It ended with a sudden and resounding finality. Praetorian, the dominant PVP naval guild in alpha and on Kyrios US, is no more. The membership was stunned and confused. I was out of town on business when the first announcement was made. There’s the public story of why this occurred and then there’s the behind the scenes and 2+2=4 story.
The last couple of PVP operations yielded few targets. I think two factors contributed to this situation. First there are fewer people playing ArcheAge. All of the exploit and hacker drama aside, normal gamer attrition would have dropped the numbers by now. Secondly, Praetorian was indisputably the strongest naval PVP presence on Kyrios. If you had any sense, you’d avoid the waters once we were seen gathering for our twice weekly operations.
Even so, the membership was still very active, excited and ready to turn out. For me, it was the highlight of the week and only consistent group content I was doing. It was a major factor in selecting Praetorian when the number of NA players in my former guild started disappearing.
The Story and the Story
The story being told is that a couple of key members – not the guild master mind you, decided that they wanted to go pirate. Being a pirate means both of the other factions are “red” targets. Two of these people happened to be the owners of the guild website and the TeamSpeak server. There were others that were going to go with them but not that many by my count. Going pirate means losing access to your current faction assets, as you can’t safely go into PVE areas where you have property or use your former faction’s cities. That means you have to have an alt account in family to access those assets AND also has a ship, donkey and very expensive farm vehicles. That’s not going to be many people. That being the case I doubt 5% of the guild was hopping on the pirate bandwagon.
Oddly enough, just before I left town there was an incident where many guild trade packs were stolen off of a guild farm. As guild members, we donate packs or materials for packs to support large trade runs for gold and resources to further our collective goals. There was some suspicion about who was involved and that the guild master was going to have to speak to them to address it. This is not speculation as it was openly discussed in TS with all members during a naval ops debriefing.
After I come to grips with the fact that this very organized, friendly and highly functional guild is about to RIP, I speak with the guild master one-on-one. He informs me that he demoted the people suspected of the trade pack thefts down to members. In retaliation, they locked him out of the TS server and the website. These are the same people that suddenly want to go pirate. Okay, so we’re not really breaking up because a large group want to go pirate. It’s a few people who happen to own website/forum and TS service being used and are holding that hostage with the guild name. Got it.
Why not Move On?
One of the problems with AA is that ships are untradeable and owned by a single person. It doesn’t matter that a whole guild contributes to the effort by funding that person with the massive amounts of resources necessary to purchase the designs and then obtain all the building components, it’s wholly owned by that ONE PERSON. So when that person gets their shit on their shoulders and leaves, the ship goes with them. At the core of our naval PVP operations are very large ships, notably, Praetorian had the server’s first Black Pearl. The owner of that was going with the pirate gang.
From the guild master’s perspective, he’d rebuilt guild once already after an amiable split from The White Order, now notorious griefers that he didn’t want to associate with. He was feeling extremely betrayed albeit probably naive in not having control of those assets himself as the guild master. However, people often complain when everything done as a guild is in the guild master’s name, since he/she as a single person can quit or leave. We’ve already seen that drama play out in AA multiple times where unscrupulous guild masters have actually sold their accounts after gaining castles, a feat that is IMPOSSIBLE to do alone but is attributed to and awarded to only the guild leader. Praetorian’s practice was to spread the wealth by splitting that activity and contributions to those effort across different people instead. Unfortunately, those people banded together and took their toys with them. Oh well.
The guild master decided to exit stage right, returning to League of Legends. The remaining officers tried to handle things with grace, bringing in other big guilds to give members options instead of abandoning everyone to fend for themselves. I decided to simply exit stage left on my own.
RIP Former Guild
Although there was a standing offer to return to my former guild where I was an officer, doing so wouldn’t resolve the reason I left. Of the NA players only 4 of us were playing with any regularity and because of time zone differences, rarely more than two of us on at a time. AA end game requires bodies and lots of ‘em. Going back would put me into the bosom of people that I enjoyed immensely but would leave me little more than a solo player in all but name. In fact, the Aussie players who made up the majority of the guild were MIA too. I had them all in my friends list and they were never on either. When I asked what was going on, I was told that they’d basically started playing other games and might be in TS but not in AA for the most part.
So lesson learned in this whole affair is that small guilds are social and fun but often inadequate for end game content. At least, the end game content in AA. Conversely, big guilds may have the numbers but are more prone to big drama, something I have zero patience for in what is supposed to be my entertainment. That in mind, I’m staying without a guild for the moment. I don’t like guild hopping. For other reasons, I’m toning down my game play which will exclude end game anyway so being in a guild isn’t necessary. I’m waiting to see if Trion/XL Games can turn this ship around before investing any more money or a lot more time. I’ve dropped by subscription and have gone F2P. More on that later.
RIP Kyrios NA Server
Because things can’t get much worse in AA, the servers have been down for more than 24 hours in an unscheduled maintenance. For a few hours 3 of the servers were back online with multi-hour queues. When I saw my server had a 2 hour wait I decided I had better things to do with my time. Fast forward to later that evening and all the servers are down again. The next morning only two servers are up, the others in maintenance and 4 missing from the list all together. My server, Kyrios, is among the missing.
According to some Reddit posts, when a couple of the servers went back online the property zones where empty. As in player houses and farms GONE. For the servers that are up there's a rash of players being able to place farms and houses directly on top of existing properties! Putting a house on someone’s farm, in effect, blocks them from getting to their farm. Like wah?? Supposedly, those servers were then taken back offline and haven’t come back again.
There has been NO WORD from Trion since 2 hour unscheduled maintenance moved beyond the expected completion time. More than 24 hours has passed and no updates on WTF is going on isn’t not a good sign and it’s definitely not good customer service. I can't recall a game server being offline for more than 24 hours. Certainly not one I've ever been on.
Lots of tinfoil hat speculation and rumors like “someone who knows someone says, the AC shut down over the long weekend and server data was damaged before the servers shut themselves down.” Uh whatever the case is it can’t be worse than the damage being done by speculation and not knowing. Trion’s silence is deafening in the face of so many other issues, this is just a kick in the nuts. I want to hold on. I’m trying to hold on. But OMG it’s one thing after the other.