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Aion Servers To Merge, XP Grind Softened

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the now-only-takes-one-and-a-half-eternal-souls dept.

Role Playing (Games) 108

Massively reports that NCSoft's fantasy MMO Aion will soon be getting a round of server mergers to balance player populations and shore up in-game economies. A newsletter from Aion producer Chris Hager also brought word that character transfers will be an option starting in June, and NCSoft will be "offering them to all of our players for free for a limited time." This is happening in the lead-up to the game's 1.9 patch, due on June 2, which contains a number of measures to make the XP grind a bit less harsh (among other things; patch notes). They're creating more quests, increasing XP rewards from existing quests, and implementing a system that "grants you experience bonuses as you continue to play."

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Asian MMOs (3, Insightful)

Dyinobal (1427207) | more than 4 years ago | (#32275404)

It always seems to me the Asian mmo's require more grind than a lot of the western mmo's. It's why I've avoided aion entirely and will most likely continue to do so. I'm not even sure it will continue exist a couple years from now. Still it's a pretty game, I think only eve has better graphics in terms of an mmo, granted space isn't super hard to render.

Re:Asian MMOs (4, Interesting)

ShakaUVM (157947) | more than 4 years ago | (#32275430)

>>It's why I've avoided aion entirely and will most likely continue to do so.

I beta tested it, and that was more than enough to get me to avoid the game.

They'd have to cut grinding by about 75% to make the game playable in my book.

Re:Asian MMOs (2, Interesting)

Kitkoan (1719118) | more than 4 years ago | (#32275462)

Thats why I prefer playing Guild Wars. No real grind (maybe cash if you really wanted), and a story you can follow. Its combat is more focused on making skill combos then grinding and stats (though stats do help somewhat).

Re:Asian MMOs (4, Insightful)

Cimexus (1355033) | more than 4 years ago | (#32276020)

You have got to be kidding. Aion would have to be one of the least grindy MMOs out there. Remember WoW is not the norm, it is the exception, the outlier, when it comes to quick and easy progression. On the other hand we have the TRUE grindy MMOs like Lineage 1 and 2, FFXI, and various other (mostly Asian) MMOs.

Aion is a compromise. It is an eastern style MMO (in terms of lore, graphical style etc) with a dash of western-style questing and story thrown in. The grind factor is somewhere between 'grindy' and 'WoW-like easiness, although to be honest it's closer to the less grindy side of the spectrum. An average player (i.e. just plays for a couple of hours every couple of days) should be able to hit the max level in Aion in approximately 6 months (less after the 1.9 patch goes in). Compare that to WoW where max level is achievable in mere days or weeks. And compare again to, say, Lineage 2 where max level even for a regular player is at least 4-5 years, and a casual player will never reach it. So yeah, I think cutting the grind by '75%' in Aion would be ridiculous. It's already fairly quick to level, and the 1.9 patch reduces that further.

The other thing is - what is with the mad rush to level up anyway? I enjoy the content at the low and mid levels just as much as at high levels. It's only a 'grind' if you want it to be and you are dead set on getting to max level ASAP at any cost. I never understood that mentality though. Enjoy the path, not just the destination. Personally I like MMOs that are a bit tougher (or require more time to achieve things, whether that be level or gear or whatever). Otherwise you end up with everyone walking around at the max level, with the best gear. All virtually identical. What's the point of that?

Oh and one final thing regarding the article generally (this is not directed specifically at the parent post) - the server mergers are basically necessary because, at launch, there were such serious server login queues that NCSoft rushed a couple of extra servers in to meet demand. So it's not like the game is dying. Even if they merge 4 or 5 or 6 servers, it will just be back to the number of servers they planned at launch anyway. A game does not have to be as popular as WoW with its hundreds of servers to be successful - it just has to turn a tidy profit. And Aion will continue to do so. It's not a game for everyone (due to the fact that, as mentioned, it IS a compromise between eastern and western elements). But I think it's the best new MMO out there right now, and it will tide me over until Diablo 3 comes out at least (yes, I know D3 isn't an MMO ... but it's the next major game I'm hanging for).

Re:Asian MMOs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32276210)

I'm very tired of hearing "an average player can get to max level in WoW in a few days/weeks." Totally untrue. By your definition (2 hours every other day) it probably takes at least a few months. Perhaps everyone is underestimating their play time.

Re:Asian MMOs (1)

Jurily (900488) | more than 4 years ago | (#32276250)

Absolutely true. It took me more than a month at ~8 hours a day. Granted, the new dungeon system made it pretty fun, but it was still along the lines of "Yay, 24 xp! Only 32,542,163 to go..."

Re:Asian MMOs (1)

stonewallred (1465497) | more than 4 years ago | (#32276754)

Been playing my WoW main for almost 2 years, and have /played 51 days, 11 hours,57 minutes 51 seconds /played at current level 1 say, 1 hour, 11 minutes, 55 seconds And I am only level 77, 84% to next level yeah! But I hate questing, I hate grinding and most of my leveling came from BGs when they slapped XP into Bgs. I otherwise have leveled through dailies, and doing stuff. Not quests, but farming. At least then I was grinding for more than just points, I was making teh goldz. I won't play a game that requires years to level to max, even though I am not in a rush to get there. I play to have fun, not to be l337 and uber.

Re:Asian MMOs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32276286)

Maybe people are confusing /played with real life time. The last character I leveled, which was leveled relatively efficiently (no recruit-a-friend), took me 6 days /played to reach 80. That's 144 hours. At "a couple hours a day every couple days" (let's make that 2 hrs a day literally every other day, just to quantify that, and because it makes the math easy) that's 36 days. That's a month.

Just because some individuals can get a level 80 using recruit-a-friend and grinding it out playing 10 hrs a day doesn't mean that's the norm.

Re:Asian MMOs (1)

Shillo (64681) | more than 4 years ago | (#32276770)

2 hours every other day averages out to 1 hour/day exactly. So in your example, 144 hours = 144 days, not 36 days.

Re:Asian MMOs (1)

Meski (774546) | more than 3 years ago | (#32289064)

6 days of playtime to reach lvl 66. On an alt, which means I'm not spending all my game-time on it, and I started it a couple weeks ago. A few months is way too high.

Re:Asian MMOs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32276380)

You have obviously no idea what you're talking about. If you *rush* to 80 in WoW, you can get there in 7 days /playtime, but that is only if you know what you're doing and focus on getting there asap without leveling professions etc. 7 days playtime = 168 hours, at 8 hours a week = 5.25 months. And this is not a fun way to play, for normal players it would take double that.

Re:Asian MMOs (1)

Meski (774546) | more than 3 years ago | (#32289094)

Stopping to smell the roses along the way isn't something you want to do for alts. And if you do gathering instead of crafting professions, you'll be lvling them at the same rate. Except for fucking fishing. And one fisher is enough. And one achievement whore is enough.

Re:Asian MMOs (2, Insightful)

meglon (1001833) | more than 4 years ago | (#32276466)

You should also remember that while WoW might be an outlier for progression difficulty, its also an outlier for customer base... and there's not a game company CEO out there that wouldn't kill their mothers for a customer base like that. WoW was the first game that took one simple fact to heart: while the hardcore players tend to be the most vocal, they're no where near the largest segment of gamers... no matter how much they try to claim that.

Re:Asian MMOs (2, Interesting)

TriezGamer (861238) | more than 4 years ago | (#32276506)

Lord of the Rings Online is about on-par with WoW in terms of 'grindyness'. A friend of mine who was a WoW veteran joined LotRO and capped a character faster than he did with his newer WoW characters, and didn't have the knowledge to draw from as he did with his WoW characters. That's just one anecdote, but based on his experience, LotRO actually is easier than WoW.

I would also not call FFXI a grindy game. There was a time that it was, but changes to the game over the last 2 1/2 years have drastically altered both the methods and efficiency of levelling. A friend who recently got back into the game is now 5 levels away from the cap with two fully-levelled subjobs, and has been playing for 5 weeks. I levelled a new job from 1 to 65 in 2 weeks (4-6 hours a day), ten levels away from the cap, and could have done it faster (I missed 2 days). Parties gaining 10k+ EXP / hour are common as early as level 18 now, and even level 74 to level 75 is only 42000 EXP -- End-game parties exceed 20k / hour.

In the near future (next month) the level cap will rise for the first time in nearly 7 years. It might become a grindy game again, time will tell -- but for right now, I don't think it's a good example.

That aside, I completely agree with all your other examples.

To address your question about the mad rush to level: Different people have different motivations. Some just want to be the best they can be, and playing the content does less for their character's development than simply rushing out to gain more levels. Others have already levelled 4-6 characters and don't WANT to do the content again, they just want to get the new character to endgame (because their guild needs more X job, or they just want to play X job, but never got around to it, etc). And, sadly, from an end-game perspective, content that is not end-game is irrelevant. Gear will become outdated, and usually the auxiliary rewards are not sufficient enough to justify coordinating a group (if a group is needed) over simply grinding out some quests solo. The older a game gets, the more prevalent these things become.

