Pitchfork Media: A Portrait of Wurm Online

By Quintin Smith on March 24th, 2010 at 12:00 pm.

The marionette-like models and total focus on player constructs make Wurm kind of like Little Big Planet's unlaughing grandfather. Sort of.

[This is the extended Director's Cut of my feature on indie MMO Wurm Online for PC Gamer UK last year. Not to be confused with my relatively straightforward coverage of Wurm on RPS, this is a sordid tale of intrigue, humanity, murder and New Games Journalism. It's a good 'un, I think.]

I’m bleeding to death. I’ve got maybe six or seven minutes before I’ll be too exhausted to do anything but lie down and die. I really wish I could say this was the worst of my problems, but it’s not.

I’m also utterly lost in the middle of a claustrophobically thick forest crowded with starving mountain lions, I’m starving hungry myself, my belongings have been taken away from me, and Egg, my only friend in the world, is currently staring down his own (very different) death no less than a mile away. I know it’s no more than a mile. I just don’t know in which direction.

Wurm Online, then, is a very good game for redefining your concept of a bad day.

Slitted sunlight shines down on me from the treetops as I tear up grass, searching for plants I could try and make a bandage out of. But there’s nothing here. My health bar ticks lower as blood trickles out of the wound in my arm. Probably only five minutes left in me now.

Egg’s messages are still coming up in my local chat, censored by the game’s language filter.

‘You know I figured you guys might do this,’ he says. ‘But I also figured you might not be ?#%!s.’

‘egg do you like karma?’ asks Darkdragoon. My scrabbling hands comes up with a handful of basil. Useless.

‘dark your too slick’, says Cndo.

‘i think and anilize the situation,’ says Darkdragoon. ‘i quickly see wats going on. and i dont rest til thiefs lose everything.’

Egg disappears from my local chat, and I’m not kidding myself that he managed to get away. My friend is dead.

No less than two real life hours ago I was playing a brave little yoeman with prospects, dreams and pride. Two hours ago I was working the the fields around Glitterdale, one of Wurm’s starting towns where new players and the talentless peasants that they control first spawn. I was spending my days chopping trees, foraging for food, whittling tools with a carving knife and watching my skills tick up. Just how bad things went in that time is a testament to Wurm’s goal- to make a fantasy MMO with an emphasis on realism. And reality, let’s not forget, is a bitch.

* * *

Now, this was about an hour and a half ago.

‘Okay,’ my flatmate announces from the other side of our living room, gazing thoughtfully at the player made .jpeg map on his laptop. His name’s Egg, short for Super Foul Egg, and he’s every bit as nerdy as that reference implies. ‘West of Zion, south of Emerald Coast. There’s a lake for water, there’s clay and it’s right in the middle of a forest.’

The two of us have decided to man up; to set out into virgin wilderness, leaving Glitterdale behind to build ourselves a homestead. The chance to play pioneer is about the most exciting aspect of Wurm. Everything from herbs to trees to mineral veins to wildlife gets very thin on the ground when dozens of players are logging on every day and dragging the stuff home, but since you can build anything anywhere it makes perfect sense to disappear off and find somewhere lush before painstakingly piecing together your own shed, farm, village, inn, whatever. The hardcore version of this can be found in Wurm’s high level play, where your empire is never going to extend its borders without frontier settlements, watchtowers, forts and so on. Not that there’s any such thing as a proper border in Wurm. The nearest you’ll get is a rough estimate of where you can walk without fear of catching an arrow with your thigh. Welcome to the Dark ages.

In our case setting up shop in a forest is advisable because my flatmate isn’t yet a good enough smith to create a lock, and we’re terrified of some jerk stumbling across our shack when we’re logged off and making off with our pots, planks, nails, seeds and the like. We’ve already got two carts full of supplies and we’re only going to accumulate more stuff. The carts are my proudest achievement as a carpenter. An in-game month ago I disappeared into a nearby forest with nothing but my axe, my knife, my hammer and a pocketful of nails, and came back 24 hours later dragging a wheeled wooden cart twice my size, loaded with fine lumber from the forest. The second cart we’d just found, and it was much better quality. Goddamn thing.

‘Well, okay. The location looks good,’ I say to Egg. ‘But what are we going to do? Drag our carts over that mountain?’ I reach over the sofa to thrust a finger at the grey expanse on the map.

‘Yep,’ Egg says. ‘Man up, bitch!’

