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Lundi 29 novembre 2010  
 
ArcheAge, le sentiment des joueurs coréens du G-Star 2010

Présenté pour la première fois lors du G-Star, ArcheAge a séduit les joueurs coréens avec ses graphismes et son degré de liberté mais a déçu les férus d'actions, trouvant les combats trop monotones.

À l'occasion du G-Star qui se tenait récemment en Corée du Sud, le site This Is Game (une référence locale en matière de MMORPG) a interrogé 100 visiteurs du stand du studio XL Games afin de collecter l'opinion des joueurs sur ArcheAge (et a fait de même pour Blade and Soul et Tera Online, pour évaluer les forces et faiblesses des trois MMO les plus attendus actuellement en Corée du Sud).

Sur les 100 joueurs interrogés (83% d'hommes pour 18% de femmes, dont 12% étaient âgés de 10 à 19 ans, 67% âgés de 20 à 29 ans, et 21% de 30 ans et plus), seuls 48% connaissaient ArcheAge avant de le découvrir sur le stand (le jeu était présenté pour la première fois au G-Star).
Interrogés sur les forces et faiblesses d'ArcheAge (présenté sur le salon comme un mélange d'Ultima Online pour la liberté, de Lineage pour le PvP et de World of Warcraft pour le PvE), les joueurs ont salué la qualité des graphismes (46%) et du gameplay (39%), appréciant « le haut degré de liberté, la progression du personnage et l'originalité » du titre de Jake Song.
A contrario, ces mêmes joueurs se disent déçus par les phases d'action (pour 45% d'entre eux), jugées trop monotones et pas suffisamment « percutantes » (les joueurs ne ressentent pas le souffle épique des affrontements). Et pour 50% pour d'entre eux, l'action du MMORPG doit être corrigée pour qu'ils s'intéressent durablement à ArcheAge.

Les joueurs se montrent néanmoins curieux de ce nouveaux projets et indiquent vouloir le tester plus en profondeur dans le cadre d'un bêta-test. Pour l'anecdote, on note également la même curiosité de la part de l'industrie du MMO puisque tout au long du G-Star, le stand de XL Games a vu passer les représentants de NCsoft, CJ Internet ou encore de Blizzard Entertainment.

ArcheAge, le sentiment des joueurs coréens du G-Star 2010
 
 


Jeudi 18 novembre 2010  
 
G-Star 2010 - Le gameplay d'ArcheAge en vidéos

Comme ses homologues, le studio XL Games est à Busan à l'occasion du G-Star 2010. Le studio profite du salon coréen pour illustrer le riche gameplay d'ArcheAge en vidéos.

Aux côtés des géants NCsoft, Nexon ou NEOWIZ, le studio XL Games est également présent au G-Star 2010 et profite du salon coréen du jeu en ligne et du MMO pour dévoiler son MMORPG ArcheAge au travers d'une bande-annonce inédite et de vidéos de gameplay.
ArcheAge, qui accueille actuellement ses premiers bêta-testeurs en Corée du Sud (le MMO est attendu en Asie en 2011, voire 2012), exhibe les qualités de son moteur graphique, le Cry Engine 2, alors que le studio XL Games souligne que ces vidéos sont intégralement réalisées à partir d'extraits de séquences de jeu, in-game.



Peut-être moins spectaculaire que ses homologues, ArcheAge mise essentiellement sur son gameplay et dévoile ici quelques unes des fonctionnalités qu'il offre, comme son univers destructible, la capacité d'ériger librement des villages entiers (qui pourront être détruits au cours de batailles ou devenir de puissantes cités protégées par des forteresses à conquérir), de cultiver champs et forêts, de mener des guerres de siège, ou encore de fabriquer puis de prendre la barre de navires (à l'aide d'un équipage de joueurs) qui feront le coeur des batailles navales d'ArcheAge, etc.




Pour mémoire, ArcheAge est d'ores et déjà attendu en Asie (en Corée, en Chine et à Taiwan) et affiche l'ambition de s'exporter en Occident. À ce jour, aucun éditeur occidental ne s'est encore porté acquéreur des droits d'exploitation du MMOG, mais on sait que le studio XL Games dispose d'une succursale à Austin, au Texas, depuis 2004. XL Games se réserve peut-être le droit d'exploiter lui-même son MMO en Occident.

 
 


Mercredi 10 novembre 2010  
 
Retours de bêta-test

La seconde phase de bêta-test d'ArcheAge s'est achevée en début de semaine. Les testeurs en Asie comme en Occident partagent leurs impressions sur le MMORPG du studio XL Games.

