World of Wurmcraft

On my previous blog, Battle Priestess, I wrote a series of posts describing my first few days & weeks in Wurm. There’s no better way to kick off the Wild Boar Inn than by reposting those here for posterity.

Originally posted April 28, 2011:

Rebecca from mmomeltingpot.com asked a great question about Wurm:

Do you know how/if it compares to Minecraft?

Minecraft and Wurm. These two games seem eerily similar due to their history, and it’s common to hear players refer to Wurm as “Minecraft Advanced”. But actually the two games have far more differences than similarities, and there’s really two different playstyles represented in these games.

Similarities:

First, they’re both nature-based/quasi-medieval sandbox games. You start the game and as a total newbie get plopped in the middle of a world full of trees, lakes, and mountains with few to zero tools and no direction other than “Go, Survive, Have Fun”. Players are able to do pretty much anything they want in both games. There’s no quests, no levels, no instances, no real goals other than whatever the player wants to do.

Second, they’re both filled with creepy-crawlies to fight, though combat isn’t really a primary goal of either game. Sure, there are players that really enjoy combat and hunting and do that as their primary playstyle, but the overall goal of both games seems to be exploration, building and creation.

Third, they both take place in first-person view, though Minecraft gives you an option to use a more traditional third-person view. It still takes some time to get used to the first-person thing if you play only MMOs, and the limited peripheral vision makes you a bit more susceptible to bad things sneaking up beside you and behind you.

Differences:

The graphics are the most immediately noticeable difference. Minecraft is… well, Minecraft in all it’s 8-bit boxy retro glory. Wurm’s graphics are far from cutting edge but are far more realistic and attractive, with trees and grass that wave in the breeze, roaming butterflies, and ripples in the water.

Setting is another area where Wurm excels over Minecraft. There’s not a lot of Wurm lore, but there are gods that you can choose to follow, each with different bonuses and penalties, and a calendar year with seasons, including specific harvest times for fruit trees and bushes. It seems to give Wurm a sense of place, time, and purpose. Minecraft leaves the setting completely up to the imagination of the players. It could be post-apocalyptic, medieval, Animal Crossing, or TRON depending on the mod pack that you use.

Minecraft is known for being a single-player game, though players can host multi-player servers with varying rules depending on who is running the game. Wurm is strictly a massively multi-player game in a persistent world, with one PvE server and one PvP server and GMs/CAs to take care of issues.

Gameplay between the two games seems to be the biggest difference. Minecraft is a “blank canvas” sort of game. If you want to build a scale copy of the Starship Enterprise out of cobblestone, if you want to build a rollercoaster theme-park out of railcarts, if you want to use music blocks to play the theme song from “Family Guy”, if you want to build a treehouse in a replica of Yggdrasil, then Minecraft is your game. It’s fun, it’s silly, and the Lego-style construction means that there’s really no limits to what you can build. There’s no real economy to speak of since players are able to get their hands on just about anything given enough time and motivation.

If on the other hand, you want something that’s more realistic, if you want to set up farms and breed animals, if you want to build pirate ships and sailboats to sail the seas, if you want to become a spell-casting priest that enchants tools, or if you want to become a specialist in paving, catapult-building, cheese-making, alchemy, or toymaking, you might want to look at Wurm. It has an active and robust player economy, with players trading and purchasing everything from tools to animals to gems to bulk raw crafting goods and services. There are some limits on what you can build. For example, there are no two-story buildings, the size of building that you CAN build is limited by your carpentry skill, and you can’t really build a spaceship or a replica of the Eiffel Tower in-game. It’s all very much setting-appropriate.

Crafting also works differently in both games. Minecraft is a 100% success rate sort of game. If you combine 3 iron blocks and 3 wood blocks together into the correct pickaxe formation, you will always get 1 iron pickaxe. Wurm throws in a hefty dose of chance into crafting. For example, if you start into tailoring, if you try to make a string of cloth out of raw wool, you’ll have about a 50% chance of being successful on each try. As your tailoring skill goes up, that percentage will climb, resulting in less wasted material and higher quality items. Once you have all your strings, you can combine those into cloth, which again, has a certain percentage of success rate. You’ll experience a lot of failures while you’re crafting in Wurm, but that also adds value to the items that are successful.

Lastly, the pacing is very different between the two games. In Minecraft, you can easily cut down a tree in a few seconds, but in Wurm, cutting down that tree may take a few minutes. Putting up a fence segment in Minecraft takes a second, but in Wurm requires you to manually attach 2 planks, 2 shafts, and a handful of nails to the segment individually, with occasional failure. Converting raw materials into usable items can quickly be done in bulk in Minecraft, but can only be done in Wurm one at a time. Some people enjoy the slower, more realistic pace in Wurm, others would rather have a game like Minecraft that they can pick up for an hour and get a good amount done in that time. Wurm is a game of patience and is best experienced by picking small, bite-size projects to work on as part of the whole.

If you enjoy sandbox-style games I definitely recommend checking out both Wurm and Minecraft, because for all their differences they’re both excellent games.

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