Salem – A response to MMO Burnout

Dear Nick, I understand that you are worried about your future relationships with MMO’s. Will they be the long-lasting and fulfilling relationship we all seek with our games. A relationship I fully intend to have with Guild Wars 2 but of which you despair of ever finding again.

Well, I have here for you a solution. It may not pay off and may not be foolproof, but it is a solution, and as such any of you who are interested in unusual and new gaming experiences then you may also want to have a wee look at this.

You see, Paradox Interactive have been announcing games and news about their projects left, right and centre at the GCG and one e-mail that caught my eye was for a new free-to-play MMO they are publishing for developers Seatribe.

Salem, the self-styled “crafting MMO” strikes me as both incredibly interesting and innovative. Two things we like here at MMGaming, and two things which certainly might appeal to someone who has become a little disenchanted with the usual grinding and questing of an MMO.

The premise behind the game is that you, and whoever else is on your server/realm (or whatever is going to happen) will spawn in the completely randomly generated and open world in New England. You are colonists to America and you are here to carve out a life for yourself.

It strikes me very much as a combination of Harvest Moon and Minecraft. Almost everything in the game can be interacted with and used and so you can cut down trees and maybe mine and farm and you slowly build up a town and a community. But it’s not a swift process, with chopping down trees apparently taking time and two people to do.

It seems to be almost entirely about the slow build up of a community and getting it running. Your character has skills as well, from bakery or carpentry to tracking and combat. You see there is combat in the game (and as I understand it’s quite simple) and the enemies are actually more similar to what you’d expect from a normal MMO than the good ol’ US of A. Things like Pegusi and something called a “Hide-Behind”.

The game, also unusually, features a permadeath system where if you die you lose all your skills and items no matter how awesome your New Englander was. It’s an idea which I’m not entirely sure appeals to me. Permadeath is something which can make for an interesting and diverting game but if you give it to someone like me I might quickly get to the “oh-fuck-this” stage where I lose too much progress to be bothered starting again.

While so far what I’ve described sounds like a bunch of players all working in harmony to create a lovely little village while fighting off evil creatures it is not all so peaceful and idyllic. You see as well as permadeath there is also a constant PvP presence in the game where you can grief your fellow colonists with your fists or with Witchcraft. However you do so at your peril thanks to Salem’s interestign “crime and punishment” system (you can see a short video of that at the bottom).

If your character is killed by another then if you return to the scene of the crime you will find clues or “the scent of evil” which can elad you to the offending player and perhaps this time you’ll bring a posse of your friends who live up in the castle with the muskets to come down and give him a jolly good thrashing.

All in all the game sounds intriguing if nothing else and is apparently around the beta stage right now. I might well keep my eye on this one for the foreseeable future, and I might make sure that Nick has his eyes fixed on this… Blind to all else… So I can sneak up and milk his cow! Extra points in milking!

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