U.I. Mods? We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ U.I. Mods!

A recent interview with Jongchan Jee, lead developer of the upcoming MMO Aion, brought up the possibility of U.I. mods coming into the game at some point in the near future and is causing an uproar in the Aion community.  Arguments raging across the Aion Source forums show that the Aion community is massively divided on the possible inclusion of mods, with many arguing that this addition will cause more problems than it’s worth.
World of Warcraft was, perhaps, the first MMO to make U.I. mods a near necessity for success.  Mods like Deadly Boss Mods, Proximo and Quest Helper not only make the game easier to play but are a requirement to get into many guilds in the game.  However, detractors of these mods argue that the mods “dumb-down” the game and simplify encounters and PvP that should rely on pure player skill, rather than mods, to determine the victor.

Many UI mods make for beautiful user interface!

Many UI mods make for a beautiful user interface!

So, how do I feel about this?  I am torn.  On one hand, I love mods like WAR’s Squared mod, which truly makes healing easier and allows you to concentrate less on the U.I. and more on actually playing the game.  I am also in favor of any mods that will allow the U.I. to be moved around, bars resized or made invisible and similar.  I tend to be a minimalist when it comes to the user interface, the less clutter the better and mods certainly help to achieve that.

On the other hand, I really am not a fan of mods like the aforementioned Deadly Boss Mods, as I think it takes the fun and much of the skill out of playing the game.  Same goes for PvP mods, such as Proximo.  In fact, I tend to dislike all mods that can be made requirements to get into a guild or PvP group.  I know most guilds require Deadly Boss Mods or an equivalent and, to me, that’s just ridiculous.

Some, however, are just BAD...

Some, however, are just BAD...

Furthermore, I think mods like DPS meters and the like actually make most player worse at the game instead of better.  I can think of countless times when a group mate was so concerned with the DPS meters that he would pull aggro or miss a CC.  In contributes to false elitism as well, as guilds choose who goes on raids by who does the most DPS on the DPS meters.  Having raided in WoW and killed Ragnaros, had BWL on farm, AQ40 locked down and much of Naxx before Burning Crusades came out, I can tell you that high DPS is not the only requirement for successful raiding by a DPS character.

To sum up, I am in favor of mods IF they are used to customize the look of the U.I. and that’s it.  I do not want to see mods become a requirement to raid, PvP or group, nor do I want to see them dumb down the game with visible boss warnings telling me when to use and ability or when to get out of line of sight.  Let me move around the U.I., resize bars and I am a happy camper.  Any more than that and Aion will start to go down the road WoW has and I don’t like it.

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Impressive, Most Impressive….But I Am Not Impressed?

I have read a lot of impressions about Aion, both from fellow bloggers and on forums all over the ‘net.   Impressions are just that, impressions.  They are full of opinions and what one person deems a strength, another might deem  a weakness.  This I am fine with.  I understand that impressions are opinions and thus, highly personal.  However, in regards to Aion, there is one thing that I see every so often that has gotten to the point of irritating me and thats some people’s impressions about the polish Aion is launching with.

Aion is going to release very polished, of that there is no doubt.  It has tons of content, runs amazingly well and there seem to be no game breaking bugs.  Just about everyone agrees with that and if they don’t they probably have not played it.  But there are a few folks who insist that Aion’s apparent release polish is just not that big a deal. They insist that since Aion has been out since November in Korea that the polish of both the North American beta and the Chinese client is to be expected.

I beg to differ.

First of all, Aion has been out for less than a year in Korea.  Compare WAR and AoC currently to Aion

Hmmm, nice arms ya got there, mate!

Hmmm, nice arms ya got there, mate!

and you will find Aion trumps both in the polish department.  Aion has fewer bugs, better FPS and is “feature-complete” something neither AoC nor WAR can boast of even now.   Even though both titles have been out longer than Aion has in Korea neither touches Aion in the polish department.

Secondly, the beta that all the North American players have played and the Chinese version are still running off of the 1.0 client.  This is the same client, with translation, that the Korean version launched with back in November! Think back to version 1.0 of WAR or AoC, how polished were they?  The answer is simple; not very.  Matter of fact, WAR and AoC were so broken as to be nearly unplayable for parts of the game.  AoC and WAR both ran so poorly that it was frustrating to play with more than a few people on screen, both were loaded with bugs and neither had a functioning endgame.

