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  1. #1
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Kelron's Avatar
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    Into the far north we shall take you: Unreal World (A game diary)

    Unreal World would be the Dwarf Fortress of survival sims, if the genre were large enough to make such a distinction. Itís a roguelike with no dungeons, quests or magic wands. Itís a detailed simulation of life in Iron Age Finland, developed over the past 20 years by Sami Maaranen. The wilderness is vast and civilisation is scarce. Youíll have to kill your dinner before you can eat it, and possibly wear its skin to stay warm through the winter.


    (Yeah you can eat those guys too if you want)

    The menus are decorated with photos of the developer and his friends LARPing in the woods.



    I will be venturing into this harsh environment and presenting my findings here for your entertainment.

    Juhani is a young man of the Owl-Tribe, a nomadic people from the extreme north. Heís accompanying his father on his first hunting trip, together theyíve ventured far from his native lands...

  2. #2
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Kelron's Avatar
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    1st April 16

    First let me introduce Juhani properly. Heís been raised as a hunter his whole life, and he knows how to survive in the wild. Heíd be best off avoiding anything he canít bring down with a bow shot, as heís not a skilled fighter.



    He seems to be a dark and brooding fellow; perhaps this has something to do with it:



    His father lies dead before him, his guts torn out by the swipe of an animal. Juhani readies his bow and quietly takes a look around the area. The beast, whatever it was, has fled. There arenít even any tracks to follow. He returns to his fatherís body and gathers everything of use. Even his clothes. Thereís little time for sentimentality when youíre alone and lost, with a limited supply of food.

    Gameplay note: the unfortunate hunting trip is one of a number of selectable start scenarios. Itís a fairly good start for new players, as youíll get plenty of useful equipment from your dead dad.

    Juhani sets off to find a spot to make his camp. All he really needs are trees and easy access to water, neither of which are in short supply. But he has nowhere else to go, he might as well pick a good place to live.



    This is the large scale map view, used for travel and locating game. The bridge of land between the lakes just south of the camp is my main reason for picking this spot, as will be apparent shortly.

    A beautiful lake, with frolicking beavers (really hard to catch) and woods full of animals. A basic shelter of sturdy branches will keep the worst of the wind and rain off and allow Juhani to get a good nightís sleep.

    Next: Starvation and Salvation
    Last edited by Kelron; 07-01-2013 at 11:30 PM.

  3. #3
    Network Hub Pertusaria's Avatar
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    Neat! This has caught my eye before, it'll be good to read how it plays.
    "Harry uses the One Ring to defeat Magneto and save the Rebellion!"
    With thanks to RaveTurned in comments on the main page.

  4. #4
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Kelron's Avatar
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    10th April 16

    After making camp, the next two days were spent trying to hunt. Climbing trees allowed Juhani to survey the area and spot nearby wildlife. The large herd of reindeer wandering around seemed like a stroke of luck, but theyíre not stupid animals. Heíd painstakingly follow their tracks through the forest, only to hear the patter of escaping hooves behind a screen of trees. With the food almost gone, he set about preparing a better plan.



    This is a trap fence, across the aforementioned bridge of land. Itís an important concept if you plan to live on big game in URW. Animals walk into the pits trying to get past the fence. Iíve previously only played as a fisherman/cannibal, never tried this before.

    The construction took the best part of a week, and real starvation is now setting in. Hanging around the trap will do nothing but scare animals off, so Juhani heads off to the nearby river in the hope of catching some dinner. The rapids are teeming with fish, but spearing them is no easy task for a novice fisherman. A rod and nets would serve him better, but whereís he going to get those? He does manage to kill a slow, fat trout, but itís not enough to sustain him.

    Perhaps thereís something else he can do. He sets off back towards his fence, looking for reindeer on the way. If he can come upon a herd from this side, theyíll flee towards the traps.

