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!

Beta Key has been Awarded!

Thanks to all who participated.  The beta key was awarded to Aion83 for her post about UI mods.  She had an excellent post and was helped along by the fact that she was an ex-DAoC player!
Again, thanks to all who participated!

First Legion Interview: Oculus of Nex

Tonight I have the first of a regular feature for Aionic Thoughts, the Legion interview.  I plan to put these out once or twice a week and let readers know about some of the outstanding Legions that will be playing Aion.  Today, Evilspinner, the Legion Leader of Oculus of Nex, was kind enough to participate.

Oculus of Nex

Oculus Nex's website is very well put together and informative.

Oculus Nex's website is very well put together and informative.

Naamah: Tell me a bit about the Legion and its history.

Evilspinner: Oculus of Nex was formed in 2007 in the MMO LotRO.  The name means “Eye of Death” in Latin.  We wanted a name to reflect our origins but at the same time, be relevant to any game we play in the future.  We were created as a Creep tribe on the Vilya server, which was the weaker side and of course EVIL.  We became very well-known and was one of the top Creep tribes on the server.  By the time we left we had the highest ranked PvP players in all of LotRO, overall.

We then moved to AoC for better PvP options but, sadly, even though a great looking game with lots of options, had way too many bugs and issues.  So, with all the hype about RvR and Warhammer, we rolled there in Closed Beta.

Initially we rolled Destro but re-rolled Order on another server after achieving rank 21.  We were tired of seeing Destro owned Keeps 80% of the time.  Even thought we re-rolled 3 months after the game came out, we still were one of the highest rank guilds but, sadly, Tier 4 and Warhammer endgame was a huge letdown.

So, now OoN has turned our “eye” on Aion.  We are having a blast in Closed Beta (Siel Server) and can not wait for the game to release!

Naamah: How would you describe the atmosphere of the Legion?

Evilspinner: OoN is all about loyalty, friendship and having fun. We don’t have carebear attitude towards anything and we are fiercly loyal to our own. We tend to stay away from forum drama and ooc rants as much as possible!

Naamah: What made the Legion decide upon Asmodean as your Faction?

Evilspinner: Everything our guild does is based on a system where the whole guilds has a say in it.
We have one GL (Evilspinner) being myself, then a council of officers who than decide if an idea is worth putting in front of the guild, if this goes ahead than there is a voting option, this is where the whole guilds to to decide what and where OoN is headed.
Based on the majority “votes” we pick out options.
So when it came to Aion and what side/faction we would choose we did same.  Some of girl gamers in the guild initially wanted to look pretty with Elyos but once they made a few characters on Asmos side they were satisfied with their their looks.

Naamah: Whats the focus of your Legion? PvP or PvE?

Evilspinner: OoN’s focus will always be more on PvP as this what the guild was formed upon, but we are not a zerg guild. We enjoy the drawn out fights with more tactics than big numbers where you die in .5 secs. I do realize that is unavoidable sometimes, in Fortress fights etc. but we will be fighting side by side with rest of the Asmodian on our server.
If there is red in front of us to pvp, we like them to be dead before we will touch pve.  This does not mean we will ignore the PvE content in Aion, this game offers some great pve encounters and we are looking to do all the end game content plus all the fun stuff in between!

Naamah: What is your stance on ganking?

Evilspinner: Ganking is part of any pvp game or server. I don’t care if I get ganked 10 times by a zerg, it comes as part and parcel of pvp.
At the same time we don’t have any remorse killing one of the enemy with 12 of us, for example.
Gank or be ganked I say.  There are options to avoid ganking; Legions and groups for example.

Naamah: Are you roleplay friendly?

Evilspinner: We have no problems if someone wants to roleplay but our legion overall is not a serious RP legion.
Our vent gets very rowdy and even more fun when we are drunk!

Naamah: Haha!  I have been in a few guilds just like that!  Lots of fun!  What is the Legion stance on exploits, if a member is found exploiting or the like?

Evilspinner: Exploiting/hacking or any sort of cheating means instant dismissal from the guild.
We can understand if someone found a glitch the first time and reported it to a GM but than if they are found out to use that to get a advantage over and over, then that person is not fit to be part of OoN.
We have a list of guidelines to help potential members decide if OoN is the legion for them in Aion. And the exploiting part is explained there to avoid any issues later.
Happy to say we never had any member booted for this!

Naamah: Will you have a tax system in place to pay for Legion upgrades and the like?

Evilspinner: Once Aion goes live, we are going to have “guild” crafters and also to help with legion upgrades there will be a “tax” system in place. This is to make sure the whole guild gets the benefits as they level up with the best crafted gear without spending a fortune at the AH and making someone else rich. From level 1-10 depending on how much gold a member has they are not required to pay any taxes.
They may however choose to donate cash.
Once past level 10 we are looking at this stage ask our members a minimum of 10% of their total kinah once per week.
This is not finalized however but the system with be very similar.
The cash (kinah) will be used for legion purpose only, i.e to buy guild crafter mats, legion upgrades etc.
All the legion taxes, donations and expenses will be itemized on our site so all members can see where their tax/donations are going.

We don’t have a DKP for loot or any form of loot table.
Everyone shares in a fair and mature manner. We never forget that Aion or any MMO is only but a game and people come first.
We have no bitching on loot etc. Also 95% of our forum content is hidden till you are promoted to member rank .

