Space is often an issue in a game where player housing isn’t instanced. Unfortunately, ArcheAge is no different. In fact, it’s compounded by the player’s need and desire to possess both types of properties – house and farm.
The need for a dedicated space of your own, goes far beyond cosmetics and roleplay. Working the land is an essential component to advancing a crafting profession and earning gold. There are other ways, as discussed in a previous post but those are for the fringe populace. I believe the average MMO player harvests and/or crafts to improve their character and earn gold. It’s difficult to do either of those things without owning land in AA. Especially when mobs don't drop gear, gold or crafting components.
The Beauty of Non Instanced Housing
The upside to non-instanced housing is that the zones look more like, feel more like, real communities. There’s no one place max level players hang out on their mounts, emptying the rest of the world of activity. People are back and forth to their properties to tend them. You get to know your neighbors because you see them all the time.
Crafting stations that process the raw materials are at hand. Mailboxes, banking and auction house services are nearby, serving as mini hubs spread throughout the entire landmass. Essentially, the housing forms what amounts to player towns and villages, which is a very cool thing.
The unavoidable downside of not segmenting non-instanced housing off in some housing zone that can be grown as needed, is a shortage of housing. In a game where farming land drives most of the economy and gates crafting, that’s a HUGE PROBLEM if you’re the landless.
I read somewhere that the game is designed for 60% of the player base to own property. Given the fact that nothing stops a player from owning multiple properties, the percentage of players that can own property will be much lower than 60%. There is a stiff tax penalty imposed after 3 properties. Regardless, with savvy, experienced and 1st in players having 2 each, you can see the landless will be high. I feel that’s a problem, will be frustrating to people and potentially drive new players away from the game.
The easiest plot to find is an 8x8 scarecrow farm. You can generate decent cash if you’re smart with its use and are diligent. Attempting to get 16x16 ANYWHERE, which by the way is the smallest house plot, is a DOG FIGHT. Anytime one looks like it will become available (owner hasn’t paid taxes) dozens of players swarm to participate in a click fight, to see you can click the purchase/accept button fastest, the millisecond it expires from the previous owner.
Click War Agony of Defeat
Guilds bring in multiple people to help make sure one of them gets it then they can sell it for 1 gold to the intended recipient. I know because my guild attempted to do this to help me get one. Attempting it on my own was pointless. I spent three evenings and several hours of arriving 15 minutes early to get a spot on the property then waiting for the click fest. On the second night, the guild came out to help. The third night I went solo as they were also out in PVP zones doing the same for themselves. Eventually, I gave up.
The whole affair is too time consuming. The click war is on top of scouring the game for expiring properties which requires dismounting and interacting with the property, seeing when it’s due to expire, noting that information and then following up by fighting in the click war on that date and time. Essentially, you're running through the game, region by region, zone by zone, clicking on empty properties or ones that look like they're not being maintained to see IF it's due for demolition. There's no overt visual indication. You must touch each property to know IF and when. Yeah, I think I’ll skip this bit of nonsense. I gave it a good shot. At level 30, I went alone into PVP zones to do this silliness and still came up empty.
Luckier than Some
Luckily for me, I have my 8x8 scarecrow plot. However, I did waste purchasing a house design and the upfront Tax Credit certificates. You must have both in hand when attempting to claim a 16x16 for your house. You’re literally attempting to place your house in the world during the click war and you have to have the tax certificates in your inventory to confirm it.
For now I’m cool with my 8x8 but I really think the game would have lost me without at least having that much. I can quest in dozens of MMOs and that’s not AAs distinguishing factor. I’m a crafting whore. As such, being handicapped or artificially blocked from fully participating in that aspect of the game would sour me.
Everyone I’ve heard talk about launch so far has expressed land grab as their number one priority. Not just for their own needs but to sell the excess for hundreds of gold. Even 16x16 out in a bum fuck PVP zone will go for upwards of 600 gold. That’s a LOT of money for something that is available for 0 gold when the land is available.
I expect to have the 8x8 scarecrow farm and a 16x16 house come launch. As a top tier early adopter, the 4 days head start should help me secure both. Ideally they’ll be side by side or in the same district.
When new players express concern about this issue in global chat, it’s de-emphasized with the argument that F2P players can’t own land. While true, it won’t help much because of the land grab options. This will still make getting a small farm or starter house (16x16) difficult and financially out of reach for many new players.
On to a Different Adventure
Sans a house with more farming land for me to work, I decided to purchase a ship design and build my boat. It only took me a couple of hours to replace the Gilda I’d spent on the house design. Ship design in hand, I’ve changed out the production on my tiny 8x8 to help produce the material I need for my Clipper. More on that in the next post.