecraft (computer version) , and haven't touched it since. On the other hand, I've spent more than 200+ hours on the PC version of terraria ( and adding even more time on the iOS port). I like a feeling of progression. I don't care how many blocks there are, I care how many weapons, armor tiers, enemies, biomes, and bosses there are. I don't really like to build that much. I want an adventure, a challenge and not a hunger bar :P

    • Rejera

      As for sand box or story driven, if they're done well, I'll play both. I like writing my own story, but also like to get to know deep characters.

  • Teggen

    The structure is important, it's the core that dictates what and how you do things. But an open ended world specially a world unique to you alone like minecraft for example is a new game each play through. Modding has allowed games to stretch there life's as new experiences are added onto them like Skyrim. But what I want is a game generated, unique to each person, mod community allowed, but with a world like Skyrim, full of rarities and randomness. Imagine that creatures arents just set mobs for parts of a world but are randomly unique in unpredictable ways like the generated worlds of minecraft.

  • pdSlooper

    I totally understand people not liking sandbox games, but the outright snobbery toward those of us who do is pretty funny. I guess we are all just immature, childish, girly girls and cashualz because *real* gamers only like what's unpopular.

    • wolfgirl

      I know right?! I love XCOM as much as JJX! they're both super complex in their own ways! I feel like people just diss without trying the learning progresses of JJX at all.

  • wigzisonfire

    A mixture of both please thank you.

  • pointaken47

    Since I play on the consoles, my motivation for playing sandbox games are the achievements/trophies. In the process though I have the freedom to do whatever I want whenever, with "few" consequences (GTA: lose money, lose ammo; Just Cause: have to get back to where u were; Minecraft: lose all ur stuff and reset position). I'd prefer something with just a little bit more direction and purpose.

  • saucybag

    I wanna love em. I get excited for them and love the concept of them ... I've bought Minecraft PE, Survivalcraft and now Terrarira .. I play them all for 10 mins then never find the will to return. Dont know why. The only exception to the rule was the Blockheads due to the ability to play portrait .. I played loads of that. I bought Terrarira over JJX for the added direction and objectives but I find making structures too frustrating. Gonna try JJX as a last resort for the genre.