Why so serious?

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Lakisa, Tristron and I cruising around, being anything but serious

The main complaint I’ve heard about ArcheAge since Unchained’s launch – those about the numerous technical issues aside, obviously – is that the game isn’t actually a sandbox anymore because it has turned into a grindfest of daily tasks in recent years.

It’s true that there is a lot of stuff players can do every day. There are various rifts (PvE events located in contested zones, so sometimes PvP does also happen), large and small battlegrounds, many daily quests and various other activities waiting to be done. Some of those even run on fixed schedules, so if you’re set on doing them you have to make time for them when they’re available.

Pretty much all of these activities have one thing in common: they award stuff for advancing your gear or your character. Honor, infusions, awakening scrolls, PvP badges; all sorts of currencies and materials to upgrade your armor and weapons, to buy gems to socket into those items, or titles with stat boosts for yourself.

In essence this is what the complaints are about. Most folks aren’t unhappy that those activities exist at all, their argument is that you have to do all of this each and every day lest you fall behind on the gear curve and cease to be competitive.

Well…so what?

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Yep, we leveled up by beating up a huge pumpkin. Quite unserious

I’ve never understood this urge many people playing MMORPGs seem to have, which is to get to max level and have BiS gear right fucking now. It’s as if they want to be “finished” with the game, get bored and move on as quickly as possible.

Now granted, ArcheAge provides many opportunities for PvP, consensual as well as non-consensual, and not wanting to get stomped at every such opportunity is quite understandable. Still, in my opinion and experience it’s absolutely not mandatory to grind like crazy every day, especially if you don’t enjoy it.

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Running a dungeon without knowing anything about it…much more enjoyable

For the second time now I’ve started playing this game from zero. This time around I was there right at launch, so my progression started along with everybody else. Back in ’14 the game had been already out for a month or two, so I was behind from the get-go. Of course I’m behind now too because, well, I do not like to grind every day.

Are there situations where I wish my gear was stronger? Yeah, it happens. But more often than not that being the case wouldn’t make a difference either way.

Most types of small scale battlegrounds deck out participants with equalized gear anyway, so what remains are the large scale battles as well as the open world, where it’s more about strenght in numbers than anything else.

So, no, “being competitive” isn’t all what this game is about, despite all claims to the contrary.

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Fishing is actually pretty rewarding, but also quite relaxing

Like noted above the attitude of wanting to progress quickly no matter the cost isn’t confined to PvP-heavy MMOs anyway, so there must be more to it.

Now, I do get the appeal of feeling more powerful, or of being satisfied with what one has achieved. I have felt it myself. But is it worth doing stuff that isn’t fun for hours, each and every day? I don’t think so.

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We’re even so lucky to have schools of fish right on our doorstep

The kicker is, all those repeatable activities can be fun; it’s the constant repetition that makes them boring and tedious. For the last month or so I have done the Hiram dailies about once a week, Grimghast and/or Crimson rift maybe twice a week and other stuff even more irregularly. The only thing I actually aim to do at least once a day is the Halcyona battleground, but that’s because it’s fun for what it is. The rewards are nice too, but that’s a bonus.

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Getting ready for the slaughter that is Halcyona in potato mode

The much bigger part of my playtime is consumed by all those other, progression-wise “suboptimal” activities I’ve been talking about for the last two months, and some more depicted on the screenshots in this very post.

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I guess nothing is more suboptimal than buying a Viola that has no stats on it…I love it!

As a consequence I’m still really happy with the game – and also with my gaming in general. If folks would take their gaming a bit less seriously maybe they’d be happier too and not have to complain all the time.

IntPiPoMo – The Funnies

During last year’s event I posted a screenshot-collection of stuff that went wrong and/or made me laugh while playing various MMOs. I still believe our favourite genre is the most predestined for stuff like that, which is one big reason why I never tire of playing these games. Here’s another assortment for your viewing pleasure.

As always, click the pics to enlarge.

