Aion Engine Revs Up

This weekend starts the publicly announced closed beta events for Aion.  I seemed to have completely missed my chance everywhere to get a key, but I am sure there will be more.  The next couple of months are likely going to be filled with Aion hype.  Its only marketing/release competition is Champions Online, which seems to be the only other “AAA” MMO set for 2009 release.  Plus with the World of Warcraft “boredom” setting in for many and the summer slowdown, I think Aion is in good position for a strong release.

The release is going to be interesting because the game has already been released in some Asian countries, and there Aion is enjoying immense popularity.  The Yanks and Euros will get the game, I believe, nearly a year after Korea’s open beta.  All that polish that MMOs usually require that first few months will already be built in to the core gameplay.  This means that Aion might possibly be one of the smoothest “AAA” MMO launches yet.

I am excited about the game, but not to an MMO degree.  For Warhammer Online, I was excited to an MMO degree.  This meant I was willing to forsake all other games, especially other time consuming MMOs, to play Warhammer Online exclusively.  I would suck the marrow from all that Mythic would offer.  I really don’t feel that way about the current or 2009 MMOs right now.  I am currently playing Guild Wars (mostly casual PvP), Lord of the Rings Online (two Loth rep quests/day, then log), and World of Warcraft (I’ll blog about that later).  This is on top of Mount & Blade (lttp), Assasin’s Creed (yay, Steam sales), and Peggle (I can’t quit yooo).  I think that some upcoming expansions and games will get me back in to the hyper-focused MMO degree of gameplay, but thus far Aion is not quite that far in on my radar.

However, I will still likely play Aion.  I have heard that it can be played very casually (WoW with wings), and if nothing else flying around with very pretty graphics might be worth a couple Jacksons.  I also really like the idea of PvPvE, where enemies to all invade battlegrounds.  I have always thought RvR would be more fun with the addition of NPC enemies, and Aion seems to have taken this idea and run with it.  Hopefully, one of those exquisite beta keys lands in my lap (hint, hint, nudge, nudge, NCSoft ^ ^).

–Ravious
and war broke out in heaven

15 thoughts on “Aion Engine Revs Up”

  1. Perhaps “not to an MMO degree” is the best- for you and the game developers. Doesn’t sound like you’re currently playing Warhammer… at least to the “MMO degree” by the list of the other games you play. Suffer burnout? Suffer from the MMO feeling that if you take a week off, you fall behind the power curve and might as well not bother coming back? That’s a common condition of the “MMO degree” gameplay- intensity, then burnout… and since so many MMO’s expect a level of time investment, that burnout is more permanent.

    Imagine instead that the game just fosters a “not to an MMO degree” interest: something to get you to play enough to think the $15 is well-spent, but not something that gets you to give up all other games. You play less, pay the same. It takes you longer to burn through the content, to “master” the game and to get to the point you might suffer burnout. Sounds like a more enjoyable time for you- and more profitable for the developer.

  2. That’s the thing, though, I have yet to find a subscription game that really allows me to play the way I want while I still feel I got my $15 worth. Graduated subscriptions would really help this out, me thinks. That’s why I quit WAR. I just couldn’t justify the subscription fee for how I was playing. I felt like I could get as much gameplay out of GW, TF2, etc., which were “free.” I guess hardcore welfare really sticks in my mind.

    It’s a silly thing, but I doubt I am the only consumer that has this inherent logic flaw. It really should be how much enjoyment do I get from the $15/month instead of some ethereally objective plateau that comprises all gamer’s time in to the subscription MMO. I am working on it though (check back in 8 or so hours ^ ^).

  3. @Werit: when I’ve heard that term used in a good way it usually meant a Korean MMO that was not a super hardcore grindfest. In other words it had the playability of WoW. When I heard it in a bad way, it was about Aion copying the Diku-portions and UI of WoW. YMMV.

  4. I’ve quit WAR, too. Just wasn’t doing anything for me. Battlefield battlefield grind grind eh.

    Still playing CoH… and I can say I’m beta testing Champions Online. I can even answer limited questions about it, based on the playing I did outside of a NDA.

    Aion… I dunno if it really appeals to me. I dunno if it doesn’t, too, but I’m amazingly ambivalent about it.

  5. Oh, hey, want an awesome thing? Jumpgate Evolution is doing their entire UI in flash, so people can reskin it at their pleasure.

