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Choose My Adventure: My tale in the desert begins

Karen Bryan

Last week's Choose My Adventure poll was a real nail-biter! There were four games that were all within a few votes of each other. In the end, the winner by five votes was A Tale in the Desert, and I'm thrilled to be able to write about this game for my turn at CMA.

As much as I like elves and orcs, I'm ready for obelisks, pyramids, and plenty of sand. I created my character over the weekend and began my path to citizenship. Did I make it through, or did flax farming get the better of me? Help me plan my course!

Getting the feel

There were two things I had to really adjust to when I first started out. One was the fact that my avatar is actually part of the UI. Much of what I did during the first play session, from planting and building to repairing broken blades, involved selecting actions by clicking my character rather than a button on a UI frame. It took some getting used to, but after a while it felt natural and even made sense because my character is actually the one performing all of these actions.

The other bit I had to get used to was leaning heavily on the wiki. The tutorial gets you started but often leaves you a little short on the details. I ran around with my flax seeds for what seemed like forever, trying to figure out whether I should be looking for an icon indicating the proper place to plant or clicking the ground to start my seedlings. It was only after consulting the wiki that I learned I had to click on my avatar to get the plant option. After that, I used the wiki quite a bit to help me answer questions about my surroundings.

What I love so far about the UI is how easy it is to keep track of my inventory. I usually don't care for crafting because it involves rummaging through bags (MMOs need to do away with bags in general, but that's a whole column in itself). The running list of items I acquire makes it easier for me to enjoy the process of crafting. I did have a little problem with becoming overburdened, but after dropping the 600 pounds of sand I had been scooping up (hey, I was told it was a sandbox!), I was all set to run off and make my bricks and twine.


Usually, when I begin to play an MMO, I lose patience with things like tutorials and starter quests and immediately go off running and exploring, eventually finding places I have no business seeing yet, which forces me to go back and "do it the right way" or just walk away from the game completely. A Tale in the Desert's open-endedness is a nice change, and I was extremely tempted to hike right out of Midland Valley and see the sights.

Ironically, I held off on doing a walkabout until I could complete my citizenship. I don't care for laundry lists as gameplay, but I actually didn't mind doing the long lists of tasks here, probably because there was a sense of purpose to each one, and they all made sense. It was fun explaining plant domestication to my daughter after she asked me why I was weeding some flax beds and not others.

Eventually I did finish up the tasks for citizenship and was caught a bit off guard that completing it led to my character getting lifted up into the sky and hit repeatedly by lightning. I'm used to a simple "ding," so that was a pretty epic moment for me!

Choose My Adventure  My tale in the desert begins
Community beginnings

I also had a chance to dip my toes into the community. I didn't run across too many players, but I did start up chats with several longtime game veterans. Every single player to whom I sent a message responded, and each of them made me feel welcome. Several gave me some helpful tips and suggested a few good guilds that were a match for a new player like me. Surprisingly, they gave differing accounts about the population, with some saying that things are quieter than they used to be, while others said that there's still plenty of life in the game. When I asked them if I could contact them again to talk about the game, every single one said yes, so I'm looking forward to chatting again with the players I met.

Where to?

Now that I'm a citizen, I need your help in deciding which of the principles I should begin to focus on. Based on the one you choose, I'll try to work through some of the tests that are given. Some of them seem more crafting-oriented, like architecture, thought, and art and music, while others are more social in nature, like leadership and harmony. So in a way, your selection will also help me decide whether to explore crafting a bit more or branch off and get more involved in the community. I plan on doing both, but this will help me prioritize.

The other decision I need to make is whether to spend the next week traveling and exploring or setting up my compound and planting some roots. Should I make my home first, or see the sights and then settle down?

Polls close on Friday, January 25th, at 12:01 a.m. EST!%Poll-80260%%Poll-80268%
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.

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