Producer’s Letter – October 2016
Hey, everyone! You probably know me from our weekly livestreams, but if you don’t, I’m Merv “Khrolan” Lee Kwai, Senior Producer for ArcheAge. I know, this is a huge wall of text but trust me, it’s worth the read. Let’s go.
I’m proud to announce that ArcheAge: Revelation, what some of you may know as “3.0,” will be released in North America and Europe on December 10th, 2016. The wait is almost over, and we will finally enjoy the highly anticipated Dwarf and Warborn races; explore their homelands of Aubre Cradle, Airain Rock, and Sunbite Wilds; take progression to the next level with Abyssal Skills, build stronger neighborhoods with the Community Center system; and of course open new Fresh Start servers.
But first, let’s look at the current state of the game…
In my last letter, I talked about the path toward the Ascension update and some important milestones like the division of North American and European event schedules, the addition of skill queuing, and the related change to some skills to use their faster-firing versions. I’m happy to say that those systems are finally live and are great improvements–we’re working on making them even better and ensuring that as many locales as possible benefit from the changes.
Of special note: Our first official 10 vs. 10 ArcheAge PVP Tournament: Blood in the Sand came to a close this past weekend and made for an exciting, memorable experience. I’d like to congratulate our winners: Tryhard of Sirothe server for Europe and Disaster of Morpheus server for North America – well fought, and I hope you enjoy your 2016 Championship Rings!
In other recent news, we’re reviewing the functionality of events that are run weekly or monthly and are working with XLGAMES to bring them to a higher level of quality and consistency. Part of this means running fewer, higher quality events that we think you’ll find to be the most fun.
We’re going to put a heavier emphasis on the monthly festival-type events like Rum Runner Rapids and the Blue Salt Festival and remove some of the smaller, weekly events that have been less well-received or enjoyed. Over the next couple months, we’ll enjoy the Ishvaran Cooking Festival in Hasla, and will celebrate the return of the Pawsome Festival… this time with a fantastic surprise.
I’ve received multiple questions about the potential for server merges and their overall health. While some of our regional Legacy servers may seem like candidates for merging, we have no intention to do so with the upcoming release of 3.0. We’ve heard you loud and clear that to those of you who have land on those servers, that land and what you’ve built on it means the world to you. We plan to monitor how their population grows with Revelation and our goal is to avoid displacing players dedicated to living on those servers. We’ll continue to rely on the Character Transfer Service to give players who would prefer to play elsewhere an option to play on others. While I can’t say that we’ll never merge again, I can say that we’ll only do it if we absolutely have to.
Let’s talk Revelation
We have been hard at work on the 3.0 update since March of this year. We’ve kept mostly quiet about it up until this point but now the snek’s out of the bag. The Revelation feature list is really exciting, in part because we get to see Erenor, the ArcheAge world we love, through the eyes of new playable characters. The Dwarven race becomes a part of the Nuian faction (Western Continent) and players will follow their unique story line through two new zones, Aubre Cradle and Airain Rock located in the western-central area of Nuia. The Warborn race joins the Haranya faction (Eastern Continent) and players will explore their role in ArcheAge’s shrouded past through the Ezna Massacre and the Sunbite Wilds zones.
Always exciting is the addition of new residential areas – we’ll be adding of two housing zones: Ahnimar, located west of Hellswamp in Nuia; and Rokhala Mountains, north of Hasla in Haranya. These are some of the largest residential areas in the game and are perpetually in a state of peace. One of the most exciting parts about these zones is that they support the crafting of trade packs and specialty packs. These new trade locations will improve the commerce meta to include new overland and sea-faring routes.
Speaking of commerce, NPC Community Centers have been established in all Southern Continent (Nuia and Haranya) zones. They pave the way to great changes like the addition of zone residency and enhancements to our existing Family system. Characters who own a house in a southern non-ocean zone will automatically become a resident of that zone. Residents are the foundation of the local Community Center and directly contribute to its success. As the center levels up from 1 to 3, new features become available to residents like unique trade packs, zone-specific produce (like Pineapples in Gweonid Forest and Watermelon in Hasla), and other luxuries. The Family system has greatly improved and can now support up to 12 cross-faction characters. Players have used their families to form a sort of micro-guild and the system changes were definitely influenced by this. Families now can now gain up to 3 levels through interaction with the Community Center and daily tasks. Family members can be assigned different roles and they can group up and go sport fishing together through a cooperative mini game. There’s even a role for your inappropriate pirate uncle who won’t stop talking about sea bugs. (Editor’s Note: Merv may be describing himself. ~Celestrata & Amary.)
My personal favorite feature in the Revelation update is the introduction of Abyssal Skills. These new end-game abilities provide a path to continue progression once a character has reached maximum level in a skill tree. Only one of a character’s three active trees can have the abyssal skillset enabled at a time, allowing further character class definition. I can’t wait to see how the new skills will influence the PvP meta! Another skill balance pass will occur with the update and I suspect we’ll see a shift in popular classes like we did during the Secrets of Ayanad, Dread Prophecies, and Heroes Awaken updates.
Ayanad Weapons, Armor, and Jewelry will become salvageable for Mana Wisps at the release of the update. The reforging system will be adjusted to allow Machinists to forge wisps into Delphinad-upgradable Epherium item pieces. This system evolved last year with the Magnificent Tier and this the next step for crafted equipment. It’s also a great way to mitigate at least one part of the RNG element involved with high-end crafting.
Additionally, Anchoring Emblems will be introduced to ensure that destruction is prevented when using them to regrade Celestial and Divine pieces of gear. These emblems will be craftable by master Masons and can become publicly available with no skill requirement once certain Community Centers reach tier 3. They’re not easy to get, though, so use them wisely.