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You…really should go see a doctor right away, mate

So ArcheAge Unchained unlocks its character creation, I choose a Nuian male archer and on the other side of a quick loading screen this nightmare-inducing abomination is what stares at me. I shudder at the thought of what a Warborn would have looked like.

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I’d been aware that players are able to do some unusual stuff with ship-mounted harpoons, but this was new. This is in the middle of Marianople, mind you, half a mile away from the next body of water. Ships can’t be spawned on land, so they had to drag themselves over here bit by bit to do this stunt.

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I’d just fallen asleep to regenerate some labor points when Lakisa waltzed in and started to cook a couple hundred vegetable soups, entirely unaware of my presence. From now on I’ll lock the door!

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Everquest II definitely has no shortage of fun stuff, yet it still caught me by surprise when this quest turned me into a rat and even had other rats talk to me.

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Looks like someone has found a new calling…

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If you don’t recognize this code…you’re definitely a lot younger than me. I wonder if they left out B and A for copyright reasons.

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Many folks regard the Hildibrand quests in Final Fantasy XIV as the most funny thing ever. Whether you like that kind of over-the-top humor or not, the game has plenty more of that. This pic is the culmination of lots and lots of bickering and arguing between these two NPCs during your first epic weapon quest line, aka the Zodiac Weapon. I’d kind of hoped it would come to this a lot sooner to be honest.

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What? If you had just finished building your own hot tub and hopped right in not realizing you’re still fully clothed you’d look this embarrassed too!

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Depending on the class you’re playing SWTOR isn’t exactly the most lighthearted MMO out there, yet it still can be pretty hilarious at times. This Hutt in particular had some lines up his sleeve that really cracked me up.

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Speaking of the Hutt, I’d heard a lot about a certain piece of headgear the final and eponymous boss of the Karagga’s Palace operation could drop. I didn’t know what was so special about it until it dropped for us for the first time and I of all people was the one who won the roll…my guildmates were adamant that I wear it of course. Yeah, thanks again!

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This is the obligatory group shot after clearing 16-man (and woman) Eternity Vault. We wanted to do something different this time, so we all set our characters’ moods to astounded.

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Not an MMO, but I just had to include this shot from GTA V. The game has countless hilarious moments of course, but this scene after a heist gone bad literally had me in tears.

IntPiPoMo picture count: 12 (this post); 46 (total)

Carrying the load

I’ve touched upon ArcheAge’s trade system a couple of times already, and you might be wondering what that is all about. So today I’ll explain how it works, why I think that it’s really cool despite its flaws, and why it contributes greatly to the game’s virtual world feel.

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Every region on the two main continents has one or more specialty workbenches where players can craft trade packs. To do so you need some labor points and a bunch of resources, varying by region. For example, a Dewstone Fine Specialty requires 50 labor, 180 medicinal powder and 15 narcissus to make. You can get most ingredients by growing them on your farm or buying them from other players. Once you have all that stuff just walk up to the workbench, press a few buttons, wait for a couple seconds and boom, the pack appears on your character’s back.

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Always remember to lift with the legs, not with the back

As one would assume such a huge load slows you down considerably. Inventory-wise the pack is automatically placed in your glider slot, which makes sense because you normally carry that on your back, but it incidentally also denies you that mode of transportation. Needless to say, you can’t use any portals or the recall skill either. All mounts except the donkey lose their speed bonus completely. There is public transportation available, namely carriages and airships, but since those run on fixed schedules your trusty mule is usually the fastest and most flexible option to move a single pack.

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What are you looking at? We all have our burdens to carry

But where do you carry it? Well, that’s your choice to make. Each continent has ‘specialty buyer’ NPCs in three different regions who buy the packs (and some more labor) off you for a price in gold. That price depends on various factors, some of which you can control, others not so much.

To maximize profits craft the pack in a region farther away from the buyer, deliver it within a shorter time span (packs have a “freshness” factor) or deliver it to a region that’s at war, if you dare.

