Category Archives: ArcheAge

ArcheAge: Part 3

Read Part 1 and Part 2 for the good about ArcheAge!

Really the game was quite amazing. It was everything I wanted. There were a few hiccups along the way though. The first identified was the lack of land for players. This one couldn’t possibly be avoided as there was bound to be more players than there was land, but as I told you I had 7 pieces of 16×16 plots while most players had none. Some players had 20+ pieces of land. The problem was that the taxes didn’t scale correctly. And worse yet, land-bots would automatically grab land that became available through demolition (to own land you had to pay taxes. To pay taxes, you had to be a subscriber, and if you didn’t pay them for 2 weeks, the land was cleared and available for use again). These bots claimed the land fast than any human player could click. So “Land Barons” were a real thing. They would sell this land for high amounts of gold. The problem was that inflation kept growing so the prices were always out of reach of the players without land. Without land, they couldn’t generate gold fast enough to buy land. These cheaters destroyed the land economy and ruined the game for many players, and Trion didn’t do a thing about it. These were issues present in the Korean release, and well known, and yet Trion didn’t bother to address it.

A house I passed by while on a trade run. It had a very appropriate sign.
A house I passed by while on a trade run. It had a very appropriate sign.

Bots playing the game and gold selling were also rampant. But many games have this issue. As a free to play game, it was hard to stop them, but only a minor annoyance. It was when they were used to such things as land grabbing that it was an issue.

Both of these issues only affected players who could actually get into the game though. For the first several weeks, the servers were packed full. Some players experiencing 7 hour long queues to simply get into the game. Players who subscribed were put in the “fast lane”, but even they saw upwards of 2 hour wait times. This lead players to use methods to stay logged in. Again, using bugs that were present and known from the Korean version, players would hit hostile invulnerable targets to stay logged in, or lock down a key on their keyboard. If a player sat in the pews in the court house, the game was unable to kick them. This became a well-known one and many players (myself included) would camp alts there when we were done for the day, one reason to avoid queues, the second reason to keep accruing labor points at the accelerated rate (10 labor per 5 minutes instead of 5 labor per 5 minutes). This aided us players who exploited this dramatically, and I always used two accounts, so doubly so!

AAjurycamping
Jury camping

The whole labor system was a bit of a debacle too. The concept made sense, however Trion’s cash shop allowed players to purchase labor potions, which provided free labor points. Granted there was a cooldown on them, but a player could gain a substantial advantage over a short time by utilizing them. As also mentioned, it made it so players didn’t want to log out, and free players were only able to accrue labor points while logged into the game. Them accruing points at a reduced rate made sense, but none while offline seemed a bit hard pressed when it’s crucial for doing all of the things “fun” in the game. Not only that, but free players only had a pool of 1000 labor points, whereas subscribers had 5000.

There is another feature of ArcheAge that I haven’t mentioned yet. Why would I save a feature for the “issues” section? Well, because, exactly that. This “feature” had “issues”. ArcheAge required you to be a patron (subscriber) to have many benefits including the labor system and land ownership (you had to be a patron to pay taxes, which is required to keep land). ArcheAge featured tokens you could purchase and trade to players in the game. Players could use these tokens to purchase subscription. My first 3 months of ArcheAge, for both my main and alternate accounts were paid for with these tokens, I would farm and do trade runs to make my income. At first I made plenty to afford my monthly subscription and progress my character, but the price of the tokens quickly inflated to where I was logging on to make enough money to simply by another month. This is ultimately what led to my disinterest in the game. Which was part of a greater problem with the game and people like me. Yes, I could pay the $15 a month and not have to worry about getting these tokens, but the game had a method where I could earn my subscription and didn’t have to pay. If I don’t have to pay, then I don’t want to pay. And many of us elected not to. I will address this in another post I do believe about MMOs at large.

