Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Don't Tell Me! I'll Figure It Out!

is really good. There, I've said it. 

I know. I'm always saying new mmorpgs are really good. It's not because I'm easily pleased or because I have low standards. (Although I am and I might...) It's because a lot of them just are

Of course, a whole lot of the attraction comes from novelty. We all know that. It's why every new release attracts a flurry of tourists. It's not just the new scenery, either. For a lot of people who obsess about these kinds of games (Everyone reading this, by definition.) a huge proportion of the appeal comes from figuring out the systems, then mastering them.

Well, in my case, just the first part. I rarely get to "master" anything in video games, or try to. Only this morning, as I was trotting around Aeternum, picking up presents from the side of the road, I found myself musing on just how much I didn't want to get to sixty in New World

That's going to be the starting-point for an entirely different post, assuming I ever get around to writing it,  but the pertinent fact is I sometimes enjoy learning how to do stuff more than I enjoy doing it when I know how. A lot of the mmorpgs I've written about enthusiastically here, for a few days or weeks, only never to mention them again, have faded only when I finally felt I had a reasonably sound grip on how they worked and was able to see quite clearly where that was leading. 

To give you a sense of scale, the tiny one with the red dot over it is the same model as my mount.
Chimeraland is a good way from that plateau still. An awful lot doesn't make much sense yet and plenty of what does is confusing anyway. It also has a lot of systems and mechanics. A lot. It's going to be a while before I have much of a clue where the game is going.

I mean, all these kinds of games are over-complicated and convoluted but this one takes it to the next level. I keep running into concepts I don't quite get or mechanics that don't seem to make sense. I just love it. It keeps me thinking all the time I'm playing. That's a huge draw for me.

It's not that the game's short of explanations. It has a pretty good in-game play-guide and just about everything has properly informative tool-tips. It's more that the information only ever goes so far and that's never quite far enough. There's always a bit more you have to figure out for yourself. It adds value in my book, although I can see how it might do quite the opposite for some. 

The other side of the mountain.


The UI is well-designed, comfortable, intuitive, all of that and yet there are so many menus and windows and pop-ups to navigate. When it turns out what I read didn't mean what I thought it did and I need to read it again, I frequently can't find my way back.

Judging by the "Busy" sign that hangs over all the servers and the ever-increasing sprawl of half-built houses across the countryside, Chimeraland looks to be quite successful. Normally, a game in that happy state would be spawning all kinds of online, third-party "How Tos" and "Guides" by now. It's not, or if it is I'm not finding them. 

I bet they exist, just in the languages of the countries where those servers are based. The game may be global but I don't imagine it has much market penetration in the West just yet.  

If you'd rezzed me faster, Ape, we might have gotten some loot.


It should. It's a good game. I'm enjoying it a lot. And no-one's killed me. Yet.

Just the opposite, in fact. Well, I suppose the opposite would be that someone had rezzed me, which hasn't happened, although you do get a "Call for Help" option when you fall over. 

I was about to use it yesterday, after some giant beast let fly with an AE and downed me. Again. It served me right. I was trying to leech at the time. Some higher-levels had the massive fluffball down to a few percent when I arrived and I thought I could pop a few bolts into the back of the thing and take the credit. (Will he never learn?)

I thought I'd gotten away with it but just as the monster went down, so did I. Before I could humiliate myself further by begging for someone to pick me up, my pet ape came barreling over and rezzed me. 

It was news to me he knew how and there's another of the complexities of the game, right there. I looked him up on the list of companions and there it is. He rezzes. 

Hey! You with the wagon! How come these AEs don't hit you?
The pets or companions or whtever you want to call them all do different things. So do the mounts. It's probably just as well there only a handful of gear slots because there's more than enough to balance with the plethora of abilities bolted on from pets, mounts, vehicles, star signs and who knows what else.  

Browsing down the list of possible pets (All of which, like every object and entity in the game, come with details of where and how to "obtain" them.) I spotted a couple I really liked. A short while later something really weird happened. The pet I'd earmarked as the first I might go looking for turned up in my bed.

That's a thing that happens in Chimeraland. As soon as you claim a plot of land and start building it's open house for NPCs. Literally. They appear in your house, stand on your terrace, sit on your chairs and, as I found as soon as I made myself somewhere to lie down, sleep in your bed.

The first to take forty winks in my brand-new double bed was a Cthuuluesqe squid-headed creature. He wanted paying to go away, like most of them. When I got back after another hunting trip to find a cat sitting cross-legged on the counterpane I expected the same routine but no, he turned out to be the very same companion I'd been thinking of tracking down. 

Just don't shed, that's all I ask.


I had a chat with him. I offered him an entry-level post in my organization. He said he'd think about if I could come up with a signing-on fee, payable in "Drunken Fish". 

That led to me spending the next half-hour waist-deep in the clear water at the foot of my property, rod in hand, casting into the river, reeling in anything that bit. Until then I hadn't been planning on learning how to fish, even though I'd somehow acquired not one but two fishing rods. 

It turns out be much like fishing in every mmorpg. You equip the rod like a weapon, hit LMB to cast, wait til the float bounces around to tell you you've got a bite, then hit LMB a few more times in a mini-game until your fish is landed. Or gets away. Mostly gets away.

It took me a while to get the feel of it. There's a clear explanation in game, with anotated screenshots, yet it still manages to leave out a couple of essential points, like which button to press to "Reel In" and, crucially, how you need to wait a fraction of a second between the bite and hitting that button or you'll fail every time. Or I guess that could have been lag.

