Choose My Adventure: Wurm Online is not for me, and that’s OK

    
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Choose My Adventure: Wurm Online is not for me, and that’s OK

Before I begin this week, allow me to address a common assumption made from my last write-up with a clickable picture of my inventory.

Is that clear? Good. Moving on.

I next want to own up to my own deficiencies here. Wurm Online has made me feel the most noobish I’ve ever felt in an MMORPG in ages even after the tutorial. A tutorial that, by the way, I did indeed do; it’s literally impossible not to do the tutorial. I couldn’t get in to a different island until I got through the tutorial. The tutorial was done.

What the tutorial did was provide some basic instructions on how to move, enable tools, equip items, and use those tools and items on the land or on monsters as the situation demanded. It didn’t explain the nuances of crafting or introduce many of its layers. It didn’t go in to detail on the depth of process needed for procuring materials. It prepared me for the bare basics but did not give me a firm grasp of the depth of systems at play.

And to be clear, the fact that Wurm Online has deep systems is not a problem. It’s something to be celebrated and lauded. This game has layers. What I’ve taken issue with is its conveyance. It didn’t provide much of a cursory examination of those layers or provide information on how or why to chase those pursuits. The game doesn’t even really provide a particularly good tree of materials to follow, which is a valuable tool in knowing — or at least starting the process of puzzling together — how the pieces fit to start in on crafting things.

All that said, I own my failure in Wurm Online. I tried and clearly failed to sufficiently ingest the entire Wurmpedia or tie logical conclusions on my own. I made assumptions about crafting and building, the latter of which I was kindly informed by a player by the name of Mr. Gianna is actually meant to be a communal activity instead of a solo one like I’d experienced in myriad other survival sandboxes.

In the context of Wurm itself, many of the connections make sense. But the game itself did not provide guidance or even hints on those connections. And while I certainly could have asked the community for help beyond the format of our CMA community column and comments, the reaction my published fumbling elicited from a frankly embarrassing number of hardcore players didn’t exactly instill in me a sense of wanting to try or to care.

And you know what? I’m fine with that. It’s really OK if a game doesn’t lock itself well into my brain. Even if the game has a terrible sense of conveyance, it’s entirely possible that addressing those problems would not have made Wurm ultimately enjoyable to me. It certainly would have helped me build understanding and perhaps given me goals to work towards, but it’s also completely feasible that the time investment needed and my own schedule may not have lined up. It’s entirely possible that chasing those goals would not have been personally rewarding. I imagine that’s true for a wide swath of the MMO community too.

I’m never going to find out, and that’s all right. As frustrating as that all is and as thick of a roadblock Wurm’s onboarding was for me, I also recognize that I made mistakes and the lack of sense I was making to move forward was an ultimately insurmountable challenge. I could have tried harder. But I was too aggravated to do so. And this is a valuable lesson not just for me but for you – and for game designers too.

For those who dig in to Wurm Online there is, without a doubt, a truly deep and involved sandbox MMORPG experience here that is rewarding and substantial. I’m certain that the game itself has a scope that is hard to match by many games in-development or released now. That’s truly a wonderful thing, and I hope those who have dug in are enjoying themselves. Genuinely. What my personal impression is, though, is a game that does not direct the newly arrived to all of this depth of activity, which leads to boneheaded assumptions and frustration, both self-inflicted and game-inflicted. And that is a missed opportunity, especially for a game that hopes – and deserves – to grow.

I’m probably never playing this game again. It’s not for me. And that’s fine. I wish it and its players the best, and I do want to thank those players and CMs from Wurm who did reach out. But we’re moving on.

Next month I’m planning on having another Not So Massively mixture of multiplayer and MMO-peripheral games, with each week whittling down the choices as I dive in for a quick rumble around the variety of titles on offer. So that means there will be at minimum one poll each week (sorry). I do hope you’ll join me for those initial impressions, but it’s time to decide which impressions to chase first.

Which Not So Massively game should I hop in to first?

  • Fallout 76. Step into the West Virginian wasteland. (47%, 89 Votes)
  • Spellbreak. Fling spells angrily (and poorly) at others. (18%, 35 Votes)
  • Rocket League. Car football! (5%, 9 Votes)
  • Remant: From the Ashes. Shoot extremely spooky things. (16%, 30 Votes)
  • World of Warships. Become a big shooty boat. (15%, 28 Votes)

Total Voters: 191

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As usual, polling will close up at 1:00 p.m. EDT this coming Friday, September 25th. I hope to see you here next week, and once again I wish Wurm Online the best of success.

Welcome to Choose My Adventure, the column in which you join Chris each week as he journeys through mystical lands on fantastic adventures – and you get to decide his fate. Which is good because he can often be a pretty indecisive person unless he’s ordering a burger.

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Turing fail
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Turing fail

I’ve heard this game mentioned multiple times on the MOP podcast, but until seeing this article was trying to imagine how the old *Worms* game could be adapted into an MMO… this makes so much more sense.

