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Finally Playable in English, Friends and Family Alpha Begins

William Murphy Posted:
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The Holiday season marked a significant milestone for ArcheAge at Trion Worlds: the Friends and Family Alpha, up 24x7 minus any patches and maintenance is in full swing. That’s right folks: English Language ArcheAge is running, roughly translated, being played and devoured by Trion and its employees’ friends and family.  If you know someone at the company... now’s the time to bug them for an invite. We caught up with CEO Scott Hartsman to talk about the milestone and all the other things Trion’s been working on with ArcheAge... as well as when we could possibly see alpha and beta expand to other testers.  Read on!

Scott began by telling me that he gets about one week of truly guilt-free game marathon time a year. “No joke?” he said, “I spent about 75% of my vacation time just playing ArcheAge. Not kidding, honestly.”  And it’s like that across the company. They all knew what sort of game AA was when they decided to publish it in the West. They knew it was a huge, sprawling sandbox with an incredible amount of things to do. But what they didn’t realize was just how much that point would be driven home once translation was in place. The UI is now about 80% readable, and much of the quest text has been given at least a first pass at translation (with just a few here or there still in Korean). As with any translation, the first pass is a sort of a “raw, make it English” pass, and now the focus is on refining it all and making it ring true. 

I asked about what that sort of translation progress means for beta and launch, given how it’s one of the biggest pieces of bringing the game to the US. Scott said they’re trying to figure that out right now, so it’s not set in stone. But he did divulge the process they’re going with, which is: get in-game ourselves, and then make an assessment on what parts need to be working before they can take the game to a larger alpha.  They put all these items on a spreadsheet that lists the must-haves and so forth. An example would be the world map translation: right now it’s all Korean still. Then the beta has it’s own set of blockers that must be taken care of before it opens up. An example here would be to get the In-Game Store working.

To that end Scott mentioned our own Victor Barreiro’s recent ArcheAge column which talks about recent changes to the Korean and Russian monetization models. In essence, Victor noticed how similar the stores were to Rift’s model here in the US. Scott said this was no coincidence. The XLGAMES team in Korea, the Mail.RU team in Russia, and Trion talk every week about ArcheAge. The teams in both foreign markets loved the way Rift’s store is set up and how it performed, and ergo? All three are going to try and model ArcheAge’s store after the one you find in Telara. Now obviously, things like purchasable “catch-up” gear for raids and dungeons won’t be a thing that’s needed or wanted in ArcheAge, as so much of the game depends on crafting. So the big hurdle with the store is figuring out just what will work and what won’t. But you can bet there will be convenience items, cosmetic stuff, mounts, and so forth.

We then got on to talking about Scott’s recent week-long binge on ArcheAge and he offered up his views, though he knows many will say he’s biased, as to why ArcheAge is going to be such an important entry to the genre. That said, here are Scott Hartsman’s three big reasons to look forward to ArcheAge:

1.) Player choice, Player agency AA let’s you ask: “What do I want to do today?” Instead of telling you “Here’s what you do today, quest down this line.” The gam’es very much a sandbox, and all about what you feel like doing, working with or without others.  You can be a hermit on an island all your own, or a merchant prince, a pirate, a treasure hunter, a killer, an explorer... or all of the above.  He’s found that the more you dig in, the more you want to learn, and more you want to do and take part in.

2.) The Massive Scope - Scott’s in awe of the sheer number of things you can DO in this game. There’s no MMO that exists or will exist in 2014 that can beat AA in number of things you can do.  You can hang glide, spelunk, scuba, pilot ships, siege castles, farm cattle, plant trees and flowers all over the world, become a merchant, a mercenary, a thief, a pirate, a builder.

3.) The Looks - Scott’s own words about ArcheAge’s visuals: “it’s absolutely f**king gorgeous and ridiculously detailed.” Once you do something as simple as walking up to a quest camp, realize you can turn on lights... or first piloting your boat and see the water, the sails.  Or when you see a fire on your ground, and that you can take logs from the stack of wood. ArcheAge is gorgeously rendered but also very interactive. Lots of content pushes you to find cool stuff, guiding you to sandbox elements without hand-holding.

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William Murphy

Bill is the former Managing Editor of MMORPG.com, RTSGuru.com, and lover of all things gaming. He's been playing and writing about MMOs and geekery since 2002, and you can harass him and his views on Twitter @thebillmurphy.