Why Reeds Are Darned Interesting

Be warned: this post might make you want to play another MMO.

Crafting is an eternally popular part of MMORPG play, but for nearly every MMO, it’s a subgame at best – somewhere between a trivial clickfest and a not-terribly-complicated minigame. From time to time, people call for an MMO dedicated to crafting – no combat, no raiding, just Making Things. But could crafting on its own ever be fun? And how would a game like that work?

Well, fortunately, there’s an answer out there already, and it’s A Tale In The Desert (ATITD).

Longtime readers will know I have a soft spot for ATITD – although I don’t have time to play it properly these days, the months I spent playing the unique game of building, advancing and developing in Ancient Egypt were some of the most memorable I’ve had in any MMO. And its tremendously complex, detailed, fascinating crafting mechanics were part of the reason for that (alongside the subtly competitive trading, barter and cooperation of the social game).

Today, Jeromai at Why I Game offers a superbly detailed insight into a completely alternate reality of MMO gaming for most of us, as he delves into the world of Papyrus farming to bring non-ATITD players a glimpse into just what makes ATITD so compelling

My pet theory, which I haven’t bothered to prove or disprove, but I believe in general, papy yields seem to decrease the further north you go. Or at least, when I was living way down in the south of Egypt in a previous Telling, I was getting 8:1 – 10:1 yields of papyrus. In another Telling, I lived in the middle of Egypt and got 5:1 – 8:1 yields. And in this Telling, I live up near the nothern part of Egypt and got colossally bad yields of 2:1 – 3:1 papyrus, going up to 5:1 if I searched all manner of lakes and ponds.

Now this could simply be an artifact of how the regions are laid out, and people tending to plant papyrus along the Nile near to where they stay. One thing is for sure, there are good areas to plant papyrus, and areas that aren’t. And only experimentation will tell you more and help you decide where you prefer planting it.

If you’re planting along the Nile, it is generally convenient to find an area with land bridges that will help you easily cross to both sides to pick (as papy grows on both sides of the river), that gives decent yields, and has few to no ‘dead spots’ where you’ll find no papyrus growing along the shore (having drifted inland to a lake or pond.)

If you do encounter a ‘dead spot,’ consider taking the time to wander 100-300 coordinates east or west of the Nile to check ponds and lakes and see where the papyrus has gone. They tend to turn up in the same area. If it’s just one big lake or pond, consider if it’s worth the tradeoff to walk there later and go round to pick up the inland papy. If it’s a lot of small ponds that look like an archipelago or are difficult to run to, then you’ll have to decide if you want to keep growing in that place and whether you’ll put up with the running inconvenience to maximize yield, or write off those inland papy.”

This is a long read, to be sure. And you may be unsure that reeds are worth the effort.

But if you’re interested in game mechanics, in alternate gameplay styles, and in learning more about a game that’s truly unlike anything else out there, I’d recommend giving it your time.

Have you played ATITD? What did you think?