Sunday, October 12, 2014

Press F1 and all will become clear...

Lovely day on the beach.
Naked on the beach
I downloaded the game and opened it up, where I was given the choice to "create a world" or "join a world". I chose create, selected the default parameters and waited for something to happen. And waited...

After awhile I gave up on waiting and just joined some random-assed private server that was open to the public. I connected successfully in about a minute and found myself dropped on the beach in nothing but my whitey-tighties, where a window popped up and informed me that all I had to do was press F1 and everything would sort itself out for me. This reminded me a little of the classic EVE Online new player experience, of which one dev famously said, "Welcome to EVE, here's a Rubik's cube. Go fuck yourself." I'm sure that eventually the LiF devs will implement some sort of NPE, but I hope they keep it pretty bare bones. Make it hard - separate the wheat from the chaff.

Anyway, after pressing F1 and familiarizing myself with basic controls, I took a quick look around. Choppy performance, horrible FPS, and soul destroying lag were clearly going to be an issue. I immediately went and set all my graphics to the lowest possible settings, which helped somewhat. A little searching on the official forums turned up this advice from player Christaston70:

Please follow these steps:

1. locate your game folder in my computer, steam, steam apps, common. 

2. access the DATA folder. 

3. open the pref.cs or prefs file with notepad. (CS file)

4. Change these commands.

$pref::Shadows::disable = "1";
$pref::Shadows::filterMode = "None";
$pref::Shadows::textureScalar = "0";
$pref::Video::antiAliasing = "0";
$pref::Water::disableTrueReflections = "1";

I followed the instructions to turn shadows off and tried again. FPS was still poor, but the game was now playable on my shitty laptop.

First gameplay impressions
I have wood.

I spent a little while running around aimlessly in my underwear. There seemed to be lots of forest, an endless beach, and rocky hills inland. I wasn't quite sure what to do with myself, being apparently alone with no items and unsure how to interact with my environment, so I consulted the tutorials on the official LiF site.

Pretty soon I was harvesting plant fibers and branches, and making myself a primitive axe. It quickly struck me just how laborious it was going to be to make even simple items. I cataloged the information in my brain - this is good. If items are hard to make, then the people who make them will be unhappy when I steal them. They may even attack me. The possibilities for emergent player-generated content are beginning to take form.

Then the tutorials directed me to track some wild critters and go kill them with my new axe. So I found a set of tracks. They were quite difficult to see, but I managed to follow them for some distance before they disappeared. I tried again. After about an hour of repeating this and never seeing any animals, I decided that hunting was just not for me. To date I have still not found any wild animals. No great loss, though. This business of hunting NPC animals smacks suspiciously of PVE, and I hate PVE.

Having given up on hunting, I tried making a few more primitive tools. I chopped down a tree and carried the log around for awhile. I made a fishing pole and fished unsuccessfully. I made a campfire. I dug up some roots and ate them.

Around that time, I started to feel that I had the basics of how moving around and making things works, so I decided to log out, consult some the forums and guides posted by other players, and formulate my plans for stage 2 of my career - learning how to set up a home base and make the weapons I need to rob, destroy, and pillage other player's settlements.

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