Trion being Trion: Server rollbacks are technically impossible

November 17, 2014

(Inside reader note: The title should be read while thinking back to the time Blizzard told us open-world PvP without instancing was technically impossible and that’s why Wintergrasp was made, likely the same week some 2000 or whatever EVE battle happened.)

Two things related to this Massively story.

First, the exploit with the cash shop has been around since day one. It’s news now because everyone is aware of it. If you were one of those idiots stating “exploiting isn’t that rampant” a few weeks back, hi. This is how shit works kids. Fools who get caught and make news aren’t the ones you worry about, because if you are dumb enough to get caught by Trion, you were never a factor to begin with. Instead what you should have worried about are the organized “play to win” guilds who know about all this stuff and exploit it quietly right under Trion’s nose. (That said, in a way Trion fixed the problem; with AA being such a dumpster due to their mismanagement, if you are playing AA still you aren’t really ‘winning’ anything).

Second, the fact that Trion refuses to do rollbacks leads me to believe they can’t. Like they technically don’t have the ability because they are Trion. I fully expect a “We have to ask XLGames about that” statement if demand for rollbacks continues, because that is always Trion’s PR ‘get out of our own mess’ card with AA (Which they showed is 100% bull when they finally got somewhat of a handle on the in-game chat spam).

Keep doing you Trion, please please keep doing you.


Trion being Trion: RNG land grab

November 5, 2014

Editor’s note: These are far more enjoyable from afar rather than having to suffer through them hoping Trion eventually figures out how to run an MMO. Spoiler: they won’t!

You know what would make a guild-based land rush limited to just four claimable castles even more fun than spamming the log-in button after a patch hoping you and your entire guild get one? If that patch randomly decided most people can’t play, while others can! Truly next level trolling from Trion here, just awesome incompetence to throw directly at your most dedicated and important social structures. If there was ever a perfect case for “I’m quitting and taking my entire guild with me!” forum posting, this is it.

And to think, I was expecting the major focus of outrage to be the new Hasla weapon tiers that further invalidate crafting.

Edit: The official forums are currently at ForumFall-levels of entertainment.


AA: Good design can’t overcome a bad business model and stupidity

October 27, 2014

Whelp, things went downhill fast huh?

To some extent this should have been obvious, given that ArcheAge is a F2P MMO, the very clear minor-leagues of the genre. Maybe I was trying to convince myself otherwise, or maybe a particularly bleak dry-spell was to blame, or I was just coming off the terribad roller-coaster ride that was DF:UW. Either way, I currently have zero motivation to log into AA, and my sub has been canceled.

What’s interesting about AA is that from a design perspective it gets so much right, both big and little. I’ve covered a lot of them here, and hopefully future MMOs take a note or two on the better aspects of AA. If this is but one of the general directions the genre is going in, I’m ok with that. But ultimately the game was doomed by two major factors, one predictable (F2P), the other somewhat a surprise (Trion).

The F2P aspect is obvious. The Pay4Power aspect is brutal, as is the cheese factor of the cash shop. The taint of F2P is felt in almost all aspects, and the fact that being a subscriber only takes you out of ‘worthless to anyone but bots’ free territory and into ‘you are paying but not enough, give us more!’ land doesn’t make you feel good. The daily loyalty points you get, which only allow you to buy a few things in the shop, are more of a slap to the face than anything else.

But again that part was somewhat predictable, and I’ve played such MMOs before and not minded it that much (Atlantica Online is by far the best example of this IMO).

The F2P factor becomes a bigger issue than normal when mixed with disaster number two; Trion.

I’ve joked and not joked about Trion before, but I say this now being 100% serious; I’ve never experience a bigger disaster than what Trion has done with AA. It’s borderline criminal to be this incompetent on so many levels, and to be so dishonest about all of it.