  6. @Rav. Seriously though, those wings just kill Aion for me. It looks interesting and certainly something I’d try. However I hate those wings so much that I’m not sure I can do it. If it was a jet pack sure :)

  7. I always liked the look of some of the Korean grinders I played (Silkroad for Example, or Perfect World, which is actually Chinese)
    So, the fact that the game has a casual feel, with the visuals I like (very Final Fantasy)..I will try it.
    I am in need of an injection for an MMO that is even remotely fun or unique. (until then, AoC it is)

  8. I too cannot seem to get my hands on a beta key even after signing up for the beta through ncsoft over a year ago. I’v been saying all along that aion could be the sleeper hit when it releases. I just hope they can keep out the gold farmers that ruined lineage II. I hope there is a station pass deal like sony has, that could seal the deal for me.

  9. I don’t know what to think about AION. Personally, the only other MMO apart from GW that I’ve really enjoyed was EVE. Maybe I’ll give AION a try if I get a beta key or when it’s on sale dirt cheap at Amazon.com.

  10. I love how everything is compared to wow and it shows how many games people that have this opinion have played. For your edification WoW has a very generic UI that has been used for at least a decade and which several games use today. Also before you wright an asinine reveiw; how about playing the game first and educating yourself. By the way if you definition of a good MMO is WAR or WoW no wonder you wrote this reveiw. The only thing anywhere close in aion to WoW is the crafting system, which is more complicated, but it is a assembly system. Good day to you sir.

  11. here a review from someone who has played the game

    Overall Score:4.72 or 95%

    Peer Mash up:1.Aion
    2.Vanguard
    3.WoW
    4.Eve
    5.GuildWars/Lineage

    Overview: I’d have to say my over all experience was one of delighted fun. Every nook and cranny of this game showed of care and detail. In a day and age where its hard to one up the last guy. It is these small details that make a game great. With beautiful environments, a great combat system, also being Korea’s number one mmo in sales and subscriptions it’s hard not to like this game. So you ask your self, is it hype or is this a sound game. In the following review I will try to help you sort through that.

    I.Presentaion Overall 4.5:

    a.Story 4.0: The fact that this mmo even has an actual story is something that was something surprising for this genre of late. Yes lots of mmo’s have fragmented story bits that are usually not connected in any way of form. This game has a unfolding story line that progresses as your character evolved and matures. Strung together with a main quest line and cinematics (that seem to be cut short in beta to conceal story line)which is a nice touch. The bad news is that though amazing looking and well deviled its the same RPG story that has been around forever. You are some powerful lord that in some conflict of one kind or another has lost your memory and abilities. You job is to reclaim those abilities and find out what happened through cryptic flashbacks, and finding people along the way who know who you are. I’m sure the storyline go deeper then that, but that it all summed up. It is still nice to have a story when most mmo have forgotten what use to make RPG’s great.

    Image

    b. Graphics 4.6:Well I could not give Aion a 5 because of those of you that would expect fully 3d rendered graphics. On the other had I could not give graphics 4 because of the ingenuity and artistic value put it the Aion graphics. The graphics engine used is a painted matte hybrid mixed with the Crytek Engine. The best way to explain this is if you were on a movie set with a painted back drop but had real props and real actors. So ground and far sky the are hi-res painted textures with layered 3d environment effects and object. With the way they implement the to together it’s hard to notice unless your looking for it. With all the other aspects mixed in if you did notice it you soon forget. Why did they do it this way you ask. Well they have big plans to make sever vs. server PVP of a supposed 200 players. It has be confirmed that there is 54 man raid content consisting of 6 man groups. Also during the course of beta there were times when the was over 100 players around me with max settings on and no leg, going at 56 fps on my laptop. So the consensus is if you can play vanguard on a computer on any capacity you can play this maxed out just about.

    c.Animations 5.0: This Is another one of the many areas of Aion that shines of attention to the small details. So you standing in a pond with fish what do yah do? Why not try to grab one.
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    Or say you outside and it starts raining. Why not cover your head with something. These are some of the many context sensitive things you toon does just sitting around. When you type certain words in a sentence the game picks up on it, which cause an emote. Like typing “lol” makes your tune laugh or putting “here” in a sentence makes you toon say a verbal “hey” and motion over with his had. This a first caught me off guard but then I started noticing patterns and thought it was a very nice touch. You still have you regular cued emote. My two favorites being /wings witch make you show off your wings, and /sleep in which you produce a cloud and relax on it. The fun doesn’t stop there. It is mesmerizing to watch the stings of skills go off fluently like the game almost knows which skill you will cast next. Also when you knock someone back they actually knock back and have to stumble to there feet. Same is true if you interrupt someone they go it to a frustrated emote. This cohesiveness of skill along with the level detail in each skill makes this a real treat.
    Image
    Here’s a mob that got knock on to his knees where other frailer mobs might fall to there back.

    d. Sound & Music 5.0: Aion has got a plethora of sound effect that are just as they should be. The sound track is great and dynamic at that. Not just in the normal if you in this or that spot it plays a particular music. But also has a battle music unique to every spot. Again above the norm.