And so that’s exactly what we do. We head off to drag two carts laden with everything we own, from pottery to an anvil to bowls, up a mountain.

Climbing and heights are serious business in Wurm, so much so you can find relatively untouched foraging ground if you pick your way along sheer cliff edges. Everyone’s too scared to get close. The way climbing works is when you toggle the climbing button you stop sliding down slopes (with all the skinned knees and twisted ankles that implies) and start sticking to everything like glue, but your stamina starts ticking away. Run out of stamina and you lose your grip, falling however far and entering a world of hurt.

We make progress up the rocky slope by snaking left and right and following paths of trodden grass and dirt. The dragging of the cart is an almighty pain in the ass, but it only makes the excitement in me more potent. I know that soon we’ll be armpit deep in Wurm proper. We’ll be clearing a space for ourselves in the forest, discovering local landmarks that’ll lead us home, finding the best fishing spots. We’ll be throwing up walls and planting barley for bread. And then…

‘There’s someone there!’ Egg half shouts in the real world. There’s enough tension in his voice to make him think he’s talking about our flat (this is Scotland, after all), but he’s referring to a tiny figure emerging from a cliffside cabin we’re about to pass in Wurm. The two of us keep our heavily burdened avatars moving forwards. No sudden movements now. It pays to be careful when the single toughest animal your party can safely slay is a cat.

As we get closer the other player calls out to us and says hi. Turns out we’ve got nothing to worry about. From the way he types it’s clear the guy’s a total bumpkin who’d probably react to someone coming along and kicking in his walls with nothing worse than a private message containing an ASCII frowny face. He’s just minding his own business and putting up the support beams for a house extension. The soil around his cabin has been turned and packed, and the brown, dry earth looks hungry for development.

‘this is going to be my HQ’, says the yokel. His name’s Tiger. ‘great view’, he points out. The ovens and cookfires of Glitterdale smoke in the distance, and below that is Newbie lake and its delicate lining of rude player settlements. We press on, soon reaching a plateau that eventually peters off into a downward slope. We leave the sun is setting on our backs as we get our first look at our new home.

‘Look at all this shit!’ I tell Egg as he pulls his cart up beside mine. The virginal landscape below is packed with treetops that only occasionally break to show a lake or stony bump. Maybe we weren’t being ambitious enough, I think to myself. We don’t have to settle for some outhouse, we could build a farm out here, one with an archery range. Then if we got really good at skinning cats we could make leather armour, and before we knew it we’d be warriors. Warriors! Capable of defeating whole armies of cats!

Which is another interesting side of Wurm. The world really does contain warriors in dragonscale armour and evil priests who travel the world collecting gems to sacrifice in artifact location spells, but they’re infinitely more impressive and fearsome because everyone starts off as a mouthbreathing yokel. It’s funny reading about MMO developers claiming that their game “doesn’t start with no kill-20-rats quest! It drops you straight into the action!” when Wurm is so fascinating for simply embracing the poverty of new players. The first thing anybody should do in Wurm is find some clay, cut some kindling, build a campfire and heat the clay to make a pottery bowl that you can eat out of. You sure as Hell don’t mess with rats. Those bastards will chew the veins from your legs in the time it’ll take you to fumble your knife from the bottom of your pack.

Egg and I scramble down the steep slope down into the forest with only a few bruises to show for it. With not long to go before nightfall we decide to ditch the heavy carts where we’ll be able to find them again and check out the surrounding area quickly. What we find is Emerald Coast.

The player-drawn maps you find on the Wurm wiki are charmingly shit, and it turns out Emerald Coast is a few Age of Empire eras up from the lonely guard tower it was labelled as. With hearts full of awe we stroll out of the woods into the outskirts of an opulent and transparently unfinished village. Abandoned stone carvings of children and demons line the lifeless paved streets, streets which link huge wooden townhouses with gaping holes in their sides. The place seems proud and cold. Something turns in my stomach as I notice the local chat box (which lists all players within a mile of you) is currently listing way too many people. Worse, it contains chatter about myself and Egg. Someone called Darkdragoon is bitching that ‘thouse nubs quin and egglet wont go away from this area.’

‘Look man everyone is a nub once’, Egg says. Something’s changed in the atmosphere in the game, like the water I’m in is now too deep to stand up in. I look around but can’t see a damn soul. ‘mayby looking 4 a home to rob,’ says Dragoon.