Very recent and easy example; remember how for the first month, whenever anything was going wrong with AA, Trion would answer everything with basically “we’ll pass a note to XLGames, as we are just the publisher and can’t do anything”? Funny how for some reason (accounts unsubbing) suddenly a month later Trion is having GMs spam chat with how often they catch a hacker, and it seems not a day goes by that Trion is releasing a statement about what they are doing about the rampant cheating in the game. They have even gone so far as following up on specific Reddit threads, supposedly having someone go into the database and confirm that so-and-so was legit and didn’t hack.

You know what might have helped Trion? You not waiting until people slapped you with the wallet-vote before you did something. Maybe instead of waiting until everyone has chat turned off due to spam, you could have launched the game with chat restrictions? It’s a joke, especially because the ‘crackdown’ on hacking is not only too late, it also only catches the idiots stupid enough to run a well-known and easily available hack kit on patch day. Everyone else is still sitting pretty, and Trion knows it but won’t do a thing about it.

The real shame here is that in a genre with so few decent options, one was taking away not because of its core design, but because of its business model and the incompetent fools tasked with simply porting the game over and doing some basic maintenance.

Even when we get something nice, it’s tainted to such a degree that you are forced out. Real shame.


AA: Trion being Trion at it’s finest

October 21, 2014

If even half of this is true, Trion is far more incompetent than even I have joked about. It honestly has taken most of the wind out of the game for me, which is a complete shame because the game itself is brilliant. But it feels utterly pointless to spend time gathering 3-15 gold or whatever progress you make knowing that not only is hacking so rampant, but that the company behind the game does next to nothing about it. And because AA is more virtual world than instances sRPG, someone running a 3rd party program to generate infinite gold or resources DOES impact my game.

But don’t worry, they are banning 5k free accounts a day! F2P model doing it big yet again.


AA: View from level 50

October 21, 2014

I recently hit the current level cap of 50 in ArcheAge, so now is a good time to talk about that experience, what changes, and plans going forward.

First thing however is how effortless getting to 50 was. Not only is the leveling experience fairly short by MMO standards, but almost everything you do in the game gives XP. Spend some timing mining? You got a ton of XP. Did some work around the farm? XP. Trade run? Bit of XP. I’d say easily 40% of my XP was gained from non-quest activities, and that number could have been a lot higher had I wanted it to be (I actually enjoyed blitzing the quests and just whacking mobs).

In AA however, more than in any themepark I’ve played so far, getting to the cap isn’t a game-shifting event. There really is no “game starts at cap” for AA, for a number of reasons.

One is that you still care about getting more XP. Because of how the skill trees work, and the large number of them, you will likely want to level more than your original three up (assuming you didn’t switch midway to 50, in which case you haven’t hit 50 in all 3 of your current trees anyway). Additionally things like your combat pet or mount also need to hit 50, so you care about XP there. Keeping XP relevant even though your character level is at the cap is pretty brilliant, because you avoid the motivational and design issue of only some players benefitting from an activity that factors XP into its reward. Blizzard had this problem in WoW (TBC days anyway), and tried to solve the problem by having quests convert their XP reward into giving out more gold, but the way AA does it is not only cleaner, but feels more natural as well.

Beyond the issue of XP, what you actually do at 50 is what you were doing at 49. You still do your farming, you still work on your crafting skills, you still chase after better gear, and you still jump into stuff like rifts, zone battles, trade routes, the arena, etc. And because all of those things still give XP, you are also progressing on that front should you decide to as well. The whole thing just feels very ‘sandbox’, while still using more themeparky elements like XP and quests.

Going forward I have plenty of personal goals to chase after, in addition to working on larger, guild-wide goals (dungeon runs, zone bosses, arena team, getting more land and a bigger house, pirate adventures, etc). And assuming Trion doesn’t Trion things (ha), the next continent is opening soon with additional content options as well.


PvE-only servers don’t actually work

October 17, 2014

Would CCP be better off if they created a PvE-only server for EVE? Some carebears would argue yes, because since EVE only has a PvP server, they don’t play. On the surface that makes sense; PvP-only games are indeed locking anyone who sees PvP and runs in the opposite direction out. But lets play this out a little further shall we?

