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Salem Preview

Sara Lau
Sep 2,2011  05:09 by
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The success and popularity of Minecraft demonstrates that indie games revolving around crafting and virtual world have become socially acceptable. Then will Salem, an upcoming MMORPG, continue to be a hit game? Let’s analyze this game together!

Salem is an idiosyncratic MMORPG with a focus on crafting, but interestingly, it may not look so unique at first glance. In fact, Salem easily reminds us of Wurm Online, a 3D fantasy MMORPG. And insiders from Seatribe have said frankly that this game is extremely similar to Haven and Hearth.

According to their remark, Salem is considered as an advanced version of Haven and Hearth, a 2D sandbox survival MMORPG. In contrast to H&H, Salem is set in a 3D fantasy world; therefore, the scenarios may differ, no matter how slightly. In addition, all the features advertised by its developer Paradox Interactive can be found in its unofficial predecessor, namely, Haven and Hearth. So anyone who is interested in this game can throw a glance at Haven and Hearth that is in its alpha stage now and can be played for free.

Inspired by some gothic novel writers like H.P. Lovecraft and Edgar Allan Poe, Salem is set in New England is in the 17th century when groups of immigrants come as pilgrims to the New World. There is no specific aim in this wondrous world, so the quests you seek will probably result in vain. Instead, you wait to explore a completely randomly generated realm which consists, of course, a boundless wilderness for you to settle down and build up in the initial phase. Consequently, everything you see on the screen is either systematically generated or created by players, including a wide variety of items in the game.

The most important component in Salem consists in resource management, and the production process, both in number and in length, is extremely impressive. Actually, even nails must be forged by yourself, which requires you to obtain irons at first. Similarly, if you want to harvest your own hay, you must plow the fields and sow the seeds. It seems this MMORPG strictly adheres to the old saying that Rome is not built in a day. So it may take quite a while to accomplish those real-time productions. And you have to spend approximately one week between sowing and reaping.

Despite the focus on the production and manufacture, Salem is still an MMORPG in essence which means that it features a whole process of character development. There is an in-game store which contains all kinds of fabulous clothes and gorgeous ornaments that can be used to embellish your avatar and improve your stats. In addition, there are four primary character statistics related to the supposed four humors. In detail, blood stands for health, so obviously it will decrease if you attack other players or animals. Mucus is representative of endurance that is consumed in crafting. Yellow bile is mainly consumed by fighting, while black bile is mainly consumed by the acquirement of new skills. The learnable skills are extremely various and specific, including windmill theory, attack ability etc. You must first learn the appropriate skills before you engage in a certain kind of quests.

When you are focusing on accomplishing some quests, remember to keep an eye on your attributes, because when one of these values drops to zero, you will faint. In this state, you are incapacitated for a while and can not use the inventory. If you are unfortunately hit by other players during your powerlessness, then you’re dead. Sadly, there is no miraculous resurrection in Salem, but you are allowed to create a new character and restart everything from scratch. But don’t worry! It is assumed that the number of murders occurring in the virtual society is almost as scant as that in our real life.

And there are several reasons behind it. First and foremost, it requires advanced skills to beat a player to the state of unconsciousness, let alone to kill him. And we guess that the learning of those skills is of considerable difficulty. Another reason is that there will be a self-regulation within the gaming community which deals with not only murders but also other crimes. For example, there will be a tenure system which impedes or prevents the construction of buildings in others’ settlements as well as general theft. But unfortunately, we can not find out more details concerning this matter.

Salem also incorporates a felony system which ensures that criminals are punished accordingly. For example, if you are assaulted, you can use appropriate skills, follow the trail of your attacker (indicated with an arrow), and bring him to justice. And if the violence he made to you are hideous enough, you can track down to the criminal, even if he logs out. Thanks to all these elements, crimes, especially murders, will be particularly rare. Nevertheless, the number of permanent death of the victims is still higher than that of the perpetrators.

And the crafting is kept relatively simple in the game. The majority of construction work can be finished with little more than a few clicks. However, the real endeavor lies in the procurement of necessary commodities and materials. The graphic style shares some similarities to that of HP Lovecraft. And the virtual cohorts are inspired by films of Tim Burton. As a result, you will encounter not only normal animals, but also some mythical creatures and monsters. The confrontation will undoubtedly lead to fierce conflicts which can take place in deep woods, abandoned villages as well as other realms.

And the only searchable screenshots date from January this year and are rather semi-official. Anyway, Salem looks quite mediocre as far as I can see. In particular, the business model awakens our doubt and worry. Salem is designed as a Free2Play game, but some features can also be bought with a virtual currency called Silver. We are afraid that the quests will probably be eventually replaced by storing silver resources which are purchasable with real money. As mentioned above, the production processes are very time-consuming, so it is likely that the game will end up in becoming a “Buy-to-Win” title.

To be honest, Salem leaves little to be desired in terms of its crafting aspect which provides an inestimable amount of possibilities. And hopefully, more will be added upon its official release, offering an irresistible attraction for the long haul.

Currently, Salem is still in a kind of pre-alpha state. According to an announcement, the beta will be launched in early 2012 and its official release is slated for the summer next year. Wait and see!

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