Category aion

Aion Vision, lol wut?

We can has houses plx?

We can has houses plx?

Ncsoft releases trailer for future updates, labeled Aion Vision. Player base, including a lot of the people that left, goes crazy. Love is in the air. The trailer shows graphical updates, a housing system, explosive battles…all that good stuff. Everyone and their mother are suddenly considering a re-sub. After all, the trailer looks awesome. It’s the future, man! It’s the way the game is going to look soon! Wow! It’s all in-game graphics!

Hang on, hang on. Didn’t we forget something? Something important?

Oh yeah, that’s right. Companies lie.

Aion Vision does look great, it does. I don’t really care that much about the graphical updates, as I think Aion looked great already. Housing, if implemented, is always a good thing. Hey, I’m already wasting too much time moving furniture around in my house in Star Wars Galaxies and drooling over Stargrace’s Norrathian Museum-video. Don’t get me wrong.

But Aion Vision, at the same time, is marketing. Successful marketing, at that. A video managed, somehow, to erase the memories of the reasons why a lot of people left the game in the first place. The grind. The end-game bugs. The grind. The incredibly linear gameplay and the lack of an open world. The feeling that we’ve done this all before.

Remember this?

Remember this?

The dramatics in the trailer are all directed, put together by the game’s cinematic team. Cinematic teams, at least good ones, can work wonders.

If the stuff they are showing in Aion Vision all come true, that’s great. But please don’t forget that it’s marketing. Don’t forget that it doesn’t really say anything about how the game will be to play when it comes out. Sure, they are promising to lessen the grind, but don’t forget that Aion is already successful in Korea and they love stuff like that. How much will be changed for the Western audience, I wonder?

When I met the producer of Aion, he mentioned that players in Korea were complaining about that Aion had too many quests. That’s right. Too many. They see quests as a grind, we see the lack of them as a grind. I don’t see anything in Aion Vision that explains how Ncsoft will manage to keep everyone satisfied.

But congratulations to Ncsoft. You guys pulled it off! I really want to love Aion, I adore the design and a good PvP-game would be great, but it takes a lot more than a fancy trailer to convince me to come back.

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Gold Spam Nation: Why buying gold makes you an asshat

Or “Why trying to exaggerate your way out of being an asshat is not working, you’re still an asshat for buying gold”.

Gold spam at its finest.

Gold spam at its finest.

If you’re not playing Aion, chances are that you’ve still heard about the gold spammer problem the game is currently facing. Take a look at the picture to the left, that’s the Looking for Group-channel on my server (Castor-EU), a snapshot of about 5 seconds. The thing just kept rolling and rolling in a never ending stream of gold spam. If you look closely, you’ll notice that it’s not only one spammer – there are actually two of them captured in that shot and there were probably more of them lurking about. In a game that doesn’t even have a free trial yet, which means that the spammers are using paid accounts, that’s a quite impressive amount of gold selling right there.

Because of the problems Aion is having, the discussion about gold buying being OK or not has cropped up again. It keeps popping up, for a reason. It’s a controversial subject, after all. I can see all kinds of side to the phenomenon, but there’s one thing that always gets me – the ridiculous justifications some people bring up to excuse their gold buying. It’s not enough just to say that they are too lazy to get their hands on the gold, the blame is often shifted on the game developers instead. Most of the time, this is absolute BS. SkyRi has given me an excellent example in his comment on Insert Awesome Aion Name. He’s written a post about it himself on Aion Insider, but it doesn’t really say much about the subject at all, so I’ll stick with the comment – that’s where the juicy stuff can be found.

Read more

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My Aion review, as translated by Google

To be the game that puts so much emphasis on the fly and to showcase stylish screenshots of characters with wings, we spend an awful lot of time in Aion to run around on the ground. Even when I visit Pandaemonium, one of the two capitals, forced me to get around on foot. Once I can take to the skies, I bounded by a malignant sunset. So much for being a Daeva, half-divinely chosen to fight for my people and against the evil Balaur.

I love Google Translate. Anyway, my review of Aion is published on our site (in Swedish) and here it is translated by Google (into some strange moon language).

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You’re testing my patience, Aion dearest

At first, I didn’t mind the queues to Aion that much. They were annoying and I saw no reason for me to sit through them, then when I finally did decide to give them a chance my client started to crash at some point when I was playing Batman: Arkham Asulym while waiting for them to finish. I am very testy today, since I did not end up on a flight to Iceland today (long story, including chattering ladies, being made an example of in security and having a crisis land in my lap), so I guess giving Aion a go tonight wasn’t such a great idea, but right now I’m furious with having to queue to play a MMO that was released (I count head-start as release, especially with that many pre-orders) more than a week ago.

I still haven’t paid NCsoft a penny for Aion, but I have a job to do here. The screens I’ve grabbed so far were too dark for print, which means I need to take new ones. Since I found out that they didn’t work today, my original plan was to capture them on coming back next Monday, barely making it before deadline and when the finished magazine has to be sent off to the printers. But with this sudden increase in available time, I figured I might as well grab them now – giving myself a larger margin of error and making my editor-in-chief breathe easier. But no.

