Thursday, January 12, 2012

Hooray for sheer stubbornness, and thoughts on assisting your community!

Wurm update: I made it back to my home village! More importantly, I made it back to my home village with no weapon and hardly any tools. I made it more than halfway across the server with nothing more than a huge talent for running away and screaming for help from guards at guard towers. Along the way I ran into two very kind players. One of whom patched me up when I sustained a bad spider bite and one of whom offered me his horse. We'd bumped into one another at a point where he was finished with it. I accepted the bandaging and declined the horse, both with sincere thanks for the kindness. I like players like that -- people who want to make a multiplayer world better and reach out to other players. Kudos to them.

Kudos also to the Wurm Online Epiphron who replied to my previous post. Definitely read what he had to say, because he makes some excellent points. I'll address that more in a minute, but first let's finish my Tale of Scary Travel. I arrived at the shoreline of the mainland and stopped, wondering what to do next. You see, the old Massively village is on an island off of the mainland and I couldn't possibly swim it. My character would have run out of stamina and drowned long before reaching it. The only way is by taking a boat, which I did not have. I was chatting with Beau about it, and he was considering coming to pick me up the next time he played. I was also toying with the idea of crafting a rowboat and rowing myself across since I was in no hurry. Then who should I see in local but another member of the old Massively village. He'd started playing again that very day out of pure coincidence. We were happy to see one another and couldn't stop laughing at the fact that we'd both come back after a months-long absence on the very same day, AND stumbled across each other. He had a boat and was planning to drop a small deed on the old village site, so I hopped on board his boat and off we went.

I've now reconstructed my old house, the two of us are rebuilding from the ruins of Hindmania, and I've planted a little garden. I'm having a *blast.* I found an interesting and significant change that came about in my absence. See, previously, hostile wild animals did not enter a deed. A deed's NPC guardians (spirit templars) will only attack hostiles that venture onto a deed, so if you wanted their help with a wild animal you had to lure the thing to the corner of the deed and move back and forth, aggroing the thing over and over in an attempt to trick it into cutting that corner and accidentally entering the deed.

I assumed that was still A Thing the other day, and when a huge spider surprised me during a foraging expedition, I bolted for the village. Imagine my surprise when the thing entered the deed without hesitation and started beating crap out of me. Of course the templar rushed to my aid and the two of us took it down easily, but I was laughing so hard the entire time. This was a surprise that I liked. For many reasons, but primarily because it never made sense to have the things stop at the border like that. For one thing, I'm almost positive that spiders cannot see, read, or understand the concept of village borders. For another, invisible electric fencing has not yet been invented in the lands of Wurm. So it made no sense that they couldn't enter a deed. It also rendered the templars useless. Mine spent all her time sitting around picking her teeth and reading Playgirl. She was getting fat, so this gives 'em something to do.

Okay, so back to my previous issues. In the interest of fairness I kept a close eye on the game's help channel during my playtime. Maybe the CA who made that comment to me was just having a bad day or something. Everyone has those. I was disappointed to find that it wasn't an anomaly. This particular CA, judging from conversation in both help and freedom chat, has a reputation for being harsh with players who are new and/or outside her social circle, or who just happen to annoy her (by asking for help in the help channel, apparently), and the other players enjoy her treatment of them and joke about it. A discussion this morning centered around a player who'd evidently irritated her, and someone joked that she probably broke the players legs. She replied "Don't you think I'd brag about something like that?" She's almost admired for it.

Even more interesting, the actual players seem to give more help in the help channel than this person does -- and she seems to be on a LOT. Beau showed up with his character, wanting to join our village. He was back at The Howl and we were trying to invite him, with no luck. He asked nicely in chat if it was possible to get a village invitation from a distant location. She responded "no" and went silent. Another, non-CA player jumped in and gave Beau a workaround -- something the CA should have been doing.

Maybe I'm taking this too seriously. It *is* an unpaid volunteer position, but it got me thinking anyway about the title of "Community Assistant." I don't know what the job description is, but those two words give me a hint. To help the community. To help them find solutions to the problems they are having, to give them answers when they don't understand something. I'd bet money that the CA position does not entail "enforce a closed and unwelcoming community and keep the newbs in their place." Paid or unpaid, her position means that she represents this company and this product, because the people who are paid have indicated that they trust her judgement enough to allow her to speak for them. In this case? Bad idea.

Amusingly, as I write this, I glanced at help chat and saw her give a real answer to a question and explain a process to someone who did not understand it. This is something every CA should do every single time someone asks a legitimate question or has a problem: help them to solve it. This should not be the exception, it should be a rule. Maybe someone said something to her, I don't know.

I'll finish up by quoting something I said to someone else. This is my impression: This is a pretty closed community. There's a pretty small player base and newbs aren't exactly welcomed with open arms. You'll have a better play experience if you keep to yourself. Which is a damn shame.

Okay. I'm getting super long-winded but I don't want to wrap up without addressing the GM's comments on my previous post, because they were Composed of Awesome. He made some great points and explained some things I didn't know (and some I did, but that's cool because he should be doing t his stuff).

The system's treatment of beginner tools is going to remain a sore spot for me, I think. He commented that this is a fairly tough survival game, and he's right, and that's all good. Like I said before, I was playing in very dangerous territory, knowing that I could die and be transported halfway across the world. That's part of the *fun*. Heck, I didn't even mind that much when I got killed in a place where I thought I was safe. "Okay, I'm at The Howl. Let's do this."

But "tough survival game" should not equal "completely cripple a character." The weight of the items you carry is such a huge factor in Wurm: the more you carry the more slowly you move. The more slowly you move, the harder it is to run from things that want to maul you to death. Now add in the fact that these tools are expressly designed to be replaced as soon as possible with something better. Their stats are deliberately very low. No reasonable player is going to drag them around forever once they've created something better. It just doesn't make any sense.

I really loved Epiphron's suggestion of giving them a super-high decay rate. They're meant to be temporary, so it would make sense. "Here is something so you can scratch a living and survive for a short bit. They're not very good and they're not going to last long, so use them to make something better. Now get moving" Beautiful. But my previous feelings stand: If you spawn at The Howl, you need to have those tools.

Epiphron suggested that I take my CA concerns to Oracle, so I'm off to do that with an eye to a solution!

It's ultimately a matter of opinion


  1. I did twitter you this, but you might have missed it.

    You can rummage at rock for a rock shard and an iron rock. you can forage for branches. you can combine these to make basic tools, with which you can then make something better. It's not necessarily an obvious thing to do, but it is the way you can pick yourself up after losing everything.

    1. The big problem is that nobody bothered to tell you that when you asked in the help channel.