Yes, It’s True….I Have Faith In NCSoft

Going into Aion one of my biggest concerns was always the company that was making it.  I had heard the horror stories about NCSoft, I had seen the debacle that was Tabula Rasa and I had talked to a few friends who had played Lineage 2.  Going in I was very, very skeptical that NCSoft would allow any input from Western players and I was very hesitant to trust them

A couple of months of beta and the first month of live and I ampolitical-pictures-pope-benedict-xvi-faith-bulletproof now at a point where I have nearly absolute faith in NCSoft and their decisions when it comes to Aion.

So, what has changed my mind?  Simple.  Their track record so far when it comes to Aion.  Let’s take a look at what NCSoft has done thus far with Aion in the West, starting with beta.

The first major concern that everyone had after beta started was the issues with Gameguard.  Every time beta went up the beta boards were inundated with anti-Gameguard posts and with good reason.  It caused players to crash, blocked legitimate programs and was an all-around nuisance.  NCSoft listened and upon release we found Gameguard removed from the client.  NCSoft has said that it may come back but only after it is in a state where it does it’s job with a minimum hassle for legitimate players.

Score 1 for NCSoft.

The other problems that players had in beta were mostly about the User Interface.  We tend to control MMOs differently here than in the East.  We use WASD, they use click-to-move and that sort of thing.  A couple of days before the release we were introduced to a patch that added the much asked for features of inverse mouse and left button camera control.  NCSoft listened and added that functionality to the game.

Score 2 for NCSoft.

The release came and we found a stable game that we couldn’t play because of queues.  Much gnashing of teeth ensued on the forums and on blogs.  Bloggers who didn’t like Aion made a point to make fun of the situation and used the queues to “prove” that NCSoft was a bad company and couldn’t manage a game in the West.  More rational bloggers and players pointed out that the hard population controls and less servers were a pain in the short term but would pay dividends in the long term.  NCSoft stuck to their plan, despite the griping, moaning and threats of doom, and we now have 14 servers with balanced population.  No server has more than a 2% population difference between Asmo and Elyos.  No server is dead.  Contrast that with WAR.  One month into WAR and the population imbalances were already a detriment to the game.  Now a year later WAR is still struggling to keep a balanced pop and will probably always have that problem.

Score 3 for NCSoft.

The next issue we came across in Live was the s0-called grind.  Quests, some say, seemed to disappear at later levels and players were forced to grind mobs.  Many said that quests didn’t give enough experience.  Again NCSoft listened. They are now testing a patch that ups quest experience by as much as 500% in some places.

Score 4 for NCSoft.

Gold spammers and bots were always my biggest worry going into Aion.  Lineage was infested with them and so was the chinese Aion servers.  Sure enough they came in droves.  My block list was full in a matter of days.  The LFG channel was useless because of all the spam.  It was bad.  Then came a mass banning and it was alleviated for awhile but did not go away.  However, in the latest patch NCSoft introduced a chat filter and 95% of the spam is gone.  I see a couple of spams every hour or so but nothing more than what I saw in WoW.

Score 5 for NCSoft.

So far NCSoft has been very quick to answer and address our problems.  There are a few outstanding issues that NCSoft needs to address.  The bot situation is ridiculous.  The Crytek.dll error is getting bad for alot of people.  Things are not 100% rosy in game.  But I have faith in NCSoft.  They have addressed nearly every issue the player base has brought up and they have done so in a timely fashion.

Contrast this response to WAR.  Mythic took months to even acknowledge some of the issues players had with WAR.   Server balance has never been addressed.  The AoE issues took forever for them to acknowledge and address.   Players griped about a lack of RvR and Mythic introduced the Land of the Dead which brought more PvE…

Not everything is perfect in Aion but NCSoft has made sure to address the issues as quickly as possible.  They have turned a skeptic into a believer.  I have faith in NCSoft.

Wow.

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It’s About Time, Huh?

Sorry I have been away for a bit.  It’s been an extremely busy time for me in the last few weeks.  I am getting ready for the Windows 7 release at my work, taking care of some family matters and playing Aion, which has left me precious little time to post.  Things are starting to calm down a bit so you should be seeing a number of new posts up in the next few days.  This is the first of many.

So, with the little free time I have had lately I have been playing Aion.  Quite a lot actually and I am really enjoying it.  As you may already know I started out with a Ranger, Ahira.  I was loving him and he reminded me quite a bit of my old WoW hunter without a pet.  The leveling on a ranger is very slow at first but at 16 starts to pick up and become much easier.  I leveled Ahira up to level 21 and ran into a problem.

I play with a group of real life and online friends and we have migrated to new games together for quite a bit.  This time we all rolled together and Aion and began grouping and helping each other as we normally do but we ran into two problems.

First, I level faster than they do.  I tend to get a bit more game time in than they do for whatever reason so I was finding myself outpacing them, which is not something I wanted to do.  When I hit 20 they were still around 15 or 16, which meant I found myself doing content over and over again while helping them level.  This sucked for me and for them.

Secondly, none of my friends rolled a healer.  None.  We had DPS, we had tanks, we had off-tanks but we had no healers at all.  This was not good.  I have found healers to be a fairly important part of group make up during my MMO travels and Aion was proving to be no exception.  I am not a big fan of pugging especially (arguably) the single most important role in a group.

So, I decided to bite the bullet and roll a cleric.  When I started the cleric my friends were all between 15-17 or so.  Now they are around 20-24.  I am also 24.  Damn, they are slow.  Painfully slow.   At this rate I am going to have 4-5 characters hit level cap at roughly the same time.  This sucks.  I think I need to bribe my friends to level faster.  Actually, I think I just need to sit down with their wives, bosses and family and explain the situation.  I am sure they will understand.

Anyway, my cleric is now 24.  I am one level away from the greatness of the Abyss and I can not wait.  I expect to hit 25 tomorrow and then make fun of my friends for being slow.  That’s the plan anyway.

Fenriz contemplating the reason for being.....

Fenriz contemplating the reason for being.....

So, that is my cleric, Fenriz.  The battle-scarred, rugged warrior of the North.  Or cleric actually.  Also I think technically he is from the south but you get the idea.  Also he’s a lot of fun.  More fun than I thought a healer would be.  Unlike my Ranger, I can accidentally get an add when soloing and not have to run off like a little girl, screaming in fear.  I save that for when I get two adds.

I have not really been able to do much PvP as I am saving Rifting for a bit higher into my twenties.  I did kill a single Elyos outside of Morheim Fortress the other day but I think he was just trying to get the hell out of there so I don’t think that really counts.

I have been able to duel a number of people and I must say that Clerics are tough to beat 1 vs 1 at this level.  I have no problems with Gladiators or Assassins.  Rangers can be tough but certainly beatable and the same goes for sorcerers.  I have found dueling a Chanter or another Cleric to be almost identical to watching old people have sex, slow and boring.  Spiritmasters, aaaah Spiritmasters.  You remember what I said about running and screaming like a little girl when getting more than 1 add?  Yeah, that pretty much applies to me when a Spiritmaster asks to duel.  It’s not pretty.

So, I am going to wrap this up with a bit about what I am going to cover tomorrow.  A lot has happened in the world of Aion and NCSoft and I plan to touch on some of that, including more about the gold spamming and bot situation, the PvE that I have been able to do so far and some other miscellaneous stuff.  I hope you check it out!