Moreover, different games have different levels of content. FFXI is VERY top-heavy with it's content, with extremely limited content pre-30 and very little to do until 50 at a bare minimum. I would say 65 is where the real meat of the game opens up. Conversely, World of Warcraft has a wide spread of content that's fairly evenly spaced. I enjoyed taking my time to level in WoW. Not so much in FFXI.

Re:Asian MMOs (2, Insightful)

CFBMoo1 (157453) | more than 4 years ago | (#32276660)

The mad rush to level is mostly instilled by WoW these days. Since a huge population of MMO players are cutting their teeth on WoW, the game heavily implies that you only start really playing after reaching max level. PvP, PvE, etc are all max level things with mid levels getting a bone tossed at them. The biggest part of the bone is XP these days so you can reach max level.

Re:Asian MMOs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32276758)

You should read about the Cataclysm expansion. Almost all the leveling content from 1-60 is being replaced or retuned. It's arguably more content than they're adding at the new level cap in said expansion.

Re:Asian MMOs - MMOs have become misguided by the (1)

Azarman (1730212) | more than 4 years ago | (#32277086)

MMOs have become misguided by the quick-fix masses

The above post I completely agree with, why do us westerners want to get to the top level and be the best within a week of the game coming out. I play alot of MMOs and the reason I play is generally the journey, the story, the random walking about wasting time, talking to people. Yet all the big MMOs in the last few years are trying to make all levels in the game but the top most unrewarding. Everyone rushes, THEN everyone complains when they get to the top levels and there is no content? (STO I am looking at you!)

The reason I like EvE-Online, is there is no Grind, Yes the skill training is a bit of a time sinking BUT no grind, no predefined idea of best which I think allows people to be more creative with their end game.

I believe one of the biggest appeals of MMOs is to stand up and be noticed, with sharded servers with caped populations, top level gear (epics) and level cap, everyone in the game has the same goal as everyone else, make MMOs more expressive for the characters themselfs and then people would be less likely to grind. SWG had it down pretty well with a great crafting system that then expanded in to whole cities.

Re:Asian MMOs (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 4 years ago | (#32279066)

You have got to be kidding. Aion would have to be one of the least grindy MMOs out there.

And? Maybe he wasn't talking about grind in MMO scales but in what he can stomach? I know I can't be arsed to bash mobs over and over again to gain a level or the 50 thingamajigs needed for some joke of a quest. Monster Hunter 3 is about the limit for me.

You may not get it, but there are reasons.. (3, Insightful)

N0Man74 (1620447) | more than 4 years ago | (#32279920)

Make it sound like it's irrational for people to want to get to max level, while you overlook many of the common reasons for doing so.

1) Many games put more work and emphasis in end-game content, so players feel like that is where they need to be in order to really get what the game offers. It's where the content that lets players set themselves apart by something more than levels occurs (such as high level pvp, raiding, getting the best gear, etc).

2) The older a game gets, the player population tends to be clumped on the higher level end instead of lower levels, making it harder to find groups at lower levels.

3) Often new people join because of friends, so now the new person wants to be able to catch up with their veteran friends.

4) Many MMO's include Player vs. Player combat (even if just optional). Quite often, there is a desire to be higher level in order to have an advantage against other players.

5) Many MMO's include Player vs. Player combat (deja-vu?)... Quite often, players want to get to a higher level in order to defend themselves against higher level players preying on the weak.

6) MMO cultures tend to equate game achievements, such as level, with your skill. It's flawed, but it still exists.

The reasons may not apply to you, and you may not agree with the reasons, but there certainly are many reasons, at least a few of which are completely reasonable.

Re:Asian MMOs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32280452)

Yes, killing the same mobs over and over and over is sure fun. It isn't as if AION is 6 months of questing, doing new dungeons and seeing new things to get to max level, instead it is getting a group (if you are the right class) and grinding for hours. This is a terrible, horrible, game model and one that no one should ever confuse with fun.

Re:Asian MMOs (3, Informative)

Americano (920576) | more than 4 years ago | (#32280616)

Max level in WoW is not achievable in "mere days", unless you do nothing but play WoW for 20 hours a day straight. I have 5 max-level characters, and have been playing for about 3 years now. Rough numbers, all 5 of those characters took 8-16 days /played to hit max level. The amount of time reported is the hours spent logged in, playing the game. 8 days = 192 hours. 2 hours a day daily puts max level at just over 3 months of "real world time" to hit max level. 6 months for the longer case of 16 days /played.

If you are focused like a madman on leveling, yes, you can do it in a few days of non-stop grinding. I don't know too many people who have (even with assistance & heirloom items) done it in less than 4 days /played - 96 hours. I actually enjoy playing new classes, and many friends I play with always remark on how quickly I manage to level... I'm guessing that my 8-16 days of /played time is probably a bit faster than the "average" too, given that.

Re:Asian MMOs (1)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 4 years ago | (#32283680)

These days, with the XP bonuses, it takes about 11 days of playing to make it to level 80, assuming you're reasonably efficient, and you don't have any +xp leveling gear.

So yea, mere days. Mind you, it may take someone a year to rack up 260 hours of play time, but I've seen people do it in less than two weeks.

Re:Asian MMOs (1)

gknoy (899301) | more than 4 years ago | (#32280624)

what is with the mad rush to level up anyway? I enjoy the content at the low and mid levels just as much as at high levels. It's only a 'grind' if you want it to be and you are dead set on getting to max level ASAP at any cost. I never understood that mentality though. Enjoy the path, not just the destination.

Aion is a PVP game, on some of the servers. The first time (or ten times) you get ganked by people who are five or ten levels higher than you, you will understand the desire to not be at such a disadvantage. The people who level first are the first to have higher level skills, access to better gear, better PvP rewards, and so on -- all of which boils down to them killing you more easily. It's very much an arms race.

Re:Asian MMOs (1)

cynyr (703126) | more than 4 years ago | (#32280734)

For WoW, there are few players in between 1 and 80 at any given time, most are alts they don't want to explore the dungeon. They simply want $ITEM or their "random" done and over with. Same thing right now with the random heroic system, any skip-able boss is skipped, and no one talks. There isn't really a "party" there is not much of a feeling of a group. It's a 5 players all trying to get their badges and need the other 4(or at least the tank/healer) to do it.

Anyways, there are days i long for EQ1 style play, where you needed to get a group together to do anything, and your group would spend a few hours grinding out mobs for a quest. joking and carrying on along the way.

Re:Asian MMOs (1)

oddfox (685475) | more than 4 years ago | (#32284890)

For WoW, there are few players in between 1 and 80 at any given time, most are alts they don't want to explore the dungeon. They simply want $ITEM or their "random" done and over with. Same thing right now with the random heroic system, any skip-able boss is skipped, and no one talks. There isn't really a "party" there is not much of a feeling of a group. It's a 5 players all trying to get their badges and need the other 4(or at least the tank/healer) to do it.

This is a pretty jaded view and not really applicable even most of the time as far as I've seen. I level alts quite regularly since I'm not in a raiding guild and enjoy switching from all the various playstyles the classes offer, and I pretty much level now through the dungeon finder at the expense of traveling around doing quests. It's not that I don't enjoy questing, it's just that it's easier to queue as a healer/tank and do dungeon after dungeon to level (as well as more lucrative gear-wise) than it is to run around. And while it is true that some people are only doing the runs to down only the necessary boss(es), that is not the case all the time, and it's not unheard of to have a group object so strongly to such a mentality that the person who is insisting upon it gets votekicked and someone who is playing the game to enjoy the game brought on board. I regularly do this and when someone asks "Skip optional bosses?" my response is "I'm here for a reason, and that reason is not to simply get to the end. I'll take my loot and/or emblems, thanks." There's also plenty of socialization, even when grouping with the random dungeon finder. Maybe nobody talks in your groups because nobody takes the initiative to actually begin a discussion about anything, which is very easy to do. I tend to talk a lot with people and I keep an eye out for those I've grouped with before and enjoy grouping with. Those who are not fun to play with go on my ignore list and I don't have to deal with them ever again.

Also, if you really want a sense of community, get involved on one of the RP or RP-PVP servers. It's not that the non-RP servers don't have a community, it just doesn't in my opinion really match up to the vibrancy of the RP servers I have played on and do play on. A lot of people seem intimidated by the idea of imposed RP but that never happens unless you join a guild that absolutely requires it if you want to stay in. I am a very casual player and I only do "heavy" RP when I feel like it, which is to say not very often (once a week at the very most). I have always been a bit of a jokester and fun-seeker though so even when I'm not trying to RP I blend in pretty well.

Anyways, there are days i long for EQ1 style play, where you needed to get a group together to do anything, and your group would spend a few hours grinding out mobs for a quest. joking and carrying on along the way.

