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The Trove Diaries: Exploring the wild, wild... peaceful forest?


In a recent Trove patch, the team added in a new chest at the central world hub for players to toss in gear to share with others. A community chest. Other than making me think about Monopoly for a minute, it gave me one of those brief, warm feelings that this game tends to do on a regular basis. It's a small thing but a good thing. Trove has a lot of that.

So welcome to the Trove Diaries, a chronicle of my sporadic adventures through this developing quirky title from Trion Worlds!

Let me bring you up to speed: Trove was a side project at Trion that got the internal greenlight to be developed into a full-fledged MMO. However, the team's taken a cue from recent crowdfunding projects by offering fans the opportunity to buy into the game and see first-hand how it's being developed on a daily basis. Trove is a strange combination of building and destroying that bucks the typical MMO trend while creating something that it light, breezy, and quite frankly fun.

First steps into a cubed world

Since access to the Trove alpha was just $20 and I'm genuinely curious about this title, I figured I'd shell out the cash. Not just for my curiosity, mind you, but for yours as well. Aren't I a saint?

However, it's not been the kind of game that I'm playing every single day for a couple of reasons. The first is that sooner or later the land will be smited with wipes, and those aren't fun. It's kind of why I dislike betas (and alphas) as a whole. The second reason is that it hasn't been that feature complete, but more like a shell of possibilities.

It's only been in the past week or so that I feel that the game is worthy of a closer look, as it's added a second class (Gunslinger), "quests 0.1," and some semblance of crafting progression. Plus the community chest. Can't forget the community chest.


In this first column, I want to look at how Trove handles exploration. The core concept of the game is that we'll be "world hopping" as these pocket worlds are created and destroyed routinely. The big reset button will affect the landscape, mobs, quests, and our gear, but it won't touch our characters' internal progression, our crafting inventory, and our home (called a Cornerstone).

Thus, pretty much every time we log in we'll be exploring strange, new worlds. Currently the world reset feature isn't in, and there's just one biome, the forest. Since Trove uses a Minecraft-like retro look, it's like galloping through a 3-D version of the old Super Mario Bros.

These procedurally generated worlds will probably be set up much like the current alpha, with a kind of bullseye pattern. We start out at the dead center in the community hub, where help tips, class change wardrobes, and the community chest sits. This area has the lowest difficulty, but the further out we explore, the tougher the mobs get. The landscape changes to reflect this increasing danger, and you'll get a pop-up notice telling you that you've entered into a higher-level area.

There isn't a minimap in the game right now, but Trion recently patched in a map that's always at the ready ("M"). It shows the hub, where all of the players are, where the zones are, and where quests have been completed. I kind of wish it would show where uncompleted quests are, but according to general chat, we're supposed to find those during the course of our exploration.

So I generally log in, pick a direction, and head there. Having a mount as a speed boost is a must, although each class has an additional movement skill at the ready. Knights can charge forward at will, while Gunslingers have a nifty jump shot.

For whatever reason, I often end up deep underground. I haven't found anything really interesting yet, but it's still fun to explore crevasses and make my own way. You see, that's another exploration tool: destroying whatever's in your path. You can use either weapons or the build mode to remove blocks in your way and put them in your inventory. But when you get stuck so deep that it'll take far too long to tunnel out, there's a handy self-destruct mechanism at your disposal: /respawn. That explodes you (hey, it happens) and sends you back to your Cornerstone or the main hub (depending on whether you've claimed a Cornerstone in that world).

What is there to see?

I think the best reason to explore right now is to seek out and find others' Cornerstones. The creativity I've seen on display is pretty cool, from tall towers to cozy domiciles. If nothing else, I usually come away with an idea or two to implement in my own Cornerstone.

And yes, in case the pictures in this column didn't clue you in, you're going to be in for a lot of pixel art from old-school video games. It's kind of like NintendoLand: The MMO But Please Don't Sue Us at times. Some of these must have taken just gobs of time and finesse to pull off, so I'm not complaining that the team has done so. It's not as though there's any real lore to this world that needs protecting. I see it as a playground where imaginations fill in the gap.

So what else is there to see? Well, there are quest areas marked by the little mini-Stonehenges that you see above. There are also dungeons of a sort, although that feature is something that Trion is still tinkering with heavily. I haven't made it to any of those, but they're definitely on the agenda for upcoming adventures.

Now, while the peaceful forest is really pretty in a blocky way, it's fun to explore further to see additional biomes such as "desert" and "Viking burial ground." I can only imagine what it'll be like when the world reset goes in and additional biomes make it into the game. Waking up to a new world every day will be an adventure indeed.

Every so often, Justin Olivetti transmogrifies into a blocky 8-bit version of himself and heads into Trove for a surreal trip through destructible worlds. In the Trove Diaries, he looks at the ins and outs of Trion Worlds' quirky title and why simpler just might be better.

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