AA: Trade Routes bring life to the roads and waves

With ArcheAge being a sandbox, it’s somewhat difficult to talk about just one aspect of the game without the post spiraling into a dozen other supporting topics. If I focus too much on just the actual topic, I feel like much of the ‘why’ behind the activity is lost, while if I keep things too broad, the little details that can be critical (like the jump/walk difference with portals) would not be given the attention they deserve. Hopefully I can strike a decent balance.

Let’s talk about trade routes today. At a high level trade routes in AA require you to craft a pack at a specific crafting station, when crafted the pack goes on your back and slows you down, you bring the pack to a one of various NPCs in different zones, and when you arrive you turn the pack in for a gold, resource, or token reward. Pretty basic right?

Each zone has, I believe, two different trade packs that can be crafted. Each pack has a different set of materials you need, and these materials come from farms, be it crops or livestock. You also must buy a somewhat inexpensive item from an NPC to finish the pack. This means that the system ties nicely into the harvesting aspect of the game, and setting up your farm to produce the right products for a certain trade pack feels a bit like setting up production chains in city building econ games ala Tropico or The Settlers. You can of course buy the materials off the auction house, but that will generally cut into your profits.

Once crafted the pack weights you down, reducing your movement speed and disabling the use of your glider or basic mount. You can use a special donkey mount, as well as certain vehicles to speed you up. You can also take advantage of the NPC transportation options such as carriages or air ships.

One very cool aspect of AA you will shortly notice is that players use roads to travel, rather than always going in a straight line from point A to point B like one would in most other games (especially games with flying mounts). This is mostly due to trade routes, as you want to avoid catching agro and having mobs slow you down, or agro on your lower level donkey mount and disable it until you heal it. You certainly feel like you are living in a virtual world traveling down a road with a pack on your back, seeing other traders pass you by, be they on foot, on a donkey, or one of the various steam-punk vehicles. It’s one of those nice little details that answers the question “how do you make roads feel like roads in an MMO?”.

Where you decide to travel with your pack is another important question. If you want to avoid PvP, you can stay on your side of the world. This however limits you to only getting gold as a possible reward, while intercontinental travel gives you the option to select a trade-only resource reward or gilda tokens, which are used for things like buying a house, ship, or vehicle blueprint. You can also access a ‘trade report’ window that shows you current prices of the various trade packs and NPCs, which fluctuate based on turn-in volume, meaning the same route you did yesterday might not be as profitable today. Again just another little touch that breaks up the ‘grind’ that is all too common in MMOs.

If you go with the higher risk/reward option of intercontinental travel, if you get killed you drop your trade pack for anyone else to pick up and turn in. Should the pack be turned in, you will still receive 20% of the reward, but the player who turned it in will get the other 80%.

This opens up a lot of gameplay options, from pirates on the seas to mercenary protection guilds. It also highly encourages guild runs of trade packs, and raises the appeal of the larger ships, especially the merchant ship that can actually hold trade packs so guild members can better defend the ship.

Ultimately trade packs are just one of many options to acquire wealth in AA. You never ‘need’ to run one, and when you do, the game has lots of options on how to do so. They bring life to the virtual world, create demand and a ‘sink’ for basic goods, enable opt-in loot-based PvP, and can be used as both a major guild activity or as calm, easy downtime task for a solo player.

They aren’t a tacked-on ‘bullet list’ feature, but rather a solid and fun piece of AA’s virtual world puzzle.

About SynCaine

Former hardcore raider turned casual gamer.
This entry was posted in ArcheAge, crafting, Housing, MMO design. Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to AA: Trade Routes bring life to the roads and waves

  1. zaphod6502 says:

    The trade runs add excitement to the game. Whenever we do a trade run to eg. Sandeep in clippers there is always that extra thrill knowing we can stumble on pirates and east faction galleons. It’s this risk that really gives ArcheAge the edge over other MMO’s where nothing is at risk (except for Darkfall and EVE of course). It is a very clever game design.

  2. John says:

    When the story quests end, is there another way to get gilda stars other than intercontinental trade missions?

    • SynCaine says:

      There are a few daily quests that reward gilda. Ones I’m aware of are the two ‘raise an animal’ quests, and ones related to running the dungeons as either a mentor or mentee.

      • John says:

        So you can spam trade runs wit ha risk and farm gilda stars on your own pace or play safely and slowly get gilda stars. This isn’t a bad trade off for people seeking only the sandbox experience without pvp (role playing as a farmer for example, which was what I wanted to do).