I understand if some MMO players do not like Aion, really I do.  I understand that for some it’s more of the same.  Some want to get away from fantasy MMOs and Aion does not fit that desire, some want innovation away from “tank, healer, dps” and Aion does not fit that desire either.  I understand all that, but let’s give props where they are due and not act nonchalant about Aion’s polish.

For years MMO players have griped about the terrible releases foisted upon us by MMO developers.  We righteously gripe when we see another AoC-style release.  We bemoan lack of content, missing features and bugs.  We yell at MMO developers that this is not how it should be.  NCSoft has not been immune to this,

This is what can happen if you rush release.

This is what can happen if you rush release.

witness the failure of Tabula Rasa at launch.  But it seems that NCSoft has learned and they are making sure that Aion releases with a polish unheard of in MMOs.

Finally an MMO is releasing polished and ready, yet many have a nonchalant attitude toward this polish and try to make excuses why it’s that way.  Many act like Aion’s polish is to be expected, even though history has shown us that this is not so.  It amazes me.

Instead of doing this, MMO players should be pointing at Aion and yelling to MMO devs, “See?!?!  THIS is how it’s supposed to work!!  THIS is how an MMO SHOULD release!!”.  Even if you do not like the game, Aion should be held up as the standard by which every other MMO should be judged by at release.  We should expect that every other MMO should release this polished.  I mean, if NCSoft can do it, why can’t every one else??

A New Aion Blog has entered the Fray!

Thulf is a veteran blogger who ran a great WAR blog called Stunty Stomper.  I have always enjoyed his posts and he had some fantastic WAR strategies and Walk-Thrus of some of the bigger WAR instances.

As many other WAR bloggers, he has found himself reaching an end with WAR.  While it is sad to see another WAR blog go on hiatus, Thulf also gave us readers good news; he is moving over to an Aion blog!  I really look forward to his thoughts on Aion, its development and its community.

Head over to Impetuisum and welcome Thulf to the Aion community.  He is a great addition!

This Is A RANT…..

This post is not about Aion, matter of fact, it has very little to do with Aion at all.  This rant has to do with World of Warcraft.  This rant has to do with World of Warcraft and what they have allowed World PvP to become.

As many of this blog’s readers know, I played WoW for over four years.  I was in the beta.  I “quit” after Warhammer released but after that debacle I still return from time to time.  I loved the game for the most part.  Now I see what they are doing to it and it pisses me off.

Blizzard has done everything in their power to take the WAR out of Warcraft.  Some of the things they have done were intentional, such as putting guards on the rooftops of Orgrimmar, giving little to no reward for World PvP and making World PvP generally useless.  Other things that they have done that has killed World PvP were inadvertent, such as flying mounts, summoning stones and the like.

The bottom-line is World PvP is gone, finito, asta la vista.  It’s dead.  Blizzard treats PvP’ers (other than their E-Sport Arenas, Battle Grounds and Wintergrasp) as a joke.  They laugh at us.  I truly believe that.  Look at the history.

Read more after the jump!

Continue reading

What’s Your Game?

First they used Guards, flying mounts and everything in their power to kill World PvP.  Then they made the best way to get PvP gear is to do endless rounds of PvP in a box.  Then they gave us a joke of a “World PvP” zone.  Now I ask you:  What’s YOUR game??


What features would you like to see added to Aion?

Aion_logo

Aion has a lot going for it.  It’s fun, stable, has great graphics and has a lot of content for a game just releasing.  But, even with all those positives, there are some things in other MMOs that I would love to see in Aion.  This post is about exactly that, what I would like to see in Aion that I have already seen in other MMOs.  Take a look at my list and see how it matches up with yours.

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Lord of the Rings Online

Lord of the Rings Online

Let’s start with LotRO.  I have played LotRO, off and on, since release.  It’s a very good game, with amazing environmental graphics, an epic story and a ton of features that appeals to the Rings nerd in me.  Unfortunately, it’s just a tad too PvE-centric for me.  I really don’t like the PvP portion of the game, so I can only play it for a short period of time before I head off to look for PvP elsewhere.  Even with that, there are some features I love in LotRO.

  • The Epic Story Quests

The Epic Book Quests in LotRO were really cool, with an overarching story line, some instance play (solo and group) and some excellent writing.  I would love to see this move over to Aion.  I know Aion has its version, but it seems to be a much more intrinsic feature in LotRO.

