Ash is Awesome
I have a really huge wishlist on steam, in part because it is a nice way of tracking all of those games that I see every now and then that interest me. Steam will remind me through their UI when they go on sale, and sometimes this is extremely handy. However occasionally it has unintended consequences, like for example… during Pax Prime my friend Ashgar somehow acquired a copy of the sandbox building game Creativerse. The other night he handed me a key for it, and over the last few days I have been playing a significant amount of it. I remember looking at the game and thinking “Pretty Minecraft” and honestly… after playing a lot of it that title still largely applies. Minecraft is a charming game, but it is also a fairly primative game. The magic of Minecraft comes from the fact that it has been so easy to extend and create new types of experiences out of. So in the meantime there have been lots of games that have come out providing a much more aesthetically pleasing experience. Until recently I would have crowned SkySaga the king of this new breed of “pretty minecraft” games, but after playing Creativerse… I think maybe it is more fitting the title.
When you enter the game you are asked to create a name for your character and choose a simple boy or girl avatar. The game loses some points with me right out of the gate because these avatars really are not customized in any fashion. From there you can set up your own private world or join someone elses, and similar to a minecraft server you can toggle different variables. My world for example has PVP disabled, and I set a password… but for the life of me I cannot seem to remember what password I set which will probably come back to bite me in the ass at a later date. You are plunked into this pretty world with a power glove that allows you to pull blocks up from the ground, and a stick that serves as your default weapon. The first thing I noticed was how generally difficult combat is because I died quite a bit trying to sort out which types of creatures I could kill and which I could not. The other item that I finally noticed I had in my inventory allowed me to change my spawn point and plunk down a teleporter allowing me to pop around the world freely and teleport back to my spawn point later.
The Struggle is Enjoyable
With Minecraft, from almost the first moment I set foot in game… I had resources that I could draw on. There are wikis of every sort that contain detailed information about what every block does and how you can best use it in the game world. So far I have not found anything similar for Creativerse, or at the very least when I google for anything… all that returns is a series of YouTube videos. Since I don’t want to have to wade through a YouTube video to find the one nugget of information I need… I just started falling back on the things I know as true in Minecraft. The basic logic of how the world works is very similar, but the primary difference comes in the actual creating of things. Recipes in Creativerse are significantly more complicated than they are in Minecraft. For example to create stone flooring, you need raw stone which is a given, but also stone rods and melted wax. You get the melted wax by taking honey comb that you can only find way up high in the leaves of trees… and melting it in a forge. The end result is this complicated sequence of chicken and egg scenarios where you never actually reach a point of equilibrium where resources no longer are a problem. Coal for example is one of the basic resources needed in both Minecraft and Creativerse… but the primary difference is very early on in Minecraft I reach a point where I no longer care about getting Coal, however here since I have to use special expendable extractor items to harvest it… I am constantly searching for a new supply of both the resources to build more extractors and more coal nodes to extract.
The problem with Minecraft is ultimately that we know that game too well. Within thirty minutes of a new game I can go find every resource I need to do pretty much everything I would want to do. In Creativerse I feel more at the whim of spawn dynamics and hoping to find the right needle in the haystack to keep moving forward. I’ve learned several things, like how to find Diamond, but I still cannot for the life of me figure out a way to get a reasonable supply of obsidian… which is needed for most of the Diamond item crafting. One of the nice things about this game is that as you collect an item it starts opening up your recipes for said resource. Then by crafting sub components it will unlock further things that you can create with it. Occasionally while out in the field you can find books or pages of paper that contain special “fancy” versions of existing items that you already know how to create. As you go through the game you upgrade your weapon and powercells for your glove, that allow you to do progressively more advanced things. However at no point even though I am swinging a magitek looking sword… do I feel like I have made combat any easier. When I see a creature especially while delving deep into the earth… there is still a high likelihood that I am going to get faced rolled and add another “death statue” to my collection. The game keeps giving you these rock idols each time you die… and I’ve started surrounding my base in them as a bit of a sign of honor.
Darkness is Dangerous
Much like Minecraft there is a day night cycle and during the night things spawn that do not appear during the day. For lack of a better term I am going to call these things “corrupted” versions of the normal monsters that you can find during the day. When the sun raises they disappear just like they do in Minecraft. One thing that is different however is during the night treasure chests also appear to spawn, and wandering around the countryside looking for them is much easier because they give off a glow that you can see for a large distance. However to do this you also have to survive the onslaught of aggressive critters that are generally slightly tougher than their day time counterparts. These treasure chests also often give you access to materials that you cannot find yet on your own and give you a bit of a jump start. The problem being however… if you find an item in a treasure chest you have no clue where it actually came from. There has been a lot of trial and error and me taking on things just to see what sorts of materials they might drop. Funny enough it took me a really long time to figure out how to get a reliable source of sinew which is used by so many crafts.
While the game does not have the sort of food and water survival system that Minecraft eventually adopted and so many addons provided, it does have something interesting. When you are exposed to dangerous conditions you start to see an exposure bar appear. For example if you are roaming through the solidified Magma area, you will start see a flame gauge begin to creep up. I am not sure what happens when the gauge reaches the top, but I am guessing you catch on fire and die. Similarly in the above image you can see a purple biohazard gauge which is when I broke through into the “corrupted” zone. Deep under ground I found an area that had a slight purple glow, and featured corrupted trees and all sorts of nasty creatures. It has been extremely difficult to explore because I broke through into the cavern way the hell up into the air, and I can only spend so much time in there before my corruption creeps too high and I have to retreat. I need to figure out how exactly you can fight these influences and see if there is a way to counteract the exposure gauge. Similarly I went out exploring and found a tundra biome and the entire time I was there a cold exposure gauge kept creeping up. With no real way to counteract it I finally had to teleport back to base. The tunnel to the corrupted zone is deep under my base so I figure at some point over the next few days I will explore it further.
Speaking of Bases
Almost all of my time so far has been spent underground, but towards the end of the night I started working on an above ground dwelling I can be more proud of. For a long time I had a simple stone shack plunked out in the middle of the Savannah. Last night I started raising walls for a courtyard and building a proper stone floor. I am not sure exactly where I am going with it, but I just wanted something more noticeable while I am out roaming around. I want to build some sort of a tower and place a beacon at the top of that now that I finally have all of the components to build one. I am certain that once I build a white beacon it will start unlocking the patterns for different colors. The building system is pretty intuitive, but it reminds me more of Trove than it does of Minecraft in that you toggle back and forth between building and combat modes. Trove would honestly be my ultimate “minecraft-like” game if it weren’t for the simple blocks and insanely garish color palette. I love the combat though, and that along keeps me coming back… I am just not that big of a fan of the building aspect. Creativerse however seems to have that side of the equation for me, and if you also really like Minecraft, but are getting tired of its primitive client… you might check this game out. Right now it is $19.99 on Steam Early access, but supposedly if it ever launches it will be free to play. They originally planned on being in early access for 4-6 months… but now it has been a little over a year so who knows how long it will last.