Things We Want To See More Of: Community Based Building Games

Okay, so, let’s start off with one of the things that I especially want to see more of – truth be told, I’ve not spoken to the others. The “we” is more that the list is our list of things, but each thing on it may be something that just the writer wants to see… So, when Benny writes something about wanting to see more of Piers, be aware that he is alone in this.

Before I make the “continue reading” section, I’ll explain what I mean by “community based building games”. Full explanation below, but, in short, it would be a multi player game where you build not only your settlement, but everything to do with the community which inhabits it is created by the gamer/s, and everyone fills a role inside that community.

Now, a few of you are probably screaming at your screen, going “what about Wurm, what about Mineraft?” – yeah,  they’re both great games in their own way, but they’re limited. No matter what anyone will ever tell you, they are limited games.

Let’s talk about where they succeed.

First, Wurm is probably the closest that I can think of to what it is we need more of, and I guess it would sort of count as a fore-runner for what I’m after. It’s got the community element – you can form settlements with people, built by hand, from scratch, using the resources that you’ve gathered and scavenged and fought over. You can have everyone in the settlement take on a particular role, such as hunter or gatherer or farmer or woodsman, builder, whatever. You can do that, because, undoubtedly, someone will have a higher skill level in that activity than everyone else, which means it is easier for them to do – they fail less, and as such, use less resources to make the same thing as a newbie. And you can make more too, now that I come to think of it.

“Come. It is time to keep your appointment with the Wicker Man.”

It’s got currency, religion, and pretty good graphics considering. Unlike Minecraft, which is heralded for the simplistic look (and I’ve defended it a few times myself), the items in Wurm are actual items. Boxes are box shape and look like boxes, there are barrels, boats of, like, six different designs, the walls of a building all occupy the space around a square, as opposed to being the square.

The problem is, that all of this is built in already. The religion, the currency system, everything. Your sole decision is whether to become involved with it or not. And some of the players are dicks. I got lucky. Last time I tried to give it a go, I ended up starting right after a new server was opened, which meant that all I had to do was get through the sluggish tutorial, to the server choosing section, and get somewhere quiet. In the end, I helped set up a settlement. Can’t for the life of me remember anyone who was there, but I had a small house, I had a cart (two, actually), a boat, the works. I was part of a community. I was a waste of resources, but I was a part of it.

Now for Minecraft. I will admit, I enjoy the graphics, and I enjoy the freedom. Other than the achievements system and “The End”, there’s nothing for you to accomplish, other than what you set out to achieve. Want to climb the mountain? Want to shave a mooshroom? Want to bake a cake? Then do it. Set up a small camp to live in, and then go ahead.

I’ve seen some amazing things in Minecraft, both from my time playing it, and from videos people have made. I admit, my most wonderful creations have got to be the ones I’ve made in creative mode are the best, but they are still wonderful creations. Such as the giant ship, “The Millennium Sea-Bass”, or my Fallout style “Vault Door”. And there’s so much more wonderful things out there. I’ve seen clocks, and roller-coasters. There’s elevators and I think I remember seeing an escalator once. I’ve even had a hand in creating a Total Wipeout style obstacle course.

Yeah, I wish I’d made something like that…

But communities are different. You can build a settlement with people, or by yourself, and you can live in it, use mods to make your own shops, make churches with religions icons in, so that you can worship them, and all that kind of stuff. But you can also do all of this by yourself.

No matter what the movies may teach us, or what we may want to believe, if the apocalypse came, we would almost certainly die, if we were by ourselves. We don’t have the time in the day to make a decent enough shelter, hunt for food, avoid whatever creepy fiends are hanging around out there, and everything else, by our selves. We couldn’t settle a new continent by ourselves, either. We need people to work together to do this sort of thing – we need people who specialise in construction to make the village, or the town, and we need people who are good at farming to get the food, and we need people who can hunt to get meat, and so on, and so forth.

What I propose, is a game very similar to both games, but completely different.

Hmmm… I could tame that land!

You start off on a beach, with nothing but the people you came with and the boat you came in – maybe you packed resources, maybe you didn’t. Either way, you have to make this land into something you can inhabit. You’ve got twenty people, so you each take a job – a few of you take stock of what you have, a few of you split up to find a nice place to settle properly, someone starts to evaluate the foraging potential in the area – that sort of thing.

After a week, you’ve managed to construct a small home for everyone to sleep in, and as time goes on, you start cutting down the trees and turning them into more tools, and more buildings. You decide to build a church, or a village hall, before working on homes for everyone – maybe five of you build, whilst another five get the building resources, five continue to explore the area and five get whatever food you can and start work on a farm. You know you’ve got maybe a few weeks before you run out of food, and although you can’t farm anything in that time, you can start to grow food in time for harvest.

And you continue, until after a while, you realise that you’re not alone. There’s maybe a dozen other settlements, all having started out like you did. And the resources are limited – you can fight over them, or you can trade them. Your town has about 80% of all the coconuts in the land, and everyone else loves the little coconut shavings that you can get on desserts, and so, they threaten to attack, or they try to make a trade agreement – alliances and feuds are formed, and the next thing you know, you’re living a second life in a land where you make, and follow, all the rules. Nothing to hold you back but the civilisation that you helped to build.

All hail the coconut warrior-God, “Desic”!

That would be a good game to play, I think, and I want to see more that get close, or, maybe, even manage to become it.

That Guy


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