Trion: Still Fumbling With Public Relations Four Years Later

Almost four years ago I got that the infamous email about the Rift Beta. The one that indicated that I had gotten into the Beta, but actually was just announcing that Beta was starting. Fast forward to ArcheAge, a game I want to be in so badly that I created a mail.ru account so I could play on the Russian server, but not quite so bad that I was willing to pay $150 for the Alpha test. And, so, fast forward to this new email 10 days ago, a week before the first Beta event:

ArcheAge Closed Beta starts next week – reserve your spot today!

That’s fairly normal. But since the cheapest Beta package is going for $50 (and honestly, as I’ve mentioned before, its a terrible deal value wise), which is more than I have paid for any MMO since I don’t know when, and since I already get to play it (albeit without understanding much of what is going on around me), that’s not happening. But, the email reminds me, you don’t have to buy in, people will be selected. I was probably one of the first people to sign up with Trion for information, and I’ve Alpha and Beta tested for them before, so I figured I probably had a good shot at the Beta. And sure enough, I got this email a few days later:

Closed Beta begins…right now

Yes….Closed Beta! It begins RIGHT NOW…oh…no. Yes, it begins RIGHT NOW. But NOT FOR ME. Because SURPRISE, WE STILL SUCK AT PUBLIC RELATIONS. Yeesh.

Look, I am not upset that I didn’t get in. I’ve seen more of the game than most. I just don’t like gettin’ my chain yanked. Twice. By the same company. And this time I’m sure there will be no Scott Hartsman riding in on a white horse to save the day.

Meanwhile, In Korea…

ArcheAge receives a level cap increase and a skill revamp. Here in America, we get…

An official game site that has not been updated in at least the last 13 months (that I’ve been checking), and that links to three fan sites, two of which are dead. Actually, I take that back, Trion did update their Beta website recently…to look exactly like the official site I linked above. Can you update to something over a year old? Is that really an update?

Here is a screen shot of the new website...that I originally uploaded 356 days ago.
Here is a screen shot of the new website…that I originally uploaded 356 days ago.

That third fan site is actually pretty good and strong, with a nice set of forums and updates as the sparse trickle of information comes. But a quick glance at the forums will tell you that most of them have given up and gone on to find ways to play in Korea (protip: not as easy or legal as you might think or hope – believe me, I’ve looked into it) or have given up on waiting at all.

I’m about in the same place myself. Even if ArcheAge is the only MMO ever with a “Writer” class.

A Very Late 2012 Predictions Review

It dawned on my today that I never reviewed my 2012 predictions.  Probably because I decided not to do them for 2013, and promptly hid from myself the fact that I had done them last year.   But what the heck, after yesterday’s deep trip down memory lane, something light is called for.

 

1) FunCom will be FunCom…they will release a conceptually brilliant game long before it is ready, and oblivious to whether or not they have enabled their target audience to consume it

 

Well, The Secret World was clearly made for a certain target audience, and I would certainly consider the genre-bending TSW a conceptually brilliant game.  And they released it before it was ready.  None of this is surprising, and this counts as mostly a hit.  But…I think they did a great job prepping us for what kind of game it was and how it was going to play out.   This is a niche game and that was pretty clear in all counts, from the setting itself to the way characters were built, to the investigation and puzzle quests you encountered early on.  The only real headscratcher is why it wasn’t F2P to begin with –  I guess they needed a cash influx.  And I’m surprised they have not embraced more of the successful F2P options from other games – TSW would be the perfect game to introduce something like STO’s lockboxes or TOR’s cartel packs into.  But maybe scoring the latest pair of hotpants for your virtual Barbie doll is the most lucrative way to go.  How should I know?

 

2) Guild Wars will ship to much acclaim and joy, and find its niche…and then promptly fall off the radar, as people complete is PvE campaign in the course of a week and are left with nothing but hardcore PvP or the next $50 box drop.