The other big problem with ArcheAge, was Trion. They were simply horrible about the launch and the game in general. They are merely the publishers in this country, not the game developers. And they treated the game, and the player population, like they just didn’t care. Bugs widely known in the Korean and Russian versions were left in the code, and then Trion acted all surprised when they occurred. They took weeks to resolve issues, and often went back on their word about features, downtimes, and various things like that. During downtimes or crashes the server would be wondering whats going on, only to be ignore by the community manager, and Trion all along acting like they are on top of everything. They developed the cash shop in a manner to gouge players, and reward buy to play practices when promising not to do so. They clearly valued profits over player satisfaction. They tried to implement fixes to the economy without properly testing them, fundamentally destroying it at times when they introduced an item that had a high chance to grant thunderstruck trees (a required item for wagons and other important items), that was only accessible through the cash shop. Hackers, cheaters, and exploiters ran rampant and Trion did nothing. Land hacks and land abuse using known issues from Korean and Russian launches destroyed land ownership for many, Trion let it happen. Trion simply didn’t care, and now I don’t care to touch any Trion product again. And that’s sad, because I love what this game stood for.

ArcheAge: Part 2

So picking up where part 1 left off, we’ll start part 2 with the discussion of the criminal system in ArcheAge.

The act of murdering your fellow Nuians (or Harayans if you’re of that faction) would result in crime points being accrued if the crime was reported. Attacking another player would create blood spatters on the ground. If a player clicked on them, they could see who was attacked, who did the attacking, and could chose to report the crime and add a comment to the box. A similar option was in place if someone harvested crops that were not there’s (though this could only be done off of farm land, farm land was protected). Instead of blood stains, there would be footprints. Once a player reached 50 crime points, if they died, they would be sent to trial. The court room for Nuians was located in Marinople. Players level 25 and above could enter the juror’s queue as long as they had no crime points. For each trial, 5 players next in the queue would have the option to attend court and judge their peer. While on trial, the defendant has a couple minutes to state his case, and the jurors are able to review his criminal record, which consists of all the crimes that have been reported, as well as how many times this player has been brought to trial and convicted. Other players are also free to witness the trials, as the court room is readily accessible to anyone, but only the 5 jurors get to pass judgement. The jurors decide on a time amount for the punishment, or a verdict of not guilty, and the computer average out the results. The more crimes you’ve committed and been convicted, the longer your jail time (and you were literally confined to a jail for real time, logging out didn’t decrease the time). Despite going to jail for committing “crimes”, players were often found innocent based on the severity of their crimes, the circumstances, or politics. If a player targeted specific members of a hated guild and murdered them, the juror would often condone their actions. Likewise, if they killed allies of the jurors, they would likely received the highest punishment. I found myself behind bars once. Oops.

Prison Garb
Prison Garb

Piracy was a viable option in ArcheAge. You could become a pirate by going to jail, and then escaping. This labels you as a pirate, and makes your name appear red to other players. This means they can kill you without punishment. Pirates also had their own island where they could venture to, as they were always at risk no matter who was around in the general lands. Piracy also stayed true to its namesake as sea travels played a large part in ArcheAge. Every player is given a rowboat for free via an intro quest, but most never use it as it’s slow and cumbersome. The Clipper is the next ship you can build. It requires designs, lumber, and cloth. It also requires a space to setup a building dock while you’re gathering the materials. I was able to build mine near my house. The clipper was much faster and great for a small group to travel on. Traveling the open seas also proves treacherous however, as literal pirates could attack you and take your precious cargo.

I hope that sail boat is friendly…

This made traveling with friends and guildmates all the more important. More people and cargo required larger ships, which ArcheAge also offered. You could construct trade ships, or galleys. Trade ships carried a lot of cargo and were quick, but were sparse on defenses. Galleys provided cannons, were much larger and had more HP and were meant for fighting. They also served another purpose, and that was for taking on the world raid boss the Kraken.

Our server was a bit unique, at least I think so, maybe not. There were to main guilds vying for power. Us on the West, the infamous “Mischievious”, and the leading guild in the East, The Crows. The world boss the Kraken dropped unique items that everyone desired, though because ArcheAge had open PVP, anyone could attack anyone, even during boss fights. And the Kraken was no ordinary boss. It took a minimum of 8 galleons, which needed to be manned by at least 5 people each. The ideal group was 12+ galleons with about 80 players or more. Organizing that many players is quite a task. The slightest miscommunication could lead to the entire formation (a giant circle of ships encapsuling the beast) crumbling, and it would only take about 10 players to do so. Both guilds would keep a lookout just in case the other guild decided to attempt the Kraken, which only respawned once every 3 days. Focusing on killing the games hardest boss while also watching your back was an extremely difficult task, one neither guild could handle, so for weeks they stood at a stalemate, the Kraken left undefeated. So the guilds held a meeting, and made an agreement, they would take turns, alternating kills. It was best that they at least split the skills rather than get none. The rest of the server was out of luck, the Kraken was taken indefinitely.

