ArcheAge: Scott Hartsman talks Beta, Patch 1.2, design philosophy and "pay to win"
Scott Hartsman is CEO at Trion Worlds and ArcheAge Executive Producer, and he took some time to answer a few questions about the beta and the upcoming changes on the road to release. He also talks about the monetization model and the differences in market regions.
If you are an active player in the alpha-test of ArcheAge you may have recognized that a lot of people have a dislike for the latest additions of Update 1.2 and want to know what's coming up next. ArcheAge Executive Producer Scott Hartsman managed to free up some space in his busy schedule to answer a few questions about upcoming updates, the collaboration with ArcheAge developer XL Games, difficulties, item shop in terms of "pay to win" angst, housing areas and a lot more stuff.
Hinweis an die buffed-Leser: Wundert ihr euch über den englischsprachigen Beitrag hier auf der Seite? Wir denken, dass ein Interview mit Scott Hartsman über ArcheAge und den aktuell wichtigen Fragen zu Patch 1.2, der Beta und dem Item Shop möglicherweise auch für die englischsprachige Community des Sandpark-MMOs interessant ist. Englischsprachige Spieler sollen nicht ausgeschlossen werden und deshalb findet ihr hier die Original-Version des Interviews. Hier entlang geht's zur deutschsprachigen Übersetzung des ArcheAge-Interviews.
Interview Scott Hartsman talks ArcheAge
buffed: Can you please explain in a short sentence why ArcheAge is in your opinion the perfect game for Fans of MMORPG?
Scott Hartsman: I don't think a short sentence exists that could do the game the justice it deserves - The scope of the game is truly overwhelming. If you've been missing the sandbox experience in the AAA world, or you've played themeparks and are looking for deeper player to player conflict and cooperation, or you're new entirely and just want to play the best, most attractive open-ended MMO, then ArcheAge may be exactly what you're looking for.
Want to raise your own pet? Own boats and take them to war? Have a farm? Craft the best items in the game? Build a castle with your guild? Glide off a mountain? If those things sound fun to you, it's absolutely worth it to give ArcheAge a look.
Scott Hartsman: Trion is doing very well, thank you. :) RIFT has been a fantastic success for us, and as we've all seen from time to time, following an initial success, very smart people can sometimes take on too much at one time. While correcting for that was a painful part of the company's past, it is definitely precisely that - All in the past.
Scott Hartsman: Today, we have players all across the globe playing four games of ours, a platform that new companies are signing on with every week, with ten new partners already signed onto it, and even more great things coming in the future.
buffed: Some people stopped believing that ArcheAge will be released for the western market because it took so much time since Korean launch. What was the hardest part on the road to release?
Scott Hartsman: As ArcheAge is our first partnered game, I think we underestimated the amount of synchronized technology efforts (those where we have to be working on something at the exact same time as XLGAMES) that would be needed.
While the text translations have been underway for a long time, the technology efforts required more dedicated time than the teams expected, and the teams weren't able to start on them until later in the process than we both would have liked. We've made up a lot of ground in the last six months, and everything is coming along very nicely now.
buffed: At the moment 1.2 is on the test server – is this already release status or do we see and play another update until launch?
Scott Hartsman: There will be more updates between now and launch - Some will be text updates, others will be feature additions, others will be updates from testing data and feedback.
buffed: How big is the influence of Trion on changing features and content in upcoming Patches from XL Games?
Scott Hartsman: We collaborate with XLGAMES' teams regularly, and their head of ArcheAge has assured us repeatedly that his teams are there to help us in our requests. Honestly, we learn as much (if not more!) from them about their markets and original design intent as they do from us about our customers.
Our version already has a number of westernization updates in it compared to what has gone on in the Korea and China locales. Primarily in terms of balancing trade, labor points. Some of the biggest changes have been in MTX, where the relative tastes in the markets are very different from west to east. And the XLGAMES teams have been doing very well at helping us realize our intent.
What kind of problems did you f ght regarding translation and adjusting the game to western play style? What general adjustments are necessary to fit the western play style in detail and what is possible in the future regarding to westernization?
Scott Hartsman: The sheer magnitude of the game was the first big challenge, as we had to dive deeply into every game system both in internal play and with our alpha testers before we could feel confident that we had come up with the best customizations.