Retours de bêta-test
Beta

On l'a noté, la deuxième phase de bêta-test d'ArheAge s'est achevée en début de semaine en Corée du Sud et les participants commencent à partager leurs impressions (diverses) sur le prochain MMORPG de Jake Song (l'un des pionniers de l'industrie du MMO en Corée).

En Occident, sur le site ArcheAge-Online, on trouve par exemple le compte-rendu détaillé de Romtim, qui se présente comme le premier joueur occidental à tester ArcheAge (une traduction française de ses impressions est disponible sur nos forums - merci à rackam77 !).
À l'évidence, le testeur paraît enthousiaste suite à ces quelques jours de test. Il souligne notamment la taille de l'univers (permettant au joueur de se perdre littéralement dans le monde de jeu - on se souvient que les joueurs d'ArcheAge devront dessiner et partager leurs cartes), le sentiment d'immersion lors de l'exploration à pied, à cheval ou en bateau, ou encore la qualité graphique du MMO.

CBT2

En Asie, les impressions sont un peu plus mitigées. Le site This is Game, manifestement moins sensible à l'immersion (mais qui souligne quand même la qualité de la musique), préfère se concentrer sur le gameplay et la réalisation technique du jeu. Selon le site coréen, qui rappelle que le jeu est encore en développement, ArcheAge nécessite des optimisations (par exemple, les déplacements en chariots, qui supposent un chargement plus rapide du décor, génèrent un lag important ; de même, le zoom sur certaines textures ou objets dénature les graphismes)... Outre un problème de latence lors des combats, le Coréen semble plus enthousiaste quant aux affrontements : les compétences sont nombreuses et leurs effets diffèrent selon les situations. À l'évidence, une véritable intelligence de jeu est nécessaire pour l'emporter (quelques compétences bien choisies peuvent venir à bout d'un adversaire quand un joueur moins réfléchi n'infligera que 30 à 40% de dommages à la cible en enchaînant les coups au hasard).
Même dynamisme dans le cadre des combats maritimes. Après avoir construit un petit bateau (qui nécessite 200 points de travail et l'intervention d'au moins un joueur - plus pour une construction plus rapide), l'équipage prend la mer. L'un dirige le navire, un autre contrôle les voiles pendant qu'un troisième s'occupe des canons et doit viser au jugé (les combats maritimes fonctionnent sans ciblage) pour tenter de couler le bateau ou détruire ses canons (qui ont leur propre points de vie) afin de désarmer l'adversaire.
ThisisGame souligne en outre qu'au quatrième jour de bêta-test, une nouvelle race jouable a fait son apparition dans le jeu, les Ferres (non provisoire), créature mi-féline, mi-humanoïde, et qui devraient être pleinement jouables lors de la prochaine phase de test.

 
 


Mardi 9 novembre 2010  
 
Another ArcheAge CBT2 Review

Welcome to our review. I was lucky to become the world’s first official foreign closed beta tester of Archeage. Under the nickname “Romtim” and “Freddis” I have infiltrated in this fascinating world and have experienced many various aspects of this game. XLGames met me expectations and I am happy to share with you my impressions.

The first step in Archeage is creating a new character. When you select three primary skill schools, you get many tips on your selection. As announced, there are preselected classes along with a custom class.

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Special attention should be given to your character’s customization. Some details of the character’s appearance can be freely modified; some of them are selected from a list. For example, you can pick scars and tattoos from the available options, but still be able to move them across the face freely, rotate them, and increase them in size. There are not so many types of customization available yet, but we can still get an idea of what will be available for the release.

After the loading screen, we get an introduction video. There is no sense in telling you what goes on in the intro, you still won’t understand either you will lose interest to watching it. However, I would like the developers to make these cut scenes more epic. Not that I didn’t like it, but the possibilities of Cry Engine 2 and the animation we have seen on the clips would be enough to make something way more epic. By the way, your character takes part in such cut scenes, and it’s rendered with the game’s engine.

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The game loads quite fast. The good part is that, when you enter the game, you only load the necessary part of textures, and all the other details load as you play. This is very good for people with unstable internet – if you get disconnected on a serious battle or any other important matter, you can return to the game in a relatively short period of time.

We start in our race’s start location, and we receive our first quest “on the spot”. The first quests are pretty easy and traditional. Developers give us time to get used to the game and look at the abilities of our character. Fairly close to the place of our appearance is the town. It has everything we need for the first hours: post office, various merchants, quest givers, skill trainers and other NPC’s.