This agreement only protected the guilds from conflict in regard to the Kraken itself. Everything else was still fair. This was especially true for the upcoming launch of Auroria. Auroria was the Northern territory of the game. The entire continent was a PVP zone, and it was the area where guilds could stake claim to entire territories and build their castles.  Another excerpt from my thesis…

Our guild castle in Alpha
Our guild castle in Alpha

“The first couple of months Mischievous had one ultimate goal in mind. ArcheAge featured the ability for players to own castles and be lords over entire territories. However, just like land, these were limited. In fact, there was only four. The game developers intentionally cut off access to this area for a couple months so that no one guild could rush and take them before everyone was equipped for it. Thus they announced they would open it post-launch so everyone would have a fair shot. After the two months had passed, they announced they would be launching a new patch for the game that would open access to the castle lands, providing the opportunity for four guild leaders to become lords, and opening up much more land to occupy. The leaders of Mischievous kept very quiet about their plans, only disclosing a couple days before the launch what groups we would be in. We all met up in an area and waited for the servers to go down. When they would go back up, the land would be open and we had to immediately be ready to log in and go. This was an all hands on deck situation and disobedience and laziness would not be tolerated. Once a territory was taken, it could only be taken by another guild if they successfully conquered the castle of whatever guild had won the territory to begin with, and this could only be attempted once every two weeks. This initial capturing of a territory and castle was a onetime event, and the winner would be able to accrue a fortune in taxes from the imminent land rush that would occur as players were desperate for land.

We all sat in our teamspeak channel, anxious for the servers to go up. We were pre-divided into our groups, as each group had a separate mission we weren’t quite sure about. I was part of the assault force. My job was to follow commands and kill anyone who did not wear the Mischievous guild name. In order to claim a castle territory, you had to gather specific stones and craft a pack and then use it on a lodestone, and if you completed this you would be granted the territory and the castle space. There were four vast territories, and we didn’t even know which one we were going for. Only the Officers did. They didn’t want to risk other guilds finding out our target and griefing us. The servers went up, and the mad clicking to login to the servers began. I popped in and was immediately thrown a party invite. I swam to shore, got on my horse, and began running with the 50 other players in our group. We were given our first directive, group up and defend the entrance to the caves that held the stones our crafters needed to collect. The 50 of us held the area, but against little resistance. The second group of 50 players consisted of miners, crafters, and a few body guards. We were given the order to head into the cave and clear out all enemy players so that our second group could have a monopoly on gathering. We did as we were told, and then our third group (which I didn’t even know we had) reported of difficulty in combat and we were ordered back to the cave entrance. With both assault teams combined, I realized we had 150 players all logged on and participating in this event. And we were just one guild. At this point the Crows were furiously pressing against us, attempting to break through our lines and gain access to the caves. Their spawn was inconveniently at the entrance of this cave, while ours was a bit of a distance to the West, so we dove back deeper into the cave and took our stand. “Here they come!” was shouted over our headsets from our leading officer, and it was an understatement. We stood at around 50 strong with our suffered casualties, our fallen comrades blocked off from rejoining us as they stood on the opposite side of the cave now. Having a very high-end PC, I found myself stunned as it struggled to render the scene on my monitor. It was not only the Crows, but dozens of guilds all from that faction. They had united to drive us out, and there were hundreds of them. We fought the best we could, but sometimes a zerg is just too powerful. We respawned and regrouped, now roughly 100 strong again. We had lost the battle, but they were too late and the war was set to end in our favor.

The order came in “Ok, now we keep them here”. Our mission was to now trap them in this cave. Our miners had finished gathering the stones and had left to go and craft the necessary items, so now it became a game of simply stalling the enemy. We mounted on our horses, and on our officer’s command set out as one unit. Running through the cave we came to that massive blob of bodies, but with our numbers doubled, the outcome was much different this time. No longer needing to secure the cave and the mines below, we were able to concentrate our strength and once again obtain the upper hand. After a short period, word came in and we were in possession of the item we needed to capture a territory. Our target was finally revealed to us, and we made haste to it by land. As we arrived to the shores our second group arrived by sea. “Everyone surround the leader! Kill anything that isn’t Mischievous!” Our leader had the item on his back and was surrounded by several dozen of us. The others had fanned out and formed a perimeter. A few moments later, the territory was ours. We were the first guild on the server to obtain a territory and become lords. After a quick celebration, the order came in “Ok, now let’s stop the Crows from getting a castle”.