  • The Music System

Yeah, call me a roleplay nerd if you want, but the Music System in LotRO was just cool.  I never really used it myself, but it was really awesome to run into a tavern and find a band playing in the corner and people standing around just to listen.  It may just be fluff, but it was really fun fluff!

  • Legendary Weapons

I love the idea of nameable Legendary Weapons.  I am not 100% sold on how they are implemented in LotRO but the idea is really solid.  Get an sword at low level, name it and it gets better with you.  Give it better stats, better effects and a really cool name and you have a sword all your own.

Warhammer Online

Warhammer Online

As stated before in this blog, WAR was my holy grail.  I awaited this title with anticipation, only to be completely devastated when the game launched.  Even with all its problems, however, there are a few features I would love to see in Aion.  By the way, I was really attempted to put the Tome of Knowledge in this list, but I suspect that the ToK is the cause of many of the performance problems in WAR.  I may be completely wrong about this, but, for this reason, I will keep it off the list.

  • The Dual-Targeting System

This is probably the biggest thing on this list.  When I started WAR the dual-targeting system was just one feature I thought was cool, but not really a big deal.  After leaving WAR and going back to WoW, LotRO and Aion, I find that its the one thing I miss the most.  Being able to have both an offensive and defensive target at the same time is amazingly cool and intuitive.  NCSoft needs to put this in as soon as possible.

  • Public Quests

This is another feature that I love but thought was poorly implemented by the originator.  In WAR there were simply too many Public Quests.  It lessened their impact and made them a crutch for other content.  They could be amazing in Aion though.  Imagine a competitive Public Quest in The Abyss.  Both sides fighting to complete the objective first.  It would be amazingly cool and something I would love to see.

World of Warcraft

World of Warcraft

I played WoW from release.  I have canceled my account a couple of times but I find myself going back.  I am fed up with the game for the most part, but there are some great things in WoW that I would love to see in Aion.

  • The Hunter pet system

I played a hunter as my main (and only!) character for 4 years.  I loved him.  One of the things that endeared him to me was the hunter pet system.  Unlike other pet classes, WoW’s hunter allowed you to find a pet in the wild, name him and train him.  He was my steadfast friend and I loved the system.  Adding this to Aion would probably necessitate a new class, but I would like to see something similar in Aion sometime.

  • Complex Boss fights

PvE has never been my favorite thing in MMOs, I am much more a PvP’er.  With that being said, I do enjoy PvE.  Especially well done PvE.  WoW has some amazing boss encounters; Nefarian, C’Thun, Vaelstrasz and even a few of the 5-man bosses are incredibly well done.  I am not asking for more instances but I would like to see some complex boss fights in the game.  Tank and spank is all fine and dandy but every so often I would like a challenge.  By the way, can you tell I much prefer old-school WoW?

Everquest II

Everquest II

I tried EQII at release, was pulled away for WoW and came back for a bit later.  It has tons and tons of content, deep character options and very good graphics.  For me, however, there was something missing that I couldn’t quite put my finger on.  I could never play it for more than short periods of time and I always found myself getting bore.  There are still some amazing features in the game I would love to see in Aion.

  • The Guild system

EQII has one of the best guild management systems of any MMO.  Options to recruit in-game, a great interface and guild writs allowed options I have not seen in any other MMO, though some are starting to add these features.  The guild writ system added the ability to level your guild by doing quests centered on your guild and the guild interface gave you all the information you could want right at your fingertips.

  • The crafting system

I am not totally enamored of the crafting system in EQII.  For the most part I found it unintuitive and hard to learn.  But it did manage to do something that most MMOs do not, keep you at your keyboard.  In WoW, I queue my materials and go afk until its done.  I do the same in LotRO and I imagine I will do the same in Aion.  EQII required you to be at your keyboard and actively participating.  If that idea could be taken, made more intuitive and fun and put into Aion, I would love it.

Dark Age of Camelot

Dark Age of Camelot

This is it.  My Holy Grail of MMO goodness.  I love this game.  I played it for years and finally left after the population dropped so much it was hard to play.  I have tried to go back numerous times but left for one reason or another.  Surprisingly, even though it is my favorite MMO, I have less to to put in this list from DAoC than any of the above.  This is a good thing.  Simply put, Aion is so close to what I think DAoC was it doesn’t need to add much from it and the one thing I would like to see from DAoC  is something NCSoft has little control over.