 

Yes and no…GW2 apparently anticipated this and has made moves to put some emphasis and elbow grease into their dungeon system.  The end result seems to have pleased some people.  I’m not sure how big of a slice of the PvP pie its taking though.   I can’t imagine its all that much, or games like Darkfall and Camelot Unchained (or Defiance and PlanetSide 2 for that matter) would probably be crying and shaking their fists.  Still, I gotta call this one a miss.  There is plenty of PvE space to explore and the game is reasonably healthy – not to mention it is arguably a bigger success than its predecessor.

 

3) World of Warplanes Beta will come winging our way at some point during the year.  My guess is that it will not be nearly the success that World of Tanks has been.  Primarily because the inclusion of joystick support indicates that the basic keyboard controls are going to be awkward, and lets face it, that’s what most people use.  Again..that whole “know your target audience” mentality.

 

I actually have been in WoW since Alpha – it just took me awhile to find the invitation in my spam box.  :-p  And we are still under NDA, so I can’t tell you anything about this prediction really.

 

In other, completely unrelated news, I am considering downloading War Thunder.

 

ETA:  The NDA was actually dropped a few days ago and I missed it.   So I can be less subtle now – World of Warplanes is a mess.  It can’t decide if it wants to be an arcade shooter or a flight sim, and the parts of the World of Tanks model that were “adopted” in are problematic as well.   End result – people who came for arcade are frustrated, people who came for a flight sim are bored, and people who came from WoT are quickly in over their head.  Sign up and give it a try for yourself, but for my two cents, its a crash and burn.

ETA AGAIN: Turns out, they manage to fix World of Warplanes at the 11th hour, and I freaking love it. Who knew?

 

4) Dawntide may not survive another year.

It didn’t.  The website is still up but the game is all but dead.  Its a shame too, it was a very well designed sandbox.  I would have loved to live in it a while.

5) Sony will find a new flagship.  They have to, right?  I’m shocked that Everquest 3  took so long to get off the ground, even in whispered rumor form.  To be the advance they want it to be will require a full development cycle, which means we are looking at another 4 years probably before it hits.  So part B is this: I fully expect Sony to pick up distribution rights to ArchAge Online.  They have shown no qualms about bringing other people’s developments into their fold (Vanguard, Pirates of the Burning Sea).  Pairing this with a PlanetSide 2 launch would mean fresh blood in the Sci Fi and Fantasy domains.  That’s not to say that ArchAge comes out way in 2012, but I think it will find a home in this time period (call that part C if you will).

ArcheAge found its home with Trion – a good move and I think AA and Trion both will profit from it (and word is it will hit this year).  Sony let PotBS go, and seems to be relying solely on PS2 as its flagship game these days.  Star Wars – The Clone Wars Adventures (“the other Star Wars MMO”) got a quiet makeover while nobody was looking, and now it really is an MMO instead of just being an ambulated amalgam of minigames.  Much to my son’s chagrin, when he started a new trooper character and had to quickly learn how to shoot his way through droids, follow maps and quest points, and do all this if he wanted to get to some of those minigames that he knows and loves.  Quite honestly, I wonder now if EQ3 will ever see the light of day.   Call me a doubter at this point.  But don’t call that a prediction.  Please?

6)  Titan will lose its codename and we will began to get some information on it.  Quite frankly, my belief is that if you’ve been holding it in your backpocket for over four years, without even giving a hint of what it is, its just as likely rotten eggs as it is a hit.   But I’ll be curious to see what’s been rattling around in the heads of Blizzard and whether or not this is the time to unveil it.

Everything I said about Titan above is what leads me to believe that EQ3 is in the same boat.  The drivel of information is tiny, and both those games have been in development for over a full cycle now.  Entire MMO’s have been conceived, incubated, and birthed in the time that we’ve been waiting for information about these two.  That can’t mean good things, because as I’ve learned over the last few years – if its ready to talk about it, companies will trip over themselves doing so.  And if its not, they will do and say anything to put a sheen over the fact that its ugly as sin or broken as a wagon with square wheels.

Most/Least Anticipated and Biggest Fail.

