Wednesday, June 10

What is wrong with Aion / MMO's in general

I'm not in the NA Beta of Aion but played the Chinese Open beta (or free trial, my Chinese isn't that good) so I never signed an NDA.

Neat huh?

Can one be held to an NDA one couldn't read and therefore didn't even recognize it as one. I wonder?

By way of Heartless Gamer I found this article at West Karana which sums up what had been the vague nagging feeling that kept me from enjoying Aion too much (besides the enormous lag):
Take one step into the world of Aion, and from that moment on, you’re an expert player. All your years playing MMOs has prepared you for this moment, and nothing you encounter will give you a moment’s hesitation. By the end of the preview Sunday, many characters were fairly high level, guilds had been set up and there was a rough hierarchy of achiever guilds vs casual, friend-based guilds.
Several posts back I mentioned the Joy of Learning, which is a big part of my Explorer type playstyle. In Aion there was nearly nothing to learn. The controls were elementary, the quests simple, flight relatively easy and introduced in so carefully planned stages that there really is no noticeable learning curve, at all.
While to many this may sound as a great thing, and more power and enjoyment to them, to me it was what kept me from truly enjoying the game. The world is still there to discover and it really looks nice and lush. The background however was everything but intruiging. If I were to sum Aion up in one word it'd be "bland", or "needs salt" if I may be excused to use two.

It's like I said in a comment earlier today:
Immersion in game mechanics is a form of escapism in itself. The sad truth about those exotic worlds is that over the last decade you by and large have to choose between being a genocidal maniac in exotic worlds according to rather unimaginitively similar combat systems, or have interesting gameplay like building houses, managing resources e.t.c in closer to real life environments.
Geek will probably argue that flight is a really cool gameplay feature sure to be immersive to him and a lot of others. I'll not argue that. It is true, just not for me. To me it's a simple gimmick strapped onto the same old same old. Lineage II with two-winged elves rather than the one-winged elves. I never really got the one-winged elves either actually.

I'm probably just in a vugue (sp?). I'm not playing MMO's at all at the moment and not really seeing anything worthwhile out there. MMO's really have become stuck in a rut from my perspective. If only EA and Bethesda would make me a Sims3-Morrowind edition with a slice of interesting adventuring/combat gameplay and a Bloody Learning Curve. Oh and all my Perfect MMO suggestions included of course :-)


  1. Since I haven't played Aion I can't agree with that part, but I do agree that learning your way in a new world is a big part of the fun. Unfortunately I think all developers will try to make everything as smooth and intuitive as possible so that they can get the most players on board. Putting in a learning curve is equal to suicide. Gaming veterans are a too small market segment, I think. We might still be reasonably vocal, but WOW and Wii numbers prove otherwise.

  2. Wait, I thought Wii was on the decline?
    No matter, I see your point.

    I probably should just avoid anything that says "Easy to learn, hard to master" as it invariably means no learning curve and I've never found an incentive to "master" anything. But when you accept no learning curve, all that remains is the exploring of the world. That's another bit that could do with some salt in Aion.

  3. Flight in Aion at best is a cool little feature, maybe the PvP in the abyss would show it at it's true glory but hacking and slashing with a y axis doesn't seem a big enough radical shift to warrent calling Aion ground breaking or even anything's not.

    I've enjoyed Aion not because its a 'breath of fresh air' but because it's accessible, easy on the eye and theres not alot else around right now. You are so right about the lack of learning curve, but is that learning curve something we really only ever have the luxury of with out first MMO ? I cant say I've played anything that has really stretched my brain cells in MMO land, single players are for that.

    One day far away in dreamland maybe someone will listen to us 'old gamerz' and put away notions of a quick buck in favour of the slow steady growth of a well rounded 'niche' can but dream huh?

  4. Maybe a learning curve doesn't directly add to your gaming experience, but the lack of one does add to a 'been there, done that' feeling when entering a new game.

    A learning curve, no matter how steep is only a memory after a while. Once you've played for a year, the things you learned during the first two months (these days the learning curve may not be longer than a week by design standards I gather) you have long since "mastered" (ugh I hate that word), but the memory remains. At least it feels that way for me.

    In vanguard playing a Rogue is a continuous learning curve, with every tier bringing new abilities you have to incorporate in your arsenal of abilities, items and skills you use to stay alive long enough to bring down your opponent. While I think they went over board a bit on the options( you really need 4 hotbars full of quickshots or one bar filled with macro's) it's one of the most enjoyable classes I ever played.
    As is always the case with VG it's so close to perfection the imperfections gall.
    Ideally a tier (usually 10 levels) would consist of the first five levels acquiring and incorporating new abilities and the second 5 levels dealing with new monster abilities/behaviors. Vanguard almost got there.

    I wonder if there really isn't a market for us "older gamers", I'm not convinced it's a matter of age really. More one of maturity. And I don't mean maturity as in doesn't cuss and takes his responsibilities though that is probably part of it. I mean it in a sense of maturing as a gamer. The current swath of EQ and Wow clones is starting to feel like an entry level game to me, with the older old-skool more hardcore games the next stage. Though they should probably be more polished.

  5. 'older gamerz' wasnt necessarily a reflection on age, just a reflection on experience and a jaded attitude to the current trends in MMO's, not sure if jaded is the right word but I know I'm tired of the same thing in slightly different clothes.

    Aion is extremely polished and has some awesome little features, all fluff, like the ability to use the skin you like and transfer the stats from a superior item and the express mail service which hot foots an NPC to your destination anywhere in the world, as I said fluff but cool fluff.

    Back to learning curves; AoC has the 1.05 patch on test right now, it's probably still a month maybe longer away, it's a massive change to the way people are used to playing their classes and is going to be a major shock to some people, they will need to learn how to play their class all over again. I wasn't impressed when I first started to see what was happening, my two favourite classes have been changed alot, my growing tiredness of content probably doesn't help in my reaction to it but having kept an eye on whats happening the game is going to require more thought and skill from nearly all classes, that in itself is a good thing, how people will react is going to be interesting, my biggest problem is do I really want to start again learning how best to play my class in the same old content ? The game itself needs major changes to increase longevity, content isnt the real answer, there are findamental game mechanics that need working out and in to AoC to give it any chance of real longevity, I'm sure they know that and it may well come but the hamster wheel of raiding isnt doing it for me anymore, my sub ends this week and I'll likely take another peek when patch 1.05 hits and see what plans follow.

  6. I didn't think you were showing your age Geek, but saying ti the way I did hopefully made me look intelligent :-)