Patch Day, No Play

Any PC gamer knows patch days are hell. Especially when the patch ushers in sweeping changes to the game’s landscape. Wurm Online, like all indie developed games, adds a layer of chaos. That is an assumption on my part, of course. How can that statement be incorrect though? A “real” game developer has a small army of worker bees tending to the hive. One set worries about the network and its parameters. Another group focuses on the client itself. One handles the actual server architecture. One is even dedicated to playing the middle man between the developers and the players. It is structured chaos at the best. Both players and developers are running around crazy trying to either get the game going or complaining that the game isn’t up. Meanwhile the customer support people are running back and forth trying to get and then share updates. This is luxury.

Indie games do not have that luxury. They are a small team of people if not just one person. Then there are volunteers which are not exactly the most reliable bunch. Sure, they can be a huge help but at the end of the day these people’s livelihoods do not hang in the balance. While their work and dedication are greatly appreciated, they do not have the same level of desperation that the actual employees have. They gamble their paychecks on things like major patches. This means the small team is trying to do something that in most cases takes many more people to pull off.

The Servers Are DownIt does suck not being able to get in and play with the new shinies. However, we as players need to stop and realize that it sucks for the dev team just as bad if not worse. They are in the business of creating something that brings entertainment and joy to other people. If those people are not able to do that, their business suddenly is not working correctly. Panic runs rampant on both sides of this coin.

In my profession we can test something until our eyes bleed. We can perfect the method and do all the planning in the world. We get extremely confident we can ‘patch this’ or ‘update that’. Then when we start to push it out to the live environment all hell breaks loose. Things that were expected to break, do break. Then things that are completely unrelated start to break. When we fix those issues other things start to drop or act incorrectly. It happens. As exact a science as computers are, expecting the unexpected is a rule of thumb. Hope for the best. Expect the worst.

No matter what gaming community you are or have been a member of, patch days are always the same. Fifteen years of massively multi-player role play gaming has taught me, do not get your hopes up on patch days. If you can play, fantastic! If you can not play, rest assured that someone is behind the scenes going crazy trying to fix things so you can play. Take a deep breath and be patient.

In fact, while the servers are down go over to Servers Are Down. Check out their Saturday Night Factional Fights series.

Keybinds: Making Your Digital Life Easier

A quick video tutorial on how to do Keybinds.

Terraforming 101: Digging

I go over the basics of digging. Unlike the first video, this one fully supports 1080p!

The Tutorial for Noobs

I recorded a video where I play through the tutorial. I try to give some hints and tips as I go, but I admit I am pretty new myself. Veterans to the game will likely be bored out of their mind but may be able to correct my commentary. This was my first crack at video recording/editing so It is pretty rough. Hopefully this is the start of something great.

First Moments In Wurm

This forum post is a fantastic blog topic. Therefore, here I am.

My first moments in Wurm were terrible. I don’t really remember when but I think it was around June of 2010. I had heard about this game from a website and decided to try it. When I saw it was completely written in Java my opinion soured. “How could that even be done?” I guess I was confusing Java with Javascript, but still my expectations were lowered. I downloaded it and logged in. Wow. What a mess. It looked horrible. There wasn’t a tutorial or anything directly in front of my face that I remember being obvious. I could not reach the log out button fast enough.

Some time had passed and I believe I heard the Massively Speaking podcast talking about their time in Wurm Online. Shawn Schuster and crew were talking about the things you could do. I listened to podcasts pretty religiously when commuting to and from work. I remember hearing them talk about it and saying “Really?! THAT game?!” The following week they touched on what they had done in-game. Their conversations about the amount of freedom the game allows was enough to get me to try it again.

This time around there was a tutorial. It helped a lot! I gave it time and ended up at The Howl. I had no idea what I was doing. I believe it was Axeblade that said in chat his village was looking for recruits. I whispered him and he had a toon at the spawn as to invite me to his village. I was told to /suicide and spawn in town. I did so and was amazed at the work being done. We jumped on a voice chat client and he explained the game and what how to do things. Suddenly it clicked. The game made sense in my head. I was given a house and started working. Soon I wanted to do my own thing. I created an alt and started over with a better understanding. Someone in chat linked the player made map. This also made my jaw drop. Suddenly Wurm was less like a game and more like a virtual reality. Explorers had gone out in the world and plotted the land. The map wasn’t exact but it was a rough estimate. To be completely honest, it was a main reason I was sucked in. It wasn’t a pre-defined world. Everything was player made, including the map of the land. I was hooked.