Some specific examples that we've worked toward have been:
- Ensuring that trade remains a viable and satisfying playstyle path, which XL has been happy to help support
- Working with XL to release with their version of 1.2, which is a large universal upgrade for everyone
- Since we have a wider variety of geographic territory (spanning almost half a globe), ensuring that we'd get ping dependent skills
- Culturally, in systems such as player social justice -- where players can be entrusted to arrest other players -- what we immediately saw in our alpha was never abused in Korea. Western players had no problem just going straight for the throat and using the Report Botters function in combination with a function of the justice system, to get ships' pilots thrown right off of their ships mid-combat. That system had to be seriously updated for the western audience. :)
- For questers, making sure that there's a sufficient feeling of reward, in that our quests now give players enough Gilda Stars to achieve their entry level housing and ship plans
- Balancing Labor for a world that doesn't restrict account creation based off of their national citizen ID, like Korea does.
- And we continue evaluating and revising every test, based on the way players actually play the game.
So, let's talk about the Item Shop. I think you managed to develop a very fair system for the players in Rift. Will there be any differences in comparison to the Shop in Rift and what Items are available in the future? What are the plans with the Labor-System? Some people are nervous and think you are going to sell Labor-Pots and so players without buying them have no chance at all to build a farm or make gold in an acceptable amount of time.
Scott Hartsman: It absolutely follows the same AAA F2P philosophy that we pioneered in RIFT where we give away as much as we can, without putting up geographical pay-gates, and making sure you're always able to play with your friends. In Rift, we focus primarily on Convenience, Cosmetics, and Catch-up (to your friends) gear, and avoid being P2W that way.
In ArcheAge, since it's brand new, we're focusing primarily on Convenience and Cosmetics, while making modifications for its unique gameplay elements. For example: in ArcheAge, unlike Rift, land is a scarce resource, and in the F2P world, people can make infinite accounts. And also in ArcheAge, the best gear is crafted, so crafting needs to have some amount of pacing applied to it to prevent the game being dominated by bots.
The underlying philosophy remains true - We want to be as generous as we possibly can and let the games' quality speak for themselves, while protecting real human players from the legions of bots out there. (We've already banned over 17,000 attempted botter accounts in alpha alone, so the limitations we do put in place are legitimately important to keep the game healthy.)
As for labor specifically, it's our desire to steer the game more toward a Patron (optional sub) and APEX system (similar to Rift's REX) than an on-demand consumable system. We're continuously working with XLGAMES on the best ways to get as close to goals as possible in their game's existing framework.
buffed: Many people stated that it's really hard to make money as a trader or a pirate at the moment with the news adjustments from Patch 1.2 – can you calm them down a bit?
Scott Hartsman: 1.2 was a huge change to a lot of core systems! It definitely changes a lot of assumptions around - Since we'll be entering beta and launch with a clean base of 1.2, it isn't expected to be a problem in beta or live. All the same, we will be keeping an eye on this during beta to make sure it meets our assumptions for the level of fun here, and making adjustments as necessary. :)
buffed: Any plans to provide more Housing/Farming zones? – I can't find a nice spot for my new house on the old Alpha-Server – when the game releases there will be many more players searching for a claim and it will be very frustrating.
Scott Hartsman: When we had just the one Alpha server, there were definitely more people on the server than were supposed to be, which caused quite a lot of crowding. We actually had to triple the hardware to let that many on.
Now that we have the two alpha servers, the problem has been mitigated significantly. We'll definitely be keeping an eye on this throughout the betas, which will have even more servers.
buffed: However have a nice spot for my little scarecrow and don't want to lose it, which maybe is one of the reasons for the problem in my last question, but will it be possible to pay the tax in advance for more than two weeks?
Scott Hartsman: Good news! That feature is definitely on the roadmap - We will most likely see in a post launch update. I'm looking forward to that one too.
buffed: What are your plans for PvP in general and the Siege-System? Some people complain that guilds with enough money in the bank can prevent themselves from fighting with other guilds which is a big problem.
Scott Hartsman: It's come up in our conversations, and we're evaluating the best course of action here - The one good part is that when people do this, it does cause coin to exit the economy. We are still sensitive to the rich-get-richer scenarios, however.
buffed: When does Open Beta start and when does it come out?
Scott Hartsman: That will depend on how the earlier betas go! Let us get through the first one of those. :)
buffed: Are you going to wipe characters after Open Beta?
Scott Hartsman: Yes - Following Open Beta there will be a wipe, such that the Head Start and Launch phases can begin with a clean slate with all founders on equal footing.
buffed: Anything more you want to tell our community?
Scott Hartsman: We're really looking forward to seeing all of our German friends in ArcheAge! We promise that we're working extremely hard on making sure your language is well represented, in the AAA manner that it deserves. We're extremely grateful for your patience as we get better and better throughout beta!
Responses by Scott Hartsman, Trion Worlds CEO & ArcheAge Executive Producer