ArcheAge: Final Thoughts

Well, that didn’t last long. I quit ArcheAge last week after losing faith in Trion. Like countless other players, last week’s Auroria release was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Bye bye, ArcheAge!
Bye bye, ArcheAge!

Auroria release disaster

The Auroria release was a highly anticipated patch promising new zones, more housing space, guild castles, new dungeons, and new items. I personally wasn’t excited about the patch, but a lot of people were and some spent months preparing for it so that their guilds could claim the limited land in Auroria.

Tuesday was patch day, but when the servers came back online, a bug made it so a large portion of the players couldn’t log in. What land there was was quickly gobbled up by the lucky few who were able to connect to the server. The official forums exploded with horror stories from players/guilds who got screwed over, their months of preparation wasted. During all this, Trion announced they would not take down the servers. The bug wasn’t fixed until the next day and the servers were left up the whole time. The outraged community called for a server rollback, but Trion said they would do no such thing.

The connection bug and Trion’s reaction to it made a lot of people quit. But it got worse. Once players were finally able to log in to the game the next day, they discovered that Trion had added a new item to the cash shop: Rumbling Archeum Trees. For real money, players could purchase Flashy Racing Kits, which dropped the Rumbling Archeum Tree Saplings. The saplings, which only took an hour to mature, had an absurd 10% chance of producing a Thunderstruck Tree. Otherwise, they could be harvested for Archeum Crystals.

ArcheAge cash shop
Flashy Racing Kits in the cash shop

Until this point, Thunderstruck Trees were incredibly rare. When growing trees, there was a very tiny chance that the tree could become “thunderstruck” during a growth phase. I had around 30k logging skill when I quit (about 3000 trees worth) and I never had a Thunderstruck Tree. With such a high chance of producing Thunderstruck Trees, Rumbling Archeum Trees destroyed the Thunderstruck Tree market. The price quickly plummeted as one of the game’s rare items became commonplace. This also killed the fun for a lot of players who enjoyed planting and finding tree farms in hopes that you’d be lucky enough to get a Thunderstruck Tree. Exploring the world to find secret, unprotected tree farms was a part of the game a lot of players really enjoyed and now there’s no reason for it to exist anymore.

Was ArcheAge just a cash grab?

I don’t mind when games have a cash shop, but I think they should be used for cosmetic and convenience items (costumes, mounts, dyes, additional character slots, goofy toys, decorations, additional bag space, etc.). Not pay-to-win. Trion took the most expensive crafting material in the game (Thunderstruck Trees) and made it something you spend real money to get. A game economy like that seems destined to fail.

Trion encouraged people to pay up if they wanted a Carrot Dash donkey mount before they removed it from the game. Carrot Dash was the fastest trade pack mount in the game and it was a rare loot item from a chest obtainable in the cash shop. Shortly after it was removed from the game, a new donkey showed up in the cash shop that is supposedly just as fast (except it’s blue instead of orange).

Trion also promoted a new craftable 80-slot chest that would be coming with the Auroria release, which would replace the 50-slot cash shop chest as the best storage chest in the game. The best craftable storage chest at that point was only 20-slot. You can imagine how disappointed everyone was when they logged in and found out that the “craftable” 80-slot chest required no crafting skill and was made by combining two of the 50-slot cash shop chests. You could also purchase the 80-slot chest directly from the cash shop.

ArcheAge "craftable" storage chest
“Craftable” storage chest

More bad decision-making

Probably Trion’s biggest failure is its lack of connection with the community, which is what makes me think they aren’t in it for the long run, just a quick cash grab. Trion has proven to be terrible at communication with the players and explaining changes. They have not delivered on their promises, especially to those who bought the founder’s packs (bait and switch?). Criticism in the forums has been met with account bans.

In order to be effective at level 50, you have two options: craft it (very expensive, time-consuming, and requires a lot of luck) or grind for tokens. There are 7 different tokens, which are randomly dropped from a small handful of mobs in a very small valley in a PVP zone. Sounds fun, right?

