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The term “sandbox MMO” is defined as a virtual world or society within a game, that has no direct impact on real life. Plenty of social opportunities exist for players within the community-like setting, usually in the form of organizations like guilds, cities, or clans. Players in sandbox MMOs can join those groups, or perhaps none at all choosing the be a mysterious stranger type of character.
Sandbox MMOs offer the freedom of choice. Characters explore the game on their own terms, and for the most part enjoy open-ended goals that allow them to explore all the sandbox MMO has to offer at their own pace. Whether a low-level tradesman or a high-ranking combatant, people-pleasing politician or eager explorer, all characters fit a social niche within the community. Encouraging players to live and work with each other in a sandbox MMO provides goals that involve interacting with the community. Sure it's possible for players to grind their characters to the highest attainable levels, but those who do miss the point of the game. Roleplay is paramount to the success of a sandbox MMO.
Characters who thrive within a sandbox MMO are the brainchildren of players who take the time to develop them. Those characters usually have a detailed background. Even if the background isn't long and drawn out, the details that do exist are big enough to permanently impact on that character's life. Maybe the character's parents left him in the woods and forest creatures raised him. Perhaps a character kidnapped from his home lived at sea for a time, trapped aboard a pirate ship. Or it could be that the character ran away from home to escape some negative aspect of childhood that they aren’t quite ready to face. For players who thrive on daily drama, a sandbox MMO certainly helps fill the need for it.
For a sandbox MMO to survive among the wide array of MMORPGs available, it helps to have a great amount of areas to explore that are widely diverse. In games produced by Iron Realms, players can adventure their way through physical terrain including, but certainly not limited to, dungeons and caves, deserts, mountains, tropical islands, forbidden cities floating high above the clouds. Characters who reach the borders of a sandbox MMO usually don’t stop there, and many go on to become volunteer builders who use their imaginations to help expand and develop the game for the benefit of their peers.
Combat within a sandbox MMO is often player-versus-player, or PvP. Each of the five Iron Realms games allow players to engage their characters in both hand-to-hand and group combat. Activities like sparring another person or participating in a full-out raid on a city or other organization isn’t uncommon. Without the team aspect of a sandbox MMO, it becomes one big single-player game which defeats the purpose of its existence.
Sandbox MMOs, especially the ones produced by Iron Realms, make it possible for all kinds of characters of varying personality types to interact in a virtual realm. Features like the MMO item mall allow players with a talent for economics and finance to build a cache of elite accessories and weapons that offer an extra edge over the competition. Time and commitment allow players to master multiple classes and gain knowledge that helps them survive within the community.