This was a remarkable experience, again born out of human economics, politics, and power. Sure, this kind of experience could be scripted and programmed into a game, but then it wouldn’t be an organic experience. This was players battling, supporting, loving, and hating other players. Players affecting one another’s play with high stakes and consequences for failure. Players actually changing the way the world would be viewed, equipped with agency. Players creating a reality and bringing the virtual to life.”

Truly a marvelous experience. Best yet, I recorded all the footage! I condensed it into a video and added some music for your viewing pleasure.

In my final segment for ArcheAge I will address the problems with ArcheAge, despite the wonderful experiences it provided.

ArcheAge: Part 1

Skip to Part 2
Skip to Part 3

Well this release was no surprise as I had already written several posts on what it stood to offer and how excited I was for it. I even utilized it for my Graduate thesis project. Needless to say, I have a lot to say about it.

AAlogo

ArcheAge was officially launched September 16th in the US by publisher Trion. It was initially released in Korea on January 15th, 2013 by the games developer XL Games, led by Lineage’s former developer. Prior to launch, Trion offered “founder Packs” that featured bonus items, such as alpha and beta access and various goodies that provided boosts or equipment. These packs also featured access to the 3 day head start, a crucial element of the founder packs that many didn’t carefully consider enough.

Having played in alpha and beta, I knew exactly what to do come launch day. This was also largely due to the guild that I had joined, referred to as “Mischievous” in my thesis. The moment the servers went live, we were already in action. We had preformed level/questing groups to efficiently progress as fast as possible. The very first goal was to hit level ten, set up our small farms, and to acquire land for houses in our desired spots. I was able to get a house plotted down within minutes and my small farm setup next to it. I then progressed to about level 20, but then I received an invite to watch a movie with someone in real life, and in poor gamer fashion, I opted to pursue that endeavor instead of continuing on in the game at that moment. Luckily, this did not cripple me nearly as much as other players who completely missed the 3 day head start.

AAheadstart

Taking a step back though, ArcheAge featured 4 races distributed across two factions. While this would normally be a point of contention for me, ArcheAge kept it interesting by allowing open PVP and the option to attack those in your own faction. The factions were divided by their two confinements. The Western Nuia and the Eastern Haranya.  Nuia is home to the Nuians and elves, while Haranya is home to the Firran and Harani. While the Western races need no explanation (Nuians=Humans), the Firran are catlike humanoids, and the Harani are basically humans as well with an Asian influence.

AAharanchar

The character customization was in depth and allowed for some great facial customization. Despite the graphics for the game being rather well done, I couldn’t help but feel they were dated a bit. I can’t even quite explain it. The game looked good, but it had a sort of… stiffness that I couldn’t shake. I never let it bother me however. I created a Nuian just as I did in Alpha.

Nuians at their finest

As for the gameplay, I described a lot of it in my post about the Alpha, so I’ll refrain from those details I covered there. Some additional things I got to experience were player housing, the world boss fight with the Kraken, the opening of Auroria and claiming land for a guild castle, farming, the crime system, and, wow, that’s a lot.

Let’s start with the player housing and farming as they are linked to one of the tasks I already mentioned, claiming land. ArcheAge featured non-instanced land. This meant all then land was openly viewable by all players, and it occupied physical space in the game world, unlike many games that do it “instanced” (like Rift) where the player housing is off in a separate universe only accessible by players your grant access to it. Because this land was non-instanced, this meant there was a finite amount. This is why our goal right out of the gate was to claim land. After the initial 3 day head-start, all of the land was claimed on my server. That meant, everything was taken before the game even official launched. I had been lucky and grabbed 7 16×16 plots and 5 8×8 plots. This meant I had 6 large farms, 5 small farms, and a house. Many players were lucky to have more than 1 16×16, many didn’t even have a 16×16. This caused an uproar among the players as the game was advertising “stake your claim” and the subscriptions were saying you could have land if you were a subscriber, so players were subscribing, but there was no more land to be had. There was a couple reasons for this, but I will address this later in my “issues with ArcheAge” section.