EQ1 is something I definitely don't miss, aside from having a Monk class. If ever there was a game that was absolutely nothing but a time-sink, it was EQ1. Most people do not find it enjoyable to keep camping a certain spot for a certain mob in the hopes of a certain drop for days on end. Most people do not find it enjoyable to create a very large group of players and hope that everyone knows exactly what the heck is going on. There's a reason why Blizzard cut down the raid sizes (Outside of Wintergrasp, I guess) to 25-man max. It was absolute chaos before and it was absolute BS to spend upwards of 6-10 hours in a single session doing a raid, and not even finishing!

Re:Asian MMOs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32281892)

Grind isn't only about how much time or XP it takes to level, or how much time it takes to get gear - it's about *how* you get that XP and gear. In the ultra grindy MMOs, that devolves into your only option being "kill excessive numbers of things" (and for the gear, sometimes with the option to buy it with real money). If you try those games out on free servers with XP/gold/loot increased by tenfold (or more!) they still aren't very fun, other than that you get to see more of the world a bit faster because you can go there without dying. There's really nothing to do in these but explore or grind. (Or fight other players, but the path to that is paved in more grinding).

IMO, it's the questing structure that WoW excels at. You can basically do everything in WoW by just following the storyline; that gets you enough XP and gold and loot to keep pace until high level. You won't even experience all the quests, storyline, or areas doing only that; since there are two alliances with four starting areas each, there are a lot of different paths up the ranks. There's also a lot of optional content you may skip with one character but then someday play through with another (instanced dungeons come to mind). Having a functional auction house helps a lot too. NOT getting constantly ganked by someone who paid $20 for the Sword of Whizzbang helps too. This is just scratching the surface - there's loads of other polish, I just wanted to cover the core structure. Quests are the primary framework, and the fact that you'll get loot and levels and skills and you'll kill a bunch of stuff is just what happens as a side effect of questing. The pile of tasks in your quest log keep you always moving from area to area doing different things. (Some people will point to the 'kill critter X until you get Y quantity of randomly dropped Z' quests and try to say that WoW is all grind... I would question whether they've ever actually played much of any MMO besides WoW; ie, do they actually know what grinding is?)

Contrast again to the story-weak games; even if the fighting mechanic is good, the game still devolves into "find the one area with the best xp/loot payoff per time invested and kill everything in sight for a few days until it's time to move to next optimal area". Blah.

Re:Asian MMOs (1)

allbread (1594697) | more than 4 years ago | (#32282694)

Oh and one final thing regarding the article generally (this is not directed specifically at the parent post) - the server mergers are basically necessary because, at launch, there were such serious server login queues that NCSoft rushed a couple of extra servers in to meet demand. So it's not like the game is dying. Even if they merge 4 or 5 or 6 servers, it will just be back to the number of servers they planned at launch anyway. A game does not have to be as popular as WoW with its hundreds of servers to be successful - it just has to turn a tidy profit. And Aion will continue to do so. It's not a game for everyone (due to the fact that, as mentioned, it IS a compromise between eastern and western elements). But I think it's the best new MMO out there right now, and it will tide me over until Diablo 3 comes out at least (yes, I know D3 isn't an MMO ... but it's the next major game I'm hanging for).

In my experience server merges are rarely a normalizing factor; instead they are symptomatic of the shrinking subscription pool of a dying game that cannot hold on to existing players and is unable through marketing or word of mouth to attract new replacements.

http://www.ncsoft.net/global/ir/quarterly.aspx [ncsoft.net]

Aion's subscription base dropped significantly this past quarter and will likely continue to do so unless NCWest gets it's act together.

Re:Asian MMOs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32283874)

For my first MMORPG I played WoW. I took it slow, and enjoyed the solo questing, storyline, and setting in depth. I felt an attachment or familiarity with the game as I had played the earlier Warcraft titles. I had just reached the end levels and started doing multiple player group raid content. I had just reached the so called endgame.

Then I swapped from WoW on a PvE server, to Everquest 2 on a PvP server. I had done my time leveling a character. Now the job was to get a character up to the top level so I could start exploring the REST of the game in the form of endgame raiding. I also had to reach top level as a means of leveling the playing field against players from the opposing faction. For western style MMOs of this nature, the level grind is just the beginning. The rest of the game lies in the content that is only reasonably approached with a top level character and also in player vs player, where being a lower level than your opponent is a significant handicap.

Perhaps this is one of the defining differences between western and eastern style MMOs, one is played for the experience or journey of the grind. The other is played for the tasks and achievements only available to those who have traveled some distance?

Re:Asian MMOs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32285482)

Ummm yeah sure Aion wasn't grindy.

The XP required to level was on a log scale while the XP gain was linear. To make anything you needed to grind 2 different gathering professions. Item crafting in the mid 30's required rare RANDOM world drops. Item crafting at level 50 required on average 300-500 uncommon item drops in addition to ~20million in cash to buy vendor items to ATTEMPT to make high end gear.

Mid level dungeons bosses would drop equipment once in 30+ runs. High end dungeons had slightly better drop rates. PVP gear required you spend HOURS either farming players (low return) or farming npcs (high return).

I don't know WTF you call a grind but that's what I call a grind.

As for the rush to level, the key selling point of the game was the pvp combat in the abyss. Which unless you are max level you are ALWAYS at a disadvantage. Never mind that the quests were bland, boring and offered less rewards per unit time than grinding mobs. Many times I had "Wait I get 300k xp for killing 1million xp in mobs AFTER I run back across the map?"

Re:Asian MMOs (1)

jbezorg (1263978) | more than 4 years ago | (#32278252)

I beta tested it, and that was more than enough to get me to avoid the game.

Angels fighting in prom dresses were enough to get me to avoid the game.

Re:Asian MMOs (3, Insightful)

allbread (1594697) | more than 4 years ago | (#32282492)

Having played Aion for several months and recently quit I can say that on my side of the server (Asmodian, Israphel) the game has been steadily thinning out; my personal experience as well as what's reflected in legion and general chat (up until last week) speaks to this as many remaining players are receiving a steady stream of "inherited" loot bequeathed to them by friends exiting the game.

Aion has several major problems none of which have to do with the XP grind, in fact, most players I know personally who have quit did so after they hit the level cap. Ultimately the reason I exited the game (even with v1.9 and v2.0 updates on the horizon) is that, from the respective patch notes, it became evident to me that NCWest, lacking any sort of player level perspective of the game, decided that all problems could be solved by targeting the "grind" and trying to make the game an eastern pretty WoW (which will ultimately fail).

(Problem 1) Flight mechanic: Aion was heavily marketed on it's flight/battle mechanic however the reality of the actual implementation is a counter intuitive kludge/hack that pretty much every player I know abhors. Furthermore, the fact that flight itself is restricted to a few select zones (and is set on a painfully short timer) limits it's value even as a simple travel mechanic. It was my hope that the mechanic would be modified to better integrate ground & air battle tactics (and make to the flight transition more seamless) however instead NCWest chose to add "ground only" PvP content for their v2.0 patch; this to me is the equivalent of "yeah we know it's broke but we can't be bothered to fix it" and ultimately makes one of the games primary attributes feel like a last minute marketing gimmick.

(Problem 2) End game content: As I said before, the problem isn't the grind so much as the lack of any discernible end-game objective. Aion has only a handful of end game instances each of which must be run repeatedly ad nauseam as the drop rate for the end game loot is pitifully low and seems to be almost purposefully designed to frustrate the player; much of this gear is class specific (thus when it does drop you will often get useless or redundant gear). Some might argue that "well, Aion is a PvP game and this should viewed as it's end-game content" to which I would reply that, in a sense, this is the only facet of the game where the grind is detrimental as a casual player will never be able to compete with a player willing to invest 8+ hours a day. Furthermore, PvP advantage in Aion gives a faction control over many of the resources available in the PvP zones, effectively denying the opposing (casual gamer) side said resources exponentially increasing the duration and frustration of their grind. This wouldn't be an issue if there was open multi-faction PvP but, as Aion is structured with only two primary factions and given the limited expanse of the world itself (again reflecting a severe lack of end-game content), this is insufficient to prevent the almost total monopolization of necessary resources by a single side.

(Problem 3) Large Scale PvP: Yes the graphics in Aion are impressive relative to your typical MMO (but still far outmatched by the latest expansion of Eve Online) but due to the zerg nature of most of the fort based group PvP this actually becomes detrimental as the graphical lag experienced reduces large scale group combat to a mess of static unresponsive confusion. The notable exception to this is the PvPvE arena designed specifically for 6v6 combat which was easily the most enjoyable aspect of the game in my opinion.

Anyways, I thought I'd post as I was surprised to see Aion linked in slashdot. This may come off as a rant but I did enjoy the game however as the game prior to it's NA release had been out for more than a year in South Korea I am under-impressed with NCSoft's management and overall lack of vision for what might have been a powerful MMO.