Despite three new European servers (one English, one French and one German), there is still a queue of over one hour to get into the game. There’s no point in me sitting it out since I know the client will give up and become unresponsive anyway. I can do it tomorrow instead, or I could just log in to the new server and hope that there’s still room for a character on it and no queue. At the same time, do I really want to send a screenshot of the first area to the magazine? Not really, even though I will if I have to.

There’s no way that I’ve been able to play enough, either. I’ve had so many nights earmarked for Aion, but most of the time I haven’t even been able to connect and when I finally got in, I was rubber-banding back and forth like crazy. Tip of the day – Dash Attack and rubber-band lag = a great gaming experience. Any player that rolled a warrior in the early days of World of Warcraft will know what I am talking about…

Again, this will not lower my final score. But I have a print deadline to catch and readers on our site screaming for a review of Aion, which means that I will have to add all manners of disclaimers about not having been able to play enough. Which means that the review will not be able to offer everything that I think NCsoft would like it too, or cover all the stuff that I’d like to cover. But what can I do when I can’t play? Please, tell me, because I’m drawing a blank here. Do I actually have to break my own principle of not reviewing anything labeled as “beta” in the future?

The sad part is that I still really enjoy Aion, despite it being completely unoriginal. A lot, actually. I’ll grab the screens tomorrow, hopefully the server won’t be full during the day. It’s not like I have that much work to do, since I shouldn’t even be home right now…gah, now I’m getting angry again.

I’m downloading Fallen Earth, hopefully that can kill some time while I wait for the kids that are currently up playing Aion to go to bed. Not that it’s helped against the lag before, but at least I can log in. It’s either that or playing more Dirt 2, but racing games tend to give me headache – worse headaches than the one I already have, that is.

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Why the Aion community is scaring me away

Or “Why quest helper, not World of Warcraft, ruined MMOs”

Let’s get the positive stuff out of the way first – I am really starting to enjoy Aion. Yes, it’s so far nothing more than a typical quest grind for XP, the quests are terribly unoriginal and getting into a fight with more than one mob (God forbid three) is a pain. But I’m having fun, I love the alien design, the flavor texts and the storyline. I’ve started to craft a bit, which I also like despite the system for doing it is traditional (do I dare call it “archaic”?) and I like to fly (even though I think the flight timer system is silly in a game so built on flight). PvP, at the arena, is intense and gives me a taste for more – I still wish there was a way to level through PvP alone. If you develop a game so focused on PvP as Aion is at higher levels, you really ought to offer that as an alternative to the typical PvE grind.

With that said, I do have problems with the game. And one of the major ones is how the community feels right now. It’s still early in the game, a lot of people probably won’t play after their first 30 days are up, but at this point it’s almost scary. The general chat is filled with utter nonsense most of the time, the names taken from World of Warcraft are in abundance and the name calling and insulting is constant. Today I was called a “rtard” (people actually use words like that?) by a player called Ladysylvanas (I called that name “unoriginal”, another player called it “gay” – you choose…) and it’s almost becoming a sport between me and Terr to spot names like “Kiljaeden”, “Jaina” or “Azeroth” while we play and point them out over Twitter. Got to love that real time updated social web, no?

I managed to find myself a pretty nice Legion to at least chat with, they seem like a good bunch, but the community is a constant noise in the back of my head. Sure, I can block them, and I keep my Legion chat tab up most of the time to not see General (I don’t want to leave it just yet, since the game is so new there might be a few hidden gems in it), but just knowing that they are out there makes my skin crawl. I guess it’s a problem with most MMOs, but I can’t remember it being this bad in Warhammer Online or Age of Conan when they launched. There were idiots, absolutely, but the community in Aion reminds me more of the one on my server in Runes of Magic than in any other game I’ve played so far.

The impact on actual gameplay is of course none, Aion is still fun. But it better pick up as I level, since I don’t really want to waste away hours on end on a game filled with people that get on my nerves. I want to enjoy Aion without the constant reminder that the good people are few and far between. If you don’t believe me, do take a look at the official forums and tell me that I’m overreacting.

Also, and this is one of the things that gets me the most, everyone seem to be terribly lazy. Despite Aion having clickable links in the quest journal that often can show you exactly where to go, a lot of players don’t seem to even bother to do that, instead asking in General chat about the most fundamental things (“where is X, where do I get Y, I can’t find N, etc”). I can’t help blaming this a bit on Quest Helper, which truly turned World of Warcraft into a game for drones. I’m guilty as well, I installed Quest Helper just like everyone else, but that does not mean I feel handicapped the second I end up in a game that doesn’t have similar tools. Read the freaking quest journal, for crying out loud. It’s all right there! Some even ask for directions to things that’s been shown in cut scenes, which always makes me wanna shove my head through my screen.

There are two things that might get me when it comes to Aion – the grind or the community. As soon as I’ve played enough to deliver my review (which will never, truly be enough of course), I’m going to make a decision. Either I press on, or I ditch Aion for the time being. The community in games like Ryzom is so nice that I don’t see why I should have to live through this crap to enjoy myself. I am also considering picking up Fallen Earth to see how it is and feels, with an extra careful eye towards its budding community. No more, I say. No more.

