Wurm Online: Player Failure (Help Welcome)

Disclaimer: This is in no way an article meant to dismiss Wurm Online as a game. These are just my honest, completely noob experiences with the game for the first hour or two of play time.

I’ve heard of Wurm Online in passing, but didn’t take a real look at it until yesterday. I saw an advertisement for a new server and a land rush, and followed the banner link to see what it was all about. So, it’s a sandbox game with a long-term F2P trial, and skill-based leveling.

Instantly, I got flashbacks to MUDs of old and UO from days past. In a good way. So, I thought I’d give it a try. I’ve played old skool games. And while I read a lot of reviews that ripped it for the graphics, they say the gameplay is all there.

Starting Out

First thing I did was read up on wiki guides. Wurm Online has an extensive wiki… it needs one. So, I had already grasped the basics of the game before I installed it.

Installation is kinda funky in a Java sort of way. I had some troubles at first, but once I ensured Java was updated, it installed and ran without trouble.

The first thing I noticed was that the game was running in this tiny windowed screen. I tried to find an Options setting in game with no luck. So, giving up on that, I proceeded through the tutorial (which I’ve heard has been recently revamped).

I quickly realized that stepping on white sparklies caused notifications to pop up. The tutorial space is a bunch of signs that provide information on how to interact, equip yourself, and the very basics of movement and survival. It took me back to my MUD days when Look Sign was the way you learned how to Take All Corpse.

I got through the tutorial quickly (I seemed to earn an achievement for it). During this experience, I saw other folks wandering around, some obviously as new as I was. One of them asked the question that was hovering on my mind: “How do I change to third person view?”

The answer: “You can’t.”

Okay, so Wurm Online is forced first person perspective. Don’t care for that much as I like seeing my character and how they’re positioned compared to things that are beating on them. But I could deal, and continued to the portal that took me to Xanadu.

Exploring the World

The starting “town” looks a lot like this.

So I choose a spawning town, which is really not much of a town, and begin the real adventure. I hear all sorts of hammering and sawing around me, but I don’t actually see anyone working on stuff. I also see a ton of dead bodies lying around the spawn point. Hm…

I start walking around, looking for stuff to do. I knew from guides I read, it’s a good idea to work up foraging, cooking, and digging. I have all the tools I need in my beginner’s pack, which is good. I also know that even basic animals can slaughter you dead until you’ve raised your battle skill.

I’m not sure if it’s because everyone was making a land rush on this server but… aside from bears, wolves and scorpions, I never ran across another living animal to try my skill against. I heard other folks asking about it in help, and people told them to look harder — they’re out there. I couldn’t find them, either. I know I get free food for the first 24 hours, but if my livelihood relies on finding little critters to skin and cook, I’m not going to last long.

I finally got annoyed enough about the small window size to go to the wiki for help. I found out that the settings are selected at the launcher before you log in. So I log out, fixed my settings, improved my graphic settings, logged back in and readjusted my UI. Much better.

Wiki Help: 1

Confused Player: 0

Sandbox Troubles

I run across a few newly created settlements being made. Tents are pitched, folks are obviously working on crafting, skilling and creating things… though I only actually saw a few other people in my area.

After wandering for a while, I decided to put my time to use and work on skills, too. So the guide said digging was a good skill to start with.

Okay. I equip my shovel.

The guide says right-click and examine the ground — apparently you can’t dig on too great a slope until you work your skill up.

I right-click and see that the ground is within the spawning town’s territory. I’m guessing this means I can’t dig there, so I wander further away.

Wandering… wandering…

As I wander, I hear the sound of a bear attacking. I spin around, looking for the source of the trouble, but I can’t find it. It’s not attacking me. I see another player in chat shouting about bears, and I assume it’s attacking them. But I don’t see player nor bear.

Just how far do sound effects carry in this game? No matter where I walked, I couldn’t tell how close or far away this bear attack was happening. I couldn’t see it, nor could I get away from the sound of  it. Eventually, I guess the guards took care of it, because when I wandered back towards the town, I saw a dead bear lying there.


Well, back to trying to dig. I guess you can’t dig on grass, because no matter where I walked, I never got a dig option.

I got tired of not finding anywhere to dig, so, seeing a lot of trees, I decided maybe I could learn to chop lumber. So I equip my hatchet and… no option to cut down trees?

I could harvest and botanize trees (got lots of mushrooms and berries), but never did I find a single tree I could chop. I knew there had to be a way — I saw other trees chopped down around me and people building in the distance.

So what was I doing wrong?

Wiki time.

I got a lot of guides that just told me to go out and dig and chop to earn skill. I had the right item equipped, was right-clicking. But nothing, no matter what I did. I kept wandering further, thinking I was within community limits, with no luck.

Oh, wait. There was a time I found a dirt plot… and got really excited… only to discover it was within a community’s borders and so I couldn’t do anything with it. 🙁

I Googled “How to dig Wurm Online.” “Can’t chop trees Wurm Online.” I searched the wiki with no luck.

Wiki Help: 1

Confused Player: 1

I’m a shy player, so I’m not going to shout out in help chat “I’m a noob who can’t figure out how to do something as simple as dig.” On the other hand, shouldn’t this be a bit more intuitive? What’s the point of trees I can’t chop and ground I can’t dig? There’s plenty of both, can I can’t do anything with any of it. *mindboggles*


I just want a place to dig… :'(

Eventually, I wandered so far, and got nervous about not knowing how to get back to town (there’s no maps and the compass seems to work sporadically). So I purposely walked up to a scorpion and got myself killed to respawn.

Somewhere along the line, an invitation to join a township popped up. I thought to myself, “Really?” But, well, I’m a noob and that might mean help — as long as they don’t mind I’m a noob. So I join, hoping I might find folks to chat and ask questions with.

Well, if there’s a community/village/whatever chat, I couldn’t find it. I see the chat tabs that were pre-made — the system reminds me somewhat of Istaria’s chat tabs. So I went looking to find a way to create a new chat tab to meet these folks. No luck.

I turn to the wiki. Still no luck. Sigh in frustration and keep looking for a digging spot.

Wiki Help: 1

Confused Player: 2

Eventually, I realize all I’m going to do is wander because I can’t figure out how to do anything else. And while the graphics aren’t as terrible as some people made them out to be, and I could get use to first person view, playing a sandbox where I can’t find the sand was just too annoying to continue. So I logged out with furrowed brows.

Maybe I’ll spend time looking for help online. But again, I’m a shy person, and I hate to be that confused noob on forums that people point and laugh at. I really did make attempts to find information on my own — I spent more time in the wiki than in the game. I don’t consider myself a dumb or totally unskilled player…. I got along in games like UO and MUDS just fine.

What am I doing wrong? If anyone out there can point me in the right direction, I’ll happily give digging another shot! XD

Follow Up

Now that I have a bit more time to search the wiki, I think I have some ideas on what to try next time I log in.

To chop or dig, you have to activate a hatchet or shovel. That isn’t the same as equipping it. Odd… but that’s probably what I was doing wrong.

To create a village chat tab, you have to type something in /village first. Awkward for a shy player, but I’ll see if it works.

Will provide a follow up article to report my discoveries!