Trion has confirmed the layoffs – we’ve updated below.
Trion Worlds in general and ArcheAge
in specific are going through a turbulent time this week as the studio has levied layoffs in the studio that have affected an unknown number of employees. Among those affected include ArcheAge
Associate Producer Seraphina Brennan and Customer Support/Environmental Artist Jessica Pate
As this year’s GDC coverage is winding down, I am finally coming to the topic I saved for last: community. MMOs are more than just multiplayer. We attract the “alone together” people more than the “FPS hero” crowd in our comments section for a reason; MMOs are virtual worlds. They’re a digital space inhabited by other people. We may not talk to them, but we watch and listen. Maybe we engage, maybe we group, maybe we guild. We do stuff in a shared environment because we think, or hope, we’re part of a larger system.
And this is why we need to talk about cross-platform communities and the strength of in-game, embedded community tools. As social media rises and mobile crashes against our PC fortress, increased console cross-play should be a reminder that we’re all gamers, and (some) developers are finally getting that.
Prime progression server enters into its second month of existence, questions have loomed above the community that’s making its way to level 50: How fast should we be going? When is Trion Worlds going to unlock additional content, and what does that schedule look like?
When we reached out to Trion, CM Linda Carlson gave us the scoop: “Dev has just assembled the second challenge for players, tailored to where folks are in game and will be soon — we expect to start talking progression more later this month, once the overall population progresses together. I should also mention that the second challenge will be posted SOOOOOON. This week.”
Meanwhile, a small hotfix to Prime’s Vigil server last week adjusted classes, zones, dungeons, and warfronts. Many of the class changes were nerfs, so expect some players to be shifting their builds around in response.
We were talking on the podcast this week
about how Trion Worlds tends to aggressively pursue different revenue streams in its MMOs — and how those actions sometimes cross the line and land the studio in hot water with the playerbase. For example, RIFT’s pay-to-win shortcut
a week or so ago.
So consider the following and tell us if it’s a smart or silly move on Trion’s part. Apparently the studio is now selling a $100 box that pays out one of 42 random premium mounts to the purchaser. As some players have noted, it’s not a smart buy, especially considering that you can obtain some of the mounts in-game for much, much cheaper.
CM Brasse dropped a comment on the Reddit discussion of this box, saying, “I do appreciate how you state the obvious for us… you really, really do NOT have to buy these. They are entirely cosmetic and it’s a pure choice for customers. Vote yea or nay in accordance with your thoughts and wallet. I am not one for mount fever either, but some are all about the stables!”
. Thanks Greaterdivinity!
Reacting to massive community pushback over what is perceived to be pay-to-win packs
in the RIFT
store, Trion Worlds announced that it is pulling the items
— at least for now — to reevaluate the situation and ask the community for more feedback.
“We’ve seen the feedback on the limited time Collected Intel packs and have decided to take the short term action to switch them off for the time being (the holiday packs remain up),” CM Linda Carlson said. “Taking them offline now gives us time to review ALL the feedback, together with in-game data, next week when the dev team is back in office, and make careful, reasoned decisions.”
The Collected Intel packs in question involve a currency that is bought with real money and can be used to purchase endgame gear, which some saw as breaking through the P2W barrier. Trion is asking for players to submit all feedback to this thread, although we will not stop any of our readers from sharing their thoughts on this move below.
isn’t the only game at Trion Worlds
that’s shuffling around its community team these days. RIFT
announced last Friday that it brought on board Jennifer “Yaviey” Bridges
to be the new community manager for the fantasy MMO.
Bridges said she has worked on several MMO community teams to date including EverQuest II, WildStar, and Lineage II and was a RIFT player back in the early days of the title.
“If you couldn’t already guess, MMORPGs are my jam,” Bridges wrote. “They’re my absolute favorite type of game for a variety of reasons. I love the communities in them, I love that you can constantly strive to be better at something, and questing in general always feels so epic.”
This move doesn’t mean that Linda “Brasse” Carlson is out as a RIFT community manager. Bridges confirmed that Carlson will continue to manage the team while doing “cool creative stuff” in the meantime.
A slightly ambiguous Facebook post had some RIFT
players worried that the game was finished with its current expansion cycle altogether.
In a discussion about RIFT’s proposed challenge servers, CM Brasse commented that “the final expansion update comes this summer. This includes the remaining Primalist souls for those who bought the calling. We think it’s worth waiting for.”
