In my first true week of playing Xsyon, I really didn't get to "play" much of anything. Not in any sense of the word that most MMO gamers would be familiar with. That isn't to say that I didn't have any fun; on the contrary, I really enjoyed the time I did get in, and I look forward to really digging my toes into that rich Tahoe soil. Well, my shovel, really.
So what were the unusual circumstances surrounding my first adventures? Hike past the cut for a deeper look at the week and some helpful tips for anyone planning to jump into game come launch.
Last week you met Emy. A simple survivor of the Apocalypse, she was eager to stake a claim and start building a new life in her neck of the woods. Alas, her dream would have to wait. And wait. Her life was short-lived; due to the necessity of a server wipe, Emy had to be remade. The good news is that it really did only take me minutes (instead of hours) to recreate her after the final wipe. Now we are really ready to begin.
Not so fast. Yes, it is true I now had a character. However, the bad news is that the server was not up often after her rebirth, so she was denied that chance to build her life at almost every turn. Those moments I had before Emy I's untimely demise whet my appetite to really dive in and start up the game, and it was truly frustrating to be denied the chance to get back in and start again.
The home stretchmarks
Although the official launch wasn't until the 15th, it was announced that the server (yes, you read that right -- there is only one server for the game) would be open after the wipe, albeit with limited features. First, on the 10th, players could enter the world and form their tribes in anticipation of land settlement on the 11th. At this point, devs encouraged players to log in, form, and log back out in order to reduce lag. Unfortunately, it seems that few heeded that counsel as many players wanted to take the opportunity to build up their (finally) permanent characters.
At this point, almost all features were disabled, so the only skills that could be developed were running, fishing, and foraging (although hunger and thirst were very much on). As dull as three skills sound, you better believe that plenty of folks were making the most of their opportunity. I admit, it was a very seductive prospect, but the 10-minute lag was extremely difficult, so I gave up trying.
I did return as much as possible after the 11th -- hereafter known as The Day of Totem Placement, or alternatively, Much QQing Over Lost Territory -- but the stars were simply not in alignment; the server was down often. In fact, the very time I scheduled to meet up with you Massively readers I was greeted with a message stating that the server was coming down... again. Still, I would not be deterred, and I found moments over the weekend when the server was live, allowing me a chance to stretch my legs as I ran around the area trying to muster up a few plants. By Sunday afternoon, I was able to clock very little game-time and wondered how I would fill an entire column with a report of the game!
There were definitely some potholes on the road toward official release. The biggest jolt involved the land rush. This rush was anticipated: In order to try and minimize the impact, developers had specified when totems could be placed, and players set themselves up to get their special spots the moment this was available. And many did. And then they lost them. Yes, totems were all wiped and permanent placement was scheduled for later that day with very little notice. This caused players who missed the second placement to fume. Of course, this was a benefit to others, but the fact that some people planned their schedules to ensure they got their selected space was certainly a blow.
Throughout the weekend, the server went down and there were rollbacks (the system was saved every 10 minutes, so the rollbacks were never excessive) as the developers worked to fix different things that cropped up. Most people grumbled about losing something, but one player was heard to be shouting thanks for at least one -- apparently, after death, you respawn at this unmarked island in the lake if you are not bound to a totem. This means that if you just spent an hour or more getting to a specific place, your effort was moot because you would need twice that just to return to where you started! This player was joyously returned to the moments before death and reunited with friends, without having to traverse the entire map. The lesson? Not all rollbacks are evil. My suggestion: If you don't join a tribe, you still want to place a totem. Otherwise, you might find yourself a long and lonely hike away from any friends.
As the weekend wore on, you could see the lack of things to do was wearing on people. Players were snapping at each other and extra-trollish in global chat (the answer "two hours" should bring a groan to anyone who was logged in over the weekend). Then, salvation was at hand: On Monday, many skills were turned on. Suddenly you could gather, scavenge, log, and craft. Terraforming was not yet enabled (boo) nor was PvP (yay) and no animals roamed the lands, but the first real glimmer of Xsyon's promise shone through -- chat sprang to life with people offering trades for certain tools and materials. Bartering began, and people had reason to travel between camps as they did business. It was quite exciting to watch the birth of the economy. Even more heartening was watching folks simply make items and give them away for free (I am sure it was due in some part to the kindness of others and not just from wanting to unload their inventory of the items being created to advance crafting skills).
The second glorious development was the removal of global chat. This blessing removed a large share of the standard whining drivel you find on any server-wide chat channel. Oddly, regional chat actually encompasses the four connected sectors -- meaning the kind gent who just offered to trade you a tool for a basket could actually be a hefty run away. Not only that, but conversations are quite disjointed, as you may only hear half of one when someone within earshot answers someone adjoining his sector but too far from you. I sincerely hope this is changed. And that I figure out how to ignore people.
Each week I plan to summarize a few survival tips to help others in their exploration of this devastated land. Of course, this assumes that I survive once PvP is enabled!
This week's tip was a true gem to find; while browsing the notes on the launcher, I came across a PDF game manual that can be saved on your own computer. This manual is filled with a very good basic introduction to the game. I recommend getting and glancing through this for a look-see at the UI, skill descriptions, and other important data needed to create your character and take those first steps.
Speaking of steps, now it is time to choose our next ones. Check out the polls below and determine which path I walk next. Remember to cast your votes by 11:59 p.m. EDT on Sunday, March 20th. Then hop into Xsyon and join me in the adventure!
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.