The Launch has passed and most of us are at (or well on our way) to end game. Yes, it has been a pretty rough launch. Full of, queues, some server instability, and an unfortunate billing issue. I have to give Trion two thumbs up though; they have been working around the clock keeping the monsters at bay.
The amount of dedication the team has shown towards to the community is quite refreshing. Scapes, the community manager can be found at all sorts of weird hours posting on the forums and the subreddit. Even the CEO Scott Hartsman is only a single tweet away, and he responds too! Sure things have been far from perfect, but the level of effort shown by Trion is truly commendable.
This week though, we are getting away from the drama. We take a move forward and take a deeper look at what gives this game its longevity. While the games economy is the true moving engine behind the game, farming, more importantly “illegal farming” is the fuel.
Logs and various other farmed resources are almost always in high demand. The reason behind this is a well designed mechanic that almost always keeps these products in short supply. You can grow crops without fear of theft on private land. This creates a constant, but limited supply of farmed resourced. Private land can only be set in zones designated for such use. Private farms are also limited in size and therefore can only produce a limited number of any said resource per day.
Almost every craft in the game requires some sort of resource that can only be gained by placing crops and animals. Vehicles and homes require bulk amounts of wood. Alchemy and cooking require various flowers, fruits and vegetables. Many of the crafted items are disposable, requiring a constant supply of said resource. Since there is limited space this creates a constant fluctuating supply and demand for any one of the wide variety of trade goods.
If crafting wasn’t enough of an economic factor, that’s when trade packs come in to play. Every zone has several unique trade packs that can be created. You can take these across your own continent for gold, or to the enemy continent for something much more desirable. Stabilizers, which come in several varieties, are used in various high end crafting mechanics. For instance, Charcoal stabilizers are used to make diving gear, which is used to breathe and maneuver more efficiently under water.
Traveling across the continent is also one of the most time effective ways to gain Gilda Stars. This highly coveted resource is used to buy blueprints for everything from boats to siege equipment. Trade packs also fluctuate in turn in value. The mechanic uses a percentile system, the more of that particular trade pack is turned in the more the percentile will trend downwards. Trade packs further compliment the overall economic mechanics.
This brings us to the infamous “illegal farming”. Also known as guerrilla gardening, wild farms and a bunch of other cute nicknames. There are times when you may need a particular resource in bulk, or maybe you’re just trying to capitalize on a shortage in the market. Due to the limited space provided by private land, you will most likely resort to Illegal farming.
ArcheAge has a pretty large landscape. While it’s not the largest landscape presented in the MMO genre, it’s certainly is on the larger end of the spectrum. There are no invisible walls and the world is full of nooks and crannies to hide things. Some people spend all their playing time doing nothing but searching out the best spots for illegal farms. They will spend countless hours planting and guarding their farms. On the other hand, there is an equally large group of players who does nothing but searching high and low for a pay check.
Labor also becomes an important aspect of Illegal farming. You can place crops and trees in your private farms for no labor, although it still costs labor to harvest. When plating on public property it costs labor not only to place crops but to harvest them as well. This creates a group dynamic and helps create a sense of community. To successfully execute a large scale illegal farming operation you will need a level of cooperation with others. Not only will you need several people to plant and harvest, it takes hours for a lot of things to grow. Large operations are sure to gain attention from people looking to cash in, this creates massive conflict, often resulting in huge PvP battles.
The dynamic aspects of illegal farming are almost a game in itself. In time this could create an interesting sub genre of theory crafting that some will find incredibly appealing. I already know people that have spreadsheets of data including success rates, size of farm and tons of other statistics that come in to play. Illegal farming is an amazing battle of tug of war that should help to keep the game fresh for some time to come.
Farming is only one of the various mechanics that should serve to keep retention high. In the coming weeks we will probably go in to depth in to some of the other aspects that make ArcheAge a special experience. Some will try to convince you that farming is nothing more than a “glorified Farmville”, this is far from the case. Farming is a deeply designed mechanic that is integral to ArcheAge. Its simplicity makes it accessible to a wide variety of players. Its complexity will keep those interested latched for a long time to come.
ArcheAge quenches a thirst I have had for nearly a decade. It’s a long time coming and completely refreshing to the palette. There are always concerns about content, and ArcheAge may not rival the sheer amount of content in other veteran MMOs, but for a launch title there is still quite a bit here.
Auroria isn’t planned to be released for several more weeks yet and we are several patches behind the Korean version. As long as the Korean servers receive the same steady stream of content the fundamental mechanics won’t fail to entertain in the meantime.Related: ArcheAge, Column, F2P, Hasla Herald, MMORPG, Sandbox