Choose My Adventure: It's ALIVE!

Alrighty folks! I have consulted the crystal ball (polls) and now have the answer we have been so anxiously awaiting: It was Mr. Green, in the study, with the candlestick! Er, wait... sorry, let me just dust it off a bit. There we go. Actually it's armed MJ in Secret Cove with a shovel! Go terraforming.

Thanks to your votes, we have the backbone of the next Choose My Adventure guinea pig. For the most part, you Massively readers were pretty unified in your support; armed combat and terraforming led by a landslide, while Secret Cove and architecture also maintained significant leads. The only choice that was a close call was the second skill -- scavenging beat out hunting by a mere three votes.

Although we had plenty of choices for our polls, they didn't come close to covering the choices that must be made when creating a character before we ever set foot into the game world. Age, birthday, stat points, and multiple choices to create skin color are just some of the other choices the greet a new player in Xsyon.

Follow me past the cut to get an in-depth look at the creation process and to meet your guide/puppet/object of amusement in the land of Xsyon. Tahoe, ho!

Before we go any further, I have to point out that this particular run of CMA has a very unique twist. As of its inclusion in the original vote, Xsyon was expected to have completed its final wipe and launched. Since then, however, launch was delayed and the final wipe is now scheduled for Thursday, March 10th, at 6:00 a.m. PST.

Now possibly the first thing many of you are thinking is, Why in blazes create a character only to see her be wiped and remade again in a few days? Well, it's pretty simple, actually. For one, anyone who knows me knows that creating a character is a veeeery lengthy process for me. The running joke is that I need access two weeks before everyone else so that I can actually join my friends on launch day! So by doing a practice run, I will be able to create at lightning speed (comparatively) and join everyone right after the final wipe. Besides that, with the added differences in character creation, this will give me a chance to correct anything I messed up on the first time! So just think of it as a trial run. And maybe -- just maybe -- I can start off on launch day a little less nooblety.

Some assembly required

So let's take a gander at the actual character creation page. Besides the skills that were voted upon (combat, skills, crafting skills, and starting location), there are myriad others. Before you can dig your toes in the rich Tahoe Basin soil, you must first choose gender, birthday, and age. Age you say? Yes, and this becomes important because the game will have age progression.

After these, you have the appearance choices. Choose your weight, height, head (facial features), eye color, hair style and color, facial hair (for the gents only, thankfully), and skin coloring. While Xsyon does not have the oft-coveted customization sliders, some categories offer a decent selection of choices; there are eight choices for the face, 16 hairstyles, and a range of weights and heights by the kilogram and centimeter respectively. What this game is lacking in facial customization, it makes up for by not allowing totally disproportioned monstrosities. Yes, each character you come across will resemble a real human being, whether she's emaciated or obese or anything in between. This gets a big plus in my book when I compare it to games that allow freakish caricatures and bobble-heads.

Skin is a departure from the other choices in that you have three different options you must select: hue, tone, and melatonin. While the ranges are not extreme, changes among all three of these do result in subtle and no-so-subtle skin coloration differences.

Another feature that is more unique is stat allotment. In a manner more closely resembling character creation in pen-and-paper games, you must choose values for strength, fortitude, agility, dexterity, intelligence, spirit, perception, and charm using a 100-point pool. Each value starts at 50, and you can lower some to get more points to put into others. However, you cannot take a stat below 10 or above 90. Here is where I am most likely to mess up, especially as some stats do not seem to have relevance in game yet.

After these, you have a minuscule selection of shirts, pants, and shoes to dress yourself in before you are ready to hit the trail. The "select special weapon" feature is only available for pre-orders.

The moment of truth

Hopefully, you are sure of your choices, because Xsyon only allows one character per account, and there is only one server. After going through all of this and looking through all the choices once, twice, thrice, and more, I came to feel my creation was about complete. Well, our creation. So I was just about ready to click that accept and...

The server went down. Just my luck! Or perhaps I simply took too long and the game auto-logged me. Either way, I was able to test my trial-run theory earlier than expected -- I logged in again to run through the creation process once more. True to my hypothesis, it did take me considerably less time this go around. However, I did pause a bit longer on the stats again. Perhaps there is hope I can join you all on the actual launch day!

Creation successful. Now, all that is left is to log in and begin life rebuilding civilization around beautiful Lake Tahoe. I know I am excited! So without further ado, meet Emy:

My first steps

One of the first things that takes some getting used to is that the game in windowed mode is a smallish square. True, you can turn windowed mode off, but on my monitor it seemed to stretch things and make text a bit fuzzy. I will have to see what adjustments I can make. Until then, this won't deter me -- I am still eager to play. Neither sleet nor snow nor dark of night will keep me from Xsyon, so I log in...

... to rain. It didn't last long, but it was a nice little baptism of immersion. I am one who is excited by dynamic weather in game. Now, I don't know about you all, but the first thing I like to do when I jack in to my new world is to look around and just take it in. This is where the explorer in me is unleashed. So I did; I looked and saw an incredible vista of waterfalls, took my first steps toward them and... man, am I ever slow!

Yup, Xsyon definitely does not start you in easy mode; nothing is handed out on a silver platter. If you want a skill in this game -- including running -- you have to earn it by doing it. And for someone who prefers moving using the mouse, being forced to use WASD all the time took a moment to get used to. Still undeterred, I plodded along, checked out some scenery, and swam toward some claimed homesteads (check out the shots in the gallery). However, most of the view is of pristine land; when this game says it is in prelude for the players to build up and shape, it isn't kidding. I am really looking forward to digging my shovel in!

Helpful hints

Now, while none of this may be make-or-break when it comes to gameplay for most players, it is significant to me, so I thought I would pass along these two hints I gleaned from general chat (I feel braver asking noob questions since I have you all to report to). First, to remove the UI, press number lock. This allowed me to enjoy uncluttered views of the world as well as to take screenshots. The second is like unto the first -- to alternate between first- and third-person views, hit the home key (I heart first person, except that once I learned this I had to run back to take some more screenshots without my back in them!)

Now it's time for the villagers to amass and meet their creation! Come join me in-game and let's get this party started! I will update some play times in the comments section as the week progresses. And next week, we will report on our first excursions into the wilds!
Strap yourself in for the ride of (six weeks of) your life! Where are you going? Well, that's entirely up to you, the Massively readers, to decide -- the where, the what, and the how are all directed by you. The who is MJ Guthrie! For the duration of Choose My Adventure, her virtual life is in your hands! Join MJ in-game and on-site to be a part of the adventure and watch the story unfold.
This article was originally published on Massively.