Tobold's Blog
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
A Tale in the Desert 5 - Day Three

Day 3 of my adventures in the desert brought more progress, but also some setback. While I had been offline, Sterope, the region I settled in, had finished the research on stone cutting. And a group of players had built a public rock saw. So I picked up the tech, and used the public rock saw to cut medium stones into flystones, from which I then built three pottery wheels. I set those to public, so other players can use them. I formed some wet jugs out of clay on the pottery wheels, and then had to find out how to fire those into solid jugs. That involved learning kiln construction, building small box kilns to make firebricks, and then using the firebricks to build a true kiln, in which jugs can be made. Having the jugs allowed me to double my flax production. Another player gave me some Nile Green flax seeds, and while these do need watering to grow, they produce 2 flax per field, instead of just 1.

I also started the next 2 tests, the initiation tests of leadership and art. Unlike the previous 2 tests I did, these tests need the help of other players. For the leadership test you need 21 signatures on a document, while for the art test you need to build a sculpture and need 21 people to declare that sculpture as interesting. Fortunately everybody is very helpful and every player who passes by signs your petition, and votes for your sculpture, even though I don't claim much artistic merit. It is more a "You scratch my back and I scratch yours" kind of deal, where players automatically help each other out because they need the same kind of help at some point.

Another progress was me learning to use the user interface of A Tale in the Desert better. I'm getting better with the camera controls, which are a bit unusual, and require switching between various camera modes using F5, F6, F7, and F8. I also learned how to close my chat window to allow the use of hotkeys on machines. And with some other settings in the options I made picking up things and harvesting wood a bit easier, requiring less clicks each time. One important setting I already changed on the first day is to make warning messages to appear in chat instead of popping up in a window which needs to be closed. When exploring you get stuck on a slope *extremely* often, and having to click on a window every time that happens is just not playable.

In spite of a certain dislike of slopes and mountains and finding resources on spots you can't reach because of those slopes, I ventured out on another exploration trip. I didn't find any sheep this time, but was lucky enough to find 8 wild papyrus on a lake. Papyrus can be dried on a drying rack, and if you do it on top of a mountain, you *should* get enough seeds to throw into the Nile and grow more papyrus than you started with. That's the theory, but either I got unlucky, or I chose the wrong time of day, or the highest mountain in the area isn't high enough: My 8 papyrus only gave me 1 single hf (handful) of seeds, which would grow into less than 8 papyrus when planted. Damn!

A Tale in the Desert being essentially a sandbox game (with lots of sand), it isn't all that obvious what I should do next. I'll have to look into what skills and technologies I can learn now. I also need to find a guild, maybe with the readers of my blog I met in game. And I need to do a lot more running, to visit the universities in the other regions of Egypt to pick up vegetable seeds. Up to now I only got cabbage seeds, and everybody is looking for onions.
Some suggestions:

Ask for papyrus seeds from other players, and where the local papy mountain is. There is likely to be public drying racks and flax hammocks up by now.

Pick up foraging from the school of worship, and enter a simulated world of botanical identification, picking up herbs based on recognising how they look. The wiki guide on foraging is a must.

Build a carp shop, assemble a slate shovel, dig up dirt. Buy Arthropodology, Fly Tying and Fly Fishing. Make lures. Fish at night. Go crazy developing theories, because no one knows for sure how the new fishing works.
I thought this made a good metaphor for life in general:
"Up to now I only got cabbage seeds, and everybody is looking for onions."
I know that this game is an "experiment in social interaction", is "unlike anything else", and is a "sandbox".

I know it's probably a very worthy game which could teach me fascinating things about history, about working together and gosh darn it about myself too.

Dear Lord it sounds utterly tedious though.
"Utterly tedious"? I suppose if your idea of a game is to sit in the AH running Auctioneer with a large list of Snatch items waiting for the LFG queue to respond for you to get your frostie for the day ... you'd be bored by ATitD.

Different strokes for different folks and all that.

Granted, at the end of the Telling, the drop off is pretty severe as the >>real<< tedium of 1000s of bricks needed for monuments filters thru the psyche of the playerbase. But at the beginning? Naaah... they're still working on whether you "strip leaves" or "pick seeds" off the herbs. Get in now while things are new and shiny...
This is intriguing and frighteningly appealing to me! It sounds like the equivalent of a Settlers of Catan game compared to the more combative Risk. It sounds amazingly complex (in a good way) and like there is an endless amount of things you can do.

In terms of the community doing things together for common goals and just sharing peacefully and freely...that sounds WONDERFUL.
Thanks for your blog Tobold! My partner and I started ATID just yesterday and we're loving it so far, although we're only up to building our compound for the Archaeology test. Ending up subscribing way before our free 24 hours was up, just so we sign other peoples petitions and feel more like a part of the community.

I've played a lot of WOW and more recently EQ2 and Age of Conan, but they'll all so similar at the end of the day. ATID is so different and so relaxing and there's so much to do! Wonderful.
Hi Tobold,

I just want to say - thank you for these posts. I'm a very casual ATITD player, having taken it up a couple of times in previous tellings, but unable to sustain the time commitment to progress extensively.

I really appreciate your take on the game - lets me keep tabs on my favorite MMO though I can't currently play (hard to make time with a fulltime job and a small kid).

I don't know if it's a helpful endorsement, but keep them coming. I'm especially interested in the social interactions that you get into - guild dynamics, group projects, etc.

Have fun out there.
The camera controls are workable, but the most annoying aspect of the game is the need to do a mouse click in order to move your character. Kills the world immersion effect completely.
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