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Wurm Online: Waste of time

Imagine all the hard work, frustration, loss, and need to persevere that it takes to play EVE.  Now imagine all that, but without the satisfying sound of your opponent raging or crying into their keyboard.  That is Wurm.

I found myself with a sudden, unexpected, free day Saturday.  And instead of using that opportunity to dig through my pile of things that need doing I decided to waste it on Wurm.  If I sound a little bitter, it’s because I literally would like my 5 hours and 53 minutes back.  If I don’t sound bitter, that would be a side effect of my attempts to seem more calm and level headed.  Trust me, I’m bitter.

Wurm has been described as Minecraft the MMO.  And for good reason; it is the project that Notch worked on before creating Minecraft.  It is described as world in which you can wander off, find a small corner of the world, and settle in.  You can terraform the land, build a house, start a farm, explore for resources, build roads and facilities to help exploit those resources, work with others to build large communities.  And this isn’t Farmville “push button, receive bacon” difficulty. This is hard core Eve (or Minecraft) level of work.  In short, hard work + effort = Awesome.

The reality, however, is a lot less appealing.  After 6 hours of play, the only thing I had to show for my efforts was… nothing.  Literally, nothing.  While I had a better understanding of the map, everything I had crafted or gathered had been lost or destroyed whenever I died.  And death came often, with little or no way to avoid it.

I was going to have a picture of someone getting kicked in the balls, but this is less personal

Falling damage is can be pretty lethal, and often doesn’t come from falling off a cliff, but from walking on a slope that is just a little too steep.  In fact, the casual sin of stepping on steep slope often forces you to slide down that steep slope, and what was a casual stroll through the woods quickly becomes a death ride.  Slopes killed me by dropping me into water I couldn’t get out of causing me to drown, by injuring me so much that I was unable to climb out, by pure falling damage, and by forcing me into mobs, usually while injured from the falling.  If you stick to the roads and well developed areas you don’t have to worry about gravity, however this is exactly what a new player doesn’t want to do.

Mobs are pretty difficult.  It isn’t recommended that you face one until you have decent armor and weapons, and have a good start on your combat skills.  The damage they deal is pretty hefty, and the wounds are much worse, capable of killing you after you’ve managed to run away from the mob.  They tend to move fairly quickly, and if your injured you get slowed down, which means you’ll have to run downhill.  Which leads to injury, which leads to death… Fortunately they only spawn in unclaimed land, which just happens to be the kind of territory that a newbie would want to go into.  Unfortunately they often wander onto claimed land or roads, and then hang out killing newbies until an older player decides to kill them.

As bad as the last two paragraphs may (or may not) have been, let me put them into perspective.  Keep in mind that changing your spawn is not easy.  It is pretty much out of the ability for a newbie to do.  However, all of the land near the spawn has been claimed.  In fact, it was recommended that I travel about an hour away from the spawn to find unclaimed land.  Not exploring, but just running down the road, the furthest I got was 15min before a mob killed me.  Assuming I was able to get an hour out from spawn, and start exploring a space to claim, if I fucked up and died I was an hour away from starting over again.

So, to sum it up: If your a new player, you’ll need to explore unclaimed land, which will kill you and penalize you in terms of tens of minutes, if not hours, of game play for each death.  If your not a new player, then you have all the tools necessary to defend yourself from the horrors of wandering to unclaimed land, which you probably don’t need to do.

The premise of the game is interesting. It felt as if the majority of the issues were caused, not by the game itself, but by poor map generation and little desire to introduce newbies to the game.  Terrain so steep as to easily hamper movement or kill shouldn’t be common, especially close to the newbie spawn.  Additionally, mobs should be easier so close to the spawn.  Towards the extreme I would recommend that the area around the newbie spawn be prevented from being claimed so that newbies would be able to start out learning the basics before trekking into the dangers of the wild to stake a claim.