Play vs Decay (Wurm Online)

Tldr – (spare yourself a rant!)  Love Wurm, loathe the way decay is handled.

Wurm is without a doubt the strangest game I ever played. It’s…. jolly hard to describe! I like it very much indeed – but you know what? I spend too much time checking and repairing stuff and not enough time doing the things I would like to, so with reluctance I’m lowering what I spend on it, and withdrawing my time. Not leaving – I like it too much, just shrinking things. Shrinking the land I deeded, keeping fewer things, spending less time there. My hands will thank me – as an excercise in totally pointless clicking the repairing of items has to be somewhere near the pinnacle.

Decay in Wurm is random – I’ve not been able to set a comfortable routine – every item needs to be checked, then repaired if necessary, but even if it wasn’t a random thing, it just all takes too long. Deeded walls at least stay standing, so my place will be there for me as long as I pay for it – and a basic toolset I can probably keep in good repair, but going is my empire. I retain one medium deed, mostly just walls, and a few satelite ones – shrinking to tiny to cover a smithy and a couple of ore veins I’m fond of. I may even disband those. That’s what is happening.

I just cannot be doing with fixing storage and food bins instead of playing anymore, let alone trying to keep a torch/lamp for any length of time. And laboriously checking and rechecking day after day to make sure things I am going to need are repaired – meh, had enough. At lower levels it’s at its worst – who knows maybe if you’re skilled enough it doesn’t bother you. But it takes a while to reach high skill levels (understatement). Nor is this the end of it. When you repair something its quality diminishes, making it more prone to decay. The repair round doesn’t even maintain the status quo. To maintain the status quo you would need a repair and improve round – and improve actions can fail. This isn’t quite a red-mist issue but still, polite words for what I think about the rate of decay and all the actions associated with it are hard to find. Ummm check, repair/not, improve, fail/not for each item … it takes quite a long time. Luckily you can customise your own input into Wurm, which is what I intend to do.

It is very Wurmian that the bins which you slowly craft to stop materials decaying, happily decay themselves, (going poof with all contents if you are not vigilant enough. Hahaha – yes – it was funny for a while, but now I actually want to keep the stuff I need for projects and it’s just … annoying). In fact I’d like to actually DO some of those projects. I find by the time the repair round is over I don’t want to play anymore or have run out of time. Mostly I just don’t feel like playing – the impetus goes. Instead of spending an hour or two making wine or doing something interesting it’s been check, repair, check, repair, check, dont repair, check repair …clickety click o good the storage bins are done, now to fix the stuff I’ve been trying to smith for a month before I start smithing. Heaven help you if you are grinding skills trust me I was never tempted – 1000 frying pans for hot food cooking? Check, repair…

Apart from that though – oh and perimeters (they can have their own post too) – I think it’s a wonderful, quirky, strange, not for everyone, unusual game. Doubt I’ll ever leave. It’s very deep, the gameplay is slow, there is a marvelous sense of achievement when a project is complete. It’s more like suburbia than the wilderness – has to be said – with highways all over the place & settlements never really very far apart. I don’t think I have been anywhere that was isolated for long. The best you can hope for is people coming and going so that you have some feeling of wilderness when the area happens to be quiet – if you plant trees in front of the ubiquitous highway. Mostly someone appears to nose about your deed more often than not though. Friendly neighbours are great – I have many of those, or being part of a village. One of my alts is a villager & I enjoy that side too. My main deed is far in the north – it’s reasonably quiet up there for now, with good neighbours, but things change all the time.

One of the strengths of the game is just that –  the world isn’t a stage set, it has a life of its own and in fact decay fits right in. Things grow, mature, die. Seasons change, the landscape changes. The problem is one of degree. I find the decay too much – it is replacing play instead of being one of many background ingredients.

I’m assured that’s a personal opinion by some – it is indeed, very personal. I don’t intend to spend this amount of a play session on a mechanic that has no “done” state. You check it, repair it/or not – and tomorrow and tomorrow – every item you own, and after that it needs improving too! Weekly I could almost live with – but in my real home I only check things aren’t falling apart once a year and do maintenance as required. I certainly don’t spend half the day fingering every single item to make sure the Wurms haven’t moved in overnight.

I think that’s also part of the problem – an item can be fine one day and then take a massive hit the next, so you are never sure what stage they are at until you check…tons of unnecessary clicking there.

Anyway a few weeks ago a storage bin I had just made and not had time to improve went poof on the day I was due to renew my premium. I looked at the empty spot where some good stuff had been stored and realised I had had enough for now. Everything you make, mine or harvest takes a long time – it’s kind of disrespectful to undervalue a player’s real time for a cheap keep ’em playing ploy. Be fine if it was tuned down, or even turned off for active players – I can understand abandoned deeds and settlements decaying to ease serverload (???? – that’s what I’ve seen suggested, but surely the degree of decay has to be recorded and amended for each item – hmm?). And yet decay does fit in – aww just less of it pretty please!

Some people like the high decay rate (makes looting easier and deeding over old properties easier) & would like it increased.  I feel that the last few months it has indeed increased, but that’s unreliable because I’m now so annoyed with it I’m sensitised. There’s a theory going around too that if our stuff decays and breaks we’ll all rush off to buy stuff from more skilled (already advantaged) players. In your dreams, bub. That’s about the last solution I’d consider.

Patch notes are erratic, so no way of knowing if it has become worse really. I do suspect the best loot probably comes from people who have lost interest in maintaining their deeds and belongings and moved on like me and one of the weaknesses of the game is that people lobby for things which alienate other players to the point of disengaging if not outright leaving, for their own short term gain.

By the way off-deed buildings, fences and walls decay too and pretty quickly – so if you’re thinking of going f2p be warned. Even more repairing joy for you!

To balance my annoyance, it is true that a small amount of money monthly grants you upkeep on a nicely sized deed and safeguards walls and fences – I have never regretted placing a deed or found it a drain or a bad deal. Each alt you wish to keep premium has to be payed for too. What I like a lot though is you can tailor your payments to suit yourself. At my height I payed the same as for three Warcraft accounts – that was me frontloading though – setting large deeds where I wanted them. It’s better to start large and trim fast if you can. Mine were placed so they could be shrunk or expanded – neighbours & highways permitting of course, and at that time I kept several alts premium both to place deeds and do some basic building/destroying. None of the deeds were ever huge, or high maintenance, but they did have stuff on them, and the stuff needed to be checked, fixed, improved daily. That stuff was meant to be used for interesting projects = the easiest way to miniminse decay is unfortunately to withdraw from attempting to do those projects and letting go of everything associated with them.

Now I am down to one premium alt, occasionally two, one medium main deed with not much “stuff” on it to upkeep and the totally small ones which I might not keep. Very regretfully I have decided that’s all I want to repair and if I still find it too much I will get rid of even more – don’t doubt it.

Land intended for interesting things I end up not doing because I’m checking/repairing too much can still go – as can any associated storage, farming fields and mines. The more I fix, the less I play, and the less I play… well plenty of other games to explore yet. I am enjoying Everquest2 more and more as I get into it too… I could do with maybe treating myself to something from there with the money I save from Wurm. It’s nice to have options.

And I love that nothing in my Everquest2 house decays – Did I already say that a time or two? It’s a constant delight hee hee. Think I’ll go there now!

Categories: Life On Wurm

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