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Amy Amata Dreeson

I do feel quite a bit of sadness over how all this played out- sorry we won’t be able to meet for a picnic in Wurm – but, I am glad you made a decision that was right for you!… and I will certainly cheer you on in your next endeavors.

A couple final thoughts from me –

[Wurm Online] didn’t provide much of a cursory examination of those layers or provide information on how or why to chase those pursuits.

This is 100% true.
Anyone who claims otherwise is setting you up for a very unhappy Wurm experience.

I truly believe that at least a certain amount of this lack of guidance/direction is on purpose. Wurm, the game, is ultimately such an open-ended sandbox in Wurm, the world, that if a player doesn’t have a how & why of their own, the overall game experience genuinely won’t appeal. In Wurm, the why of it all has to come from within the player – otherwise, we’re all just playing Wurm, The Ultimate Chore List.

However, as you have pointed out… when Wurm begins as it means to carry on, the barrier to entry is insurmountable for some – many of whom might have turned out to be incredibly positive additions to the community. And being so hands-off from the very start does little to assist new players in the fundamental practicalities – like “forage for vegetables. Now put vegetables in your bowl. Now build a campfire & place the bowl in the campfire. Wait while it cooks… Presto! Now you know at least 1 way to feed yourself and not starve to death!”

What my personal impression is, though, is a game that does not direct the newly arrived to all of this depth of activity, which leads to boneheaded assumptions and frustration, both self-inflicted and game-inflicted. And that is a missed opportunity, especially for a game that hopes – and deserves – to grow.

If the Wurm Devs take anything away from your experience, it is my hope that this is it. Right here. IMO, you nailed it.

Don’t get me wrong – I love Wurm; it is the game I’ve been looking for my whole life. But the new player experience is a high priority problem area that I feel Wurm has not yet found its correct balance.

While Wurm is purposefully catering to self-directed players, this type of person comes in hardcore and casual, old and young, experienced gamers and new-to-PCgames players. Some of these types could function perfectly well, enthusiastically even, at higher levels but need more initial guidance before they are ready to fully take the reins of their own game play.

And, as you have said, expecting a new player to already know that there are reins to take hold of in the first place, let alone how to do so – is an incredible missed opportunity.

Yes, Wurm will reward the inquisitive willing to just poke around and try things until something works, regardless of how many times you might die in the process….. but Wurm shouldn’t offer those rewards at the expense of potential players who simply have a different learning style.


…. Anyway, once again, I am terribly sad that your Wurm experience was so god awful. I do believe that you have some worthwhile feedback here. (Just fyi, I am probably going to take some of this back to the Wurm forums to support some suggestions for the new player experience.)

I voted for Spellbreak because, despite Wurm’s fantasy setting, there is not a lot of spell flingin’ in Wurm & that could be a fun “palate cleanser” for you at this time.

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Eboni

I’m a fan of Wurm. I guess it holds a special place in my heart since it was one of the first sandboxes that I’ve played. However, I just can’t with it sometimes, lol. If I’m going to play, I’ll play Wurm Unlimited. Its buy to play and you can tweek the rules and mod it. Wurm Online’s cooking system isn’t there and that makes me sad, but I’ll take I’d rather play Unlimited.

Godnaz
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Godnaz

Wurm is not for most people. It’s an extremely slow character progression game that requires a ton of patience. Coupled with the fact that because ‘information is power‘ there is little explained in its processes and only those willing to do the research will prosper.

It does great things that I would love to see in another MMORPG like voxel based terraforming and mining tunnels, a ton of non-combat skills and professions. It’s developer and player base size and culture are curated toward remain the small/niche game it is. With the severe limitations the java platform provides, the low population count required to maintain stability to the servers and the fact that it’s had nearly 15 years to improve these things and hasn’t says that Wurm is exactly where it wants to be.

I started with 15 Steam players on launch. We are down to 4 active. As a part of this article, there is no doubt that if you withstand the patience and research curve needed in Wurm Online to be successful, you can handle even the toughest RPG grinds.

Here’s a pic of a new Corbita ship the 4 of us built for hauling goods.
comment image

MilitiaMasterV
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MilitiaMasterV

I actually was around for when they had the old models for the ships, and I preferred them. When they ‘updated’ their models, they looked like Fisher-Price(TM) toys.

This is a ‘before’ photo. (Sorry it’s a bit dark…it was evening in-game and took a bit to set up my whole fleet to take a photo…)

The one on the top left is what yours used to look like.

My Fleet Before.jpg
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Voyta Fairmind

No way! I recognize this place. I was sailing some guy with his horse over the lake the other day and I know this guy Bimo who lives on the small island. o/

Godnaz
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Godnaz

Hello neighbor! Haven’t seen Bimo online in some time. His buddy Joe, has been away awhile too. I went over to check on them, horses had died, crops were ripe/weed. Not sure what happened.

MilitiaMasterV
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MilitiaMasterV

I’ve read decent comments about World of Warships many times, and heard streamers talk about enjoying Rocket League (at least in the short term, there have been comments about it leading quickly to burnout).