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Quests in this game are quite diverse. I have only done like 5-6 quests, but I have already looted monsters for trophies, planted a few trees, collected eggs from bird nests on the trees and even travelled around the place. Several abilities are given out immediately on the start. And it’s fairly easy to use them.

The zones in Archeage are huge. As promised they are incredibly beautiful, and completely seamless. The starting areas and cities are especially beautiful and detailed. The first thing that comes to mind is that the developers have decided to show that they can do everything beautifully and accurately. However, some other locations don’t shine with fine textures and richness of landscapes, but it’s for sure a matter of time. I think their goal in this CBT was to test some new aspects of game play.

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The world is very diverse, although unlike some other games, the transitions of scenery are not as noticeable. All locations are connected in a logical order, so you can’t find snow-capped mountains near the desert, as it happens in some other MMORPG’s. You can easily get lost in Archeage; there are just so many roads in this game. And I’m not joking about getting lost, because that’s what happened with me, after I wandered through several locations in an imprecise direction. What really makes me happy is that the locations aren’t separated from each other clearly. You can traverse from one of them to another anywhere you want, as long as it’s not over a mountain top. Some locations have similar terrain and flora, which connects them between each other, making them a united part of a whole big world despite the separation of the zone maps. However this similarity doesn’t mean absence of uniqueness, in this case it’s more like an emphasis to the realism.

You can find many different innovations in ArcheAge that have not been previously combined in any MMORPG. You can already ride around on horseback, establish settlements, build ships, plant trees, collect resources, and travel. The game is very atmospheric – when i played, i felt being a part of this world, even considering that everyone around me spoke in a foreign language including NPC’s. Archeage special atmosphere – it is not like anything else, it has its own comfort and charm. The world is so extensive and fascinating that you inevitably feel yourself as an ant, but you realize that you can still find a suitable place for yourself in it.

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The target combat system looks very interesting in ArcheAge. Fighting in Archeage is very exciting. Even now, the game has a wide variety of tactical opportunities. For example you can raise a player in a floating bubble to help him jump up on a tall object, heal yourself, cast on him a long spell meanwhile, run away from him. Or you conjure a stone hand to hold the enemy on one place until you cast another fireball. You can also do it the old way, rush at your enemy, knock him off his feet, throw him up in the air with a mighty blow and slice him open with a finishing blow (that’s not a hack’n’slash combo, just skills used at the right time). Characters and abilities are animated very realistically in a beautiful way. The way characters fall is always different. Depending on how the body fell down, it rolls down the slope if it died on the mountainside or if it was knocked down off the cliff. You can feel the power and the slaughtering effect of the abilities in ArcheAge, you won’t envy the person hit by a fireball. If you die – just click a button and you will appear nearby the nearest priest. If you kill a monster, just click on his corpse and select the loot you need, or just simply to kick the body around (Yes, it does move when you kickit). You can learn a large variety of skills from a Skill Trainer by using your Skill Points. There won’t be enough points to learn all the skills, so this opens a door to the uniqueness of your character.

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I really liked the way armor and clothing looks on players. Clothes are very detailed and fit well to the character. It’s quite difficult to find an ugly dressed character in ArcheAge. I was very pleased by the harmony of the appearance, of many characters gathered in one place. All of them were dressed differently and wore different armor, but these differences are not striking. Moreover, unlike many games, in ArcheAge each player is free to wear what he wants. There are no restrictions, but it’s more profitable to wear a certain kind of armor to suit your style of playing. Such moments are a step forward when compared to other games.

It should be noted, that the races of Men and Elves are not alike. It’s not just about the differences in appearance and culture; it’s also about their behavior. They have specifically different cities, different looks, physique, style of dress and animations. I have also managed to see the Dwarf and Ferre races in the beta test. But unfortunately, it was too brief.

At this point, the only means of transportation in ArcheAge are carriers, horses and ships. In this Closed Beta Test, I got a horse almost from the beginning of the game. The way it behaves is very neat. It moves quickly and smoothly, and turns around comfortably fast. The horse’s animation is arranged so that the movements look realistic: for example, it can’t jump on one place (it stands on its hind legs instead), neither turn around 180 degrees in a jump. Also, the horse can wear armor, gain levels, and learn new skills. At level one it can only knock back enemies, but as it levels, it gains access to skills like throwing the rider off to selected position – a quite long-range skill or a skill that allows the rider to fight mounted. In addition, you can dismount from your horse, order it to stand still or follow you. If the horse gets killed while someone is mounted on it – the rider will fall down on the ground to continue the fight. You can also ride your horse together with somebody. Moreover, the passenger can thus fend off enemies – wield a weapon or shoot a bow.

