It was a pretty full week overloaded with many wonderful games and…. no it wasn’t, it was Terraria, lots and lots of Terraria so I’m foregoing the progress report to just talk about it some more… because… TERRARIA!
I was in the process of writing down a kind of recap of what we’ve been doing, constructing and the goals we have had but as it turns out Jeromai of Why I game beat me too it. He has been joining in on the server a little more now this week, it’s nice to have more players in our time zone as a couple of others I met are in the US so meeting them is far more fleeting, so we’ve been battling the many bosses as a small little group. It’s been fun and he has a rather lengthy account of his experiences with the game and our meddling cooperative ways.
Grish and I both have that strong sense of connection to guilds and a group that makes as always think more communally in our actions and decisions, helping others is a standard whether they ask or not. Coming from PvP there is a small component of being as strong, or progressing as fast as the weakest link, helping others is a way of staying competitive. It’s also that you feel a connection to others in your group want to help friends rather than just yourself. It seems that this feeling seeps into other games and towards other people as well. At times it is less a bunch of strangers and more a family, a bunch of brothers and sisters; mums and dads; crazy aunties and weird uncles.. and that one who… you know.
It really does change the style of play you would have when there is a group around, for better or worse depending on your personality. He made a lot of other points as well so I’ll try to give my side of the never-ending debate around grouping, gameplay and getting involved.
One obvious issue with Terraria is the space people have to build and explore seems incredible small at first. The issues are magnified during the beginning as the first, and most active players will strip out and build on that starting area. This makes anyone else have to venture further out which takes longer and is a bit more dangerous. It puts them further behind the gear levelling curve.
There really is a lot of space out there and once those initial players have outgrown certain resources, and they will rather quickly, the rest will be left behind. Also as the progression continues it gets much easier to explore and distance between points, or how deep doesn’t mean as much.
Insufficient space is always going to be a problem in any sandbox as you will never have enough space available for the number of players…and if you did you would be missing out on a key impact of players. This is where I think those rent payments or upkeep costs are a great idea as they will eventually free up those places. In Terraria I could just bomb a certain hobbit hole… that would make space too =p
As for EQNext they’ve already said the lower levels will shift and randomly generate over the course of time which will of course enable no right place to build or harvest, then there is the world healing. Now I actually hope they tone down the effect of this healing so we can see and be affected by the impact of player but enough that it doesn’t overtly affect others experience to a point of diminishing progression.
The specific gear and items hidden only within chests is a specific issue that I think would have been better to be done away with. I feel bad now taking items out of those chest if I don’t actually need them as putting them into a communal chest removes the joy of discovery from others. It also creates a finite amount of an item which is never good gameplay for something multi-player as it ensures people will miss out. Even if it is a longer process there should always be an option for farming it off a particular mob or crafting it yourself.
I love that gear is completely tradeable , in a way it plays more to my style of community orientated play and helping others. I know what Jeromai is talking about I’m wanting to make his own way, I really enjoy achieving and earning things on my own as it makes them more meaningful. Taking the leavings of other it is most definitely a drug at times: I followed another friend on their world for a bit during the week who was in hardmode and it was very tempting to accept certain handouts from them but it seems a cheap act at times and I wouldn’t have the same connection to it. It is a very slippery slope that very much shortens the games life span as once you take one thing you quickly accept more and more but at least the cooperative experience is far more enjoyable.
I like that resources and amenities are created by players for players, it creates a sense of server/community progression that is sorely missing from gameplay and it eventually creates communal spaces that help everyone. It is also a way of meting others and promoting interactions.
This is a smaller world, smaller game and is not meant to be as long-term as an mmo so the speed of creating these spaces in Terraria isn’t an issue. For a bigger mmo, scaling it up for more players, the amount and time needed will create more long-term goals and I can see it creating a wonderful thing…outposts dotted around for the weary traveller to rest and craft, people working together to expand and grow.
What we’ve created is not so much an outpost any more, it’s more a small city and I have loved being involved in its development. It’s taken a long time to get it more to my liking but I’ve really enjoyed that kind of work where your minds free to think and wander while your working towards some sort of personal goal. I still have some plans for it, the lava roof was just completed but there are some other things; a floating room above, putting the beds in a proper bedroom, fixing the colours a little and the creation of some sort of calm relaxation green room.
There is just so much to do lots to do and that is an important point. In a sandbox that is designed appropriately there are always multiple avenues of progression and personal achievement for a player to strive for, a way of guiding your own play that doesn’t just include gear. Power certainly isn’t incidental and it makes achieving these things a little easier but it isn’t the only thing to work for. Getting gear hand outs in Terraria isn’t so bad because there are still many other things to work towards if you put your mind to it.