Re:Asian MMOs (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | more than 4 years ago | (#32282924)

Some people say grinding is inherent in MMOs but I don't buy it. I think it depends on your definitions. To me, grinding is doing something mindlessly for no particular in-game reason. Ie, killing boars over and over just to level. However if you kill the same number of boars because there is a quest for it then I don't really consider that grinding. If it's a repeatable quest though, then it starts to fall back into being grinding again.

A problem is that it's easy to just create a sandbox world and then just let people grind away as the primary game play. It's very difficult though to create engaging content that removes the grind. Very few games have well written quests with a story line for instance. Probably why you see several newer games that come out with obvious gaps in the content where they hadn't finished creating quests; perhaps they left this vital bit to the end of development because they thought it was the easy stuff.

Re:Asian MMOs (2, Interesting)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 4 years ago | (#32275480)

I avoid all MMO's, even though I've trialed well over a dozen of them and would really love to find one I actually enjoy playing.
I understand the need of MMO companies to keep people paying subscription money for as long as possible, but I wonder if those companies are aware of the large number of people that don't even START subscribing due to the grind.

Re:Asian MMOs (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32275550)

You might try Lord of the Rings Online. It's not without its grind to be sure, but it's currently the premier story-driven MMO. The environment is beautifully rendered, and though the characters aren't as nice as Aions they're far superior to WoWs.

Re:Asian MMOs (1)

TheThiefMaster (992038) | more than 4 years ago | (#32275966)

You should try guild wars, it has no subscription.

Re:Asian MMOs (1)

JohnBailey (1092697) | more than 4 years ago | (#32277466)

You should try guild wars, it has no subscription.

And for all my fellow Linux users.. works great under WINE. Just heard about it being Linux compatible a few days ago, downloaded the demo, and bought the full game the next day.

Re:Asian MMOs (2, Funny)

tnok85 (1434319) | more than 4 years ago | (#32275542)

granted space isn't super hard to render.

You need to start somewhere if you hope to render an apple pie.

Re:Asian MMOs (1)

uolamer (957159) | more than 4 years ago | (#32275694)

I just went to their site, was going to try the game.. There is no trial I can just click on and start using.. You have to be invited by someone who is already playing 3+ months to get a trial... Seems a bit lame I cant even try the game before I buy it..

I plated UO for far too long, I logged in about a week ago and saw the game had pretty much died.. Played WoW off and on, always get bored once I get maxed out... The PvP in UO kept me playing, it doesnt in WoW.. Guild Wars was sort of interesting and fun, but I didnt keep playing..

if someone can send a trial id like to check it out.. uolamer at gmail. ty

Re:Asian MMOs (2, Informative)

Cimexus (1355033) | more than 4 years ago | (#32276040)

The reason you need to be referred by an existing player is so that currency farmers don't just sign up for the free trials by the thousands to run their bots. It seems to work too. After an initial wave of bots at launch, NC cracked down pretty hard and you don't really see any now. Maybe one in a noob zone every now and again but that's it.

Re:Asian MMOs (2, Informative)

subanark (937286) | more than 4 years ago | (#32279332)

There are no currency farming bots in Wow with a trial subscription. The trial accounts in Wow don't let you trade, use the AH, chat in global channels, and only let you accumulate a very small amount of coin. Most bots in Wow are the result of accounts that had their password stolen. The reason this doesn't plague Aion (as you claim) is that it has not reached the player base threshold for farmers to invest the time to create phishing scams to get these passwords. If they did, it would be easy to get a few passwords and have those accounts refer their bots. To make a non-car analogy, it would be like saying that linux/mac is less vulnerable to viruses because it is harder to compromise. In actuality, it is the popularity of Windows that makes these viruses more profitable to make.

Re:Asian MMOs (2, Interesting)

Xest (935314) | more than 4 years ago | (#32275848)

To be fair, I don't think that's true.

As someone who played Dark Age of Camelot from it's early days, and got GM cartography on UO when it was hard. I never played EQ, but I had friends who wasted years grinding away in that too, I'd say that all MMOs nowadays, Asian or not require less grinding than Western MMOs have done in the past.

I didn't play Aion for that long admittedly, but for the time I did play it I didn't find Aion any worse for grinding than say, Warhammer online either.

Re:Asian MMOs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32276732)

Grinding on warhammer online?
Do you mean levelling while having a blast pvping?
That game unfortunately fell by the wayside but if you caught the first wave you could level to 40 in no time doing nothing but pvping instances which were a riot. Decent gear could be had with nothing but pvp.
Warhammer imo nearly had it right and its a great shame that it's failing.
I am casual and was non affiliated but still could log in kick arse and actually progress. I was 40/70 on a magus and bothered to roll a witch elf because it was easy. Getting to 40 was nothing and on any halfway decent server the good times rolled on from there even when the pop got bad and it was "harder" to level. In truth you really only had to grind to 31 once you re rolled and the pops had got bad. Most servers kept a good high level pop.
Nothing quite like dropping a high ranked player when your in your early 30s and getting some great xp and renown + possibly an item token.
The incentive to pvp when you hadn't finished levelling was great. No penalty for failure and a great chance of success as their was no penatly to hit or anything stupid like that and if you played well you could bring down some scrub who was 40 for great reward. Or roll with the zerg and soak up the xp and renown. You saw plenty of greys out and about in the tier 4 realm vs realm. Especially healers who really could punch above their weight in that setting.

Re:Asian MMOs (1)

caerwyn (38056) | more than 4 years ago | (#32277382)

Getting to 40 in Warhammer was fun... the first time. Unfortunately, the level 40 content was simply painfully bad, both PvE and PvP, and after the first wave it turned into more of a grind to get a new character up to 40. I hear the max-level stuff is better now (and they certainly keep trying to improve it), but that game had some of the worst end-game PvE and itemization I've ever seen, and the city siege system was great in theory but failed in practice in its first incarnations.

Re:Asian MMOs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32282328)

I suppose the least-grindy eastern MMOs of today are less grindy than the most-grindy western MMOs of yesteryear, but that isn't saying much either.

I think a lot of the ongoing grind backlash comes from WoW's release date. Depending on how close you were to the occasion, you knew - somewhere between the beta and the couple months after the official release - that the gameplay tide was turning. But for some reason, in the following six years, the vast majority of ongoing games, games in development, and new games didn't adapt - they mostly stuck to the old grindier model. For a very long time, the hot new things coming out of asia have turned out one after another to be Lineage 2 clones. I don't know how much or how little Aion improves on it, but going by the falling subscription numbers, I'd hazard a guess at "not better enough".

Re:Asian MMOs (1)

Meski (774546) | more than 3 years ago | (#32289110)

Merging servers doesn't look like good news for Aion overall. It seems to indicate a contracting playerbase.

As a Windows XP user (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32275466)

...I'm glad they're taking the time to make my OS grind a bit less when running their game. I never heard of XP rewards though, surely I deserve one? I've been running XP since it came out.

Anyone notice that black cat just now....deja vu.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32275526)

The matrix online is the last server merge i remember. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but three years later and poof, another somewhat decent mmo dead in the water. (there were other glaring issues along with the dwindling population though).Sony did the same thing prior to Mx0's downfall, exp boosting weekends, large server events. Heck they even redesigned the whole combat system after the server merge to make the game more appealing. (at the time the old combat system favoured certain classes far above others in both pve and pvp content).

Re:Anyone notice that black cat just now....deja v (4, Interesting)

fractoid (1076465) | more than 4 years ago | (#32275630)

Exp. boosting weekends? Making the game easier? These things sound good on the surface but they're ultimately MMO suicide. This is because MMOs live and die by the perceived value of in-game achievements and items, and that perceived value is dictated by two major factors: how difficult they are to achieve in game, and how valuable you perceive in-game achievement to be to other people. This is fundamental to why people play MMOs at all: Players play MMOs to feel powerful and special.

Firstly, nerfing 'the grind'. Players bitch and moan about it but in the end, if there's no grind and no other challenge, then levelling up becomes meaningless. If the best items are trivial to obtain, then why would players care about getting them? Players only value what took time and effort to acquire.

Secondly, server mergers are THE death knell of any MMO. Why? Because no matter how it's presented, a server merger is always interpreted by the players as "lots of people are leaving the game". The main reason you play an MMO is that everyone else is playing it. If everyone leaves, who is going to admire your shiny epic gear? Players only value things that set them apart from others. If there're no others to admire their achievements, why bother?

Re:Anyone notice that black cat just now....deja v (2, Interesting)

erpbridge (64037) | more than 4 years ago | (#32275652)

I had the same thought... didn't Tabula Rasa (another NCSoft game) go through these same measures a short time before they closed up shop? Server mergers, more moves to bring people in... free periods of time... collapsing down to only a handful of servers, then close.

It's sad that we lose portions of the gaming world, some storylines that have the potential of being interesting, when online gaming servers close. I know TR had the initial potential of being interesting from the intro vid... yes, gameplay was a little poor, but the storyline had some potential. I think though this is possibly the start of the end, whether long (a few years) or short (maybe half year) of Aion.