Dragonhaven

The calm before the storm has arrived. Well, after a hurricane of real life blew ashore I now stand in a lull. Real life is going to pick up again in utter chaos, guaranteed. Not being a religious person I still buy into the capitalistic view of Christmas. I love it. It is a busy time of year, but I love it all. Lights, presents, trees, cold weather, ect. Add the fact that my wife is having a baby with a projected due date of Christmas Day and we have all kinds of chaos that will soon be upon us. Despite that, I did manage to get some Wurm time in.

I started off looking for a place to deed. I knew I wanted to be up by my Bayside Brawlers friends on Exodus. I should have never left them in the first place. Moxie mentioned her old mining deed which was east of Avonlea Bay. The spot is on the side of a mountain and while not a piece of coastal property, it is pretty close to it.

Messing with the deed, a local logged on. He was extremely friendly and helped me out with some starter tools I was missing. When I resumed my account I didn’t even have a saw or a hatchet. Upon death I always received a set of starter tools yet when a mountain lion decided to make me his dinner, I spawned with only a couple tools. My assumption is that as long as your character has the starter tools in their possession or on their deed you will get them again when you die. Mine had been deeded over and likely decayed. Meaning I only have two starter tools left that are unique to my character. Anyway, the tools were a huge help.

He showed me around the area a bit and took me to the top of a mountain. It was absolutely gorgeous. I wanted to deed up there so badly but my gut told me not to. I would be too far away from an immediate water source. A well would have to be constructed but I would require help to get it started as I do not have a way of finding a water tile. Also the hauling of everything back and forth would be a real quick turn off when just starting out. Maybe one day I can go up there and build a place but for now I felt I needed something closer to resources. The spot down by the water had a road already built and a mine with iron already found. Clay is really close and tar isn’t that far off. The spot seemed too good to pass up. I did not want the road to be on my deed out of respect for the area. I would never block it, but I did not build it so it would not feel right to own it. My deed went right up next to the road with it in my perimeter. I had to make it a long and narrow deed which is fine. Had I expanded I would have owned a lot of rockface on the side of the mountain. I like an open spot out in front of the mountain by the water and I like a secluded spot behind the mountain. This just worked out perfectly.

Dragonskull was a great name but soiled by Celebration. I wanted to rebuild what was started down there though. Therefore “Dragon” was going to be in the name somewhere. After considering a few different options I decided on Dragonhaven. I will post later with pictures of the area.

Someone had already started a little flat spot by the road and I used that to plan out a small three by three inn. For now it is my command center but eventually it will be a small little resting spot for travelers. I plan to build more “my” stuff off the road a bit. Unlike last time, I’m not going to plan anything out. I had used WPlanner to map out the deed and precisely plan each tile out. This was tons of fun but when I started building stuff according to my plans it suddenly zapped all of the fun out of it. I felt like I would never be done the project. So this time around I might Map out the area and add to it as I install features.

The best part of Wurm is that I get out exactly what I put in. When chaos reigns supreme later this month I don’t have to worry about it. Sure, this time around I will keep my deed intact but if I only have an hour to play then so be it. I just don’t have it in me to let my games consume me anymore. I’m getting too old and have too much responsibility in real life to have the burden of themepark responsibilities. I do very much enjoy raiding but now is not the time. To raid is to take on a responsibility to “do your part” for the other nine or 24 people. I know I don’t have the time to commit to that. I wish I did, but I don’t and it will only get worse when the baby is here. Wurm doesn’t care about that though. I can only do as much as I want and get the same back out of it. Simply toiling away at leveling in WoW to still deny myself of raiding snuffs out the fire of desire pretty quickly. Therefore it is likely that small projects in Wurm will be what I do for a while.

Ebb and Flow

The ebb and flow of gaming has completed another cycle. You can also replace ‘ebb and flow’ with attention deficit disorder. Let me give you a recap of my last few months.

I stopped blogging solely about Wurm and opened myself up to other games. Surprise, I didn’t blog much. I always want to blog but never can find the time or energy. I played Guildwars for a few days but was never really hooked. It just got boring in a hurry, much like Star Wars The Old Republic. To be honest, if these games came out in 2005 or so they would have been incredible. In the world of themeparks they are like Six Flags. Pretty cool with lots of new features. They contain things that should absolutely thrill us. Then there is Disney World, aka, World of Warcraft. The rides are so-so, and the scenery is what you would expect. Yet there is something magical about it. Something that you can’t put your finger on but it is a whole different world.

I should say that I am a roller coaster fanatic and Disney World didn’t interest me in the least. Yet, I took my wife and kids there back in 2010. It was amazing. The rides didn’t thrill me but the experience was still unbelievable.

