This post was written during my second run at Archeage, the first having been terminated prematurely by the advent of WoD. Now that all my toons in WoW are at max level and geared, I have much more free time to devote to other pursuits - I only need to log onto WoW once or twice a week to grind Conquest. I decided to give AA another bash - despite all the negative reviews surrounding the game my experience has been nothing but positive, and I wished to at least hit the level cap before calling it quits. My first run in AA ended with my avatar owning two small 8x8 farms at the foothills of the Windscour Savannah, and her progression halted at level 41. The first three posts of this series chronicled Hatakeyama's wanderings during the first run - the subsequent posts will detail her adventures in the second.
|Hatakeyama returns to AA during the festive season.|
When Hatakeyama returned to her small dusty holdings at the foot of the Windscour Mountains, she found to her dismay that they were no longer hers. She had been evicted for failing to pay her taxes, so she was once again a landless, penniless vagabond, a rough miner by trade without clear prospects or direction. Forearmed with knowledge now, however, she wasted no time in riding her Leomorph around the circumference of the savannah, looking for places where she could replace her farms. Fortunately the Windscour Savannah seemed to have gained an ill reputation amongst the denizens of general chat, as evidenced by the transcript below. Compounded by the fact that many players had deserted AA for the cultural juggernaut that is WoW, I reckoned her chances of finding a suitable spot were much better now than in the early land rush which accompanied the game's release.
Hatakeyama's search was not in vain. Windscour's reputation meant that there were vacant plots available here and there, and it didn't take long for Hatakeyama to find a new spot to put down two 8x8's (her plot and her alt Beorn's). She couldn't believe her good fortune - in contrast to her previous holdings, which were situated miles from any available amenities, these two farms were literally beside the vendors and the warehouses. She wasted no time claiming them, and as a celebration, she planted a few stands of cherry trees around her plot to thank the capricious gods of Archeage. She was then ganked by a passing red, but she didn't care - she was a land owner again, even if it this province was considered to be the ghetto. She was an immigrant after all, and immigrants historically begin their journeys in places disdained by the middle class and the well-to-do. This was an advance on scrabbling and scratching a living on hidden farms in haunted manses, and Hatakeyama was happy to have it.
It was during this time that Hatakeyama finally met Noisy (Adam from The Noisy Rogue). Despite having played on the same server since October, December was the first time that our paths had crossed in-game. We had both followed Syncaine of Hardcore Casual into the game, joined his guild, and then watched with bemusement as Syncaine fell out of love with AA as quickly as he had fallen in love with it. From initially labelling the game "the spiritual successor of Ultima Online" he has since concluded that "good design can't overcome a bad business model and stupidity" and takes pot shots at AA at every opportunity. He's not alone - J3w3l of Healing the Masses has also fallen out love with the game, despite lavishing it with early praise, and Alysianah of Mystic Worlds, while not giving up on the title, has changed her status to F2P as protest for what she sees as the game's many ills. I'm not going to argue with their criticisms, because a lot of it is justified. I have since concluded however, that the perfect MMO in my brain will never likely be made, and nowadays I now try to weight the pros and cons of each title to see whether it is worth my time. AA has pulled me back in, which means that there is something I like about this game despite all the bad press surrounding it.
So Hatakeyama is back - for now, at least. She was given a re-invite back to <Unreal Aussies> after being kicked out for inactivity. AA is an old school MMO, which means that socialisation actually improves and enhances your gameplay. People who think PvP games are anti-social are flat out wrong - shared danger and mutual gain are powerful factors which compel socialisation, and are much more natural drivers than LFG and OQueue. For now though I have little to offer my guild - I hope to become a decent healer one of these days, and join the guild on a trade run or roam so I can be of some use. It's funny how you can tell what game players come from from the vocabulary they use. I instantly pegged a guildie as an EVE player due to his use of the word "primary". WoW PvPers use the word "focus" or "train" to express the same idea. Being a member of <Unreal Aussies> also introduced me to the phenomenon of cross-gaming guilds, something which I have seen but have not been part of yet. As a relative newcomer I'm focusing on soaking up information, keeping my ears open, and trying not be annoying. You never want to be that "guy" - the annoying newcomer who always has their hand out. So far however my new guild has been quite helpful - I'll detail more in later posts, because I don't want to get ahead of my narrative. Noisy also offered to take my avatar out on the ocean for the very first time on his brand new clipper, an offer which I gladly accepted. He even turned over the wheel to this landlubber, who repaid him by driving straight into a naval battle in progress.