‘we shouldnt be mean to new players’, says a guy called Cndo. He then asks why we’re here and whether we’re thieves, though by that point me and Egg are hightailing it back to the carts.

‘hold on now’, says Cndo. ‘we do need slave labor’.

By the time we weave our way through the trees and back to the carts it’s the dead of night, which in Wurm means not being able to see a fucking thing. Trying not to not lose our sense of direction in the forest is like playing table tennis with our eyes shut. Still in our first 24 real world hours of playing Wurm, Egg and I are blessed with a faint light that saves us from having to carry lanterns or torches, but it’s nowhere near enough. ‘We can keep travelling on if we go to the shore’, I realise. ‘We go around Emerald Coast to the shore and walk along it until sunrise.’ It’s a brilliant plan, the best bit of thinking I’ve done all day, so I really shouldn’t have been as surprised as I was when in true Wurm style it immediately almost got us killed.

After five minutes walk spent tramping down the coast and tugging stuck carts out of the sand a coastal village began to loom at us out of the moonlight. Bayview was something out of Left 4 Dead. Everything in Wurm takes damage and breaks over time, so this abandoned, cramped settlement had become a warren of rotting fences, gates, locked and unlocked doors and half-finished mines and tunnels. There are even building materials that had seemingly been dropped by the builders at precisely the location they’d become stricken by life-threatening ennui. We have to find a way through this maze to continue on our way.

There’s something wonderfully organic about Wurm. Instead of bothering to create the goals or quests or NPCs you’d find in other MMOs, the developers spent all of their time creating a wealth of player actions centred around building, crafting, taming, praying and fighting, and the entire game has sprung up around that. Wurm is compelling before you even start playing because the whole world, from the settlements to the industry to the pitched battles, has been put together by players. It’s like Eve, but with less spaceships and mathematics and more narrowing your eyes at passing strangers and slowly equipping your axe. Though maybe that’s not fair to Wurm. Unlike Eve, even before you’ve found your place in Wurm you’re already making your mark on it, be it as a lumberjack, hunter or miner, and existing without trace as a kind of ranger is a skill in itself.

I’ve taken no more than twenty steps into Bayview when I realise I’m taking ludicrous damage. I turn around to find the biggest black bear I’ve ever seen swiping at me with his paw. I scream out loud, and under a hail of bone-crushing swipes I hammer out the two mouse-clicks required to drop my cart and I’m off, weaving between fenceposts and across barren yards and just AWAY from the thing, before finally I go barreling off a ledge and into the sea.

After Egg’s stopped laughing he goads the bear further down the shore before returning to sodden ol’ me. I’m actually okay. Really, I am. My injuries mean I won’t be doing any serious climbing anytime soon, but I’ll live.

We’re poking through the darkness for my cart when our local chat starts buzzing again. It’s Cndo.

‘may i help you boys’, comes the message. A few seconds later he slides out from behind a dilapadated building, shortsword in each hand. It’s a weapon choice that sets my nerves on edge. The man’s flashy, which means he’s not practical and more likely to be an idiot, which means this is more likely to come to a fight. The permanent skill loss that comes with dying in Wurm makes this scary enough, but we’re in the middle of nowhere and I’d respawn back at Glitterdale. No way I’d make it back here before someone looted my body. Or my cart.

Egg senses the hostility too. ‘He is looking for his cart and trying to avoid a large bear,’ he types. Cndo replies with a flurry of short messages.

‘hold on there.’ ‘those arent yours.’ ‘the cart.’ ‘and stuff in it.’ ‘not yours.’ ‘you..stole it.’

My sinking feeling gets worse as I examine Egg’s cart and see what Cndo’s seen. Our found cart has BAYVIEW carved onto it. Once upon a time someone living right here had made it. I look around us for my own cart and just make out Darkdragoon in the distance darkness, stock still and staring at us from the forest’s edge.

‘we dont take too kindly to thieves,’ says Cndo. ‘as you can see.’ ‘you are busted.’ ‘your first mistake was using lanterns.’ He’s referring to the newbie light blessing that we couldn’t turn off if we wanted to.

I start thinking to myself that maybe if we’re only accused of thieving that’s not so bad. These guys aren’t bushwhackers. Maybe with a little diplomacy we’ll get out of this in one piec-

‘We’ve seen you gimping about, guys,’ types Egg. ‘It’s not like you’re a crack squad of heroes. Seriously do you think you’re Professor Layton or something. What of it is yours, exactly. What did we take. Do tell. Since you have SPIES and EYES and all that good stuff.’

