Of Bile And Building: Salem

a place I'd be happy to live
Is anyone interested in watching an hour and a half of Salem’s developers playing an early version for an hour and a half while answering viewers’ questions? Salem isn’t the easiest game in the world to describe, being a crafting-based MMO set in 17th Century New England, with permadeath, alchemy, farming and beasties. That’s why it’s so impressive that I just described it, even if I may have told you nothing you don’t already know. Thankfully, you’ll find out lots you don’t know in the video. The audio is more informative than the actual game footage, with combat in particular looking a bit of a chore at the moment, but there’s a lot of detail on how things will actually work. The first fourteen minutes of the video is dead air, as this was originally a livestream that started too soon.

I probably missed some important things here because I was skipping through, trying to pick out the most salient points. Share any intriguing details below. In the meantime, what have I learned?

Griefing, which lots of people are worried about, will be controlled. But only to an extent. If you commit crimes against other players, it will become easier for people to track you and take vengeance. However, Paradox want stronger characters to have power over weaker ones, so when you become stronger you can dominate other players.

As for actually becoming stronger, you won’t actually level up. The closest mechanic to levelling is a “Gluttony System”. As survival is a large part of the game, having enough food, water and shelter, one of the goals is to have characters to be content, with full bellies. Food, unlike in previous game Haven, is the only way to gain new skills.

When full, a character can choose to eat again and depending on the ingredients of the item consumed and the skill of the crafting, there will be different skills available to gain, with different potencies. At least that’s how I understood it. It sounds quite complicated at this time in the morning but it also seems to the kind of system that doesn’t need to be fully understood while actually playing the game.

There’s lots and lots about the alchemy system, which includes lots of talk about bile. That’s good. More games should have bile as a resource. There is also simple terraforming, flattening of hills to create new space to build on, and a strong denial of any bestiality options. That’s good. “Animals will not even have sex when they procreate.”

The last couple of minutes contain song. Beautiful, terrible song.


  1. Angry Engy says:

    Welcome to the chatroom?

  2. Jim Rossignol says:

    Sorry, embed code was a bit crazy, all fixed now.

  3. Squirrelfanatic says:

    Something awful. Ba-dum-dish.

  4. Premium User Badge

    Adam Smith says:

    From what I can gather, players can only become powerful by investing a lot of time into their character. It will take hard work, so the hope would be that those players who put in the effort aren’t just there to cause needless trouble. They will have earned that right if griefing suddenly becomes their sole desire but it will still make them targets for retribution.

  5. JackShandy says:

    Griefing is the best bit! If you don’t have to be constantly on your guard against psychopathic maniacs it’s not worth the time of day.

    • Beanbee says:

      Jack, I’ve heard of a really awesome new game! It’s called the Justice System. I think you will like it, right up your street. But becareful, It’s so immersive you might actually feel incarcerated.

  6. Williz says:

    You are what you eat? Atleast that’s what the “levelling” system sounds like to me.

  7. Dawngreeter says:

    I don’t think it’s an issue of someone being better or more powerful. A perfectly fine time can be had in a game where you will never, ever be better than some other people for whatever reason. The crux of it will be how the game lets you engage the world when you are inferior to someone. Good game design does not make this a handicap, just a different set of circumstances.

  8. Bull0 says:

    @frightlever Amen, bro. Immersive and rewarding is great but when the time investment required is greater than a few hours a week I pretty much have to just hold my hands up and walk away

  9. Jumwa says:

    Permadeath and this notion of stronger characters lording over the weaker makes it all sounds awful to me. Though the rest all seems intriguing and downright adorable.

    Perhaps I’m in a minority amongst those who comment on video game sites, but I play to relax. The always-PvP nature of every sandbox MMO just introduces too much stress for me to enjoy them, due to those merits alone. Which, for me, is a shame, because I have a great fascination with sandbox MMOs.

  10. Olero says:

    It sounds a lot like Wurm Online indeed. When I played that game, I had massive help from 2 veterans, but the building of a simple shed took literal days. And then I needed locks, which took ages as well (chance of success approx. 10%) . Meanwhile I had to keep my belly full. Which took ages fishing and foraging grass tiles and cooking (and throwing away failed stuff, waiting for progress bars etc).

