I am a great fan of the ancient Greeks. They were masters of many things, although here and now I am concerned with two: architecture and wordplay. Ancient Greek, no matter which flavor you prefer, is a fabulous source for names – and so, when I was asked to write a series about my ongoing building in Landmark, I immediately cast my eyes to them once again when seeking a title. There is a great word: Texnites [tech as in technique – ni as said by knights – tes rhymes with face]. Artificer, craftsman, one skilled in the arts, actor, artist, trickster. There are those who would transliterate it as technites, but I have always been more fond of the x. As this is my name, and my tale, I shall take Texniteia. This will be a bit different from my usual acerbic whimsy, for I am not only writing about Landmark, but my building within it. Ever want to peek into the head of an artist as they work and look around? Texniteia’s Tale will be the closest I can come to granting such a peek.
But first, a bit about building in Landmark.
Everything in Landmark begins with harvesting. Like all games, you go out into the world and pretty much just click on the nodes you want to collect. Unlike most other MMOs, however, in Landmark everything is harvestable. There are no harvesting nodes – the very environment itself is made up of the materials used in crafting and building. When you look at any Landmark screenshot, all you need is the right tool and everything you see can be harvested. I love this! I can simply wander around exploring, hunting monsters and mining or picking anything that catches my eye. For those times when you’re after a particular material, there are ‘sounders’ that reveal veins, so you’re not left wandering randomly around without direction.
Basic building is done with these harvested metals, stones, plants and wood. Simply equip the building tool, select the material, and then click. This will plop a little square, called a voxel, into the world. And that is the basic building block that can be used to craft anything you can imagine! For larger areas, like a wall, there is a select tool that allows you to select a large space and then fill it. Classic keyboard controls work with building as well; I use ctr+p and ctr+v a lot when creating colonnades. I keep hoping that one of these days we’ll get an extrude tool!
I discovered something super fun this morning. Look what happens when I place water voxels! Yes, I am easily amused. I really did spend a bit of time running back and forth through my water shape making splashes. I’d intended to create pools in my temple, now I am definitely going to make a lot of them! I am suddenly entertaining the absurd thought of a water colonnade…
But splashes aside, these raw materials can be used for crafting as well. Upgraded tools, adventuring gear, props and decorations once you’ve built your house, special building blocks, potions.. everything is done using the raw materials that form the world. It’s pretty amazing. I haven’t done much with the crafting as I’ve been so focused on the building itself, but even so, it’s super cool. I harvest just about everything that I see on my way around the world (except trees – I hate chopping wood!), so with the exception of anything involving wood, thus far I’ve had everything that I need whenever I do foray into crafting. Well, except for marble. I often run out of marble. I can never have too much marble. At my last count, I was approaching 300,000 units of marble and I am likely to triple that number or more before I am done.
For the record: I love ether shards. Yup, I said it. I love what they add to the game.
If you hate me right now, be consoled with the knowledge that it could have been worse. Much, much worse. Let us have a moment of silence in memory of burled wood.
chop…chop… chopchop… chop… chop…
Moving on before the nightmares begin…
I said above that I love the ancient Greeks. I really do! But I also love the Mesopotamians. [Quick, queue TMBG!!] This means that anything I build is and will always be characterized by columns and crenelations. A pair made even better by their alliteration. I do not believe it is possible to have too many columns, crenelations or alliterations. Anyone else care for a little Parthenon in their Persepolis?
It doesn’t take long with this kind of building before I truly began to appreciate the immense skill of ancient architects. One slight mistake, just a few millimeters, and the entire building can be ruined. It is frustrating enough to lose hours or days in a virtual landscape, I can’t even begin to imagine how nerve-wracking it must have been to be building in this great scale with actual rock and stone. I lost 2 voxels in my early placement – two! And like the war that was lost for want of a nail, if it had been built with physical stone, my entire temple would have crashed down the cliff because those two voxels became this:
This screenshot actually illustrates two things. My salty tears upon realizing that 2 voxels was going to mean a complete redesign of my colonnade ring, and why it is that I love columns so much. I am asked about that a lot, so it’s worth a mention here. Just look at those shadows! I love light and shadow. Perhaps that’s why I also love photography – I don’t think anyone can take up photography without a soul-deep love of light. One thing that I’ve learned during this building process is that come live, when there will be no more wipes, I will have to carefully chose the location of my claim because the inherent inclusion of light and shadow into my building design means that the cardinal direction of my buildings makes a huge difference. I need a mountain peak facing in the right direction, or I’ll wind up with darkness where light should be.
My only complaint is distance blending. When viewed from a distance my temple looks like a giant, garish white square. Perhaps as I go I will learn to build as the Greeks did – taking visual distortion into account.
But for now, it is time to wipe away my tears, and tear the whole thing down to account for those vacationing voxels. When I return, I will be accompanied by mathematical precision.