This is all well and good. Following these breadcrumb trails can be fun. I enjoy a little of it myself when I'm in the mood. As has been observed by many before me, however, it has about as much to do with "exploring" as Painting By Numbers has to do with Fine Art. It's Exploring for Achievers, basically, and Achievers are a much easier target. Rewarding Explorers can be something of an existential challenge.
|If that doesn't make you want to go and explore you may have chosen the wrong hobby.|
Looking at the LotRO wiki I see that the Deeds system, as it's called, also breaks down into four quasi-Bartle categories, one of which is called "Explorer". I have no memory of that at all. Mostly I remember killing stuff for titles. They call those "Slayer" Deeds. Why they didn't go with Bartle's "Killer", who can say? Perhaps they thought it didn't sound sufficiently Tolkeinian.
Whether they use his exact nomenclature or not, however, Western MMO developers seem to be big on Bartle. How far East the Professor's influence extends is less clear. Jake Song and XLGames certainly didn't consider it necessary to kit each character out with a Book of Adventure or Tome of Discovery, nor even to add a plain old Achievement Panel to the UI.
|Photo opportunities are few and far between in an ArcheAge sewer.|
That doesn't mean there's no Achievement system in ArcheAge. There is. Sort of. Or rather there used to be. This Reddit thread explains it in detail. The gist is you used to get rewards for doing various things that might be called "Achievements" in other games. Later those rewards were removed but the triggers weren't.
When Trion localized the game they used the version with the triggers but without the rewards and guess what? That turns out to be the best way to reward Explorers for doing what they do naturally that I've yet seen in any MMO so far.
In all the palaver about overpopulated servers, queues, bots, hacks, PvP, farming, naval warfare, housing shortages and all the rest, one thing that's easy to miss is that ArcheAge offers something that approximates a virtual world. Granted it often feels like you're exploring the half-finished set for a movie, what with all the (NPC) houses no-one bothered to furnish and the (PC) houses no-one bothered to finish building, but, still, there definitely is plenty of "there" there.
|Yes, I'm doing the backstroke. I'm in a sewer. So would you.|
With no zone boundaries and reasonably unrestricted movement - if you can see something you have a better-than-even chance of being able to get to it - ArcheAge demands to be explored. If you're that way inclined, that is. Which I am.
The world of ArcheAge (I wish they'd give it a name) has reminded many an ex-Vanguard player of Telon for this reason as well as for the textural familiarity and the occasional musical memory. I spent an unconscionable amount of time exploring Thestra, Qalia and Kojan for the sheer fun of it and it's going much the same way in ArcheAge. Cantering from quest to quest I'll spot a cave or a windmill across a field and off I go.
The difference between Vanguard and ArcheAge in this respect is the zing. In Vanguard I felt it in my bones. In ArcheAge I can see it in the air. Literally. And hear it too.
|One part pony, three parts mountain goat.|
I'm not having flashbacks. It's not my temporal lobes flaring up. Not this time, anyway. It's those leftover triggers. Occasionally, when I poke my nose into somewhere that looks interesting, there's a shimmering sound from the speakers and a scatter of sparks on the screen. That's where I would have received one of Nui's Tears had that currency not been removed.
It's perfect. Most of the time when I go exploring the reward is just as it should be - satisfied curiosity, occasional adventure, incidental terror. Props to Two Crowns for having a proper sewer system. That was a scary half-hour in the dank dark. Now and again, however, often when I do something a little out of the ordinary, like riding my horse up the side of a carnival marquee, I'll hit one of those disconnected triggers and...Zing!
Its a gift that you can't keep or covet. It happens too fast and unexpectedly even to snap a screenshot. It's a virtual pat on the back, a nod of the head, as if the game is offering you a wink and a wry smile. It feels great.
They may have got there by accident but XL and Trion may have come up with the perfect way to reward Explorers just for exploring.