    And to make things even more fun, enter griefing. My precious cart was stolen, the earth around my house made into a ditch and strong animals were lured to kill me.

    Conclusion: Great theory of a game. Horrible to actually play. However tempting realism sounds, it leads to tons of frustration (and in the game)

  11. Dawngreeter says:

    I was going to use EVE as an example of what I was saying. Someone can be better than you and that can still be fine. I mean, in EVE specifically, it could still be improved. The game mechanics could use a bit of tweaking to make small gangs more useful in open warfare. But even as it is, it’s still fine.

    Wanting to be the most powerful entity is generally fine. However if that’s not an in-game priority but a reason for playing, you should probably play some e-sport arenas instead.

  12. Mattressi says:

    Sounds fun. I’ll definitely try it when it comes out. I really should try Wurm again, but when I play it, it feels like I’m playing a menu simulator…

  13. cptgone says:

    looks promising, but…
    – permadeath doesn’t sound fun to me. unless…
    – no bestialism? disappointing.
    – animals can’t have sex? do the devs have an excuse at all for this silly act of censorship?
    – given the above, i guess necrophilia won’t be an option either :(

  14. Stormbane says:

    I tried the 2D version (www.havenandhearth.com). It was almost as fun as dysentery.

  15. Temple says:

    Three things in pc-land I cared about this morning:
    When is City of Heroes going free?
    Anyone know of non-dungeon roguelikes?
    Anyone know of other games like Haven and Hearth?
    RPS answers all three either with frontpage posts or new threads on the forum. Wish I’d asked for some lottery numbers instead.

    So http://www.havenandhearth.com is/was a great game (same devs in case you only read the text and not watch the vid) except you know for the permadeath, the griefing by more powerful characters and the take over by goons.
    Give me H&H as a single player option (or non PVP which is pretty much the same thing) and I’d be all over it -even without bestiality. H&H has a great detailed crafting system where you do make your own tools, then kill creatures, skin, leave them to dry etc

    • Chandos says:

      I missed the answer to non-dungeon roguelike, what was it?

    • JB says:

      “H&H has a great detailed crafting system where you do make your own tools, then kill creatures, skin, leave them to dry etc”

      Ever played UnReal World? That’s a nice non-dungeon RL right there.

  16. danimalkingdom says:

    The ideas all sounded intruiging when they first announced it, and I’m going to keep following the game’s development, but the interface and the art, speaking as someone who does that stuff for a living, look positively icky. Those mismatched colours and models are not what I would consider fitting for this game. I know he said that a lot of it is placeholder, but we should expect the final game to look pretty much like this, unless they do a massive overhaul.

  17. nootron says:

    Even crafting sims featuring pilgrims set in 17th century new england have PvP. Its inescapable!

  18. chabuhi says:

    Their splash-only webpage has a counter that currently (for me, anyway) indicates 33 days until release (presumably – or maybe 33 days until the full website). The graphic on the page also says “malleable 2012” so that’s probably more like it – especially given the alpha state … be surprising to see it go from the state it appears to be in in the video to something worth selling in a month. Also, not to be the graphics whore that I am, but I hope those visuals improve dramatically in the next 33 (or 133 or 333) days! ;-p

  19. psyk says:

    Wait so they have ditched the curio system in haven which was added to combat bots (as far as i could work out) to go back to a way that can be easily botted.

    Apart from that I can’t see how this game will work out, go check out haven if you haven’t already.

  20. psyk says:

    it sounds and looks like it will play like haven and hearth (maybe a bit like wurm but with wurm being on the extreme grind end of the scale)

  21. Xerian says:

    Just join an angry mob, with torches. And tri-forks. Those are always good. (If someone grief’s, bullies and whatnot alot they’ll be trackable somehow, and a group of people can easily play vigilantés if they chose to do so.)

  22. psyk says:

    Without walls it could work as well.

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