The very first plot I claimed was for my house. A simple single room cottage, I placed it in a splendid lot in Marinople on the corner of the path, across from the workstations. A waterway just off to the left I had easy access to the sea. I also had space to setup my little 8×8 farm. I used this to grow the early requirements for the trade route turn in quests, and eventually used it to raise sheep, geese, and polar bears. My 6 large farms were located in various areas of the world. I had 2 large farms and 3 small farms in Hellswamp, a PVP enabled (and thus slightly dangerous) zone. I also had 2 large farms and a small farm in Two Crowns, one of which I purchased from a guildmate. They were on the beach and had a splendid view. The fifth and sixth were in Auroria by our guild castle. In hellswamp I harvested mushrooms to do trade runs to earn cash on the large farms. On the small farms I raised sheep for wool. I would then process this wool into cloth and sell on the auction house. In Auroria I grew trees to sell lumber. In Two Crowns I also grew trees, as well as materials to feed my various farm animals on the other farms. I could easily spend 2 hours a day farming/harvesting and planting on my farms. And the harvesting cycles ranged from 48 minutes to 3 days (real time) depending on what you were planting.

AAnuiamap

I actually had a real life friend (and veteran of my WoW days) join me in the ArcheAge venture. He was one of the ones unable to acquire land, however ArcheAge allowed you to designate who could use your land. So I allowed him to make use of my space. This allowed him to gain materials for his trade runs despite owning no land.

I LOVED this aspect of the game. It was fun keeping track of it and earning income doing this. I also enjoyed having my own home displayed where everyone could see it. I was able to put my collectibles and trophies on display in/on my house. And there was always the prospect of earning more money to buy more expensive houses, but these required larger plots of land. My goal was to apply 4 16×16 plots in Two Crowns and use them to build a mansion there, but that goal never came to fruition.

Not my screenshot or server, but same location.
Not my screenshot or server, but same location.

With these farms I was able to process materials, craft gear, and make money on the auction house. ArcheAge actually allows you to level up through fighting OR farming/crafting. My alt character leveled from 10-50 simply by processing the wool from my sheeps into cloth. Awesome! The crafting system itself was simple like Lineage 2 where you simple have the materials, are required to have so many labor points to craft the item, hit the button and get it.

These labor points were required to do almost anything in the game. If you wanted to harvest materials on your farm, or plant, or mine rocks at the query, or craft, it all took labor points. These points were accrued over time if you were logged in, and if you were a subscriber while you were logged off. They were also required for constructing houses or turning in trade packs. I will discuss them further in my “issues with archeage” section.

A major point of the farming was for trade runs, but I already described this in the alpha post, so I’ll skip over it here, except for a little story. If you read my Vanguard: Sage of Heroes post, there was a moment when two players were acting as highwaymen and charging a toll for people. I loved the interactivity the open PVP allowed players. I was able to experience a similar issue in Archeage. I am going to just pull a paragraph from my thesis for this.

A bunch of us waiting for the zone to enter peace (non-pvp) status.

“One of the main sources of income was creating trade packs and then moving them from one territory to another to exchange them for gold. These packs could be picked up by other players, and your character would dropped them if you died or your wagon you were using to transport them was destroyed. This of course made thievery/piracy a real possibility and threat. Players also found another way to exploit their follow players however. ArcheAge featured collision mechanics, and some particularly rude players were not afraid to utilize them to their benefit. They would gather at areas (usually bridges) on their tractors and block the path. This would make it impossible, or extremely difficult for players to pass through the area. They often did this at prime trade times that were dictated by “peace timers” between the PvP zones which made combat impossible for a certain duration of time (otherwise players would simply kill them, destroy their carts and carry on their way). They would then demand payment from the players, and only let those who paid a toll pass by. As this was a clear form of griefing, only guilds who did not fear their guilds reputation being damaged would conduct such operations. They would also have to be a guild that could withstand retaliation from the guilds they were upsetting. Often Goon Squad would conduct those “toll road” operations. Mischievous was often granted free passage, as the consequences for upsetting the guild were known to all those in the server.”

Goons setting up a “toll road”

In Part 2 I will discuss the crime system, sailing, Kraken, and guild castles.

ArcheAge Alpha

It’s been a long while since I’ve made a post to my site. While that is quite sad, it is countered with the pure awesomeness I now bring you, so sit a while and listen, as I tell you of the wonders of Arche Age.

