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Of all the stupid patch decisions I've seen in online games, I don't think I've ever seen one like this. Ever. For those who haven't played the game, or even have played it quite a bit but aren't high level, this will need some explanation.
Uncharted Waters Online originally launched in Japan in 2005, but the English language version didn't arrive until 2010. We originally got an English translation of what Japan had at launch, and then updates to the Japanese version were released in the American version as soon as they were translated. Translation is a lot simpler than new code, new artwork, and so forth, so we've been getting updates a lot faster than they were originally released, and catching up quite a bit.
Japan first got an "Aztec" update, which was released in the US as an "Aztec" expansion. Then Japan got "Angkor", "Spice Islands", and "Circumnavigation" updates, which were released in the US as the "Angkor" expansion. Combining multiple updates to the Japanese version into a single update to the American version was common, and the next several Japanese updates got released in the US as the "Inca" and "Ottoman" expansions. So far so good. That brings us to 2009 in the Japanese version, and about 5 months ago in the US version.
Then Koei decided to get cute. The next expansion, "El Oriente", had "Zipang" (Japan), "Isla Formosa" (Taiwan), "Morning Calm" (Korea), and "Land of the Dragons" (China) components. And they released components in different orders for different language versions of the game. The Japanese version got Zipang first, the Chinese version got Isla Formosa first, and then Korean version got Morning Calm first. All language versions got the other components to the expansion several months later.
The next expansion in Japan was "Tierra Americana", which released in Japan last year. The first component of the expansion, "Atlantic", added the eastern coast of the US and Canada to the game. So Netmarble decided to release that component before El Oriente. Let the Americans and Canadians go to the areas where they live first, like Koei did before with Japan, Korea, and Taiwan. And then we'll get El Oriente later.
That probably needs a moment to sink in. Let me repeat, for emphasis: Netmarble released the expansions out of order. Imagine if you played some foreign language version of WoW, and in your version, Blizzard decided to release Cataclysm first, and Wrath of the Lich King later. As you can imagine, that breaks a lot of things. But that's basically what Netmarble decided to do. I am completely serious about this. I'm not making it up. Really.
To be fair, this probably breaks less in UWO than it would break in a theme park game like WoW. The components of El Oriente were designed to be released in any order and still work. Whichever component you got first would increase the level cap from 65 to 70, and then you'd be able to do everything in that component while waiting for the others to be translated.
The trouble is that Tierra Americana was not meant to be released before El Oriente. El Oriente raised the level cap from 65 to 70. Tierra Americana assumes that the level cap is 70. But releasing Tierra Americana before El Oriente means that the level cap is still only 65 in the American version.
So for example, the Atlantic update added the "Ironsides" ship to the game, which has level requirements of 69/65/70. You can build the ship right now, and people have. But you can't use it, because the level cap is 65/65/65. Thus, the update added content that cannot yet be done. But it's in the game. To go back to the WoW comparison, imagine having Cataclysm but not Wrath of the Lich King--oh, and the level cap is still only 70. So the high level Cataclysm content is still inaccessible to you. You can do the low level stuff, but it kind of defeats the point of adding Cataclysm, don't you think?
More egregiously, a level cap of 65 means that port development is capped at 65k rather than 70k. Many high level ships require port development above 65k in order to upgrade them. So you can get a high level ship, but you can't upgrade it fully. This means that the high level ship isn't necessarily any better than a lower level ship that can be fully upgraded.
But this all gets fixed when El Oriente releases. It's been four months since the Atlantic patch. At the rate that translations had been done in the past, that's about enough time for El Oriente. And really, this is all old news.
But here's what I don't get. There's a patch coming tonight. And it's not El Oriente. Instead, it's "Vinland", the second part of Tierra Americana. Or perhaps rather, whatever portions of Vinland are doable without the increased level cap. Which probably won't be all of it.
So what is Vinland? Basically, it's Iceland, Greenland, and some other such northern stuff. I could kind of understand releasing Atlantic before El Oriente, as it's basically the local area for the American version of the game. So it is kind of analogous to what they did with the pieces of El Oriente in the Asian language versions of the game. I disagree with that decision, but I can understand it.
But Vinland? Really? Does the game really have a large fanbase in Greenland that wanted to see their local region added to the game as soon as possible?
Vinland isn't really that big of an update. I sure hope it didn't take Netmarble four months to translate it. What I'm hoping is that it was being translated in parallel with El Oriente, and the guy translating Vinland simply happened to finish before the guy translating El Oriente, which is already mostly done. Netmarble has already released some dungeons that were interspersed among El Oriente updates.
Am I optimistic that that's the case? Not really. I'm just hoping. Even if they don't release El Oriente yet, though, they really need to raise the level cap to 70. A later portion of Tierra Americana raises the level cap to 75. So if El Oriente doesn't come soon, then Netmarble may well increase the level cap from 70 to 75, and then later increase it from 65 to 70. Computers tend not to like contradictions like that. Maybe it's in protest of stuff like this that the server has crashed three times in the last week.