Re:Anyone notice that black cat just now....deja v (1)

cyp43r (945301) | more than 4 years ago | (#32275796)

World of Warcraft nerfs 'the grind' quite often now and from the start it was significantly less grindy than other similar games. Combined with the servers merging it might well be a last ditch effort but reducing grinding isnt neccessarily going to drive people away.

Re:Anyone notice that black cat just now....deja v (2, Interesting)

fractoid (1076465) | more than 4 years ago | (#32275874)

Actually, WoW has exactly the same amount of 'grind' now as it had in Vanilla. My first ever character hit 60 in around 12 days of play time. My rogue (who I started levelling late in Burning Crusade) took around 12 days to hit 70. My paladin (who hit 70 a couple of weeks before Wrath was released) took roughly that amount of time as well. Blizzard has simply disguised the levelling grind with a huge network of quests. The timesink is still there, it's just that instead of kill 500 boars, you have to do 50 quests, each of which involves killing 10 boars. It's less monotonous but it's still there.

As for server merges - when has WoW ever had a server merge? They've used an ongoing series of free transfers to try and balance out realm populations, but I don't recall servers ever merging or being shut down even when this would have been the sensible technical solution. As long as you maintain the illusion of a stable population, the population is likely to stay stable, but any hint of a sudden population drop can easily trigger a wave of fickle players to quit, making the rumoured ghost town a reality.

Re:Anyone notice that black cat just now....deja v (2, Informative)

stonewallred (1465497) | more than 4 years ago | (#32276818)

Lol, server balance. Tell that to my toons I have on Cho'Gall Alliance side. Been there and /who at 8:15PM server time on a Friday night and there was 39 players on Alliance side in the entire world. Seen as few as 5, with me dual-boxing two of them. But Blizzard says there is no server imbalance.

Re:Anyone notice that black cat just now....deja v (1)

Tridus (79566) | more than 4 years ago | (#32277228)

They never said that. There just isn't much they can do about it, because it's a self-fulfilling problem. Server imbalance breeds more server imbalance. Short of flat out shutting off Horde character creation on the server and offering some crazy Alliance creation incentives, they're powerless to the fact that Alliance players don't want to play there.

Re:Anyone notice that black cat just now....deja v (2, Interesting)

Ubergrendle (531719) | more than 4 years ago | (#32278332)

"Actually, WoW has exactly the same amount of 'grind' now as it had in Vanilla. My first ever character hit 60 in around 12 days of play time. My rogue (who I started levelling late in Burning Crusade) took around 12 days to hit 70. My paladin (who hit 70 a couple of weeks before Wrath was released) took roughly that amount of time as well. Blizzard has simply disguised the levelling grind with a huge network of quests."

That's not exactly what they're doing, what they're doing is providing a fixed amount of effort required to get to the level cap where the majority of players congregate. The biggest reason to play an MMO is the social aspect (raiding, pvp, even role playing for some people). The 'grind' gives you something to do, as a backdrop to supporting the social aspect. "Bill, do you want to come kill this dragon with us?" "Yeah, i'd love to, need to go get my widgets first though". The 'grind' is there to reinforce commitment to your character, and give you a sense of accomplishment that you share with other players.

Threadcapping MMOs is easy. A GM can give you "Sword of Awesome + 1million" with a few keystrokes, but it would be meaningless. The joy comes from participating in a shared environment, with a common set of rules, that emphasizes social interaction. You don't 'win' Wow or Aion, you go there to have fun.

Re:Anyone notice that black cat just now....deja v (5, Insightful)

Aceticon (140883) | more than 4 years ago | (#32276148)

Actually the stereotypical "Players" you describe with their wants & needs and what they value are only the Achiever kind of player in the Bartle Player Type classification (here [wikipedia.org] ).

The Explorers, Socializers or Killers do not necessarilly derive any enjoyment from endlessly repetitive tasks.

Even the Achievers don't derive any enjoyment from endlessly repetitive tasks - what they enjoy is achieving something hard or getting something rare or unique: the "hard work" needed to get those hard to get achievements needs not be endless grinding: in fact, complex, difficult encounters with hard to get pre-requisites can be just as satisfying.

The truth is that, in MMORPGs, grinding based game-playing is a cheap way for publishers to create time-sinks in the game instead of spending money in creating real content like areas, dungeons, boss encounters, story quests and others.

While most people that played MMORPGs in the time of UO and the like were willing to live with it (since there was nothing beter), nowadays, there's plenty of MMORPGs out there with massive amounts of content for players to enjoy (in my personal experience, both current WoW - it was worse in the past - and LOTRO are very good in that aspect).

Re:Anyone notice that black cat just now....deja v (2, Informative)

Andy Dodd (701) | more than 4 years ago | (#32277790)

"Even the Achievers don't derive any enjoyment from endlessly repetitive tasks - what they enjoy is achieving something hard or getting something rare or unique: the "hard work" needed to get those hard to get achievements needs not be endless grinding: in fact, complex, difficult encounters with hard to get pre-requisites can be just as satisfying."
This is how a non-grindy MMO like WoW appeals to the achievers...

Re:Anyone notice that black cat just now....deja v (1)

zwei2stein (782480) | more than 4 years ago | (#32276156)

So, you say that mmos are played by sad people who need constant validation from others and feeling of superiority not to quit?

Hint: There are thousands, maybe million of people who play the same game. If you play it to feel special, well, though luck. You will never be special, but one of crowd. Always one of crowd. Your equipment? The way you play? Achievments? They are being cloned over and over by others. The more hardcore you are, the more cookie cutter ("optimized") you will be even.

Grind is always "do something you have now so that you can do something you find fun later". Of course people are going to value it. People are always in denial over time wasted and it feels better to say they value what they did. You are never going to hear basement dweller say that he raids because he does not have anything better than that to do. And of course you are going to value that sword of epeness because noone would ever want to loose it and regrind it over again.

Simply put, it feels that hardcore-ish mmo players are full of shit when they say how they feel about their achievments or what they do.

Just ... accept playing mmo will not make you special. Whatever happened to playing game because it is fun?

Re:Anyone notice that black cat just now....deja v (1)

fractoid (1076465) | more than 4 years ago | (#32276206)

You say this like it contradicts what I said. Why do you think MMO players complain so much? It's that they're seeking one experience (be the hero that they can't be in real life) but getting a different one (be just another schlub trying to gear up their rogue). You really think that ANY of the current crop of MMOs have interesting enough gameplay to work as single player games?

Re:Anyone notice that black cat just now....deja v (2, Interesting)

zwei2stein (782480) | more than 4 years ago | (#32276386)

Why don't they then just quit? I mean, you can hunt carrot only for so long before realizing that, yep, i am hunting carrot and i will always be hunting carrot because that is how company turns profit.

I find it amazing that people are taking it so well: First round of quests in first wow expansion basically undone all precious work players did in vanilla by giving up "kill 10 boars" quest rewards beter than stuff that took months to grind. Knowing that once developers release new content, you will be kicked down to average joe level should feel pretty shitty.

---

Anyhow, you can theoretically play Guild Wars as single player, but but us not really average MMO, which coincidentally peaks character power about ~ 10% into game storyline, making it a bit more dependant on "having fun" than "boosting ego"

Re:Anyone notice that black cat just now....deja v (2, Informative)

caerwyn (38056) | more than 4 years ago | (#32277446)

Why don't they then just quit? I mean, you can hunt carrot only for so long before realizing that, yep, i am hunting carrot and i will always be hunting carrot because that is how company turns profit.

They generally don't quit for one of (or a combination of) a few reasons:

1) They've already invested a lot of time into a character, and they don't want to throw that away.
2) They're playing primarily for social interactions and the "grind" is mostly something to do while hanging out with friends, so they don't mind it.
3) They're playing for the end-game raiding, which for many people *does* provide enough enjoyment to balance out any grind.
4) They're playing for the PvP, and they enjoy that enough to balance out a grind.
5) Hope springs eternal, and they suffer through a current grind because looking toward or getting that next shiny really is that much of a reward to them.

I've personally experienced all of those at times (1 a little less so), and I've definitely seen them in people I've played with (I don't play MMOs anymore).

Why discount that? (2, Insightful)

twoallbeefpatties (615632) | more than 4 years ago | (#32279504)

"2) They're playing primarily for social interactions and the "grind" is mostly something to do while hanging out with friends, so they don't mind it."

Experience boosting weekends and speeding up the grind allow new players to catch up with their friends who are at the level cap so that they can all go raid together. Without server mergers, you may have servers that are so low in population that you can't always get enough people together for a high-end dungeon, so server mergers can help to increase social interaction on low-pop servers by putting you in contact with more people. Heck, I remember people playing on low-pop WoW servers starting forum threads asking for their server to be merged with another for just that reason.

If you don't have the social experience in an MMO, then you may as well go back to playing single-player RPGs. Stuff like this does actually matter on occasion - some of this stuff might get the Aion players who still want to stick around a better chance to hang out together.