    The reindeer are proving elusive, but he spots some heavier tracks. A bear? They prefer hilly areas, seeing one out here is unusual, and dangerous. But Juhani is hungry enough to try. Following the tracks, he spots it in the distance and looses an arrow. Missed, he canít afford to waste his small quiver on more long shots. The bear flees, which is also unusual behaviour, but may well have saved Juhaniís life. He gives up and heads back towards the fence.

    Another day without food and heíll barely have the strength to leave his camp. But he crosses fresh reindeer tracks, and theyíre headed towards the fence. He must have scared it while chasing the bear. And there it is, impaled in one of the pits!

    I didnít take screenshots of any of this. The graphics are functional but not pretty, there isnít much to see here.


    Juhani moves in and puts the reindeer out of its misery with a thrust of his spear. First he skins it; fur is one of the most valuable commodities for both survival and trade. Then he cuts the carcass for meat, covering up the pit again before hauling his prize back to camp.

    Next: Recovery

  5. #5
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Berzee's Avatar
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    I will read this! I find that if I initially bounced off a game I wanted to like, reading a diary often helps me wring the most enjoyment out of a game on my next playthrough -- and Unreal World is exactly that sort of thing for me.
    Support for my all-pepperjack-cheese food bank charity drive has been lukewarm at best.

  6. #6
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Malawi Frontier Guard's Avatar
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    I believe I mailed money to Finland to play this game.

  7. #7
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Fanbuoy's Avatar
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    I like it so far! I look forward to reading more.

    Quote Originally Posted by Malawi Frontier Guard View Post
    I believe I mailed money to Finland to play this game.
    As in regular mail? That's hardcore.

  8. #8
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Kelron's Avatar
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    Glad some people are reading it. @Mohorovicic, are you trying to tell me you don't want to look at half-naked finnish men while playing games?

    April 12th 16

    Back at the shelter with the kill, Juhaniís first priority is to get a fire going. Heís hungry enough to eat it raw, but roasted meat will do him more good. He wolfs down as much as he can stomach, but even a starving man canít eat a whole reindeer. For now heís full, but it will take days of eating well to fully recover his strength.

    The hunger bar shown in screenshots is short term hunger. Having a full belly means youíll work faster and better. Nutrition is long term, some foods give you more nutrition than others.



    If youíre in good health you can fill yourself on water, but your nutrition will decrease if youíre not eating properly. When you start starving youíll get a penalty to your movement speed and skills, as shown by the negative numbers at the top. By the time I cooked the reindeer I was on about 20% penalty from starvation.

    Juhaniís roasted meat for the next few days while he has the fire going, but he cut around 150lbs from the carcass, and most of it will spoil before he can eat it. Thankfully itís still early in the year, and the meat can be dried. For this he cuts up his dadís clothes for cord, in order to hang the meat up from his shelter. It will be almost a month before its ready, but it will mean he has an emergency supply of meat for tough times, and it should even keep through the winter if he doesnít eat it beforehand.

    Preserving meat is important. Spoiled food can be eaten, but too much of it will make you seriously ill. Drying meat requires the least resources Ė cord and a shelter Ė but it can only be done during the cold, dry season of winter and early spring. It takes a long time to prepare but can last a full year. Smoked meat needs a heated room Ė a cabin or a large tent with a fireplace. It doesnít keep for as long, but it makes good travel rations or medium term supplies. Salt is expensive and mainly comes from shops in the civilised west, but salting meat only takes a few days.

    With his health on the mend, Juhani can turn to more laborious tasks. First is the reindeer skin Ė left unattended, it will rot and be useless in a few days. Tanning a skin is a multi stage process and takes a day or two as itís left to dry, but in the mean-time he digs out a cellar. Itís hard work, but storing meat in a cellar extends its lifetime considerably. Even raw meat will keep for a couple of weeks before going bad.



    From left to right: Meat hung out to dry. Shelter. Boards (used in constructing the cellar, but I have plenty left over from one tree). Cellar. Tree trunk used as an impromptu workbench for beating the hide in the tanning process.

