ArcheAge Producer’s Letter – Summer 2015

producers-letter_blog

Hello ArcheAge Players,

I’m Merv Lee Kwai (also known as Khrolan), a Producer on ArcheAge for Trion Worlds. The last time I wrote to you I had just joined the team, and I’m happy to say I’ve been deeply involved with the evolution of ArcheAge during the past 6 months. Since then, we’ve worked closely with XLGAMES to deliver great content updates like Secrets of Ayanad and Dread Prophecies. It’s been exciting and more than a little busy, but I’m happy have the time now to announce upcoming releases, reflect on the current state of the game, and talk about future plans.

Full Steam Ahead
Our foremost goal for this year was delivering quality game updates to help North American and European versions catch up with the pace of the Korean development cycle. I’m proud to say that we’ve closed ground and are on schedule to deliver the highly anticipated 2.0 update by the end of summer 2015. We prioritized easing pain points in the game’s economy by improving drop rates for Archeum, adding alternate item progression paths like Obsidian, easing the difficulty of regrading, and greatly improving our Archeum Supply Crates. We continue to evaluate the economy’s health every day.

Player feedback has been an amazing catalyst for change, and without your passionate involvement we’d most certainly not have come this far. Our Public Test Server has added another layer of review to upcoming content, and I am amazed at what an impact it’s had. Our dedicated community members have shown an impressive amount of effort when tracking down potential issues, and that has allowed us to get them fixed prior to content release. My hat’s off to you!

Behind the scenes, our communication with XLGAMES is at an all-time best. While it might not always look this way from the outside, we remain your strongest advocates for fair and fun gameplay in our region. We believe in healthy debate with our partners, and we’re happy that they do, too. More and more often you’re helping us make great cases for improvements that make your game better.

The Golden Age
One of my favorite aspects of ArcheAge is that it’s the MMO we’ll be talking about for years to come. It creates unique experiences, and while they’re not always tales of success, they’re always memorable. This summer we hope to continue the trend by releasing excellent content starting with our July and August updates.

  • Next week, we’ll introduce highly anticipated Steamfish Submarines, which can be seen at Mirage Isle. Player-crafted submarines come in Ruby, Lapis, and Platinum, and you’ll be able to obtain a Copper Steamfish Submarine from limited-time quests in a new game event.
  • You can also expect to see a new glider upgrade system – one designed to improve gliders’ flight statistics via a new upgrade path. Stay tuned for two new Spotlight articles that will cover submarines and gliders in more detail.
  • In August, the Blue Salt Festival event will come to Sandeep, and that means you’ll need to rally your friends for sand sculpture building, public mural drawing, and delicious fried chicken (!?), all while collecting new festival rewards.

Around the same time we’ll begin our First Birthday Gala; I especially like this event because it rewards some of the best-looking weapon skins ever. Then it’s time for Spirit of the Red Dragon, Part Deux: He’ll back in full force, so you’ll have a chance to finish your dragon wing cloak or build a new one from scratch. (Rumor has it that this time the Spirit of the Red Dragon holds a rare and coveted new reward, too).

On the Horizon
We’ve decided to combine updates 1.8 and 2.0 so we can gain further ground on ArcheAge’s main line, which means you’ll see an expansive amount of big features in the next couple months, including:

  • The Hero System: Nominate players from your faction to rise as inspiring Heroes. This political system provides additional structure to community organization with a player-driven, cross-guild leadership system.
  • Guild Enhancements: Introduces the ability to level up and choose permanent passive bonuses for guild members, guild versus guild combat, guild-purchased items, public guild recruitment system, and other quality of life features.
  • Housing Upgrade System: Convert existing Medium/Large Houses into Crafting, Consumable, or Tradepack oriented facilities. Thatched Farmhouses become themed around resource gathering and all these establishments gain awesome new appearances.
  • Other great features like: Guild Expeditions, Pet and Mount Armor Crafting System, Increasing the Pet and Mount Level cap to 55, Aurorian Specialty Packs, The Event Schedule UI, Persistent PvP Event in Windscour Savannah, Merit Badge and Daily Quest Improvements, Revamped Raid Boss Rewards, and the continuation of the Aust Followers storyline.

By the end of the year, we’ll be nearly caught up with ArcheAge’s main line, looking forward to 2.1 and beyond!

