A Colonist’s Tale Part 1

Over the next week I will be doing a couple of stories on the crafting MMO Salem. It is a game set in a fictional New England and it gives players an open world to explore, learn and create in. It is currently in closed beta, which I am lucky enough to be apart of, and rather rough, but it still has some really interesting ideas and exciting possibilities. It is a tough game, with fairly minimal graphics at the moment, and has some pretty harsh ideas, like if you get lost you have to abandon all of your items if you want to teleport back to town or if you trespass on someones property too long, without permission, you will die. The game is being produced by Paradox Interactive and developed bySeatribe for PC, Linux and Mac. This is my first hands on account of the game.

When you start Salem you get a very minimalistic character creator in which to craft your Puritan colonist. I chose a man, you may choose a woman as well, with a big blonde beard and medium length blonde hair, a decent looking fellow. Once you are in the world you can mess with your characters hair and a couple of other options, but most importantly you pick a name and pick up some Puritan clothing. This was all done in a closed in area near the harbor that was supposed to be somewhere in London. Once I finished up there I was immediately whisked away to Boston, arriving in the midst of a marketplace filled with guides and other colonists.

Boston is the only town in the game, at the start, the rest of the towns have to be created by players. My goal right from the start was to claim my own land and build my house, but I had no idea what to do from the start. I looked through some merchants and saw many different items, like a town writ, a house writ, swords, shovels, backpacks, coin purses and many items that I had no idea what to do with. More importantly I had no idea how to earn money, but thankfully a few of the others gathered around the town center did. I overheard a few conversations that several other eager players had put forth and found that my first order of business was to wander the land. In the beginning I was supposed to find some kind of nut, smooth stones, food, hay, arrowheads and Indian feathers. With Boston and the sea at my back I set out randomly into the plains, like many others around me.

I found the closest land to be picked dry and there was evidence of travelers everywhere in the forms of discarded camp fires. I immediately learned that I had to wander must farther away from town to be able to find anything.  I knew I must do something with my skills, but I hadn’t found any item that affected those in anyway. You have a skill tree that shows various skills like Law & Lore, Hammer & Nail, Frontier & Wilderness and many others, all of which start at 5 points. There was also a single available skill called Survival Skills. It took me quite a while to learn how I was supposed to actually earn that skill, but more on that later.

Click on this screenshot to actually see what that all says
After an hour of wandering with little to gain except for some wheat, which is useless at the start, and food I started to become dismayed and concerned that I was either doing something wrong or there was something wrong with the game. I was nearly ready to stop for the night when I ran into a single person and I asked them what I should be doing. All this singular traveler told me was that some people nearby were attacking anyone wearing a hat, then she left. I had no idea what she was talking about, but I took off my hat regardless. I didn’t want to run into an Ultima Online vicious player killers and thankfully I didn’t. I soon ran into a group of three people, three people who were conversing about making a town. Like the random traveler I was I walked up and joined in one this conversation. All four of us decided to join a kinship, which is basically just a friends list, and we were then inclined to help each other in order to eventually start our own town.
My new kinsmen helped me find my first smooth stone, one of the first items in the game that you can study. With this I was able to learn my first skill, survival skills, which opened up several new skills. Each skill requires you to study objects, each object gives you a specific amount of one of the rudimentary skills like Law & Lore and the one’s I previously described. You need to fill these rudimentary skills up to a specific amount so you may learn a new skill, which get more and more expansive as you learn new skills. At that time I only had three new skills available, foraging, self defense and something to do with forestry.
When you start the game you have nothing, no money, no crafting options, no resources, no skills, just the option to learn survival skills if you can figure out how and the basic Puritan clothing. Your skills matter for everything, each type of skill. If you learn new skills they may give you new crafting options, like campfires, inspirational, buildings and options for creating food, but they may also help you become better at finding things in the world. When you see the cleaned out fields near Boston you may think that is odd that they created a game with so few resources, but there are quite a few skills that increase your chances of seeing resources on the ground, which can make those cleaned out fields yield new resources. Another way to increases chances of finding resources, or any action in the game, is to increase your rudimentary skills. When you study something the bar will fill up for each skill depending on the item you are studying. If you fill up a bar all the way it will turn green and you can increase that skill. So, like I said earlier everything starts at 5, so it takes 500 points in any one skill to increase that skill to six and then it will cost 600 to increase to the next level. In the beginning it’s fine to have everything at 500, but pretty quickly you will need to increase these rudimentary skills in order to learn new skills.
Lost in the wilderness
I know it’s quite confusing to have two sets of skill, both of which I’m not quite sure how to address to differentiate them, but to make it clear one set of skills are skills that you learn, kind of like abilities, and they are unique and various with many different types, like settling or woodworking. The other set of skills never changes and is only increased by the means I previously described. They are used primarily to make you better at spotting things, climbing, mining, swimming or other various actions, but they are also there to let you learn new ability skills. With that said, back to my experiences.
Eventually you can get huge farms, like this one, although I am nowhere close to achieving this.
Several hours later into the night I was still off in the world gathering resources with my two kinsmen, one of the three original kinsmen had logged off much earlier. Gathering was going slow, but much better than before for I had found two arrowhead’s worth a total of thirty silver, enough to hire a guide into the wilderness. I wasn’t quite sure what hiring a guide would do, but I do know it was the first step into owning a piece of land and becoming a settler. My fellow Kinsmen had no yet earned enough money to purchase a guide, so we took our conversations to the game’s whisper/tell system and I hired my guide. I had no idea where it would take me or what would be there when I got there, but I was not disappointed by the result.
Stay tuned for my next tale, sometime within the next week, as I get closer and closer to earning my very first house and setting up a makeshift town. My first experience was rough and almost depressing, but it turned into something exciting and intriguing. The world is unfriendly, a bit buggy, a bit ugly, but also charming, massive and filled with things to learn and find. If you want check out the game some more, or even in action, take a look at the video below (a developer walkthrough of sorts) and the links. Thanks for reading.
Main Forums: http://forum.paradoxplaza.com/forum/forumdisplay.php?590-Salem
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/SalemGame
-Written by Sean Cargle
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One Response to A Colonist’s Tale Part 1

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