Surly’s Column: Sandbox! Pt. 2

It’s that time again fans for Surly to publish another Darkfall Warcry column. It seems Surly still has something to say about Sandbox since today’s column will be part 2. Want to know what he’s talking about today? Then click “read more” to find out.

Surly’s Column: Sandbox! Pt. 2
Column by Surly(Darkfall Warcry Columnist)

Condense in equity the effort and time of a man to pixel and number, and quantify his worth. Condense in arbitration, and watch his head bounce from the steel top of his desk with the intensity of a jackhammer. It is the inauspicious assumption of a philistine which poisons the notion of economy and reward, hence born the treadmill.

Though the carrot at the end of the string may tempt the compulsory instincts of gratification, patience is not absolute. Freedom of action is, as was explained in the previous installment, the blank book which enables the telling of a thousand stories at once, but with only forward progress the ink on its pages will drift into blurred lines and it will be with a yawn that the story ends. It is the failing of design to recognize that the story of a world is an intertwining story of each inhabitant, and that the progress of one adds a chapter of hardship to another.

Sandboxes have the implicit luxury of being largely veridical, where the natural occurrences and inclinations of the living world are allowed to flourish unfettered by the stilted success stories of a fantasy pipe dream. Idyllic though it is not, it is beneficial for its honesty, and with its honesty the guarantee of consistency. It is inevitable that the grandiose promises of adventure and success from any multiplayer game will eventually be exposed as the frauds they are, when circumstance exposes the reality that triumph his merely a comparison to your neighbor.

It is an inescapable attribute of the very nature of life, and especially in MMORPGs, that if all participants weave their own fallacies of victory then victory will cease to even exist. This is seen daily by the disenchanted players of any game which revolves around its own endgame, who once achieving the final victory, the final piece of gear, the final level, are left with only the realization that they have achieved nothing and that the only true reward was the journey itself. It is a grind for the sake of the grind. This is only partially alleviated with the inclusion of instances, which remove players from the persistent world and put them in situations where they can win, where they can achieve, even if only a temporary reprieve from the hopelessness of the grind.

Conversely, a Sandbox will forever be the antithesis of everything that this illusory reward system of grinding stands for. Victory and achievement here, where players are not tricked into believing their pixilated item ladders are worthy of praise, carry meaning and importance from the game world and truly reward the players for their real triumph over a living world which represents and is made of the actions and motivations of other players, other real people. One may only tout his victory over the grind by the braggart’s tale as he holds the seven hundredth instance of the Hammer of Woe above his head to an audience who’ve long since acquired their own, but achievement in the world of a Sandbox is heralded by the bard’s tale as he recounts to the world the glowing silhouette of a player emblazoned on the horizon, holding his opponent’s head in the air against the smoky backdrop of a burning city.

Therefore, where the achievement representation of the grind boils down it becomes naught but the representation of the most plentiful resource of any MMORPG player; it is a quantity of time. 100 gold, say you? 100 hours, say I. To quantify the player of a Sandbox’s resources is to count his achievements, count his cunning, and even count the stars which dictate his luck. 100 gold, say you? A testament to reaching into the soul of a living world, and carving from its gut the sinews of its every determined player through glorious conquest, say I.

Because of the meaning of the pixilated valuables which represent the tangible sweat and blood that went into their acquisition, to the real sacrifice and determination wrung from our hearts and souls, the resources and game currencies which we collect have far greater worth and command far greater respect. Darkfall’s world in particular will see the occurrence of purchases made with the damned heads of despised warlords and despots more than once, and it bears only further truth that to spend Gold in a Sandbox world will be just one of many ways to command the respect of achievement.

Aventurine understands this, and Darkfall’s world will reflect it in many ways. Yes, robbing, stealing, waylaying caravans and otherwise taking from the world what you will is the continuance of those ideas and principles, but it is rather the respect for the true value of these spoils which is most exemplified in the doctrines espoused for the development of the game. Combining the dynamics of the Sandbox philosophy on player restrictions with the innovation of reactive economics, Darkfall has taken the idea of a Sandbox persistent world and implanted at every level of design the possibility for interaction and influence of all trade, production, and business. For all of the noble intentions and illusions of grandeur poured like poison into the ears of potential fans, what game in history can be named which empowered the mercantile expansion of an empire? When, ever, did the power of the coin turn the tide of war in an MMORPG? Be it the failing of the true value of the spoils of our efforts, or the reprehensible game design which showed no respect to the sacrifice of its players, Darkfall delivers a two sided solution to the failings of economics to the aspirations of all would be merchant empires by giving value to their holdings, and making the pillage of victory a representation of a real war of ideals rather than a measure of time.

It is upon the backs of real people that the worth of currency is established, and what will give those of you who own land in Darkfall the respect you deserve.

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