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E3 2013: Trion's role in bringing ArcheAge to the West

Andrew Ross

ArcheAge has finally officially arrived at E3. I've personally been following this game for about two years. I've written about it on multiple websites and had a chance to play a closed beta for the Korean version. However, I'm also critical about the game (or just a pessimist), so hopefully I can balance my enthusiasm for the game with some critical commentary, but to be honest, my interviews today with both Trion and XLGAMES' producer Kyoung Tae Kim has reminded me why I've been following this game for so long.

Before we start though, let's cover something pretty important here: Trion is only localizing the game. It's not the studio behind AA. I've heard people make crazy comments like, "Trion could change it to be an action MMO!" or "I think Trion should just get rid of the PvP and make a PvE sandbox!" First of all, AA is a sandpark. You will see a lot of quests in the beginning, and there is a lot of hand-holding to introduce you to the game's myriad features. But Trion mainly works on simply making the Korean game readable to Americans, assuming you speak English. They do want some of the preset character faces to be a bit more Western, but overall, Trion likes what XLGAMES has already done with the Korean version. It's not perfect, but XLGAMES has taken Trion's feedback and has been working on applying it to the game overall, not just OKing things for Trion to tweak.

One example that came up during my conversation with Kyoung Tae Kim was the difference in the variety of markets. For example, Korean players love to grind and PvP, American players don't like to grind but will PvP, and apparently Japanese gamers (who, for those who don't know, generally stick to consoles and mobile phones for gaming) don't really enjoy PvP. For Japan, AA will have less PvP, but it won't be completely removed. I wasn't given specifics on what will be changed, but there it is, a tweak. Want another? Holidays. For example, Trion wants to add some holiday items (no promises on July 4th-themed donkeys). XLGAMES can do this. On the other hand, if Trion wanted to add a new quest to the game without XLGAMES, it couldn't (at least, not at this point).

This actually fits in with how XLGAMES views its game creation process. Kim said that most Korean companies these days do consider how their game will play out in the global market, but he himself prefers Western games, with more exploration and less grinding, which caused some concerns: Some feedback in Korean hinted that players didn't think ArcheAge was a Korean game. While Kim is aware of the trend in action-based combat, he feels satisfied with the game's current combat. He doesn't want to stress players out too much. Not only that, but the combat fits more with the pace of AA. This is a slower game. Remember, you don't make forests overnight, and castles don't just rise out of the ground. In fact, Kim wants to emphasize the game as more of an older-style RPG than a new, fast-paced, stylish game. This has actually helped the game to attract more of a female playerbase and older players rather than just the young, hardcores.

Speaking of the young, hardcore crowd, let's address the "Men who stare at goats" issue. As some may recall, the early release of AA had many players using their homes specifically to make money rather than to decorate a living breathing world. This was not something desired, of course, but players do have this option. However, Trion and XLGAMES have talked about this situation. Already some items have had their value reduced to make this sort of thing less profitable, and the two companies are also looking into what other options may help them to encourage creativity rather than simply encouraging players to use land for economic purposes.

Now, some updates. First, the two additional races we know about, the Dwarves and the Warborn, are still in development, and Trion has seen them. No official updates, but they're still in the works.

For crafters, there's some good news. It seems that while the game is still restricting you with labor points, you can sort of get around this by using a tractor. Tractors can be used for your farming, allowing you to gain XP without losing labor points, so you could potentially just level up via crafting. However, there aren't currently craftable potions in the game. Trion's looking at options, which sounds odd, but... well, we don't know the business model for AA yet. Maybe the decision making process on potions is a hint. There is also possibly some bad news, especially if you dislike PvP: Tradepacks are still in. These are large sacks of resources used for crafting important things like houses and ships. You physically carry them, and anyone can pick them up if you put them down (like if you log out or get killed). This is good though, since it gives your warrior friends a reason to hang out with you, right? Instead of just watching you make swords, they make sure no one puts one in you while you try to build a pirate ship.

Speaking of pirates, I know the community has expressed some concern with the pirate island. For those who don't know, there are currently five factions, one for each race and then the pirates, who are essentially disowned by the others. Currently, Trion is happy with the pirate faction. The idea is that the pirate faction allows you to play with any race you want and allows you to attack anyone you want. You may have fewer resources (smaller questing area for example) than those who stick with the main factions, but it gives you a reason to rob them as well. Yes, you still go to jail (pirate jail, in fact), but only if people find evidence and... well, you're a pirate. It's what you do. Hopefully your peers will go easy on you during your trial. Plus, you get pirate clothes. With great style comes great responsibility... and many haters.

For additional features, the game will be launching with some of the updates the Korean game has already received, such as mount breeding. Trion has seen what some other games have done with pushing out content faster than translators can work, and the studio isn't happy with that model. It also wants the English to be good, not just "decent." I won't name names, but when players in beta see missing or poor translation and bugs, word spreads that the game isn't ready, and Trion just doesn't want that sort of stigma attached to AA. However, Trion currently isn't sure about bringing over the mobile game. That's not a "maybe not" or "maybe yes," just a "maybe." Oddly enough, the family system (think tiny, intimate guilds of eight people; you can still be in a raiding guild, but you can also be in a "family" with your friends in other guilds) is currently in an odd situation. Trion currently knows about the family system but thought it was still in development. However, Kim assured me it's in-game in Korea and quite popular. Female players seem to enjoy using family names in particular (like "mom" and "sister" for their ranks).

So there you have it. Two companies with similar mindsets working together to bring you a slower-paced RPG centric game. It may not have all the additional features the Korean version has, and there may be some communication issues at this point, but I think a very clear form of the westernization process is starting to appear. Now, all we need is a business model and release date!

Massively's on the ground in Los Angeles during the week of June 10-13, bringing you all the best news from E3 2013. We're covering everything from WildStar and Elder Scrolls Online and ArcheAge to FFXIV's inbound revamp and TERA's latest update, so stay tuned!

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