Re:Anyone notice that black cat just now....deja v (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32276794)

I think you are right about the grind. The grind used to be the only mark of achievement and it was boring as hell but the rewards were great and it was the only way to differentiate. But now they are finding better ways then "do this instance 1000 times and you statistically ought to have this item". WoW is winning because they are creating content faster than most people can complete it. Everyone can "win" in wow because time isn't so much of a factor.
Keep the content coming and you can reward people with new gear sooner. Finishing a gear set is the real reward not time spent.
No one cares if you did Blackwing lair a billion times or the new instance 6 times. Once you have the set you have won.. for now. And the player is happy so long as their is somewhere new to go afterward.
It used to be a grind in the first place because there was no point in the player being done with content until their was new content to explore.
Now content can be created at a rate that makes the treadmill less abhorrent.

This is all reinforcement behavior 101. Regular reinforcement and less skill of course. The average gamer doesn't want it to be impossible to obtain anything just because they have sausage fingers.
Prior mmo's had a longer harder progression that fewer people could stomach because they didn't have the subscription base to pay for the developers to develop the content to come out more quickly than people got bored with.

WoW has found the juicy middle ground of consumers with less time who still want to feel like winners and don't want to be bored by content. In affect everyone, who wants to be able to, can continuously win. Keep winning every item you want from each new dungeon before you get bored knowing there is gonna be another dungeon soon. Probably sooner than you are ready to explore it. Require each new dungeon can only be explored by those have explored all prior.

Provide ways to leapfrog certain amounts of earlier material to get new players to the point that they battle through the content that the developers can comfortably stay ahead of. Rinse, repeat.

Re:Anyone notice that black cat just now....deja v (1)

stonewallred (1465497) | more than 4 years ago | (#32276796)

Disagree. I play a MMO because there are no real MMORPGs available. I don't play to socialize, even though I have made a few friends and played with a few RL friends on WoW. And WoW lacks anything that sets the max level toons apart. 50 max level hunters from 50 servers at the same level of raid progression will be identical except for faces, names and haircuts. I play WoW to entertain myself, not to show off my shinies, that are worthless, as anyone can get anything I have. Not to be powerful, hello, it is a video game. Powerful in a video game means what exactly? And I value the hell out of dragonfin angelfish, although they are not difficult to get, merely a little time consuming. But a few drinks, something good to watch on the other monitor and I can fish for 2 hours and get a couple of stacks. Yep, 77th level, three vanity guildbanks at 5 tabs each, almost a million gold spread out over guild banks and various bank toons. More to my playing than just rush to cap and raid,raid, raid.

Re:Anyone notice that black cat just now....deja v (2, Interesting)

Andy Dodd (701) | more than 4 years ago | (#32277778)

Those haven't been killers for WoW, but that may be because WoW got it "reasonably" right to begin with.

Aion, on the other hand, had a brutal grind initially, driving away all but the most hardcore. Releasing a broken MMO and fixing it later doesn't work - see the epic failure of Dark Age of Camelot's Trials of Atlantis expansion. ToA destroyed the game, and by the time Mythic accepted that fact and fixed the problems, their subscriber base had already been decimated.

Too many MMO developers are reactive "we're losing subscribers, fix it!" rather than proactive "WoW is clearly successful - how can we compete with them without being a clone?". Once you're already losing subscribers, it is too late.

I find it amusing that Aion planned to fail from the beginning - They refused to provision enough servers initially because they planned for their populations to drop like a rock, citing Warhammer as an example of "overprovisioning" when in reality, underprovisioning gives your game a perception of being laggy/buggy/badly executed and refusing to address it makes you look like an asshole to your customers, both of which are a killer to MMOs, and Warhammer was underprovisioned initially and just had a shitty game that couldn't retain a subscriber base. The reality is that at least 50%+ of MMO subscribers try a new game because their friends are trying it - If their friends have a bad experience, others won't even give the game a chance. As frustrated as I was with the grind, I was going to continue giving Aion a chance until two of my hardcore gaming friends quit - with them gone, there's no real reason for me to grind.

It says much about the sad state of MMOs these days that said hardcore friends have taken up, of all things, Mafia Wars...

Re:Anyone notice that black cat just now....deja v (1)

dskzero (960168) | more than 4 years ago | (#32279388)

There is a huge difference between taking you a hundred monsters to level up and taking you four hundred monsters to level up.

The only MMORPG i took time to play was RF Online, and with 30X exp we had to level (as a group, otherwise that was impossible as characters died in literally two hits, tanks in three) on a cave where it took it anywhere from 1 to 3 minutes to kill a mob. The experience table was such that each level needed twice as many mobs to kill. Every mob gave me 0.3%.

I was 8 levels away from the maximum level.

Those were the highest mobs in the game.

That was grinding.

That is pointless.

Re:Anyone notice that black cat just now....deja v (1)

Skuld-Chan (302449) | more than 4 years ago | (#32279670)

Depends - Blizzard did all these things and more (for instance you can buy special gear to give your next character 20% more exp on everything they do) and they keep gaining subscribers.

There is something to the design concept "it really does need to be fun to play" - never mind how hard it is.

I think WoW scales pretty well - there's plenty of stuff to do even if your terrible at the game, plenty of hard modes to do in raids if you're really quite good at it. Leveling shouldn't be the end all to any mmo - neither should gearing up a character (to a certain extent). Most people are still terrible at the game, and making it easier didn't change that, but at least there's something for those people to do.

My experience with Aion is it feels like a Free to Play game in terms of quality and progression, but they charge for it. Its defining feature - you have a character that can fly - completely feels gimped. The grind past level 30 (despite the amount of times they said they'd fix it) is really awful, but you can buy XP boosters and play on double exp weekends (sounds like F2P to me there), crafting is a horrible grind (someone described Aion's crafting system during the beta as the mmo equivalent of cutting yourself - thats bad press for a "game"). The killer for me is the one feature they borrowed from Lineage/Lineage 2 that makes no sense. You grind your way through a farking dungeon (not even a raid) for 4 sodding hours and the boss only has a *chance* to drop loot - he/she may not drop jack.

To me MMO suicide is server mergers. Your admitting as a company your game isn't successful - its a death knell as your game slowely loses interest the playerbase get smaller and smaller and to keep the game going you have to make the server pool smaller.

Slashvertisement much? (1, Insightful)

hellop2 (1271166) | more than 4 years ago | (#32275578)

Do I have to turn in my geek card since I've never heard of Aion? Is slashdot the place I should go to learn whenever some online game changes their game balance?

Re:Slashvertisement much? (4, Insightful)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 4 years ago | (#32275856)

Nah. This is one of those MMO based announcements. It was supposed to be the MMO that killed WoW, lots of people switched for all of about 2mo, before they realized that the grind was so heavy you needed to dedicate your life to it. Not as bad as FF or anything, but plenty bad enough. The reality is everyone has been spoiled, for lack of a better word because of WoW. They know playing it, that if you stop for 3mo and you're way under the gear cap you can run heroics and get the gear. If you only want to play for 2hrs a week, you can, and still get somewhere at the end of the game without grouping with anyone.

enjoy the journey (2, Interesting)

PortaDiFerro (1719902) | more than 4 years ago | (#32275622)

I played Aion some, but didn't continue after the free period, it just didn't manage to hook me and there's also time constraints these days. Grind is really not the issue though, don't really understand what is everybodys rush to the max level. They should just make the journey there enjoyable. I guess the problem there is that to be effective in PVP you have to be max level. I remember back in the original EQ the leveling was nightmare compared to modern MMOs, but who cared, you played for fun, not to reach top level!

Re:enjoy the journey (1)

Andy Dodd (701) | more than 4 years ago | (#32277838)

I think that's the key - a long journey to max level would be fine if it were fun. Problem was:
1) Not enough quests to level on quests w/o grinding
2) XP mechanics when grouped effectively actively discouraged grouping - this was a real killer!
3) Loot in dungeons was crap - combined with the pitiful group XP, this made dungeons a real drag, almost as bad as solo grinding
4) The group-finding system was awful compared to even WoW's old system. WoW's new system makes finding dungeon groups easy.

Re:enjoy the journey (1)

damien_kane (519267) | more than 4 years ago | (#32279188)

The difference is (as an Aion player), this 1.9 patch.
With the exception of (2), they're changing everything.

1) Quests give more XP
3) Drop rates are being increased
4) New group-finding/LFG module is being added. It looks a lot to me like FFXI's grouping system, but a lot of fellow players (who came from a WoW background) say it looks a lot like WoW's new system.

With regards to (2), though, I've found that grouping is actually actively encouraged. You can get XP much faster (after level 15) by grouping and running outdoor mob-city zones or instances than you can soloing.
I find it more like FFXI, where if you don't group, you'll get bored and quit, than WoW, where you can get to 80 without grouping.

Re:enjoy the journey (1)

Skuld-Chan (302449) | more than 4 years ago | (#32279780)

The rationale for not having to group in WoW was actually explained at the last GDC by Kaplan I think - basically he wanted a game that you could sit down and play for 30 minutes without having to sit in some central hub pleading to join some group for several hours at a time.

