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A lengthy post, but if you're interested in how albion's changed over time then you're more or less in the right place.

The Growth of Albion Online

A lengthy post, but if you're interested in how albion's changed over time then you're more or less in the right place.

 

Since there isn't much feedback comparing several different test phases, I might as well do one. Of course if any of you (vets especially) notice a mistake or something I should've mentioned, correct me. I'll blame it on the time it's been.

 

Also note that I am mostly focusing on the important differences that matter to the core gameplay, so I won't be mentioning much about the fun stuff like improved graphics (ex. biomes). Anyways, the differences will come first and my own opinion/experience will follow after them regarding some. If you're just interested how the game has changed, then skip my opinions:

 

Winter alpha 2013

 

Not much to say here since this was the first "public" testing and there wasn't any earlier testings to compare this one to.

 

Spring alpha 2014

 

- Just more stuff. (ex. WA13 = 5 clusters big world where as spring 14 = 14 clusters)

 

Quite similar to WA13, but also relatively special in many ways compared to tests after it. Unlike any other tests, this was the last alpha where nothing significant was removed from the previous one. It only brought more. Also, all of the clusters (including dungeons) had a unique layout, felt truly handmade and in my opinion were the best maps to have ever existed in albion.

 

Summer alpha 2014

 

- Removed all of the previous clusters, and replaced them with newer ones.

- Added mounting

- Added alliance system

- Added cities (With vaults)

- Some new items

- Lots of new monsters (ex. Giants)

 

This was probably the best test albion has had overall. Introduced lots of new content/features that was purely aimed to make the game more enjoyable. And it really did show, it was the most fun alpha I've ever had.

 

