MMOsite Exclusive Interview with ArcheAge Team about Update 2.0
ByDate: Sep 21 2015 Views:
As we all know, ArcheAge has just launched its 2.0 update on Sep. 13, which has caused quite a debate among the players. Recently, we were honored to have an interview with the team behind this game. Check the detailed interview below for the information you may be interested in:
1. Thank you for taking the time to do this interview. First off, would you like to tell us a bit about yourself and your position within ArcheAge?
My name is Seraphina "Celestrata" Brennan, and I'm the Sr. Community Manager here on ArcheAge. Many people will probably recognize my name from the official forums or the community Reddit, as it's my job to keep in contact with everyone in the ArcheAge community! I also work on all of ArcheAge's social media, and you can catch me weekly in our livestreams. And, if you play on Morpheus, keep an eye out for Scheherazade, my in-game character.
2. Congratulations on the launch of your 2.0 update. What's the reaction been like from the players so far?
Player reaction to Update 2.0: Heroes Awaken has been absolutely fantastic. We keep seeing more players posting and chatting about their adventures from the previous day, whether it's finally upgrading their house or posting pictures of their guild winning a Dominion (Guild vs. Guild) battle. Many have agreed that this is ArcheAge's best update to date, and that's a high complement after revamping naval combat and adding customizable ships in our Dread Prophecies release earlier this year.
3. There are some great new features in the 2.0 update, which is your personal favorite?
It has to be the Hero Elections – the game's new political system. Each faction will now have 10 players acting as a council of Heroes who will direct and lead their faction into battle. Being a hero gives you some great perks, like being able to wear a unique cloak that offers bonuses to your character and anyone from your faction who stands in your presence, being able to activate teleport banners that allow you to quickly rally your entire faction to a specific area, and, of course, being able to sit on a throne in the middle of your capital city so you can rule over your subjects.
I love this system because it combines voting with heroic deeds. In order to be considered for the election, you'll have to complete epic quests that ask you to kill world bosses, or participate in PvP battles to earn leadership points. The 20 players with the most leadership on your faction will be placed onto the ballot when the election rolls around. After that, you'll have to campaign for votes from your faction. The 10 players who get the most votes will become the Heroes for a month. Then the cycle resets and we begin it all over again!
I'm really looking forward to seeing what players to in order to get elected, and how they handle their campaigns. Will they rally their guild and overwhelm the votes that way, or will they grease the palms of some other guild leaders to get what they need? ArcheAge players are always inventive, and I'm sure they'll find some great ways to claim their Hero cloak.
4. With this update, the gap between the US and KR versions is closing. How quickly do you anticipate the US version catching up with the KR version?
It's the goal of the team to narrow that gap as closely as possible, so don't be surprised if you see us get caught up relatively soon. Now we'll still have to stay a month or two behind the Korean version because we'll need time for translation, but the gap will remain as close as possible.
5. There was quite a debate over the server merger, for you and your team what were the major reasons to go ahead and do it? What difficulties, if any, did you encounter while doing the server merger?
One of the things that make ArcheAge such a special game is how other players have a dramatic influence on how you play. You need people to ally with, to trade with, and even to fight with (and against.) Some of the best stories of ArcheAge come from those moments where you barely escape a dangerous situation, or come together as a guild to conquer a dangerous foe. Just last night, I found my heart beating in my chest as I fought against another player attempting to steal one of my trade packs and I barely won. I run plenty of trade packs each day, but that moment was special because someone else gave me a challenge that I will not forget.
While we had a large amount of people playing the game, they were broken up oddly on each of our servers. Some servers, like Aranzeb, Kyrios, and Shatigon had very high populations of players. Others, unfortunately, did not garner as many players. In order to balance the population across all servers and offer everyone that same memorable experience, it meant that we had to perform some limited server merges.
Merging in ArcheAge is not an easy decision because we handle land and housing ownership much differently than other games. Instead of hiding everyone away in housing instances, our housing is right out in the middle of the world. Land is a precious resource in ArcheAge because it is limited. There are only so many places you can build a house, after all.
But merging means two things: removing everyone's houses from the landscape and opening the servers to a rush of players attempting to reclaim their land. We had to remove houses because there was no easy way to handle it. When both servers have full housing areas, how do you do determine who keeps their property when both people worked extremely hard to claim it and keep it? As much as none of us liked it, removing houses was the only way to keep it fair to everyone.
