State of the economy
One question you asked was what the economy was like. You'd think that a sandbox game would have a robust economy, and we see sandbox games like EVE Online give players the opportunity to make trade their primary focus of gameplay. One growing problem in big MMOs is that efforts to reduce gold farming and scamming have actually made the economy stale, and it's hard to find fun if you're someone who prefers playing the market to killing rats.
Surprisingly, when I asked in open channel about trading, a couple of players gave me the name of the trade channel, but several others chatted with me and explained that trade is pretty low-key in the game. In fact, when I asked about trade, I had a few message me asking what I might need and offering to lend a hand. The trade channel was indeed pretty quiet, and while there is some bartering, you're more likely to see players offering goods to one another with a pay it forward sort of attitude. I don't like to take gifts, particularly when I'm new to a game, because I prefer to do it myself or at least be in a position to return the favor. And I would think it would be easy for a selfish player to take advantage of things and walk away with armfuls of stuff with little effort, but so far I haven't sensed that from this playerbase.
Time after time, my experiences with other players has left me with the sense that the community is extremely generous and helpful. Sandbox games always run the risk of becoming harsh, competitive worlds, but I just haven't seen that at all so far. The best comparison I can think of is that it's like a quiet gated community, where neighbors know each other well and help each other with yard work or snow shoveling. There's no griefing, no backstabbing, and no arguing in chat. So it's not that surprising that the economy is more of a collaborative, rather than competitive, entity. I'm still on the lookout for signs of strife, but at least from what I've seen in River Plains and in chat channels, there's no indication of the sort.
Along with rotting tons and tons of flax for my sculpture, I made my other main focus this past week the completion of my test of the acrobat. I felt extremely awkward running up to players and saying, "Hello, care to acro?" but after a few sessions, I realized that players are used to the process and don't at all seem bothered by it. As I mentioned before, it's one of the most unusual experiences I've had in an MMO, but it's a neat example of how the game meshes social activities in a clever way.
As I practiced my flips, push ups, and twirls with others, I chatted with a player who showed me how the aqueduct pillars give stat increases when you touch them. The one she led me to gave me a speed increase, but only on non-road terrain. If I ran on the road, I actually would run more slowly with the buff. She also asked whether I needed anything, and after I politely declined, she said what I really need is a mentor and offered to be one for me. She said there's no formal mentoring process, but that veteran players do offer to be mentors to new players so that newbies have a reliable connection who they know will be willing to teach and answer questions. It makes perfect sense in the game, particularly because there is a mountain of things to learn. It also underlines the fact that you really shouldn't be a lone wolf in this game; the players are a major part of the experience. Playing it solo means you're neglecting a huge chunk of gameplay, and it's really the most enjoyable aspect of the game.
A mysterious existence
Lastly, I had a curious conversation with a player that left me intrigued. He was sharing tips on the game and talked about the small guild he runs. He offered to invite me any time I'd like, but for now, I'm still with the one guild I joined. He then asked where I put my compound; I told him I settled in River Plains near the chariot, since it seemed good to be near the travel hub. He didn't disagree, but he suggested I reconsider, saying that life is much different away from the populated settlements. When I asked him to elaborate, he didn't go into detail but hinted that there are advantages to being away from town.
The more I thought about it, the more I was tempted to follow his suggestion. It's a double-edged sword because my time in River Plains has allowed me to get to know the community there and make connections with some great players. And being in a well-settled area has helped me learn the ropes more quickly. But on the other hand, I'm getting only a snapshot of the world, and there's a good chance I'm missing out on other experiences that I can't get in River Plains. I used my cornerstone on my compound in River Plains, so I don't have to worry about it deteriorating if I leave for a while, but relocating might be a bit of a step backward.
There's a lot I'm looking forward to in the upcoming week. I'm determined to finish my first sculpture, no matter what Mother Nature throws at me. I'm also planning to attend my first player event, which is an Airship Flotilla Fun Flight. Apparently, players will meet up, launch their airships, and then let the winds be their captain. And I'd like to work on finishing up some more tests as well. But I need help with deciding whether or not to head out away from town and build a second compound. If I branch out, it makes it harder for me to spend time on learning new skills and completing tests. But then again, I might have new opportunities that I can't get in the settled area along River Plains. Choose my direction, and make sure to get your votes in by Friday, February 15th, at 11:59 p.m. EST!%Poll-80830%
Join Karen on an adventure of your choosing! She's used to calling the shots, but in this Choose My Adventure, she's putty in your hands and ready to follow your whim. It's up to you to chart her course and join in on the fun! Follow Karen on Twitter for playtimes and updates, and come back each week to decide her fate.