Customization based on achievements.
Goal: to create incentive and /reward/ based on achievements, calling back to Day of Infamy
Day of Infamy particularly had weapon skins based on the Steam achievements of the total amount of kills you got with the weapon. For instance, the killing 800 people with the M1 Garand rewards you with a different stock, darker stock.
Killing 200 people with headshots rewarded the player with a piece of cloth wrapped around the front end of the firearm that was exclusive to them.
This gives the players an incentive to complete the achievements and also rewards them for their hard work. The reward was something that was unique compared to everyone else's rifles and gave the players a sense of accomplishment.
This can also give the player more content to unlock and progress throughout the game of Sandstorm, potentially adding more 'meat' or sustainability to the game for the long years to come.
Some potential examples for Sandstorm may include:
Capturing 500 objectives with an Holographic sight - player has the option of putting on the tan variant of the holosight that is found on the SCAR-H and MK 18 on black holosight weapons such as the G36K, M4A1, M16A4, etc.
Capturing 250 objectives with an M16A4 - rewards the player with the iconic round handguards of the M16A2 when no foregrip or bipod is attached (which turns it into the rail handguard).
Notice the examples make use of assets already in game - I have suggested specifically so that assets can be reused and that little modelling or animation changes have to occur. Therefore, the new system of rewards-based-on-achievements can be added in with minimal effort to the visual department and more so based on coding the thing in.
Based on workshop.
Goal: to allow a larger stream of 'content' to be added to the game with minimal effort from the developers, potentially allowing NWI to redirect time and resources elsewhere
We know that the workshop from Source had a wide variety of reskins, make overs, new animations, overhauls, etc. for most players to tailor visual elements to their pleasure, so why not incorporate the workshop into the game to allow workshop contributors such as modellers and texture artists create something that places in more content for the game?
The workshop could be a place for three types of submissions:
Custom maps, game modes and mutations.
An example of this would be a heavily scripted COOP map, a go-kart map, an 'Infection' game mode and a mutation which makes the bots 50% more beefier to tank damage.
Custom maps which are submitted for evaluation to be folded into Sandstorm's map pool, to be evaluated by staff at NWI.
This has been done by Team Fortress 2 and Rising Storm 2 (?) to a great effect where many maps have been placed into the map pool to add variety.
3. Custom models and weapon reskins which are submitted for evaluation of quality and then placed in the game as a new cosmetic item or even potentially as a new weapon.
Team Fortress 2, CSGO and Chivalry Medieval Warfare have done this to a great effect where the items are produced by members of the community and then submitted to the game.
For example, someone makes an uncovered PASGT helmet model for the Security side, submits it, and if it meets quality standards (and other standards like how identifiable from Sec to OpFor it is), it is placed into the game in the cosmetic list (with a little tab that says Community Items) with the rarity + credit cost set by the Devs.
Although this may seem like a far cry from Ins:Source's workshop method of 'subscribe and enjoy', it allows:
A better sense and potential of involvement within the community for those artistic people out there
More rewards for game grind (the length of grind itself hasn't changed, it is just the more options that are available once you've reached a certain threshold or finishing line has) and more 'stuff' to the game
The potential savings of resources and time for developers, which equates to allocation to other interests and elements of the game that are yet to be explored or polished
tl;dr make achievements have rewards with little effort or have new cosmetics in game with efforts split between devs and workshop submissions so game has more meat to it from creativity of community and allow devs to work on other things