It Burns Us Precious
Well the ArcheAge head start has had more than a few issues. Yes, it’s a new MMO so we can expect problems on the first day of access. If leveling was all that was at stake, I don’t think the outrage would be as great. However, if you’ve been following ArcheAge, you know that owning PROPERTY is a huge component in crafting, the economy and your ability to earn gold.
Many, if not ALL of the players who purchased a package that included the head start, did so in order to secure property which is a limited resource in AA. Via a Blue Salt quest line, the game actually incentivizes players to have two farms for a period of time, even though the landmass can’t support everyone having even one. Hrm.
You can also purchase various house designs via an in game currency called Gilda Stars. So if you follow the trade pack quest line to get your two farms and purchase a house design, the average player has fairly quick access to acquiring 3 pieces of property. INSERT DRAMA HERE.
What We Expected
Anyone who played Alpha or Beta knew there would be a land rush. If you wanted to have a chance at securing anything at all, let alone a convenient location, you had to be there at the start of the game aka head-start. I expected and our guild also discussed in advance, that everyone’s first priority was to complete the first farm quest ASAP. Race by all the content that wasn’t necessary then loop back later if you wanted to do so.
I expected it to be crowded. I expected lag and occasionally being disconnected from the game. However, I didn’t realize how many people had purchased head-start packages. I was sitting at the server selection screen within minutes of the servers going live and every server was high population.
Alarmed by the number of people that must be playing, I rushed through creating my character, something I’ve never done in a game before. When my character materialized in game I was confronted by an OCEAN OF PLAYERS. It was a staggering realization. Bodies as far as the eye could see. Spawned at the starting location, packed in like sardines and barely able to move because of collision detection. Good Lord, the hype is real!
Unfortunately, AA uses old school target ownership mechanics where whoever hits the mob first claims it – quest counts and loot. I don’t have to explain the frustration of trying to kill x number of mobs or collect x items from mobs under these conditions. Even grouping into parties did very little to alleviate the congestion and aggression over trying to claim mobs. A quest that might have taken 5 minutes under normal circumstances was suddenly taking 30 or more. Ouch.
OMFG – Where’s my stuff??
Crowding aside, my biggest issue was that not everyone was receiving their Founders reward items which included a glider for faster travel and chests that were dropping 20+ gold and Gilda Stars. In fact, while some of us got nothing, myself included, others were getting multiples. I had guild members with 6 copies of the reward packages. With gliders for faster travel, these players are now able to break away from the pack and soar above looking for better locations to complete quest objectives. I quickly fall behind other members of the guild simply because I can’t keep up moving from area to area.
Someone tries to wait, offering me a ride on their Cash Shop purchased mount but it’s much too hectic and chaotic to keep track of people. I let them move on and continue at my own pace. I’m making decent progress toward level 10 and getting the farm quest which is all that matters.
DOUBLE OMFG – 2+ hour queues and I’m not a Patron
About an hour into playing my game client crashes. Okay, not a big deal and expected until I see that I’m in a 2 hour + queue and not flagged as having pre-ordered the game as a Founder/Patron. This explains why I hadn’t received my reward items yet. And instead of being given priority access in the queue, I’m at the back of the bus like a free player or someone given access at PAX.
This is troubling knowing how many people are already playing and why everyone is racing ahead. I’m still on our voice chat and hearing people claiming their farms and house locations. I’m happy for them but wincing on the inside, knowing the dog fight I had in Alpha to get any property at all.
I’m finally back in the game. I complete the quest and have my 8x8 farm design in hand. I run to purchase a house design with the Gilda Stars I’ve acquired. The minute I have both, I start heading to the zone where I’ve had my heart set on living and… GAME CLIENT CRASHES. I’m back into a 2 hour plus queue. I’m certain I won’t be able to get the locations I wanted now. There’s no way.
After more than 2.5 hours in the queue I’m back in game. I head off to check my first choice location and a guild member comes to help me look, having already secured his spots. Nope, nothing left. I check my 2nd and 3rd choices – nada. Wow, I have to say at this point I was very disappointed. Setting up shop somewhere I don’t want to be, in a game I hope to play for a long time is not ideal. *sigh* Starting off that way on day one isn’t what I had in mind.
