So I made an alt. I had a specific challenge I wanted to try -- I wanted to see how far I could get with a character who was restricted in a particular way -- and so, after the rush of new signups had abated somewhat, I woke up on Gentle Island with a brand-new identity. May I just begin by saying how much I love the new tutorial: it's so sweet and kind and funny and warm and inviting that it made me fall in love with Glitch all over again.
But guys. GUYS. I'm here to tell you that this game is hard when you're just starting out. I knew in an intellectual way that it was hard, I vaguely remembered a time back when it was hard... but actually playing as a noob brings home just how very very hard it is. Now don't get me wrong: I love playing this new character. I love rediscovering the game through her eyes, revisiting quest areas I haven't seen in a year or more, and building her in precisely the way I want to. She is deepening my appreciation for Glitch and I'm really glad I made her. But: HARD.
Fellow oldbies, let's just imagine having a tank of 100. One. Hundred. When playing my alt, I actually get nervous staring at the upgrade screen trying to decide which card to pick, because energy-rot could send me to Hell while I'm idly flipping through the deck. And I've actually played this game a long time, and have a pretty good sense of what the cards say; a true noob could well die in the 5 minutes it takes to read the flavour text and make an informed decision.
Oh, that 100 tank. If someone sends me a friendly IM, I have to decide whether I have enough energy left to tide me over while I write a response. When my alt finally learned Meditation, I thought she was saved... except her Max Relax gave her a whopping 8 energy and mood. 8! For Max Relax! (For the record, buying that Orb cleaned her out financially, even when she bought it discounted at auction rather than for the ridiculous 1344 the vendor wanted.) And of course you reach Zen after maybe a dozen meditation sessions, which for me usually happens around six in the morning on game day.
Food helps, but it brings its own problems. Almost every prepared food overfills you by a tragically wasteful amount, and raw foods take a surprisingly high amount of energy, time, and effort to harvest. I think of a new Glitch as being like a hummingbird, constantly eating and eating and eating, moving only as far as it takes to get to the next meal, which will fuel you for exactly as long as it takes to get the meal after that. Hey, remember when squeezing a chicken took five energy and gave you one grain? Remember how many butterfly massages you once had to provide, and how exhausting they were, and how expensive all the lotion was, and how, for all that trouble, you got one milk at the end? And don't even get me started about how much energy it takes to make the cheese you need for all the early recipes, and how you don't even get imagination for your effort. I love gathering -- it's how I spend almost all of my time as PQ -- but there's an urgency to it, dare I say panic, for a new player that I had long since forgotten.
For those of us who woke up on May 2, 2012, with a million iMG in our bank accounts and all the skills we needed to get by, it's impossible to imagine just how carefully a new player needs to choose her skills and upgrades. This is actually my favourite part of playing my alt, since she gets to direct her growth in a way that PQ never really did and it is really, really fun. But man, you gotta choose mindfully, since your iMG is very scarce and goes up by only a few points at a time -- and as I noted before, a lot of important actions (interacting with trees and animals, to start) don't give you iMG at all. As an experienced player, I know perfectly well that I can probably wait on Engineering I since I'm not going to be working a blockmaker for a long time. But for a newbie, those choices aren't always obvious, which means that they're going to spend a lot of time learning things they won't immediately use and getting quests that are far too difficult for them. That's fine -- it's all part of the learning experience, and PQ certainly stumbled around a lot early in her life. But I feel for the noobs who ask themselves for the first time, "wait, I have to make some weird special kind of gas before I can mix a Flaming Humbaba?!"
I'm amazed at how many things I take for granted when I'm playing PQ: triple-jumping (which didn't even exist when PQ was imagined -- how did I live so long without it?), having every tool you need immediately to hand, quoins that are worth more than 1 thing each (urggh!), being able to repair broken items without wiping out your energy allowance for the day, iMG for pretty much every action ever. Bag space. Remember managing inventory? The new tutorial improves the new player's lot in life vastly by giving you a quest for a couple of bags, and of course we have free houses that we can teleport back to any time, so the inventory thing is a little less anxiety-provoking than it was for my generation. Even so, I still see a lot of lumps of earth and abandoned musicblocks scattered around Ur, no doubt left by newbies who didn't know where to put them, and who haven't yet figured out whether they're useful or not.
Playing my alt is great. She has a very different "personality" from PQ and it's fun to explore that; I also really like going through the iMG system from the beginning, since PQ is an XP veteran. But man, I never realized just how challenging and time-sensitive Glitch is in the early levels. Next time you see a newbie who looks lost or who's dropping stuff on the ground or who's too busy stuffing eggs in his mouth to talk to you, take pity. They're doing the best they can.