A lengthy post, but if you're interested in how albion's changed over time then you're more or less in the right place.  Since there isn't much feedback comparing several different test phases, I might as well do one. Of course if any of you (vets especially) notice a mistake or something I should've mentioned, correct me. I'll blame it on the time it's been.  Also note that I am mostly focusing on the important differences that matter to the core gameplay, so I won't be mentioning much about the fun stuff like improved graphics (ex. biomes). Anyways, the differences will come first and my own opinion/experience will follow after them regarding some. If you're just interested how the game has changed, then skip my opinions:  Winter alpha 2013  Not much to say here since this was the first "public" testing and there wasn't any earlier testings to compare this one to.  Spring alpha 2014  - Just more stuff. (ex. WA13 = 5 clusters big world where as spring 14 = 14 clusters)  Quite similar to WA13, but also relatively special in many ways compared to tests after it. Unlike any other tests, this was the last alpha where nothing significant was removed from the previous one. It only brought more. Also, all of the clusters (including dungeons) had a unique layout, felt truly handmade and in my opinion were the best maps to have ever existed in albion.  Summer alpha 2014  - Removed all of the previous clusters, and replaced them with newer ones. - Added mounting - Added alliance system - Added cities (With vaults) - Some new items - Lots of new monsters (ex. Giants)  This was probably the best test albion has had overall. Introduced lots of new content/features that was purely aimed to make the game more enjoyable. And it really did show, it was the most fun alpha I've ever had.  What made this alpha an absolute beast, was that not only this had a lot of content for the stage it was in, this was also the last alpha where the game didn't attempt to "balance itself" (I will refer to them as balance patches from WA15 and onwards, note that I do not mean *combat* balance when I say something about balancing).  The only mistake that was made during this test that I personally believe the devs made, is that they didn't just delete content with good quality (The maps from previous test) but also starting the cycle that repeats it.  Winter alpha 2015  - Removed gems (A basic resource, like wood or ore for those that don't know) - Removed some layouts, added some - Removed lots old items (ex. domination staff), but also added lots of new ones - Combat reworked compared to last test (One of the best things done so far imo) - Added farming (Was used to mainly combat against guilds on conquering the world, one of the balance things) - Added new territory types - Bumped the building tier cap higher for greens/cities (Not sure of this, but I believe the cap was 6 where it used to be 4 for greens?) - Territories required food upkeep, instead of silver upkeep that was taken automatically from guild vault. (Another balance thing) - Added consumables - Flagging  I would say that this was almost the best test albion would've had up to date, but due to some extremely detrimental stuff that started during this test I can't. Even though the test had lots of cool stuff going on, necropolis/castle fights, combat rework, other new content, the first and the only balancing patch of this test managed to hog the spotlight anyways. In the bad way.  Farming values were absolutely monstrous, requiring guilds to spend a ton of time just to keep up the territories. This was fixed eventually, however, the design direction of constantly attempting to "balance" the game stayed and still exists to this day. This is something that has constantly been a massive burden to the game's quality that will be very visible from SA15 and onwards.  Summer alpha 2015  - Removed and added some content (Here it starts to be almost even. As much is being added as what was removed) - Introduced enchanted items - Introduced hell gates - Removed T2 resources from PvP zones - Removed building tier cap from all zones (Reintroduced it during test because some strong guilds settled near greens due to T2 resource positioning) - Added minimap visibility - Added knockdown mechanism - Introduced LP system - Added some new territory types (Might've been in beta 1?) - More antizerg mechanics, like focus fire. - Introduced player islands  Not sure where to begin. While once again this alpha added something cool (Hell gates in particular), this wasn't anywhere near enough to counter the harm from the other changes/adds.  Removal of T2 resources along with removal of building tier cap in PvP zones encouraged strong guilds to settle near areas where they had a quick access to them, mixing both stronger and weaker guilds next to each other as that was the area weaker guilds used to settle in. In other words, weaker guilds were at the mercy of strong guilds far more than they had ever been. The building tier cap was reintroduced right after being removed (temporarily) to encourage stronger guilds to move deeper. This mistake is later repeated during beta 1, and in another form (Timezones) during beta 2.  Of course it didn't just end there. There were also the minimap visibility that was being abused by players, sitting right below the limit and used it sort of like a maphack - roam around and instantly rush at whoever they find on the minimap. The best locations were the locations with the least amount of escape routes.  There is even the knockdown mechanic that's applied to PvP too, which so far has only managed to minimize the losses the winners will have. Even if there is a battle that turns out to be very even, there's a good chance the winners won't have a single casualty since there is nobody to finish them off on the loser's side. Of course, this also vastly favours larger groups.  Lastly, the one system that we all are very well aware of: the LP. LP was something that was not desired amongst the community as far as I know, yet it was added nevertheless. At first you couldn't even progress no matter how good you were farming fame (Since you had to unlock the nodes with LP even if you got all the fame), but was changed so that you could unlock purely with fame as well due to the amount of negative feedback the system gained. However, although the effects of the LP is vastly weaker today, it's effect is still rather obvious from all the alting we can observe.  Overall, this test was amongst the most painful ones I have ever been in, and many of the balancing updates that were intended to do one thing ended up doing the opposite. Just like the example of the minimap visibility.  Closed Beta 1  - Added GvG Timelock - Added portals during the test - Added some low tier content during the test - Removed building tier cap - Removed some weapons (Throwing weapons), but also added something new - Reworked fame gain - Plot auctioning - Silver removed from crafting  Somewhat better than the previous one, but still had it's issues. The same mistake of mixing strong and weaker guilds was repeated here, having t2 resources not in PvP zones, player isles in and building tier not capped, result: Vendetta living on an isle in a city and other top guilds right next to cities for the fast travel to greens. Naturally, everybody in such 'hotspots' were massacred if they weren't part of one of these top guilds. Territories far away from cities weren't anywhere near as valuable, as the only reward was longer distance to t2.  Not just the isles were a strong option overall, choosing to live inside territories forced you to make alts due to the GvG time lock.  Closed Beta 2  - Removed most of the clusters (due to them being reworked with the template system) - Added timezones - Added a completely new world, vastly larger - Removed fast travel - Added a lot more blue dungeons - Resource distribution reworked - Added new items over time - Added reputation - Removal of territories in reds / yellows - Removal of some territory types (ex. essence)  Once again, some better, some worse, some older ones amplified. The new world itself is fine, but there should have been more preparations for it than just throw it out there (ex. the t2 resources that were removed from pvp zones along with fast travel being removed, required players to spend a ton of time just walking around which is just plain boring.)  But that wasn't that big of a deal. What ended up being a big, if not the biggest 'deal' was the timezones, that is now repeating the same mistake the third time: mixing strong and weak guilds near each other. Although we would've preferred to do what we did the last 2 tests and let the new guilds off the hook by not capturing their territories (and focus against the other powerhouses), the fact that this mistake has now been repeated the third time and that the other top guilds ended up settling away from us didn't really leave us with any other choice but to prove how detrimental this kind of design direction was. It ended up as a massacre causing more than a handful of players to quit after losing their base territories (Nobody from the whole AV alliance showed up to defend their territories any longer for the last week.)  Along with that, we didn't really have anybody trying to contest us in the open world either due to the massive number of blue dungeons, portals and world's size reducing the amount of hotspots. During WA15, SA15 and even beta 1, we ended up being ganked whether we had a stream on or not. If we forgot to put the delay on any of our streams, then even the nilfgaard's household pets would've gotten out to bite us in the arse. But unlike in any other tests, beta 2 was the only test that we have never had a single battle inside dungeons. The whole game just felt deserted and this was during the first weeks already. Not good.

