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Head Start - Scourge of Patrons

Mark Wilhelm Posted:
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ArcheAge has its fair share of die-hard fans. Heck, I’ve liked the game since I saw first the screenshots and short trailers back in 2010. It’s sometimes been difficult to stay excited about ArcheAge over the last four years, but we made it. It’s Tuesday, September 16th, 2014. The game servers should be live and free players should be flooding the authentication server queues. I emphasize “should” because the last few days haven’t been kind to Patrons trying to enjoy their Head Start. Despite having multiple MMO launches under its belt, Trion has managed to fall victim to sophomoric blunders.

For Trion, Friday the 12th might be remembered as an early Friday the 13th. Guilds full of excited Patron players ran into issues, mainly crashes and queues, which caused their meticulous plans to fall apart. Housing and farming zones filled up with placeholder cottages and the tone was set for the rest of the weekend. Folks who spent hundreds of dollars on founder’s packs and gems will never be given a chance to own the land and resources they would have if Trion’s servers had held up.

Try to log in on Friday, Saturday or even Sunday and one of a couple decisively not awesome things could happen. The authentication server might not be working and you may never even get to the server select menu. If you got past server select, your character selection screen might be blank. If you managed to actually log into your character, you might crash to desktop after a few minutes or a few hours. Then it’s back to waiting in a 2000+ player queue for 30 minutes or more. Meanwhile land is quickly being eaten up by alt accounts of the players who managed to miraculously avoid getting booted.

Trion Worlds has launched popular MMOs before ArcheAge. I’ve met Trion software engineers and system admins. They’re neat people and the work they do is absolutely integral the company’s continued success. However, these past few days have been a real eye-opener for MMO enthusiasts who think game launches are improving every year. Spoiler: they’re not. MMO launches continue to be huge ordeals for players and publishers.

I’m sure Trion’s tech crew is staying at the office later than usual trying to get everything under control during this hectic first week. Supposedly the company was the target of a denial of service attack over the weekend which caused a lot of the disconnections players experienced, but those kind of attacks are no longer unusual for tech companies that deal with sensitive consumer information. DDOS/DOS attacks are the new normal and Trion needs to be able to handle them gracefully (without decreased quality of service for players) if they want Glyph to be successful.

All this launch turmoil has made one fact abundantly clear: land is the most important commodity in ArcheAge. Some people own too much while others can’t find a place to put down their tiny scarecrow farms. I haven’t checked on aquafarms yet, but I’m sure those are getting full if they aren’t full already. There’s nothing Trion can really do to repay the Patrons who were prevented from acquiring land during Head Start, but there was things they could have done (or asked XLGAMES to do for them) that would have made things better.

Limiting properties owned by Patron accounts could have been helpful during Head Start. Implementing a grid system and redrawing the boundaries of farming/housing areas to be uniform would’ve also been exceptionally beneficial. In addition, there’s large expanses of flat land all over the world map that could have been zoned for farming and just aren’t, for no apparent reason other than accessibility. I would gladly own a house at the top of a mountain with no conventional access route for trade pack-hauling mounts. Hell, I’d pay extra for it!

Some folks will tell you that there’s still plenty of unoccupied land in some territories. While true, these territories aren’t fully populated for good reasons: they’re either unsafe or unwanted. PvP zones are difficult to farm in safely and some territories are just too far away from the coast to viable for trade pack storage or creation.

Regardless of how this Head Start debacle drama plays out, I’m going to keep playing ArcheAge. It’s a deeply enjoyable game with some systemic flaws. Those flaws sometimes get in the way of my enjoyment but I’ll keep playing until the game becomes more work than fun.


Mark Wilhelm

Mark Wilhelm / Mark is a community manager and fansite operator. He infrequently tweets via @mark_wilhelm."