Fallout is hugely popular with a certain group, but I’ve heard this iteration was ‘iffy’.

Never really heard of the other two.

Never played any of them, so I can’t really make a suggestion of where to go, and the only one that even appeals at all to me was Fallout…but that was because I wanted to give the original Fallout a try a long time back, and tried to download it/get it functional. Got a very small taste of like a starter area and the game broke or something, so that kind of left me with a bit of a desire to try again…so that would be the only reason I’d recommend that. I won’t answer the poll so as to not bias it.

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Paragon Lost

“Is that clear? Good. Moving on.” Nope, honestly I don’t get what you’re getting at. You’re a writer, tell me what the point it. Don’t make me go back and read “a different” article” just to figure out the context, because I have no right now as to what I’m looking at :/

edit: Was torn on whether I wanted to read about World of Warships or Spellbreak.

MilitiaMasterV
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MilitiaMasterV

Better off avoiding the cesspool of drama that they are referencing.

Karma_Mule
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Karma_Mule

Whenever someone says “graphics don’t matter” I tend to agree, but there are limits for me. And, in addition to the clumsy UI and movement, Wurm is definitely on the other side of that limit.

Like the author I admire the depth and layers and the possibilities it offers, but the world is just not attractive enough to make me want to spend the time in it to learn what I need to learn and dedicate the effort needed.

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PanagiotisLial1

Its a deep building game no doubt that is meant for people liking building and exploration and who can commit a lot of free time to a creative game like this.

My main concern is such a game is based a lot more than your average mmo on community and I want to believe the trolls were only a minority and not something common

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Bruno Brito

My main concern is such a game is based a lot more than your average mmo on community and I want to believe the trolls were only a minority and not something common

I think that’s irrelevant. MMOs where anything takes a communal effort, anything can be disruptive to great effect. Specially considering the mass mentality these communities tend to foster.

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Schlag Sweetleaf

.

wurm has turned.gif
camren_rooke
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camren_rooke

I knew that was gonna be John Denver before I clicked it. :)

but i gotta say. when this first came out I was blown away. Still am. Love me some Ink Spots.

Bree Royce
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Bree Royce

Why do I feel like at least half the Fallout votes are trolling Chris. :P

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PanagiotisLial1

To be honest I think he accidently trolled himself a bit too with the choices he gave for voting cause it was obvious the most likely to win the poll was Fallout based on popularity and MoP readers avoidance of MOBA and BR gameplay(me included I wont lie). In a way they vote what they think “less bad”, lol

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Schlag Sweetleaf

Not me;p, Fallout76 seems to be getting it’s act together based on what I’ve read here on MOP, hoping Chris can confirm that…and also, Vault Boy memes ftw!

Karma_Mule
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Karma_Mule

I’m having a blast in FO76, clunky engine and all. Once Wastelanders came out it jumped from interesting example of failed game design to something I have great fun playing.

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Schlag Sweetleaf

like No Mans Sky , it seems to have found it’s footing..hoping it continues to get better and better..

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PanagiotisLial1

It will have Microsoft funds behind it too, so they got resources

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Paul

Seconded – I started playing post Wastelanders and enjoy it

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PanagiotisLial1

See what you done, now you are making me picture a vault with a Pink wolfie sign on it :p

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Hikari Kenzaki

A CMA on a Battle Royale or lobby game sounds completely uninteresting in every way, shape and form. So that cuts 3 of the 5 choices out. I’m not really interested in Remnant and have enjoyed Fallout 76 in the past.

As was said, he pretty much trolled himself with those options.

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Bruno Brito

I voted truly, and felt sick to my stomach, but it’s a MMO.

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Bruno Brito

I’m probably never playing this game again.

Good decision.

While owning up to your mistakes is a good thing, specially since MMOs nowadays tend to allow you to just make mistakes without much downside, i think there’s a line to be spoken of here. It’s laughable that people go so upset with you having a harsh time in this game that they felt the need to attack you for playing it.

Considering that Wurm is, as they said: A communal experience, the idea of spending my time with volatile people who can’t see the shortcomings of their game and berate anyone to the point of alienation, is not really something i look forward to.

And they have only themselves to blame. I doubt we’ll see many Wurm articles in MOP since it’s a small game. And well, this is what it is now.

Bree Royce
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Bree Royce

To be clear, we’ll continue covering it as we always have! Can’t let a few trolls spoil the whole game.

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Bruno Brito

Yeah, but i’m not saying it won’t be covered.

I’m saying it’s Wurm. How many Wurm news are you guys going to cover in an year? That’s my point. They had their chance at coverage with the CMA and…well.

Bree Royce
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Bree Royce

It had been 16 posts this year before CMA started. :D 19 with CMA. Doesn’t count mentions in MOP Up, either, of course!

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Bruno Brito

How many about Star Citizen, boss? :^)

( I stand corrected by the way, altho i still think what they have is what they get. I just don’t see Wurm getting huge pop boosts ).

Bree Royce
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Bree Royce

About 80! :D

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Bruno Brito

Hey, i would prefer 80 Wurm threads for sure.