  • Realm Pride

DAoC had the best Realm Pride of any faction competitive MMO I have ever been a part of, period.  When Keeps were under attack and Relics were in danger of being lost, the entire Realm stopped what they were doing and came to help.  It didn’t matter if you were PvE’ing, grinding or crafting…you helped.  There was pride in being from Midgard, Albion or Hibernia.  WoW had a bit of this early on with the Horde and Alliance but it has totally disintegrated after Burning Crusade and WotLK.  Even so, it was nothing like DAoC.  NCSoft has little control over this but they can help influence it.  Less instancing, no cross-realm battlegrounds, reasons to defend Fortresses and the like, will help nurture Realm Pride.  Give me DAoC level Realm Pride and I will be ecstatic!

So, that’s it.  That’s my list.  Keep in mind that, though I have played many MMOs, I have not played them all.  I am sure I have left many great features off the list and that’s where YOU come in, what would you like to see in Aion?  What do you not like on my list?  Comment and let me know!


Who do you trust?

I have been involved in a lot of MMOs in the weeks and months prior to release.  Besides Aion, I beta’d WAR, WoW, Earth and Beyond, Age of Conan and a couple of others.  Many MMOs that I did not beta I was active in the pre-release community.  It is something I have always enjoyed as anticipation of the game builds.

One thing I have noticed, however, is that Aion seems to have a different buzz around it than any of the other MMOs I have ever participated in pre-release.  For one most of the buzz is positive.  There are naysayers but most of them limit themselves to talking about the graphics style or call the game a “grindfest” without even having played it.  But the biggest difference is the feeling that most of the buzz and hype is almost entirely player created instead of dev created hype.

WAR had a ton of hype before launch.  Probably more hype than any game I have seen before.  It worked, as evidenced by the fact that they sold nearly a million copies of the game.  Looking back on the pre-release hype, however, reveals that much of it was generated by Mythic.  Paul Barnett and the rest of Mythic did a masterful job of building hype.  Video Podcasts, developer interviews, convention booths and Mythic’s regular visiting of any WAR forum, all contributed to an amount of hype unknown before WAR.  The Internet was covered in WAR information and hype and we all fell for it; hook, line and sinker.  Of course, after the game was released, we found that most of the hype was just that; HYPE.

Paul Barnett and his glasses.  Master's of Hype!

Paul Barnett and his glasses. Master's of Hype!

Aion does not have the hype of WAR or Age of Conan, for that matter.  Interest is starting to ramp up, certainly, but it is no where near the amount of total saturation that WAR had.  There are a few developer interviews, a few movies, a Comic-Con visit but that’s about it.  No cute glasses.  No cutesy catch phrases (WAR IS EVERYWHERE!  WAAAGH!!).  No developers telling us that Aion is the be-all-end-all of RvR MMOs.

But, what Aion does have is, I think, much more important.  It has fantastic word of mouth.  By the players.  Look on most message boards and the word of mouth is slanting highly positive for the most part.  This is by players who have played the game, either in the beta or on the Chinese servers.  We don’t have developers telling us how fantastic Aion is, we have real players telling us.  We don’t have to rely on someone in snazzy glasses who has a vested interest in the game to tell us whether end-game works or not.  We can go to message boards and talk to a player to tell us.

I’ve been burnt once in WAR.  I listened as Paul Barnett told me how wonderful WAR was going to be.  I listened to him tell me how PvP intensive WAR end-game was.  I listened to him tell me that healing was different in WAR.

There is no sitting at the back going ‘And I heal! And I heal! And I heal! And I heal! And I heal!’ because it’s BORING! I’m really sorry, if you’re really one of those people who just like being a medic, who like sitting at the back not doing anything, going ‘And I heal! And I heal! And I heal!’ … go away. Stop watching. Click away. Don’t even leave a comment on the board going ‘I HATE THIS GAME BECAUSE IT HAS NO HEALERS’ because we’re telling you now… we’re not the game for you. We’re the game for the people who want to matter. Every single character can do damage. Every single character can make a significant attempt at beating the living snot out of people.

Lies and exaggerations.  The dev’s fed us a bunch of crap and we ate it and asked for seconds.  We watched as the dev created reality fell apart to reveal the true reality.   A buggy, laggy and unpolished game, in which healers sit back and healed and the “glorious” PvP endgame was revealed as a PvE snorefest.

Aion has its issues, every game does.  It doesn’t have as much HYPE as WAR and I don’t have a problem with that.  I listened to the dev-speak in WAR, I’m not doing that this time.  I’m listening to the players.

It all comes down to one thing:  Who do you trust??