I’m determined to sit here and write a complete blog post.
Inspired somewhat by j3w3l’s recent post, I’ve been thinking about ArcheAge. Thinking, that is, but not playing, because my work schedule has been ramping back up and ArcheAge is not a game you can play when you only have a little bit of time to play it. Not to mention the possibly-related fact that I’ve lost interest in it. I still log into ArcheAge once or twice a week to make sure my taxes are paid and to stockpile more tax certificates, but that’s about it. (Why they changed it to let you pay taxes with labor points I’ll never know.) I slaughtered my geese and haven’t planted any new fruit trees after they mysteriously disappeared one day. (I’m not entirely sure that someone or something wasn’t messing with my geese, too-I logged in several times to find them in various stages of fed/unfed/starving/recovering, and I’m quite certain I didn’t do any of it.)
Did I get my money’s worth out of ArcheAge? Probably not. I impulsively plunked down $150 for the Alpha Access however long ago that was. In World of Warcraft terms, that should have been 10 months of gameplay, but I certainly haven’t played ArcheAge for 10 months and can’t imagine doing so. I’d guess I got 4 or 5 months of decent gameplay out of it, before and after launch. That’s pretty good for an MMO these days, but not quite $150 worth of good. I’m not ruling out ever going back to ArcheAge, but I certainly won’t go back after my Patron status runs out … whenever. I have no clue when that will happen. The login screen says December 20 but it’s been wrong several times before.
Do I regret spending that $150? Not exactly. I still think I made an informed decision. I knew I was going to like the game. From my experience with the Russian version, I knew exactly how ArcheAge played and what state it was in (ie. finished except for the text), so it wasn’t like Landmark where I spent money without knowing what kind of game I was going to get. But I think I underestimated how much of a time sink that ArcheAge was going to be, and I just can’t sustain that for long.
Then there are the exploits and the apparent rampant incompetence of XLGames (I see Trion as having their hands tied). ArcheAge reminds me quite a lot of the early days of Ultima Online. Early UO was riddled with bugs and exploits that went on and on and on. As soon as one exploit got fixed, five new ones popped up. And these were big time exploits, too. Duping and teleportation and such. If UO were released today in the state it was back then, it would be laughed off the market. Which is more-or-less exactly what is happening to ArcheAge right now. (Although weirdly, ArcheAge queries to my blog vastly outnumber any other game queries, so based on that highly unscientific measurement, the market still has plenty of demand for it.)
It’s a shame because there is a very good core of a game there. I think it has a good balance of PvP and PvE. But I feel like the game isn’t quite finished yet. It needs a sequel. It needs a graphics engine update and an update to whatever underlying system is so vulnerable to exploits, and it needs a slew of tweaks to the gameplay. It needs a longer leveling curve and a shorter profession leveling curve. It needs more solo gameplay options and objectives. It needs more responsiveness so you don’t feel like you get killed by latency half the time. (Guild Wars 2 is the new standard for responsiveness in MMO gameplay, in my opinion.) And it goes without saying that it needs a lot more rigorous quality control.
Most of all it needs to decide whether it’s free-to-play or not. Right now, it’s not. You have to have Patron status to play the game as it’s intended. To me, that means it’s effectively a subscription game. (I feel the same about SWTOR. You can’t play that game without a subscription to remove all the restrictions.
I mean, you can’t even use a frickin’ healing potion/stim/injection/whatever? Seriously?*) And unfortunately, it’s not the best subscription game on the market right now. (I would subscribe to SWTOR before I subscribed to ArcheAge.)
- UPDATE: Oops I recently discovered this problem was not due to a free-to-play restriction but rather due to me somehow having the ‘H’ key bound to both a hotbar action and opening a window. Sorry SWTOR. Even so, it still plays much better with a subscription. :)