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You can also find an island or just some free spot with great sights and lay the foundation of your house. Your house is your fortress and your new home. You can build and manage furniture freely around your house, invite people to your house, smith some armor if you install a forge in it, do plenty of stuff, just remember to clean the mess up! Outside the house you are free to construct a farm and a garden, the crops you grow belong to you, and you can collect them once they are ready to cook something or just sell it on the market. If you construct a group of houses with your friends, you can actually form a village, because it is possible to construct not only private houses, but public ones too.

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The sea deserves special attention. ArcheAge is the first MMOPRG, where the sea is a legitimate part of the game play. Spending a considerable amount of time to reach various islands, naval warfare, the atmosphere of sea travel and the beautiful sights won’t leave anyone cold-blooded. To lose your ship at the middle of the sea is a quite serious danger, since the distance to the nearest land is significant. To control the ship decently, a team of 2 to 10 people is required. At this moment, you can raise/lower the anchor, raise/lower the sails on each mast, climb the masts, take the steering wheel in control and lower planks at the sides of the ship, to walk aboard. In addition, at this CBT, each ship had 4 cannons on each side. If you fall off the ship, you can climb back up on the net, hanging from the deck. There is however a bind point system in game. You use some binding stone, and you can return to it with a help of a skill, which has a cool down of 30 minutes. But if there would be no such skill, you could do stuff like leaving some guy on a deserted island :thumbsup: .

You can also lose your ship in battle, but you are likely to die earlier from a cannon impact on the deck. Oh yes! The cannons are really dangerous and besides, long-range. If you aim for the coast, you can hurt or kill players and monsters that situate there. Piracy in ArcheAge will flourish just because having a ship is a great advantage for its owners – it is sort of a mobile fortress, which can destroy everything on its path. Apart from that, it’s incredibly fun!

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ArcheAge has a very convenient interface: it’s easy to use and freely manageable. At the top of the screen, you can see all accessible menu’s with intuitive icons. You can move around and resize the interface freely. I was pleased to see, that the interface has everything I need, with nothing extra. It is worth noting, that the characters equipment and characteristics interface is situated at the sides of the character, instead of having a doll to dress up like in other games. However this is subject to change after the 2CBT, but I do hope that XLGames will still leave the possibility of resizing and managing it around enough.

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The graphics in this game are simply divine. The view distance is amazing, for instance you can see the two Twin Mountains, known to every fan of ArcheAge from the port city of Solzreed peninsula. From the position where I stood, it was a 5 minute horse ride up to the mountains. Trees and grass in ArcheAge behave as in reality – they sway and cast shadows. If the sunset is shining through a tree, its rays are visible in the evening’s haze. A light haze hides objects, situated very far away, which makes them look even more beautiful. It doesn’t look on screenshots as good as it is in action. Birds fit well into the overall picture. They fly just like the real ones, sometimes gather in flocks and fly over some place. Locations have different looks depending on various weather conditions and the time of the day. From all this diversity, I liked the sea sunsets on tropical islands most of all.

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We can now draw a conclusion – This game promises to be a new hit in the MMORPG genre. Farmer, soldier, pirate, magician, merchant – even on this state of development, the players sphere of activity is already forming up. All these aspects of game play, capabilities in physics and graphics, functions, and most importantly – the wisdom of the developers highlights ArcheAge from the total mass of MMORPGs. The game play is alike Ultima Online in its freedom, and the pve does look similar to World of Warcraft indeed. Everything described above is subject to change before the game is released, but I’m sure the changes are for the best, because at the origins of the development stands Jake Song, and he knows what he’s doing.

 
 


Mardi 9 novembre 2010  
 
GigaMedia acquière les droits taiwanais d'ArcheAge

Après la Chine en septembre, ArcheAge s'annonce maintenant à Taiwan, Hong Kong et Macau sur la plateforme de GigaMedia qui vient à son tour d'acquérir les droits du MMORPG de Jake Song.

On s'en souvient, tout début septembre dernier, on apprenait que le géant Tencent acquérait les droits d'ArcheAge (pour quelque 40 millions de dollars) en vue d'exploiter le MMORPG de Jake Song en Chine continentale.
Le jeu continue manifestement de séduire les exploitants de MMO puisque c'est au tour du Taiwanais GigaMedia d'annoncer aujourd'hui l'acquisition des droits d'exploitation exclusifs d'ArcheAge pour Taiwan, Hong Kong et Macau pour une période d'au moins trois ans. On ignore le montant de la transaction, mais on se souvient qu'en décembre 2007, GigaMedia avait déjà investi dans le capital du studio XL Games (qui développe actuellement ArcheAge en Corée) et est représenté au conseil d'administration du studio coréen.

