The Early Bird gets the… WURM

Sorry, obvious and overused cliche blog post title just kind of wrote itself.

So! Wurm. Let’s talk about Wurm. As I mentioned before, I was a bit burned out on questmania in my other two games, and started for looking something sandboxy. Wurm ended up being an obvious choice for several reasons. First, it’s F2P up to a certain point, which meant I could get all my questing frustrations out for free and then go back to my other games. Second, I’ve heard the horror stories about having to learn to climb and the Fellowship-like trek from the starter area to the other places on the map, which means I’d likely lose my patience and go back to my other games. But I also kept hearing folks saying that it’s like Minecraft Advanced or a Minecraft MMO, and considering that Minecraft was one of the highlights of my gaming year in 2010, I couldn’t not try it.

I went through the tutorial, which does a pretty decent job of teaching you to climb Spiderman-style up steep inclines as well as introducing you to the slightly overwhelming UI. If you’re used to shiny buttons & hotkeys… well, you won’t get that here. It’s all rudimentary drop-down menus and right-clicks. Oh yes, and every item in your inventory has a weight assigned to it. The more you carry, the s l o w e  r   y   o   u     g      e       t.

*ahem*

So at the end of the tutorial, I was offered the choice of going to Freedom (the PvE server) or Wild (the PvP server). I chose PvE, and was placed in an area close to Freedom Market, a player-made town/hub/market. Now I will say that the coolest thing ever in Wurm is realizing that every single fence, road, market stall, house, or landmark was made by the players. So totally cool, and it reminded me very much of my first day or two on multi-player servers in Minecraft. There was also a pretty active worldwide chat channel, and you could hear the sounds of wood being chopped and nails being hammered in the distance.

The pop-up window that greeted me to my new server said “GO! EXPLORE! The further away you go, the better experience you’ll have!”, so I started off in a northeasterly direction, armed with nothing more than a 2-week-old player-made map for navigation. Unfortunately in my haste to get started, I missed picking up a newbie compass at the market, so I was relying completely on landmarks and general directional fortitude. I walked for literally hours, having to stop to catch my breath periodically, especially at the top of steep hills, before I could go any further. I passed into the wilderness, through the steppes, past giant mountains, and into lush forestlands. Oh, and it was nighttime and raining.

Yes, it was that dark. It was actually really creepy… you have to be really careful because you never know what will be out there waiting for you.

What in the world?!?!?!?!?

AIYEEEEE!!!! Giant man-sized scorpion… and that is a YOUNG one. Apparently there was a scorpion nest in these parts. I’ve since then seen an actual giant scorpion and they are grotesquely, monstrously huge.

Just past the scorpion was a giant (but young) man-sized spider as well. I asked in chat and apparently scorpions and spiders, but especially scorpions, are an extremely tough fight, and I had zero fighting skill and no idea how the combat system works. Between the two of them, I didn’t think I would be able to make it any further, so I ran up a friendly looking path lined with oleander bushes to find a place to hunker down until morning.

Oh look, a bed and a nice bench under a tree? Oh crud, it’s not a bench, it’s a… stone coffin. This night was getting better and better.

Finally somebody in chat mentioned that I could just go around the offensive scorpion and spider, and that if worse came to worse I could probably outrun them before they killed me. Just what I like to hear. I did get past them, and eventually made my way up to the Shipyard of Poland, a player-made seaside shipyard and dock on the northeastern tip of the mainland. I was tired, cold, wet, hungry, thirsty, and wounded, and still had no particular goal in mind.

But strangely enough, I was having a blast. It’s ridiculous really… the graphics aren’t cutting-edge, animations are crude at best, and crafting (the vast majority of what you actually do in Wurm) is… well…

Open Inventory.
Equip Hatchet.
Click Tree.
Chop Tree. (10 seconds goes by)
Chop Tree. (10 seconds goes by)
Chop Tree. (10 seconds goes by)
Chop Tree. (10 seconds goes by)
Tree falls down.
Chop up Tree.
Take log.
Equip Carving Knife.
Make kindling.
Kindling Fails.
Make kindling.
Kindling Fails.
Make kinding.
YAY! KINDLING!