The Loyalty Store will be revamped at the release of 3.0 for Legacy servers and will be highly restricted for Fresh Start servers to maintain as even of a playing field as possible. A majority of the gliders and costumes will have their availability discontinued at this time, with higher priced mounts being given a slightly longer grace period (early 2017). We previously mentioned that if these items were removed from the Loyalty Store we’d provide enough warning so that players would have enough time to purchase it before it’s gone. Since Revelation is right around the corner we’re going to greatly expedite daily loyalty gains in November. This will ensure there’s enough time to get an item you were working toward before it’s gone. For more information on how things will be changing, we’ve written up an extensive article for you!
The amount of content in 3.0 is staggering and I’d love to list it all but I’ll save some of it for the update notes!
So Fresh and So Clean
When we opened Fresh Start servers last year with the Hero’s Awaken update we put forth our best effort and best practices of other regions. While the result was largely positive we saw many things that we wanted to do better. It’s our commitment to take that feedback and new knowledge and do it again with equal intensity and much more expertise. Here are some of the changes you should be excited about:
New Accounts will be required for players to access Fresh Start servers. This is an important step to mitigate Legacy progression transferring over into our fresh economies. This is mostly due to several currencies like Loyalty, Labor and Credits accumulating at the account level. We saw players consume hundreds of stored labor potions, spend thousands of loyalty, and consume Legacy APEX for an advantage on Fresh Start. Having a new account requirement allows us to keep your Fresh Start progression separate from those of the Legacy servers, giving you the choice on how you’d like to play ArcheAge.
Transferring Progression will be prevented due to new accounts being linked to server type: Legacy or Fresh Start. A new account that selects the Legacy setting won’t be able to access Fresh Start servers, and vice versa. This includes Fresh Start accounts being blocked from creating characters on Legacy servers, preventing the transfer of account-level resources to alts for consumption. This has been a popular topic after our announcement of Fresh Start and I’m very proud to say we’re going to lengths to prevent it.
Marketplace offerings will be adjusted for Fresh Start. When we did this in 2015, we removed items that were more appropriate for a Legacy environment. This year, we plan to take this one step further by also removing Marketplace items that greatly expedite progression.
Here’s a list of some of the items that will be removed from the Fresh Start Marketplace: Mirage Mounts, Lunar/Stellar Scarecrow Farms, Mining Drills, Majestic Trees, Rumbling Archeum Saplings (currently for Loyalty), Vehicle/Advanced Hauler Upgrade Tickets, sources of No Cooldown Labor Potions, and Sunlight, Moonlight and Starlight Archeum from supply crates. We will remove the ability to purchase single and multi-pack 12 hour cooldown labor potions for credits on Legacy servers and Fresh Start servers as well. The only sources for labor outside of gaining it over time will be through Patron bonuses, Labor potions available for Loyalty Tokens, and the one-per-account monthly labor stipend. Tax Certificates and similar staples of the ArcheAge Marketplace will remain available. The mainstay of the Fresh Start Marketplace will be cosmetics, including the costumes, furniture, and UCC items being available at a more expedited pace than the previous Legacy timeline or offered in discount bundle form. Additionally, consumable codes offered from prior Legacy promotions will also be disabled for the release of Fresh Start. (No redeeming those Ruby Solariums here!)
Progression adjustments are an absolute priority for Fresh Start. Each time we introduce new servers they’re different based on the version update. What took 5 months in alpha took 3 months at launch, and 2 months on Morpheus and Rangora. ArcheAge’s most unique gameplay happens during a server’s infancy. The initial trade runs to Freedich for Small Warship and Merchant Ship designs, contesting hidden tree farms, the thrill of racing for real estate, and the glory of your first great successes are really iconic moments. Internally, we refer to this time period as the “Rush Era.” At launch, we had concerns about the power behind Hasla tier three weapons and 2015 Fresh Start had it around Obsidian and Soulforged armor. This year we’ll focus on adding more control around how gold enters the world in large quantities from highly contested events, like Delphinad Ghost Ships or the Hero system.
Faction balance is always a concern with Fresh Start servers. For our December release we plan to more closely monitor faction creation restrictions and the rate at which characters attain max level. This is a challenge for us from an administration perspective because we can only throttle the creation of characters. We have more challenges when we attempt to motivate players to participate in server-wide activities. Last year we saw a situation where the West and East sides of the Morpheus Server were quite equal with respect to character creations and near-max level characters. However one of those sides were inclined to participate more heavily in contested world events which led to a perceived faction imbalance for those players actually attending these activities.
We also learned a lot last year with respect to the timeline at which Fresh Start servers ultimately become integrated with Legacy servers. Over the first months, some Marketplace items will be slowly returned and progress-driven world events are reactivated. Between months 6-9 Fresh Start servers join Legacy auction house clusters and finally allow character transfers. We plan to closely monitor this progress on a server-by-server basis but this is timeline we’re expecting.
The team and I are deeply committed to improving upon how Fresh Start servers are released and as you read above, we’re making some heavy changes. That commitment includes listening to and addressing player concerns, and operating within the full range of our capabilities.
We’ll continue to reveal our plans in detail over the next 6 weeks leading up to the Revelation update. The best place to check for updates is our official Revelation website. Don’t forget to grab your weekly code for in-game items! I think this goes without saying, but the Revelation update is definitely the best time to be playing ArcheAge and I look forward to rushing alongside you on December 10th!
-Merv “Khrolan” Lee Kwai