In keeping with the relatively new notion of transparent development, the makers of sandbox game Trove have let players in since the game hit alpha. Last week, publisher Trion Worlds invited me to see where the game stands during its in-office Community Day event as the game slides in toward beta. Fortunate timing that, since it allowed me to see lots of cool player-made content before its swept away by the end-of-alpha apocalypse.
One of the newest additions to Trove Trion said, is its new tutorial area. This was as basic as can be—in keeping with Trove's drive toward accessibility—and consisted of a minimalistic environment sprinkled with helpful tutorial signage. I started as a Knight and within the tutorial, learned how to move, fight, heal, refill my healing potion (ahem...”Elysian Flask”), and build. I was also taught to use Tab to swap being the game's two modes: Adventure and Build. Feeling confident in my boxy little form, I learned to craft a portal and through it, arrived at the Peaceful Hills.
This hub world was a place to get your bearings, interact with other players, change classes, and embark on adventures. Trion mentioned when asked how Trove improves upon Minecraft, that Trove's goal is to facilitate grouping and multi-player. Our group tried this out by spending a few minutes spawning pinatas and smashing the hell out of them, talking trash and knocking around different kinds of sports balls (also a recent addition).
From this I realized that Trove's an open-ended, whimsical kind of game, the kind of place in which to hang out with friends and be ridiculous. I totally get it. Of course, if you're the industrious, creative type, you can make some pretty amazing things within the game as evidenced by some of the player-made worlds I toured that day.
I personally am not the type to spend countless hours stacking blocks, but I can truly appreciate the efforts of people who are. Hopping among the worlds voted by players “most popular”, I saw some crazy work-intensive stuff, beginning with a surreal plaza decorated with huge monuments of the V for Vendetta mask, Pikachu, and Stewie from Family Guy. Whoever owned that world was less interested in creating experiences than creating a kind of pop-culture art gallery.
Other impressively pretty worlds included one dominated by a labyrinthine temple filled with flickering torches and another that looked like some kind of neon sci-fi night club. All of the worlds contain little boxes that allow players to rate them, which is handy for helping the creative cream rise to the top.
After spending some time marveling at the players ingenuity, I went back to the hub world and spent some time changing my avatar's hair. The styles were varied (many of them downright absurd) and Trion said, mostly player-generated. I chose one with four pink pigtails then entered a portal designated for low level, newbie players.
I entered a gloomy, multi-tiered area peppered with hostile skeletons. There, I got to try out my two melee attacks and my fly/dash move as well as gathering materials for crafting. Here and there stood little huts, some owned and some not; I claimed a couple just for fun, then went back to the hub world to change class.
Trove currently has three classes: Knight, Gunslinger and Fae Trickster, so I tried Gunslinger next. That to me was much more fun, since its dual wield and bomb toss allowed me to take down skeletons more efficiently. Sadly, I didn't get to try Fae Trickster because I got caught up in another player-made world, a place called “Corgi Drift.” Apparently, there's a corgi mount in the game (a random drop) and players take them to this elevated track and race them. (As the mother of two real life Corgi kids, I must have one of these.)
My time with Trove was cut short at this point, but Trion did say that their ten-person development team plans to create a new class every month. They also said that next on their list of developer-made worlds (they call them “biomes”) is a candy-themed biome. These additions sound like a lot of fun and only serve to make me impatient. Sadly, Trion's still keeping mum on when exactly we'll see these things and will only say that beta will begin “soon.” The up side is there's still time to download the game and check out all the cool things your fellow Trove-heads have made before they're wiped away forever.