Studio known primarily for ArcheAge.

Albion Online AMA on pay-to-win, free trials, and global servers

Sandbox Interactive ran an AMA for its in-development indie MMO Albion Online on Reddit last night, covering everything from the game's business model to how players in far-flung locations fare on its global server. Here are the highlights!

  • There are no plans for a freebie weekend or trial as a result of fairness to founders and botting issues -- as well as performance issues. "The game is extremely well populated as it is, and we'd be worried that free trial could slow down the servers."
  • Likewise, SI will be sticking to its original plan to reward founders with early access, though players have expressed concern over the potential for an ArcheAge-like land-grab.
  • In response to players bringing up pay-to-win and the game's $30 buy-in, SI explained the game's business model is based on EVE Online's and that while players can essentially gain an advantage by buying and then exchanging real-money currency for in-game currency, it won't afford players a guaranteed win. As for the currency exchange, it should be possible to play the market.

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Researchers study ArcheAge's beta wipe for real-world apocalypse behavior

If the world was to end this week, how would people react? That's an interesting question to ponder in the abstract, but researchers took this hypothetical one step further by looking at an MMORPG wipe to map out the behavior of players at the end of their virtual world.

In a recent study, a research team looked at a massive amount of data -- over 270 million player records -- from the conclusion of ArcheAge's beta. The purpose was to try to get a feel for human behavior during "end times" and draw possible parallels to what might happen in our world. While there was some anarchy and nasty behavior, the study notes that a majority of people mostly played out their remaining time in the social sphere. Quests and other progression paths were abandoned, while more players simply grouped up for fun and to take on interesting challenges.

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Jukebox Heroes: Your favorite MMO themes, #24-19

What are the best and most popular MMO theme songs of all time? A couple of weeks ago I posed this question to the Massively OP community and encouraged fans to submit their own list of music themes in response. We saw a healthy amount of email votes and comment nominations since then, and I was able to compile a nice list of the top 24 MMORPG themes from it.

There were several surprises, at least to me, in the final results. I thought some games would've gotten more nods, while others seemed to come out of nowhere to demand a spot on the list. Each of the themes on this list was put out there by at least two fans, which is why we're going to start with number 24. I'm thinking we might have an honorable mentions column as a post-script, but we'll see how it goes.

Today we will begin our countdown to number one, looking at your favorite MMO themes with my own take on each. Let's get started!

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ArcheAge opens up the tallest zone in the game and improves your underpants

Hope you are not afraid of heights, because ArcheAge's newest zone is also its tallest zone to date.

In this past week's February update, the fantasy sandbox opened the doors to Reedwind, a region made up of floating islands that can be seen for miles and miles away. How do they float? The same way any MMO floating islands float: a blatant disrespect for the laws of physics.

The update also, and we kid you not, contains something called Underwear Synthesis. "Rank up your underwear with this brand new system!" Trion said, giving our commenters way too much inspiration for the gifs and memes to follow.

Reedwind is a conflict zone that also features the terrifying Thunderwing Titan. It will take some serious work just to summon the game's largest PvE encounter to date, but if players can fend of rival attacks and build towers to call the huge dragon (we're calling it a dragon, deal with it). Today, one guild managed to earn a NA and EU first kill on the Titan. Don't believe us? Proof below! Also, more underpants than you can shake patch notes at.

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Lost Continent: ArcheAge Revelation's fresh start servers aren't doing newbies any favors

It’s been over a month now since ArcheAge’s massive update 3.0 went live, adding oodles of new content to Trion’s expansive fantasy sandbox. The update, dubbed Revelation, is indeed monumental: It introduces two new races, the Dwarves and the Warborn—who join the Nuia and Harnya, respectively—and new starting zones for each; two massive new housing zones (one for each continent); new housing and social features such as housing-zone community centers and an overhauled family system; and an absolutely ludicrous number of adjustments and changes to almost all of the game’s existing systems.

On top of all the new content, Revelation also brought another new feature to ArcheAge’s proverbial table: brand-new "fresh start" servers, which are limited to players whose accounts were created on or after December 8th, 2016, and feature a modified version of the in-game cash shop that aims to limit the much-decried pay-to-win aspects of the game.

As someone who has always wanted to like ArcheAge but just couldn’t get past the pay-to-win stigma and the domination of the legacy servers by established players and guilds, I was intrigued by the prospect of starting the game with a blank slate, so I joined the flock of fellow fresh-starters to see if the experience might erase my former misgivings.

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The Stream Team: Picking a perfect ArcheAge pet

It's that time again, when ArcheAge gives you the chance to adopt adorable pets during the Pawesome Festival. And how could Massively OP's MJ resist those cute faces? She wants to secure herself a little corgi, so she's heading in to fill out all the requisite quests and earn enough tokens. Will she have enough time before it all ends? Tune in live at 4:00 p.m. to take part in the festival before it disappears on February 20th.

What: ArcheAge
Who: MJ Guthrie
When: 4:00 p.m. EST on Thursday, February 16th, 2017

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The Daily Grind: Which MMORPG has the best music system?

In Andrew's retrospective of Asheron's Call 2 last week, he mentioned that the game had a music system, something I'd long since forgotten, if I ever knew it at all. "It was pre-formed, multiple choice stuff and didn't provide any stat benefit, but it was something you could do for fun, any time, anywhere," he explained.

