I've just started dabbling in Wurm Online, and while it was a very slow start for me (a few quite short sessions over 3 days, of wandering through the overcrowded central/starting zone) I eventually got an invite to hook up with a bunch of mature and helpful fellows in the southern portion of the map.
And after making the long trek down there, the game has really started to blossom for me. They main thing that has drawn me in is the peacefulness of playing. There's no annoying repetitive music, just the very pleasant ambient sound of wind in pine trees, birds chirping, the crackling of camp-fires and neighbours sawing wood and hammering nails into fences, walls and carts.
There is a PvP server, but that's not where I am. The Freedom server is open to pay to play accounts and free to play accounts. The only difference between free and pay is that free accounts are skill-capped at 20/100. It seems that you can learn everything, and skill gain is quite grindy, if you want to grind your skills up, but you don't need to. You can produce perfectly usable crafts at low level of skill and skill up slowly, just through using skills naturally.
And what's the game about? Well it's basically a super-complex version of Minecraft. In fact Notch helped create it. That was how I first heard of it, but I had never bothered to look further into it until now.
You gather materials from the natural world and use them to craft tools, which you use to craft bigger tools and eventually houses, fences, walls, castles. You can terraform the land to suit your taste. Entire canals have been carved out in the current map, linking vast bodies of water. I'll give you a fishing rod as an example.
If you don't have a cotton field to harvest, you need to forage until you randomly find some cotton. Then you need to cut down a tree and carve a spindle from a log so you can spin the cotton into a string. Then you need to whittle a shaft from the log to use as the actual rod. Then, if you want a low quality fishing rod you need to whittle yourself a crude fish-hook from wood. If you're happy with a crude fish-hook you combine the lot and hope you don't break anything in doing so. If you want a fancy fan-dangled fishing rod you need to go mine some iron ore, whittle some kindling, dig up some peat or gather some more wood, light a fire in a forge, feed it with your fuel of choice, melt your ore down into iron, and smith yourself some iron fish-hooks.
Of course, in the course of all the above you have also used an axe, carving knife, pick-axe, shovel, and you borrowed someone's forge.
And that's just making a fishing rod. Crafting doesn't pull the punches!
The pace of play is slow. You advance slowly, and improve your place in the world a little at a time. Today I mended some fences, put up some new ones, made myself some new tools and went fishing. It's all a very welcome calm and peaceful change to other games I have been playing a lot of lately.
And while the current non-pvp server is quite crowded, they are opening a brand new one on the 6th. Yeah, just a few days. And I'm going to head on over there and stake a claim.
I'm actually very surprised that there is not already a decent TOG following for this game (search the forums; I found almost nothing!!). It is eminently suited to those who live busy lives and use gaming as a way to get some peace at the end of a day. The graphics are pretty crude, but the serve the purpose. It's the ambient sound that really sucks me in. I have always loved the sound of wind in a pine forest, and Wurm just brings that alive for me. I'd almost leave it running while I went to sleep if it wasn't for the neighbours putting up fences and pens and what-not.
I find it really relaxing. And it doesn't have to take up a lot of time. You can just accomplish one goal every couple of days, if that's all you want to do. Or you can go hard and flatten a paddock, put up a house, fence it off, tame some stock and till and sow some fields all in a week.
So if anyone else is playing or is interested... Well carving out a niche in this new frontier-land is going to be a big job...