Once Skronk, Ula, and I all had copies of Valheim on Steam, it was time to try and play together.
This was not as easy as one might expect.
Actually setting up the game to play with your friends is pretty easy. It is designed to support up to 10 players in a world for co-op play. But the popularity of the game on Steam has somewhat overloaded Valve’s ability to deal with so many attempts to share the experience among friends.
It took us a while to meet up in a shared space. Ula had rolled up a character and was trying to share her world, but I couldn’t find it on the list. There are two server lists. The first is the community list, which is everybody who is sharing a server flagged for all to see. Everybody seemed to be doing that because there is also sub-list of servers that shows just those from people on your friend’s list, and that didn’t seem to be working.
And the community list… that is a long list and seems to be capped at displaying ~4,922 servers, so if you don’t make the select for that range, you aren’t visible.
After some back and forth she managed to see my server when I tried sharing it and was able to join. Op success! Hitting refresh and being patient seem to be clutch.
Once there and on voice, I was able to share the few nuggets of wisdom I had acquires… the Tab key is you inventory, make an axe then a hammer, and beware the fire… and then we had the world to explore. Skronk showed up a bit later and we were all able to get ourselves settled into the rather squalid little hut I had built. If I had known I was going to have company…
The hut was less planned and more an quick attempt to build a shelter that met the game requirements. I made a bed, then when I went to sleep in it I got the message that it needed to be near a fire. So I built a fire next to it. Then I needed a roof. The work bench also needed a roof. But when I closed off the ends the whole thing filled with smoke, so I took the ends off and slept in the wind tunnel.
But that was enough to meet the minimum shelter requirements.
And the reason I kept setting myself on fire is that after the sleep cycle I would get out of bed, step into the fire, catch fire, and… well, then I was on fire.
I also managed to set myself on fire whenever I would cook. It was a common enough occurrence that I put up a sign and would cook whenever it was raining out.
But, as with Minecraft, sharing a world enhances the experience dramatically. There is a division of labor, somebody around to help you out, and the usual comedy of discovering how the game works.
One of the points of high comedy involved felling trees for wood. Skonk went up above our encampment for lumber and, having been warned by Ula how I had almost killed the both of us by felling a tree that knocked over another and fell on us, set himself up hill from the tree he was working on, speaking about logging safety.
And then, as he felled the tree, it tipped back over and landed on him, injuring him greatly. Then it bounced up hill a bit, stopped, then rolled back down over Skronk, killing him. I was laughing so hard I couldn’t take a screen shot and almost didn’t get out of the way of the tumbling tree, which had gained speed and was rolling straight towards me.
The physics are fun. The first tree I felled is witness to that. I did it near the water’s edge and it rolled right off the land and into the drink, where it floats still.
Having a group together also helped when there was a message that Eikthyr was rallying the creatures of the forest and suddenly animals were running at us on the attack.
Once that subsided Hugin showed up to explain that this sort of thing happens and maybe we should build up some defenses.
Actually, I have these two events in reverse order. Skronk was out chopping wood, as were we all, because it was time to build up a wall around our camp.
We were having a good time, but I needed to go, at which point we learned a bit more about how shared worlds work.
The data for your characters and the world itself are stored on your local drive. This is another thing that makes Valheim more like Minecraft than an MMORPG. As Raph Koster recorded the laws of online world design, “The client is in the hands of the enemy.” I suspect that this will become an issue at some point as somebody will make a hack that will give you max skills and gear and a whatever else. But that is in the future.
What this means is that you can take your character, and whatever they have in their inventory, off to worlds other than your own. This is kind of handy, in that it means you do not have to start from scratch on every world.
For the world data, it means if you are sharing your world and you log off, anybody on your world gets kicked as well. This was not going to stand.
Fortunately, Valheim has an executable that will run a server for you… again, like Minecraft. Really, the Minecraft parallels are quite pronounced, though not in a bad way. Anyway, that means you can right now go out and find a hosting service to create a persistent shared world.
This, as it turns out, is part of the shared worlds problem, as it is overwhelming Steam.
Since we were having fun and it looked like we would continue to do so, I started checking out hosting services and related information. One of the problems is that a lot of the services were telling people to use the Servers option in the Steam client (View menu, Servers option) in order to connect to a persistent server. Steam, however, wasn’t able to process this reliably, and you were most likely to get a
This was making a lot of people angry and I pity the poor support people being hounded, though from what I saw in forums and on Reddit, they were also not very good at explaining the problem. They were also not mentioning that you may not need to even go this route.
Servers set up correctly are also finable in the community servers window if you have been smart enough to find the place in your server settings. I found this bit of info in one of the FAQs over at the Nodecraft hosting site. On learning this, I went to the community server search window and started putting in the names of hosting companies I had found on Google into the search and found a few that came up in large numbers.
This, of course, is also part of the problem. That search window only supports so many rows returned it seems and now every persistent hosted server is trying to appear on the list all the time.
But we managed it. Our world is up on a hosted site. I was able to FTP the world files across so we could carry on as before. (Once I realized that I had WinSCP set to to SFTP because of work, and not standard FTP.) I was willing to start over… as I said, you can carry over your character with their skills and inventory… but we had made enough progress that I wanted to carry on if we could.
I ended up going with G-portal.com for no specific reason other than they were consistent with the pricing of other hosting sites ($15 a month) and had a data center in LA rather than Dallas of Phoenix.
So now our camp is evolving. Skronk went in and did some work on it, got a floor laid, added something like a chimney, and moved the fire so I wouldn’t keep setting myself on fire every morning. Might have to change that sign.
Now that we are setup, it is time to see a bit of the world and work on advancing our technology.