    II. Gameplay Overall 4.8:

    a. Combat 5.0:
    Image
    Watch closely and see all the skill lighting up in there tree, and toward the middle right the combo branch choices going off.

    The combat in this game is fun to watch and amazing to play. It is base of a chain system. You start off with base attack that is part of a combo three. When you activate a base attack it both light up other skills of that tree that are on your bar or the UI can pop them up around your enemy. Usually two or three skills per branch after that. This gives a very strategic feel to battle. If these a particular skill you want that down a skill tree you have to commit to it. If you cast another base attack other then that skill tree it lock it out till the base timer has reset. Also you have to know your timers on different skills. The higher up on the tree the longer the reset timer so if you didn’t wait long enough to cast the base skill you might of gone up that tree for no reason and wasted time. This rewards skill over button mashing, and makes very immersive combat. For those that just want to mash buttons the game also has default branches that it will go to when picking a base attack. So you pick a base attack it then will be replaced by the icon of the next default skill on your key bar you can click this key again to activate that branch or click a different branch in that tree to go a different direction and then back to button mashing. It has been made so that you can make it as challenging or easy as you want. The more effort you put into it the more you get out of it. And example of this is there was a tank of my type 3 levels above me. We dueled and I went carefully through my skill trees vs. him that was obviously mashing. I beat him with 20% health left from the combo trees and skill I got up.

    b. Character Development 4.5: They have taken an old school approach with a new twist on a few aspects in this game. This area is one of them. Instead of allocating your attribute point. you get them dependent on: one what class you are and two what abilities you perform the most. As you perform skills you get experience in them, leveling up their effectiveness. Also there are socket s in allot of the armor pieces for a very Diablo feel but just a little different. It may not be what you use to but its balanced out and enough customization in attribute to where you can stance out, but also does not let you stray to far.

    c.UI & Interactoins 5.0: The implementation and organization of this UI is incredible. There is a windows for just about everything from crafting to emote even a macro making window that has tools and tips to help you out. The UI auto arranges all windows as they pop up and go down (this can be turned off). Log book is very cool. All your mission have key people places or things that are hyperlinked when you click them they lead to more info, and sometime even more info. You can also have it mark on your map where these thing are. Very useful if you missed something in quest dialog. It’s Like having a wiki-logbook.
    If you pop open your character it will open you inventory with it and attach it to the bottom or you can open inventory by its self. It even has a sort button that sort items in your inventory by type. When you go to vendors there a button for sell all cash loot and it take it out of your inventory. All the shops have an hopping cart type motif where you pick all the item you want to buy or sell. It ring up a total. If you over pick witch items you want off double check them and then do your transaction. Skills are bought achieved through books. You can by them in advance if you want to have them when you level and click them out in the field.

    Side Notes: Gold is like copper in VG so don’t be shocked when you see high prices. Also know that this games text system is case and text sensitive. So be careful not to put a space accidentally on the back of your name or make a name like this “KoMaNcHu HikOMan ” because now one will add you or be likely want to ad you before they give up.

    Summary: This is one of those game that because of the great care put into it you get spoiled and it’s hard to play any other game after you have played it.

    Please if you have any questions I missed or would like more info about something. Don’t be afraid to ask. There are thing I just did not put in because it would be going on about a certain area to long. Like I said everywhere I turned there was something that caught my eye and there is just too much to right about and a lot of it is better delivered when experienced. Sorry if the review is a little rough. I haven’t written anything of this scale in a long time. Chatting has been the extent of my writing for the last 2 years. Hope this helped.

  12. I have a deep distrust of NCSoft following Lineage 2. Which I played from end of beta for about 6months post launch. WoW beta came out about then and I jumped off Lineage 2.

    Here’s what I thought was a problem.

    1. A few players abusing bugs (hack) to get ahead. This is a PvP game.
    2. Players reported this to CM
    3. Players post on forums
    4. Forum posts gets deleted (not unusual – in the MMO space)
    5. Eventually CM responded that they’ve asked NCSoft Korea to fix it, and it will be in the next content patch. My understanding at the time was that NCSoft USA only does content translation and can’t modify the source tree.
    6. So Korea fixes it in 2 weeks, and had it on test server.
    7. 1month later – they have it live.
    8. sends to USA to translate
    9. USA test server (6 weeks).
    10. USA live – 2 months.
    11. Everybody I played with that was annoyed by the hack had already cancelled their account. Good job NCSoft.
    12. I don’t know if things are different – but I vowed not to play a game where it takes 2 months to patch to “my” server.

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