So it finally happened to me this last weekend: after patching Landmark for half an hour, I logged into the game to be met by a gaping void where I had grown accustomed to seeing a tall tree reach for the blue sky and the Inn of the Last home, my little Dragonlance homage I’ve spent a lot of time on since closed beta launch, had disappeared entirely. I had been under the impression that there was still 1 more day left on my upkeep but not so – my claim was gone including the landscaping work around the tall mountain I had made my own. Beta or not, backup copies or not, this made for a suprisingly distressing experience that gave me some pause.
I’m with Tobold in that SoE will need to work out a decent and forgiving upkeep system for Landmark come official launch. I’m hoping they will look into a payment plan that doesn’t just consider “European holiday schedules” but acknowledges real-life commitments and obstacles in general. My stomach turns when thinking back to Ultima Online where players had to log into the game so frequently to maintain claims that it required them to organize for a substitute if they were ever away for a few weeks. When my brother went off to obligatory military service, I had the honor of “refreshing his towers” in Britannia.
I don’t expect a free-to-play title like Landmark to guard player claims forever but monthly upkeep payments from the very beginning should be a given in a game that inspires building effort and home base commitment to such degree. Once SoE have figured out their chat functions and other notifications, it would also be useful to install an alert-system outside of the game, sending an email to your account before claims expire.
It isn’t always disinterest that keeps players from an MMO and coming back to an empty claim is a sad affair, even if the spot is still free for the re-claiming (which it might not be if you’re very unlucky so there goes your neighbourhood too). That much I can confirm after this weekend: it’s remarkable how quickly we grow attached to our personalized spot in a game which is of course an open MMO design secret. Player housing in games, any and all forms of personalization and customization are the real longterm pulls of our vitual worlds. So here’s some friendly advice in case you’re new to Landmark and have recently managed to stake a claim:
- Press that ‘U’-key frequently and make sure to pay your claim upkeep to the maximum (copper is cheap and all over Tier 1 biomes)!
- If you’re uncertain of your weekly workload or RL commitments, have your phone or calendar remind you when your claims expire.
- Stay away from attached claims. Your upkeep costs will double and triple if you expand, so unless you have lots of time to farm copper, sticking to a single claim is the way to go for a while.
- Make a blueprint frequently. While there’s an automatic backup feature when you lose your claim, you never know and better safe than sorry.
- In case you lost your claim: give the new claim a different name than before. Re-naming to the same as the backup copy might result in an overwrite should you ever fail to pay upkeep again in the future.
Oh and Liore has posted this simple guide on how to make your first claim if you happen to still be at that step. As for the Inn of the Last Home, it is of course back in the game thanks to backup copies. However, since re-shaping the mountain to fit the scene was too frustrating a second time around, I moved server and set up camp on Satisfaction EU / Kettle this time, where ”my” tree can be found just north of the spire. That is for now, anyway.