Naamah: Final question!  Picture this: Your Legion is swooping down on the Elyos from above, a furious and epic battle is about to ensue, what music is playing as the soundtrack?

Evilspinner: March of Cambreadth

Thanks, again, to Evilspinner and Oculus of Nex for taking the time to speak with me.  Their website is nicely done and they seem to be a good group of gamers to experience Aion alongside.  Their website can be found here and contains all the details that you would need to learn more about the Legion, its members and to apply.  I believe they will be an excellent Legion to play alongside or to fight against and will be a positive contribution to what ever server they ultimately roll on.

I should have another Legion interview up later in the week or early next week.  If your Legion would like to be featured on Aionic Thoughts, please leave a comment and I will get in touch with you as soon as possible!


From Whence Came the Zerg….

Zerg.  For most MMO PvP players it is a dirty word.  One that conjures up images of chaotic, lag inducing and skill-less combat.  One that players hate and use to criticize any of the mass-PvP MMOs out there.  DAoC, Shadowbane, Darkfall and Aion have all been accused of being Zerg games and looked down upon by the “true-PvPers”.  You know, the ones exemplified by the Arena kiddies of WoW.

True story time.  A couple of months back, I was leveling my Knight of the Blazing Sun in WAR.  I had reached Tier 2 and decided it was time for some PvP.  I entered the RvR zone in the Empire/Chaos pairing and jumped into an Open Warband.  At the time, there were two Warbands operating in the zone and we were in the middle of taking Mandred’ Hold Keep.  As Mandred’s Hold is about to fall the leader of the Warband says this in chat:

Wow, I love mass PvP combat!  This is so much fun!

We finish up Mandred’s and decide to head to Greenskin/Dwarf land and take a Keep there.  When we arrive and start heading to the Keep we run right into two Destruction Warbands.  Fighting is frenetic but is quickly over.  We lose.  Badly.  We are starting to respawn at the Warcamp and reorganize, when the leader of the Warband, the same guy who I quoted above, comes across chat with this:

Damn, zergs!!  I hate zergs!  I hate this game, its all zergs!

So, this begs the question, at what point does “mass-PvP” cease to be “mass-PvP” and, instead, become a zerg? Massive PvP battles have no negative connotation.  MMOs tout them on game boxes, developers sing their praises in interviews and advertisements in gaming magazines point out (in large type, bold letters!) that “THIS IS A GAME OF MASSIVE PvP!!”

Yet if you mention the word zerg, developers are quick to point out the steps and systems they have in-game to prevent or lessen the zerg.  So, whats the difference?  What makes massive PvP fun and a zerg bad?

The easiest answer and one that I think applies to the quotes above, is that it is “Massive-PvP” when you are winning and a Zerg when you are losing.  Our fearless Warband leader loved his “Massive-PvP” battles when we were stomping everyone into the ground, but the second that Destruction beat us, he called it a Zerg.

That’s the easy answer, but I think its more complex than that.  I think what differentiates “Massive-PvP” battles and a Zerg is a matter of control.  Massive battles are always chaotic, both in real life and a game, yet there are smaller battles happening within the battle that seperates the true massive battles from the Zerg. Flanking, ambushes, protecting the healers; these all happen in “Massive-PvP” battles.  In Zergs, there seems to be none of that.  Everyone runs straight forward, attacks the closest target and retreats if they are losing.  Thats it.  No strategy, no tactics; just running straight forward until all the enemy is dead or you are.

How can the developers of Aion or any other PvP MMO stop the Zerg, while at the same time encourage “Massive-PvP” battles?  Simple and most honest answer:  They can’t.  They can give us the tools to do it.  Things like a better chat interface, crowd control to control a Zerg, battlefield objectives that limit the effectiveness of the Zerg and a PvP area big enough to avoid Zergs.  But, in the end the only ones who can limit Zergs are the players.

Aion has taken a few steps to limit the effectiveness of Zergs.  For one, the Abyss is much bigger than any RvR area in WAR, making battles spread out.  They also have a better timer system on their Keeps and battlefield objectives than WAR does.  WAR encouraged the trading of Keeps by Zergs for the simple fact that they were close together and on a short timer.  Aion does not do Keeps this way.  Battlefield objectives in Aion are also useful, instead of solely a source for points as they were in WAR.  Losing a battlefield objective in Aion has a detrimental effect on your side.  This causes groups to spread out to defend multiple points instead of Zerging between single Keeps and objectives.

I know there will be Zergs in Aion.  It is inevitable.  However, in my limited time in endgame Aion, I have seen more small scale combat than I ever did in WAR.  Even the Zergs that I did see, seemed to be more “controlled” than what I am used to in WAR.  Tactics and strategy seemed to play a bigger role than they did in WAR, although I think this is because of a game engine that allows for it.

In the end, the naysayers will still call any “Massive-PvP” battle a Zerg and the ones who like the big battles will still call them “Massive-PvP” battles….

Until they lose.  Then its a Zerg.

I.G.N. says they have an official release date.

According to IGN, NCSoft will announce the official release date for Aion today:

June 23, 2009NCsoft will announce today that Aion: Tower of Eternity will launch in North America on September 22. The European launch will follow several days later, on September 25. The company has been working on Aion for years now, and the fantasy MMO launched in South Korea in November of last year and China this April.

You can read the whole story here

That is on a Tuesday, so if the head-start is like most others, they should be starting those on Sunday.

Hmmm, I’m gonna have to ask for those days off from work!