The team worked extremely hard for over six months to make sure that everything was in place and worked smoothly when we finally performed the merges. We gathered both the Trion ArcheAge team and a team of ArcheAge developers from XLGAMES to our Austin, TX office in order to make sure everyone was perfectly in sync. We sunk a month of pre-testing, 96 hours of concentrated final testing, and many late nights into the release of Update 2.0: Heroes Awaken and the merge. This was more than just sending over character data – this also included sending everyone's houses back to them, sending back their item storage chests that could contain hundreds of items, and sending them additional compensation packages with special titles and items.
Thanks to all of that work, the merge itself went off without a hitch. All players arrived on their new servers with all of their items, and those who wanted to transfer to the older high population servers were allowed to do so. All servers now feature similar population sizes, so you'll encounter plenty of people on your travels and never want for new experiences!
We were also really happy to hear that many of our community members were able to find land for their houses once more. Heroes Awaken removed many of the restrictions that only allowed certain types of houses or farms to be built in specific areas. With those restrictions lifted, players were able to find more land for their homes, and some players who never owned land before were finally able to get some space of their own!
6. There are many players complaining about the bots in game. Have you come up with any methods to solve this issue, preserving the balance of the game world?
We absolutely have, and combatting botting is extremely important to us. We have regular meetings with our Customer Service team, and we have implemented a variety of tools and tests to find botters, gold sellers, and exploiters within the game. We've also been encouraging our community to report suspicious players to us via an in-game skill that can flag a suspected bot with a "Prime Suspect" debuff for the Customer Service team to later investigate. Together, thanks to the efforts of the team and the community reports, we've banned over 55,000 confirmed botting accounts within the last 3 months and we're not stopping there.
Many players have noticed our efforts as they comb the land for resources and perform their daily trade runs. We are absolutely going to keep this up because we want ArcheAge to be a fair and fun place!
7. Would you mind telling us some of your future plans for ArcheAge? What are your goals for ArcheAge over the next year and beyond?
The content teams have already been working on seasonal events that haven't yet been implemented in North America and Europe and some future updates that include ArcheAge Update 2.5. Update 2.5 has some great changes and additions for the Arena, like 3v3 fights, a mode that turns off consumables, and more.
8. The MMORPG industry continues to grow robustly. What do you think of the opportunity and the challenges for ArcheAge?
ArcheAge is so very different from the other games that we see on a regular basis, even as the industry continues to grow. It's familiar enough for any MMO fan to jump in and learn quickly, but it features a surprising amount of depth that becomes apparent at around level 20. Sure, you start off running quest chains and gathering crafting materials like any other MMO, but after 20 you start seeing how land works, how trade runs operate, how big the world is, and how beautiful it is to see the horizon's edge while flying on your glider. You slowly open your eyes to everything the land of Erenor has to offer, and you realize that the choices you make will determine how you experience the game.
Our Senior Producer, Merv Lee Kwai, has always told me, "ArcheAge is a game that we'll be talking about for years to come." It's a game that keeps surprising you, even when you think you know it inside and out. It's a game that always has a new story to tell. That's what keeps us talking about it, and that's why it continues to hold its own against other games in the market.
9. From your perspective, what are the end-game objectives of ArcheAge?
Let me spin the question back on you – what do you want the end-game objectives of ArcheAge to be? Do you want to fight epic world bosses or take on challenging dungeons? Do you want to be the king of 1v1s in the Arena? Do you want to ride on the high seas and steal cargo from unsuspecting merchants? Do you want to transport goods across the world and turn a profit on the Auction House? Do you want to rise to glory as the elected Hero of your faction? Or do you want to quietly farm in Two Crowns and tend to your livestock? All of this, and more, can be your end game in ArcheAge. What you choose is up to you.
10. Thanks again for sharing your time and thoughts with us. Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers about ArcheAge?
Now is a great time to jump into the game. If you haven't played in a while, or are looking for a chance to start playing on a server where the community is still leveling up and forming an economy, make sure to try our brand new Fresh Start servers – Morpheus on North America and Rangora on Europe. We just opened these servers up, and the only way you can play on them is by starting a fresh Level 1 character!
And, if you play on Morpheus, the Producers and I don't apologize for all of the trees we've recently stolen throughout Haranya. We have to make our bows out of something, you know! You want to bring us to trial? Come catch us!