After I get over myself and constantly remind myself, that many people won’t get anything at all, I remembered hearing the in-game mail sound. Nice, my Founders pack items finally arrived. Now I have a glider, gold and extra Gilda Stars. Hmm, if land is going this obscenely fast, there won’t be an inch on launch day when my daughter starts. I decide to use my Gilda Stars to get her a house next time mine because something is better than nothing at this point.
It’s at that moment that I realize how players who didn’t receive their rewards at the start were handicapped. Getting your reward items late meant you were missing free Gilda Stars you could have used to at least secure a house quickly. And not having the glider definitely slowed you down as well.
If I had received mine at the start I would have had enough to secure a house where I wanted before the game crashed the first time. By then, other guild members where already getting 24x24 size house designs. No guarantee I could have gotten the farm there too but at least having my house in my 1st or 2nd choice location would have been nice.
I Just Don’t Know
People are already raging about queues, lack of queue priority for people who crash or dc, still not having their reward items and the insanely crowded servers. I’ve done head-start in many MMOs and I’ve never seen crowds like this before. Even Aion with its 4+ hour queues provided a pleasant questing experience once you were in game, using multiple instances of each zone. GW2 had the same feature to deal with the initial onslaught without over compensating by having too many servers.
And while I’d rather be on a crowded server today than a ghost town tomorrow, the current instability of the client, servers, authentication servers, etc. has made for what is likely my worst head-start experience of any game. GW2 botched quickie authentication that locked me out of head-start for several days is second ONLY because that just put me behind in leveling. Whereas people who paid for head start but haven’t been able to play and there are many, are facing longer term implications.
Yes, things will level off and slow down. Land will become available again when people decide not to stay or can’t afford the taxes on all the properties they grabbed. UNFORTUNATELY, there is no mechanic to help you spot those openings. NADA. You must go zone by zone trying to see if you can fit your farm or house in a space you see. For expiring property you must dismount to check the property info house by house or farm by farm, clicking on them to see if it’s about to expire from unpaid taxes. If it is, you have to come back on that date and time to fight other players in a click war to see who can slap their house or farm down first. Been there. Done that.
Good Guild Helps
I am one of the luckier ones. I kept at it, waiting in the queue again every time I was dropped out of the game. When it’s all said and done, I have two unconstructed houses near each other for me and my daughter. I was also able to place my small farm in one of the trade pack zones I tend to use. I’m not worrying about the largest farm right now. I can’t be bothered to race for it. I’ll get the design in the next week and hold it for when Auroria opens up. I pretty much need one there for Archeum, which is an important crafting component. And since each character can only have 1 of the large farms, I’ll keep that for mine.
Through it all, I was able to laugh and joke with guild members. We were on voice chat almost non-stop, some only sleeping a few hours from Friday to Sunday. People were very generous with their time and the components needed to get you started toward the quests to acquire farms. We kept each other informed on empty land. Guild members who found locations fast enough tried to place their larger farms in a way that would hold spots for other guild members. Some placed house designs down to reserve spots too.
We’re not the biggest guild I’ve been in. We’re not the most organized one I’ve been in either. But they sure are the most fun and helpful! I’ve never laughed so much in voice chat, as I do with our little family of misfits. I hope to be with them and in AA for a very long time.
Hold on to your shorts
If Trion doesn't release new servers and simultaneously lock the existing ones for a few days after the general release, I can't even imagine the mayhem that will ensue tomorrow. Queues during NA prime time last night were 2800 strong, with people being dropped just as they were about to enter the game, only to be placed at the back of the queue again. OUCH!!!
I'm hoping against hope, that I can finish constructing one of my houses today in case getting on tomorrow and the day after is a complete no-go. Unfortunately, I'm fighting the labor regen changes which are artificially preventing me from harvesting and processing the components I need, as well as creating and turning in trade packs to earn gold. Grr!! More on that another day.