WoW does have group quests - but they aren't required. Group quests often have better rewards (more exp, money and sometimes a blue or epic item), but certainly not required to level. Wow has almost 30+ or so lower level dungeons to do while leveling too - something Aion left out.

The problem with most mmo's is if you want to enjoy all the content with your friends it often requires to be max level. Same with PVP - a higher level character does more damage, has more hit points, and general does better in pvp/raids than a lower level character.

Re:enjoy the journey (1)

ekhben (628371) | more than 3 years ago | (#32289972)

I canned Aion not too long after release.

I'm all for enjoying the journey, and the levelling game is actually one I usually quite enjoy. But Aion is really terrible at the journey. The quests are sparse, so most of your journey is killing indiscriminately. That's compounded by the fact that you've seen the entire game world by the end of level 2. I shit you not. Everything else is the same crap rebadged. Instead of a Blurr, it's a Ferocious Blurr, or an Enraged Blurr, or a Beastly Blurr. Same model. Same skin. Same behaviour. Same shit, served up cold, over and over and over and over and over.

The other thing that I hoped would set the game apart was the flight. But, it turns out, the flight is pure gimmick. You can fly at level 10 (or 20, I forget). Exciting, yes? No. Once you learn to fly, you move on to the next levelling zone. Three or four quests that make you fly to complete them later, you step out of the town, and into a no-fly zone. With Grumpy Blurrs to kill, and like seven quests to last you for the next 10 levels.

That's the point I just gave it up. The journey in Aion sucks.

Might as well name every new MMO "Not WoW" (4, Insightful)

mykos (1627575) | more than 4 years ago | (#32275642)

I played WoW for about a year and a half after release, then put it aside for personal reasons, the foremost one being that I'm a flawed person with an addiction-prone personality!
Played and liked Guild Wars for two years, played and liked Age of Conan for two months, but I'm beginning to see a sameness in nearly all MMOs. Of course each will have their slight variations, but in the end ever subscription MMO is trying to beat Blizzard at what they do best (except Guild Wars...that game marches to the beat of its own drum).
Until a MMOG offers something revolutionary and enjoyable, they might as well name every single one "Not WoW", because that's how their potential customers see it.

Re:Might as well name every new MMO "Not WoW" (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32275716)

I can feel this sameness in about every MMO :

Quest type 1 : kill X of those monsters
Quest type 2 : get X of those items (which are possessed by those monsters so you'll have to kill them before)
Quest type 3 : get X of those items on the ground... in an area populated by those monsters, so you'll have to kill them first
Quest type 4 : go find this guy (oh hey by the way, did I say the road was full of monsters...)
Quest type 5 : kill THAT special guy. Oh he's surrounded by other monsters, you know what to do...

Seriously, it's all the same repetitive bullshit ("kill X monsters") with little to no variation, in about every mmo. The only one that I found innovative was Tale in the Desert (craftmanship-based MMO in ancient Egypt with a *big* emphasis on long term teamwork)

Re:Might as well name every new MMO "Not WoW" (2, Insightful)

i ate my neighbour (1756816) | more than 4 years ago | (#32275912)

I don't mind fighting my way through monsters to reach to some special guy or very powerful magical artifact©(which,for some reason, we are not able to use) but it is a great turnoff to just kill X of these and gather Y of those.

Re:Might as well name every new MMO "Not WoW" (1)

Mike Mentalist (544984) | more than 4 years ago | (#32276454)

The problem with having to kill monsters to get somewhere in an MMO is the inevitable trip back once you have complete the quest - those same monsters have respawned meaning you have to kill them again. Whilst this is an inherent design in current MMOs it pretty much punishes the player if they want to hang around an area to explore. This is partly why so many players are in a 'rush' to get to max level.

Re:Might as well name every new MMO "Not WoW" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32276368)

It's not the repetitiveness (see Tetris, R-Type, Diablo) but the paper-thin insult of a narrative layered over it, lack of immersive context (monsters are only thematically related to a quest and just stand there or wander a short distance), and lack of rewards for intelligent action. You get rewarded for killing shit, period.

Re:Might as well name every new MMO "Not WoW" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32276756)

MMO that I found most innnovative: Star Wars Galaxies pre-combat upgrade and SOE fucking everything over.
They had every aspect of the MMO world covered.
1) Fighting (melee, ranged)
2) Healing (Long range, close range, in battle/out of battle)
3) Dedicated Social Classes (entertainers)
4) Class dedicated to purely making people look good(image design/tailors
5) Almost 100% customizable weapons(weapon crafters/armor crafting)
6) Player based economy (the people who harvested the materials would sell to the crafters who needed to build factories to produce items(which was built by player architects) and customize and sell them in their own tents in player cities and set the price to their choosing.

I can't completely articulate how 100% freeing this game was to play. It was like living in a Star Wars world. You could fly to planets where in order to walk through from one side to another would take a non-stop walk of 3-5 hours. They had dungeons that were on the near impossibility rating that people would group like hell to do. Guild Vs Guild? Psshhh, they had that but they also had it Imperial Vs. Rebels. You wanted to do illegal things in a game? Go ahead, be a smuggler. Make drugs, "slice" weapons. You wanted to tax people, be a mayor. You wanted to just kinda sit back and talk to people, be an entertainer. You got a fascination with biology? Be a bioengineer and create creatures that belonged to you or you could sell to creature handlers. You wanna be a team leader and control the field? Play as a squad leader. I'm not gonna talk about fighting cause that is in just about everygame.

It was a perfect game then the devs messed it up. SWEmu should redeem it.

Re:Might as well name every new MMO "Not WoW" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32276906)

As someone who has been following it for the 5 years they've wasted, let me just say: fsck SWGEMU.

Seriously, they've done more to damage the SWG Community than Sony has, and that's saying something.

Also, go read their licensing, and see if they even understand what 'open source' means.

Nothing pisses me off like one proprietary group stealing another one's work and trying to claim they're 'original'.

Re:Might as well name every new MMO "Not WoW" (1)

PPalmgren (1009823) | more than 4 years ago | (#32277538)

Stop looking at the big titles and look towards the niche. There are tons of MMOs out there that break the EQ model (WoW). Go through the list of MMOs in development at mmorpg.com and see what you can find that might interest you. I'm personally hoping The Secret World turns out good, and recently played Darkfall. Remember, shiny doesn't necessarily mean polish.

Re:Might as well name every new MMO "Not WoW" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32278510)

Guild Wars 2 is going to come out this year or next, and the news released in the last month has been pretty good.

Re:Might as well name every new MMO "Not WoW" (1)

Aceticon (140883) | more than 4 years ago | (#32280700)

Funilly enough I have a somewhat similar experience as you although in my case it as more like:
- EVE Online
- WOW just after release
- Guild Wars
- LOTRO
- Tried Warhammer Onlime
- Tried D&D Online
- Back to WoW, 4 years after I left.

I pretty much came to a similar conclusion: they're all very much the same.

Yet, at around the time I was getting fed-up with LOTRO I found out that for me (an Explorer in the Bartle types), it's fun enough to start on an MMORPG, see most of the content and then leave for another MMORPG (or whatever Sngle Player game catches my attention).

In other words, if you like exploring and experiencing the content of a game, then you can approach MMORPGs as just RPGs that happen to have huge amounts of content to experience and be online.

Once you start seing them as "just another game, only bigger" it becomes natural to join the game, have some fun, see a bit of everything and eventually get bored, at which point you can move on to a different one. Nobody says that you can't come back at a later date once the developers add more content. Certainly it seems to be working for me.

Treat an MMORPG like you would a Single Player RPG only with much more content and something you can take a break of and when you come back there will be new stuff in the game for you to see and experience.

And the ongoing infestation of hackers and bots? (2, Insightful)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 4 years ago | (#32276430)

No mention of that, Chris?

After Lineage 2 sank under the groaning weight of bots and hackers, didn't you pledge to deal with that issue from day 1 in Aion with a dedicated bot/hack hunting team? How'd that play out for you?

Oh, and how about the the promises about cracking down on egregious gold farming, and the blatant market in bot-grinded accounts? Got all that sorted did you? Like you said you would?

Speak up Chris, it's all gone a bit quiet.

Re:And the ongoing infestation of hackers and bots (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32277196)

Must be an NA problem? I haven't seen a gold seller in months on the EU servers.

'Hacking' is a different matter unfortunately - radar hacks are still pretty prevalent (assuming that's what you mean by hacking) - but the first way that NCSoft will think to stop that is by turning GameGuard on, which is not an option i want to see considered.

Re:And the ongoing infestation of hackers and bots (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32279562)

pGameGuard, HackShield and all the "pre-packaged" anti-hacking solutions also already have "pre-packaged" bypasses already - aka they have all been already cracked.

This will just deter hacking for at most 2 weeks...

