If you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got.Anthony Robbins
Call me a cynic, or just human, but life gets feeling a tad bit trite when I sign on my PC. Perhaps it’s all that social media- too many trends and regurgitation’s; worse versions of tired ideas.
For those of you who have read my previous blog posts, you’re probably already aware of what catches my mind’s eye. I’m drawn to player-driven models and dynamic worlds… i.e. new ideas: fresh and innovative. And the more I read about ArcheAge, the more it feels like a shot of mint up the nose, or an espresso shower.
There’s a lot to get excited about. Hell, just look at it for cripes’ sake:
But its pretty face is not what interests me most. Frankly, I’d be just as intrigued by this game if it was played out in the pixels of Castle Wolfenstein. Alright, that might be a slight exaggeration, but you catch my drift.
I won’t even bother with the player-driven economy, which appears very extensive, and might take a PhD dissertation to cover the basics. Instead, I’ll focus on three player-driven aspects of the game that appear on the surface to be truly revolutionary.
I’ve been hankering for this sort of thing for a long time: new player-driven models. Player-driven justice hits close to something I’ve long pined for: player-run governments. This isn’t that, but an interesting step in that direction.
In ArcheAge, players can commit two kinds of crimes against same faction players/NPCs: theft and murder. Once a crime has been committed, evidence is left at the scene (footprints or blood stains, respectively). Other players can collect this evidence, which leads to a crime point against the guilty person. When a player reaches a level 50, and dies, they are given the choice of going straight to prison or a trial by jury of their peers. Yes, a jury of players.
Guilty and innocent verdicts have little to do with the suspect’s innocence or guilt. They are guilty. It’s only a matter of whether the jurors like you or not. The number of guilty verdicts determines the player’s stay in jail, respective to their list of crimes.
While this part of the justice process seems a little over-simple and pedestrian, the concept of PvP Justice system alone is fresh and interesting, and what comes after it, gets really interesting.
Guilty players are sent to jail, receive a jail-time “debuff” preventing the use of their skills, and locked in a cell for 10 minutes. But then the door opens, and you can roam the yard, party with fellow inmates, play soccer, dress in silly jail-bird clothes, and even attempt an escape.
And when jail time is over, your criminal ways don’t need to end. Players who continue down the criminal path eventually cross that threshold separating “decent people” from those devils, and black sheep, and really bad eggs… yep, that’s right, pirates!
Galaxies did this (originally) with the unlockable Jedi class (which they promptly ruined by a massive class restructure, allowing any bumbling toddler to select Jedi at signing up). I loved it, because it added depth and intrigue to a vocation Luke Skywalker made seem like an ethereal dream.
Jedi’s were special; I wasn’t. I wasn’t ambitious enough, or gifted enough, or… celibate enough. And that was okay… I mean, we all wanted to be Han Solo anyway, right? And not what basically amounts to a telekinetic fluorescent light bulb wielding monk.
… but would I feel the same way about ArcheAge piracy? Perhaps not.
This brand of the pirate life is both limiting and liberating. As a faction, pirates are tied to a small number of safe zones, but they are no longer beholden to the justice system of the continental factions. Pirate NPCs, hitherto hostile, can be interacted with. New quest-lines are available. But, aye, there’s the rub: for though piracy opens you up to a new world, it alienates you from the old. You become an enemy to the other factions, and they can attack you and your strongholds. But hey, you can return the favor!
Drink up me hearties, yo ho!
When my friend first introduced me to the world of MMOs with Everquest in late ’99, the lure of online home ownership captured my imagination. ArcheAge has taken this dream to a new height. Never before have I seen player-built communities done with this level of depth and beauty.
Land owner-ship is what distinguishes the haves from the have-nots, and is deeply connected with the economy. Resources are germane only to certain territories, and are the building blocks not only to the economy and engines of war, but also the… errr buildings.
The amount of resources, time and labor it takes to construct buildings and defensive structures is pretty substantial. This does not favor the loner gamer, and for established servers, it’s damn near impossible. ArcheAge not only encourages cooperative gameplay, it demands it.
There are a variety of building types and styles respective to their regions. House owners can control who enters them, and decorate with furniture and merchandise designed in-game. But what I’m struck most by is the balance they’ve managed predesign and player-design. I’m in favor of predesigned structures, as I have yet to see an engine with player-designed structures that come out looking pretty (see Minecraft). But castle building and village layout options do give the player some control, and the result is beautiful in-game designed communities that look like they could have been scripted by game designers.
Check out this player built castle:
The Lost Continent- A PvP Playground
This is probably the most intriguing part of ArcheAge from where I’m standing. The Map is broken up into three continents. While the first two are dominated by the two factions, the third is an open free-for-all PvP zone. It’s only accessible by ship, and ships are also the only means of trade. Hello Piracy!
On that island, guilds can claim and purchase territory, build villages and castles, then duke it out for control of the realm!
Land claiming comes down to one resource: Akhium. I won’t bore you with the long of it, but akhium is what enables you to claim territory. It’s also the resource collected at a castle’s center and acts as its flag. Siege the castle, and capture the flag, and you’ve claimed the place and all that’s still standing. Siege’s can only happen once a week, when the rights to siege individual castles go up for auction. The winner of the auction can choose to attack, and a siege timer begins. A totally PvP castle siege, full of siege engines and destructible castle defenses, ensues.
But what’s more interesting is why this all matters. It all comes down to allegiances. People who own land within a territory province have to pay taxes to the region’s castle owner. The owner of the castle thereby protects the person’s property rights within the region. Don’t pay your taxes, and you will lose your land.
If I’m understanding this correctly, ArcheAge has successfully created (in a sense) a player-driven feudal system, complete with liege-lords and vassals. Your rights are only as certain as the castle, and lord, who protect them. So you have a vested interest in whether or not the castle stands.