However the biggest contributing factors by far are, quite realistically, supply and demand. For every unit an NPC buys within a certain amount of time, subsequent payouts for that specific pack take a hit. The price recovers over time, but only if no more packs of that type are handed in for a while. At best you get 130% of the base price, only 50% at worst. Fortunately you can look up the current percentages ingame, however you can’t know how many other players might already be on their way with farm wagons full of the stuff you’re intending to make.

Speaking of which, considering the distances involved carrying one pack at a time obviously isn’t very efficient. Enter farm carts and -wagons.

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My farm cart just after finishing its construction

Relatively early on the Blue Salt Brotherhood questline tasks you with building your first cart and kindly provides the blueprint for it. How to acquire the resources needed to craft the sub-components (wheels, engine, etc.) is left for you to figure out though.

In addition to moderate amounts of common and uncommon resources like lumber, iron, copper and silver some upmarket materials are required. Due to good fortune we luckily had the rarest and thus most expensive piece already in stock.

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Luckily I wasn’t standing there when it happened

Yep, trees in this game have a small chance to get struck by lightning while growing – another one of those little details that make the world feel more alive to me – and thunderstruck trees are highly sought after because you need them for many kinds of high level manufacturing, especially vehicles.

A thunderstruck tree can be cut down into four logs, and you need one of those for a farm cart. Which suited us perfectly because Lakisa, Tristron, Merl (another buddy of ours who joined us in Unchained) and I decided to build all four carts in one go. A family project, if you will.

Once we had everything we needed the somewhat chaotic but really fun process of crafting all that stuff started.

Me: “Ok, I’ll make the oils and polishes. Who has our rice and corn again?”

Lakisa: “I do, here you go. I don’t have enough iron ingots though!”

Tristron: “No problem. I have some ore left, we just need to process it.”

Me: “Damn! We’re a couple dozen azaleas short, and here I thought we had everything. Fortunately those mature in less than 20 minutes, I’ll quickly plant some and we’ll have to wait for just a bit.”

Five minutes later…

Merl: “Hey, I have some azaleas, how many did we need again?”

Everyone: “…”

Somehow we managed to craft the correct amounts of everything without screwing up, so all that was left to do was for everyone to assemble their cart and spawn it for its maiden voyage.

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Took us a while to line up like this…turns out not everybody’s good at backing up

Each cart can hold up to two trade packs and you can still carry one on your back while driving it, so we were now able to haul a total of twelve packs simultaneously instead of just four. For starters the guys had other plans though…

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I didn’t ask why, I just went along with it. Thankfully the rides are rust-proof

By now we’ve already upgraded the carts to farm wagons, again thanks to the Blue Salt questline. These can hold four packs each and also have a handy nozzle in the front to water our fields.

We didn’t find the time to do a big trade run together yet, so I decided to take the wagon out for a ride by myself the other day. I went to Dewstone Plains, crafted five units of the pack I mentioned above and made my way to Cinderstone Moor, which is the farthest drop-off point and was going to be at peace by the time I arrived.

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Heading out from Dewstone Plains’ community center at sunset

Once I got there the demand-percentage was at 85% or so and each pack netted me just over 10 gold. Production cost was around 12 gold total for seeds and stuff. Using two units of eco-friendly fuel the trip took just over 20 minutes; the time investment for planting, gathering and processing the materials may have been around half an hour. So for less than an hour’s time and a couple hundred labor I made of profit of 38 gold, give or take. That’s not really a fortune, but it’s not bad either (by my standards at least).

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What do you mean, “Not fresh enough”??

So why is all of this great?

Well, I’d say the obvious reason is that it provides a means to make money through non-combat activities (which all too many current MMORPGs lack) and creates a never-ending demand for farmed and/or processed materials. Whether you like to do the whole production as well as the final delivery yourself, or you just want to handle one part of the process and leave the rest to others, there’s a profit to be made for everyone.

Coming back to that virtual world train of thought though, this system creates an environment that feels actually lived-in because it makes players traverse and interact with it. Literally wherever you go there are always players tending to their farms or hauling packs around.