What happens is that the valley gets infested with players standing around, competing to get the first hit on plant creatures as they spawn. Each mob drops one token at random, so after you’ve competed to attack the mob first, you then get to compete within your group to see who gets the token. It takes hundreds of these tokens to turn in for the respective weapon, so it takes hours and hours to get enough for one weapon.

This kind of mob grinding is not interesting, fun, or challenging, but Trion made it a necessary part of the game. With the Auroria patch, they made it even worse. They added two more tiers to the weapons, requiring people to do 4-5 times more grinding than they had to endure to get the first tier of each weapon.

Other problems that shouldn’t exist

I pointed out some problems with ArcheAge in my initial post, but there are a few more I’d like to add.

ArcheAge DX11 texture bug
DirectX 11 texture bug

First, there are the server/client stability bugs. Launching the game is terrible. It’s painfully slow and half the time, sends you to a Korean FAQ page instead of launching the client. And once you have the client up, you have to put up with frequent client crashes. This is especially annoying when you are trying to get in juries, because each crash resets your position in the jury queue. Someone even found a bug that let them crash servers at will. There is also a bug with DirectX 11 that causes blurry, low quality textures after you play for a little while. The suggested fix? Use DirectX 9 instead. ><

ArcheAge weird item effect
So… what’s the effect?

Then there are the language problems. A common error you will hear when fighting is: “Target is facing the wrong direction.” That’s my favorite one. There are also the Thunderstruck Trees I mentioned above. Too many items also have inaccurate or missing tool tips.

One thing that really bugged me was the first (and only) time I went to trial. I found an unprotected tree farm earlier that day and chopped some of the trees. Thankfully, the jury was reasonable and found me not guilty, but I still lost my ability to be a juror and had my jury count wiped. That isn’t supposed to happen when you are found not guilty. Since frequent crashes make it difficult to get juries, that was a big letdown for me.

ArcheAge mailbox
Owl mailbox

There are also some stupid interface issues. For example, the mailbox has an owl on it and sometimes the owl flies off, leaving you unable to access the mailbox for a 15-20 seconds until he flies back. While this is a good effect (since he realistically should need to go gather the mail) and it’s not that big of a deal, it is still annoying to sit there waiting for the owl to come back. What’s more annoying, though, is the in-game trade window. Players add items/gold to their side of the trade window and click a lock icon when they’re done. After both players have “locked in” the trade, both players must press an accept button to complete the trade. There were some hacks with trading that I guess made it possible for other players to steal gold and items, so Trion made some changes. Now, there is a 3-second delay after either player clicks the lock button and there isn’t adequate feedback for what’s going on or when the next player is allowed to hit their lock button. This makes trading feel slow and unresponsive. Heaven forbid you spam click the lock button while you wait because the extra clicking will screw things up once the lock button is enabled and you’ll have to go through it all again.

One of the biggest complaints about the game is that there isn’t enough land available for people to build farms and houses, which is why some people were so excited about Auroria. Or rather, there wasn’t enough land. That may have changed since the mass exodus. Players would scout the world for farms and houses on the verge of expiring, so that they could claim the land. It was probably worse on other servers, but at least half a dozen people would how up to try to claim expiring land on my server. The players didn’t just have to compete against each other to be the first to place their farm/house, though; they also had to compete against exploits that allowed people to claim land without being present (and, perhaps, without even being logged in).

Final thoughts

ArcheAge naval battle
Destroying a ship in a naval battle

ArcheAge had potential to be a really fun game. I liked the naval aspect of the game, the in-world housing, and how you could level doing just about anything. Unfortunately, Trion screwed it up (and XL Games… it isn’t clear who is to blame for what). They made bad decisions and lost the trust and respect of the players. That’s something that’s really hard to recover from. R.I.P. ArcheAge.