I never said it makes EVE a theme park. Instead, I said exactly the opposite:
Now, do these things push EVE fully into theme park territory? Of course not. But they are clearly theme park design that shouldn’t exist in the sandbox.
This doesn’t make something a “theme park” though. This was a single event that changed EVE the way CCP wanted it.
It’s a single event that is texbook theme park design. The defining thing between theme park and sand box design is player agency:
In a sand box game the developer creates the world but leaves the content creation to the players. You choose your path through the game world, the goals you are trying to achieve, etc. And you succeed or fail primarily by your interactions with other players in the shared world you inhabit, all of whom are equally free to make their own choices.
In a theme park game the players are passive consumers of content. The developer creates neat little packages of pre-made content that you get to play through, and nothing you do can meaningfully deviate from the script or change the experience for the other players.
The invasion was overwhelmingly theme park design because it was a scripted event where the outcome was predetermined and the players were passive spectators. There was no sand box where players could decide how to react to the invasion and what its effects would be, it was purely the equivalent of a new WoW raid with new scripted story elements attached.
“theme park” and “sandbox” are not mutually exclusive,
They absolutely are. The design concepts involved in them are in direct opposition. You can have a game with mixed content but the combination is awkward at best and is probably going to do at least one of them very poorly.
to demand that CCP limit the development of the game to only things that fit a narrow (and potentially outdated) view of what a “sandbox” is (as determined by aging boomers or someshit) is a great way to make the game boring and stagnant.
Having abyssal sites exist in the open world instead of private instances is “boring and stagnant”?
Having an invasion where “choose your side” is more than just a marketing gimmick and the actions of players determine the outcome, up to and including total victory and elimination of the triglavians, is “boring and stagnant”?