When Trion Worlds launched ArcheAge last month, was the company fully aware of the quantity and quality of client modifications and third-party tools available for the title?
On the surface, ArcheAge’s launch appears wildly successful for Trion’s third foray into publishing externally-developed games. Warface and End of Nations certainly didn’t get the kind of attention ArcheAge has received. The game servers are bustling with activity and virtual crime. While most player characters are piloted by humans, some are controlled by automated programs (bots) and others are a mix of the two.
Trion Worlds has shown an eagerness to remove bots from all servers on ArcheAge. It’s currently hiring customer support agents in Austin and apparently training them in the dark art of banning gold spammers and bot accounts. I’ve been constantly reporting bots while I play and every so often receiving an in-game mail confirming a kill. It’s nice to know Trion World’s agents follow up on player reports, but there’s a separate problem that can’t be solved by throwing customer service people at it: third-party hacks and mods.
As anyone who has tried to grab land in ArcheAge can tell you, everything is not how it seems. Legitimate players gather around a house or farm about to expire, place their plan in position and pray to the server hamster saints (martyrs, all of them) for luck. I think it’s safe to say that ninety-nine percent of the time those prayers will go unanswered. Another player, probably not even close to the expiring property, will use an unauthorized third-party program to nab the spot.
The program flings packets at the server much faster than any real human could possibly click, sometimes placing a house while the old one is still burning down. These stolen properties never get built out, only sold. The situation is disappointing in every regard. Trion’s servers seem far too accepting of packet spoofing and flooding. Did the company not expect this kind of behavior? Why aren’t these accounts removed and the properties they own made available to legitimate players through an accessible, transparent process?
Another interesting third-party creation that’s become popular over the last few weeks is ArcheAge user interface and camera mods. Here’s a short list of things that can be done simply by editing the monolithic game.pak file. This list isn’t all-inclusive.
- Queue for arena anywhere in the world. Super useful for people who don’t like to waste time travelling back to town every time they leave an arena.
- Seeing the exact time left in peace or war instead of a wishy-washy “X Minutes” seems pretty neat for people running trade packs or waiting for NPCs to spawn.
- Knowing who listed an item on the auction house and how many seconds a listing has left before expiring is something even eBay does, but AA’s default client doesn’t.
- Being able to resize the UI down to 40% may be helpful to people playing at low resolutions.
- Widening the FOV from whatever the anemic defaults are (both “Classic” and “Action” settings are disappointing) to 90 or 120 degrees is basically a requirement for multi-monitor players.
- Adjusting the camera’s maximum viewing angle and distance, something almost every popular MMO allows. I prefer zoomed out overhead views, personally.
- Adding a button to immediately close the client instead of waiting on a timer. Your character still stays in the world the full 10 seconds but at least your boss won’t catch you playing.
- An aggro meter! What game doesn’t have this by default? Oh, right, ArcheAge doesn’t.
Prominent Twitch.tv streamers have been caught using these modifications and (supposedly) haven’t been banned. Perhaps Trion isn’t interested in pursuing players who use these mods. The company did state a while ago that they’d like to make an API available for scripters to write sanctioned mods for the game, but no details have become available since. Arguably, some of the quality-of-life changes made by these mods should just be included in the default client.
One last little bug I want to bring to people’s attention in the hopes of getting it fixed: 5 vs 5 arena bases getting busted while their invincibility buff is down and the cannons are still up. I love arenas, but losing battles to exploits is a real bummer. Trion and XLGAMES are aware of the issue and yet the patches we’ve gotten so far haven’t addressed it. That’s odd, considering other similarly game-breaking problems have been patched over the past month.