So as you can imagine, the Mists of Pandaria interested me pretty bad. In fact, it still does. I leveled a Monk to 67 and started working on my Hunter. The Shadow Priest became a farmer and a few alts were born. Then, as it does, life struck. My wife is pregnant with the due date rapidly approaching. With the help of a dear friend we ripped up the carpet in the new baby’s room and put down a laminate hardwood floor. Trim needed repainting, crib needed put back together, room needed decorated, ect. We moved the kid’s bedroom assignments around, put shelves up, and I made some other home improvements.

Also on my list of “want to do’s” was prepping a spot in my yard for a garden. After playing Wurm Online in the winter/spring, I wanted to farm in real life. We got some five gallon buckets and prepared a container garden. We grew some stuff but the couple plants we put into the ground took off like gang busters. Therefore I vowed to have a real garden in 2013. Nothing big, just a 16 foot by 12 foot vegetable patch. In order to do so I had to remove the sod. With the sun going down at 5:00 pm here, that took one of my Saturdays. Then I had to turn over the soil. Basically I had to get a spade fork and go down a foot. I put composted manure on top of that. This winter the clods will expand and contract causing them to break up. In the Spring it will be nice and fluffy. I’ll add more composted manure and mix it all up. I told you all of this because gardening is proving to be wildly calming but the initial prep is time consuming.

Work has been crazy too. Run, run, run. Add that to coming home and working some more and the exhausting caused me to be lazy. I literally did not turn on my gaming PC for over two weeks. It was not that WoW bored me, at all. I was just simply too tired. All of this crafting raised my interest as to what was going on in Wurm. The big 1.0 patch is due out in a few weeks so I decided to log in and see what was going on.

Everything was gone.

Everything. Dragonskull was no more. It had been deeded over and massively terraformed to look alien. Our ships were still there at the dock, almost decayed to nothingness. I logged out in disgust. I’m not mad at the person that deeded over us. That is the name of the game. We didn’t keep the deed up, so he did what I would have done. I’m mad at myself for letting it go. I’m mad at the valuable lesson I learned. Before you walk away from a game like Wurm, make sure you “take care of business.” I had most of my tools in a bin. I had all sorts of things and I let it all go. When I came back I found my toon severely gimped. I don’t even have a saw or a pickaxe. I logged out and went to bed.

The next day, after working in the real life garden, I decided to log back in and “stick it to the man.” I repaired my sailboat and Drae’s Cog. I did this if for no other reason than to make it take longer to decay and annoy the guy that deeded Dragonskull. Then, I found my curiosity really peaked. I decided to sail around and see what has changed in the last four or so months. Everything was totally different. That is the ebb and flow of Wurm that other games do not have. The core game was the same but the whole world was different. I eventually sailed back up to Exodus to see if my old friend Moxie was still playing. Everything was quiet but then logged in and we chatted a bit. It appears as though our old alliance has faded away, as I did. I sailed over to Sneffington Terrace and found that someone had reclaimed it and radically altered it as well.

Then it really hit me. What I was doing was so relaxing it. It wasn’t a “hurry up and get ready to raid” or “learn your spec to pvp.” I was simply exploring. It was peaceful and yet felt dangerous. It was exciting. Themepark games just don’t give that. There are a lot of shortcomings in Wurm Online but the amount of freedom is exactly what I am looking for. The combat and speed at which you do things like craft and gather resources is not what I am looking for. Yet I find myself wanting to play Wurm again. I want a small little deed with an alliance to chat with again. I just wish it was a little faster paced and had decent combat. Right now you build up stuff then lose focus of what the point is. You build a farm to eat. Eating makes your skills go a tad quicker. You gather resources and turn them into materials, such as cutting down trees, chopping them up, then making planks. You use the materials to build a shelter to store your things so no one can steal them. You terraform to accommodate your buildings. Yet, there is no purpose. Once you have your place built up that is it. You go into maintenance mode. You have to repair things and improve their quality back up. When I start getting a sense of this I lose interest real quick. For right now though, having only half my tools tickles my “I need to figure out how to survive.” Having my toon down and out is making me want to play again.

So while it isn’t perfect, I will still ease back into Wurm and continue leveling in WoW. I just wish I could smash them together into one game.

Light My Fire!

Come on baby, light my fire.
Try to set the night on fire!

There is a lot of unrest in Wurm this week. Rolf announced changes to street lamps. He starts the post ironically with “theres nothing very radical in todays update”. Oh how wrong he was.