Have I really been at this since lunchtime?


Once I'd got the rhythm it was easy. I came home with a selection of fish and started throwing them into the Stove, the home cooking station I'd made for expressly for the purpose. 

Cooking in Chimeraland works a little like it does in Guild Wars 2 in that you can put any ingredients you like into the pot and hope it makes something edible. If it does, you get the recipe. Sometimes, you also get completely unrelated recipes for things you definitely didn't put in, even for things you don't have. I have no idea how that works.

What you don't get, if you're me, is a recipe for "Drunken Fish". By the time I'd used up all my fish with nothing to show for it other than some quite tasty fish stew, the cat had gone. I have his agreement to join me, if I can come up with what he wants, safely signed and sealed in my quest journal, so I'm sure he'll be back... assuming I can ever find those pesky Drunken Fish.

This is what it's like. This is why I like it. I love it when I don't know what's going on and then slowly I do.

Did I mention you can go on dream adventures from your bed? Well, you can.


I was fiddling about in the menus looking for something, when I noticed an exclamation mark against one of the tiny social icons. Red exclamation marks always mean you've done something that needs attention - set a flag, met a goal, earned an achievement. There's often a reward or points to spend so even though I normally keep well clear of the social functions in strange mmorpgs, I clicked on it to see what might be there.

Two people had sent me "Friend" invites. I thought about it for a bit. Again, normally I turn down those kinds of drive-bys. Then I noticed I also had three "Likes" for my house. 

I had no idea you could "Like" someone's house. I can also tell you now, after twenty minutes of trying to find out, I have no idea how you do it. I accepted the invites and went to visit my nearest neighbor to see if I could figure out how to "Like" her house. It deserves a "Like". It's very impressive.  

I like it. I just can't "Like" it.


I went all around it, clicking on everything, including the name panel that appears as you approach but nothing. I googled it with no more success. I'm wondering if it's a function of the social panel but I don't want to find myself accidentally starting a conversation with someone I haven't even met.

That, by the way, is what I meant earlier, when I suggested my experience in the game so far has been the opposite of being gamked by strangers. I'm not sure a friend invite is the exact mirror of a murder but it's close enough.

I played Chimeraland a lot yesterday. Four or five hours, at least. I would have played more if it hadn't been for the lag. My experience so far has been remarkably smooth, given the servers are on another continent, but yesterday afternoon I was rubber-banding all over the place and there were several disconnects.

It shows how much of a good time I must be having that I didn't just pack it in and go play something else instead. I weathered the storm, complained a lot (To myself.) and felt rewarded when I came back for a second session after tea to find everything as smooth as butter once again.

Does your Home Insurance cover damage from flying trees?


Speaking of storms, boy do they have them in Chimeraland! The rain lashes, lightning strikes, the wind whips whole trees out of the ground and hurls them into the sky. It's spectacular but it's more than just special effects.

Chimeraland has an extensive set of climactic conditions that directly affect your character's abilities. There are stats for cold, heat and humidity and gear, food and potions to offset the negative effects. When I got near the top of a mountain last night I could see my character shivering in the snow. It's yet another system I don't yet understand but just knowing it exists makes me want to dig in and get to grips.

I did manage to work out how to hatch a mount from an egg. It involves making a Hatcher, putting the egg in on it and then sitting on to of both of them. There's a timer and you have to sit on your egg until it runs out. 

I had an egg in my bag, from I have no idea where. I made a Hatcher, sat on the egg and hatched it. It took a few minutes. Now I have a Leoparbeak, which looks just like you'd think it would, with that name.

Inset is the hatch timer and the two temperature gauges. All I really had to do was sit and wait, though.

One of the few English-language guides I have been able to find says "Leoparbeak is undoubtedly one of the fastest pets that players get to use as a mount on land. " It certainly is a major improvement on the horse, that's for sure. It feels great to ride and it fairly zips around. 

Mount animations are very well done. They look convincing and feel solid, as do the mounts themselves. They should. - They appear to have full collision. If you run into a tree at speed sometimes the tree will break. Well, it happened once. I tried riding into some more trees after that but I couldn't get it to happen again. I did stun my horse, though.

Slopes have a more reliable effect. I tried riding my leoparbeak up a mountain and he balked and rolled over, throwing both of us onto the ground. Luckily, you tend to cling to sheer surfaces like you do in EverQuest and there's very little in the way of falling damage.  

Sometimes the graphics are mundane. Other times they're magical.


I'm painfully aware I'm just shotgunning facts and anecdotes about the game now. The trouble is, I don't know nearly enough to go into any of it in depth and if I did, no-one but me would care. I have to get something of my experience down on paper all the same because it's all whirring around in my mind.

I play mmorpgs for a lot of reasons - fun, entertainment, relaxation, excitement, socializing - but of all them I fancy the most compelling is this: to find out how they work. Sometimes, when you peel away the surface there's not much there beneath. Perhaps Chimeraland will turn out to be a hollow shell. A chimera, if you will.

I don't think so, though. Like the mounts, it feels solid. I'm going to keep on digging. I'll let you know what I find.


  1. At some point I've really got to do more than squint at the character creation options while going "REALLY?" in vague disbelief.

    1. I haven't made a second character yet. Haven't dared. According to the website there are actually only eighteen races. "Only". But then they go on about how they look different at at different ages and it gets very confusing.


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