‘What are you DOING?’ I ask Egg in real life.

‘Man, it’s fine’ he says. ‘They can’t prove we’ve broken any laws so if they attack us now they’ll be tagged as outlaws.’

‘Dude that stuff came from nowhere near here,’ Egg goes on ingame. ‘All you are is thieves pretending to be heroic heroes. So how about you just turn about and go back home to wherever the hell your home is.’

‘This is my home,’ says Cndo.

‘Nice bear,’ I type.

‘ty’ says Cndo. ‘He’s the mascot.’

The rising sun begins to cast faint light all across Bayview. The crumbling town’s less scary in the day.

Darkdragoon starts typing from his now less-shady vantage point. ‘hey cndo they have all teh missing stuff in the cart. 5 gold ore 10 clay 11 flasks 10 iron lumps. small anvil. iron cauldron. small barrell. practice dummy.’

‘figures’, says Cndo.

Egg’s still holding his cart. They can’t have looked in it. Unless they’re not looking in Egg’s. Cart.

‘You STOLE MY CART?’ I first shout it, then type it. They must have dragged it away during the bear attack. I start to feel angry, then queasy. I don’t know which way is up anymore. The stuff really isn’t ours. We found most of it all in an old farmhouse in the middle of nowhere that was so old the fence around it had crumpled, and that makes it fair game, legally speaking. But I’m pretty sure Dragoon is using Cndo, and working the other man’s zeal for justice to get his hands on our loot.

This is one more reason why Wurm distinguishes itself from other Fantasy games. Any true sense of good and evil in Wurm is rarer than dragon eggs. There is no right and wrong here. There’s just humans.

In the events ticker I notice Darkdragoon is, apparently, now being mauled by a Scrawny Mountain Lion. This is my chance. I run off from Cndo’s bullshit altercation and through the town towards the copse of trees where Dragoon was. If I can recover my cart while Dragoon’s under attack, Egg and I can walk out of here and there’s nothing these two jerks can do about it. Unless I’ve misjudged them and they really do have what it takes to stick blades in our backs.

I get turned around once, then twice as I lurch around the forest. I’m just realising finding the cart is going to be a nightmare when I come face to face with my very own scrawny lion. I got lucky with the bear, but not this thing. Two claw swipes on the same arm turn a medium wound into a severe wound, and it’s all I can do to turn off autofight and keep running until my aggro on the insane creature goes away. It’s only when I stop that I notice how badly I’m bleeding, and that I have no idea where I am or which way I’m facing. How did everything go so wrong? I remember Tiger, and the packed brown earth all around his home. If this had all just happened a week later, and we’d built that archery target, maybe we could have put up a fight.

I look over at Egg’s screen and notice he’s now looking at a second cart. My cart. Darkdragoon must have dragged it back to Bayview, but he’s nowhere to be seen. And Egg can’t pull two carts at once.

Cndo’s still talking. ‘admit you stole and you can keep stuff.’

‘Here is our deal,’ Egg barks out. ‘You keep the cart you actually stole from us, and you just plain $@!% off and go back to your paranoid ways.’ I watch as another mountain lion leaps out and starts tearing chunks out of him.

‘Oh, God’ I say out loud. I get it now. Darkdragoon was being attack by lions because he was deliberately aggroing them and then dragging them into the area. And as long as Egg’s dragging his own cart, he can’t run.

‘You know I figured you guys might do this,’ Egg types, slowly dragging himself and his cart away as the lion chews on his kneecaps. He has seconds to live. ‘But I also figured you might not be ?%?!s.’

And then he dies.

Far off in the forest I find lovage, and combine that with some rosemary, moss and mud to create a poultice. It stops the bleeding. I’m going to live. I look over at Egg, the real Egg, in our front room.

‘I’m going to kill them,’ he says. I look at him and have absolutely no idea how serious he is. ‘I’ll build a fucking catapult,’ he goes on. ‘I’ll create cave-ins when they’re mining. I’ll come back with fire and friends and burn their town to the ground.’

I have none of his anger inside me. I just feel hollow.

Back in the forest, Cndo is sending me private messages.

‘meet me somewhere. i have your cart. dragoon has gone crazy.’ I wonder if he’s noticed it’s not their stuff or if this is just another trap. I tell him to ?%?! off all the same.