Fair to Play
I’ve covered a lot of new and fun things – now I’d like to talk openly about some of your concerns. We have several initiatives underway to keep the game as fair as it can be.

Let’s start with our progress in combating botting, gold farming, and exploit abuse. We’ve noticed the increase in the amount of bot-related spam and farming in ArcheAge. So far, we’ve improved the method by which players can help report suspected users. We’ve grown the dedicated team of individuals policing all game worlds on both a manual and automated basis. Currently, we ban on average 1,180 bot accounts per day and continue to combat the methods behind their activity. We’ll be discussing more about our efforts to combat bots later this week.

Over the last two months, we experienced a couple of exploitation issues with regard to game mechanics. We fixed these as quickly as possible, and we’re happy to report that the ill-gotten gains were removed. Extreme exploiters were permanently banned. We have a zero-tolerance policy for exploit abuse. While we regret having to take such harsh action, there are times when it is warranted. Our goal is to maintain a level playing field for everyone in ArcheAge. To help improve communication around this topic, please read more about our abuse classifications.

We’re also exploring some of the ArcheAge systems that can feel the most punishing at times and seeing where we can remove pain points. Some of this has to do with improbable amounts of RNG or outright unforgiving systems like slotting lunagems. While we want to retain some challenge, we’re looking to ease the effort required to repeatedly participate and add alternative methods of progression. The best example here is the rarity of Auroria Cloaks. While it’s possible in the future the drop rate may be improved , our goal was to provide an alternative method to work toward cloaks with similar stats. The result is the introduction of a new line of cloaks that will be available in the 2.0 release as rewards from the upcoming guild contribution system. This same methodology is being applied to other concerns such as Black Pearl rarity, Item Salvaging, and itemization choices.

Live Servers, New Servers
Server Evolutions are a continued topic of discussion as we work toward creating the best game experience while taking player concerns into account. We’re still in the planning phase, but I’d like to recap our recent news: Our goal is to offer all customers who are currently on an Evolution Candidate server the option to transfer to any non-candidate server in their region. Another part of the plan includes evolving five to six servers per region into two new servers.

Here’s the current list of candidates:

NA Evolution Candidates: Calliel, Enla, Ezi, Inoch, Lucius
NA Non-Candidate Servers: Aranzeb, Ollo, Salphira, Kyrios, Tahyang (RP), Naima
NA Proposed New Servers: Kraken (Evolved), Nazar (Evolved), Morpheus (NEW)

EU Evolution Candidates: Orchidna, Melisara, Nui, Janudar, Nebe
EU Non-Candidate Servers: Shatigon, Kyprosa, Eanna (RP), Dahuta (RP), Aier
EU Proposed New Servers: Leviathan (Evolved), Anthalon (Evolved), Rangora (NEW)

As servers evolve, we will restructure auction house clusters to ensure global economies remain intact. We haven’t decided on exactly how many shards will belong to a new auction house group, but as soon as we have that info you’ll be able to read about it in the Evolution FAQ.

You might have caught the new servers listed above. I’m proud to announce that we’ll be introducing one brand-new server per region, separated to its own auction house cluster, when 2.0 goes live. Players will not be able to transfer their characters here – this server will be for newly created characters only. The goal here is to allow a fresh, launch-level experience for both new and existing players.

Keeping In Touch
The best way to keep up with ArcheAge NA/EU development is to watch our Friday Livestreams, where we discuss pressing community issues and talk about everything from updates that are right around the corner to long-term plans. The ArcheAge Team will also be at meet and greets at GAMESCOM and PAX Prime this year, so if you plan to attend either event, make sure you pencil in enough time for the annual Trion party!

Our team has grown, too. I hope you’ve had a chance to chat with Linda “Brasse” Carlson and Seraphina “Celestrata” Brennan on our forums. They’re passionate player advocates, always making sure that you’re first and foremost in our minds, and I’m thrilled to have them on the team.

I hope you’re as excited as I am about the last half of 2015! I’m eager to watch how heroes guide their factions, how guilds prove their dominance, and how all of you continue your stories in ArcheAge. May your sights always be set on the horizon. Unless you’re being chased by pirates, then that wouldn’t be helpful at all.

Discuss this on the forums!