Sunday, 13 March 2016
The Longer View : Black Desert Online
Late last night I realized I had a conger eel in my pack that wouldn't last the night. Fish spoils quickly. If you don't sell it while it's fresh then you can't sell it at all.
Neither can you sell it just anywhere. Only the Trade NPCs will buy it and they will only pay you a fair price if you have linked all the necessary nodes. Don't ask. Life's too short.
You can sell to an unlinked trader but you'll only get 30% of the price a linked one would give you. For a cheap, common fish that's acceptable to me. I'm not hauling haddock (not an actual BDO fish - as far as I know) five miles just to get a few hundred silver more for it.
Conger eels, though, are not common. They are Yellow quality, which is the fourth and highest tier. That makes them valuable. They sell for somewhere north of 20,000 silver.
That's worth a little travel time although not as much as you might imagine because whoever designed Black Desert's Economy clearly had a soft spot for hyperinflation. Remember those pictures we all saw when we were at school studying the Rise of Fascism in Germany? The ones where someone was wheeling a wheelbarrow full of banknotes to the baker just so they could buy a loaf of bread?
Well, the BDO economy is like that. You have one grade of coin, silver, and even basic items are priced in thousands or tens of thousands. Anything truly desirable goes for tens of millions. There's probably a lot more to it than that but that's the impression I'm getting.
Even so, a 20k fish is not to be sniffed at. So to speak. Examining the fish handily tells you where it was caught and this eel came from the waters around Iliya Island. Since I hadn't connected Iliya to anywhere that meant yet another round on the ferry. Must have been the third round trip of the day. I should get a season ticket. Oh, wait, it's free...
The sun was nearing the horizon as I boarded the ferry. Evening light was turning the ocean to copper. For a moment I contemplated getting my fishing rod out for the journey but the boat passes through the waters attached to several nodes that I haven't connected, which would mean a bag full of fish I'd have to sell for a fraction of their value. Kind of what I was trying to avoid in the first place.
So I left my rod in my pack. Instead I decided to do something I'd seen another player do earlier. She'd managed to sit on the rail of the boat. I thought it looked like something the cool kids were doing so why not?
Black Desert is almost unique among MMOs I've played in that it appears to have no basic /sit command. I tried it early on to no effect. There's a convoluted way to bring up a window with all the emotes shown as icons but there isn't one for Sitting there, either.
As usual I had to google it and it transpires that to sit you have to back up to a potential sitting spot and press Q. If the game deems your chosen object a fit match for your posterior your character will do a little bit of posturing and hoick themselves up onto it, or down, as appropriate.
So, I sidled up to the rail and hit Q and up she hopped. It did look for a moment as though she was going to do a comedy pratfall into the sea but she got settled and there we were, ready for the trip. Which was when the window popped.
As I said, Black Desert is full of surprises and it likes to spring them on you unannounced. The game has an "Observation" mode that comes into effect when you sit down. It allows you to de-link your camera from your character's point of view and send it high into the air, free-floating.
You acquire a whole set of new controls that let you swing the PoV around as though you were operating a high crane. It is fantastic!
The views that open up when you have access to this device are just astonishing. At first I kept sweeping and swerving it around, marveling at the sudden changes of perspective. The painterly long shots made Velia harbor look like something by Breughel. Then I found the zoom, which let me swoop in for close-ups on the crowded streets. It felt astonishingly real.
As the boat left the harbor I turned and saw the sunset. It was just stunning. Small craft moved across the burnished waters between isles that drifted in the haze. On the ferry with me were the NPC helmsman and one other player, fishing from the prow.
The whole voyage lasted ten or fifteen minutes and it was one of the most ethereal, immersive experiences I have ever had in an MMO. It wasn't in any way like a game. I wasn't doing anything gamelike - just sitting. and watching. It was like watching a movie but from the inside.
From time to time I wished I could video the whole thing. I thought of firing up FRAPS but I didn't want to break the mood by tabbing out. In the end I just sat there, soaking up the atmosphere, taking the odd screenshot now and again. They really don't give more than the merest hint of how it was.
And then we pulled up alongside the pier at Iliya harbor and I stood up and the camera snapped back to normal and I got off the boat and sold my conger eel and that was that. Next time I ride the ferry I'll know about Observation mode and I'll be expecting the views and they won't ever be quite as amazing or as surprising or as emotionally involving as that first time.
But they'll always be something worth seeing.