Wednesday, August 12

To Aion or not to Aion?

I've been seriously reconsidering whether I should cancel my pre-order of Aion.

Why? It's an ok MMO game. It's polished, it's got nice graphics and mechanics that are familiar to anyone who played Lineage II and or WoW in the past. A bit more L2 than WoW actually. I've yet to hear complaints that it doesn't have an end-game and NCSoft is not pulling weird stunts like the "Pay us $200,- for a life-time subscriptio to our game, sight unseen" one that Cryptic's trying to pull over our eyes.
It'd also be a chance to play with Phè again, something that I've been missing of late, as well as maybe Geek and Trib and other Mutants, provided they haven't burned out on Aion yet from the multitude of Beta's. But I can't seem to get excited about the game at all.

Darren, the Common Sense gamer puts it quite well:
... some believe this will be something to bite into. A polished game, granted, but from a region of the world who couldn’t think outside of the box for game design if their lives depended on it. Aion…yeah…you know we’re in trouble when the only good thing we can come with is that…well…it’s a “polished” game.
You know it's going to be same old, same old. Phè is still having fun with Vanguard I believe and also still subbed to CoX. So why should she even contemplate a third MMO? To play with me? Well, that might be an argument in someone's warped and twisted brain, but then I'd feel really bad about not going beyond the first month, which for some reason I don't see myself doing. Then again, Bioware's Dragon Age is being postponed to November. This game was ready to launch on PC in Spring and now both PC and XBox360 versions are on their second delay.

Maybe I should have been as wise as Phè and shouldn't have participated in that Chinese Aion Beta. It took the 'NEW' shine off of it. I'm actually looking forward more to the Champions Online Beta than Aion's launch, and I thoroughly expcect Jack Emmert to fall flat on his face harder than Brad MacQuaid did with Vanguard, and without the morphine addiction to soften the blow.
At least part of the fun is in discovering how the new game works. That'll keep me entertained for a few days with any game. But I expect Champions to lose its luster rapidly afterwards.

When I look beyond Aion, there's not much to excite me either. Fallen Earth looks and feels like a Half Life 1 mod with crappy controls. Maybe fun for FPS gamers but not me. The same for Huxley. To add to that, the "FilePlanet Beta" for Huxley was for US only despite access to such Beta's being a selling point of the premium accounts to EU customers. That put me firmly in the slightly miffed with you now camp concerning that game. But Publishers who go for weird assed player-alienating Beta deals with FilePlanet are a dime a dozen these days.

Even in the long run I don't see much interesting except SW:TOR and the Copernicus project, both of which have to be really careful of not getting overhyped expectations even if they weren't attempting to do just that. Or as Darren puts it, the savior complex might be a downfall for them regardless of how good/bad they really are. Guild Wars II might be a spot on some people's radar but with Jeff Strain and David Reid reportedly being ousted from NCSoft management, I fear what news might be coming from that corner, if any at all.

NCSoft might be heading into rough water again even as the waves of the NCSoft West debacles have just barely settled. That lawsuit hasn't gone away and despite the game doing well in the East, I suspect Aion will be taking the route of Age of Conan or if they're lucky WAR, rather than that of WoW. However Blizzard isn't taking the more-polished-than-WoW-at-launch MMO lightly though, they're "leaking" rumors and information regarding their next expansion right in the middle of the ramp up to Aion's launch next month and I'm very certain big announcements at Blizzcon in two weeks time are done at least in part with an eye to the Aion launch.

So Phèdre, are you:
- Planning to play Aion because you think it might be fun?
- Planning to play Aion because it's a chance to play with me, Lani.
- Not planning to play Aion and thinking on how to break the news to me that I have an overblown ego to even consider you'd be playing it so we could play together again.
- Not planning to play Aion and not thinking about it at all.


  1. I have seen to have lost my ability to put my gaming thoughts into words again. For a part that is because I have been quite busy doing other stuff. And when I am playing I am having a weird form of fun in Vanguard. Something I really should put into a post if I can figure my own thoughts. Normally I do during the day while doing some work. But it has been that busy that I postpone those thoughts, and just get back home and do my 'fun' in Vanguard. This week is even worse since I am in Chicago.

    But fortunately you have some straightforward questions, so it shouldn't be hard to answer those, right?

    - Planning to play Aion because you think it might be fun?
    Just like quite a few other people seem to think, Aion has nothing compelling. From a pure game point of view I see no reason to try it out. I don't really like the characters (look, clothing, weapons). I have not heard anything about great lore, or world to discover. I still don't like PvP.

    - Planning to play Aion because it's a chance to play with me, Lani.
    Yes. That would be the main reason to play. The change to meet Geeky would be reason two. The change to meet Trib and Trin would be reason three. Three reasons to play a game sounds pretty solid, right?

    - Not planning to play Aion and thinking on how to break the news to me that I have an overblown ego to even consider you'd be playing it so we could play together again.

    - Not planning to play Aion and not thinking about it at all.
    I think I would rather play Champions Online. I had actually forgotten a bit about Aion. When is it actually coming out?

    Conclusion: I care less about Aion. But I am missing you. Because of the fun to just run around in a strange world together. And because of the ideas and thoughts that come out of it. I am feeling a bit game-brain depleted. So I will be there when Aion opens its doors.

  2. I was wondering at the odd timing of your response :-)
    I'm not sure whether to be glad for you or to commiserate with you over being so busy with work.

    Sounds like we might have a shot at Champions Online together, if you managed to get into the FilePlanet beta. I almost refused on principle, but then the 'new game' bug bit me.
    I'm still hoping NCSoft mitigates the J-Goth look and feel a bit, but I doubt it. We'll probably end up not subbing after a month, but maybe then you'll have me convinced to get back into CoX again to finally level up Char to 50 :-)

    I'm looking forward to your post on weird kind of fun with Vanguard.

