Inven KR has released an article/interview about ArcheAge’s portion at the Nexon Development Coference in Korea. I have translated that article for y’all. I’m sure there’s a few interpretation errors, but I tried my best! It’s pretty much line to line (although I have combined some paragraphs.
What’s in for ArcheAge for Its 5th Year?
ArcheAge, which started its OBT in January 2013, is now five years old. The online game market has been growing slowly but steadily.
There are many things to worry about a game despite its genre – maintenance, putting out new content, or changing up content that has been out. It’s like renovating an old house. Fixing the wallpaper, repairing a creaky board in the floor – it’s like that in game too. It’s important that the team provides good, stable service to players. Developing and maintaining a game is not as easy as one would expect.
On the 25th, in NDC 2017 in Korea, the leader of ArcheAge’s planning team had a talk about the direction ArcheAge was heading for its fifth year of service.
(I have summarized the contents of the lecture.)
Before the Talk… (from the speaker’s perspective)
I will tell a personal story. I joined XLGames in 2007, developed ArcheAge by 2012, and launched it then.
Prior to that, I went to Laos, which is famous for young people rather than older folk. I’ve went to some memorable performances at the Gangnam Station. At that time, I had a health checkup too.
Some of my family members died of cancer, but fortunately I was able to overcome it with surgery. I have glaucoma in my left eye, and it can’t really be helped, but I’ve been taking the medicine for it and it’s slowly getting better.
Although this is the NDC Talk, feel free to ask me about this sickness and about my hospital stay. It’s true that my condition is not the best, but I want people to know that things like this do happen, and that you should treat it as soon as you can.
With this, I’m going to pretend like I’m a doctor diagnosing and treating a patient, which is the company’s relationship with the playerbase.
What Are the Four Key Elements of the Update?
As mentioned earlier, we need to see what we need to do to help our patient. What if we applied it to ArcheAge? This would be the step where we identify the problem.
In the midst of drama, when the patient is told that they have a serious illness all of the sudden, like cancer or leukemia, their response might be “Are you sure?” or “But I’m healthy…”
If someone can’t accept the reality right then, they will have less time to get treated and they will grow more ill. ArcheAge, which is now in its fifth year, had had a lot of updates, but not all were favored by the players. Of course, there were some good ones, but there were definitely some that people did not like.
It’s necessary that we refer to the data, reactions and opinions of our players to see what parts of the game need to be improved.
What We Aim to Do This Year:
- Try to make our updates a bit more satisfying so that players can “accept” them easily.
- Know how to respond to the players’ complaints and issues, and learn to prioritize them better.
- Assure the players that everything is going to be okay.
- Bring in ideas from players and mix them with the development team’s plans so both parties can reach a consensus.
By doing this, our “patients” can see areas in their life that they need to improve depending on their symptoms and condition.
There are some limiting factors, however, like our manpower and time, so we have to deal with the issues according to their importance and priority. Going back to the idea of treating an illness, it’s similar. You have to decide what is urgent and what can be put off for a small bit of time.
In the case of war, it’s much alike to someone being operated on for a wounded person, or a follow-up after an emergency treatment. It’s important to keep a positive mindset and that you’re progressing, because ultimately, you’re going to report and share the information with you patients or players.
How Did the Update Go?
I realized that there needs to be a community among the team… A feeling of togetherness. That was when I became the lead of the planning team.
I tried to make everyone feel more comfortable among each other by encouraging everyone to adopt a nickname. It was something that a lot of other companies did, but when I implemented that into the team, they didn’t really do that. We weren’t the most social at that time.
But now, we share our ideas and opinions freely among ourselves. It’s not awkward anymore. For example, in the past, there’s been multiple incidents such as canceled or delayed flights. When I figured out the root of the problem, I wanted to tell the captain or the upper on the team. I was just an assistant manager back then. This just shows that the lack of communication can lead to failure.
There’s about 20 members on the planning team, so it’s fairly small. Sometimes, I wasn’t too familiar with the other teams back then, so I made a place for the teams to come together and talk.
Even so, there’s still a possibility that some players will not be able to understand the current state of the game.
A great example of that was when we released “Orchidna’s Hatred” (Revelation update), which added new races and skills back in July 2016. At that time, we have ran the game for three and a half years. Our goal for that update was to attract new players.
