Aion Beta Afterthoughts


It has now been a week since I last played Aion, and longer since I last put any thoughts down about it.  Though in that time as I re-read my previous posts and posts of others I felt a few more things rattling around. So I made the decision to let these last few out.

Do note that while the Aion beta was what stirred these thoughts, I believe they also apply to MMOs in general.

Failing

I grasp the idea that without risk, a reward is not appreciated as much or at all. Though when the player is presented no mechanic to influence a success or a failure, the chance of failure simply becomes a time / materials sink.

In Aion, for example, when a player enhances an item, gathers resources or performs a trade craft, there is a chance of either a success of failure. In fact sometimes a progress bar showing how close one is to either is displayed.

What purpose does the failure play, and why show the display such a contest to the player when the player has no way to increase his chance of success or decrease the chance of failure.  To me the UI of this event is almost a mockery to my senses every time I crafted.

On the flip side Everquest 2 also had failures for crafting, but built into their crafting system mechanics for the player to influence the outcome. You could simply click a “craft” button and walk away, but if players wanted to succeed they had to interact with the game.

Integrating PvP

I have been told that PvP is a big part of Aion, yet based on the first 20 levels of play I would have no idea that PvP even existed in the game.  To me this seems odd since WAR (which has its own problems) did set the precedent for introducing PvP to players quickly. Mythic was building a pvp heavy game and they worked to integrate such activity right from the start of a character’s life.

Of course Aion might have been too far along in development when WAR was release to learn from them. Though I get the sense that the lack of early integration was done very deliberately, as though they wanted to appeal to the WoW PvE crowd with their early content.

Whether with intent or not, if the mid to late of a game involves much PvP then I believe the lack of an early introduction to that style of game play is a mistake. A mistake that Aion is not the first game to make.

In Aion you can Fly! Though only in some places and only for a short while.

I keep hearing about how flying is a game mechanic that sets Aion apart from the pack. That flying is an integral part of the game and the combat.  So why is it that at the moment you gain the ability, you can not use it?

You have to travel to specific areas of certain zones to fly, and then your air time is severly limited. I was actually a bit excited to gain my wings, but then dumbstruck when I could not use them.

“Ok, I get it no flying in the city.” I said to my friend standing next to me.  So we left the city and traveled back to where we had a to finish a few quests and still no flight.

“Hmm, something must be broken. Or maybe its not implemented yet.” We started to think. Then we arrived in another zone, and the flight button was active. I clicked it tried to use the space bar to ascend. Fail.

Space bar toggles gliding.  Uh? The flight controls in WoW work very well and have been around for while, why would Aion alter those?  My question was answered by a longer term tester with, and I summarize here: “gliding use less flight time, so you want the toggle handy.” Umm ok, I thought as I look at the plethora of other keys on my keyboard that could be used to toggle that function.

Of course once I track down the ascend keys, and started to actually fly I found my poor wings only allowed me to fly for short little trips and only around this particular lake fortress. So very, very disappointing.

I understand the plot and character reasons for limiting my flight time, but feel an extension of the starting limit would be very nice.  What I don’t understand is how you flaunt the ability to fly in the press but them limit its geographic use so harshly.

In other game I have played that allowed flight, they allowed you to use it the instant after you gained the transportation. And if there were geographic limitations they were not imposed in the place you gained the ability.

Last thoughts; I hope

Before , and after the beta I read a lot of tweets, and blog posts about the game and I thought the following sentence from OpenEdge1’s summed up the game perfectly:

“But, the fact remains, Aion is a beautifully covered up Asian grinding game.”

I am fairly certain that I will not be playing Aion again, ok that’s a lie. If my friends want to play in one of the next beta’s I could be convinced to play with them. Though its not a lie, that the game is not on my buy list, or even on my play solo list.

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