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Hey, look – I’m actually playing Aion

Yes, it’s true – I decided to shift server, the queues are down, the server cap has been increased. That means I can actually log into Aion and, you know, play…

It’s certainly an improvement. So far, I’m enjoying myself, even though it is still a PvE quest grind fest in the lower levels – at this point it really doesn’t add anything to the genre. I know things will get different when you get into the Abyss and the PvP game begins, which I’m really looking forward to, but even Runes of Magic did “more” for the MMO genre in its first levels than Aion does. To be honest, the saving grace of Aions’ early game is the graphics. They look amazing, I find myself drawn to the world and I’m really happy that the drawing distance has been improved since the first closed beta. Thank you, NCsoft.

I do understand what Sera meant when she said that she didn’t think Aion had a soul, it’s hard to shake the feeling that something is lacking. Hopefully I will be able to find that missing touch as I progress, since I have great hopes for Aion as a good PvP game. Also, my character (pictured above) looks awesome. She is ready to kick some Elyos scum back to whatever sun-infested place they came from. As soon as she’s done grinding for XP, that is…

Major gripe with Aion for the day – the battle music. It’s horrific. That and the fact that people lack imagination – the amount of Warcraft-related names is staggering. How about some strict enforcing of naming policies, NCsoft? Be quick about it, please, you can’t really accept a Legion calling themselves “Frostmourne”, can you? Feel free to just perma-ban all the people who can’t help chatting about World of Warcraft in General chat while you’re at it, it’s such a sad sight.

If you happen to be in a nice Legion on Castor-EU, with mature players and a good sense of humor, feel free to contact me. A large part of the community scares me (I was just told that “asassins [sic] are pro rangers are ghey” in Assassin chat) and I think I will need to hide from it as much as possible, while still hoping to find a Legion with great people that enjoy the PvP Aion has to offer. Why do I play MMOs again? Hmmm, I guess I should save that for another post.

Just to end at a high note – combat in Aion is, at least so far, a lot of fun. It’s fast, the attacks look great and I really like the chain system. But it most certainly isn’t a sandbox game, so I’m not sure if it has the appeal to keep me playing for a long, long time. Then again, I played World of Warcraft for ages, so perhaps I should keep my mouth shut…

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Aion is go! Perhaps. At least I think it is. Is it?

First impression: Can’t create an Asmodian on my server of choice. Fair enough, the limit will be lifted anyway, so I’ll wait.

Second impression: Can’t connect to server since it’s full, sorry. Try again in a while.

Third impression: You are number 3200 in the queue, just hang around for almost 5 hours and you’ll get to play.

I have been stuck on that third impression since yesterday. There is no way I’m waiting 5 hours in a queue to play a MMO, I don’t think anyone should have to. Dear NCsoft, you had hard numbers on the amount of people that would try to log in during the head start days and couldn’t fix this well in advance? You guys just managed to hit a brand new MMO-low in a time when we’ve slowly come to expect launch day catastrophes to be a thing of the past.

My plan yesterday was to write a proper first impression blog entry about Aion, complete with a screenshot of my new fancy character. That is obviously not going to happen – I wasn’t able to log in during the off-peak hours earlier today and I am certainly not able to log in now. I have no idea what the server guys are doing, but I’d recommend NCsoft to shove a lot of extra cash their way so they can get everything up to speed well in advance of the official launch in a few days. The game launches in the US tomorrow and if you guys are having the same issues as we Europeans do, you are truly screwed.

Now, I haven’t paid a penny for my copy of Aion, so perhaps I shouldn’t be complaining that much. If I had actually paid good money for the collectors edition and getting into the head start program that way, I would be furious by now. But since I’m supposed to be reviewing the game, I am under a certain deadline stress. My editor in chief knows how MMOs work, that they take time to review, but at the same time you can’t wait forever for these things. If things aren’t sorted soon, how am I supposed to have the time to do a proper and informed review?

Funnily enough, NCsoft seems to understand the problems with reviewers being stressed and pumping out MMO reviews way too quickly (perhaps they don’t want to see one of their games be the center of another Zitrongate), so they added a note to the e-mail which included the review code. They asked us gaming journos to “…keep in mind that the full experience of Aion grows with the game and an accurate view of the Abyss PvPvE zone won’t become apparent without a reasonable amount of active high level characters and player organization on you [sic] server”.

When the e-mail arrived a few days ago I found it cute and quite daring – they could have hoped for a Tortage effect instead – but now I just find it laughable. How will my experience of Aion be able to grow with the game and how do you expect me to be able to reach level 25 and take part in the Abyss fighting if I can’t even get into the game?

When it comes to my future review of Aion, I will of course not give the game a lower score because of these problems – I will take the time to play and experience what the game has to offer before I pass judgement on it. But the problems we are seeing now will be mentioned. I have a bad feeling that quite a few reviewers, especially the ones that don’t care very much about the genre, will be a lot quicker in judging the game.

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