Wurm Online vs Real Life

Last night was my 3rd evening in Wurm Online. I once again had fun.

Before I went back to my wandering I took some time to work on skills. I chopped down a tree, then chopped the tree into logs, and then whittled the logs into shafts and staves. Then sawed up some planks. I didn’t have anything to do with this stuff…was just getting a feel for how long it took to do make things. It takes a long time.

It’s fun, don’t get me wrong. I wasn’t using the Wiki so I was just combining random items to see what I could make. During my time I got 1 point in lumberjacking and 1 point in hatchet. Since a free account is capped at skill level 20, I see I could play for a long time on a free account. My highest skill is forage, at 3. 🙂

Next I whittled up some kindling, started a fire and cooked up a lingonberry and garlic casserole. By the time I’d made two of those I was getting bored of sitting by the side of the road and decided to continue on with my adventure to find Moxie’s Cherryglade Farm. I got turned around early on and had to backtrack. I was cutting through someone’s estate when I turned around and *eep!* there was a person there!

I dunno why it startled me, but it really did. I felt a little bit guilty, like I shouldn’t be wandering around their property. Population density in Wurm is pretty low and to just stumble into another player in the middle of the woods was surprising. I told the person they had scared me, got a ‘LOL’ response and headed on.

Second time was a charm and soon I found the road through The Grand Steppe. It’s big! I was out in the middle of nowhere when I saw a couple of huge scorpion carcasses. I swallowed nervously. I don’t know what the death penalty is like but I’m pretty sure a bunny could kill me if it wanted to. I still have no clue how to fight. I assume I activate a weapon then right click on a mob? But that’s a guess. I looked around worried about live giant scorpions, but none were found.

As I continued on I saw more and more carcasses of things that could’ve killed me had they been alive. I was getting pretty thirsty by this time, and remembered Moxie warning me to get a good drink before I started my trip. And then shimmering in the distance I saw a barrel by the side of the road. I thought it was a mirage but no…some generous soul had taken the time to leave a barrel of good drinking water right out in the middle of the Steppe. I wished I could leave a note or something, thanking the person.

I headed on. Eventually the Steppes ended and I was in wilderness. I saw a settlement with smoke rising over it. I headed over to see what was cooking. Eep! Lava spiders were cooking. Well, they were smoking anyway! I ran as fast as I could but they took no heed of me. Onward then. A bit later I heard a wolf howling. Then a bear growling. I was whipping my head back and forth, trying to locate the vile things. And then I ‘heard’ (in chat) two adventurers talking. “There’s that damned wolf, want to go after it?” said one. “KK” said the other.

A few minutes later I came across the pair, and their two pet bears, standing over the carcass of a wolf. I waved and skirted past them, eyeing the bears anxiously. A few minutes later I came to a tower near Mist Lake and decided to call it a night.

Quite an adventure, eh? Or was it? I made 2 casseroles, earned 2 skill points and traveled a little ways across the world. That’s what I had to show for my evening’s gaming time.

I had a ton of fun, don’t get me wrong, but I can see my pace through the Wurm Online experience is going to be S-L-O-W as heck, given the limited amount of time I have for gaming these days. Ergo the title of this post.

Yesterday I was all set to throw some real money at the game in order to buy a deed and start building a cottage for myself, but now I’m thinking that’s a bit pre-emptive. It might be better for me to remain a wanderer while I gradually build up some skills so when (or if) I start to pay I’ll at least be able to make some progress in the building.

On the other hand, owning a plot has its own rewards. I can leave stuff laying around and it won’t poof, as far as I understand it. I can make it so no one else can chop my trees or forage my lands, so I’ll have a steady place to practice those skills. A “square” of land can only be foraged once every 24 hours (of real time I think) so it can be really hard to find a place to practice those foraging skills, and you seem to need to forage up a good amount of materials while starting out.

So I dunno. I’m a bit on the fence now. I absolutely find Wurm Online fascinating, but I find EVE Online fascinating too, but in practical terms I don’t have the time to play EVE, so I just limit my enjoyment to reading about it. Wurm might fit in that same box. I’m not writing it off yet, but it may be the kind of game I just read stories about, rather than playing. At least until life calms down a bit… which will probably be a few minutes after they pound that final nail in my coffin!! 🙂

Bootstrapping RPGs

This week I’ve been devouring Moxie’s Wurm Online posts over at BattlePriestess.com. I just had to try it again.

The first time I started Wurm Online I spawned into a mysterious world and as I was looking at settings to figure out what key did what, some dude ran up to me and attacked. As I tried to figure out a) if I had a sword and b) how I would use one if I had it, he killed me. I respawned and a few seconds later he (or someone else) killed me again. That was the end of my 1st Wurm Online experience.

Now though, there’s a PvE server and *gasp* a bit of a tutorial. Getting into the game was much, much easier and soon I was roaming this world, still totally lost and clueless but drinking in all this potential. Wurm Online really hits me as a ‘graphical MUD’ in the best sense of the phrase. Anything seems possible (I’m sure it isn’t and I’ll hit limitations soon) but you need to use your imagination to supplement the graphics. 🙂

I haven’t done enough to tell great stories like Moxie is doing; hopefully those will come. But I wanted to talk about why I’m so delighted by the game.

Bootstrapping. Y’know, starting with nothing and building up to something. Minecraft is another game that scratches this itch (no coincidence since Notch was an early dev on Wurm Online, or so I’m told). In Minecraft you start with just your fists and punch trees to get wood to make wooden tools so you can dig up stone to make stone tools, etc, etc. The best part of Minecraft, to me, is starting out. Once I’m “secure” and established I start losing interest to some extent.

Wurm Online does the same kind of thing. For instance to make some basic food you use your shovel (you are given a few tools to begin) to dig up clay, then use your hand to make an unfinished clay bowl. Then you use an axe to chop down a tree, use your axe again to shop the tree into logs, then use a carving knife to turn a log into kindling, then use the kindling and a flint to start a fire. Feed more wood into the fire, then put your bowl into the fire to Finish them. Then forage for berries and herbs and cook them together in your bowl to make a meal.

So easy! LOL

I *love* this kind of thing! I love it both in games and stories. Stuff like Eric Flint’s Ring of Fire series (where a modern town is transported back to 1632 and has to rebuild their tech), or William R. Forstchen’s Lost Regiment series (where a Civil War regiment gets transported to another world where people are essentially cattle for another species, and again they use their technological know-how to rebuild). For that matter, this week’s episode of Stargate Atlantis dealt with the same kind of thing!

What I love about this ‘genre’ of game, though, is that it is based around building up, rather than destroying. Sure there’s combat and stuff but crafting is about creating more complex items out of simpler ones, and that scratches a deep itch in my psyche. The Harvest Moon games tend to scratch the same itch, too.

Anyway dear friends, I was wondering if anyone else out there loves this same kind of gameplay, and if you have any other game (or book!) suggestions that cover this same kind of theme of starting from nothing and building up. (Actually now that I think of it, a lot of RTS games touch on this too, to a lesser degree.)