Here’s an example. A while ago, before we had our wagons, Lakisa and I rode all the way from Aubre Cradle to Cinderstone on our donkeys to deliver one trade pack each. We arrived at the border to Cinderstone mere minutes before the region went from war to peace and were greeted by quite an unusual sight…

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As if a gigantic invisible traffic light was standing right there, looking down on us

Just like us these players had taken note of the fact that the region was going to hit a peace-period and had decided to seize that opportunity. As soon as the war ended the ragtag convoy collectively picked up the pace for the journey’s final leg.

Why wait for peace though? Didn’t we establish earlier that you get more gold for packs delivered during war? Yes, indeed. If you manage to make it to the NPC without someone stealing your pack(s) that is. Drop a pack to the ground, be it voluntarily or because you’re dead (or your cart temporarily destroyed), and anyone can pick it up without repercussions. The only place you can drop a pack safely is a farm that’s only accessible by you or by people you trust.

So that 15% war-bonus is purely cosmetic and not actually useful? Well, I wouldn’t say that. Sure, I certainly wouldn’t risk my pack, let alone a full cartload, going into a contested region all by myself. But imagine you’re in a guild and a group of six, eight, maybe even more people decides to work together and protect each other. There’s still a risk of course – there’s always a bigger fish after all – but at least you’d be able to fend off a single player or small group without breaking a sweat. In any case, whether the additional reward is worth the risk or not – entirely your call.

By the way, should you in fact lose a pack to pirates your efforts weren’t all for naught: whenever a pack is delivered to an NPC 80% of the payout goes to the player turning it in, but 20% always go to the one who made it. And if you still think this overly favours the dirty thief – why not become one yourself?

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Of course I am keeping straight…unless an opportunity presents itself that I can’t refuse

Now, the system isn’t perfect. It actually was nearly perfect when ArcheAge launched but got changed a couple of times for whatever reason. The fact that you nowadays can only turn in your packs in one of three regions, and that you can’t deliver normal packs to another continent at all (only special cargo crates directly bought for gold) restricts your choices quite severely and also ensures that payouts are way down almost all the time.

Despite this I still like it a lot. Whether I personally engage in it at any given moment or not, it ensures that the streets and harbors are always bustling with activity and purpose, and it provides content for a wide range of different playstyles. Which is exactly what a virtual world needs.

IntPiPoMo picture count: 11 (this post); 34 (total)

IntPiPoMo – My MMO characters

We’re almost halfway through November and I haven’t posted a whole lot of pictures yet, so today I’ll knock myself out. This might take a while to load, sorry about that.

Allow me to introduce the main and main-alt characters I’ve played in various MMOs over the years, roughly from oldest to newest.

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If this looks very blurry click the pic to open it in its actual resolution

Right in the middle there wearing a golden helmet you see my axe-wielding PvP character in Ultima Online, whom I specifically created to join one of the warring factions, the True Britannians. I chose to use an axe because in addition to the ‘normal’ melee skills its damage was boosted even further by having a high lumberjacking skill, which I still find hilarious. Here we are preparing to defend Britain’s castle from an attack by the other factions. All those candelabras were placed by us one by one and served the purpose to block the enemy players from spreading out (I kid you not). Unfortunately we lost that day, despite the wall of candles.

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The Zabrak on the right is my rockstar…er…I mean, my Master Entertainer / Master Musician in Star Wars Galaxies. I’ve rocked stages all across that galaxy far, far away with him, as I’ve talked about before.

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He was also a Master Teras Kasi Artist, so any zealous fan coming too close was in for a nasty surprise – as was this scaly soon-to-be-handbag.

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My second SWG character was a smuggler by trade and by heart, and I think I managed to make him look the part too (with the help of a fellow tailor).

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If I had to choose an all-time main character across all games I’ve played I guess this one would have to be it. This Everquest II Dark Elf Warlock is the fella I’ve spent the most time with (almost two thousand hours according to EQ2U). He’s also reached the highest level of them all (93 Warlock, 100 Carpenter), and although several characters that came after him turned out to be more fun to play he’s still the one I feel the most attached to.