WildStar still looks terrible – but it didn’t launch in 2012.  And it turned out what became my biggest anticipation became my biggest fail – and its one I haven’t said one peep about.  Mechwarrior Online is terrible.  The game will be good one day, like, a year from now.  But they took money and made promises, and its going to be a long time before they deliver.   And they did a great job getting lots of people to part with their money by promising all sorts of grand things, like launching 8 months ago (the game is still in beta) and giving us tons of mechs (I think they might be up to their original twelve now).   And the game itself?  The UI is so bad  – or rather so nonexistent and uninformative, that you might as well be doing freeform roleplaying  on your neared RPG forums.   You will have no idea what’s wrong, how much armor you have left, why you missed, what your heat level will change by, and where anyone is.   And good luck communicating with your teammates.   Oi.

And Guild Wars 2?   Well, I have no real beef with it.  But I also just can’t seem to get into it.  It bores me.  And I hate that I have to go running back to the capital city every couple of levels for a new storyline quest.   And the races, outside of humans, are fugly and awkward to watch.  Okay, so maybe I have a few things against it, but overall its a good game.  Its just not my cup of tea right now.

Anyway, there is your 1300+ word wall of text for today.   Enjoy.  Maybe tomorrow I’ll have some screenshots to balance it out!

Like Attracts Like: Trion Announces It Will Publish ArcheAge

Plato was right it seems.  I commented on a Jake Song interview about ArcheAge Online awhile back that they sounded like they had great plans and all their ducks in a row, and that it seemed remarkably similar to the way Trion operated.  And that that was a very good thing.

 

And today we learned that the ball has started rolling towards bringing us ArcheAge in the west – and that Trion will be the ones doing the rolling.

 

Don’t give me too much credit though.  I started my musings on a Western developer by deciding that Trion wouldn’t touch it, because of the similarities to Rift and development style.  Boy was I wrong, and I don’t think I’ve ever been happier about a gaming mistake I’ve made than right now.

 

You can read further details here.   Including the interesting news that ArcheAge, like Vanguard, is using separate continents in the game world to divide art styles.  In other words, if you like the game but aren’t a fan of Manga….ArcheAge has a continent for you.

Rift’s New Deal: Something No One Has Picked Up On Yet?

I’ve seen some good coverage of Trion’s move to offer the Storm Legion expansion for free if you pony up for a year long sub.   Some good discussion about whether or not its worth it in the end.   And some good reminders that Trion continues to take what others do and both copy and improve on what it sees.

Like oversexed celebrity spokeswomen.

It was the former though that got me thinking about one thing that Trion has done right that we so often complain about.   This deal with the Storm Legion pack is a great promotion, because unlike many others done by other MMO’s – it most directly benefits current subscribers.   As Flosch points out, you really have to play 7 or 8 months to come out ahead in the promotion.   That’s something that is great for the loyal subscribers who love the game and are sticking with it long term.   Its not as enticing to those who are new or who are half-hearted in their dedication.

And please note this is a little different than Blizzard’s Diablo III offer because the free program here is a direct benefit of the game you love, giving you lots of extra content for it, rather than stealing your precious time away into a side project.

I think we’ve all said this before, but…would that Bioware had taken a good look around itself in the last year or two, the shroud of the dark side might not have fallen as hard and fast as it did.

https://i0.wp.com/www.mondespersistants.com/images/screenshots/Star_Wars_The_Old_Republic-56954.jpg
Execute Order F2P

Loyatly is more than just Veteran Rewards.   Its listening, crafting opportunities to reward those who invest time and effort, and regular feedback and thanks in return for what is given.   Trion does that as well or better than anyone afloat right now, and its a part of what makes them as successful as they have been.  Others…take note!