Basically players were able to build street lamps fill them once with tar or oil and light them. At night there was glorious light everywhere! Apparently it was never truly intended to be like that. Street lamps were originally intended to burn for three to five days and then need a fuel refill. Rolf admitted that making this change was going to annoy users who were accustom to having “forever lamps.”

Insert community outrage and backlash here, and here.

I admit that walking around and filling lamps seems pretty lame. Wurm is full of tedious little tasks that quickly grow annoying. Therefore I choose to avoid most of them. The beauty of the game is creation. Creating a spot to build your home, creating the tools necessary to accomplish this, creating the transportation to move both body and materials, ect. As a result I would probably keep my little lantern filled and say to hell with the rest.

Rolf quickly extended an olive branch and came up with a quasi-compromise. Tar will continue to be able to be used as a fuel but players will have to manually refill the lamps. Olive oil can be used as well. In fact, if you build the new huge oil tub your spirit templars will “fill” the lamps for you. This is of course using your imagination. The barrel will slowly drain and the lamps will stay lit. Until I see my templar walking between the two, I know it is about as real as the Easter Bunny!

Seeing as how I don’t have olive trees around, manually refilling with tar it is! Though the big question is what about off deed?
Some players have lit walkways between there deeds and their neighbors. How about common areas that have been lit? These will all be dark now unless someone finds it in their heart to take on this task.

Rolf did respond again with increasing olive yields on harvest.

All of this was originally meant to be in place, meaning this was a long delayed bug fix. This is how it was supposed to be. Olives could easily been ignored until now. Now there is a market for olives and their precious oils. Personally I am still building up so I am used to working in the dark. I still haven’t found iron so my light source is usually a campfire. I’m sure if I had a hundred lamps on our deed I would be miffed.

Rolf is no different than any other developer. He has the best intentions in mind but he will never please everyone. I’m sure he thought this was a minor change but it turned out to be a huge deal. Likewise I’m sure he has made a major change and everyone overlooked it. All I can say is Wurm is still unique and I will deal with refilling my lamps…when I get them that is…

Dragonskull Chaos

I have spent the last few days just going over the deed. I was trying to visualize where things would go without mapping it out. My friend has not finished his boat yet so I am still solo’ing Dragonskull Bay. While I don’t want to do too much, I still need to do the fundamentals.

Dragonskull needs a shelter, so I flattened a small piece of land in the southeast corner of the deed. After deciding it wasn’t big enough I used the dirt to extend a little further out into the bay. Carpentry only being at 14 stunted my first building. As a result it is a shack. I will likely build it just to knock it down and build a bigger structure. At that time I will also likely make it stone. For now though, putting planks on a house is a great way to skill up carpentry.

Iron is proving to be very valuable. The unfortunate thing is that I am now out of iron. Nails and ribbons were brought down with me but they are now used. I can’t continue without some iron. My major focus will be mining as I search for that precious metal. I have had a generous offer to sail up to Deliverance to mine some iron. That may prove to be a lifesaver!

My other major focus is farming. I simply have to get farming going. I haven’t eaten but once since I’ve been on the new map. My nutrition levels are terrible. I have foraged a lot but never do much. The food just goes to waste and rots. I have cleared an 4×8 plot to get started, even though I don’t really like where it is located.

The only thing I did tonight was break down and map out the deed. The northern section is a little incorrect because there are a couple tundra tiles, but for the most part it is just grass. The deed is also on a mountain island so the 2D map doesn’t do it justice. It isn’t anything terrible but I’d say a good hundred or so tiles above water at the top. Here is a map of the mess that is currently Dragonskull Bay.

Winter is Coming

Winter is here! It was a pleasant surprise to log into snow. The changing seasons is a dream come true. Last time I remember this was Asheron’s Call or some game I played ages ago. To log in and see the Dragonskull kissed lightly by a winter storm instantly brought a smile to my face. Now let us hope the White Walkers stay away!

The snow put me in the mood for adventure. I grabbed my ship and went looking for a shovel. I have a lot of digging to do and a good shovel will be helpful. I set sail and headed east along the coast. Last time I did this I walked. It was a long and dreadful trek. The sailboat made the trip rather easy and short. The wind was at my face on the way there, so getting to the Golden Market took a little longer than I hoped. Learning to sail, each trip is still a learning experience.

A decent quality shovel was found at a merchant. The two and a half silver I paid was a bit high, though my opinion doesn’t much matter because I do not have my head wrapped around the economy yet. I just know my desire for faster digging caused the silver to practically leap out of my pocket. When I was done I boarded the ship and was pleased it went much faster getting home.

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