    Thereís two more tasks to take care of before he sleeps tonight. Firstly, he took a nasty knock to his chest falling from a tree, weeks ago when he was hunting. Normally a bruise like this wouldíve healed quickly by itself, but maybe itís a bad one or maybe his underfed body doesnít heal well. Itís not much more than an annoyance, but it is slowing him down. He uses the last of the extra clothing to make a bandage, and applies a wet compress to his chest. He knows of a few herbs that may help it heal, but none will be grown at this time of year.

    Secondly, the reindeer fur is now ready, and thereís enough to make himself fur shoes, gloves and trousers. He already has a thick woollen tunic, and the cold isnít a real danger until winter, but anyone living this far north much prefers being too hot to being too cold.

    Next: An Interlude

  9. #9
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Kelron's Avatar
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    Interlude: Planning ahead

    The looming threat on the horizon in URW is the coming of winter. I have more than enough time to prepare, but thereís a lot to do. The land will be covered in snow, making movement difficult. The lakes will freeze over and Iíll have to cut a hole in the ice to drink or fish. Game will be scarce, though easier to track in the snow. And my flimsy shelter will definitely not be enough to survive the freezing nights.

    To deal with these in order:

    -Skis will allow me to move quickly over snow. They can wait, it wonít take me long to fashion a set.

    -Leather skins or other containers can be filled with water (also useful for travelling), to save me having to dig through the ice too often. Again, not a difficult task to make them. Or I could choose to build next to a river, which wonít freeze over.

    -Having a cellar of preserved food is even more important during the winter. I may be able to supplement it with fresh meat, but likely in a far smaller quantity than during the rest of the year. During late summer and autumn, berries will be ready for harvest, as would my crops if I was a farmer. You can also buy flour from villages (I donít think it can be milled yourself currently) to bake bread.

    -Warm clothing is a must to protect myself from the cold when I venture outside. I have that fairly well covered already, but clothing will wear out over the year and will need repairing. When I have the fur to spare a heavy cloak will help keep me warm, and also offer some protection against bruises (or animal claws).

    -But even the warmest clothing wonít keep you warm forever in the winter. You need a fire to warm you, and a sleeping place that will stay warm after the fire burns out. Having a big stack of firewood ready is important.

    -A warm sleeping place means either a log cabin or a kota (large fur covered tent). If I wanted to play in character Iíd aim for a kota, but gathering enough fur may be difficult. Log cabins only need trees and an axe. Felling trees, fashioning them into useable logs and building the walls takes a long time, in game time, but URW fast forwards during any manual labour. A quality set of chopping and carving axes would speed up building significantly, for those Iíd have to find villages to trade with.

    That gives you an idea of what Iíll be trying to achieve over the next few game months. Iíll likely be covering more game-time per entry once Iím past the difficult initial month, where securing an easy food source is essential. Speaking of which, Juhaniís worrying about food again in the next entry.

  10. #10
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus DaftPunk's Avatar
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    I read all of it,very interesting. Would love to try something like this,but with slightly better graphics,i don't mind 2D but this looks really unappealing xP

  11. #11
    Network Hub Joseph's Avatar
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    What version are you playing?

    I tend to play as a hunter/warrior, a lot of useful items can be taken from the cannibals if you're smart about hunting them. I usually take all my armour, a bow and a dog on a cannibal hunting trip, the dog serves as a good escape tactic in bad situations; release the dog and the cannibals will turn their attention to it instead of you. This does make you kind of sad from losing faithful companions though

  12. #12
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Rauten's Avatar
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    Just poppin' my head to say: interesting read, please keep do keep it up. This pleases us.

    *Goes back to lurking the thread*

  13. #13
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Kelron's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joseph View Post
    What version are you playing?

    I tend to play as a hunter/warrior, a lot of useful items can be taken from the cannibals if you're smart about hunting them. I usually take all my armour, a bow and a dog on a cannibal hunting trip, the dog serves as a good escape tactic in bad situations; release the dog and the cannibals will turn their attention to it instead of you. This does make you kind of sad from losing faithful companions though
    3.15, the latest. I don't think the Njerpez are officially cannibals, but there's never any food in their camps...

    Anyway, more on them later.