State of My Game: July ’11

What I’m Playing

Rift.  I’m currently trucking through my 29th level as a Cleric, and for once, alt-itis has not really struck.  Kudos for the billionth time to Trion for making a character creation system that has loads of flexibility.  I currently have a casual questing role (Justical/Sentinal/Inquisitor), a raiding healer role (Sentinal/Warden/Purifier), and a third role that I swap out for fun when I get bored.  Right now its kind of a farming role – a Cabalist/Purifier mix with the third soul (with 0 points of course) being rotated as needed to keep things fresh.   The world events and “programming” unleashed by Trion are excellent.  I think some of us questioned if this new variation on Public Questing was going to be problematic, but its so dynamic and fun, it seems hard now in retrospect to even try to compare them.  I have some minor quibbles, but nothing worth writing about at this time.  And I have to say thank you again to Trion for spoiling us bloggers by bringing us along on the ride from the very early phases.

World of Tanks.  Not only did I get sucked in, when 9 months ago I would have told you there was no way I was playing this game, but so did my brother and dad.  The end result has been mayhem.  A full three man platoon to roll with any night I want to.  I wanted a full on gaming group as one of my goals this year, I just didn’t realize it would take this form in this game!  Speficially, since launch I have dedicated myself to US Heavy tanks.  Initially I wanted the T29, as I admired it in Beta, and specifically the way a skilled player could capitalize on its strengths and minimize its weaknesses (incidentally, from my win % in her, I’m going to admit I’m not a skilled player lol).  But when the full tree changes were announced and I realized that if I just dug a little deeper, I could grab a tier 8 premium in the T34 – and specifically, have a nice premium tank that looked and played just like the T29, I had my goal set.  Currently, I have enough XP to grab it, but since the patch is still 2+ months away, I’m sitting on the free XP I’ve converted and started working my way up the Russian and US medium lines.  And here I confess that I am a medium tank player at heart.  My win % and XP earned stats on medium tanks is consistently higher than with the US heavies.   The patches continue to improve the game, and I think concerned about matchmaking are over rated.  WoT still needs to do more to address the “invisible tank” problem, but other than that, they are in good shape.

What I’m Testing

Nothing.  I’m actually not currently in any Beta’s or testing programs at the moment.  I was never able to get Gods and Heroes working, so…I can’t really tell you if it was good or not.  Perpetuum still intrigues me, but since I have no itch to play EVE at the moment (even less with Incarna out – I don’t get the whole desire or issue myself), I’ve put it on hold as well.

So, if you need someone to play and test (or write about) your game or your Beta, give me a yell.

What I’m Not Going to Talk About…okay, yes I am.

The Old Republic.  Seven months ago, I went ahead and joined a TOR guild, thinking it would help keep a check on my impatience for the game to come out, and help me settle into some good relationships for a game that, by all accounts seems to be just as fanatically multi-player as it is fanatically single-player (how these two worlds will mesh in reality is still a good question I think).   I recall thinking that I wasn’t sure I could wait another 4-6 months for the game to come out.  I was concerned that my brother would not be back from Russia in time (he spend the first 6 months of this year living over there) to be in the game at launch with me.   But mostly I was worried because there was every indication that the game was not actually 4-6 months away.  For those who don’t believe me, I have a draft of a post I wrote but never published (happens more often than you think) from last October, arguing those points.  And I was right.   And it dawned on me yesterday that there is still no indication that the game is no closer to launching than it was last Fall.  In other words, I have patiently made it through the time I wasn’t sure I would make it through, only to find that I have made no progress whatsoever.  This is another definition of hell is it not?  Add to this the multiple confirmations that the game will have no Open Beta (riddle me that one Batman…) and this means that launch will be launch, with no teaser a month before to scratch the itch.

To put this in perspective for you: would you be surprised if there was an announcement that the target date was moved to next Spring (2012)?  Me either.

I’m not sure what else to do here other than keeping marking time.  And my stance is well documented – the longer this takes, the more they push it back (and don’t let them kid you, it has been pushed back, whether they published an official date or not), the worse things are.  You can argue that if you like, but MMO history is clear, and the burden of proof otherwise rests squarely on the backs of EA Bioware.  And the other half of my stance is well documented also: worried though I may be, rooting for them I am.