Massive Multiplayer Online Games (MMOG) define a genre of games where many people come together to play a sandbox. However community is a something that many MMOG's lack, and this is something that is quite sad. In Archeage I saw a community being built from the ground up. Its pretty fun when you got to be involved with large groups of players to complete an objective that you couldn't do on your own like crossing the dangerous seas to trade packs, hunting world bosses, farming or gathering resources for large builds, castle raids and PVP.
Unfortunately it fell apart when the game launched, no thanks to the game publisher Trion, and their incompetence in managing Archeage's launch. They repeatly failed to deliver the game's core features and choosing to keep the labour point system when they localised the game was a major pitfall.
On the first day of early access, hundreds of Alpha access players queued up and waited for their turn to interact with a quest giver because of a bug that prevented everyone from doing so at the same time. This wasn't even a gamemaster led event. It was a known bug in the Alpha and reported by many players for the duration of the Alpha and beta testing, yet nothing was done about it. This wasn't even the first Archeage game launch. Archeage was launched in Korea and Russia a year ahead and this bug was persistent in the game launch which caused a lot of problems for the whole Archeage community!
This bug persisted for 18 hours on day 1 of the Archeage US launch affecting every single server and player. Trion emergency patched the problem quest, but it had already messed up the post launch plans of thousands of players hoping to score their first block of land. It took the combined efforts of dozens of players across multiple guilds and time zones on my server to maintain that 200+ people waiting in line (and lay the smackdown on anyone who queue jumped - like an automatic "kill on sight" by every guild participating in that event).
The player-led communities are the driving force behind many successful game environments, and i think most gamers long for that kind of community in any MMOG. This is why when a new game isn't fun, and there is no community to keep people sticking around, then masses leave the game on to the next "shiny" MMOG. I miss Archeage and the friends i made during the Alpha/Beta testing. However I don't miss the state of the game right now.
State of the game
Overselling is the practice of selling a product in excess of actual supply. In Archeage this is land for each player and this was a core feature to the MMOG. Without land, Archeage became another generic fantasy MMOG that wasn't particularly fun at all. Trion couldn't control the top players that controlled majority of the land in the game, and they didn't bother to adjust for inflation on basic items and crafting resources, so as prices inflated, new players couldn't get a foothold. It was literally a free-for-all, and the game spiraled out of control.
Exploration was pretty fun in Archeage. There are many interesting sights!
Aeos planted trees in the mountains hoping it won't be found by other players. He was wrong!
The community divided itself amongst the people who owned land, and those who don't. The funny thing is that those who didn't get land eventually departed to other servers or games. And Archeage is now truly out of its honey-moon phase, the game has a lot of low population servers because the game can't really merge servers, as players are paying game tax for persistent land. For those who want to move to more active servers, they have to give up their land and virtual assets (which is a big sacrifice). So they are now stuck complaining about the lack of people or community on their servers.
I had the chance to join in some large guild raids and trade runs during Archeage's alpha and first month of the game. They were some of the most epic events in any MMOG in a long time. It was fun whilst it lasted.
Interaction between game masters and customers
Another interesting phenomenon is that gamemasters or developers no longer intervene or interact directly with the customers or players in the game. It's passed on to Customer Support which tend to be some of the worst you'll ever see. I don't understand that. I always enjoyed seeing game developers or server masters running about in Ragnarok Online. Seeing developers in the game means that they are interested in interacting with their customers. They can also receive direct feedback rather on problems with the game, or what people like about it. I don't even understand why this doesn't happen anymore.
In Richard Garriot's Tabula Rasa there were multple times where I was stuck ingame because of a bugged quest and a customer support officer would instantly teleport to my location and resolve the issue once they've assessed the problem themselves. It's sometimes a shock / surprise because they randomly spawn on top of you (sometimes invisible for the player) to check if you're having fun. This positive interaction reminds you that you're not playing a single player game. Twice during my game time, a game master spawned on top of me to see if I was botting! That was kind of scary!