Friday, August 13, 2010
A Tale in the Desert 5 - Day Six
On my sixth day in the 5th telling of A Tale in the Desert I met spinks from Spinksville. That was nice, because I am a fan of her blog, and we hadn't met in other games before. Helpful as ever, spinks solved my papyrus problem by giving me a bunch of both papyrus and seeds. I experimented a bit more with growing papyrus, and drying it to get seeds back, and found a spot with better yield, so I can multiply my papyrus from now on.
Then I participated in an "acro line", where a lot of players in the region organized themselves to work on the Test of the Acrobat, the first big test of the body branch of tests, after the initiation. There are 28 different acrobatics moves, each move having 7 facets, and every player starts out being able to do just one of those moves. The ultimate goal is to master all facets of all 28 moves, by learning them from other players. But there is a much easier intermediate goal, for which you just have to learn and teach a few facets, and which gives you a level. Learning / teaching acrobatics moves involves two players close to each other each doing his moves to show to the other, with the added difficulty that no third player should be in the near vicinity. Thus the "acro line" is organized with players standing in a long line in sufficient distance from each other, with new arrivals going from player to player to do acrobatics with each of them. That looked quite funny when you zoomed the camera out, but it was efficient, and I made level 6 that way.
Back in my camp I decided to build a sheep pen. Not sure yet whether I want to breed sheep in the long run, with the daily feeding requirements, but at least a pen is useful for slaughtering wild sheep with a 100% success rate, thus getting more leather and oil. But a sheep pen needs a lot of materials, among which are 1200 bricks. Fortunately bricks are easy to make in large quantities, even before the brick machine is invented later in the game. One just needs a lot of straw. Straw is hard to get at the start of the game, as you need to pick grass one by one, but after you have gathered a certain number you can put gathering grass as an "offline chore". That is basically ATitD's version of rest xp: You character is doing stuff while offline, like gathering grass or wood, or accumulating travel time, which is consumed when you use forms of fast travel like teleporting home.
While the ATitD Wiki is nice to explain how everything works, private or regional chat is good for exchanging tips between players on how to work most efficiently. Several veteran ATitD players gave me friendly advice on how to use hotkeys to for example make bricks faster, or be able to handle more flax fields in one go. What I haven't done yet is look into macros, which are legal in ATitD as long as they don't work faster than a human could, and as long as you stay at the computer and don't let them run unattended. Of course, as pretty much in every MMORPG, there is some discussion on whether macroing is good or bad, and whether some people aren't "cheating" with unattended macroing, with the small staff of eGenesis unable to catch them.
Me, I don't mind if other people advance much faster than me, whether that is because they play more hours than me per day, or by macroing. I don't subscribe to the theory of MMORPGs being "competitive", as that "race" in a MMORPG would be so obviously unfair as to be completely ridiculous. Some other player *always* started earlier than you, or is playing more than you, or (in games with item shops) spends more money than you.
I talked a lot about the "gameplay" of A Tale in the Desert, but much more than other MMORPGs I know A Tale in the Desert is about living in a virtual world, not playing a game. Earlier tellings didn't even *have* levels, and even now levels are more a guide-rail telling you what you could do next, there being so many possibilities. I'm quite happy logging on, working a bit on my virtual homestead to expand it, doing some new activities, chatting with people, and having some fun. "Winning" the game doesn't really come into it. Having said that, I am not sure that I will play ATitD for very long. There are a couple of games coming out end of September, like Civ5 and FFXIV, which I am looking forward to, and which might pull me away from a peaceful existence in the Egyptian desert.
This sixth installment ends my daily journal of A Tale in the Desert. I will still talk about the game once in a while, as I keep playing, but not in the form of a daily activity log any more. The purpose of the journal was to give people who don't know A Tale in the Desert an idea how it plays for a new player, and I think I've done enough of that to reach this purpose. Remember there is a free trial, so if you are curious, I can only recommend you try A Tale in the Desert out for yourself. It is an "indie" game, less pretty and polished than a multi-million dollar MMORPG, and with a very different gameplay. But if you are in a summer slump or sick and tired of "WoW-clones", this might be just the game you are looking for.