When I looked at why people left in the game in the first place, I was watching about a quarter of players who enjoy farming and crafting (PvE), and the rest I was watching the people who like to PvP. I call the people who enjoy the calmer lifestyle “herbivores”, and the PvPers the “carnivores”. But one thing I noticed, after a careful study, was that about 99% of the players were “herbivores”, with a fair number that enjoyed PvP-related content.
In other words, to make the game easy to transition into for new players, we added more of the PvE content, since our data showed that.
That is why we decided to make newer characters able to level up quickly. From doing this, we noticed that players who rolled as a Dwarf or Warborn did not just leave the game shortly after they felt that they were done. In fact, that percentage of the abandonment of characters of the Dwarf or Warborn race was smaller than those of the four original races.
We also added the new Hatred Ability (Abyssal Skills) and cost system, and we shared a lot of the upcoming info with our players at real-life meetings (and the video that came out with it) or on AmiGO!. Sometimes, I thought the video was more eye-catching than just reading plain text, so we provided both to suit our players, while providing the same information.
Likewise, the labor point system was adjusted to allow players who were new to the game to catch up to our veteran players.
But as a result of that, labor seemed like an endless resource, and in turn, the number of vocation badges that people had skyrocketed. We noticed that Bait Worms were a popular item, so we changed the way of obtaining them and made them a bit more expensive.
On the other hand, some things like trading and commerce, which plays an important role in ArcheAge’s economy, was classified as something that can be improved over time. Eventually, in a patch in January of this year, we implemented that improvement.
In fact, in ArcheAge, nearly 60% of the gold that’s created in the game comes from commerce. With the updates, we’ve reduced it to 40%.
Additionally, when equipment is destroyed during regrades, we had a go at trying to improve the success rate of regrades. We did this because players were sad or angry when their equipment broke, and it was for players who were afraid of regrading for they feared the risk of the regrade failing. We’ve increased the probability for a successful regrade and the failure probability decreased.
Another thing we have done was the reorganization of item production. Originally, production of goods was simple and cheap. When the update came out, players didn’t accept the changes in crafting at first, but eventually, they began to conform to the new ways.
Lastly (but certainly not the least!), raids and PvP are integral to ArcheAge, as they lead to zones going through the war and peace cycle. (belheblehhelhalefhef)
Communicating With the Players
As mentioned earlier, communication with the players is an important factor that helps us determine which direction the game needs to go.
As time went by, I am grateful to see that a number of players were actually married in the game. Whenever a wedding happened, players attended them. I think that one of the reasons that our players play ArcheAge is to listen to stories like these.
(Something about a wedding, not sure if it’s in real life or in game.)
Likewise, we do not forget to interact and leave feedback on the official website or on community sites.
ArcheAge, and Its Future
(Going to summarize this portion: the lead of the planning team is proud that he is able to lead it, and he is going to keep up his hard work.)
Q/A With the Speaker
How do you work with the other regions’ teams?
There are people in charge of the other regions’ game. Things like localization and PM tasks are done there. When we do class balancing, the publishers can request a different version of it to suit their version. There’s a ton of different things coming out from each region, but sometimes I reflect on them.
Do you have disagreements or opposition with the publishers?
Although there are differences among the regions, in general people seem to enjoy the game. The Chinese version seems to show the biggest difference out of all of the regions, as they like to do dungeons and PvP, and not partake in the other aspects of the game.
What’s the feedback in general from the players?
There is a lot of negative feedback in the community. It’s because the people who are generally unsatisfied are few in number.
However, their feedback is taken into account, along with player trends, data and their play style.
What updates are available in the North American version of the game?
Orchidna’s Hatred (Revelation) was updated after the event.
I am curious about the number of players at the beginning of the update…
At the beginning of the update, a lot of players joined or returned. A number have not played ArcheAge before. I think working with Nexon had a positive effect with the number of players.
How do you advertise to attract new and returning users?
Since we do not collect personal information, we mainly target players who enjoy games and ArcheAge. Events that happen also attract players, but we usually add it to the game as content so people have a higher chance of staying.
How else do you market the game?
Recently, we’ve been using Facebook.
Do you update the patch to favor the “herbivorous” (PvE focused players) or the “carnivores” (PvP focused players)?
As mentioned before, we focus on the “herbivores”. In ArcheAge, we try to suit it more for the “herbivorous” players.