Both a Weighted Sandbox and a True Simulation share some major features: detailed simulation of a world, no set storyline, and an opportunity for the player to make their mark in the world. However, they also have a major difference. A Weighted Sandbox does have deep mechanics, yes, but it also "skews" the simulation towards an artistic vision. An example of this is Eve Online, which has detailed combat and economy mechanics, but is skewed towards being a soft space opera by adding space friction instead of orbital mechanics. A True Simulation, on the other hand, does not seek to uphold an artistic vision, instead simply modeling the world with as much accuracy as it can. An example of a True Simulation is Children of a Death Earth, a hard science fiction space combat game that seeks to discover what near-future space combat would actually resemble, instead of tweaking the simulation to uphold an existing vision of how space combat should look like.
From what I've heard of Demian's plans, he seems to be leaning slightly towards a Weighted Sandbox vision for SotE from his ideas such as:
- Making intelligent races (not counting bestial races such as gnolls) innately predisposed towards their standard fantasy lifestyle, such as making elves biologically predisposed towards living in forests, making humans biologically predisposed towards cutting down forests and farming on plains, making dwarves biologically predisposed towards living in mountains, and making orcs biologically predisposed towards being primitive and violent. This is by far the most notable example.
- Making the usage of coal only a small increase in the amount of energy available to a society, which makes an Industrial Revolution impossible (instead of waiting until a modder does the dirty work ).
- Constantly filling the world with dangerous, even apocalyptic threats to civilization to make progression past a certain point of development difficult, which while perfectly acceptable in a True Simulation game by itself, does make SotE more of a Weighted Sandbox game when combined with the previous mechanics mentioned.