Make Campfire.
Despair because I have nothing to cook because first I need to fish, which requires a Fishing Pole, which requires Fishing Line, which requires a String of Cotton, which requires Cotton, which is a random drop from foraging through grass. Unfortunately, none of this is really explained in-game, so for a new player, it really needs to be played with the WurmPedia open in a browser window.

Wurm is at it’s heart a crafting/survival MMO. You can easily spend 80-90% of your time crafting, and you can go days without killing something if you stay on-deed. If you do decide to venture out though, you need to be aware of your surroundings and be prepared to fight or flee, since any area that is not deeded is open to creature spawns, including multiple spawns like pairs and trios of spiders, roaming packs of wolves, and goblins that call all other goblins in the area to you in engaged in combat.

Wurm is also very Minecraft-like (or perhaps it should be that Minecraft is very Wurm-like, since the creator-of-Minecraft Notch was a co-creator of this game as well, BEFORE Minecraft), but with a massively multiplayer twist. As I was traveling I was greeted by random players and had a couple of invites to player towns. Players generally seem eager to help and advise, and once you start frequenting a particular area you’ll find that your neighbors display a frontier settler-like attitude of neighborly generosity and assistance. After a couple of days, I decided to splurge and purchase a deed, which is basically staking your claim on a plot of land, and very quickly thereafter my neighbors were up helping me build a well (since my masonry skill was still too low), offering me the use of their forges, and advising me on fence placement, mining, and terraforming. Wurm is brutal and unforgiving in many ways, and as a result, many players tend to go out of their way to help newbies and get folks on their feet.

So what started out as a quickie-fling to send me running back into the arms of my other games might actually be love. The freedom that players experience in determining their own goals and playstyle is huge… there’s no on-rails, hand-holding experience here. While it takes a while to really wrap your head around everything, that also leaves plenty of growing room as you continue to play the game. It’s ultimately a great change of pace and style from normal MMOs, and Rolf (the sole owner/paid developer of Wurm) really seems to have a little gem of a game on his hands.

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15 thoughts on “The Early Bird gets the… WURM

  1. kaozz

    That looks like a lot of fun. I’ve often thought about trying it out but just hadn’t heard enough about it. One of these days I want to give it a shot. I look forward to seeing more of your progress and how it pans out.

    Reply
  2. pasmth

    Whew!

    Well I got through the tutorial and was born into the Freedom world…which is a POPULATED world! Every time I thought I was about to find some nice wilderness to establish as a home base, I found another ranch or tree farm or something.

    And I too forgot to get a compass, though I’m not sure what I would’ve paid for it with anyway! 🙂

    But I’ll be back!

    Reply
    1. Moxie

      Freedom is very populated since it’s the only PvE server. The best way to find habitable land is to try to get far, far, FAR away from The Howl (spawn point), and then maybe go off-road a bit. Since you can make your own roads, that’s not a huge deal.

      My deed is way up in the northeast, on the mainland: Cherryglade Farm at 57x, 14y on the community map. If you happen up this way let me know & I’ll be happy to assist you with food or whatever else you might need to get started. 🙂

      Reply
      1. pasmith

        Hee hee, I’m not sure which way North East is. And where’s this community map?

        I’ve been trying to circle a big lake (naturally quite populated, everyone wants a water view) and ogling the boats and stuff. I need to pick a landmark and just keep going in one direction, probably. I have a feeling I might be going in circles.

        Talk about exploring! Fun stuff!

      2. Moxie

        Hm, without a compass, you could check a player deed & find the settlement token. It’s usually in the middle of a settlement, looks like a white birdbath with a light blue sundial on top, and it’ll show you which way is North. 🙂

        Alternatively, you can check the map: http://noizeviolation.com/wurm/Freedom_map.png

        If you can figure out where you are, you can use landmarks & stuff to get around. But exploring is fun too! I need to get out and explore more of the map… still haven’t seen very much of it. 🙂

      3. pasmith

        Wow, I spend hours just wandering around getting my bearings. Finally got back to Freedom Market and from there started heading your way. I got as far as Bougainville and already there’s a lot more wilderness.

        So do I have to buy a deed or something if I see a nice looking patch? Maybe I should read the Wiki eh? Sorry for endless questions!