 

What made this alpha an absolute beast, was that not only this had a lot of content for the stage it was in, this was also the last alpha where the game didn't attempt to "balance itself" (I will refer to them as balance patches from WA15 and onwards, note that I do not mean *combat* balance when I say something about balancing).

 

The only mistake that was made during this test that I personally believe the devs made, is that they didn't just delete content with good quality (The maps from previous test) but also starting the cycle that repeats it.

 

Winter alpha 2015

 

- Removed gems (A basic resource, like wood or ore for those that don't know)

- Removed some layouts, added some

- Removed lots old items (ex. domination staff), but also added lots of new ones

- Combat reworked compared to last test (One of the best things done so far imo)

- Added farming (Was used to mainly combat against guilds on conquering the world, one of the balance things)

- Added new territory types

- Bumped the building tier cap higher for greens/cities (Not sure of this, but I believe the cap was 6 where it used to be 4 for greens?)

- Territories required food upkeep, instead of silver upkeep that was taken automatically from guild vault. (Another balance thing)

- Added consumables

- Flagging

 

I would say that this was almost the best test albion would've had up to date, but due to some extremely detrimental stuff that started during this test I can't. Even though the test had lots of cool stuff going on, necropolis/castle fights, combat rework, other new content, the first and the only balancing patch of this test managed to hog the spotlight anyways. In the bad way.

 

Farming values were absolutely monstrous, requiring guilds to spend a ton of time just to keep up the territories. This was fixed eventually, however, the design direction of constantly attempting to "balance" the game stayed and still exists to this day. This is something that has constantly been a massive burden to the game's quality that will be very visible from SA15 and onwards.

 

Summer alpha 2015

 

- Removed and added some content (Here it starts to be almost even. As much is being added as what was removed)

- Introduced enchanted items

- Introduced hell gates

- Removed T2 resources from PvP zones

- Removed building tier cap from all zones (Reintroduced it during test because some strong guilds settled near greens due to T2 resource positioning)

- Added minimap visibility

- Added knockdown mechanism

- Introduced LP system

- Added some new territory types (Might've been in beta 1?)

- More antizerg mechanics, like focus fire.

- Introduced player islands

 

Not sure where to begin. While once again this alpha added something cool (Hell gates in particular), this wasn't anywhere near enough to counter the harm from the other changes/adds.

