Archive for September 2009

Aion has Come to a Screeching Halt

September 28, 2009

Sometimes it’s funny how you can go up and down so fast.  Today I cancelled my sub to Aion, because I know I won’t be sticking with it.  The feeling just hit me like a brickwall, one day I was having fun with it then the next day I just couldn’t tolerate the grind anymore.  The grind isn’t even long compared to other games, but it’s was implemented in a boring way (solo, quest) and I’m just not going to stick with it for 30 more levels.

Another problem is, the end game of pvp and fortress seiges isn’t enough motivation for me to stick around.   It’s alright to have pvp in your game as a small segment, but pvp is not suitable as an end game core design for any MMO.  Pvp is a solution for the lazy MMO designer’s end game, and all it shows is that our team is not talented, creative, or smart enough to create enganging and challenging artificial intelligence so lets just have them fight each other.

My Aion journey is over.  I still think it decent and better than a lot of other games out there, but it just dosen’t fit my tastes.  I feel like a grumpy old man that just likes things the old fashion, this new generation of MMO’s is complete garbage.

Cruising Along in Aion

September 23, 2009

I’m currently level 20 and so far Aion is living up to its hype.  levels 20 through 30 will really make or break the game for many people I feel.  There has been a nice transition from solo to grouping as you reach 20, but I think people are going to want to get a taste of the pvp real soon.  I’m still waiting for the game to open up a bit also, every time I look in the market it’s the same old gear for sell.

The server’s are packed and people are having a good time with Aion.  I’ve played many MMO’s and I felt some of them were really good early on that turned out to be garbage, so I try to keep that in mind when forming my opinion.  However, with Aion I just get the feeling that its going to stick around.

A Sad day in the MMO Market

September 17, 2009

Dungeon Runners is closing down.  The game was a small diablo-esqu style free to play MMO, and it wasn’t really a quality MMO but it was functional.  I only played for a couple weeks, and generally I wouldn’t feel that this news is worth announcing, but this is one of the few free to play MMO’s that actually gave me some form of enjoyment.  The game was hilarious and that’s what made it special.  The satire, funny comments with voice acting, and hilarious item names, ‘Sissirat’s Brother’s Cousin’s Roomate’s Staff of Something Really Awesome’ yes that is an actual item in the game,  I never laughed so hard playing an MMO so it has earned my respect.

Pushing Tradeskills to the Next Generation

September 16, 2009

Tradeskills have been badly ignored in MMO’s, I’ve seen little to no advancements in this area of MMO design.  I have an idea for 2 new tradeskills to implement, which are a cartographer and artist.

The artist is a pretty simple idea that I got from seeing people offering their design services for people who want a cool signature with their avatar.  Obviously this is used on forums, but I think we can find a way to implement this in a game.  Someone with the artist tradeskill would have access to an in-game paint program that gives them all the tools they need to make their designs.  These designs could be a guild emblem that they can sell to members of a guild, they could be a logo that they could put on their armor, or a stylized drawing of a characters avatar they could put on a picture frame in their house or something.  Some people are really talented and creative in this area, and I think that they could have success selling their work to interested players in the games marketplace.

The cartographer skill would be a bit more involved.  instead of having maps already available, you would need to buy them off of players.  This tradeskill would use a paint program as well, but one of the uses you would have is the ability to draw lines based on the position of your character.  Part of being a cartographer is actually exploring the land that you’re drawing.  You can also use a legend to mark notable nameds or quest givers, and quest locations.  You can make it so that it is kinda like questhelper and have the locations pop up once you obtain the quest.  There’s several different type of maps you can draw.  If you just want something simple, draw it freehand, you can have a more detailed exact location of the landscape with a legend, and you make the highest detail which would also include quest details.  What one you want to make would be up to the map designer and how much work they want to put into it versus how much profit they can make.

Lets get more creative with tradeskills.  They don’t need to be just click this node, or insert ingredients and pop out a product.

Aion Open Beta Wrap-up

September 14, 2009

I just want to make some quick comments on my final experiences in open beta and what my expectations are.  While I haven’t been impressed with the variety of items, I do enjoy how much you can customize your gear.  I talked about manastones, but I also figured out the you can enchant your items as well up to 10 times to boost your defense.  You will need to be careful with it though cause you can fail, and it is costly so I would only enchant gear that you will be wearing for a couple of levels.

I’ve decided to end my OB with some PVP fun in the arena.  My chanter was only 16 and I know PVP will be different at higher levels, but I’m going to make a few observations.  As I first entered the arena solo, there were a few people who seemed to be solo as well just wacking each other around.  I was pretty much unkillable the one heal that I have would easily outheal the dps done to me.  My class can be easily kited around.  I got into a little one on one with a ranger, he couldn’t do the dps to kill me, but I couldn’t kill him either cause he would just snare me and kite me around there was nothing I could do about it.

After a few rounds of PVP, 3 of the guys decided to group up and gank anyone who entered the arena.  Even when I went in there with the 3 of them focus firing on me, they still couldn’t kill me until my mana runs out, and mana last quite a while in Aion.  Heals are obviously overpowered in PVP at this level.  Shortly after that we decided to make our own group of 3 and destroyed the other guys.  At first when I PVP’ed everyone was just running around then I saw someone start to fly, and I was like oh yea we can fly which was really cool because it adds another dimension.  Not do you have to pay attention to what’s in front and behind you, but you also have to pay attention to what’s above you.