  3. I am not going to subscribe to fileplanet. A bit of a principle thing maybe? And I think I rather start playing any of the new games when they get really released anyway. Since I have not high hopes I don't really want to make it worse by trying the unpolished versions of it.

    I hope you can restrain yourself enough too. If you have already played it for 2, 3 weeks before I join you have already figured it out, maybe even got bored with it, and I will not really discover but more copy your actions. So if you really want to do the beta thing I will set aside my objections and join.

  4. Aion is a game I'm finding myself a little addicted to despite the fact there is lots about it I really don't like, it suffers from the 'ooh look purdy!' syndrome in the same way WoW utilised bright colours to get that inner kid addicted, WoWs dated graphics makes Aion look awesome but in comparison to the realism attempted by AoC it really doesn't look all that. NPCs and your toon might look great but I would suggest that the quality of most of the environments aren't that brilliant, there's no question the art direction is great and whoever was responsible for creating textures did a very nice job. For a high fantasy MMO it will provide enough eye candy to keep people used to less in awe but for people used to more it's ok...

    It's weird PvPvE concept means that PvP players are forced to PvE grind for the first 20 levels while after level 20 pure PvE players will be leaving the game in droves after their first rift zerg. Their assistant producer (Lani by name) has at least stopped saying that pvp and pve are equal in the last interviews, she was prior to that somewhat misleading.

    It encourages kill stealing by allowing highest DPS to take kills but allows no retribution as you can't attack your own faction, the game mechanics also allow for resource node stealing, camp a node someone else is using and when they have that forced gap between gathering dive in and take it. Community probably wasn't high on their agenda.

    The crafting system is nothing new and a bit of a yawn, the end products are usualy worth making if your willing to grind yourself there via work orders, too much time is spent watching success/fail's a poor system but give it it's due - compared to most MMOs it's an OK system.

    The lore is incredibly simple and to the point, quests aren't worth more than a glance most of the time to get the basic info, very few drew me into the story I was supposedly living.

    I think it's the bright colours, the few nice bits of fluff, just being able to do some crafting and the fact most of MU are moving over come release that keeps me playing. As a PvE player who has been zerged more than enough I predict I wont last much past the first month.

    I don't think anyone can truly comment on what Aion really has to offer unless they are PvP players getting towards end game and are playing the release version 1.5 (the chinese client and beta are V1). I suspect Aion will be a sizeable niche rather than the WoW killer some may suggest, to get any bigger it needs some pretty big changes.

  5. oh and really don't play Aion if exploration is your thing, its areas are fairly small and getting from a-b is always linear.

  6. The Champions Online Open Beta starts today.
    I'm in two minds about it.

    On the on ehand I agree with Phè. If I go in now we'll not be able to explore the place together come launch.
    On the other hand I wasn't planning to actually buy this game. I feel Jack Emmert is subject to the McQuaid/Garriot strain of hubris where they think a project will be great just because they envisioned in and touched it at some point.

    In fact I suspect that if I were to start playing today I'll have stopped by next Monday and I don't actually have much time this week as all my friends are back from their respective holidays and insist on showing me their holiday pics this week. I really don't expect this game to keep me entertained beyond the figuring out how things work phase which I expect to be brief as most studio's try to kill off by making everything "intuitive" or WOW-like. On the other hand, I may not have made it passed Character Creation by next Monday. It is a Cryptic game afterall.

    But it's two games coming out soon that I'm ambiguous about. I don't think I'll buy both and of the two,... Darn, I don't know which I'd pick if I had to pick one. Oh wait,my budget says I must pick one.


  7. My week doesn't look much better than yours. So I don't really feel like trying out Champions this week. If it is a one or the other kind of thing, I think we should go for Aion. If it turns out that Aion is not our thing, we can always reconsider somehow. If you try CO beta it simply means we can scratch it off the list. So you can save yourself the time, and simply not even bother.

  8. I just got an email that makes me reconsider my whole argument. The Sunday afternoon COH friends (who are the only reason I still have my COH account active) are going to try and possibly switch to Champions Online. That would be good reason for me to follow suit. Did they split up EU and US?

  9. They did not. If I'm not mistaken one of the features I do like is the Single Shard approach. I.e Everyone shares one hge world, like Eve or Guild Wars.

  10. I think my jetlag is not making me think straight. So in stead of doing the right thing (whatever that is) I went all dorky and pre-ordered both Champions Online and Aion.

  11. Post 20 in Aion safety in numbers is a good thing :)

    Champions Online is hardly an Open Beta? Closed to anyone except those who pre ordered or who subscribe to fileplanet sounds more like a closed beta to me.

  12. I'm starting to think of Aion not so much as an alternative to WoW as an alternative to WAR these days. Except where WAR puts a lot of the RvR combat into theoretically balanced proportions through scenario's and the like, Aion relies on good old server in-scalability to prevent too much zerging :-)

    Ehm, yeah. Cryptic is pulling the same stunt that Funcom did with Age of Conan. It's not doing their PR any good, as is the Lifetime subscription but only sight unseen. I guess they think that negative press is still good publicity, and if you're unsure of your potential playermarket, a FilePlanet Beta is a good way to get the word out since FP spams everyone but lets in only a handful.

  13. Hmmm, this makes me feel good about not pre-ordering Champions quite yet. I think I'll do one quick trip into the world just to get my feet wet this week and then decide. With any luck it'll not make me such an Uber player that Phe can't keep up should we then choose to go for it.

  14. Hmm. I'm finding a lot of reviews on Champions now that the NDA dropped.
    When I find one that's positive about anything other than the Character Creation sytem, I'll let you know...