Re:And the ongoing infestation of hackers and bots (2, Informative)

Get on the boat (1601391) | more than 4 years ago | (#32278726)

One might suggest keeping such indignant retorts and demands (addressed directly to the game producer no less) to the Aion website News comments section.

As completely ignored as that comment section is by the GMs, to say nothing of Chris Hager himself, it's at least a degree of separation closer than posting a reply on slashdot.

Just saying.

Re:And the ongoing infestation of hackers and bots (1)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 4 years ago | (#32279118)

If addressing third parties in didactics was good enough for dead Greek dudes, it's good enough for me.

Not at all surprising (1)

Tridus (79566) | more than 4 years ago | (#32276446)

Aion went through the same thing every other overhyped MMO launch does: convince a ton of people to sign up inititally based on hype, and hope some of them stick around after 2 months.

A bunch of people I play WoW with all quit to play Aion. Within six months, every single one was back. The game has way too much grinding and way too little serious endgame content, especially if you're not a PvP focused player. People got to the level cap, looked around, said "now what?", and quit.

Re:Not at all surprising (1)

twoallbeefpatties (615632) | more than 4 years ago | (#32279382)

I played WoW for a while and seem to remember the forums constantly being filled with topics about how "I'm leaving WoW to go play WHO / LoTRO / Vanguard / Conan / GuildWars / insert new MMO coming out next month here!"

Completely derivative but pretty (1)

harl (84412) | more than 4 years ago | (#32276620)

Doesn't surprise me one bit. No innovation.

It's a pretty game. That's the only good thing I can say.

It has the exact same crafting system everquest shipped with 11 years ago.

Aion is to Asian for western audiences (1, Insightful)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 4 years ago | (#32276922)

There seems to be an odd cultural difference for some reason in MMO's, although to be fair I should perhaps also put this party on age.

Aion and similar titles are often defended because they are very pretty... no they are not. They are flashy, but that is not the same as pretty. But when you are 12 or asian, that seems to be the case. Consider a tricked out city car, or if you are really gay an American Chopper versus the clean lines of an e-type. No e-type needs blue leds.

The Asian MMO's seem to play similar to a hack&slash, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bABf-SL3rQQ&feature=related [youtube.com] the action takes a while to get going, but notice what happens when he hits an enemy. HUGE floating damage numbers. No western MMO would do that, you have a health bar somewhere on your hud that tells you this. It might seem a small difference but think about what single player games have huge floating damage numbers and which do not. Beat-em-ups and hack&slash games, Mortal Kombat and Bayonetta (sorry if they are mispelled, they are not my kind of game) vs Fallout and well any Bioware game (why are there only two RPG makers?). I dare say that while I did enjoy a bit of Diablo, on the whole the two types of games cater to different types of players.

Aion looks pretty, if you like flashy, at first glance, but its beauty is really only skin deep, it has the same very basic character customization that all asian MMO's have. There is no depth to flash and it lacks functionality. You swing a huge sword around in the same basic animation forever and it never has anything to do with the damage. You can sweep straight through an enemy and miss and do a move on enemy behind you 100 meters and score an instant kill. It is the ultimate example of a spreadsheet game with a disco lightening show bolted on top. Great if you like that, but since servers are being merged, apparently not many do.

Perhaps Asian MMO's are just meant to be played differently, you don't play Diablo when you want to loose yourself in a fantasy world and its rich characters do you? It is often claimed Koreans especially play their games in the social settings of a Internet cafe, were they play for long stretches at a time but do chat, drink, smoke at the same time. A western player is more likely to play alone, at home and be limited to the interaction in the game. I get the impression that a western player expects more downtime between fighting. He has few, smaller battles that give him what he needs. While a Asian player expects to be pounding enemies for an hour straight.

As said, these are impressions, but on the whole, if you want to play Aion coming from a western MMO background, you better be ready for the differences. Expect to grind. Expect the best quests to be on the level of the worsed western quests. Expect player killing. Don't expect raiding. Expect PvP being the only end-game content. Expect items shops. Expect them to matter.

It can be fun, but it is NOT the same as a western game. Really, it is Bayonetta vs Dragon Age. As long as you go into the game knowing this, you might be pleasantly surprised. Sadly many people didn't and expected WoW

Re:Aion is to Asian for western audiences (1)

srmalloy (263556) | more than 4 years ago | (#32281622)

The Asian MMO's seem to play similar to a hack&slash, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bABf-SL3rQQ&feature=related [youtube.com] the action takes a while to get going, but notice what happens when he hits an enemy. HUGE floating damage numbers. No western MMO would do that, you have a health bar somewhere on your hud that tells you this. It might seem a small difference but think about what single player games have huge floating damage numbers and which do not. Beat-em-ups and hack&slash games, Mortal Kombat and Bayonetta (sorry if they are mispelled, they are not my kind of game) vs Fallout and well any Bioware game (why are there only two RPG makers?). I dare say that while I did enjoy a bit of Diablo, on the whole the two types of games cater to different types of players.

Actually, NCSoft's City of Heroes [cityofheroes.com] superhero MMO has the floating numbers -- gold for damage you're doing to your target, green for healing you receive, red for damage done to you, grey for the numbers associated with other players (the damage they do, healing they get, damage they take), plus additional information like 'Critical', 'Dodged', 'Deflected', etc. And CoH is a Western-centric MMO; it apparently didn't do well when they tried taking it to Korea.

Aion looks pretty, if you like flashy, at first glance, but its beauty is really only skin deep, it has the same very basic character customization that all asian MMO's have. There is no depth to flash and it lacks functionality. You swing a huge sword around in the same basic animation forever and it never has anything to do with the damage. You can sweep straight through an enemy and miss and do a move on enemy behind you 100 meters and score an instant kill. It is the ultimate example of a spreadsheet game with a disco lightening show bolted on top. Great if you like that, but since servers are being merged, apparently not many do.

Aion's game world has an amazing depth of detail, but the character customization falls into the same 'you are what you wear' visuals that make the choices you had for your character's appearance less and less of a factor as you gain levels and acquire flashier and more powerful gear. And while you acquire new and/or more powerful actions from skill books as you level, more and more of your combat ability comes from your gear, so that the actual attack you use doesn't make as much of a difference unless it has some sort of special effect associated with it (which may or may not be pumped by the weapon's stats). Perhaps I'm just spoiled by the character customization in City of Heroes, where even if you had two characters of the same archetype who picked the same powersets and pools, chose the same powers at the same levels, allocated slots identically, and slotted identical enhancements in them, the two characters may not look even remotely like each other, because a character's appearance is completely independent of their powers. But for all the detail that was put into Aion's world, it seems as though the characters become less and less distinct with increasing level, hidden behind common layers of shiny.

Re:Aion is to Asian for western audiences (1)

soppsa (1797376) | more than 4 years ago | (#32286712)

Aion and similar titles are often defended because they are very pretty... no they are not. They are flashy, but that is not the same as pretty. But when you are 12 or asian, that seems to be the case. Consider a tricked out city car, or if you are really gay an American Chopper versus the clean lines of an e-type. No e-type needs blue leds.

All these Korean MMOs really do have the same look, and I don't like it... Let's not even touch cars, I'd ban asians and indians/arabs from even buying European cars if I could.

XP (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32276958)

XP can mean many things. My first thought when I read the title was it was either about Windows XP or Extreme Programming. The farthest thing from my mind was "experience points".

Re:XP (1)

eharvill (991859) | more than 4 years ago | (#32282882)

The "XP" meaning "experience" nomenclature has existed well before Windows XP. I've personally never heard of "Extreme Programming," but I am sure XP as experience is older as well.

Re:XP (1)

Yosho (135835) | more than 4 years ago | (#32287082)

I'm guessing you're not much of a roleplayer, because XP has been "Experience Points" ever since the original Dungeons & Dragons.

Grinding is just a cheap way to keep user busy (1)

Kartu (1490911) | more than 4 years ago | (#32277158)

All MMOs do it (as there is simply not enough content to keep people busy for 40 hours a week).
In WoW there is a lot of grinding at max level, you have to grind gold and/or chemistry if you want to raid.
There are many quests but again, most of them is "kill X things", "keep killing things until they drop X thingies".

opposites.. (1)

crossmr (957846) | more than 4 years ago | (#32279426)

grants you experience bonuses as you continue to play.

here in korea your performance deteriorates if you keep playing to slow people down and get them to take a break.

Why is Grinding OK? (1)

CRS.C (1813512) | more than 4 years ago | (#32281510)

I don't get it; why is grinding necessary? I always thought it was because the subscription based model required that the developers build BF Skinner's rat in the box model to get the players addicted by incrementally and randomly providing rewards. This is explained in great detail by John Hopson who has a PHD in behavioral and brain sciences. http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/3085/behavioral_game_design.php?page=1 [gamasutra.com] Grinding for XP, items or whatever isn't a feature, it's a mechanism designed to do one thing only; get the players to behave a certain way. In other words, keep them playing and paying the subscription fee forever.
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