Cndo’s final messages arrives as I take my best guess which way Glitterdale is and start hiking. ‘tell egg to be careful.’ ‘if he comes back.’ ‘dragoon is unpredictable.’

* * *

It’s a week later now. Egg and I have moved into an abandoned place next to Tiger’s home called Cliffside Cottage. We’re renovating it with the help of a couple of other friends. I’m the group’s carpenter and lumberjack. It’s good here. I thoughtlessly cut down some of the young oak trees Tiger had planted around his house yesterday, but he was good enough to accept my apology. I’m borrowing his scythe today. The fields of wheat and rye I planted in our garden are only tiny, but they’re a start.

We don’t talk about what happened on the other side of the mountain. There’s no way Egg’s forgotten about it, but he might have at least let it go. I really hope so. The world of Wurm is big enough and dangerous enough without petty squabbles and hatred.

Egg’s the group’s blacksmith. You see him working his forge all through the night, churning out butchering knives, iron files, nails. He fixed that forge up himself, dragging shards of rock down from the cliff with his bare hands. One day he’ll be able to make weapons and armour, and he’s already talking about making our group chainmail. He says he wants it as a uniform of sorts.

It’s something I try not to think about. I notice my cotton plants need weeding. I take my rake and smile as I sink myself into the soil.

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64 Comments »

  1. Ffitz says:

    I love gaming for it’s stories, and this is a great story. Part of me feels glad that I don’t have the time to get into Wurm, just as I had to let Eve go several years ago.

    I also know that if that had happened to me, there’d be a full-on feud and I wouldn’t rest until I was standing over the bloody corpse of my vanquished enemy, probably for the tenth time. Lamentations of their women, and all that.

    • Quintin Smith says:

      Tragically, I think their women could kick our ass.

    • Ffitz says:

      Lamentations of their pets, stolen sneakily in the middle of the night?

      Alternatively, how easy is arson in the world of Wurm?

    • DJ Phantoon says:

      Very interesting. Any chance other RPSers could get involved? Not familiar with the game other than general information. Also how it might be impossible to find you.

  2. Ian says:

    Wurm online is One Of Those Games.

    Like the idea, love the sort of gamer stories (gamecdotes?) that come from it, but I suspect I’d find the actual game frustrating.

  3. Quasar says:

    Makes me kinda miss Wurm. I was in the PCG Village, before it was abandoned a while back. It’s the kind of game that always throws up brilliant stories.

    Got any more? I really want to know what happened next…

    • Quintin Smith says:

      What happened next isn’t a bad story either. We built that farmstead I dreamed of, in the end. You can read the abridged version in that “RPS coverage” I link in the article introduction.

    • Mithent says:

      There’s not many people left in the PCG Village on Golden Valley (the starter server), though there are a few. Most have moved to a new village on the non-PvP premium server, Freedom. So the old village being mostly abandoned is because most of us moved :)

    • Mithent says:

      Addendum: The PCG Village site is http://www.pcgwurm.com/

      The how-to-get-to-the-village (on the starter server) instructions are horribly out of date though, and as mentioned there aren’t that many people on the starter server any more.

      Best thing is to join the IRC (server isis.heavenlyplace.net, channel #pcgvillage) and take a look at the forums. You can use Mibbit for an in-browser IRC client if you don’t have one.

  4. Billy says:

    Fantastic story, I usually find ‘New Games Journalism’ to be awful and full of tangents and superfluous prose, but this was just framing for a genuinely interesting story. I only wish Wurm had a better client and was a bit more newbie friendly as i’ve always been interested in it, it’s just rather hard to get into.

  5. Theoban says:

    That’s a brilliant article. I have such a desire to try Wurm Online now.

    Although I admittedly tried it when RPS last posted about it, and I got confused and frustrated and couldn’t work out how to quit.

  6. RogB says:

    superb story.. Egg is Sabretooth to your Xmen Origins Wolverine.. heh
    I remember trying this once when RPS was doing little features on it, and I couldnt get past the graphics and learning curve. (although I did manage to get innto dwarf fortress, oddly)
    I suspect its one of those games that I find more entertaining to read about, rather than play (like EVE)

  7. Metalfish says:

    It’s all gone a bit Candide by the end there.

  8. RC-1290Dreadnought says:

    Oh wow, you don’t know how much this makes me want to play the game again. I’m not going to though. I think it is just a little bit too unforgiving for me, and I know it is a real serious time sucking device.