      4. Moxie

        No worries about the questions! Questions are always welcome! If you’re to Bougainville you’re about to enter the Steppe… be sure to fill up on water before you head into that area. Oh, and put on a cowboy hat. 😉

        As far as settling down, there’s a few options:

        You could settle down in a place undeeded, though it’s not recommended. On one hand, it’s free! On the other hand, anybody could come in and deed over you (essentially taking all your work away from you), plus your place will be open to theft and destruction by anybody who comes by. I know a handful of players who play this way, but their places are mazes of fences and 1-tile gatehouses, and they tend to be slightly paranoid. 😉

        You could do what I did and purchase a settlement form from a Trader for 10 silver and set up your own deed. While this requires cash, it’s the only way to really “own” your place & ensure that nobody steals your stuff. Fences and houses on-deed cannot be bashed or destroyed by other players, and you can set it so that other players are not allowed to take items from the premises, cut down trees, terraform, mine, etc. In order to deed a piece of land, you’d need to become a premium member plus buy some silver to purchase the settlement form. It would cost around 10 euros/$15 USD for 1 month of premium + 5 silver, then another 10 euros/$15 USD for another 10 silver. That would give you enough to buy the form, deed an 11 tile x 11 tile area, & have a little silver left over for upkeep & purchases. If you’re primarily a single player, like to do stuff yourself, or like to have complete control over what you’re doing, this is the best option.

        Of course if you really get into it & want more space, you can buy larger deeds too. For more detailed info, take a look at https://sites.google.com/a/wurmonline.com/new-deed-system/ . That explains the way deeds work in more detail, along with a cost calculator. 🙂

        The third option is to join an existing village. Some players buy the aforementioned settlement forms & set up HUGE pieces of land, then open it up to “citizens”. Hindmania (the Massively.com village) is a good example of this, and it works pretty well for free players who want security or for premium players who are more group-oriented. Typically a citizen of a village will get a plot of their own to set up… some villages have buildings & plots pre-built, others just give you an empty space and let you build what you want. It’s best compared to a guild in other MMOs… there’s a village chat channel, and a lot of villages split up responsibilities among the citizens to keep things running smoothly.

        As far as premium goes, it gives you the ability to set up a deed, plus it unlocks the caps on skills. As a freebie you can go up to level 20 in skills, but as a paid member the cap is 100. Free play is pretty much an unlimited trial, but if you enjoy the game you’ll eventually want to go premium to unlock the skill caps & make better stuff.

        I’m hoping to write more about my deed tomorrow, along with some screenshots & such. 🙂

      5. Moxie

        Actually, I just realized that my previous calculations were wrong. For 10 Euros/$15 USD you could buy 1 month premium + 5 silver, then you’ll need to buy an additional 10 silver so that you can afford the Settlement Form.

        However, with that 15 silver, you could buy up to a 21×21 tile deed. Size 10, I think they call it. Quite a bit larger than what I was originally thinking. 🙂

      6. pasmith

        Neat, thanks! My next question was gonna be ‘Where does money come from?’ but I guess it comes from RMT?

        Sounds like spending some $$ and getting a plot might work for me. When a game comes from a tiny developer like this, I always think of any money I throw there way as more or less a donation to keep development going, anyway.

        I *really* need to read the wiki. I’ll keep saying that until I do it. I guess I need to make some kind of containers to carry water in? Or do you just mean take a long cool drink before I cross the Steppe?

      7. Moxie

        Money, at least when you’re starting out, comes from RMT. 10 silver per $15 USD, roughly. Wurm has an active economy, and there is a LOT of bartering that goes on between players, and purchasing too. As your skills rise, you’ll start making items that are higher quality and thus, more in demand by players, so you can make money in-game by crafting or providing services.

        It all comes full circle because you can buy premium game time with in-game silver (I forget the rate at the moment), and selling Wurm accounts is actually condoned… so you don’t have to lose all your investment once you’re finished with the game. But yeah, with indie games I don’t mind spending money on them, if I enjoy it I want to support it, ya know?

        Just take a long cool drink of water before crossing the steppe & you’ll be fine. You could make a pottery jar to fill with water, but that will require clay and a campfire/forge/oven. You might be able to find clay somewhere on the bank of that lake at Bougainville. 🙂

        BTW, if you have any questions while you’re in game, feel free to send me a /tell… I go by Moxie there too. 🙂

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