That got me thinking about other MMORPGs with music systems (not just clicking an instrument in combat, as many classic games had). Star Wars Galaxies, Lord of the Rings Online, and ArcheAge are all lauded as games with player-made music of one form or another, though there are plenty more. Their differences highlight the themepark/sandbox spectrum: Is it better to allow players some musical and embellishment freedom within a structured songlist, as in SWG, or should we agitate for fully free-form music systems, as in LOTRO, where some afternoons there's a dude with a lute running an ABC file for Hey Jude or Don't Fear the Reaper on every corner in Breetown?

Take that into consideration, then tell me: Which MMORPG has the best music system?

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The Game Archaeologist: Nexus: The Kingdom of the Winds

I confess that I have a particular fascination for MMOs that came into existence in the 1990s. It's not only the fact that I was oblivious to them at the time (er, wild college days?) but that practically each and every one of them were true pioneers in their own fashion. And while your standard MMO fan might think that there were only three such games in that decade (four, if they are gracious and include Meridian 59), the truth is that there were far more online games at the time, particularly if you looked over to the east.

Today we are going to look at one of the most important MMOs to emerge from that time period, Nexus: The Kingdom of the Winds. Its influence was primarily centered in the Korean gaming community while being vastly downplayed in North America. Still, here's a successful MMO that not only beat Ultima Online out of the door by a year but has since won a Guinness World Record for longevity!

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ArcheAge invites your guild on an adventure this week

This week's ArcheAge patch has kicked off a string of events to keep you occupied well into February. To start with, the fantasy MMO has whipped up a brand-new Guild Adventure Event that challenges player groups to complete construction quests and earn achievements. Following that is the corgi-focused Pawsome Festival and then a Valentine's Day event.

The patch makes several other adjustments to the game, such as increasing the value of sport fish, level gating certain types of shipwreck salvage, and bumping up the drop rate of costume synthium shards. The team said that the patch should also fix one particularly annoying issue that ArcheAge has suffered as of late: "Dramatically increased the number of objects that can be simultaneously loaded in the world. This was a primary cause of NPCs not spawning over the past month. This increased cap should reduce the frequency at which this situation occurs."

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One Shots: Healin' skellies in Shards Online

When the NDA is away, the cats will play -- and take screenshots! Bless our dear community for documenting upcoming MMOs as they venture into these virgin territories.

ZulikaMiNam had some fun in one game that I haven't seen much from readers yet: "Since there are no NDA restrictions imposed for this alpha weekend kickoff over at Shards Online I will post some pics from there. I accidentally healed a skeleton while trying to heal myself. So my name turns grey and anyone can kill me now. Time to lay low for a bit."

Are you still laying low? You can... probably come out now. That skeleton owes you a life debt for that heroic action.

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ArcheAge offers compensation to players for server outages

Who here likes server issues? Sure, they kind of suck while they're happening and prevent you from being able to play the game you want, but they also mean that at a later date the company behind the game will shower you with riches. ArcheAge players are the latest recipients of the aforementioned riches shower, with compensation offered to anyone who logged into the game (or tried to) between January 6th and January 11th.

Players will receive two Daru Warrior's Chests, 12 Warrior's Medals, 5 Merit Badges, 2 Bound Worker's Compensation, 2 Eternal Hero Potions, 20 Bound Hereafter Stones, and an undisclosed quantity of lords a-leaping. Patron players will also receive an extra day of patron status on their accounts. Just make sure to claim all of this bounty sooner rather than later, as the compensation goes away on February 12th; that's more than enough time to brave the sea of servers and grab your compensation. Assuming, of course, that the people logging in to grab compensation doesn't trigger another server meltdown, thus creating some kind of cascading reward scenario.

It should be noted that this is separate from the last compensation package for server issues.


ArcheAge suffers lengthy downtime over vanishing NPCs

ArcheAge just cannot catch a break. Disappearing NPCs prompted another complete restart of the North American servers yesterday, which didn't solve the problem. Trion community dynamic duo Brasse and Celestrata spent the afternoon keeping players updated on the outages as Trion and XLGAMES whipped up new builds.

"The primary reason the NPCs are disappearing is due to the massive number of NPCs and interactable items (harvestables) spawned in the world," Khrolan explained last night.

"This state is occurring more now than previously due to land being established (primarily Auroria) and a high number of dungeon instances being open. To help diffuse the problem, we're deactivating the third instances of the Ayanad Library (on each floor), reducing the number of arena and mirage island instances and disabling a large number of the Warborn starting instances. If we reach the item limit again, dungeons will be affected first, followed by the overworld. A more permanent solution will be provided by XL Games overnight, but we'll be applying these changes shortly, in an attempt to restore the service this evening. On a side note, the issue originates from Reckoning and Vengeance due to high server loads, but it is spreading to all NA legacy servers, because they all share the same environment back end."

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The Daily Grind: How often do you claim refunds on MMOs?

Chargebacks were a big deal in 2016: Black Desert, ArcheAge, and No Man Sky were all embroiled in community drama thanks to perceived chargeback abuse. PayPal even ended its chargeback protection for crowdfunding donations, making it harder for gamers who hand over cash to abuse the credit card system to get that money back.

But some games are offering you your money back and you're still not taking it.

Hero's Song, for example, recently went under, but John Smedley pledged to refund any Steam and Indiegogo purchasers who asked for their money returned. Yet there are folks in our comments who said they wouldn't take him up on that -- they feel they got their money's worth or don't feel it's right to take back what was intended as a gift, risks fully understood. That reminded me of when Glitch sunsetted after a couple years in operation and Stewart Butterfield offered everyone all of their money back from years of play and a lot of players said no way.

How about you? Do you claim refunds on games when available? How often do you do it?

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