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That being said, I really love my Ratonga Bruiser, here standing next to Lakisa’s Fae Inquisitor inside Nektropos Castle. In my opinion he’s the coolest and quirkiest race combined with the most versatile and fun to play tank class ever. Seriously, Ratonga Bruiser for life!

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This Jedi Guardian tank was my SWTOR-main for my whole time with that game. It took me a long time to assemble a look for him that I was pleased with, but once I got that chest piece (which includes hood and robe) and bought a white dye off the auction house (for over a million credits!) everything fell into place nicely. The mask is the icing on the cake.

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My Commando’s look on the other hand was a no-brainer. Once I’d done the Gree event for the first time and seen the weapons and armor sets it rewarded I knew that he’d get this assault cannon and armor as soon as I was able to buy them. The Commando is still one of my favourite healer classes, not least due to the fact that he heals people by shooting at them with that big-ass cannon of his.

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I still think that whoever at Funcom had the idea during The Secret World’s development to completely detach a character’s stats from their apparel deserves a medal. Unfortunately the stream of new clothing items and costumes dried up pretty quickly after the game’s release, which is a shame because I really wanted to give them more financial support – and I know I’m not alone in this. By then I’d had my character’s looks down though, and I was very happy with it.

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This is my original ArcheAge character in 2015 when he was still a Shadowblade. I later switched to Stone Arrow because I rather wanted to fight at range instead of melee, but I have to admit that he looked much cooler with that huge axe.

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Destiny 2 is one of those games that in my opinion, at least back when I played it, made it too cumbersome and grindy to give your character a look that you liked without gimping your stats in the process. I eventually got to a point when my Warlock looked like this though, which I was pretty happy with. Unfortunately, no good tools in the game for taking screenshots either.

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I didn’t get the helmet I really wanted for my Titan – the first Faction Rally event was not only grindy but also awfully RNG-heavy – but fortunately I got my hands on a similarly looking one that completed the outfit quite adequately.

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Black Desert Online is often criticized for the fact that many of its classes look like they’re wearing rags unless you buy a costume in the cash shop, and deservedly so. To give credit where it’s due though, the costumes look superb across the board, and I just had to get this one for my Striker. The level of detail on it is astounding. Unfortunately this isn’t a class-specific costume, in fact it’s available for most if not all classes. As a consequence it’s not a very unique look to have, but it fits my character very well, so I’m rolling with it.

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I’ve talked about Lakisa and myself trying to recreate our original ArcheAge characters in Unchained, and I think we did a pretty good job. This time around I went for a ranged build right away though, so no huge axe for me anymore.

IntPiPoMo picture count: 14 (this post); 23 (total)

Seriously Gamigo, fix your shit!

Initially I wasn’t going to let myself be bothered by ArcheAge Unchained’s problematic launch. Well, it’s bothering me now.

More importantly, considering how much I’ve hyped up the game during the past weeks, I feel it’s my obligation to talk about the bad things too. And boy, are there bad things to talk about.

Let’s start off with the catalyst for this post. At the time of this writing Belstrom, the server I play on, is offline and has been for 39 hours straight.

It began on Monday 20:20 (this is all CET), when an ingame message told us that the server would be going down for maintenance in 10 minutes (!). The stated reason was “auction house related issues”, and there was no ETA on the server coming online again.

The next update we got was at 01:25 (I’m not kidding). Which means that EU primetime had come and gone, and nobody had had an idea if it was worth it to hang in there and hope for at least a little bit of play before bedtime. It basically said “We’re working on it.” Again no ETA.

Silence followed until 11:44, then this:

“Bestrom is still offline.

Unfortunately, there is no new ETA to post but we’ll let you know as soon as possible about it.”

Seriously? How about telling us something we don’t know yet, like what exactly the problem is, what you are doing to fix it, stuff like that. At least we’d had a chance to understand why it had been taking more than 15 hours at that point.

