IP, intellectual property, has long been a big deal — ScoobyDoo lunch boxes or commercials using Spiderman — but games take it to another level. For one thing, you can theme any type of game with anything. You can make a Marvel superhero-themed Match-3 puzzle game, or a farming game with characters from Speed Racer. Another trick is taking valuable IP from one of your games and reusing it in a completely different genre. Blizzard did this with its popular RTS WarCraft, re-using the setting for MMO World of Warcraft, then much later their WarCraft-themed card game HearthStone.
This is why the mobile game “ArcheAge Begins” astounds and amazes me. It’s a typical hero collecting game, based on IP from their MMO ArcheAge. That sounds reasonable so far, right — common sense re-use of your own IP. MMO’s have lots of countries and NPC heroes and super-evil boss monsters and stuff that people recognize, right? But here’s the thing: ArcheAge is a player-driven game. It may have a plot, but I played it and can’t remember one. I remember a guy in chat who kept talking up how tough his pirate guild was, and others mocking him about how 2 guys in a boat outran them all. I remember ships and barns with player-designed Isis flags and giant wangs. Does that count as IP?
But ArcheAge Begins found a dozen heroes we know and love. That’s a joke. I never heard of any of them. I think they’re from the backstory no one read. Country and region names are the same problem — it turns out I was in the Nuia Alliance but I never did quests for them or engaged in any way. I never saw anything in the new game that was even vaguely familiar.
Well, it had one thing. In the MMO you could grow trees and very rarely got a magical one called a “thunder struck log” (which I assume was a translation error and they meant lightning). Those turned out to be crazy valuable — maximizing the odds was a topic of furious discussion. The new game ArcheAge Begins has that — the tree you tap once a day to get free lumber (hey, it’s a mobile game, that’s how they work) rarely gives you a TSL. Ah, memories.
There’s also an instructive misfire. In the original game you raise and slaughter cows, no big deal. Somehow this was misinterpreted in the new one as a moo-talking cartoon cow jumping around in a milking mini-game. These sorts of mix-ups happen. I’m sure there’s a hidden objects game somewhere with Luke SkyWalker as a bad guy.