        Also, when you say that if they kill you you lose 80% of the reward, you mean the gold reward? Do you still get the gilda star, even if you “fail” the mission(not delivering full pack)?

        I might reconsider the whole thing…Also, if you build your ship and sail in the ocean and get killed by pirates, do you lose your ship?

        • SynCaine says:

          95% sure you don’t get the gilda star on a failed run, pretty sure that is gold-only. Not sure how that works if whoever cashes in your trade pack picks gilda or resources, does the game just do the 20% gold calculation only? Maybe stolen trade packs can ONLY be traded in for gold. Something to look into or ask about.

          Ships are like mounts/pets, they can’t be lost in PvP.

          Gilda prices for the smallest house are nothing (12 gilda I think?), you only need larger amounts for the bigger ones (100, 150, 300, 500, 1000). The first ship is 50 gilda for the blueprint. Vehicles start at 300 if I remember correctly.

          I think the biggest obstacle for someone looking to roleplay a farmer isn’t going to be gilda (the main quest puts you well over 50 gilda alone, and that ends before level 30), but finding an open spot to place a farm/house, though maybe on the newer servers that isn’t as bad. On Ollo I’m fairly sure every piece of land right now is claimed, so someone would have to buy a spot from another player, or camp something they expect will decay due to taxes being unpaid.

        • John says:

          I see.. well, last time I checked, a Farmhouse cost 50 gilda star, this is what I was planning to use. I don’t think there will be problem with space in 2-3 months from now, since you lose your spot if you don’t subscribe for a month.

          Except if you think that bug guilds and hardcore players will use multiply spots..actually can someone have 5 houses for example? If they have the gilda stars to buy them?

          If this is the case, I can see big guilds claim all terrain and then sell spots for high price (or appex/subscriptions). Then camp spots to get places back from casuals that will not re-subscribe..

          I don’t know how big the tax will be for house and if a good player can afford multiply houses, but if that happens, that would be a bottleneck for me.

        • SynCaine says:

          You can own multiple properties, yes. The more you own, the higher the tax rate goes for all of them, and I think it escalates quickly, but exactly how many someone can hold I don’t know (taxes are paid by converting labor into tax certs, so a basic maximum would be whatever the monthly labor generation is for a character being online 23/7)

          That said there are a LOT of housing spots in the game. Every zone has multiple settlements of varying sizes, and the 3rd continent they are opening up in a few weeks has even more, so I would think someone who is focused on owning property could do so reasonably easy once they get some gold together or do some hunting.

          And yea, the farm house is 50 gilda, but it’s also got a bigger footprint than the smallest house, so harder to place, though the benefit once placed is that you have a house to recall to and farm space for planting all in one ‘holding’, so for a farmer it is indeed ideal assuming you can place it.

        • John says:

          hehe yeap, from the moment I saw the farmhouse I was sure is the one I want..I am not interested in bigger houses, though I plan farming gilda stars for big ships!

          Anyway, thanks for the info Syn.

  3. zaphod6502 says:

    Even if you can’t get a decent property all is not lost. The game is full of trade offs. Generally people who are farmers are constantly short on labor points. People who do not have any real estate tend to be labor point rich and can afford to sell their services processing items for other people. Also when you create trade packs it uses labor and this also soaks up a lot of labor points.

    A fellow guild member discovered something interesting. It is actually more economical both in money and time to simply buy the mats off the auction house to produce trade packs to make money. To date I have been farming my own mats but I experimented with this and found I can actually make money 2 to 3 times faster simply by buying mats off the auction house and I have saved a heck of a lot of labor points.

    This is the exciting thing about ArcheAge. There are many different ways to play the game yet still become successful.

  4. Pingback: ArcheAge: Working and Wandering | Healing the masses

  5. dynaform says:

    @John – your ship can be stolen (I have done this) but there is about a 10 minute time limit on it. It basically involves having someone keep the ship in combat by attacking it so the captain can’t despawn it while you kill him.

    But no you can’t permanently lose your boat.

    • John says:

      Nice to know. Another question. Lets say I am doing an intercontinental trade missions. There is a risk and reward for me. I risk to die and lose 80% of the pack to get a nice reward. Those who might attack me, what do they risk?

      What if I am the bait for them, and we beat them? What do they lose?

  6. Azdul says:

    I would love to see a MMO where trade routes appear as a consequence of living world economy, not as something added by game designers …

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