As I have mentioned on here before, Arche Age is an sandbox-MMO with a simply staggering amount of activities you can partake in. While I could rant on and on about them, I suppose the best route to take is to simply go through things one by one as I personally experience them on my avatar.

Like World of Warcraft, you chose 1 of 2 factions to begin the game and each start on separate continents. Now, I am very against faction based MMO’s, however this game does it right for a few reasons. First off, because you still have the option to murder those within your own faction. This ALSO can come with negative repercussions, as in Lineage 2, so it’s freedom to choose and the excitement of dealing with the consequences, a bit more akin to real life. Also like WoW, the factions speak different languages, HOWEVER you can actually have your avatar LEARN the other races languages, so you can actually communicate (this is number 2 fyi)! Never understood why WoW had language skills even though you could never alter them. And Number 3 is for those that are scared (its not important in my book, but hey, we like different books). While you can feel free to kill enemy factions and your own all you wish, this can only be done on the Northern continent with the higher level content. But wait, there’s more! Number 4 is most impressive. Guilds, once large enough, can form their own FACTIONS! That’s right, To hell with the Horde or the Alliance (WoW reference as I’m sure you don’t know Arche Age’s factions). Player’s can go on ahead and join the Tiddlywinks faction, or whatever PLAYERS create! (Undeniable perhaps?). Oh, and there’s trading, Pirates, juries comprised of live players to judge those who do wrong in the game, jail, soccer, boats, cars, gliders, and so on…. Keep reading.

You start out like any other MMO, you chose your base skill tree, hit level 5, chose another skill tree, and then at level 10 chose your third (though not necessarily final) skill tree. These 3 skill tree’s combine to form your class. There are 120 possible combinations. Find you don’t like one of your classes? No problem. Much like Final Fantasy 14, you can simply change that tree, and become a new class as a result, at the cost of having to level it of course. My combination of Battlerage, Defense, and Vitalism has led to my classification of Paladin in the game.

Skill tree's on my avatar
Skill trees on my avatar

From what I can tell, you can use any weapons but naturally some are built better for certain classes, and armors are restricted to the typical plate/leather/cloth conditions. While I believe my plate wearer was able to wear anything, I don’t know if the reverse would be true (I believe it is). As such, even though I am a tank class, I was also able to equip a bow alongside by sword and shield, and can switch between ranged and melee on the fly.

Me at roughly level 15
Me at roughly level 15

Around level 10 you are also supplied with a few essentials for navigating the world of Arche Age. First of these is your trusty steed. In my area this was a horse, and the other starters on my continent begin with an Elk like mount. You can easily obtain the other for chump change. The second is a glider, which can be used to travel by air and quickly traverse the landscape (thought I often forget I have it as it’s something so new to the genre). Both of these can be upgraded throughout with higher end models. The mounts themselves actually level up, as they gain XP the more you ride them. Mounts can also be the target of mobs and players, so your mount can (and will) die as you try to run through a field like you would in WoW. No worries however, as they can be resurrected at a stable. You are also supplied a rowboat early on, and this too can be upgraded into much larger ships capable of carrying dozens of players and engaging in battle at sea, complete with cannons and pirates alike. There are also charted and uncharted islands to venture out to and explore, those this does put you at risk of being raided by said Pirates.

The leveling and quests carry out just like another typical MMO. Collect spider’s legs, kill these goblins, slaughter hundreds of human bandits. I have so far encountered 1 dungeon which started for level 20 players. Again, the typical run through, though it maxed out at 3 players, and offered a quest that rewarded you (significantly) for bringing along a “veteran” player. I’ll be honest, nothing super inspirational here. But then again, the most impressive questing innovations in the past decade have come from Star Wars: The Old Republic’s personal story lines, and Guild Wars 2’s ‘just walk in the general area to receive+complete said quest’.

The leveling gets much more interesting once you open yourself up to the other means the games offers to gaining experience. Such as crafting, and farming. No, not grinding out mobs, actual farming! Beans, corn, raising livestock, all means to produce materials and gain xp and complete profession quests. I haven’t yet devled much into crafting, but it is clear that a lot of the raw materials come from your very own farm. While resources do spurt up in the open world like any other MMO, it is much more efficient (and fun) to raise them on your own farm(s). These farms can be placed in housing areas in the open world in Arche Age, which means anyone can see your farm. On the starter continents they are locked down and only usable by you, but this may not be so in the Northern Continent. You also don’t have to plant on a farm, however then anyone could steal your crops. Some players, looking to avoid taxes and land size limitations, scout out uncharted islands and plant on them, though players can steal it all if they find it.