Right now I have many projects to work on but there are also a few achievement orientated tasks. I planned on picking up all the costumes, flags and trophies at first and I have a decent collection now but there are a lot of interesting cosmetics and furniture pieces out there. I really want each style represented somewhere within the castle, which will probably mean more space needed in the future. Busy busy busy busy.
Overall though I think Terraria is more made for guilds or close groups rather than the lone wolf or a mismatch of people. The collaborative nature of play really quite encourages this, not to mention the aforementioned problems. It is still lots of fun without those and you can still make your way individually but there is that pressure to conform and cooperate, to join in and take part. There is also the pressure of seeing others racing in front of you on the progression curve… the tortoise will always aspire to be the hare. It’s nice to have the option though, I appreciate that much.
I love seeing what other people create as well…more so than what I build; The varying styles of building, aesthetic changes that are both personal and cultural can be rather dramatic and are usually things you might never have thought of. I love the new and it makes me think further, broadening the available possibilities on what and how to build.
I generally go for the fluffy style of things..functional to an extent but more about making buildings homely yet I admire the more mechanical contraptions, like that obsidian farm, as it is never something I would ever have dreamed to create
The castle isn’t my only housing project as quite often I’ll think of other projects that might be related to other experiences or just things I would like to see. One thing I wanted to do was create some sort of impossibly large pillar on the world that extends right up to the top of the world. It turned into an oblivion tower just because I liked the look of those bricks the hell buildings were made from, the black makes them more menacing and after starting to build it did kind of look like one of those towers through the oblivion gates. Needs more spiky bits though.
The tree house is mine and it is nearly finished. Just needs some rounding off on certain edges and perhaps a few more cosmetic furniture items. After seeing those large randomly generated trees to the west I really wanted to make my own but a tree house version and this is the result. Hopefully as the growth continues along the edges of the greenery the moonglow flowers will grow to light it up in a more natural way during night-time.
I have so many little projects going on and when one seems to finish I usually think up another one pretty quickly. I am just really, truly captured with making my mark on the world and even changing the various areas into a particular style or theme. Maybe there will be another treehouse, or a family of treehouses soon. I have been thinking about creating some underground ruins and even leaving behind rare items and gold to the people that find it. Did I mention how much I’m looking forward to landmark and doing this on a larger scale..construction wise not space wise because Terraria certainly lets me leave a larger impression on the game world.
I haven’t come across the other places people have seen at all… must go sploring more rather than digging my mole holes although I always seem to get wrapped up in my own projects until something else that’s awesome is pointed out.
I’m also a very organised person at times… hence the straight tunnels so taming the wilderness will be an ongoing long-term project. I do it for myself as a way of being able to get around quicker as well as a way to explore. But it’s also a way of helping others as it makes it easier for others to catch up in terms of materials and gear. I also religiously organise the various chests in the main castle into specific categories and sub types, people keep aimlessly throwing things in there and I have to make it more organised… it’s an obsession I know. There is also a new treasure room up top for everyone that includes the rarer materials and items as well as stuff needed for spawning the bosses
Jeromai kind of laments the impact other players have on his play, and I do understand but the experience can be enriched so much more by the addition of other players. We can create wonderful collaborative experiences, helping others, guiding play, creating more expansive events and engaging the community. Of course there is also the opposite side to that but I like having the two factors in my play, chaos and order. It might adversely affect play, I could log in tomorrow and have my house a pile of rubble and my costumes pilfered and a part of me would be annoyed, the other part would just laugh at the turn of even and form plans to get even… it creates more gameplay experiences and options in my mind. Having one and not the other, a controlled experience more often kind of invalidates the player in my mind, choice becomes less meaningful when parts of that choice are taken away, like getting an open ended question yet discovering it’s only multiple choice…with a few options already blacked out. What’s the point?
In case you hadn’t heard, Terraria just received an absolutely huuuuuuuuge update again recently which also includes the a lot of awesome Halloween modding like cute outfits for the zombies and skeletons, the little critters, and even introducing new ones like the raven that is absolutely everywhere at night times. The have a really great sense of humour which obviously comes out in their designs and referencing to other games and media. I really like the mobster skeletons and how the bunnies and slime have role reversal outfits.
Because of this I also think we are going to speed up the progress more than I previously wanted as it seems that there is a lot of temporary Halloween themed items available that are only gained in Hard mode that just look amazing. One is a new hard mode boss event that consists of defeating waves upon waves of enemies with some really interesting gameplay and rewards.
I wanted to go at least a month before starting this to give everyone time to go at their own place but then, you have to make sacrifices against your own and others play. It’s a really hard decision to make as I know it will harm others play, something I didn’t want to do but how do you balance your own enjoyment against that of others?
Maybe after finishing I can change it back again….