  9. JimmyJames says:

    This game sounds really cool, but a bit too hardcore for me, though. At least with EVE you can buy something to prevent skill loss on death.

  10. MadMatty says:

    Nice writing Quentin :)
    This sounds right up my alley-
    im the most hardcore player i know in the real world.
    Im certainly willing to give up “graphic shinyness” for 10 km of view distance and some interaction with the enviroment.
    For me, its always been about getting into those Interesting situations, not neccesarily coming home with a bagfull of ogres-heads.

  11. P7uen says:

    “Egg and I scramble…”

    Huzzah!

  12. Guru Bear says:

    Don’t Worry Jimmy – skill loss is not too frightening – you don’t lose it all, just little bits.

    One point, you can play Wurm casually too – especially if you get yourself on to a main server and set up a village with friends. In the various villages I have run we have had plenty of players who wander in, chat, help out, slowly build their skills, take their time. It’s not a problem at all.

    One of the great things about wurm is that though you can aim for the sky, as it were, you don’t have to – there is not the social pressure to be king of a skill as there is in some other games. And players who lead a quiet life are just as respected as those who are madly going for it.

  13. mateus says:

    amazing.

  14. Premium User Badge

    Christian says:

    Great read, I really love certain games for the stories they produce (EVE, as has been mentioned, being another one of them). Meaning: I like reading those stories..especially when well written.

    Playing this: not so much, as I’m afraid it’s one of those games that’s dominated by a few very strong players who have nothing else to do in their lives and are thus leveled up to a point of no defeat.

    The worst thing being them griefing new players just for the fun of it and calling you a f-ing gay carebear when you complain or don’t thank them for making your experience miserable, but so life-like and giving you the chance to grow hard and strong through failure (or some other lame, equally psychotic excuse, which of course they can’t deliver nearly eloquent enough to understand fully).

    But maybe I’m wrong and people aren’t that bad and it’s just my bad luck always running into them. Maybe it’s worth a try…is this still active and populated?

    • Torgen says:

      There is a non-pvp server, Freedom. The pvp server you mention is named Wild. I started playing Wurm last June because of the RPS coverage, and fully intended to go to Wild, but my time is kind of short now, and I can’t devote the time needed to compete on Wild (much like the time needed to compete in EVE.)

      So, a friend and I joined a village, made a tree farm and dug out a cove. He’s working on shipbuilding, and I am concentrating on ropemaking, sailmaking and carpentry. Folks in the village put together hunting parties, we have a village cook, a large farm, a couple smiths, community sailboats, etc.

      Being able to actually change the landscape and the feeling of being a frontier settler are the draws of Wurm. The graphics have improved noticably since I started playing, and there’s a graphic artist with MMO experience volunteering time, making new models, fixing bad textures, etc.

  15. a says:

    Well this certainly looks interesting. I’ve just registered. Was it a mistake to opt for the Wild server?

  16. Sauyadav says:

    Wow!

  17. Mr_Day says:

    That simultaneously makes me want to try it, but also be too terrified to play it. I very nearly gave up on EVE because the thought of losing my hard earned stuff – or worse still, a friend’s hard earned stuff – would give me the shakes every time another player turned up.

    I’d man up, but I have ironing to do.

    • medwards says:

      Man, getting the shakes is what that game is all about. I get the shakes when I’m ganking some hapless noob because I’m scared shitless that he’s bait and any second now I’m going to get tackled by him and all his buddies with big guns will show up…

  18. TCM says:

    You have made me want to play an MMO. I do not play MMOs.

  19. Polysynchronicity says:

    This seems a bit shit, really. At least in EVE, after a certain minimum level of experience, failing is your fault (you didn’t gather enough friends, didn’t buy guns for your space station, forgot to turn on your shield booster, didn’t scout the route before travelling, etc) and preventable. It seems like in Wurm high level players can ruin your life for no reason and you’re completely helpless regardless of any numbers or tactics advantage you may have.

    • Leonard Hatred says:

      make no mistake, high level players can do that in eve too.

      that said, i suspect aggroing the lions and pulling them onto an unflagged target to avoid being flagged as an outlaw yourself is a borderline exploit.

  20. Flaringo says:

    Great story! Makes me want to play the game again.

    Some of you mentioned similar stories in Eve, any idea where I can find them?

