The Tobold Effect
Yesterday was a strange day because every now and then one of my posts develops a life of its own. I had gotten an email saying that I had a comment waiting in queue. I keep my blog set to moderate new comments because for whatever reason I get a truly phenomenal amount of spam. Every now and then one of them makes it through Akismet and ends up as a real comment. So instead of letting these just sit out there without noticing them, I have my wordpress set to moderate the first comment from a specific poster, and once I have approved them they can comment from that point on freely. So while in wordpress I happened to look at my Jetpack statistics page and saw something weird.
For a moment I thought the stats were completely borked or something, but upon closer inspection I was in fact having what looked to be a spike in readership. When looking through the referrers I saw a name there that I had not seen before. Apparently Tobold created a post with nothing but a link to my “Sandboxes and Sheep” post on ArcheAge, and then bam we were off to the races. While I might be occasionally getting lambasted in his comment stream, I guess there is no such thing as bad publicity? I mean I really did not write that post to be anything than me adding my counter point to the posts that were linked. I was not trying to condemn pvp, but just present an alternate viewpoint to “there are no consequences”.
In any case on an average day I have around 150 readers, and that day I saw that number up up to be like 750ish. Here is hoping that some of them might stick around for awhile, and if so welcome to the new folks who are reading me ramble. I post something new every day, and you get my unfiltered thoughts as on the average morning I start writing around 6 am and write hard and fast for thirty minutes to an hour and produce the post you see each day. I did not necessarily set out that day to write the post I ended up writing, but instead that is what happened to flow out when I put text to screen. The only thing I would add to the comment stream, I was an Alpha player of ArcheAge so while my current character is only level 20, I have more experience than that would denote.
Less Toxic Community
I freely admit that most of my opinion of ArcheAge as a whole comes from early testing of the game. I got into alpha testing back in May when a friend of mine hooked me up with an invite. Overall I think my first impressions were favorable, but as I played it was the community that ended up grinding me down. The griefing was prevalent, and most of it did not involve pvp combat at all to be truthful. I’ve talked about some of my experiences before, but ultimately I detached myself from the game because of the toxic community. With the games launch this was my number one detractor from giving it another shot, that and the fact that at 35 in Alpha I pretty much stalled out due to the constant pvp ganking while trying to quest. Both of which were sad because the game still has quite a bit to offer players of all stripes.
Coming back I have been pleasantly surprised I guess is the best way to put it. While the community is still fairly horrible when compared to say Final Fantasy XIV with their awesome pugging experience… it is at least as good as say World of Warcraft, which is to say it is pretty much the norm for a massively multiplayer game these days. While the public channels do sound a bit like /trade or barrens chat most of the time, they can be pretty easily ignored. I am not sure if simply the worst offenders have moved on to other games, or have at least moved on to bigger content and are no longer in the areas I am in… but in any case I have not actually experienced the non-pvp griefing like I did in alpha.
I think maybe in alpha folks were just like a child testing the limits of their parents will. So many of the things I think folks were doing just because they “could” do it. The fact that most of those early invites were youtubers and streamers probably amplified this toxic nature. There were a few awesome streamers like Kiwi, but also a lot of not so awesome ones whose streams consisted mostly of “watch me abuse these players”. If you went afk in alpha… you were more than likely going to get pushed out of town by a tractor and find yourself dead in the countryside. So it is all of these experiences that have so negatively colored my opinion of the game and left me not wanting to really give it a shot at launch.
Doomlords and Paladins
So I have watched this games progress and played the role of the grumpy curmudgeon as various friends decided to give it a shot. I was fairly happy to ignore it until I realized something. By some quirk almost all of the people I know and care about playing the game seemed to have ended up in the same location. Firstly I noticed that most of the players were on the Naima server, and while I figured a lot of folks would end up playing the “catgirl” faction… it turned out that almost all of them were on West the faction I actually preferred. To make matters worse, I realized that almost everyone happened to be in the same guild. This is the point at which I started to contemplate actually playing the game. What makes it stranger is that several of the groups of friends, don’t actually really know each other. So they all seemed to arrive there independently.
As such I have been trying to look at the game with somewhat fresh eyes, and give it a fair shake where I had not before. The game itself is really fun, but at this point I am not really sure why. I keep flipping back and forth between Paladin and Doomlord, because I am really not sure which one I prefer. Paladin seems to be considerably better for pure survival, but Doomlord has a lot of fun toys. Right now I have both a charge and a death grip attack, which makes me extremely happy. The healing capabilities of Paladin sadly are not terribly useful in combat. Like I can throw a heal over time on myself, but the amount of health it heals versus my hitpoint pool feels insignificant.
What I would love to find is a version of tank that plays like a Shadowknight or a Deathknight, where my attacks basically proc heals. Not sure if such a beast exists and is still at the same time “tanky”. The biggest surprise has been just how willing people are to group up for objectives. The main difference with this game is that there is the ability to send out a group invite to anyone in the vicinity. So many players do that by course before starting an encounter. The negative is that there is no passive tagging system, so the first player to hit anything owns the encounter. I realize this is an older game, but I find it hard to believe that any game would choose active tagging for mobs at this point.
My biggest concern for this game is the fact that Trion does not have any real control over it. They run the servers, and can fiddle with bits in their databases… but as far as the client and server code they do not have any access to that at all. They are essentially a third party reseller of this game to the western markets. There are a lot of things that players requested in Alpha that have come out as not being functionally possible, or XL Games was completely unwilling to consider them. There are features that are just requirements for a modern game like the ability to invert the mouse axis, that are missing. I know of at least one friend that simply cannot play the game because of this. At the end of the day, while I have warm fuzzies about Trion… I have to realize this is not their game.
If this changes I might have more hope, and I feel like they are doing their best to accommodate the play style of western gamers. I have listened to a few discussions on this however, and so many of the things that we are requesting… just don’t make sense to XL Games who is entirely focused on the Korean MMO mindset. What I would love to see is for the code to be forked in such a way as Trion had the ability to “improve” the game, but the problem there is that we then get cut off from the main trunk of the tree and it becomes extremely hard to obtain all of the expansion content. The Korean version is considerably further along than the Western version, in that there are even additional races like the Dwarves. It will be interesting to see how things shake out.