Pour mémoire, si l'on connait notamment GigaMedia en Occident pour avoir été l'exploitant malheureux de Warhammer Online pendant un peu plus d'un an (mais aussi des jeux en ligne d'EA Sport), l'éditeur taiwanais est surtout à l'origine de l'imposant portail de jeux en ligne FunTown, à la fois réseau social et plateforme de jeux en ligne (on y touve des jeux occasionnels, des jeux de sports et des MMORPG).
On attend maintenant qu'un exploitant occidental manifeste son intérêt pour ArcheAge.

 
 


Lundi 8 novembre 2010  
 
Le studio XL Games dévoile le peuple de Ferres

Avec la fin de la deuxième phase de bêta-test d'ArcheAge en Corée, le studio XL Games dévoile quelques nouveaux pans de son MMORPG. On découvre les Ferres, troisième race jouable du MMO.

La deuxième phase de bêta-test privé d'ArcheAge, qui a accueilli les joueurs coréens pendant quelques jours, vient officiellement de prendre fin. Faute de pouvoir encore explorer virtuellement l'univers du MMORPG de Jake Song, les joueurs en découvre quelques nouveaux pans sur le site officiel. Après les Nuians et les Elfes, le studio XL Games dévoile tout juste officiellement la troisième race jouable d'ArcheAge, les Ferres.

Le studio XL Games dévoile le peuple de Ferres

Si la description coréenne de cette nouvelle race jouable reste relativement nébuleuse en Occident, on devine que ce peuple de créatures mi-félines, mi-humanoïdes est essentiellement nomade, refusant de sédentariser et préférant évoluer librement dans les plaines et les déserts du monde. Connu pour être des guerriers féroces mais ayant un grand sens du devoir, les Ferres affichent un remarquable instinct de survie et sont connus pour le comportement bestiaux, voire une certaine inclinaison à la cruauté.
Avec la fin du bêta-test, le studio XL Games promet la publication de plus d'informations dans les semaines à venir, notamment dans le cadre du G-Star 2010 qui se tiendra à Busan du 18 au 21 novembre prochain (la présence du MMO y est confirmée). Gageons que nous en apprendrons plus sur les modes de vie et originalités de nouveau peuple jouable.

 
 


Dimanche 7 novembre 2010  
 
Translated ArcheAge CBT2 Review

First Impressions on ArcheAge

As you know, a second stage of the closed test of ArcheAge has started in Korea. Amazingly, I was lucky to taste this promising game for a half an hour. Of course, such a brief acquaintance is not enough for an MMO, but even in this short time some initial impression on the game can be made. Please take into account that all the below mentioned is a result of a very superficial glimpse on a very raw build of the game, and it can change many time any way before its official publishing.

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As in any true Korean MMO, Archeage starts from the screen of choice and built of your avatar. As of today, a player is offered 2 possible races: Nuian and Elf (there will be many more at release). Nuian – usual humans as in any fantasy game. Elf – elves, appearance of whose tends to be those of wood elves; these are neither “civilized” elves of Lineage2, nor sophisticated aristocrats from Tera, but exactly legendary forest inhabitants. The starting image of a female Elf is characteristic – bare feet, flower dress, literally all ecology and unity with the Nature.

After the choice of the race, traditional gender choice and basic appearance adjustments follow. The first surprise waits at a class choice – the principle of class is drastically changed and re-worked in ArcheAge. Briefly: there is a set of 10 branches of skills (combat, witchcraft, invincibility, magic, nature powers, etc.). Any 3 out of these 10 make a class. The number of combinations of 3 out of 10 is 120 – this is the theoretical number of the possible classes in the game. During the building of an avatar there is a choice from 4 pre-built classes – Warrior, Priest, Mage, Ranger and a custom class that can be made by a deliberate choice of 3 skill branches. It is worth mentioning that in the process of the game it will be possible to switch the chosen skill branches (not for free), therefore (as opposed to the majority of the similar games) the original class choice is not a factor limiting the actual future path of the person.