We got some more info eventually, at 18:50 to be precise:

“Several deficiencies were identified related to incorrect auction data, including the failure to deliver gold as a result of a completed auction.

When we initially diagnosed the data, it was apparent that there were other contributing factors that needed to be addressed immediately.

The team has worked around the clock on these issues and we’re making progress at both restoring functionality and cleaning up the incorrect data. It’s imperative that the server remains inaccessible while the restoration occurs.

Some accounts took advantage of this situation and will be disciplined accordingly prior to the server being opened again.”

Well, that explains everything, right? It’s a serious problem and there’s no way around fixing it, how ever long it takes.

Why wait that long to give us this info though? Why not give us regular updates? I don’t care if it’s the same message over and over again, at least we would know what’s going on.

By the way, that message up there is the last we’ve heard of ’em. More than 16 hours ago.

I’ll let that sink in for a moment.

In my opinion the server being down isn’t the main problem here. Stuff like that happens. The constant radio silence is what’s getting to me, because that’s what we got from day one.

Remember when, at launch, many accounts didn’t regenerate labor points because they didn’t receive the ingame-mail containing their preorder-stuff? It took Gamigo almost two days to even acknowledge that problem. They had a fix for it, but until then those who were affected couldn’t open coinpurses (the loot NPC mobs carry) or upgrade their gear. Hell, they couldn’t even raise their starter mounts. And they didn’t know if there was a fix in the works or if they were just screwed.

Of course folks wanted to post a bug report about this (and other things) on the official forums. Well, too bad, because most people, myself included, can’t post there. Believe me, I’ve tried. Whenever I hit those Log In or Reply buttons I get:

The requested URL was rejected. Please consult with your administrator.

Your support ID is: a twenty digit number

The one and as far as I’m aware only time we heard from Gamigo about this was on October 22nd:

“The IT team is working on the forum issue.
We’ll let you know once it is fixed again.”

Needless to say, no fix yet.

All of this is peanuts compared to the elephant in the room though: the ArchePass and Diligence Coins.

You see, ArcheAge was originally designed as a F2P game, and pretty aggressively at that. To make any meaningful progress or even just play comfortably you had to buy stuff in the cash shop. Since they’ve promised to have absolutely no P2W in Unchained that had to be changed of course.

They didn’t alter the game’s systems themselves though, instead they created a separate shop to buy things like inventory expansions, labor point rechargers and various other stuff with a new currency called diligence coins. The only means to earn these coins is doing tasks given to you by the ArchePass.

That pass is – or rather, was – basically a slot machine for daily quests. Kill x mobs in region y. Spend 50 labor points on profession z. Kill a certain world boss.

The problem with that was that a) it forced players to do specific things instead of just playing the game the way they liked, defeating the purpose of playing a sandbox MMO, and b) it was way too lucrative, rendering any other method of earning gold obsolete and flooding too much gold into the ecosystem.

Oh, apparently it could be exploited too.

So on October 24th they disabled the whole thing. This was probably the right thing to do, but you know what? Since then there is no way whatsoever to earn diligence coins. They have been talking about giving out some coins one way or another, but unsurpsisingly they managed to screw that up too.

The option to log into your account and claim a bunch of coins and labor rechargers was available for all of three hours (maybe less) on November 1st, then we got this:

“We are currently disabling the diligence coin and labor recharger claim due to issues related to some eligible accounts not receiving the items or other accounts receiving multiple claims of the items.

We will continue to work on a resolution and update once it becomes available again.”

What’s really funny is that they’d lowered the price for one inventory expansion scroll from 50 to 30 diligence coins on the previous day, October 31st. Yeah, that’d be great and all if we fucking had any diligence coins to spend!

Right now we have no idea when (or if) we’ll finally get any means to expand our tiny F2P-inventories, when (or if) the ArchePass will be activated again, or if any compensation at all for any of this metric ton of fuckups is planned.