  21. Tei says:

    Great history :-)

  22. The Great Wayne says:

    While I’ve been a sandbox MMO fan for some time now, I can’t say I really liked Wurm when I tried it last year. Don’t know what it is right now, but at times the game cross the frontier between “hardcore” and “silly”. For example, your cart do not disappear even tho it’s attached to you when you unlog.

    I get it, it’s realism, but there’s not much more reason for your cart to stay in place than your avatar to vanish in the air, leaving your belongings behind. In fact, I played it for some time on the starter island, and it turned to some hide and seek game with my belongings, with some hours-long sessions of “what’ll happen if I do this”. That, along with awful graphics, UI and a frankly chaotic landscape (mostly because of the erratic abandonned belongings scattered in the land) made me uninstall the game and never look at it again.

    That said, it’s an interesting project, and a game of that kind could make it’s own special place given some funds and an experienced dev team.

  23. Richard Beer says:

    Question for you, Quinns: at the time this was happening, did it feel like the story you’ve written here? Or was it a bunch of obnoxious, illiterate kids loling at your noobity, ruining your gaming day? I’m fairly sure I could craft a good story out of some fairly terrible gaming experiences I’ve had, so just wondering how much this is a reflection of Wurm and how much just great writing.

    • Quintin Smith says:

      It felt like the story, believe it or not. But then I’ve always had a knack for getting the most out of the particularly grim things. Hence my enjoyment of Pathologic.

  24. Isometric says:

    That was a fantastic article and I think i’m going to try Wurm out now.

  25. Torgen says:

    @ a: You will start in Golden Valley, the training server, so you don’t really go to Wild first off. USE THE PA CHAT channel for help! Wurm does *not* give you enough info to get on your feet alone. Also, I have always played Wurm in windowed mode, and had the Wurn wiki in my browser.

    @The Great Wayne: It’s a simple task to find a public mine in the starter area, mine some iron ore and smelt it. My little group of three people mined enough ore to make a hammer and small anvil, and then made nails to make a 1×1 shack to hide our cart (which we made ourselves) in. There is no stealing on GV, so as long as the house is intact, and the person is not on the house writ as a friend, they can’t take anything. (Which makes cndo’s theatrics look silly- if the house is abandoned and decayed, it’s fair game.)

  26. Tentacle says:

    This sounds a lot like I had hoped EVE would be. I am going to have to give this bad boy a go!

    Please do more ‘gonzo’ style reviews like this one.

  27. Guy Cole says:

    I’m trying it now actually – have been for a couple of hours since I read this. One thing confuses me though, which no one seems to acknowledge, and that’s that you now seem to start with a bowl as part of your basic kit. Water jar still remains a necessity though.

    My advice to new players: do what I did – whilst the client is downloading, read the tutorial pages on the wurmpedia to give yourself some idea what to do. http://wurmonline.com/wiki/index.php/Tutorials

    it’s really been an awe inspiring experience so far. I fell down a hole into a cave 5 minutes into the game, and it gave me a bigger adrenaline rush than any I’ve had in an mmog for the last few years.

    • Torgen says:

      You need the bowl to have something to cook in. You can make your own bowls and jars of course, but you need clay for that. Food is very important, but not as important on GV as on the premium servers. Prepared food gives a higher nutritional value, which means you stay fed longer (the hunger bar doesn’t deplete as fast.) The Quality Level of the food also plays a part.

      I’d login my old character on GV to help, but he’s in First Light, and everyone is starting in Glitterdale now I believe, on the other side of the island.

  28. Auspex says:

    That was brilliant! I hope Egg got revenge, it made me angry just readin it…

    Also: RACIST!

  29. Wulf says:

    The Freedom servers apparently lack PvP, so I might be interested in this and may just give it a go. I do wonder if I’ll just find a more drawn out and boring version of Minecraft, though, which has been my worry with trying Wurm Online of late. I might try it regardless, though. Seems like it could be fun.

  30. Tim Isherwood says:

    Hah Egg is my brother irl. But yeah nice story ive played Wurm myself for a long time now and the wild server is very eventful and the PvP is pretty fun. We are currently working on a size 100 village (thats 201×201) and have a hell of alot of work till its finished but we have all of the Mol Rehan community working on it so, power in numbers i guess.

  31. laikapants says:

    Excellent write up!

    This sounds a lot like how I hope Multiplayer Survival mode of Minecraft ends up. Seeing as Notch worked on Wurms Online perhaps this isn’t that much of a coincidence.

    Might have to give WO a whirl during my upcoming 4 day weekend.