I started looking into the things that I haven’t had a chance to check out with the game.  One of them being the stigma system, which is kinda like Aion’s approach to WOW’s talent system but just involves abilities.  I’m really looking forward to messing around with different builds, but I think there’s only going to be one dominant build for the chanter.  We’ll see how that plays out though.  Eventhough I’m a PVE guy I’m looking forward to whats in store with the PVP side of things.  From what I read that game seems to have a strong focus on PVP, which is also a downside for me because I think the mob AI may be lacking on the high end PVE.  Maybe I’m wrong but I haven’t heard anything in regards to high end raiding.  That’s about it for me with Aion beta, I’m just waiting for it to go live now.

Pushing Quest Design to the Next Generation

September 12, 2009

Quests have become abundant and are generally used as a means of gaining xp.  Quests help guide players through our leveling progression and because of this they need to be simplistic so a player can get their reward and move on to the next quest.  Deliver this, collect a few of these, kill a few of them pretty much covers every type of quest you will be seeing in the current generation MMOs.  If someone asked me to define a quest in an MMO, I would say it’s a simple task that a player can do to gain some xp.  This is what a quest is in today, but it’s not what it should be.

The word quest is an rpg defining term, it makes you think of wizards, warriors, and epic struggles.   A quest should be a huge undertaking that you should be proud of accomplishing, instead they’re little tasks that are embarrassing to do.  For starters lets call these little kill, collection, and deliver quests for what they really are; tasks or assignments not quests.  As stated the purpose of this generation of quests is to gain xp, but there is an element to them that make questing and leveling counter productive and that is the back and forth traveling.  You will run to an NPC to pick up a quest, he’ll send you to an area to complete an assignment, then you need to run back to him telling him you complete the quest.  Often he’ll send you back there again, but this time you need to kill the tougher mobs so again your running back and forth wasting time.

The other problem with today’s quests that I haven’t talked about is the storyline.  Now with quests taking 5 to 10 minutes to complete your not going to have a compelling story behind it, so I don’t want to say the story is bad because it takes attention away from the real problem, which is players aren’t interested in the story.  They don’t want to read it or click buttons they just want to know where they need to go and what they need to do and just give me my xp.

We’ve taken a look at what quests have become in this generation of MMO’s and their problems, so now I want to get into my solution to them.  In every world you have cities surronded by zones with mobs inhabitating them.  Were going to divide these zones and mobs up and associate them with each city.  The cities do not get along with the mobs associated with them, and inside each city is a science department which likes to keep record on a weekly basis of the mobs you killed and the body parts you collected from them.  For example one city has a skeleton race that they dislike, so you go their location and start killing them.

You start off by killing the weak ones, which you get credit for, then you move in to the hard ones and then skeletons.  The credit you get will be reflected in the challenge it was to kill the mobs.  As you were killing the skeletons they dropped their body parts.  If you collected a foot and leg you get credit for that, and if you collect a full body parts you’ll get even more credit.  The science department only collects the kills and parts at the end of the week so if you wiped out all the skeletons you can move on to the next mob race or if your just bored you can move to another area, once the end of the week comes you collect your xp for your kills and collection and it all resets for the next week.

I covered how kill and collection quests should be, but I haven’t talked about how it makes up for the delivery quests.   The new generation quests will send you to someone else to pick up more quests, you don’t go anywhere unless your quest tells you to.   That is what’s so great about this system your free to go hunt where ever you want, you will get credit for it.  You’re free to explore.

There you have it.  This new task system will cut down on your running back and forth, because you only need to turn in at the end of the week, your killings are recorded while you hunt, and the science departments are centralized within each city.  Each city will have their own zones therefore different mobs to hunt down, so just because you do your turn ins at one city it doesn’t mean that it’s going to be the same at the other one.  With this system you don’t have to go through every boring story that the npc’s have.  The story is this city hates these types of mobs and they want to see them dead and collect their body parts for experiments.   Finally, we can call these so called quests for what they really are, tasks.  Since we organized all these little dinky tasks for your rewards of light gear and xp, were are now free to develop the real epic quests for insane loot.

Aion Updated Review

September 10, 2009

I’m currently in open beta for Aion at the moment, and leveling my level 13 enchanter.  The pace of leveling has been fairly fast even at 13 the xp bar still moves quickly, it doesn’t matter if you’re questing or just grinding on mobs the xp will move fast.  The downside is there’s little incentive to group and play with others.  Your xp gains take a big hit if you group up with someone, which makes the game feel like a single player and lonely.

With everyone starting in the same area, doing the same quests, hunting the same mobs, and the lack of areas to explore makes the itemization in the game generic and disappointing. While the game has a GPS type of mapping system, not every quest will pinpoint you were you need to go.  Reading the text won’t help much either, so on some quests your just kind of going at it blind.  One quest like this has become quite famous, and if you start on the elysian side the general chat will never stop talking about poor poor tutty.

Despite what I mentioned above and in my previous post, I’m more optimistic about this game than what I was previously.  The single player questing/xp grinding is at its worse the same as WOW, so theres not much loss there.  I’ve played other MMO’s where you can fly and I don’t know why, but in Aion flying just seems a lot more cooler.

I like the manastones system, which allows you to augment your gear to fit your playstyle.  The power shards are also a nice feature that give you a little extra with your combat, and combine that with DP abilities you’ll have have several of options available to you when you need that extra boost.   The more I play the game the more I’m liking the chanter class.  Good support with buffs, heals and debuffs really fit my playstyle.  With each set of new spells I get, my character becomes noticeable stronger.
There’s a lot of issues still up in the air with this game, the main one being is when is the solo kiddie part end and we start getting to the real game.  I’ll give this game my approval because it’s better than AOC and WAR, but it’s hard to tell what’s out there in terms of the end game.  Aion isn’t the next great one, but if you’re bored with whats out there it’s worth a shot.