  14. #14
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus LTK's Avatar
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    I am reading this with keen interest.

  15. #15
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Kelron's Avatar
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    16th April 16

    Drying as much food as possible was sensible, but perhaps Juhani underestimated just how much he could eat after starvation. What should have been two or three weekís supply of fresh meat is only going to last one. From now on heíll be more careful, rationing his remaining food to give himself time to catch more. The dried meat will be ready in three weeks, and in a worst case scenario he could probably survive that long without dying.

    In the meantime, heís still strong and healthy. After checking the trap Ė empty Ė he sets out hunting. Climbing a nearby tree reveals a stag in the distance. Combing the area he last saw it in, Juhani runs straight into it. But as heís come to expect by now, the stag spots him before he can get close enough for a clear shot, and flees into the forest. This time, Juhani decides itís worth trying to follow.



    He spots the stag a couple more times, even manages to loose some arrows, but both miss and the stag disappears. Juhani only manages to recover one of the arrows, leaving him with three, and gives up on the stag to search for less alert game. Thereís more stags in the area but he canít find them however hard he searches.

    He heads back to camp before heís too worn out, so he can make himself more arrows before sleeping. This uses up the last of his cord, but now he has ten.

    The following day, he encounters a wandering hunter. This man is apparently as lost as Juhani, and can give no useful information about the region. Nor does he have anything to trade. Juhani feels it would be wrong to shoot and eat the man, so he leaves him alone.

    As Iíve previously mentioned, cannibalism is a viable food source in the current version. Attacking people in a village will anger the rest of the village, but anyone else is fair game. Hopefully in a future version there will be some penalty like angering the spirits Ė every character has access to rituals that give significant boosts to certain skills or actions. Juhani has nothing useful right now, so I havenít been able to show you.

    Juhani spends the next few days exploring the regions either side of his camp in the search for animals. Small game is common but not worth wasting arrows on, as theyíre hard to hit and impossible to catch once they run. Heís down to his last three pieces of reindeer when he comes across a sleeping herd.

    Catching animals sleeping is one of the benefits of hunting in the evening, offset by poorer vision range.


    Two of the reindeer wake up and run, but one is not so lucky. Quietly putting his bow away, Juhani draws his spear and stabs it through the neck. Reindeer are tough animals and this doesnít kill it straight away, but with a wound like that itís not going to wake up again.

    Heavy wounds to both animals and humans are likely to knock them out, giving you time to finish them off at your leisure.

    Now heíll have enough fresh food to last until the dried meat is ready, and a little more to dry and add to the long-term supplies. Hopefully stupid animals will continue to fall into the trap pits, and Juhani can now focus on other things.

    Next: Exploration

  16. #16
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Kelron's Avatar
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    Got a bit behind on the writing, playing is much quicker.

    23rd April 16

    The skin from the reindeer replenishes Juhaniís stock of bandage and cord. With some cord to spare, he can now make a raft, useful for exploration when you live on the edge of a large lake surrounded by rivers. First he needs to cut down some tree trunks to lash together. It takes a few hours but itís not overly difficult. A board is fashioned into a crude paddle. The following day he drags his raft the short distance to the shore of the larger lake (his camp is on a small one) and sets off.
    After paddling round the edge of the lake, this is the extent of his knowledge of the world:



    Time for an excursion on the size and inhabitants of the Unreal World. Iíll drop the italics for ease of reading.

    Itís difficult to get a sense of scale from that map. For comparison, hereís the earlier shot of my camp, where the patch of water on the left is the eastern tip of the large lake.



    Each tile on that smaller map is a significant area of land, though mostly only inhabited by trees. The area of the world map covered by the black square would probably take at least a day to cross, depending on the speed of your character and how much water was in the way. And that square is about 1/20 of the full world. Most of that world wouldnít be very interesting, if it wasnít for the people inhabiting it.