On the other hand, I can’t play anyway because my server is offline. So what’s the big deal, right?

And there you have it. For all the praise I’ve given Unchained – and the game itself is truly fantastic in my opinion – it saddens me to say that I really can’t recommend buying into it at this time if you haven’t already.

IntPiPoMo 2019 – Home sweet home edition

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It’s already November again, meaning that National Novel Writing Month, NaNoWriMo for short, is upon us. Like many MMO bloggers I really can’t be arsed don’t have the time to write fifty thousand words within a single month though, so it’s fortunate that Chestnut of Gamer Girl Confessions is providing a great alternative again: International Picture Posting Month.

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The idea is that a picture is worth a thousand words, as the saying goes, so our goal is to post 50 pictures of our own making until November 30th.

Like last year I’ll be mainly posting screenshots of the games I play, which is very convenient as I’d be doing that anyway. As always I’ll try not to just post a bunch of pics and leave it at that; at the very least I’ll provide a bit of context, at best an associated story (if there is one).

Unsurprisingly I’ll start off with a bunch of ArcheAge Unchained shots.

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Home again! And myself clinging to a tree…again

If this looks somewhat familiar it’s because I’ve posted a very similar shot before. The two were taken more than five years apart though.

Lakisa and I knew from the beginning that once land ownership was unlocked in Unchained we’d aim for getting our old spot in Two Crowns back. Mainly for nostalgic reasons, but it’s actually a pretty good location gameplay-wise as well.

Marianople, Cinderstone Moor, Halcyona and Sanddeep are all within riding distance, which means that we can get to most places one visits regularly at higher levels without wasting teleports. Moreover, the continent’s northern regions are but a short boat trip away, so basically we can get pretty much anywhere relatively quickly.

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Arriving at Solzreed Peninsula’s shore on a freshly built clipper

Two Crowns is also one of three regions on our continent where trade packs can be turned in, so after finishing such a venture we’re right back at home.

Last but not least it’s a good starting point for a boat trip across the ocean towards Haranya, our enemy faction’s homeland. Even the vendor who sells intercontinental trade packs, which need to be delivered to his Haranyan counterpart in Solis Headlands, is right here.

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As is the ferry that takes you across safely…for a fee

Like I said in an earlier post we didn’t get our old property as a whole right away, which is a plot 16×32 meters in size, enough for a small house and a medium farm alongside it. We managed to occupy most of it with our two 8×8 farms though, and I had a feeling that our ‘neighbor’, who’d placed his 8×8 right next to mine, wouldn’t stay for long. We managed to upgrade Lakisa’s farm to a 16×16 shortly after, and I guess at that point it was pretty obvious that we wouldn’t be going anywhere.

Indeed, the other day while I was at work Lakisa called, mightily excited, to inform me that his farm was gone. Great, I said, just log me in, remove my farm as soon as no one’s around and place the house, no sweat. Which she did, so now we have the whole plot to ourselves, just like back in 2014. To say that we’re very happy about it would be an understatement.

We’d had all materials to finish the building prepared beforehand, so once I got home we started hammerin’.

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By now we’ve also been joined by Tristron, our buddy with whom we played and had some great adventures back then, so for us ArcheAge Unchained is clearly the return to good old times that WoW Classic has been for many folks out there.

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All for one and one for all, united we stand divided we fall…ahem, sorry, couldn’t resist

It’s awesome!

IntPiPoMo picture count: 9 (this post); 9 (total)

A virtual world – ArcheAge Unchained

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Instead of praising more of ArcheAge Unchained’s individual features, like the class- and and farmland-systems I talked about last time, I’d like to have a look at the greater picture today.

Not that there aren’t any more features I like. I could – and probably will at some point – rave about the trade system, means of travel, naval content, varied PvP- and PvE-options and lots of other stuff all day long. However, for me the game’s main draw isn’t any single one of those features. It’s what the sum of all that does: it gives me the feeling of my character inhabiting a living, breathing world instead of me ‘just’ playing a game.