"Erm...are those bad guys?" I asked, peering at the ships in confusion.
|Fleeing from pirates on Noisy's clipper.|
"Yes." Noisy replied. I had to admire his restraint - if I had been him I would have been shitting myself and screaming turn the boat around now FOR THE LOVE OF GOD. Instead, he very calmly said, "Just turn around, and head straight for the coast." Which I did, as best I could. Which was not as easy as it first appeared, as I had removed my turn left and turn right keys from my keybindings, in an attempt to transition to mouse turning. Luckily, Reck, another Kiwi on TeamSpeak, told me I could navigate with the arrow keys. Boats handle fairly realistically in AA - they don't turn on a dime, and you have to gauge the degree of your turns to get the boat going in the direction you want. I managed to get the boat on the right heading, and after a few tense moments, we were once again back in the safe waters of the coast.
This encounter did nothing to dampen Hatakeyama's love of the sea, and in fact, only fuelled her desire to get a seafaring vessel of her own. Noisy was able to give me some advice on how to acquire the plans on the AH, and how to raise some gold. He also alerted me to the fact that Hatakeyama was unwittingly sitting on a fortune of raw stone.
"You're a miner, right?" he queried.
"Stone bricks sell for about 45 gold per stack."
A cursory check of my inventory revealed that I had over 10 stacks in my inventory, and after a brief and anxious struggle with the AH interface, Hatakeyama was transformed from a penniless pauper into a woman with a stake. Mining serves two purposes for me in AA - as a way to gain experience (I'd levelled from 35 to 45 chiefly by logging on and mining), as well as a means to dump Labor. Who knew that the humble raw stones accrued along the way were going to become her main source of revenue? I guess when people are building houses and consuming Hereafter Stones to teleport from zone to zone it creates an endless demand for stone. All those hours spent mining in the Anvilton mountains had been worth it. Just pure dumb luck that I had chosen to mine as a way of levelling.
|Hatakeyama constructing her very own clipper.|
Hatakeyama knew exactly what she wanted to do with her newly won gold. She acquired the plans for a harpoon clipper from the AH, and then set about buying the materials required to fabricate her very own seafaring vessel. She made her way to the port of Austera, created her own dry dock, and set about manufacturing her own ship. There was another anxious moment when she brought the packs down to the dry dock in the wrong order, and she was forced to stash her fabric pack at the end of a dingy alley and hope that no one would find and walk away with it. She quickly created an iron pack and hauled it down to the dock as fast as her donkey would allow, then darted back to the alley, recovered her fabric pack, and then brought it to her ship.
|The clipper takes shape after Hatakeyama lugs shipments of iron, lumber and fabric to the dry dock.|
The ship was completed shortly thereafter, and Hatakeyama was now a proud owner of her very own seafaring vessel. It cost her around 150 gold (50 for the plans, and a further 100 for mats) which for Hatakeyama, translates to about one and a half hours of mining - not really a grind at all, especially compared to some of the rep grinds I have undertaken in the past. According to my own limited knowledge, the harpoon clipper is one of the fastest ships in the Archeage armada. Unlike her sister, the adventure clipper which sports a single cannon on her starboard side, the harpoon clipper is armed with a harpoon which is used to anchor itself to enemy ships and to keep them from escaping or despawning. They serve the same function as tacklers in EVE Online. One of my AA dreams is to become involved in a naval battle - the larger the better. That would be an MMO dream come true.
|One of the proudest moments for this young Harani, as her new clipper slips her berth from the dry dock, and enters the sea for the very first time.|
Every ship needs a name however, and I played around with a few before finally deciding on the Miyagi. Japanese convention named battleships after provinces in their nation, and so I called the new ship Miyagi, after Miyagi-ken in the north-east part of Japan. The real Hatakeyama was born in Miyagi, and while the clipper is no battleship, it seemed to fit nicely. Besides, I also like how the name coincides with the name of Mr. Miyagi from The Karate Kid. Serendipity all around.
Now that Hatakeyama has a ship the world is her oyster, and immediately a course of action came to mind. She still had to complete one more trading quest to acquire her free 16x16 plot, and this entailed crossing the ocean and delivering a pack to a trader on hostile shores. I was going to swim it, the same way Noisy had, but now I had a ship of my own. Noisy and a couple of other guildies had already offered to take me there and to provide an escort, but I fobbed them off with excuses. This one she was going to do on her own.
|The Miyagi sets sail for lands unknown.|