  32. Dode says:

    Excellent story man hope to see more soon, almost makes me want to play wurm again, but i have no time left.
    Played Wurm for a few years and been trough a lot of things alone and with the people i met in the game, I have a lot of stories to tell myself but im not much of a writer im afraid.

    As an advice i strongly reccomend starting off in the game with a few friends, it makes it soo much fun, this indeed a game in wich you make your own story, a story of life and msot important of story of ho you managed to die.

  33. Arzul says:

    To anyone who wants to play wurm
    Its probably one of the hardest games to get into and if you see past the dull animations and the sliding animals you can see wurm for what it is. Also because of its steep learning curve it removes people who try to ruin the game for other people (as you need certain amounts on some stats to do certain things). In my opinion it has one of the best communities a game can have because if you ask for help you will get it.

    Also loved your writing, it sounds exactly like wurm in every single detail. It reminded me of the many things that interesting things happened to me while playing wurm. Even though I’m not a writer and can not write anything as awesome as this, my buddy recorded us playing and posted it on youtube. (just type in my name or zichot to find them)

    I highly recommend wurm and if you do try it, build at the minimum a cart and then judge it. Its a game that just makes bad first impressions.

  34. Hybrid says:

    Great article. I love reading stuff like this.

  35. A Button says:

    I eagerly await the continuation in which Egg, as played by Liam Neeson, painstakingly hunts and tortures darkdragoon.

  36. plant42 says:

    Story sounds awesome, gameplay sounds fun as hell… but my god those screenshots. Its like 8 year olds designed everything in MS Paint for the Playstation One.

  37. Owen says:

    Thanks for posting up the extended version Quins. It was your original in PCG that got me into Wurm and one of my favourite articles in the mag for a long time (and believe me, after you’ve been subbed for 15+ years, there’s a lot of competition for you!) :)

  38. Xsamuraizx says:

    “The player-drawn maps you find on the Wurm wiki are charmingly shit, and it turns out Emerald Coast is a few Age of Empire eras up from the lonely guard tower it was labelled as.”

    What was wrong with my map? :P

    Nice story, though it was confusing due to the misleading pictures and some part in the story. Thought you guys were in GV and then moved to the wild server.

  39. FRIENDLYUNIT says:

    Fantastic story. Moar!

  40. Premium User Badge

    Bahumat says:

    This is exactly what I come to RPS for. :)

  41. Bassism says:

    My god, this sounds brilliant. I’ve been playing Eve for nearly a year, and am absolutely enamoured with it, for all the right reasons.
    I’ve been putting off trying Wurm, despite hearing it pitched so often as Eve without spaceships. But between this article, and the linked coverage, I’m absolutely going to have to give it a go. Not that I have any time left outside of Eve…

    Are there any groups of RPS-types in the game? You guys seem like the kind of guys I’d want to hang around and build stuff with.

  42. Flakfizer says:

    Just tried this then uninstalled.

    I could have forgiven the impenetrable UI and ugly graphics if it ran well but it lagged out on a decent PC.

    I’m sure there is a good game in there somewhere and i know it has the ‘indie, sandbox, simulation’ excuses but it gives a very bad first impression.

    Good story though.

  43. MrBRAD! says:

    I feel that Rolf stabbed everyone in the back with a sword made of arrogance and greed.

  44. Kelli says:

    Wow, that sounds awesome I’m problably going to try this game out later.
    It reminds me alot of this other game I’ve played for awhile called Haven & Hearth (Alpha), but after the recent server reset I got bored of it since there isn’t really much to do in that game yet.

    Wurm sounds like a much better version of the game.
    So on what server do you rps folk play on?

  45. M says:

    Took six friends out last night, struck out and set up a base camp. Excellent fun. Thanks!

  46. Adventurous Putty says:

    So do you have any stories about the high-stakes, high-level political games that presumably occur in Wurm? How do the squabbles of the nobility and the petty kings affect the “yeomen” and “yokels” you describe in your articles?

  47. TonyaMelissa says:

    Wow! This is interesting. I just started playing and am lost already. I started walking around and don’t know where I am. hahaha. I’ve managed to find my 1 friends house and didn’t even know she had a house. I’m waiting for her to sign on so she can help me out. Hoping that no one tries to take what little I have.

  48. Cndo says:

    Ha, that was a fun day. Sorry about that.

  49. ghoststalker194 says:

    That was a great story. I’d love to see more of it!