A freshly-built avatar of Nuian race appears in the game in the starting Solzreed zone on the Western continent of the game world. A introductory video plays (an animation on game engine) where the starting place – an ordinary marsh – literally turns upside down transferring the player into maybe memories or a parallel world which is the same marsh but only in dim sunset illumination (“all out of shadows!”). Some dialog between the newcomer and two NPC takes place – a man with a look of a wise tutor and blond-eared elven girl. Apparently, it concerns the fates of the world but the exact content of the dialog remains a mystery behind an impenetrable barrier between spoken Korean and Russian languages

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A shot from the introductory movie.

After the end of the animation, the avatar comes into a traditional starting zone of a good Korean MMO – nice landscape, flourish vegetation of summer forest, green small starting village… Appropriately placed NPC give you traditional first quests – kill a mob, bring its skin. Good, high-quality graphics, decent models of players and monsters. The upper-level Korean games already put the graphical quality plank so high (and constantly keep to this level and rise it further) that there is nothing more left to surprise.

The main first feeling of mine was – almost forgotten after the projects like Aion and Tera – a freedom of equipment. Yes, a person can (and should) use any kinds of weapons! Whereas in Aion the restrictions on available armor and weapon literally limit you just to a couple of combinations out of all variety (and there are more serious shortcomings), even in Tera the complete linking weapon-to-class takes out any flexibility from you. Mage – disk, priest – staff, mystic – club. And no step aside. After all this nonsense, characters in ArcheAge enjoy very nice exception. Continuing the idea of flexible class creation, the avatar comes into the world literally equipped to the teeth with various weapons. My mage (one of “pre-built” classes) had with him a two-hand club, a short sword, a shield and a bow. And he was proficient with all the above!

The game controls – mouse and keyboard, movement by arrow keys or right point-and click. There is an unfortunate bug where the point-and-click movement is interrupted while trying to use mouse to rotate camera to view environments on the run. Hopefully, this is temporary. Skills are called by number keys, main menus are linked to keys in Lineage2/Aion style.

An important questions comes now – what the gameplay in ArcheAge is similar to? To the lamp-warm of Lineage2 or the crystal-cold of WoW? Of course, from the first minutes of the game it is impossible to make an opinion about all aspects of the game but some basic characteristics of PvE and quest system are already apparent.

The first quests and fights are unremarkable – the same quests and fights are in any good MMO. Everything is obvious without explanations – received a quest, fight some monsters, got quest drop, gave it to needy in the village. The quest dialogs reflect a possible reward and the number of the required items as well as other conditions.

Fights consist of targeting the mob and appliying on it all available hits and skills. The battles are easy at the beginning, and not as long-lasting as in Aion. The monsters are not very intellectual too. During the battle, HP and modificators (buffs, debuffs) of the player himself and the target are displayed, a line of casts is running. When defeated monster falls on the ground, keeping cursor over it shows presence of a loot (if present, the arrows changes on bag sign). The loot does not drop on the ground, instead, as in WoW/Aion a window appears. Everything is done traditionally. The drop is familiar – quest items, resources, items (fulldrop). If the character dies, he resurrects at an obelisk. Also nothing unusual – Aion players are familiar with this system. In addition, there is a skill of return to a binding point (Return, 30 min cooldown). In the description of the skill a “current” return point is mentioned, where to the character is sent. I did not have time to find out if the return system is linear (return to the closest point) or Aion-like (return to registered point), but it looks like the latter. Overall, the game is standard-friendly to gamer, its easiness and convenience are most likened to Aion’s, however monster fights are simpler, more like in WoW (speaking of regular mobs, of course).

Skills in the game are acquired from an instructor for Skill Points, where one skill costs exactly one SP. Now, the skills of all possible branches can be obtained from the same, single instructor. He also can switch the skill branches (you can disable any of your 3 skill branches and choose any new one instead). The progress through any branch is displayed in personal information window, the skill window itself contains all possible skills for all present branches. In the skill description, you can read on what level it will become available to study. There are pretty many of skills, and I got a feeling that there will be not enough SP to study all. Therefore you will be forced to choose which particular ones to develop that will affect the exact build of your character (and main grind direction).

Obviously, I did not have an opportunity to try crafting during the available half an hour, but it is clear that it was paid lots of attention to it in the game. Like in Tera, there is a wide range of crafting skills, divided in 2 big groups – collection and processing of materials and also item crafting. Each skill is developed separately that is distinctly shown in the craft window as an empty development path consisting of few dozen categories.

Money in the game are copied from WoW – these are silver and copper coins. Common sense says that in future there should be some golden ones, but right now there are none. At the beginning, you can make money selling resources into shops and doing quests. There are traditional shops in the game where you can buy necessities or sell items you do not need. Conveniently, there is an option to repurchase items you have sold by mistake.