On that PvE-only EVE server, the economy would be a total joke. Ships would rarely be lost, everyone could fly around perfectly safe in all-officer fit ships, the most lucrative PvE (null, WH) could be farmed without risk, mining afk would never end negatively, and all those multi-billion-ISK-in-a-transport traders would never be ganked. So unless you also expect CCP to basically completely change the game on almost all levels, the economy part of EVE wouldn’t work on a PvE server.

Furthermore, the PvE challenge on such a server would also be a joke. Remember, everyone is flying around in all-officer fits, which makes them far more powerful than the standard PvE ship found in the game today. Beyond just that, outside of high-sec you can now use a Titan to farm all day without a single fear of a hot drop. Are the carebears expecting CCP to fix this as well? How, tune PvE to officer-fit Titans in terms of difficulty? Just accept that all PvE would quickly become faceroll in difficulty (more so than it already is in EVE)?

And now the biggest question, why the hell are you going to play EVE for years here? You are sitting in an officer-fit Titan, with a wallet full of ISK, a hanger with every ship and fitting you ever wanted, and having safely explored everything there is to see, with all content being trivial and with nothing else to do. What’s your motivation to keep playing/paying?

There is a reason EVE is the only MMO out to grow and maintain sub numbers for more than ten years, and that reason is directly tied to PvP. So while yes, certain carebears stay away, the game has proven that other carebears stay, year after (10) year, because of what PvP brings to the game (among other things, a sink that keeps the economy and basically the whole game going).

A lot of those currently playing WOULD switch to the PvE server, because most people are child-like and would eat candy until they died if you let them. They WOULD get bored and walk away from the game. That is why you don’t open a PvE-only server; because it would allow MMO children to spoil themselves into quitting, and in the long run that’s bad for business.

So help save the kids, and your MMO; don’t go PvE-only and kill yourself and everyone playing!

PS: The same applies to AA. Think about how many of that game’s core mechanics rely on PvP to balance or keep them interesting. How many seemingly PvE-only activities would lose long-term value or purpose in a completely safe world?


The taint of your ‘peers’

October 14, 2014

If I tell you “Game X is kinda like Farmville”, you take that as a negative. Same but reverse if I say “Game Y is like Civilization”. This works on a broader view too; F2P, ‘casual’ game, WoW-clone, zombie-survival, yet-another-MOBA, etc. This can work for or against you, depending on the tag.

Two recent examples of this I want to talk about today; Clash of Clans and ArcheAge.

CoC suffers from being a mobile game, being F2P, and being labeled as a ‘casual’ or ‘timewaster’ game. Now let’s be very clear, CoC is a mobile game, it is F2P, and one could argue it can be played casually to a certain extent (this was especially true prior to Clan Wars). The difference between CoC and 99.999% of all other mobile/F2P/Casual games is CoC isn’t garbage.

From a coding perspective its wonderful; being able to get into the game in a second or two from clicking the icon is awesome, it doesn’t crash, its net code is really solid, and as far as I’ve experienced its bug-free. It runs well (granted on an iPhone 5s), looks great, has an amazing UI, great balance, depth, etc. Basically CoC is better across the board than 99% of ALL games, mobile/F2P/casual or not. Civ V vs CoC? Toss up IMO, and I’m not joking with that.

And while no one needs to shed a tear for CoC, with the game being the highest grossing iPhone app month after month, how many MORE people, especially ‘serious’ gamers, would give the game a shot if the perception of it being just another mobile/F2P/casual game didn’t exist?

Similar comment about ArcheAge, but here the stigma of F2P hangs around its neck (sadly accurate, thanks Trion), along with it being an Asian grinder MMO import (not accurate). For AA this might actually matter, as it isn’t yet a runaway success ala CoC. AA is also forced to deal with general MMO burnout; a lot of people who I know would enjoy the game aren’t even bothering because they don’t want to get started in yet another MMO that might not last.

To some extend this issue has always existed, in the SNES/Genesis era any movie-based game was assumed to be garbage when it was announced, but is it just me in feeling that today it’s far more prominent and shapes option more than ever before?


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