    The orange blob to the north is the lands of the Sartola. Theyíre a settled people, living in relatively large agricultural villages. They will have decent quality tools to trade, as well as some weapons and armour. Mostly these come from the Driik, who live a day or twoís travel south from my camp. They have the most contact with the outside world, and live in large clusters of villages, often walled and guarded. They can sell me practically anything I need, provided I can come up with goods worth trading.

    The other peoples to the west and north tend to be the least civilised, with those in the far north being nomadic hunters while the western forests are somewhat settled but more sparsely populated.

    And then we have the Njerpez, hostile bandits who come from the west but quickly spread across the whole land (in the current version they seem to spring up at an alarmingly fast rate anywhere the player has explored). The pink square near my settlement is projected by one of their camps, over the next few days Iíll discover a number of others. I will have to be careful of them.

    Back to Juhani for the end of this entry.

    Juhani spends the next two days paddling as far as he can down each river leading from the lake, returning in time to sleep in his shelter. Sleeping out in the wilds for a night wouldnít really do him any harm, but heíd rather not. Unfortunately the rivers donít lead directly towards Sartola lands, so when he wants to visit them heíll have to do so on foot.

    The trap continues to provide, a small elk this time. After dealing with it, Juhani has enough meat spare to bait some of the pits. A wolfís been wandering around recently, it appears to be alone and is avoiding Juhani, but food is food and baited traps make catching predators more likely. The meat from the elk provides the last dried food of the season, the weather wonít be suitable from now on.

    Next: Trade

  17. #17
    Reading with great interest. Please keep up the good work!

  18. #18
    Yes, this is excellent. A very intriguing-sounding game.

  19. #19
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Kelron's Avatar
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    28th April 16

    Juhani gathers up his things - the axe and knife of his dear departed father, and the skin from the elk. He did a poor job preparing it, but it should be worth something. He’s heading to the Sartola for trade. He expects to reach their lands by the afternoon, then he’ll have time to wander the villages before staying the night and setting out home the next morning.

    He paddles his way across the lake, leaving his raft on the northern shore. Then he sets out to the north-west. The journey is uneventful, and within a few hours he spies a village ahead.



    The first village has a tool shop, the main thing Juhani is after. They also have dogs for sale, and some other bits and pieces. They have a nice set of axes, but he’ll take a look around the other nearby villages before making any trades. Following the paths from the village leads him to three or four more, they have an assortment of old weapons and armour, some knives and fishing gear, pigs and cows. But it’s really the axes he wants.

    You can buy a variety of domesticated animals, either as pack animals, a store of meat that won’t go off, or for milking. You can only milk appropriate animals now; previously you could live on a diet of bull’s “milk”. Animals don’t yet need to eat anything, so they’re a little bit of a cheat and I’ll try and avoid relying on them for my own food.

    Before heading back to the first village, he has a chat with a sage he meets. The sage teaches him how to perform a new ritual, and this one most definitely is useful.



    If Juhani performs this over his traps, he should never go hungry again.

    Some rituals increase the effectiveness of a particular skill or action. Others please the spirits to keep them happy with you. In this version it doesn’t matter if they’re angry, though.


    It’s getting late, so he kips in one of the huts. The villagers don’t seem to mind. In the morning he visits the tool shop he first encountered. He’s got his eye on a good quality woodsman’s axe and carving axe, which will speed up chopping trees and building a cabin significantly. He retires to a quiet corner to make a bunch of crappy shoes out of his elk fur, as the economy is purely barter-based and he doesn’t want to trade away the whole fur for one item.

    Juhani trades daddy’s knife and axe along with some shoes for the two axes he wants. He still has some fur left so he picks up a cooking pot as well – but the shopkeeper isn’t too impressed with the pile of shoes. Juhani takes off his trousers and throws them in to sweeten the deal. Linen is quite valuable, but nowhere near as warm as the fur leggings he made himself.



    He stays another night, as making all those shoes took a while. After returning to camp he checks the trap again, there’s a stag in it this time. He performs his new ritual over the trap pits after resetting them.

    Next: Building

  20. #20
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus LTK's Avatar
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    Will the villagers accept you just building house in their village, or is that a privilege you don't have as an outsider?

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