User Interface

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Overall view of the game window.

In my opinion, the interface of the game is good. It is convenient and minimalistic but looks stylish. As opposed to oversaturated with “heraldic” tasteless and excessive Tera’s interface, ArcheAge UI has nothing of “fantasy”-charged. Its gaming purpose can be seem maybe only from skill icons. Such an interface is more characteristic for a modern website software. Slim, no unnecessary details and minimum screen space occupied. I would like to compare it with Google Chrome browser interface which demonstrated to other browsers that on the screen there should be only a narrow tabs band and address string. The same in ArcheAge. I sincerely wish designers of Tera would take courses on usability from their xlgame colleagues.

The composition of windows is traditional – character conditions, target bar, chat window with tabs, inventory, skill list etc. All drop-down windows have adjusting transparency – the active window is more dense, non-active – more transparent. Because of this, there is no separate transparent map – simply the main one becomes less dense and transmits well.

On the top of the screen, there is an non-disturbing status bar. On its left, a current level of Labor Power is displayed and geographic position of the character – zone name (e.g. Solzreed) as well as sub-zone (e.g. Newbee Village):

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There is a naively-exageraated attention paid to the Labor Power element, similar to DP level in Aion. The developers somehow see it as a cornerstone of the entire game process, just giving it a different name, and as such display it on the screen permanently, above all other stuff, even above life level of the character. It remains to be seen how valid such an approach is.

On the top right there is such an icon bar:

These are keys to call out main windows and menus – character info, skills, knowledge database (later about it), quest journal, inventory, craft’s list, map and system menu. Further on the right there is a button for a drop-down menu with the same functions. Right corner is occupied by system (real) time clock.

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Windows of character info, inventory, skills and crafts appear on the screen left and right occupying its entire height. Numerous parameters and stats are grouped according to their meaning, the skills are grouped by their branches. Windows design is slim and minimalistic. Interesting solution was chosen to show character equipment. Instead of a separate 3d paper doll window (or horrible silhouette as in Tera), the current character image in the center of the screen becomes attributed by 2 icon bars representing its equipment. Very efficient and makes sense – why depict the character separately if he is already on the screen! Very nice solution.

On the bottom of the screen by default there is a quick bar with skills for keys 1-0 and their Shift 1-0 variants:

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Looks quite convenient albeit there is an option to bring the quick bar to a more traditional multi-raw view:

Below quick bar, there is a screen-wide EXP band.
Interface of quest window, dialogs, shops has nothing to differ from its cousins in Aion, Tera etc. You can see them on many Korean screenshots.

Technically, the interface is built as a set of scripts in Lua language which have varying access to the main program shell of the game. On one hand, it gives a potential possibility to write its extensions and modifications by users (with or without game publisher’s permission). On other hand, people will use the wide possibilities of the open script system primarily for making convenient PvP radars with potion auto-spam and other “beautiful” features of the modern MMO. Right now, the game is protected by a GameGuard-similar HackShield System made by Korean AhnLab, but its possibilities to withstand ingenuity of the masses are somewhat suspect.

Also, the game contains a built-in web-browser Awesomium (Chromium in-game variant). It allows importing accurately any additional content into the framework of the game interface. Right now, the browser is used to display additional information on the game and quests. The page design feels quite natural within the game. I should say that such a solution was in the air for a while and was expected. I do not know if in the future we can twit from the game or chat on FaceBook, but for now the browser is used solely as an additional database for the game.

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And this is it so far.

Actually, this is all I can say about the game based on a short playing session. I can say that the game did not disappoint by graphics and atmosphere in its first impression. Gameplay seems usual, its main sale points such as extended interaction with the world and big politics are far away yet. But for now there are all signs that the game will turn out interesting and playable.

Singularly, the approach with class flexibility and unlimited weapon use is very welcome – the big moden MMO (Aion, Tera) miss it. It is quite possible though that in the future this may cause some unresolved balance problems which result in a very limited number of actually playable class combinations, but today this approach looks very-very promising.
Among deficiencies, I can name some problems with network code script that makes ArcheAge felt as a more laggy than its competitors. The data traffic seems not optimized (it takes twice as many resources as Tera) that results in uncomfortable delays on channel with limited capacity or on remote servers. Hopefully, sooner or later ths problem will be resolved.

For this article, screenshots of Korean beta-testers have been used.

