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The other day I was blessed, or perhaps cursed, enough to receive a beta key for Seatribe's upcoming Massively Multiplayer Online title called Salem. The premise of the game is that the player is a pilgrim roughing it out in the wilderness of colonial New England and trying to build up a homestead for his or herself. The player is allowed to craft a variety of objects, tools, and buildings to help them achieve this.


However, in order to craft these items you need the the proper skill. The concept itself is understandable and this is a role-playing game so leveling up your skills is natural. Unfortunately, the method involved in which you increase your skills seems to be based on luck and being in the right place at the right time.


The system is broken down into skills and proficiencies. In order to raise a skill you need to have a certain number of points allotted into the proficiencies that it requires. For example, for Fishing it requires you to have a proficiency of 600 in both Frontier & Wilderness and Hunting & Gathering.


Looks like I'll be fighting with my fists for a while…

 In most role-playing games you are awarded experience points for when you do something related to the skill whether it's through combat, some form of crafting, etc. Salem has the player, instead, scour the wilds around Boston for curios and materials to create items called inspirationals. With these objects you can study them and after a certain amount of time gain proficiency points.


This wouldn't be so bad since it's an obvious attempt to emulate the pioneers living off the land and understanding it before they become self-sufficient and able to work the land to their own designs. Regrettably for the game, it turns it into a treasure hunt for certain items you might need for inspirationals or for the other specific items on the ground that you can analyze. The system seems to be very random when in one instance you can come across two or three of an item, such as a smooth stone or a rabbit, but then on the flip side you can be searching for hours just to find that very same item.


Well…found my rabbit only now it's going to kill me.

Despite all this, I have kept at it and continued playing Salem trying to disregard the frustration. As of writing this, my character finally earned enough money to purchase his first plot of land. This was a great sense of accomplishment but it took at least 10 hours of game time for me to get as far as I did. The game doesn't seem to get that much easier in this aspect because even though you start to rely less on some of the lower level items you eventually need to start hunting for other things to level your skills up. I think that I definitely need a map with a X on it.


Yay! This is mine!