Tera – Sky Castles for the .00001%

Outside Velika

Sky Castles are for the .000000001% of Tera’ns. Wonder why they didn’t make them for all, or many more, of us?

Read more to see the Enmass Twitch video that describes the castles.

Basically there are 20 castles. Two factions – PvP and PvE, but to have access to one, you must be in one of the top 10 guilds in your faction. Castles are awarded each quarter based on a complex formula, and if you lose ranking, then you lose your castle. Apparently you don’t lose all those customizations that you bought for your castle, and there are a boat load of them, but you have nowhere to display those since you no longer have a castle to show them off.

What a loser.

This is sort of like the Elitist Vanarch thing that was in force when I first joined Tera. Back then, maybe two years ago, there were a few – 3 or 4 – Vanarchs that were elected to “govern” areas of Tera. Basically the only power they had that meant anything to the vast majority of voters was setting the taxes that the NPCs charged on transactions, and Duh, everyone voted for the guild leader that promised zero taxes.

So, eventually, Tera scrapped the whole Vanarch thing.

But they seem to have this thing for Elitist features that benefit the largest guilds and their leaders rather than building in features that benefit the large populations in the game.

Twitch Stream describing Sky Castles

Sky Castles Described
Sky Castles Described

Twitch Stream Here

Check out minute 28 or so to start the sky castle description.

What Tera Could Have Done

The big thing recently in MMOs is Housing, or Guild Housing. Nothing new. Guild Wars 1 had guild housing. Player housing might be seen as too expensive of real estate in the game and it might be if it didn’t use instances.

Let’s compare Sky Castles with what Wow has done. I didn’t study all the details, but I saw a video describing their plans. I’m not making a detailed comparison, but a high level remark. Anybody, at a very high level, can have a Garrison in Wow. It costs currency, no doubt. And you have to be a serious player to get your character to the level where garrisons are available. But they are not Elitest, and they don’t expire based on your ranking.

While you get to pick out where you want your Garrison in Wow, they must use some kind of instancing since I don’t think they set aside millions of plots for garrisons. Maybe 100’s or 1000’s. But 20 is enough for everyone. Let’s see how.

Outside Velika

Castles for the Masses

But what if housing were based on Sky Castle models and customization, but we made it for the masses? What might it look like?

Let’s, for the sake of argument, say that we want fancy player housing for the masses, and we want to use current Sky Castle models and customization. Well there are only 20 Castles scattered around the world. How do we accommodate 1000’s of folks having their own castles? It’s easy, we use instances and we break the requirement that every viewer see the same thing in their client.

After all what you see is what is rendered by your client. Everybody doesn’t have to see the same thing. They only have to see a plausible or quasi consistent version of the world. So let’s make up some rules that might work.

  1. If you don’t own a castle and are not in a party, you see a generic and empty Castle where ever there is one.
  2. If you own a castle, and are not in a party, then that castle is rendered for you in the way that you have customized it.
  3. If you visit a castle while leading a party, then it is rendered  for you and all the members in the way that you see it.
  4. If as party leader, you visit a castle you own, you see your castle, and given rule 3, all your members do too.
  5. If as party leader, you visit a castle you do not own, you see the castle as the owner would, if they are in the party. If no party member owns the castle, then everyone sees a generic empty castle.

In other words, party members always see a consistent view of castles they visit together. I see no reason to limit folks visiting castles that they do not own. The castle will be completely generic and empty when a non-owner visits, so no biggie. There are no NPCs to lock down. Generic Castles have no NPCs. If you visit with a party leader, then I see no reason that the NPCs should refuse requests from other party members. But there may be good reasons for restrictions based on NPC services. That depends. The point of ownership of castles is to customize them. Allowing visiting empty castles will probably induce more folks to have castles, which will help the economics rather than hurt them. After all, the music industry is only now learning that giving away music sells more music. It’s the same thing.

I’ve written 3D programs, and I could code this. It’s not that hard based on what Bluehole has already done. The models are amazing and hard work and beautiful. The change to the code for the above rules would be pretty easy by comparison.

In this way, castles are instances with live views of the live world below them. Voila, Sky Castles for the masses with very little load on the servers. Sure there is more database information, but that’s cheap. What’s complicated and costly is any increased communication required to render the castles, not the castles themselves. These rules require minimal communication. They  just render generic castles, like they do now, unless you own the castle you are looking at.  The clients already know how to render the most complex castles with customizations including NPCs etc etc. These rules just change the rules about what to render based on who is looking.

Outside of Frontera

Apparently you can briefly visit castles, but then you will be returned to the nearby town / city since you don’t own it. Even if, as now, no one else owns it. So I didn’t bother visiting castles to take screen shots there.

Uh... Which one is mine?
Uh… Which one is mine?

From the Velika flight platform, you can TP / Fly to a castle. But which one is your guild’s? Kind of hard to tell. Click on the wrong one and you are bounced back. Why can’t we just TP from anywhere to our castle if our guild has one? They can’t decide whether TP is a good thing or a cheat, but they keep adding ways to do it… slowly.

On Road to Velika
On Road to Velika
From Popolion
From Popolion

The Economics of Castles for the Masses

I guess Bluehole will never get over their Elitist attitudes. But they are also completely ignoring economics. If they made housing for everyone – as I suggest above without making any more than 20 castles – then they could charge real money – EMP – for little add-ons for castles and make a ton of money. Sure the NPCs and other minor issues would be [should be] for in-game gold, but other stuff like banners or whatever could be for EMP and would be a revenue stream for Enmasse. These current Elite Guild sky castles are not a revenue stream. The add-ons are apparently paid for in Honor Points which are apparently earned by trashing other guilds or other players in battles. Who knows?

Also notice that it’s not really a big cost on the server or rendering problem for other folks in the world to own your castle. They don’t see it unless they are in a party with you. So there is no reason to have the castle “Time Out” if you don’t pay the rent. No reason to have rent at all. The might have it like Guild Banks if you like. Something like 3G / week to have a castle is not a burden. And if you stay logged out for 6 weeks, like Guild banks, no biggie. You pay for the  next week that you actually use the Castle. And it is still there waiting when you get back from your long vacation.

Hurray for the .000001% – 20 * 200 guild members out of 2 million people with accounts on Tera? Hey you do the math and add the correct number of zeros.

Back in 2013 MMOSite reported that Tera in North America had passed 2 million users. I didn’t make that number up.

– ww