 
 


Mardi 2 novembre 2010  
 
Jake Song détaille le gameplay d'ArcheAge

Jake Song revient sur les grandes lignes du gameplay de son MMORPG ArcheAge. Compétences, moyens de transports, PvP de masse, artisanat, montures et bêta-test passés au crible.

Jake Song détaille le gameplay d’ArcheAge

En Corée, Jake Song est considéré comme l'un des pionniers de l'industrie du MMO après avoir travaillé sur le premier Lineage ou encore sur Tabula Rasa. Il signe aujourd'hui ArcheAge, un MMORPG qui suscite une certaine curiosité tant en Asie qu'en Occident. Interrogé par le blog Massively, Jake Song apporte de nombreuses précisions sur son prochain projet.

On apprend par exemple que les joueurs jouiront d'une grande liberté dans l'évolution de leur personnage. Dans le bêta-test, ils optent pour trois des dix « aptitudes » actuellement disponibles, qui progresseront au gré des gains de niveaux du personnage. Le joueur peut néanmoins changer librement la liste de ses trois aptitudes actives selon ses besoins (pour accéder ainsi à de nouvelles compétences) et faire progresser, à leur tour, de nouvelles aptitudes.

« Chaque aptitude intègre une douzaine de compétences. Et nous essayons de faire en sorte que chaque compétence soit unique. Par exemple, il y a des compétences comme la Bulle Flottante, qui est une sorte de piège qui enferme un joueur donné dans une bulle et qui le fait flotter dans les airs pendant un certain temps. Ou encore Psychokinésie, qui vous permet d'attraper et de projeter un personnage au loin. Et nous pensons également permettre quelques combos entre les compétences. Par exemple, si Shock Arrow (Flèche Foudroyante) est utilisée après Bulle Flottante, le personnage touché sera projeté bien plus loin que s'il s'était simplement écrasé au sol. »

Beta

Même liberté d'action en terme d'équipements (qu'il soit looté ou fabriqué via l'artisanat). Dans ArcheAge, un mage pourra par exemple porter une armure lourde s'il souhaite augmenter sa défense, mais subira alors un imposant malus du fait de son encombrement.
De même, l'apparence d'un objet est distincte de ses capacités. Jake Song donne l'exemple d'un raid ayant vaincu un dragon. Au lieu de looter une épée puissante, les vainqueurs du dragon recevront une « essence magique » qu'ils pourront appliquer à l'épée de leur choix pour associer librement la puissance du dragon à l'épée la plus esthétique.

On avait également noté que les joueurs auraient besoin de « puissance de travail » pour mener à bien leurs activités de production, de construction, d'artisanat et leurs activités ludiques. On note que cette puissance de travail s'accumule que le joueur soit connecté ou non et que les personnages qui le souhaitent pourront également vendre leur puissance de travail à ceux en ayant besoin.

CBT1
CBT1

En matière de PvP, Jake Song revendique actuellement des sièges de châteaux pouvant opposer jusqu'à 50 personnages dans chaque camp. L'univers d'ArcheAge se compose de trois continents : sur les deux continents du sud, les châteaux sont contrôlés par des PNJ ; sur le continent du nord, les châteaux seront construits librement par les joueurs qui pourront s'affronter pour le contrôle de territoires.
Des territoires auxquels on accédera grâce à plusieurs modes de transports : des chevaux pouvant emporter deux cavaliers chacun (l'un pour contrôler le destrier, l'autre pouvant combattre sur la monture), des chariots pouvant transporter plus encore de personnages, des navires (que les joueurs construiront dans les chantiers navals du jeu et piloteront à l'aide d'un équipage) et des ballons dirigeables suivant des voies aériennes fixes (par exemple entre les continents). Les plus pressés pourront également se téléporter dans de lointaines régions, pour peu qu'ils les aient préalablement visitées.

Last but not least, Jake Song précise qu'ArcheAge est développé pour une audience mondiale (pour les joueurs asiatiques, mais aussi et surtout en vue d'une exploitation aux États-Unis et en Europe). Et quand on l'interroge sur la date d'un bêta-test occidental, il précise : « Nous ne voulons pas inviter prématurément les joueurs américains et européens dans le bêta-test, mais dans le même temps, nous savons à quel point il est important que les délais ne soient pas trop longs ». Selon Jake Song, les tests occidentaux pourraient donc débuter « après les tests sur le marché coréen, lorsque l'équipe de développement respirera un peu plus ».
En attendant, ArcheAge devrait être disponible l'année prochaine, en version définitive, en Asie et ensuite en Occident.

 
 

 

 


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