 

Removal of T2 resources along with removal of building tier cap in PvP zones encouraged strong guilds to settle near areas where they had a quick access to them, mixing both stronger and weaker guilds next to each other as that was the area weaker guilds used to settle in. In other words, weaker guilds were at the mercy of strong guilds far more than they had ever been. The building tier cap was reintroduced right after being removed (temporarily) to encourage stronger guilds to move deeper. This mistake is later repeated during beta 1, and in another form (Timezones) during beta 2.

 

Of course it didn't just end there. There were also the minimap visibility that was being abused by players, sitting right below the limit and used it sort of like a maphack - roam around and instantly rush at whoever they find on the minimap. The best locations were the locations with the least amount of escape routes.

 

There is even the knockdown mechanic that's applied to PvP too, which so far has only managed to minimize the losses the winners will have. Even if there is a battle that turns out to be very even, there's a good chance the winners won't have a single casualty since there is nobody to finish them off on the loser's side. Of course, this also vastly favours larger groups.

 

Lastly, the one system that we all are very well aware of: the LP. LP was something that was not desired amongst the community as far as I know, yet it was added nevertheless. At first you couldn't even progress no matter how good you were farming fame (Since you had to unlock the nodes with LP even if you got all the fame), but was changed so that you could unlock purely with fame as well due to the amount of negative feedback the system gained. However, although the effects of the LP is vastly weaker today, it's effect is still rather obvious from all the alting we can observe.

 

Overall, this test was amongst the most painful ones I have ever been in, and many of the balancing updates that were intended to do one thing ended up doing the opposite. Just like the example of the minimap visibility.

 

Closed Beta 1

 

- Added GvG Timelock

- Added portals during the test

- Added some low tier content during the test

- Removed building tier cap

- Removed some weapons (Throwing weapons), but also added something new

- Reworked fame gain

- Plot auctioning

- Silver removed from crafting

 

Somewhat better than the previous one, but still had it's issues. The same mistake of mixing strong and weaker guilds was repeated here, having t2 resources not in PvP zones, player isles in and building tier not capped, result: Vendetta living on an isle in a city and other top guilds right next to cities for the fast travel to greens. Naturally, everybody in such 'hotspots' were massacred if they weren't part of one of these top guilds. Territories far away from cities weren't anywhere near as valuable, as the only reward was longer distance to t2.

 

Not just the isles were a strong option overall, choosing to live inside territories forced you to make alts due to the GvG time lock.

 

Closed Beta 2

 

- Removed most of the clusters (due to them being reworked with the template system)

- Added timezones

- Added a completely new world, vastly larger

- Removed fast travel

- Added a lot more blue dungeons

- Resource distribution reworked

- Added new items over time

- Added reputation

- Removal of territories in reds / yellows

- Removal of some territory types (ex. essence)

 

Once again, some better, some worse, some older ones amplified. The new world itself is fine, but there should have been more preparations for it than just throw it out there (ex. the t2 resources that were removed from pvp zones along with fast travel being removed, required players to spend a ton of time just walking around which is just plain boring.)

 

But that wasn't that big of a deal. What ended up being a big, if not the biggest 'deal' was the timezones, that is now repeating the same mistake the third time: mixing strong and weak guilds near each other. Although we would've preferred to do what we did the last 2 tests and let the new guilds off the hook by not capturing their territories (and focus against the other powerhouses), the fact that this mistake has now been repeated the third time and that the other top guilds ended up settling away from us didn't really leave us with any other choice but to prove how detrimental this kind of design direction was. It ended up as a massacre causing more than a handful of players to quit after losing their base territories (Nobody from the whole AV alliance showed up to defend their territories any longer for the last week.)

 

Along with that, we didn't really have anybody trying to contest us in the open world either due to the massive number of blue dungeons, portals and world's size reducing the amount of hotspots. During WA15, SA15 and even beta 1, we ended up being ganked whether we had a stream on or not. If we forgot to put the delay on any of our streams, then even the nilfgaard's household pets would've gotten out to bite us in the arse. But unlike in any other tests, beta 2 was the only test that we have never had a single battle inside dungeons. The whole game just felt deserted and this was during the first weeks already. Not good.

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