She later clarified on the forums that this wasn’t saying that RIFT was done with the Prophecy of Ahnket cycle but that the update fulfilled the remainder of formerly announced content for the expansion.
Early this morning, a first-time Reddit poster alleged that he or she had run a “basic web security evaluation” on Trion World’s game websites, including ArcheAge’s, discovering “multiple security risks surrounding [its] authentication system.” The poster claimed he or she had contacted Trion multiple times on December 12th and 13th, only to receive no response, prompting the poster to recommend that players remove payment info from their accounts and threatening to send in “attorneys in Texas” and disclose the vulnerabilities publicly should Trion not reply and address them.
We immediately reached out to Trion Worlds, which rebutted the claims, reassuring players that their payment information would not be at risk even if there were a vulnerability and explaining that the Redditor’s accusations about PCI non-compliance are simply inaccurate.
“Yes, we investigate all reports. We reached out to the poster of the thread within minutes of seeing it this morning,” Trion Worlds Director of Community Relations Linda “Brasse” Carlson told us.
As we have been reporting on ArcheAge
over the last few days, it has been a hot mess
for North American servers ever since Revelation
and the fresh start servers went live this past weekend. So where are we at now that it is Tuesday?
Yesterday, Trion Worlds took the servers offline for a good portion of the day to perform hardware upgrades and perform a full restart of the authentication server to fix recurring issues (such as the “under maintenance” error). While the Aranzeb server came back online just fine, the Reckoning shard proved more problematic and took the team working on it until the deep hours of the night before it started to stabilize.
“While Reckoning’s population has stabilized, we’re still working on making the queue and login experience significantly healthier,” the team announced on Twitter. It doesn’t mean that everything is fully operational: Even at in the wee hours of this morning, the team said that it was still working on problematic issues, including disconnects and the omnipresent queue.
Not all is rainbows, unicorns, and talking dragons over in the land of RIFT
these days. Serious concerns have arisen about the MMO following the release of Starfall Prophecy
, and in a well-organized thread on the forums
, players have taken Trion Worlds
to task for what they are calling a rushed, half-finished expansion.
“It shouldn’t have been launched, it clearly wasn’t ready,” the original poster said. “Minions and IAs, previously implemented systems, broke when the game launched, but on top of the countless bugs and being unable to finish story quests, half of the features announced with expansion were not ready for the live client as in they were disabled at launch. Yes, there are always bugs at launch of a new game. That’s nothing new, but there is a vast difference between bugs and launching with half the features of the expansion disabled.”
While RIFT: Starfall Prophecy
was originally scheduled to run an open beta back on October 13th, Trion Worlds
decided to delay the test
until an unspecified future date. Last night we got the word that Trion has settled on a new date: tomorrow, October 20th
So why the delay in the first place? “The short answer is that it [wasn’t] ready to welcome hordes of players yet. We want the focus and feedback to be on content and features, not tech issues, and I think our fellow players prefer to wait for a good experience,” CM Linda Carlson told Massively OP last week.
There’s a changing of the guard this week in RIFT’s
community management team. Long-time steward Eric “Ocho” Cleaver
has left Trion Worlds
to be a director at an unnamed company, putting an end to nearly three years as CM for the MMO. With the departure of Cleaver comes Linda “Brasse” Carlson
to take up the reins as RIFT’s
newest community manager.
“As of today, I am your RIFT Community Manager in addition to being Director of Community here at Trion,” Carlson wrote in her introduction. “I love RIFT and have nine characters ranging from level 15 to 61 (yeah, yeah, I’m slow, I am a roleplayer with too many alts!). More than half of these are Dwarves — I can’t help myself. I am just starting in PvP thanks to my friend Wren, but I know the rest of the game really well… although admittedly not as well as some of you folks.”
The recent decision by Trion Worlds to set up what many see as a gear-related paywall in RIFT certainly has cause quite the discussion this week. The studio hasn’t been ignoring the controversy, but unleashed Director of Community Relations Linda “Brasse” Carlson on the forums to lay out the case for Trion’s balancing of its need to finance operations versus its desire to provide as much as possible for free.
“RIFT is not dying, not by a long shot. What is happening now is a shift in how we ask for support to keep the game healthy and moving in the right direction,” Carlson wrote, going on to state that only a small percentage (seven to 15%) of players subscribe or purchase items from the cash shop. She said that she wished the studio had rolled in the new changes more gradually but didn’t apologize for the company’s need to make bank.