Erenor isn’t just an amusement park where I enjoy the rides that I like until I’m bored (and/or sick in my stomach). It’s a virtual world.

I’ll try to explain why I feel this way by giving you an example of something as simple and – usually – boring as daily quests.

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I…think they’re trying to tell me something

There is a set of five dailies given out by NPCs of the Blue Salt Brotherhood, the game’s cross-continent organisation of merchants, traders and crafters. These are very simple quests that involve no combat whatsoever and only require a small amount of resources on your part to begin. Back in ’14 I did these pretty much every day and I’ve started doing them again now.

Initially my main reason for doing them was that they award gilda stars, a currency needed for house deeds, ship designs, better gliders and so on. I continued running those quests long after I’d accumulated all the stars I needed though, because they were and still are just fun. Not the quests themselves, mind you, but the way they let me interact with and experience the game world.

To do all five quests you need to cover quite a distance because the objectives are pretty far apart. The game does have a teleport-system, and I see other players port from one point to the next all the time. Personally, I only make use of that option once, right after accepting the quests, and go everywhere else on horseback from there. Making my round is what I call it.

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Expert, highly accurate drawing of my route

As usual, performing the necessary klicks to advance the quests happens pretty much on autopilot. It’s almost meditative. Traveling from point A to B to C though is always a little adventure in itself.

By now I know the general areas where wild trees and other plants grow. On my way I always check if any fully grown specimens are up. Finding a ready-to-fell ash tree, for example, makes me happy every time because that’s 13 to 14 free logs right there. Especially at the beginning one can never have enough lumber, and trees take up a lot of space on your farm, so finding wild ones always feels a little like hitting a jackpot to me.

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A hornbeam doesn’t yield quite as much, but I won’t look a gift horse in the mouth

Since we don’t have placed our little house and all of our farms yet I also keep my eyes open for free plots of land. Right now the chances to find anything bigger than 8×8 (by far the smallest size of property and not what we’re looking for anymore) are slim of course, but that situation is always shifting and changing, so you never know.

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Real estate prices have skyrocketed lately in these here parts

Sometimes, albeit rarely, I run into a player of the enemy faction. The ruleset of these regions, which are technically always at peace, is that ‘foreigners’ can’t attack anyone, but resident players can attack intruders, in which case the attacked is obviously allowed to fight back. Unless both parties have learned each other’s languages there’s no way to communicate, so I have to assess such a situation and decide quickly if I want to attack or not.

Why attack at all? you might ask. That player has done me no harm and might have a good, non-aggressive reason for being there. Yes, maybe. But they might just as well be on their way to camp one of the passages between a peaceful region and a contested one, killing lower level players who are trying to do their story-quests over and over again. I’ve seen that (and have been a victim of that too) more than once. So, yeah, as long as they aren’t much lower level than I they’re fair game when I see them.

Then there’s the traderuns that are happening all the time. I’ll go more into detail about those in another post, but suffice it to say that the roads are always packed with players carrying those heavy packs on their backs. Some just walk, many ride their donkeys, and by now more than a few have built their farm carts and use those to carry multiple packs at a time. This, too, makes the world feel more lived-in and, well, alive. Also, when a driver uses eco-friendly fuel and axle grease (I’m not kidding) those carts are relatively speedy, so sometimes, when I don’t feel like manually riding all the way I hop onto one as it’s passing by and hitchhike for a bit. Conversations between all involved ensue more often than not.

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Hello. I’m Peter. Where’re you from…originally?

When I’ve finished my round and turned in all quests about half an hour has passed, sometimes a bit more depending on how much I got sidetracked. Due to all those things I’ve listed here – and probably some more I’ve forgotten – it doesn’t feel like having done some daily chores in the slightest. Sure, I’ve finished some predefined tasks and made some predictable progress, but first and foremost I’ve traveled the world, seized different opportunities, maybe even socialized for a bit (radical idea for an MMO, I know) or protected my homeland from invaders.

What’s not to like?