I've tried at least a few of the free to play civilization building MMO games, in an attempt to experience something significant and volatile. Unfortunately the ones I've come across have been nothing short of glorified Farmvilles with no neighboring settlements I could just walk up to and enter. Which is why I'm looking forward to the social and dramatic possibilities of Salem Online.
I understand that the community behind Salem Online is largely based on the core members from it's predecessor, Haven and Hearth, but I feel Salem will have such a large influx of new players that the previous game won't have much impact on the new one, socially of course. The reason I mention this is due to the comments I received on my first Salem article about how players have been treated negatively on a consistent basis in H&H and feel that the same frustrations will follow with Salem. Although this is a possible scenario I don't feel that it's going to carry much weight in determining the outcome of social interactions in Salem. Beyond the introduction of players completely new to the community, my reasoning lies in the fact that there will also be multiple servers on Salem. Each will eventually evolve with their own personality, but hopefully things will change often and this will combat the issue of a mostly negative, static social experience.
With that aside, I'd like to delve into the reasons I look forward to the social and communal aspects of Salem online. First and foremost I look forward to building a community with my close friends. It's always best to play MMOs with friends, but I feel Salem is one of those games where it is a must. For example, if you do not already have friends to start with, you should make some very quickly. There are of course certain people who always will be and love the life of a lone wolf, but they won't benefit from the social experience as much as a player who consistently plays with others. Plus, it's always faster and safer to build, craft, gather, and survive with trusted confidants.
Most importantly, you must remember that Salem Online has open world PvP. Even though the game isn't in a post-apocalyptic setting, it's very much the same dangerous environment. Law is only enforced by those who care and put forth the effort to bring justice to criminals. In a setting such as this, you may believe it to be a kill or be killed on sight type of thing, but that isn't always the best choice of action or a reliable method of greeting. There are many things which weigh heavily in the outcome of PvP, mostly the skill level and equipment of the person. There is no way you know who it is you are attacking. They may one shot you while you do almost no damage to them. This is a very good reason to be cautious when approaching new players with the intent of bringing them harm.
Your social choices in Salem will have a lot of impact on what you experience with PvP. There is indeed safety in numbers, but keep in mind that not all groups of people are going to be peaceful. One aspect of criminal activity that I believe will play a large part in the survival of criminals is the ability to work together when committing a crime, especially murdering, pillaging, and general banditing. This means you should be wary when traveling alone. I am also sure that not all criminal group activity will be viewed as crimes, because of such options as war. Two different communities which may normally be passive toward strangers, could at some point become rivals and start warring with each other. At this point in time they had better hope they also have allies to back them in their efforts to stave off annihilation. Treaties and alliances will play a huge role in the larger survival picture in the world of Salem. It will be interesting to see if the game can produce a powerhouse city formed by many alliances and collaboration between multiple groups, who will become one. Will they reign with terror or strive to bring peace to every corner of the land?
The fact that you can commit a crime at anytime in any location does not come without it's consequences however. Even if you are careful to do so without being seen or discovered while the crime is in progress, you will leave traces of your presence and actions. In Salem Online, there is a tracking system put in place that allows you to follow a relatively recent trail from the scene of a crime. This will hopefully bring some balance between the forces of good and evil within the community and allow justice to be served. Of course the system has to be balanced for both sides, allowing each the opportunity to prevail in a given situation.
The mechanics and tools are all there to give the players a choice in what role they will play within Salem and it's overall progression. I can't wait to watch how the land evolves with colonization of communities, both good and evil. It will be interesting to participate in this process and know that each action I make has an impact on the overall direction of the world.
I leave you with one question, do you plan on bringing peace to Salem or do you wish to reign evil across the land?Looking for more information on Salem Online? Check out these links for helpful data!
Video Interview with Paradox Developer - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D1u_po8mYzI
Salem Online Wiki - http://salemwiki.info/index.php/Main_Page
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