Along with building farms, players can also build houses in the open world. Again these take resources, and are bought with pre-designed blueprints, however once the house is set up, players are free to decorate them how they chose. Not only can they craft all their own furniture and set it up exactly how they wish, they can also upload their own emblems and art and display it in their house. Korean examples of this show houses and shops modeled after places like Starbucks.

Ariel view of some player housing, also note the player ships in the upper left
Ariel view of some player housing, also note the player ships in the upper left

How does one gain their riches to afford such luxuries? A major component of this is by conducting trade missions. For these, players produce materials at their farms, go to certain districts that allow them to create “specialty” goods, and then set off to the far reaches of the continent (or world) to deliver them for profit. While you must originally start out on foot, you are eventually given a donkey to help expedite the process. To increase efficiency further, you can build trade ships or vehicles that can carry multiple trade packs at once. You also have the option of Airship rides or carriage rides that travel between all towns, in REAL-TIME (none of that instant blimp rides like WoW).

This activity is also what gives Pirates their purpose, as when you are attempting to take goods to the Northern Continent, where they fetch a much higher price, Pirates actively seek to attack you and steal your packs. This is often why guilds get together and travel in large packs, in an attempt to deter or fend off those who would be so daring.

Me and others waiting for the airship to arrive, carrying trade packs.
Me and others waiting for the airship to arrive, carrying trade packs.

Oh, and there’s pets. Pets that can fight beside you, be equipped with gear, and level up. And they aren’t limited to just hunters, anyone can have them. Oh, and you raise them from a cub. It’s just simply adorable.

So much to say and yet so little said. I have much more to experience and I look forward to post much more on my adventures. For the first time in a long time, I actually feel like I am adventuring in an MMO, as there are so many things to learn, and I have to manually travel so much. The game may only be in alpha here in the US, but has been out in Korea for over a year, so it is in fact solid and mostly in its final form. Oh, did I mention this game is completely free to play?

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ArcheAge is Coming!

I haven’t done a post on my site for quite some time. Been busy with classes and work. I am taking a moment to write today however because I am progressing with my thesis of highlighting the limitations of using virtual worlds such as World of Warcraft for research because they follow a “theme-park” layout, and speaking to the value of “sand-park” worlds that allow players a much greater degree of freedom and interactions with one another. One upcoming title I will be using extensively will be ArcheAge, developed by Korean based XLGames and being published here in the US by Trion.

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This game simply has a stunning amount of activities you can participate in. The class system is based on selecting 3 different classes (at lvl 1, 5, and 10) from a large variety that can result in the combination of well over 100 different classes. There is 15 professions, two unique ones being Husbandry (where you raise mounts from babies) and Composer (you actually compose music). In fact, you can actually progress from lvl 1 through 50 by merely gathering and crafting and progressing professions. Beyond that, there is open-world housing, farming, building ships, being a pirate, conducting trade routes, castle building, sieges, and so much more. You are able to steal from not only enemy factions, but your own faction as well! This leaves behind clues which other players can then discover and submit a report. Obtain to many, and you are sent to trial! The Jury consisting of other real players! Not only do mounts and ships (and steam-punkish vehicles even) serve as transportation, but there are also hand gliders that you use to get from place to place. And These gliders, your ships sails, your homes, and even your avatar are highly customizable! You can set your own images for your sails, there’s a huge variety of unique mounts and hand glider designs, everything within your home can be hand placed, and a lot of them are actually intractable and have effects! I can’t even begin to describe my excitement, and I haven’t even grazed the surface of the features.

There is a wonderful article available here that is talks about first impressions of ArcheAge shown this week. There is also a great Trion livestream by the community manager and others available that I would highly recommend viewing.

Perhaps most importantly to mention (assuming you didn’t bother to read hte article or watch the video) this game will be FREE TO PLAY! So there is no excuse not to try it! And it will be launching 2014! I am looking forward to not only experiencing the virtual world, but to see if it can live up to my research expectations.

ArcheAge-Gliding-into-the-unknown